Enlarging negs bigger than 8x10

Discussion in 'Ultra Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Jarin Blaschke, Nov 7, 2017.

  1. Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    This is a bit of a basic question, but the biggest format enlarger I've encountered is for 8x10 negatives. What does/can one use to enlarge 11x14, 16x20 or 20x24 negatives? Imagine if one wanted to use 20x24 negs (or wider/larger, via Ilford's ULF order of 20" wide roll film) to make wall-sized mural prints that also reward close scrutiny, for instance.

    Let's presume one prefers a wet print to a drum scan and digital output...


    J
     
  2. locutus

    locutus Member

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    ULF seems to me to be mostly about contact printing, however if you insist!

    What i would do....

    Build a graflarger style back for the ULF camera you used to expose the negative and project horizontally.

    Problem: you will need one big dark room for this....
     
  3. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    There was the upright DeVere 515 that handled up to 12x15" negatives, and a couple of horizontal projection DeVeres & Dursts that could handle up to 30x40cm negatives - they used something like a 2.5Kw or 4Kw light source, though Heiland can build an LED system giving equivalent light output for less power. There were doubtless other similar machines in the graphic arts world etc.

    Your bigger problem is resolution loss from diffraction - and 8x10 (or possibly up to 11x14) is arguably the biggest size (realistically) where you can maintain a reasonably deep stop without losing resolution to a point that makes enlargement pointless. Scheimpflug movements can help, but they can also distort the shape of things which may or may not be OK with you. Pick the battles you want to fight & accept that it'll often end up as a trade-off between resolution & depth of field above 8x10.

    Massimo Vitali has done quite a bit of work using 12x20" (& 20x24"?) formats with C41 films, drum scanned & output on the widest rolls of Endura. Might be worth having a look at some of his work before diving into the world of custom-built ULF enlargers.
     
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    Jarin Blaschke

    Jarin Blaschke Member

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    Thanks.

    I believe Clyde Butcher used to enlarge 12x20 negatives to mural size - does/did he use a graphic arts machine?

    Re: diffraction: Indeed. I just started shooting 8x10, and am quickly learning about diffraction limits. I have only made contact prints and examined negs under my 8x loupe so far. From negs I have examined, my guess is that I would be good up until f/45 for 4x enlargement (32x40"). I have already found the need to close down to between f/64 and f/90 for many works, and yesterday had to make a close up abstraction within a Century Plant at f/128. Even then, I'm not sure whether this latest neg will hold universal sharpness. For these images, I just have to accept that they will only ever be 8x10 prints.

    Nonetheless, I've long fantasized about one day making epic landscapes at a scale of presentation akin to the Hudson River School, for that level of visceral impact. Like those earlier works, I would also want the viewer to be able to then walk in and observe the tiniest details. To give the illusion of being able to walk into the work. It seems that that kind of fine detail holds until 4x. I'd want the print to be at least as tall as a moderately tall male person, and I find 1.66 to be a very agreeable aspect ratio in my motion picture work. So, let's say one orders the 20" film from Ilford, cuts it into 20x33 sheets and has some ridiculous camera system made (the lens would be another issue). The prints could theoretically be enlarged to 80 x132 (6'8 x 11'), but again, if we are limited to f/45 for 4x magnification, all landscapes would have to be distant with no mid-ground elements. Presumably it would be similar depth of field to shooting a landscape at f/11 on 8x10 - not a lot!

    Anyway, are there existing graphic arts machines that could house such a large negative?
    Failing that, can you even drum scan such a negative?

    J
     
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Doesn't apparent sharpness partially dependent on viewing distance and sharp scrutiny sort of a conflict?
     
  6. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    I might be wrong, but I think Butcher's machine may have started life as a process camera & been fitted with a custom light source to turn it into an enlarger - pretty much what Ansel Adams did too. Sadly most process cameras will have been scrapped in the 1980-2000 era when scanning & digital pre-press killed them off - you might be lucky & find one, but they can be truly gigantic pieces of industrial machinery.

    I also forgot to say that you could also use multiple strips of enlarging paper to produce even bigger prints, but your retouching to cover the joins will have to be first rate.

