View Full Version : Printing 8x10

MIke Sherck
1-Mar-2005, 06:59
Here's one I've been wondering about. If there's a prior thread, apologies: I missed it.

For all of you 8x10 camera users out there, do you contact print or enlarge? And, if you contact print, do you wish you could enlarge? Next week is bonus time and I can either get a new-ish 4x5 to suppliament my B&J 5x7, or maybe I can get an 8x10. Decisions, decisions. I wonder, though, how long it will be before I start thinking that 8x10 prints are too small. An 8x10 enlarger is probably out of the question: cost and space issues (i.e., I can't afford one and even if I could I doubt there's room in my diminutive 5'x6' darkroom.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
1-Mar-2005, 07:04
I have no experiance but possibly a little bit of logic. If you enjoy using your B&J 5X7, I would suggest buying an 8X10 and if you want to make big prints in the future you can either enlarge 5X7 or get a reducing back for the B&J for less than $100. If you find the B&J to be a pain in the ass to use I would be leaning towards a newer 4X5. I hope that helps a bit.

1-Mar-2005, 07:24
I do both contact and enlarging of 8x10. My 810MXT is in the corner of the washer/dryer room, so there's not too much space.

1-Mar-2005, 07:40
I contact print both 8x10 and 5x7. I'd like to have an enlarger but figure that I'll have to build one unless I can find a cheap Beseler 8x10 head for my 4x5 beseler. Or some other light source I can stick on top .

Still the main reason I want an enlarger is for 5x7 not the 8x10 which is bigger and more of a hassle to haul around. I guess if I had a lighter/smaller 8x10 I might feel differently.

Gem Singer
1-Mar-2005, 07:41
Hi Mike,

You could do what I did. I bought a Tachihara 8X10, with both a 4X5 and a 5X7 reducing back. I only have a 4X5 enlarger. That way, I can contact print the 5X7's and 8X10's and enlarge the 4X5 negatives to 16X20. You're correct, 8X10 prints soon began to look too small.

Ralph Barker
1-Mar-2005, 07:43
Yes, no, yes. That is to say, I currently contact print, but don't enlarge 8x10. Boy howdy, would I love to have the space and the money for a nice big 8x10 Durst, though. ;-)

As ytlas mentioned, a Bessler 45MXT with the 8x10 conversion kit is an alternative, as is scanning and digital printing.

1-Mar-2005, 08:36
Check out the Canon 9950 scanner.

1-Mar-2005, 09:50
When you enlarge, how big do you go? I find 11x14 to be my preferred standard size for enlargements. Therefore, for me anyways, it makes more sense to jump directly to an 11x14 camera for contacts. 8x10's look a little small to me. Then of course there are others perfectly happy with a 4x5 contact.

There have been earlier discussions on the utility of enlarging from an 8x10 negative. Some of us, like me, can't see any meaningful difference between enlargements from 4x5 and 8x10 until they get REALLY big. Others will chip in with an opposing viewpoint.

IMHO these are the issues for you to work through.

1-Mar-2005, 10:16
An enlarger lets you do more then just make bigger prints. If you decide you want to print a 6x10 crop of the 8x10 negative to 12x20 you can. Short of getting a camera for each and every possible print format an enlarger is a nice thing.

Mark Sawyer
1-Mar-2005, 10:38
I just finished converting a reprographic camera into an 8x10 enlarger a few months ago, and it makes beautiful sharp prints. But I've found that even a sharp print can't match the gradations of a contact print, so I'm not using the enlarger much.

It ultimately depends on your photographic vision. My prints just seem to want to be 8x10. These days I think and see in those terms, and anything printed larger just look like it's been forced to be something it isn't.

John D Gerndt
1-Mar-2005, 11:03
As one of the lucky guys with an 8x10 enlarger I would recommend getting a 5x7 enlarger. A 5x7 will enlarge to 20x24 quite nicely. Prints larger than that are a real commitment.

If you come to love the contact print more than any enlargement I would go right to 11x14, count on your love to keep you strong, carrying it around. 8x10 is a compromise size for me. I'd swap my 8x10 camera and enlarger in a heartbeat for a nice 11x14. I may end up just building one.


1-Mar-2005, 11:04
Just for the heck of it, I measured the 810 enlarger and the base is 26" x 31.5" with the vertical railing standing 45". At full extension the head is 57" inches from the bottom of the baseboard so it takes a lot less space than a floor model.

Pete Watkins
1-Mar-2005, 13:31
I contact print my 10x8 and 11x14 negs. The day I walk into the house with an 8x10 enlarger is the day she will kill me. With UK law as it is she knows that she will walk free in about three years, it won't be a big decision.

Andrew O'Neill
1-Mar-2005, 14:14
I contact print on variable contrast paper but would love to be able to enlarge my 8x10 negs! I like the ability to crop...Currently I'm working on designing an LED enlarger. The Tech Ed department at the school that I teach at has lots of neat software that'll make things easier for me....and a very knowledgeable person there to help me! These ultra bright LEDs are pretty bright!

austin granger
1-Mar-2005, 15:04
My dad once told me this story about how supposedly when Michelangelo finally finished his statue of David, he stood back and looked at it for a long, intense moment, then roared; "Now, LIVE!" Anyway, I think contact prints are something like that. They seem as if they might well come to life. At least, the best ones can. In any case, that's why I'm printing mostly 8x10 contacts these days.

