What are contact sheets and what can I do with them?

Discussion in 'Film Discussion and Q & A' started by JohnOB, Jan 6, 2010.

  1. JohnOB

    JohnOB TPF Noob!

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    Let me start by saying I'm not a photographer and know nothing about it and that's why I'm here!
    I got an email today from an old buddy who found a contact sheet of 8 photos from my graduation back in 71. He wants to know if I want them.

    So here's my question.I've googled contact sheets and can see that they are very small images. Is there a way to get prints from them/enlarge them? I've also seen scans online that seem pretty large so there must be at least a way to magnify the images on my computer?

    Otherwise they wouldn't be much use to me.

    If it means anything to you guys he tells me these are original proofs and that they were shot on a 35mm camera. After that he's as clueless as me.

    Any help would be appreciated :confused:
     
  2. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You make enlargements from negatives... not contact sheets
    You also make contact sheets from negatives...

    Basically they are the same thing. Shine a light through negatives to expose light sensitive paper. The only difference is that contact sheets are made without an enlarging lens thus are exactly the size of the frame.

    Contact sheets are easier to quickly review an entire roll of film without having to develop and print each frame.


    If all you have is the printed contact sheet, you could scan them in and attempt to enlarge them... but the quality is going to be awful.
     
  3. JohnOB

    JohnOB TPF Noob!

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    Yep. It's just a contact sheet.
    How would I go about scanning them? I have a regular HP scanner. Or do I need a special scanner?
     
  4. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I would think you would scan it just like any other piece of paper...
     
  5. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    If they are contacts of a 35mm frame, you are going to need a fairly good scanner. Even then, your results are going to be limited.

    Flatbed scanner could be used. They are just that.. small pictures. Scan them in and enlarge in photoshop or something.
     
  6. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    As usayit says, a contact sheet is basically a proof of a negative that is easier to look at than the negative itself. You use them to select the negative you want to enlarge. Without the negative, they are just a super-mini print and not very useful (unless, of course, they were shot on a large-format camera).
     
  7. mrdemin

    mrdemin TPF Noob!

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    Actually depending with which settings you scan them in, the picture will turn out pretty big. The quality of the object being scanned in will obviously reflect the amount of grain and distortion on the scanned image, but you should be able to get a pretty big scan. (I don't know what a contact sheet is, but based this off the other responses)
     
  8. Actor

    Actor TPF Noob!

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    If these are graduation photos then I suspect they were taken by a professional photographer. If he/she can be located (the school may have a record) then he/she may still have the negatives. That would be the best way to make prints.
     
  9. J.Kendall

    J.Kendall TPF Noob!

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    You can always enlarge them after scanning. And if you don't have a post program like PS, then I'm sure you have a friend somewhere who does.
     
  10. JohnOB

    JohnOB TPF Noob!

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    The original photographer passed away many years ago, he was also our gym teacher!

    Another sily question but when you mention scanning them in at certain settings. Are these settings on the scanner itself or on the software?
     
  11. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    For contacts of the size of a 35mm frame, the grain is going to be a significant factor. Remember, you are not scanning in from negative. This is scanning a print of a negative. On top of that, the print itself is very small.

    It doesn't matter what scanner nor settings nor version of PS nor software, you can't scan detail that isn't there.

    Your best bet is to find the negatives. Perhaps relatives of the photographer might know where to go to next.
     
  12. J.Kendall

    J.Kendall TPF Noob!

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    Or the school? maybe they have the negatives tucked away somewhere.
     

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