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Greg
28-Jan-2018, 14:37
Last fall met a photographer (unfortunately I forgot to exchange Emails) who was shooting with his 8x10. We got talking and had a great conversation. He told me that he makes 8x10 contact prints from his negatives. At the time he was using a Schneider Kreuznach Super Symmar HM 210mm f/5.6 MC... that was the first time that I had ever seen a Super Symmar HM in person. We got to be talking about lenses and he said that he used the Super Symmar HM to get the "sharpest possible contact prints".

Got me thinking recently... I shoot 8x10 with a 250mm Fuji W. Would the Silver contact prints that he made with his Super Symmar HM be any sharper than than the ones made with my 250mm Fuji W lens at the same apertures? Surely the developers and development techniques we both use would influence the apparent sharpness of the negatives. The LF negatives that I process in Daifine A+B certainly have to differ from the ones that FORUM member Steve Sherman developes with his Minimal Agitation technique. And what about contact prints on hand coated Platinum/Palladium paper... Consulted the Platinum/Palladium print books that I have collected, and couldn't find a comparison of image resolution of fiber based Silver prints verses hand coated Platinum/Palladium. Personally have subjectively experienced very different apparent visual image resolutions when printing Platinum/Palladium depending on the paper I was using.

Also have read that the "rough rule of thumb is that the viewing distance should be 1.5 to 2 times the diagonal length" of the print... So the viewing distance should be between 18 to 24 inches. My 70 year old eyes aren't the best, but with glasses, my vision is 20/20. I have put a contact silver print next to an inkjet print of the same image and honestly I can't see the difference unless I get up really, really close to the prints which from personal experience is generally frowned upon in Museums.

I might note that years ago I was at the Eastman House and actually handling some of Eugene Smith's final prints. You didn't need a X5 loupe to see that some of them weren't all that sharp and I swear he spotted some of them with India ink.... are some of us too hung up on image resolutions rather than on the actual image captured in the photograph?

comments very welcome...

Jim Noel
28-Jan-2018, 15:00
The developer, concentration,temperature, agitation method and schedule will have more effect on the sharpness of your negatives than the minor differences in modern lenses. Then you have the same plus other variables contributing to the sharpness of your prints.
Yes,I think some of us are too hung up on sharpness and image resolution than on the actual image and its presentation. The most modern lens I own, but rarely use, is a superb Fujinon 250, I prefer the look of the older lenses.

Jac@stafford.net
28-Jan-2018, 15:32
The lenses you post make no difference for contact prints whatsoever. Why should they?
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mdarnton
28-Jan-2018, 15:33
Following a current thread (about masking) that mentioned Barry Thornton regarding sharpness, I bought Edge of Darkness and have been reading it this week. Apparently, Thornton was the god of sharpness, and though the book is interesting, I was mostly inspired by the examples in his book, which are deadly awful. And seeing how he further mangled his bad photos with masking--if one is to go by the photos in the book--I'm losing my interest in masking, too. So this weekend, at least, I'm inclined to second Jim's comment suggesting the importance of good photographs over exotic technique.

EdWorkman
28-Jan-2018, 15:51
Smith shot 35mm and sometimes heavily manipulated prints to get the drama he wanted.
The handsaw jammed into the corner of a pic of Albert Schweizer may be the grossest example- not that it jumps out of the image.
To coin the old phrase- he had vision and wasn't afraid to use it
As for the Fuji - I had only a few minutes to take an 8x10 or two at a wedding. I have a 16x20 of the bride with texture in her dress. I based the exposure etc on experience.
That and dumb luck was all it took

Oren Grad
28-Jan-2018, 15:58
At the time he was using a Schneider Kreuznach Super Symmar HM 210mm f/5.6 MC... that was the first time that I had ever seen a Super Symmar HM in person. We got to be talking about lenses and he said that he used the Super Symmar HM to get the "sharpest possible contact prints".

Except that per Schneider's own MTF data, the 210 SS-HM *isn't* sharper than the ordinary 210 Apo-Symmar (and most likely not sharper than the corresponding Rodenstock, Nikon and Fuji plasmats either). The SS-HM is bigger and more expensive because it has a larger image circle; in fact, it trades off some sharpness to achieve that. So I have to wonder whether this photographer is fooling himself, seeing what he wants to see based on a simplistic presumption that the bigger and more expensive a lens and the more exotic the optical formula, the sharper it must be.

Greg
28-Jan-2018, 16:07
So I have to wonder whether this photographer is fooling himself, seeing what he wants to see based on a simplistic presumption that the bigger and more expensive a lens and the more exotic the optical formula, the sharper it must be.

That was the impression I left with after talking with him...

