poster prints from 35mm negatives

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by NightElfWarrior, Jan 12, 2009.

  1. NightElfWarrior
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    NightElfWarrior New Member

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    Hi everyone, I really apologize if my question has been asked before, but I made a pretty good effort at searching and found nothing. So here is my Q:

    I have some truly amazing sunrise photos that I shot from my bedroom window. It is so amazing due to the cloud formation, the time of year, and the atmospheric conditions, that even though I look out this window every morning, I have never seen anything like it again in 10 years. So I have these pics in 35mm negative format, and now would like to blow them up to 30x20 poster size.

    I took the negatives to Ritz camera, where they offer on-site 30x20 printing. The problem is that they no longer do optical blowups and printing. All of their equipment is designed to accept digital photos. So they told me they would run my negatives through a hi-res negative scannner, then feed that into their system for a poster print. Well, the results came back and were horrible.

    When I stand approximately 3 feet away from the print, I can see the grain very clearly. I am talking about grain, not pixellation. I define grainines as the effect youj see when you examine a newspaper photo closely. I define pixellation as the "blocky" effect you see when a digital photo is enlarged too far. The Ritz store told me this was the best that could be done with 35mm negatives, because negatives just don't offer as much detail as a digital print. I am only going by hunch, because I don't have the personal experience or knowledge to refute it, but I think they were feeding me some baloney to cover up for either sub-par equipment or incompetent printing. I remember reading many years ago that you need at least 25mp to equal the detail of a 35mm negative, but I can't remember how reliable or authoritatibve that source was.

    Does anyone have any comment on my situation? Should I search for a facility with better scanning equipment, or better printing technology? Or is the Ritz store correct in their assessment of 35mm film? I would also like to mention that the negative was shot with either ISO 200 or 100 film, the only films that I ever used back in those days.
  2. Big Mike
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    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member

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    Maybe you could have it scanned and then get the file yourself...(a drum scan would probably be best, but many places may not have a drum scanner).
    Then you can see for yourself the quality of the file. Maybe apply some noise reduction before having it printed.

    Keep in mind that 3 feet is probably too close of a viewing distance for a poster sized print. Back up to 7-10 feet, how does it look then?
  3. Mike_E
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    Mike_E Well-Known Member

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    There are programs that will take out the grain. Use one and then upres the photo. You can then put back in some grain if you like the look.

    At that size I'm afraid it's never going to be exactly what you wanted. You might look into Painter X from Paint Shop Pro.

    You needn't give up on a photo that's really important to you.

    good luck

    mike
  4. ann
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    ann Well-Known Member

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    that size for film is going to be difficult,

    with great technique i have seen some wonderful 16x20, but pass that the size of the film is a limations.

    As has been mentioned, you have to take the viewing distance into account when determing the size.

    i have seen billboard shots taken with a 3mp camera, they look great at a distance and awful up close.

    a high end scan will help so you need to find a commerical vendor who does that sort of scanning and then can make the necessary correction and print out something for you, but even at that size it is going to be grainy.
  5. Orrin
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    Orrin Member

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  6. djacobox372
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    djacobox372 New Member

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    First, the idea that 35mm film =25mp is just plain wrong; film is analog, so the numbers can be inflated or deflated dramatically depending on whether you are measuring how high-res the smallest grain is or how low-res the largest grain in the photo is.

    From my own observations I'd rate quality 100iso c41 film at about 14mp; drug-store 200iso film is about 6mp.

    At the size you want to print you will have to digitally manipulate the image to achieve the quality you want, but I doubt you will ever be 100% happy. 35mm film was never meant for shots like these--that's what large and medium format film is for.
  7. dxqcanada
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    dxqcanada New Member

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    What type of film was used ... ie brand, type, and ISO.

    I have had fine grain 100 ISO 35mm film enlarged to 16x20 with very good results.
  8. MikeBcos
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    MikeBcos New Member

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    I agree with this 100%, your observations match mine, for image quality and print size my D40 is the same as 35mm, 16x24 is the largest usable print I would expect to get from either, and that's with an optical print, you would need a good drum scanner to get a decent digital image from a negative.
  9. NightElfWarrior
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    NightElfWarrior New Member

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    Unfortunately, I am hanging this print on a wall in a dining room. The wall is about 5 feet from the edge of the table and a person would naturally walk about 2 1/2 to 3 ft from the wall, to avoid bumping into the chairs. To view 7 or 10 feet away from the print, one would have to stand on the opposite side of the table.

    Mike E, can you tell me the name of such a program? If it's not too expensive, it sounds like something I could really use.

    dja, thanks for setting me straight. This figure was just one that I remember reading back when 2mp was cutting edge. I guess some "expert" was just putting up a random, exaggerated number to illustrate a point. They were probably talking out of their behinds, lol. :lol:

    lol heck if I can remember that. I think this was shot about 10 years ago. I can only say this: I favored kodak gold 35mm film from Target, usually in iso 200 but have also used iso 100 a few times. In a pinch, ie, if I were out somewhere and nothing else was available, I'd buy Fuji film. So in most likelihood, these precious negatives are on kodak gold 35mm iso 200 film.

    Well, from the sound of it, the Ritz store was not out of line in their assessment of 35mm film. And it appears that I will need to do some kind of post-processing after scanning, to try and improve the image. I hate doing that, because in my mind, it's not the picture that I took if I diddle with it on a computer after taking it. Maybe I'm weird that way. The un-graining program sounds very tempting though, if i could get the name of it!
  10. dxqcanada
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    dxqcanada New Member

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    The negative will have markings on it that may indicate the type of film. You will usually find it printed along the entire length of film below the sprocket holes.