That, and like mark said, I think I've always 'seen' in 8x10. Even when I was enlarging from 4x5, the biggest I usually went was 8x10. For I find that I like the intimacy of that size; a size you could hold in your hand like a little book. Also, I think one sees an 8x10 differently than a larger print. With an 8x10, at a 'norma'l viewing distance, you are seeing the entirety of the print; the form as a whole, whereas with a bigger print, you are sort of 'roaming around' in there.

Needless to say, in the end, it depends on what you're trying to achieve. Only you know the answer to that.

Frank Bagbey
1-Mar-2005, 18:46
Contact printing 8X10 has provided me some really great prints, using Old TriX film. I do not have any experience with the new TriX film yet, so some input regarding that might be neat for the days my current supply of Old TriX runs out. There is no doubt contact printing can offer a look that enlarging cannot. That makes the challenge of 8X10 and larger worth it.

See the current issue of B&W magazine for the Contact Printers Guild, www.contactprintersguild.com. Come to think of it, technically that is, contact printing even 4X5 offers a better look than enlarging the negative.

George Losse
1-Mar-2005, 19:03
I have an 8x10 enlarger, its stored in the closet in the darkroom.
I only contact print my 8x10 negatives now. I tried a several times to enlarge my 8x10 negatives. Everytime I would step back and look at the prints, they look fine but they don't feel like my work. I always felt like I was looking at someone else's work, not mine.

Will the 8x10 print look to small after a while? Maybe, but then again you can always move into a different format. After about two years of shooting 8x10 I wanted to try something different, so I picked up an 11x14 and an 8x20. The 11x14 contact print still wasn't big enough compaired to the 8x10 to warrant the extra BS in taking it out of the studio. 12 years later, I still shoot the 8x20 and 8x10 and the 11x14 sits waiting in the studio for a series that has to be shot with it.

If there are other photographers in your area shooting 8x10, try using theirs. If there aren't maybe renting a camera would be a good idea.

Some people hate working with an 8x10....... and some of us just love it.
The only real way to find out for yourself is to just go for it.

Dave Moeller
1-Mar-2005, 19:41
Currently I'm only contact printing 8x10 negatives (and getting results that are simply amazing), but I do have an interest in enlarging them.

Given that I've got three 8x10 cameras (don't ask), I intend to convert one of them into a horizontal enlarger this summer. I'll use my attic for this project, as I should be able to get the paper up to 30' away from the camera. I doubt that this will become anything other than an exercise for me, as I really don't have a tremendous interest in huge prints...but I do want to try out a few negatives I've made in poster-sized prints just to see what I get. This will be a way to add another "weapon to the arsenal", but my main interest is in shooting pictures that make great contact prints so I doubt I'll use the setup much.

I have scanned and printed 8x10 negatives on the computer, but they're lifeless to me. After six years worth of effort, using every trick in the book and more printer/ink combinations than I care to remember, my average darkroom prints are still better than my best computer prints. I've seen some very nice digital prints, but I just do better with the darkroom. (This, by the way, is a limitation that doesn't make me unhappy as I spend my entire workday in front of a computer.)

Chad Jarvis
2-Mar-2005, 05:35
Why shoot 8x10 if not contact printing?

tim atherton
2-Mar-2005, 09:32
"Why shoot 8x10 if not contact printing?"

why limit yourself to contact prints?

and why (presumably) limit yourself to B&W (colour contact prints generally don't look that great imo)

I can easily see the difference between 4x5 and 8x10 in a 20x24 enlargment and most certainly see it in a 40x50 enlargement.

contact pints are only one possible option

Chad Jarvis
3-Mar-2005, 05:57
I guess I'm speaking from the point of view of not having a 7 foot tall enlarger in my bathroom.

Besides, the question posed, Tim, stated that an "8x10 enlarger is probably out of the question." In my pragmatic approach, carrying a 4x5 and enlarging seems to make sense for Mike. I still say one should contact print (preferably in something other than silver) if one is going to lug around an 8x10.

Enlarging is only one option.

tim atherton
3-Mar-2005, 09:22
"I still say one should contact print (preferably in something other than silver) if one is going to lug around an 8x10. "

an unneccessarily restrictive approach

"Enlarging is only one option".

scanning and printing is another

Jorge Gasteazoro
3-Mar-2005, 09:40
I can easily see the difference between 4x5 and 8x10 in a 20x24 enlargment and most certainly see it in a 40x50 enlargement.

Yeah well, big is not always better......and digital prints big or small are no where near a contact print.

tim atherton
3-Mar-2005, 09:58
"I can easily see the difference between 4x5 and 8x10 in a 20x24 enlargment and most certainly see it in a 40x50 enlargement.

