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View Full Version : Do you enlarge 8x10 negs or only contact print?



Cletus
20-Jul-2012, 20:03
So I thought maybe I could get a little advice here on this dilemma of mine.

I've been itching for quite a while to move up to an 8x10 - shooting 4x5 now mostly, sprinkled in with a little 6x6 when I can't get the 'big' camera out. I have a darkroom at home with a 4x5 enlarger and my "workflow" is 100% analog. With 8x10 negs I would only be able to do contact prints unless I want to buy a scanner and a printer and get into all that (I don't really want to), and I'm afraid I'll start feeling pretty limited in a short time, being able to do no larger than 8x10 prints. Moving up to the bigger camera seems like kind of a big commitment in that regard - not to mention the investment - for not a really huge return (or is it?) in quality and clarity of the print.

Currently, I enlarge and print up to 16x20 with my 4x5 negatives and they look pretty good to me when they're done right. 8x10 and 11x14 prints look even better and it's hard to imagine a contact print from an 8x10 negative would be vastly better than 4x5 enlarged to 8x10. I know there is no equal to an 8x10 contact print and I am also keen to try some Pt/pd and other alternative processes, which to me is one of the big selling points of moving to the larger format.

I guess my question is, is the slight uptick in quality, sharpness and 'tonality' and the ability to do alt. process contact prints really worth moving up to the larger format and then be limited to no larger than 8x10 prints?

Thanks for your input and advice on this issue...

BTW - One of the arguments I make to myself is that Edward Weston was "limited" in this way and we all know how that turned out!

Phil aka "Cletus"

John Kasaian
20-Jul-2012, 20:23
Look for an Elwood enlarger.
They're out there---waiting
(fade in theme from JAWS: duh duh duh duh....duh duh duh duh....)

jeroldharter
20-Jul-2012, 20:42
If you are asking the question you are precisely the person who would appreciate the difference.

I think I can make a fine print, 11x14 - 16x20 from a 4x5 negative. But the same size print from an 8x10 negative is a different, better animal. The problem is that it is difficult, slower, and more expensive to expose/enlarge 8x10 negatives.

Leigh
20-Jul-2012, 20:59
I contact print in the darkroom. I can do moderate digital enlargements (~1.5x) using the V750 and Canon printer.

For larger prints or either type I have to send it out.
That's one reason most of my shooting is done in 4x5, which I can enlarge in the darkroom.

- Leigh

Alan Gales
20-Jul-2012, 21:00
The people who contact print 8x10 say it's awesome. Some people say an 8x10 enlargement from a 4x5 is just as good. I really don't know. I think it is something that you just have to see for yourself and then make a decision.

ic-racer
20-Jul-2012, 21:24
You can get an 8x10 enlarger for less than the cost of a high-end contact printing frame. The enlarger will allow prints from 4x5" to 40" and everywhere in between.

Leigh
20-Jul-2012, 21:44
Of course you can get one, but you need a place to put it.

My 9'x12' darkroom iwa designed for 4x5 work, and there's not enough space for an 8x10 enlarger.

http://www.mayadate.org/pix/Darkroom300w.jpg

The darkroom ceiling is only about 7 feet. I could cut a hole in it for a taller column and gain another 8" or so.
The table for an 8x10 is wide and deep, and I don't have significant extra room in either direction.

I would sure like to have one. Probably have to get a horizontal (Durst?).

- Leigh

Brian C. Miller
20-Jul-2012, 21:53
Old thread, with poll: Enlarging from 8x10. (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?66632-Enlarging-from-8x10)

Leigh
20-Jul-2012, 22:18
Old thread, with poll:
That was then... This is now.

The industry has changed a lot in the last couple of years, and in the preceding decade.

- Leigh

Oren Grad
20-Jul-2012, 22:36
I contact print.

But...


I think it is something that you just have to see for yourself and then make a decision.

TheDeardorffGuy
20-Jul-2012, 23:00
I had to move my dkroom. It was set for 35mm-4x5. Then I was given a used FOTAR enlarger. I built a LED light head. I use stage lighting gels for my PC paper. Printing a nice 8x10 neg is almost the neatest thing you can do. A 20x24 has zero grain. I have better control for burning and dodging. It came with a very heavy vaacum table that goes to the floor. I managed to pack it and my sink in a 7x15 room with a pocket door

cosmicexplosion
21-Jul-2012, 04:02
i only contact print at present, just a light globe and a small contact frame.

its all you need to see how you go, you can all ways farm it out for exhibition stuff later. depends what you want to do and what your budget is and space you have etc.

David A. Goldfarb
21-Jul-2012, 04:14
Only contact print.

bob carnie
21-Jul-2012, 06:27
I enlarge 11x14 film rarely but 8x10 all the time. I contact digital film.

