The Online Darkroom Store

Thursday, October 24

A quick LF print

A straight print other than a quarter stop edge burn
left, top and bottom and a half stop on the right.

Just a quick update to the previous post about the Speed Graphic. I thought I was out of paper but I found a box of 12x16 Multigrade IV in a drawer in the darkroom that I didn't know I had. Today was hectic but I poured some chemicals and popped out this print from one of the 5x4 negatives.

I don't want to give lessons in egg-sucking to experienced 5x4 photographers but for those of you who haven't tried it or seen large format prints, the sharpness is nothing short of astounding. There are some prints, even from 6x6 negatives, that look very sharp but when you have your nose up against them you can see they're not completely sharp.

With 5x5 negs, they're completely sharp. It doesn't matter how close you get to them, they're just sharp. Sharp in a way that it's difficult to imagine that an image can get any sharper. This was just a 10x8 print and, obviously, there will come a print size when even the detail in a 5x4 negative is stretched out so far that it starts to lose sharpness but I'm not likely to print anything that big. Couldn't afford the paper for a start!

Take a look at the scan below. It's a crop from the pic above at 200 dpi. There's not much to be gained scanning a print at a higher resolution as there's only a couple of hundred dpi of information in one however you look at it. I think that's probably the sharpest image I've produced. Sharpness isn't everything but it usually becomes important when you realise you haven't got enough.

I know it's a palaver and not exactly conducive to just nipping out for half an hour's photography. It's also expensive at 60p per 5x4 sheet at the very least (plus postage) unless you buy an awful lot of it in one order. And 5x4 enlargers are twice the size of 35mm models. But, if you want tremendous sharpness coupled with invisible grain and beautiful tonality then sometimes you'll put up with anything. I think it might become addictive.


Alec said...

LF is more expensive shot for shot but you shoot much less than with 35 mm so it doesn't have to cost any more!


That's very true. Mind you, any errors in exposure or handling are very costly with LF.

morris1800 said...

Hi Bruce I think the cost of each shot makes you think more about the actual shot you are taking and shooting colour at £3.50 a shot + developing costs (especially E6)certainly makes you think. Although I have some 5x4 velvia in my fridge I am happy to make use of a 6x9 back for colour. Unfortunately my enlarger is only for medium format and I miss out on the quality prints such as you have posted, having to rely on contact prints or scanning the negs in two halves (epson v500)and stitching the scans with software.

Neal said...

"Sharpness isn't everything but it usually becomes important when you realise you haven't got enough."

Haha best line!

Herman Sheephouse said...

Very nice print Bruce . . I didn't know you had a 5x4 enlarger!
I'd love to have a go at larger prints with some of my negatives, but the costs of paper and physical limitations of my darkroom aren't exactly condusive . . but then again I could probably manage 11x14 . . I'll have to stop making excuses!
Well done though - nice work. You got your prices wrong though - that is a sheet of TMX 100 isn't it . . I work that out at approx £1.50/sheet plus P&P.


That is indeed Tmax, Phil. But t didn't cost me anything at all cos I got it from a very generous guy I know. :)

The 60p per sheet was my reckoning for a piece of Fomapan 100 from Silverprint where it's about £25-£30 for 50 sheets. That's the cheapest in the UK, I think. Tmax is great stuff but out of my league price-wise.

I've had the Durst L1200 for a couple of years but this is my first 5x4 print. It was probably the easiest print I've made and a very pleasant change to the usual darkroom shenanigans.

Herman Sheephouse said...

Always happy to help Bruce - glad you got a nice image out of it!
As for the Durst . . I didn't know that - very nice enlargers indeed.
TMX is lovely stuff . . . and Foma - hope they have changed their QC . . when you've hiked a number of miles with a full 5x4 outfit and gone through all the palaver, only to get home and have massive faults with the emulsion, it does make you think twice . . .

Anonymous said...

One nice LF image gives much more than a roll of 35mm. Therefore the cost is very much in favour of LF. :-)

However, it takes more effort to shoot and carry and store and it's no good for smash and grab. Buy a Ricoh GR to complement it.

I had an Ebony 45SU and a De Vere 504 coldlight for many years until I needed to trade it for a wedding photographer's outfit and start up costs. Sad, but necessary at the time. It took me only as long to get a shot ready as it did with a Hasselblad because of the asymmetric focussing system on that camera.

One thing I've carried forward is that 5x7" is a much better format than 5x4" because it's from that size on that an enlargement is unnecessary. A contact print from a 5x4 neg can be an artwork in itself. So it's possible that an enlarger and expanded darkroom is not required. The neg size is also big enough to scan without having a high cost scanner.

Not sure if it's a road I'll be going down again, but I did, I'd seriously consider 5x7"


Anonymous said...

Should have read -
A contact print from a 5x7" neg can be an artwork in itself.