Yeah well, big is not always better......and digital prints big or small are no where near a contact print."

You only ever seem to think small is better Jorge and that contact prints are the bees knees and nothing can ever compare with them so there's really not much point is there?

Jorge Gasteazoro
3-Mar-2005, 10:08
Tthis thread was about 8x10 and enlarging 8x10 negatives with an enlarger.

Using your same argument you always seem to think that big digital prints are the bees knees and nothing can compare to them if your statements:

why limit yourself to contact prints?

an unneccessarily restrictive approach

are anything to go by.

Did you answer Mike's question? Nope, but you could not resist telling him and Chad to make big digital prints. I am sure they have thought of this option, but Mike's question and Chad comment had nothing to do with digital prints, why cant you leave it alone and let those who want a different approach use it?

tim atherton
3-Mar-2005, 10:28

the question was "For all of you 8x10 camera users out there, do you contact print or enlarge?"

and the point made that an 8x10 enlarger was out of the question.

The Digital Taliban approach seems to be "don't mention digital unless its asked for" My approach is - it's an option that can be considered but perhaps might not have been.

Contact print or Enlarger only is merely a Hobsons choice with artificially imposed limitations. There are other options that were not in any way excludied in the initial question.

But go ahead with your quest for censorship if you wish

Nick Morris
3-Mar-2005, 11:12
Hello. I moved through the formats to 8x10. When I got to 4x5, I shot in 3 formats, 35mm, 120, and 4x5 - and enlarged. Since I went to 8x10, it is now the only format I use (except for family-event snaps). I contact print, and it is the contact print that makes the difference. Otherwise, I would use 4x5, or possibly a 5x7 with 5x7 and 4x5 backs. None of my equipment is state-of-the-art. 11x14 would be nice, but costs are an issue for me. There is something to be said for limiting your equipment choices, and for me, 8x10 B&W silver contact prints are a satisfactory medium.

Jorge Gasteazoro
3-Mar-2005, 12:08
Apparently the one who wants to censor is yourself. I expressed my opinion about contact prints and digital prints, and it seemed to have bothered you. I am sure if Mike wanted to know about digital prints he would have included "do you enlarge, contact print or scan and digitally print".....As I said, and you seemed to gloss over very quickly, I am sure he has thought of the option of scanning and making digital prints.

Yeah and the digital Intefada seems to be lets all do digital and make big prints.....Recently QT asked about correcting vignetting with PS, did you read any of us saying, "well I dont know about PS but you can certainly do it with masks in a DR"....no right? It was not appropriate and it was not what QT was asking, in the same vein it would be nice if you had the same courtesy, it is not about censorship, it is about courtesy and keeping the thread on topic, which BTW this is shot to hell too....

BTW Mike, I contact print and once in a while I would like to enlarge, but the ocassion is rare since I dont do silver printing any more and of course the big 12x2o negs fullfill that desire.. :)
I am lucky that I have a ZOne VI enlarger wich I could fit with an 8x10 head, but so far I have not have the need to do that. If you plan on enlarging you could get the bst of both worlds and get a 5x7. It is big enough to make very nice contact prints and at the same time enlargers like the Zone VI will let you enlarge with little difference from an 8x10 negative. The problem is that there is not as much a selection of film in this format. As you say, desicions, desicions.. :)

MIke Sherck
3-Mar-2005, 13:52
:) I never intended to restart the digital vs. traditional print discussion and I apologize if my original message was incomplete and unclear. I'm a computer programmer and I sit in front of a monitor all day. The last thing I want to do when I'm not working is... sit in front of a monitor. So I've made a deliberate decision for reasons which seem reasonable to me that my photography is not going to include digital technology, either in capture or in printing. It's not a "better" or "worse" situation, it's just the way I perceive "fun".

I was (and am,) curious as to how many 8x10 photographers eventually found that they wished they could print larger than 8x10. In retrospect it was probably a stupid question: Edward Weston did little other than contact printing (enlarging some of his commercial portraits to 8x10 film and then contact printing the dups,) while his contemporary Ansel Adams, from what I can tell, enlarged practically everything. It's a very unique decision, I believe, and after reflection I think that surveying others' experiences isn't likely to help me decide what my own personal esthetic is likely to be a year or two down the road.

It is interesting, though, to listen to others' thoughts on the subject. Sometimes the process of making a decision is more fun than actually having made it! I do feel enlightened by your comments and appreciate everyone who wrote. I'll keep your experiences in mind while I wrestle over this. Thanks!

3-Mar-2005, 16:25
It is a tough decision. A nice contact print is something to behold, but sometimes an image wants to go bigger. Since we can't all have 12x20 cameras enlarging is the only choice. My wallet makes my photographic decisions for me. I may "want" the 12x20 or the big enlarger but the wallet keeps me in check.

I do not shoot 8x10. When the time came to make a choice, I chose 5x7 because I wanted to enlarge in the future. Now I really have no desire to look into an enlarger, a 5x7 contact is just fine with me. Lately there has been a growing lust for a 7x17 or 8x20 though. God this is an addictive hobby.