how big can I print from 35mm film?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by jr stevens, Feb 21, 2009.

  1. having just taken up shooting film with my Nion Fe2 I would like to know how big I can print 35mm colur negative at 100, 200, 400 and 800 iso while still having a sharp picture without loss of detail? I know for digital i simply followed the formula using the height and width of the picture in pixels divided by 300 to give me the largest usable print but having never printed pics from 35mm film before I am lost? also what will give me the best quality prints- printing direct from the negative or scanning at a very high resoltion and THEN printing from the resulting JPEG or TIFF file?
  2. Kodak once made HUGE murals for Grand Central Station in NYC from 35mm slides.
    There are lots of variables here.
    If you are actually printing from the 35mm color negatives, you will not quite get the resolution of old Kodachrome slides, but there are technical difficulties having to do with enlarger limitations. For really big prints you may have to turn the Enlarger head sideways and focus onto a distant wall, or some such.
    If you are scanning, how dense a scan are you going to make? 4000 dpi?
    The kind of film makes another big difference. Some color negative films are very fine grain, others not so much.
    How far away are the prints to be viewed? What would be formless at 10cm will perhaps look sharp at 6 meters. This applies to either digital or film prints. Those murals in NYC were viewed from a long way off.
    What you need to figure out is why you need big prints and how they are going to be viewed, then perhaps someone can say that "at 6 meters such and such a resolution print will look fine"
    Otherwise, just experiment and see. There are also things like Photoshop plugins that will allow you to get better looking products out of even fairly pixelated small files--presumably these would work in stretching out what would look good from a 35mm negative.
  3. This can really vary by the exact film brand/model itself. Kodak Portra 800 would give you a much better result than Kodak Max 800. Tipically, the lower the film speed, the smaller the grain, the bigger you can get nice enlargements. I usually try to use the slowest speed possible. You should be able to go to atleast 11X14 with these films but maybe not the 800. Even if you don't own a slide projector, I highly reccomend some Ektachrome or Kodachrome slide film. Slides just act as negatives and you can get stunning prints from them!! I am not sure what you use for a lab, but you can even send slide film out through WalMart send out service to be processed. A slide projector can be obtained cheap at a yard sale, on Ebay, or at thrift store cheap! What films are you using right now?
  4. right now i am using Fuli reala 100, 400 and 800 iso..I do not have my own lab and have been using costco to scan the firsst couple of rolls onto far the results have been mixed, outdoor photos with good ambient light turned out great but the indoor photos where I used no flash as i wanted to see how my nikon 50mm f/1.8 would perform turned out some rather garish colurs to say the least...I am learning!
  5. Well outdoor film is balanced for 5400K roughly, the interior tungsten lighting in most homes is 2800K, in other words it will look almost orange. Add in cfl bulbs, etc, and your lighting is a nightmare to get decent images.
    Under exposing colour neg film will make it rather grainy. Decent negs make nice 11x14 prints.
    Your shooting technique is a HUGE variable as well, a decent lens, tripod(even in bright sunlight), and proper exposure will help a lot in getting nice sharp large prints. Mess up on any point, and you will have issues.
  6. Patrick
    I agree, the Kodak Max 800 sucks. But, their Portra 800, rated @ 640, gives superb results that are capable of enlarging quite large. It's a fantastic film.
  7. Practically? 16x20 is about it from 35mm - I don't care what kind of film you're using or whether the print is made in a darkroom or digitally. The BS about Duratrans prints in Grand Central is meaningless...unless you're having Kodak make the prints for you.
    The tip on Portra 800 is a good if you want to make prints at higher ISO ... I've used it in both 35mm and 120 formats and had it pushed to 1200 ISO.
    As far as direct printing or digital. You can probably get a little larger with digital IF you scan with a high end scanner. The problem becomes getting the grain (noise) reduced without affecting detail. You might be able to get to 20x24 - but, I've never been satisfied with the results. This includes the following film: Kodachrome 64, Kodachrome 200, E100G, Provia, Provia 400, Porta 160, Portra 400, Portra 800.
