View Full Version : What to do with my 6x17 negs?

austin granger
1-Oct-2004, 14:26
Hello all. I have a bit of a conundrum and would greatly appreciate any advice.

I'm currently working on a body of photographs that I hope to someday turn into a book. The vast majority of the images are from 6x7cm or 4x5 negs. A few years back however, I rented a 6x17 camera from a local camera store just to play around with. As so often happens when you're loose and just 'fooling around', I somehow managed to make what I think are some pretty good negatives from this camera; negatives that would fit it quite nicely with the larger group of photographs I mentioned.

The problem is that I can't print these negatives, as my enlarger can only handle up to 4x5. I have a couple possible solutions. One is to have a lab print them. While I don't much like this idea, as I think I can best print my own negatives, it is the most obvious solution. So I'm wondering if anyone has any recomendations for a lab that prints high quality fiber prints; a lab that would match proofs I sent them (I can print the 6x17 negs in sections for this purpose) and even use my chosen paper to match the rest of the photos.

Another thought is to have a high quality scan made of the 6x17 negatives, and then have new 4x5 negatives made, which I would then print from. (Yes, I understand the image would not be 4x5; what I mean is, it would be five inches long and whatever amount high on a 4x5 neg) This seems a very round-a-bout way to tackle it, but has anyone out there done such a thing? Is there a considerable loss of quality? Is it outrageously expensive?

I suppose the third option (besides finding someone with an 8x10 enlarger they can 'lend' me) is printing the negatives in a sort of 'triptych' with white lines in between the sections...I don't much like this idea though.

Any thoughts?

Thanks much in advance.

Donald Miller
1-Oct-2004, 14:56
Print them with a 5X7 enlarger. I have a Durst 138 and a 138 S for sale. In lieu of that travel to my location and use my equipment or I will print to your guidance if that is prohibitive.

Chad Jarvis
1-Oct-2004, 15:27
Contact print them.

Bruce Watson
1-Oct-2004, 17:19
Or scan them.

Gem Singer
1-Oct-2004, 18:14
Hi Austin,

Since they are going to be published in a book, anyways, why not merely contact print those 6x17 negatives? Using your fiber based paper and your enlarger light, you should be capable of obtaining excellent results. Just treat the project as if you were making proof prints with your 4x5 negatives.

austin granger
1-Oct-2004, 18:32
I have actually contact printed them for my records, but they just seem a little small for final presentation prints. Also, I wonder, if the photographs are eventually to be scanned for the book, then going from a 6x17cm contact print to a larger reproduction would cause quite a bit of quality to be lost, (wouldn't it?) as opposed to a one-to-one type deal.

That 5x7 enlarger is intriguing Donald, but I'm afraid it wouldn't fit in my darkroom. As it is my current 4x5 model barely fits; my ceiling is so low that I have to print sitting down!

Gem Singer
1-Oct-2004, 18:49

I would think that more quality would be lost if the 6x17 prints were scanned and/or enlarged now, and then another scan of those prints was made for the book at a later date. It seems like the fewer the generations, the better. 6x17 contact prints are close to seven inches in width. They wouldn't require very much enlargement for a book.

Darin Cozine
2-Oct-2004, 02:09
You could print them in halves, then the book could have the halves span 2 pages. (does that not make sense to anyone else)

Frank Petronio
2-Oct-2004, 07:03
Have a professional lab make prints to your specs/paper/toner, like Praus (www.4photolab.com). It's expensive but you worked yourself into a corner on this one...

If you have a Beseler 45, there is an 8x10 conversion head.

austin granger
2-Oct-2004, 09:36
Thanks to everyone for the good advice. I'm begining to lean towards just contact printing them. I figure if someone actually wants to publish this thing (and it's rapidly becoming a 'thing') and wants something different, I'll figure it out then.

Anyone have any idea as to what this 8x10 conversion head goes for? I do in fact have a Beseler (45MXT). While I obviously wouldn't buy this head just for my five 6x17 negatives, I did recently move to 8x10 and it might be nice to make a few enlargements now and then. I would have to rebuild my darkroom for it however...picture the enlarger head coming up through the roof of my garage (my darkroom is a small, LOW space attached to the back of the garage) with some sort of protective turret-like dome over it...ha!

Ralph Barker
2-Oct-2004, 09:40
Although scanning and outside printing are viable options at the technical level, it may be that the ultimate emphasis for publication purposes should be on controlling the images yourself. Thus, the 8x10 conversion Frank mentions might be a good option if you have a Beseler 4x5 enlarger. If not, another alternative would be a used 5x7 Zone VI enlarger, as they come up on eBay from time to time. They aren't much bigger than 4x5 enlargers, depending on which model you get. And, the typical price is about the same as buying the Beseler conversion new.

Bryan Willman
2-Oct-2004, 10:00
A number of sensible posts.

However, if you are going to make a book, won't the best printing quality be made from a scan of the 6x17s, said scan adjusted to make half-tones or seperations for printing? (The publisher would scan a print anyway, no?)

So, if they're going to be scanned (as either prints or negatives) anyway, why not get very high quality scans of the negatives, and work from those? You will then have the smallest number of generational steps to lose image data.

John Adler
2-Oct-2004, 15:06
I just had to say something. I have thousands of 6X17 negatives, all most all are nudes. I also have a Beseler 8X10 enlarger. About two years ago I moved to the digatel darkroom. The reasions were: 1) I used FP4 developed in PMK Pyro thus giving a very long grey scale. 2) I wanted to make big prints, 19" by 25" prints for my next show. With the current scanners and printers I can make prints much better than the wet darkroom with a grey scale over than 256.

John Adler