Greg Davis
21-Jul-2012, 06:38
I enlarge. My enlarger is in a walk-in closet, then I put the exposed paper in a drum and process it in my bathroom.

Robert Skeoch
21-Jul-2012, 06:40
For years I had a 4x5 camera and 4x5 enlarger.
Then I sold both and just shot smaller film for work.
One day I decided to get back into large format but realized my wife would kill me if I went out and got another 4x5 and enlarger. The first ones, I bought were new and costly and to redo it seemed unlikely to go over well at home.
So my idea was to get a 8x10 and make contacts prints.

Then I made a nice photograph but it was needing to be larger than 8x10, and I had it printed at a custom lab.

I was no longer happy with just 8x10 prints, and ended up buying a used 8x10 enlarger and rebuilding my darkroom and making 20x24 prints. This was a very happy time.

After a while I decided to sell the 8x10 and get a 4x10 for a project I'm working away on. I can still print it and also use the camera for 5x7.

Now I have an interest in platinum prints, but feel the 4x10 is too small, 8x10 would be as well. So I'm considering making a digital negative in 20x24 and making the platinum prints that way.

There is no real answer to your question so you might just have to "give it a whirl" and see where the trip takes you.

-Rob

Cletus
21-Jul-2012, 06:51
I appreciate all the comeback and opinions.

Leigh - I am in a similar situation in that my darkroom probably wouldn't quite support an 8x10 enlarger. Not that I haven't thought about it! I think it would just be too much and turn my smallish space into a positively cramped space and that's not worth it to me. Lately I've been "exploring the virtues" of 8x10 prints made from 4x5 (or even 2 1/4) negs and many of the photographs I make seem well suited to the smaller print size. Many don't either, though and then I at least have the option of printing larger.

It's exactly that option that I am worried about giving up, by moving to 8x10. Gotta buy the camera and a few more, even larger and more expensive lenses, gotta buy expensive film holders, gotta get a new bag to carry it all in, gotta ask if my current tripod setup will support the heavier camera, etc., etc...Not that I don't expect all this, but when it gets down to brass tacks, it all seems to boil down to whether the difference between an 8x10 contact print, or an 8x10 made from a 4x5 negative is dramatic enough to warrant all the extra luggage. I really enjoy working with cameras and taking photos and that's part of it, but for me, it's really more about the end result, the print, and whether I've successfully executed my "vision" in the end. I'm sure I'm not alone on this point...

It' not that I wouldn't keep the 4x5 either, but now a new issue comes up: I can imagine myself out on a photo "expedition" with 24 sheets of 4x5 loaded and 6 sheets of 8x10 or something like that. Come upon a potential photograph (I usually shoot near the car, or not too far from it) and then....which format to use for this one?? It looks like this will be a special image, I'll use 8x10! But then they ALL look like special images if I've bothered to stop and explore the photo opportunity in the first place. It's not until I'm home, film processed and start working on the light table that the real keepers usually start showing up.

If you're shooting both formats, how do you decide which to use for a particular photograph?

David - Are you happy with contact printing only? Do you do Pt/pd printing, or other alt processes? Are you satisfied with no prints larger than your camera format, or do you scan and do the whole digital negative thing? I'm just wondering because I see you are in NYC. (I envy you!) and I can't help but wonder if your methods and print size is by choice, or if it's just that space is at too much of a premium for a bigger darkroom and bigger prints?

I'll quit expanding on the basic question now, I just think it's really interesting to hear why folks choose the particular format and max print size that they do....

ic-racer
21-Jul-2012, 06:59
The darkroom ceiling is only about 7 feet.

There may have been some variation in size through the years but I believe that if you put an 8x10 Elwood on the floor it is about 6 feet tall.
77569
Can also be turned into a Horizontal enlarger:
77570

IanG
21-Jul-2012, 07:32
Initially I intended to contact print my 10x8 negatives, but as soon as I held some (of my own) I was itching to enlarge them so I went looking for an enlarger. My De Vere 5108 takes up the same space as the 507 or 504 versions as they used the same columns & basedoards anyway. My current darkroom does have an issue with the ceiling height but as it's in the cellar I was able to cut down 8" through the floor and take a joist out to get similar extra headroom.

So now I only enlarge, and reduce :D

Ian

Oren Grad
21-Jul-2012, 09:30
David - Are you happy with contact printing only? Do you do Pt/pd printing, or other alt processes? Are you satisfied with no prints larger than your camera format, or do you scan and do the whole digital negative thing? I'm just wondering because I see you are in NYC. (I envy you!) and I can't help but wonder if your methods and print size is by choice, or if it's just that space is at too much of a premium for a bigger darkroom and bigger prints?

