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Thread: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    South Georgia

    Question 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    Does anyone have any experience in perhaps contact printing 5x7? I scan 4x5 and smaller and have the capability of enlarging B&W 4x5 and smaller in a "temporary bathroom darkroom" but 5x7 eludes me because my scanner doesn't have frames for 5x7 and I'm hesitant to just lay a negative on the glass.

    I got a B&J Grover while on a business trip because it was attached to a lens I bought. (Same price to take the lens or stuff the camera and the lens in my luggage thus the camera value is sunk costs to me) This leads me to making a decision...Buy a few film holders and some film and give it a whirl or just sell the camera body and lensboard to get back some of the purchase price. I have a few lenses that are supposed to cover 5x7 w/o movement (90, 150 and 210) as well as, I assume, the Ilex 7 1/2-inch paragon that came with the camera.

    I'm a newcomer to 4x5 but would like to do more and I enjoy it as well as working in the darkroom. So I'd like to know if anyone has experience with contact printing 5x7. I was in an earlier discussion when I saw what turned out to be a full plate camera where there were mentions of that size being about the minimum for contact printing. I don't have the capability to enlarge 5x7 other than through scanning and electronically printing.

    So, keeping future costs in mind, what factors should I consider in keeping the camera to contact print or scan and electronically print being my options? What are your experiences with these options of creating prints with 5x7 without an appropriate enlarger landing at my feet?

    Reed Jones

  2. #2
    Tim Sandstrom
    Join Date
    May 2006
    San Jose, CA

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    5x7 contact prints work very well. They're 'intimate', but get the point across and have plenty of luscious detail.
    These days, I'm pt/pd printing, and 5x7 is a perfect size for learning that process. They [and whole plate]
    are the first sizes "generally" acceptable as contact prints [someone will come along and argue otherwise, just wait].
    And 5x7 is still a bit easier than 8x10 [sez the guy with the 8x10 kit coming soon...]

    Developing 5x7 can be a problem, unless you tray develop or have a jobo expert drum.

    I never print digitally. Better scanning has some kit for scanning 5x7, and I bought it, but never
    followed through on the inkjet. They have you tape it underneath a sheet of AN glass. In a workshop
    on Pt/Pd printing from digital negatives [with Kerik Kouklas - let me say it again, a great guy],
    I made some Pt/Pd prints from 5x7 negatives I had scanned by laying them on the glass. I shoot
    TXP, and it doesn't make a lot of newton rings, emulsion side down.

    Contact printing doesn't really make dodging/burning easy, everything is smaller,
    and it's hard to see through the denser negatives so, straight prints mostly,
    you can preflash through...

    I'm not sure I answered any of your questions very well

    I love the format. I started contact printing 5x7s because of Sudek's affinity for them...
    I still like modest enlargements [I've a durst 138s], and frankly 5x7 stands up to 16x20
    quite easily - not that I do that, but have some friends that do.

    And hey, maybe you'll find an old durst...


  3. #3
    reedvalve's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2013

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    5x7 contact prints are easy and economical to make, and are really quite nice. You could probably also get an inexpensive holder for your scanner, but give the contact printing a shot - you are already set up to do it and you may like the results a lot.

  4. #4
    Dave Karp
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Los Angeles, CA

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    I love 5x7 contact prints. I mat them to 8x10 and they make a nice impression. I agree, contact printing makes it harder to dodge and burn, but I find far less need to do either when contact printing compared to enlarging from 4x5. I have used the Betterscanning station for the Epson V700 scanner, but so far only with 4x5. It works pretty well for 11x14 prints. I have not gone larger. I assume that the 5x7 negative will provide much more information than the 4x5 and that you could print fairly large using a consumer scanner like a V700.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2014

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    I can only add to the praise of 5x7 contacts. If I had to start all over, I would probably should 5x7 and no 4x5 or 8x10.
    Don't hesitate to slap the negative on the glass of the scanner; with most films (tmax excluded!), the image side is coarse enough to prevent newton rings. Focus of the scanner may not be optimal, but it'll be good enough for reasonably large prints; I scan 8x10's at 1200dpi this way. Works well enough for me.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    North Yorkshire

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    I don't have a 5 x 7 enlarger either so the only options for me are to make contact prints, or scan and print digitally.
    I find 5 x 7 contact prints too small. And they don't do justice to the detail that is in the negative. I sometimes feel that if I'm going to stick to a print size of 5 x 7 inches, I might as well use 35,, or medium format.
    I have an Epson V700 flatbed scanner. This allows you to make good sharp scans with the negative flat on the glass. 5 x 7 negatives tend to curl up at the corners when being scanned. A home made cardboard frame solves this. Or a small weight in each corner. This makes it possible to get very good scans, and then make big prints.
    10 x 14 inch prints from scanned 5 x 7 negatives can look really special, in terms of technical qualities such as beautifully rendered detail, tonal gradation, etc. Far better than small 5 x 7 contact prints in my opinion. It's not either/or, of course. You could do both.


  7. #7
    Ironage's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Bethel, CT

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    I use only 5 x 7 for my large work because I work in ziatype and cyanotype which require contact printing. If you have minimum space for a darkroom, 5x7 contact printing will be the best choice. The print size is not ideal for wall display, but perfect for a book page. 4 x 5 for contact printing, even when the print is right in front of you, doesn't work. I have enlarged the negatives as well and the results are fantastic, but negatives for alternate processes don't work ideally for enlargement. Can't help you scanning since I have never done it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Westport Island, Maine

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    5x7 is my favorite size for prints. They keep the viewing experience intimate - it's so easily seen from reading distance, and yet you're still taking in the whole print.

    Tray developing is easy to learn, and small, 8x10 trays work well in a small space. I've scratched 2 negatives in 32 years of tray developing 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10.

    Lodima or Azo, in my experience, will make gorgeous prints. There are other papers out there, but I have no direct experience.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"

  9. #9

    Join Date
    May 2006
    north of the 49th

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    I scan my 4x5 and 8x10 negatives by laying the negative emulsion down on the glass. A piece of AN glass sits on top to keep it flat (not always necessary with 8x10 so ymmv). The caveat however is that you will need to be diligent about cleaning the neg and glass surfaces, of dust, otherwise you'll be cloning and healing for hours lol.

    I also recently bought a 5x7 camera (with the 4x5 back as well) because I planned to make contacts, and felt 4x5 was just too small for my liking. I now need to find a new home for the other camera since it doesn't get used anymore.
    notch codes ? where we're going, we don't need notch codes.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    North Dakota

    Re: 5x7 Printing Options (Contact Print? Scan and electronically print?)

    If you think 5x7 too small a print size check out the print size Michael Kenna sells. He shoots 2 1/4 square film and does not make large prints. Not contact prints, but not large prints.

    A 5x7 contact print is just fine for many images.
    I tend to procrastinate on stuff. One of these days I'll do something about it.

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