Michael Kadillak
28-Jan-2018, 17:39
I contact print 8x10 and agree with the comment above that the lens you use is not the primary driver in a well executed contact print. Optimal contrast distribution within the print (ie. exposure and development) is also a highly desirable attribute as is edge effect that come from specific developers and developing techniques. Two things I would also recommend. First is be very judicious in knowing precisely where you place your focus plane and be consistent with this process when you make photographs until it becomes second nature. Howard Bond has a fabulous article describing the proper technique with graphics. Only use what movement is necessary so as to not induce unnecessary vignetting which also needs to be checked on the GG. Secondly, only stop your lens down as far as you need to attain the necessary focus for your photograph. Many times photographers stop down far more than necessary and add diffraction effects to their photographs for no reason.

Although I have a dozen 8x10 lenses in my case, I find the 355 G Claron is my most used lens for both macro and longer images because of the enormous coverage (never have to be concerned when using movements) as well as the sharpness and contrast balance. The 450M, the 600C and the Doctor 240mm fill the rest of the most used dance card.

Although I have a load of Azo and continue to use it for contact printing, recently I have been contact printing using my Durst 138S enlarger with an Ilford 500 multi contrast head for illumination on Ilford warm tone paper for 8x10, 11x14 and 8x20. The ability to use control panel to select a paper grade in 1/2 grade increments is invaluable. At the end of the day it is all about results.





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Sal Santamaura
28-Jan-2018, 19:39
...the importance of good photographs over exotic technique.This is a common refrain. I disagree with the premise. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

ic-racer
28-Jan-2018, 19:43
If you are only contact printing, you can get down to f90 and or use lenses with blurry corners. These things don't work so well when making enlargements from 8x10.

russyoung
28-Jan-2018, 19:50
Edward Weston bought a Rapid Rectilinear in Mexico for 25 pesos (1924). He customarily stopped it all the way down to f/256 (f/64 today's scale). The lens is now at the George Eastman house. Its a lesser quality rectilinear (does not even bear a manufacturer's name!) shot at an aperture that brought on major diffraction. Poor lens, poor technique. But what about the contact printed images? Amazing.

gypsydog
28-Jan-2018, 20:33
.... are some of us too hung up on image resolutions rather than on the actual image captured in the photograph?

comments very welcome...

In a word...Yes!

Willie
28-Jan-2018, 20:36
Actually, the lens you use can make a difference in a contact print. Small differences in sharpness between different lenses. Differences in how they render contrast. Flare characteristics - among others.

My Uncle showed me five 4x5 chromes taken with the same model 75mm Super Angulon lens. Five different copies. Said Calumet got them in and put on a lensboard for his camera then he went with them in the parking lot and photographed the building with the sun in one corner. All at the same aperture and shutter speed.

Took the film to the lab and in 90 minutes had the information as to which lens he then bought. Lowest flare from the sun in the frame. As a result the chrome had less veiling across the image. Much less than three of the sheets of film and a bit less than the fourth. Told me he tested it this way because he was using it directly into the sun often and had lost too many sheets of film due to excessive flare.

The lens can make a difference in the final result.

Corran
28-Jan-2018, 20:44
Some people like to inspect film/prints with a magnifying glass or microscope. Um, good for them I guess? I was just inspecting some 8x10 and 8x20 contact prints tonight, deciding on what to send in to an open call. They are plenty sharp. I don't understand the quibbling over a few lp/mm in the farther corners.

Drew Wiley
28-Jan-2018, 21:25
If you intend to both contact print and SIGNIFICANTLY enlarge, then all this might be a valid discussion. Otherwise, there are far more realistic options for choosing a lens instead of sharpness reputation.

Vaughn
28-Jan-2018, 22:03
I have made some fine 8x10 contacts with my Fuji W 250/6.7 (and other lenses of the same maker/design -- 300mm, 360mm).

With most of my images I strive to get a very sharp print -- sharper than it needs for its 'proper' viewing distance. The sharpness is part of the image, and I find that a high level of sharpness projects itself in a strong matter and affects how the print feels. Purely subjective, of course.

Platinum printing -- a vacuum frame is really needed to check 'resolution' of different papers. How tight the negative is to the paper is a huge variable and most contact printing frames can give mixed results. I do not find pt prints to be a sharp as silver gelatin prints -- but the difference generally is not seen at viewing distances. Besides pt prints, I make carbon prints -- sort of like silver gelatin prints on steroids...acutance is increased by its raised relief.

Bernice Loui
28-Jan-2018, 22:59
Perceived sharpness actually higher contrast or real resolution?

The Schneider HM notes "high modulation" or their variant to deliver higher contrast with increased LPM.

More often than not, visual perception of sharper is actually nothing more than higher contrast in the print.


Decades ago, tried using a Goerz 6" Magnar to enlarge 4x5 negatives to print. This lens was specifically designed to enlarge 5x5 aero film to 10x10 aero film to be used for military recon work. When used to enlarge a 4x5 negative to 8x10 one might believe the increased optical performance will result in a "sharper" print. Turns out, absolutely NO. The print paper cannot resolve the HUGE increase of information blasted on to it.