I'm not David and I'm not in NYC (though there are still a few good pro labs near where I live). But FWIW, I make contact prints because I like contact prints. I'm completely uninterested in making very big enlargements - the largest prints I'll make are 11x14 or 7x17 contact prints, as those are the largest cameras I have. When I'm enlarging from smaller negatives, I very rarely enlarge to a size that won't fit on an 8x10 sheet, and never beyond an 11x14 sheet.

I do ordinary silver prints only, no alt-process stuff.

I've dabbled in scanning sheet film negatives with a flatbed scanner and making inkjet prints but haven't invested much time in it, as I much prefer darkroom contact prints.

As far as the logistics, I had a bench-top 5x7 Elwood enlarger briefly, but found it more trouble than it was worth. I'd have a difficult time fitting a big floor-standing Durst in my darkroom - probably not impossible, but it would force a major rearrangement of other things with resulting hassles. I could manage a bench-top 8x10 Zone VI or Beseler mod with a lot less trouble, but I haven't felt any urge to get one.

Cletus
21-Jul-2012, 11:33
Oren -

Thanks for the comment. Your thoughts on the subject are much like mine. I rarely make 16x20 prints from any negative and even 11x14s are getting to be less and less. There's something precious and...singular?...about a perfectly done 8x10, especially when the particular subject matter is suited to a smaller print. Even more, when matted out to 11x14 or even 16x20 I think a print like this can hold up quite well against a larger print in some cases.

That fact alone is one of my biggest 'pro' arguments to myself when considering moving up to the larger format. I even thought about skipping 8x10 altogether and just going for the 11x14 camera, but for me that would be getting carried away I think. When it gets right down to it, I think the ability to make contact prints, in Pt/pd too if I want - and I really do - is probably alone worth the price of admission for the bigger camera. My whole reason for asking this question in the first place was really whether the investment of time and money into the larger format generally left one feeling limited later, when 8x10 contact prints were the max you could do yourself, without having to scan or farm your work out. That, and were they really THAT much better than an 8x10 enlargement from a 4x5 neg to be worth the trouble.

Yeah, and it never occurred to me there was even such thing as a "Benchtop" 8x10 enlarger. I thought they were all the big machine shop looking, huge stands with the height adjustable easels? My darkroom has really high ceilings and my enlarger bench is REALLY heavy and solid and could probably support upwards of 500 pounds. My big enlarger is an Omega D5XL with a 22"W x 36"L baseboard. Do you think there are 8x10 bench-top enlargers out there that would fit into this footprint? That would really be something and if I could get my hands on an enlarger like that (for less than $3 grand) that'd be all she wrote!

ic-racer
21-Jul-2012, 11:44
If you put a table-top 8x10 enlarger on a table, that may not help much with a low ceiling, compared to a floor-standing 8x10 enlarger. It may be easier to transport, however.

John Kasaian wrote that he mounted his 8x10 Elwood on a 22x48" baseboard.

The base footprint of a Durst L1840 is only 23" x 38", though, the removable projection baseboard is larger.

Oren Grad
21-Jul-2012, 12:20
Yeah, and it never occurred to me there was even such thing as a "Benchtop" 8x10 enlarger. I thought they were all the big machine shop looking, huge stands with the height adjustable easels? My darkroom has really high ceilings and my enlarger bench is REALLY heavy and solid and could probably support upwards of 500 pounds. My big enlarger is an Omega D5XL with a 22"W x 36"L baseboard. Do you think there are 8x10 bench-top enlargers out there that would fit into this footprint? That would really be something and if I could get my hands on an enlarger like that (for less than $3 grand) that'd be all she wrote!

More on the two that I mentioned: The Zone VI was designed as a bench-top 5x7 enlarger, but at least for the second version of it (not sure about the first) Calumet also offered an 8x10 head. IIRC there were two options for column length as well. Beseler offered an 8x10 conversion kit that could be used with either the 45MXT or 45VXL enlargers. If you can handle a D5XL in your space, you should be able to manage either the Zone VI or a converted Beseler.

Both are long out of production and may take a bit of patience to find. I'd guess that the Beseler conversion is a bit more common on the used market than the Zone VI with 8x10 head. If you are able to find either, it should cost a whole lot less than $3000.

Cletus
21-Jul-2012, 14:31
Oren and ic-racer,

Looks like I'll be on a new treasure hunt now and for the foreseeable future. I've considered an 8x10 enlarger several times over the past year or two and finally just wrote it off, deciding I just didn't have the space. It never even once occurred to me that there could be another option for such a big enlarger. I've even thought of somehow finding a suitable head and some rails and mounting it to the wall, but that just sounds too much like a major construction project. My ceilings are over 12' high, so that's not an issue, it's just the actual floor space and possibly power requirements that might be tough to get around. It sounds to me like an enlarger of the type you mentioned would be ideal.