    If you have a good loupe ... take a good look at the neg.
  11. christopher walrath
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    christopher walrath New Member

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    According to St. Ansel the proper viewing distance of a photograph is the diagonal across the photograph from the photograph. Say it's an 8x10. The diagonal across an 8x10 is about 13.5". That is the proper viewing distance away from an 8x10.

    Now the problem with apparent grain is probably two fold. First. I have had grain problems with 35mm negs at 11x14 and I have always told customers that anything larger than an 8x10 is only available after test prints to determine that that negative would be appropriate for larger printing. Second. The only way you're going to be able to consitently rid yourself of the grain is a sturdy tripod, cable or remote release, mirror lock up, you get it. As little camera movement as possible. If you however are going to continue to make larger final prints you may wish to consider moving up in format to at least a 6x4.5cm medium format camera, which is not as expensive an initial jump as one might think. It doesn't take much quid to get into a Mamiya M645j setup and the resulting negatives are well worth the move.

    Just my two bits.
  12. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    It's a common obsession. :)


    how many megapixels 35mm film - Google Search

    I'll leave the math up to the experts. I find my eyeballs are better than math for judging print quality. My eyeballs say that I can go much larger from 8mp APS digital than 35mm film. Like twice as big.
  13. Mike_E
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    Mike_E Well-Known Member

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    NightEW, most any program to take out noise will do.

    I like Noise Ninja.

    There are already tutorials on how to take out grain on the net, just do a search and read 4 or 5 of them and play with it.

    The trick is to take out the grain from areas that show it worst and leave as much detail as possible elsewhere.

    Be prepared to spend some time with it. If you really want it for your dining room go ahead and spend it, it'll just add to the story. :)
  14. selmerdave
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    selmerdave New Member

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    I would recommend finding someone to do an optical print.

    I have on the wall in front of me a 20x30 print made about six years ago from consumer film (Fuji Superia 100?) shot handheld at 1.7. It is perfectly sharp, clear, and almost impossible to detect grain viewing from more than 12 inches away. It was a relatively inexpensive print, nothing special about it. I've had digital enlargements made at pro places ($$$) since then at 8x10 from quality pro films with much more issues of grain.

    Dave
  15. ksmattfish
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    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    Here you go, Ken Rockwell says 35mm film is equal to 175 megapixels. :)

    Film Resolution: The Pixel Count of Film

    I can't wait to actually compare a 175mp digital camera to 35mm film. Ha!!! Ha Ha!!!! Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!!!!!!......... ;)

    Here's a video of some tech geeks comparing super huge prints from 35mm and 12mp. Who cares which is better; with prints this big it's obvious both technologies are amazing, and if there are problems it's probably the photog's fault, and not the gear. :)

    http://fwd.five.tv/videos/challenge-blow-up-part-3
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2009
  16. Mike_E
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    Mike_E Well-Known Member

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    Thanks KS.

    You have to wonder why the photog used 400 speed film in the studio though. Or how MF or even a 4x5 would have looked. ;)
  17. Rem
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    Rem New Member

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    I have a "full quality" print that size from a Kodachrome 25 slide and there's no obvious grain unless you really look close. I had a Kodak poster print done off a Kodacolor 200 neg and the grain is there up close but from a normal 3-4 ft distance..not apparant.

    Not sure if there's even a Kodak lab near here anymore but a good lab should be able to do a rather nice 20x30 of asa 200 or slower. Asa 400...may show more grain but the Poster print fron asa 200 was shot in '84 and the current 400's probably don't have more grain than the 200 did then.
  18. JimMan
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    JimMan New Member

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    In regards to film's equivalent resolution in terms of pixels, as the following link explains, the perceived quality of an image is a function of at least two parameters, resolution and noise (or grain). The lowest grain film has a signal to noise ratio substantially lower (worse) than the better digital sensors at low ISO's. Since the best lenses for 35mm cameras don't really resolve above 4,000 line widths vertically, that maximum resolution equates to about 24,000,000 intersections, or pixels. One can argue that film scanned at 24 mpxls is not interpolated, whereas a sensor's result is, but the issue of grain renders that argument moot. The grain overpowers whatever additional resolution might have otherwise been available from a non-interpolated media. As a bonus, the digital sensors provide greater flexibility in ISO speeds and handling.

    Years ago, I did a decent amount of work in a darkroom, and grain was easily visible in most 8x10 enlargements (a function of film, colors, lighting, subject matter, chemicals, etc.). As for this particular project in this forum thread, you might try taking a photo (transparency or low-grain film) of a roughly 5x7 enlargement of your negative, although with some work, you'll be able to achieve the same tradeoff of resolution for less grain if you scan digitally and manipulate it on your computer, and as suggested above, will actually have more control by reducing grain and resolution only in the portions of the image that have the most troublesome grain. Just my penny and a half.

    The link is D'Agostino Photography

    Cheers.
  19. Stitadhi Ratha
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    Stitadhi Ratha New Member

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    Hello friend,
    It will be better If you provide the original picture of sunrise photos. Also the photos after the scanning. Then after comparing these two photos I can suggest something better.
    I think there is some problem with your scanner. Please check it.

    Thanks
    Stitadhi Ratha
  20. coreduo
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    coreduo New Member

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    Is it true the the sharpest picture or poster a 35 mm (best film in the market for example) can make is 8 x 10 in case one wants to present them in a gallery show? Nothing larger than that?
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2010

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