Much the same holds true with making 8x10 contact prints from 8x10 negatives on toSilver Gelatin print papers.

Keep in mind a "sharper" print alone does not make it a "better" print.



Bernice

Drew Wiley
29-Jan-2018, 10:58
With a contact print, it's not absolute detail in the film that counts, but primarily enhanced edge acutance that you can see. This is largely a matter of film and development choice, unless you deliberately want soft edges like for portraiture. The lens choice itself might lend secondary flavor. But if we want to go on a wild goose chase discussing "HM", MTF, lpmm, etc, we should also be talking about 40x60 inch prints from 8X10 film, not contacts. My gosh, those immaculate contacts which EW made would probably look like mush enlarged much.

John Layton
29-Jan-2018, 13:15
While I don't exactly make contact prints on a daily basis...there are two things I can recommend: one, that whatever contact frame you use...make sure it applies pressure evenly, and forcefully enough to ensure good contact. And be careful with "new and improved" products. I remember back in the early 80's...someone came out with a contact printer that they claimed was the "cats pajamas," furniture grade birch ply...thick acrylic instead of glass...and two lengths of what appeared to be rubber lab tubing, which was pulled across the back of the unit and secured by way of a couple of notches to give pressure to the "sandwich." Thing is...the force this applied was completely wrong...and I soon want back to the more conventional "flower press" design with the three flat springs. Second thing (which only truly works with an effective press)...at least in my experience, is my sense that in terms of really "tactile" sharpness, nothing beats a staining/hardening developed negative which gives good edge effects as well as facilitates a migration/hardening of silver to the surface of the emulsion. Take a look at such a negative under oblique light and you'll see what I mean. Rodinal also gives a bit of this "etching" effect...but in my experience not as much as either ABC or PMK pyro, or, to a very slightly lesser degree, Pyrocat. At any rate...my two cents for what its worth.

Pere Casals
29-Jan-2018, 16:26
he was using a Schneider Kreuznach Super Symmar HM 210mm f/5.6 MC... ...he used the Super Symmar HM to get the "sharpest possible contact prints".


The Super Symmar HM has a large circle (like Sironar-W) of image allowing for extended movements, but IMHO he would not obatin at all shaper contact prints than with other lenses because using an HM and not a Symmar-S or a Sironar-N.

A 8x10 contact copy may resolve some 30 Lp/mm on the print, and any modern (+1950) lens may deliver way more than that, so no deal.

Then, nobody will see more than 6Lp/mm in a print, simply eye has a limit, so IMHO any lens will thow those 30 Lp/mm in the print if the shot is technically good, but we'll need a magnifier to see more than 6 Lp/mm

Some say that the human eye can see more than 6 Lp/mm, this may be true if we see a high contrast target (1:1000, for example), then some people can perceive a bit more, but in a print we have much lower contrast, max is around 1:100 in a good paper, even textures in a print may show much lower contrast than completely Black lines aganist completely White lines, in those conditions no observer won't see more, without a magnifier.



The Super Symmar HM has a larger circle and will illuminate more the bellows, delivering more flare in some situations if a front hood not used, but no additional sharpness in a contact print, just wider translational movements...

This is IMHO...

Drew Wiley
29-Jan-2018, 17:19
Acrylic in a contact print frame???? Not only is it electrostatic and attract dust, but can bow. Guess somebody always has a new idea.

Jim Galli
30-Jan-2018, 13:57
Once upon a time I had a shooting buddy who insisted that 35mm cameras can resolve 135 lpmm; medium format cameras can resolve 80 and lf cameras can resolve 40, thus it was pointless to shoot the larger camera. I refuse to argue with folks like that. Let them believe whatever they like.

Image Clarity, by John Williams is the best treatment on every phase necessary for sharp images I've ever read. No wonder I'm frustrated. Read that book and then go make pictures with a Pinkham Semi Achromatic. Doh!

John Layton
30-Jan-2018, 14:03
It was a really thick piece of acrylic...but the thing was ridiculous! Funnier still was that multitudes of these were sold as a product launch with promo-pricing at a very well known workshop in mid-coast Maine - and it seemed that everyone (myself included) suddenly had one! At any rate...I've long since re-purposed the printing frame's various parts - and I sometimes wonder what became of the multitudes that were sold.

Corran
30-Jan-2018, 14:19
I've been contact printing 8x10 and 8x20 directly on the baseboard of my enlarger with a big 10x22 piece of P99 acrylic that I bought primarily as a hold-down plate for scanning. I use some steel bars that I bought in 3" lengths, 3/4" square superglued on the edge of the acrylic plate to weigh down the plate, and have extras to place around as needed for weight, especially with the 8x20 negatives.

