Print Sizes for 35mm film?

warheit12

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I think the biggest I have printed my 35mm is 8 x 10(only on shots i really like). What I am wondering is how big can you really go with 35mm? like at what point does it start to look bad or start to lose alot of detail? Does that depend on the film? Does how low or high the ISO of the film effect the print size in any way?
 

rexbobcat

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warheit12 said:
I think the biggest I have printed my 35mm is 8 x 10(only on shots i really like). What I am wondering is how big can you really go with 35mm? like at what point does it start to look bad or start to lose alot of detail? Does that depend on the film? Does how low or high the ISO of the film effect the print size in any way?

I'm not sure about 35mm print sizes. As far as I know you can go as big as you want, because bigger prints are designed to be seen at a distance usually anyways.

The deterrent to printing digital photos large is the limitations of the pixels. At a certain point the photo will become pixelized. 35mm film is compose of microscopic silver hallide crystals so this is not a problem. At a certain point, the pixels in a digital image will become visible lowering quality and the sense of realism given to the work, but with film, enlarging just causes a decrease in perceived sharpness, but there would still be smooth gradations in the image.

This is just my understanding...take it with a grain of salt.

Low ISO does much better for enlarging, because it has more detail and therefore has more resolution.

In other words; when you take a photo at 200 ISO and the same photo at 1600 ISO and print both at 8x10, the 200 ISO image will be of better quality. However, if you print the 1600 ISO at a smaller size such as 5x7, it might appear to have the same quality as the 8x10. Does that make sense?
 

Big Mike

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As far as I know you can go as big as you want, because bigger prints are designed to be seen at a distance usually anyways.
Bingo.
 

Sw1tchFX

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Depending on the film, regardless of viewing distance, I typically don't like printing bigger than 8x10 when shooting 35mm. 35mm is great for speed, weight, and general flexibility..but it's not really that sharp. That's is why 10+ years ago Pros who didn't shoot sports or journalism shot medium format.

Slow slide film, or CN films like Ektar 100 and 160S can be printed 11x14 with okay results, but they won't be real razor sharp like Medium format, or digital will. I won't print 400H larger than 8x10 unless it's medium format.
 

ann

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I have printed up to 16x20, although, i tend to print 6 x 9 on 8x10 paper is it allows full frame printing, and the 8 x12 on 11x14 paper.

The image dictates the size of the print; of course along with the viewing distance
 

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Here is a recent thread on the same subject (link).

Here's what I wrote there:

As far as maximum print dimensions from 35 mm go, the answer is "it depends". Some of the first rock/ice climbing and mountaineering images I sold in the early 70's were shot on 35 mm Tri-X, often pushed for contrast and grittiness. They became poster-sized adverts for an equipment manufacturer and were mostly printed at about 3 ft x 4 ft. The sharp grittiness suited the subjects.

Earlier than that, when I was still using the cheapest enlarger and lens there was (a Gnome Cadet), I was very disappointed with big enlargements from 35 mm - but that was a problem with the lens. That is a key issue with big enlargements - use good lenses, if necessary those made for high enlargement factors, like the Componon-HM or Apo-Componon-HM. These are relatively cheap on eBay. I find that it isn't the film's graininess that is the issue, but the way in which the graininess is rendered. I have plenty of 2 ft x 3 ft enlargements from Kodachrome 64 slides and they look very detailed, without any distracting graininess.

A similar issue exists with digitally printed images - I strongly believe that you need to scan at more than 4000 spi (real spi, not manufacturer's marketing fantasy spi) to get the best enlargements. 8000 spi is good - you are trying to get graininess that is a true representation of the film, not grain aliasing or imitation. 8000 spi will get you an excellent 20x to 30x enlargement, maybe even 40x.

It helps to start out with a high quality image - any problems like defocus or shake that are imperceptible at low magnification can become obvious at high magnification. This is also partly affected by the common practice of printing larger images with a little more contrast than smaller images.

Best,
Helen

11x14 or 11x16 is my standard print size from 35 mm - I rarely print smaller, except for my own proofs, but often print larger.

The list of well-known photographers who have used 35 mm and blown them up to 16x20 and larger is endless.
 

bhop

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I've printed 20x30 (from mpix) with tri-x pushed to 3200iso, scanned with my Epson V700, and I thought they looked pretty good.
 

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