Thanks a bunch for the tips - that's exactly why I post these questions here!

So...Anybody have an 8x10 Zone VI or Beseler benchtop enlarger for sale???

Drew Bedo
22-Jul-2012, 19:10
When I could get it done , in the "old days", I had a lab enlarge my 8x10 negs to 11x14 (larger cost too much to print, mount and frame). One by one, each pro lab in the Houston area closed down or stopped printing LF to paper.

The last lab I used, Hot Flash, couldb't sell off their commercial 10x10" enlarger . I think they had to pay someone to take it away as scrap.

Now no-one will do even a contact print. AZ photo will still tank develop 8x10 sheet film, but will only print from a scan.

Neal Chaves
24-Jul-2012, 17:28
I made contact prints on AZO when I first started 8X10, and they are still among the best prints I have ever made. For a few years, I used my cameras as enlargers to make occasional 11X14s, 16X20s and 20X24s. Then I converted a 4X5 Beseler myself with an Aristo 12X12 head. With a 250mm lens on this I could make up to a 20X24 on the base board, but I also discovered the value of being able to make 1:1 prints (an 8X10 print from an 8X10 negative).

This is really a great way to proof my work, and the print quality rivals that of a contact print. I only have to handle the negative once when making multiple prints, and I can go right to a larger size with it still in the enlarger. The dust, finger prints, Newton's Rings problems of contact printing are not a factor. Most of the time I go right to an 11X14, but if I do have to make an 8X10 from 8X10, it's always in the enlarger now.

My present rig is an 810V Beseler with daylight Aristo head. It sits on the same counter as my 4X5 Chromega.

Dan Dozer
25-Jul-2012, 19:09
I converted my 8 x 10 Kodak 2D camera into a horizontal enlarger. It sits on a board that hangs out over the counter top and projects onto the opposite wall. Once you find a light source (I found a 10 x 10 cold light head) the rest is pretty easy and doesn't cost hardly any money. The printing is easy, but one of the difficult things is learning how to hold our focusing scope on the wall while reaching back to adjust the camera.

One of my main reasons for switching to 8 x 10 was not image quality, it was lens selections. There a ton of different lens types to use for 8 x 10 as compared to 4 x 5 and if you're doing portait type of work, I see it as a huge advantage.

Richard M. Coda
25-Jul-2012, 20:57
I have done both, enlarging up to 16x20 (would love to do some 20x24s one day). But I prefer contact printing... just something special about them. I have also made 32x40 inkjet prints from 8x10 negs... they are very nice, too.

jose angel
26-Jul-2012, 00:25
Only contact prints from 8x10".

I often enlarge 4x5" sheets, very seldom 5x7" (in fact, right now I`m thinking to uninstall my 5x7" enlarger today, waiting for better times), and never 8x10".
I think scanning 8x10" prints at home (V750) desn`t make too much sense to me these days. By far I prefer wet printing, and for small enlargements, I don`t notice a huge improvement from 4x5" to 5x7"; I know enlarging 8x10" will show all the detail that is not shown in a contact print, but for the time being, I think I can do without it.

I always think I want to use 8x10" for "alternative" processes, but reality is that I use 4x5" way more, also digital, 6x6/6x7 and a bit of 35mm... too much stuff already. I`d need a second life to shoot more. I`m decided not to bit off more than I can chew. And I think there is still a huge space for improvement in my 4x5" photography.

John Powers
26-Jul-2012, 06:33
A benefit to 8x10 not yet mentioned is that after composing and focusing a 4x5, looking at an 8x10 ground glass with an f5.6 or 6.8 lens is like looking at a High Definition TV. I can see so much more clearly than the 4x5 Linhof I sold even with a f4.5 lens and a Beattie screen. Adjusting perspective is a dream. Beware though, it is a slippery slope. After 8x10, 7x17 or 14x17 looks so much better. Kerry is offering one of those.

I enlarge 8x10 up to 20x24. The enlarger will do much bigger. I run out of tray space and space between tray and ceiling to pull the prints out. My ceiling is 7’2”. Another enlarger to consider is a Durst 138S converted to 8x10 with an Aristo cold light. Michael Mustmansky converted the one I have. The cold light stays on the stand one inch below the ceiling. The table goes up and down to adjust to paper size, then I focus adjusting the bellows.

That rig is also a good setup for contact printing. I do 8x10 and 7x17 that way.

John Powers