Inspecting the contact prints it's clear to me the prints are uniformly sharp, with no issue with uneven contact. I have seen that issue on occasion with an actual 8x10 proof printer I have. The acrylic, for me, works perfectly. I do have to be careful with dust - I usually wipe the whole thing down with lint-free, 100% cotton wipes and Eclipse fluid, the same stuff I use on scanner glass, lenses, and digital camera sensors. The eliminates all the dust. I have been thinking I need to find a nice thin box that has a good seal on it to store it in, and perhaps dust will be less of an issue. Right now it's just in a cardboard box with some bubblewrap when not in use.

Oren Grad
30-Jan-2018, 14:33
Image Clarity, by John Williams is the best treatment on every phase necessary for sharp images I've ever read. No wonder I'm frustrated.

+1

Tin Can
30-Jan-2018, 14:45
I've been contact printing 8x10 and 8x20 directly on the baseboard of my enlarger with a big 10x22 piece of P99 acrylic that I bought primarily as a hold-down plate for scanning. I use some steel bars that I bought in 3" lengths, 3/4" square superglued on the edge of the acrylic plate to weigh down the plate, and have extras to place around as needed for weight, especially with the 8x20 negatives.

Inspecting the contact prints it's clear to me the prints are uniformly sharp, with no issue with uneven contact. I have seen that issue on occasion with an actual 8x10 proof printer I have. The acrylic, for me, works perfectly. I do have to be careful with dust - I usually wipe the whole thing down with lint-free, 100% cotton wipes and Eclipse fluid, the same stuff I use on scanner glass, lenses, and digital camera sensors. The eliminates all the dust. I have been thinking I need to find a nice thin box that has a good seal on it to store it in, and perhaps dust will be less of an issue. Right now it's just in a cardboard box with some bubblewrap when not in use.

I found big hunks of thick glass on Amazon a while back. $100 delivered got a very big thick piece. Sure it's not optically perfect, but it would attract less dust than acryic and not need steel weight. Like this. https://www.amazon.com/Rectangle-Tempered-Glass-Polished-Corners/dp/B004E61XFM

I want to contact print 14 X 36" X-Ray.

That project is still on the list...

Drew Wiley
30-Jan-2018, 14:51
I've got a piece of coated Zeiss optical glass in my contact frame. But I rarely use it. Prefer my Condit 8X10 masking frame which is pin registered.

Drew Wiley
30-Jan-2018, 14:55
Incidentally, I paid less for a whole box of that special glass from a scientific liquidator than a polished thick sheet of acrylic would cost from the local plastics retailer. I have my own acrylic fabrication gear, but jes sayin', apples to apples.

Corran
30-Jan-2018, 15:04
FWIW, I paid a whole $15 for the piece of acrylic, cut to my exact specifications. Plus shipping. To reiterate, it was primarily purchased as a scanning solution - P99 is or acts like ANR material so I do not have Newton Ring problems, and I have to be mindful of size and thickness to fit in the scanner. The acrylic + steel bars exactly fit under the scanning lamp - important since my scanner is an X-Y scanner. Using it to contact print was a secondary function that ended up working perfectly for me, as long as I'm mindful of the dust, which cleans off easily.

Whatever works. I'm not in the mood to deal with a piece of glass that is, according to Amazon, 36 pounds, unless it was built into a dedicated unit of some sort. Actually my dining table top is a large 8x4 foot piece of clear glass and that was literally the worst thing to move in the house!

Drew Wiley
30-Jan-2018, 18:16
It can warp. Believe me. I've worked with plenty of that particular acrylic. But if it hasn't given you trouble yet, that's great. One less thing to shatter.

Tin Can
30-Jan-2018, 18:38
When I get my big piece of tempered glass it will have a bed, a dedicated contact print frame/table with handles and safety features.

Bryan, I didn't realize you use the acrylic with your large scanner. I just saying what I have planned for a while.

For Drew, I use AN when needed. Too expensive to use everywhere. Good thing I got a stack when the price was right.

Corran
30-Jan-2018, 18:44
Randy, I'd love to see the 14x36 prints when you get to it! Built into a dedicated contact frame like you are talking about sounds like the ticket.

I'm still trying to get my alt. process printing area setup. I have all the materials but I'm not sure about wiring and don't have the money to pay anyone at the moment. Will have to consider glass options there.

John Layton
31-Jan-2018, 09:34
Corran...you really ought to think about re-purposing that table top!

Drew Wiley
31-Jan-2018, 10:39
Just get a big NuArc unit from a used print shop gear supplier.

David Lobato
31-Jan-2018, 17:32
John Layton answered my questions about choice of film developer and edge effects for apparent sharpness. Like others I believe the image has to be good before getting lost in the details. It’s all about good technique and process. Now I’m motivated to find my contact printing paper and get to printing.