    Regarding the camera, you've still got a way to go till you approach the behemoth that John Kibble built in about 1860 - approx 30x44" negatives, some of which I believe have survived in one of the archives here in Glasgow... I recall reading he had an 1800mm lens made by Ross for it, but could be wrong. Would not like to have to wrestle with a camera kit that size without a considerable support crew!

    Finally, drum scanner limitations are about 20x24 on some Heidelbergs, other scanners are smaller. The files will be hefty - & having dealt with files sized for printing at 300ppi at 60x80", ending up north of 10-12gb after a few layers & masks is all too easy.
     
  7. mshchem

    mshchem Member

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    If you can still find a process camera, it's an easy conversion. The hard part is moving and housing a process camera. I had an opportunity to get for free a 3 x 4 foot process camera. There were two Rodenstock lenses, seems like the shorter one was 60 inch. I have an 11x14 camera with 5 foot bellows , two short for these lenses. I took the lenses to a swap meet and sold them for 40 bucks a piece (DUMB).

    The process camera was at least 15 feet long
     
  8. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I was given a process camera 22 ft long with a bellows big enough to walk through if it support weight. It probably cost a couple hundred thousand dollars new. I cannibalized the lenses and the precision vac easel, which alone weighs about 300 lbs. The rest went to the dump. The main problem with film significantly bigger than 8X10 is that there is so little depth of field to real world outdoor images that the resulting fuss is counterproductive. Contact prints are a different story. People have even turned semi trailers into giant pinhole cameras. More of a stunt in my opinion, but as long as they're having fun, to each his own.
     
  9. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    12X16 enlargers were made for specialized color separation work using high-wattage pulsed xenon heads, not for huge prints per se. I'm fairly certain there are a few brand new ones still in crates in Italy for about 75K apiece. They'll still be there unopened for the next two hundred years I suppose. Likewise, 11X14 film was once popular with portrait studios because it provided such a generous retouching surface; most enlarged it only modestly. A handful of people are shooting 11X14 then scanning and digitally printing big work, but I'm skeptical about whether or not they've ironed out their technique enough to warrant it. Seems like the current fad with ginormous prints has little to do with quality anyway. .. more about either outsized sofa decor in MacMansions or temporary eyecatchers in museum venues reminiscent of dept store display psychology. I do know people who can do very high quality work big, but they also have millions invested in equipment and charge very high fees. Suppose most of that gear will go to the dump too, once they retire and the facility gets turned into $8000 per month one-bedroom apts for techies.
     
  10. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I work at a print shop, and many years ago when we went digital, we sold off our process camera to some guys from another, smaller print shop. They showed up with a truck and a large trailer, and spent a whole day disassembling it and moving it, piece by piece, onto the trailer. They made the mistake of reassembling it on the trailer, and not properly securing it. At the end of the day, they left and took the sharp turn coming out of our parking lot too quickly, and spilled the camera out, all over the street. Needless to say, they weren't happy.

    I don't remember how big of a negative that camera would do, but it was big enough to do contact prints for 28" x 40" paper, so it was at least that big. Anyway, that was basically just an enlarger in reverse.
     
  11. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I own a 515 Devere but to date never printed from an 11 x 14 negative... I am looking to loan / borrow an 11 x14 setup some day to do a print project with.
     
  12. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Imagine the space needed to enlarge and print such large negatives. Something that I just don't have. It's a challenge for me just to enlarge my 8x10 negatives (using an old copy camera converted to enlarger)... or even contact print my 14x17's. If I was working with 20x24, that's plenty large for contacts. If I had the funds and the space, I certainly would give it a shot, though! Go for it!
     
  13. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Jarin, have you friends to help you with such??
    She has...


     
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  15. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    I think I'm in love... the enlarger is pretty nice, too!
     
  16. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Oh gosh, my vertical 8X10 color enlarger equipped with a 360 lens for 30 X 40 prints is 14 ft tall. To make prints that big on my more conventional Durst L184 requires a 240 lens and the baseboard clear to the floor - less than ideal. I can hardly imagine doing 11X14 negs except horizontal. Wide-angle enlarging lenses have considerably more illumination falloff and generally need to be used an entire stop smaller for resolution purposes - a net loss of at least two stops (factoring a thicker diffuser ground to the edges, or longer edge/corner burn times). My days of building big custom enlargers is over. Now I just want to use em. I admire anyone attempting it; but it does take time, money, and shop skills.
     
  17. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I just noticed that that Venice enlarger flick was referring to 30X40 cm prints, while I was obviously referring to 30X40 inches. Their enlarger looks tiny to me. It takes quite a bit of space to work big.
     
  18. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Member

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    This is where I choose digital over analog, I make 10 foot by 30 foot indoor wall scapes, and larger. I shoot with a 36MP D800 and top glass using a Gigapan pano head, with which I create a matrix of images and auto-stitch them (over a hundred or more) into a single composite digital image using Gigapan StitchEFX. Analog just can't do it that well - the IQ I get is stunning; you can walk right up to one of my massive wall scapes and see great sharp detail from a viewing distance of only inches with no noise or pixelation. These are gigapixel digital composites. The fun part was loading all of the images into Photoshop at once and making initial adjustments in Adobe Camera Raw to all of them at once before saving the composite as in .PSB format (read: I have one honking tower computer I built to handle it). To print them there are providers that print in wide rolls - akin to very high-rez matte wallpaper, which are then hung seamlessly. I've done these for the US Army Corp of Engineers for visitor centers via contract through their contracted agencies. When I took my first gig I quickly realized there wasn't a large enough format negative in existence I could take from end to end that could generate the kind of super IQ I wanted, nor at any acceptable cost otherwise. Don't get me wrong - I love analog film, but there are some things that its just not suited for when there are significantly better quality and cost-effective alternatives.

    I guess if someone wanted to create analog prints just as a personal challenge (and with deep pockets and skill) it could be done, but if it is for anything commercial it is not the route I'd choose - and didn't.

    MFL
     
  19. AgX

    AgX Member

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    No, it is about 30x40cm negatives.

    But I agree, light fall-off in a graphic-arts enlarger intended for high contrast work might be an issue with continuous tone work.
     
  20. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    Well said. Here is my enlarger when I picked it up from a graphic arts house. It was used for lith separations.
    bellows.jpg
    Here is the test print, with no negative, exposed to usual continuous tone photographic paper. The print shows the light falloff and hot spot in the center:
    Aristo Illumination.jpg
     
  21. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    This post has nothing to do with film photography. I shoot digital panos with my iPhone.
     
  22. Michael Firstlight

    Michael Firstlight Member

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    Yes it does have to do with digital, it was about the practical limits of analog for HQ commercial work at that scale - professional experienced based input.

    MFL
     
  23. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    Labs have been making huge murals digitally and Analogue for over 40 years....Kodak produced 72 inch colour paper rolls that were printed and stitched together in the early 80's both methods work equally well.
    Largest stitch I ever made was 100 meters for the Ontario Science Center . From 8 x10 films
     
  24. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I am working with a digital artist right now that uses the new 100mp Phase Camera making panos where he is not only stitching together , but also focus stack stitching... I have never seen any thing like this.

    There is another artist using drone and 100mp back to capture a Douglas Fir tree and then with those fancey smancy devices to do 3D printing recreating the tree at 1:1... not sure where the hell it is going but really amazing concept.
     
  25. Andrew O'Neill

    Andrew O'Neill Subscriber

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    Focus stack stitching?
     
  26. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    You can get rid of the hot spot by grinding a diffuser which is thicker at the center than the edges, by making a double-diffused light mixing box, by using a dimensionally oversized light source, and choosing a longer than "normal" enlarging lens. There are fancier options too. But as far as "stitching" goes, I saw an immaculately detailed print 20 ft across which NASA made of the back side of the moon. A technical masterpiece with a huge budget behind it. But frankly, I'm more impressed by a Weston 8X10 low budget contact print. Big for the sake of big leaves me cold.
     
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