  8. Viewing distance is also a factor. A big print (11 x 14 or more) is often acceptable if the viewing distance is sufficient. On the other hand, if the view is going to practically his nose in it, then an 8 x 10 might be the limit. Besides grain, the actual sharpness is important. If depth of field is too shallow to get all of the subject sharp that will be emphasized in bigger prints. Camera motion must also be addressed. Even at fairly fast shutter speeds a tripod can really make a difference. You might want to invest in a good magnifier to inspect your negatives. Scrutinize them over a bright, but diffuse light source rather than a light bulb as the smaller the light source the more the grain will be emphasized.
  9. You should try some Kodak Portra (negative film) and Ektachrome (slide film). You will have much better results than with Fuji Relea
  10. Depends, are you using a projection method (darkroom) or are you scanning and printing.
    If the latter, it all depends on the scan to some degree. So the higher the scan resolution the larger the print that can be made.
    As for darkroom prints, ive made great prints of a half of a negative on an 11x14 so you should be able to go easily up to more than twice that size.i probably would use a larger format for anything above 16x 20 but ive never made a print that big.
    If you really want to make massive prints try a 4x5 or 8x10 camera.
  11. Fujicolor Superia 100, 50 mm f/1,8 Nikkor at f/5,6, tripod: a laser lab RA-4 enlargement (Durst Lambda) from a 5400 dpi scan at 200 dpi resolution = 66 × 99 cm, 27-fold enlarged, looks fine.

    Superia 800, scanned at 5400 dpi and "optimized" with Noise Ninja, still enables high-quality CMYK offset printing at 300 dpi = 49 × 66 cm.
  12. The biggest I've personally made were 30"x40," but they were made using K25 shot with a Leica M camera using a Focotar enlarging lens and printer on R3 paper, something you're not going to easily be able to duplicate with your Nikon. And the prints looked amazingly sharp and clear BTW, even up close.
  13. There is no simple answer, but if forced to give a simple answer, in my view, for color prints, 35mm is good for roughly:
    11x14 inches, with the finer-grained 100- and 160-speed films;
    8x10 inches, with the better 400-speed films; and
    5x7 to 8x10 inches, with the better 800-speed films.
    But it really depends a lot on your tolerance for grain and unsharpness, the suject, the viewing distance, etc.
    Your bit about dividing the pixels by 300 is way too simplistic. For many camera and subjects, dividing by 180 is fine. Also, you can scan film at any resolution, but the film has inherent limits in how fine a detail it can record. If you look at the 35mm color films' data sheets, the MTF curves fall to 50% response anywhere from about 1800 ppi (35 lp/mm, Astia 100F) to 3600 ppi (70 lp/mm, Superia Reala 100). Above that you have some response, but it is usually down to 25% or less at only slightly higher resolution, and start resolving more grain. A 4000 ppi dedicated film scanner will get almost all of the detail, with rare expceptions. A 2700 ppi dedicated film scanner will get a big majority of the detail a big majority of the time. A flatbed is subject to a wide range of issues, but most people who have used them report that few if any achieve real resolutions close to their claimed optical resolutions.
    As for what will give you the highest quality results, it depends on the processes used, but generally, for color pictures, scanning can produce better results. But there's a huge range of scanning quality, from drum scans at a high-end pro lab like West Coast Imaging to flatbed scans at home by an inexperienced operator. And there's a huge range of optical printing quality, although fewer and fewer places do it (other than amateurs with B&W darkrooms).
  14. The BS about Duratrans prints in Grand Central is meaningless...unless you're having Kodak make the prints for you.​
    And a good morning to you too, Steve.
    You apparently don't think that viewing distance matters much, eh?
    Resolution of the original is irrelevant?
  15. lens quality, film quality, viewing distance, and your handiwork all come into play. I have a 24x36 framed from a shot taken with an FE2, 55mm micro and fuji 200 that looks great. But it is simple and not incredibly detailed. However, I also have an incredibly detailed shot plus-x through DR5, fe2 50mm f1.8 that doesn't withstand enlargement beyond 11x17.......and a shot on plus-x that withstands being blown to's never simple.
  16. [​IMG]
    [​IMG][/IMG] 24x36 fuji 200
  17. [​IMG]
    plus-x that won't go beyond 11 inches.
  18. John, first off, its great that you are experimenting with film! Above all else, you simply must try a roll of slide film. And pick up a used projector on the Bay or from Craigslist. Seeing your projected slides blown up to 5 feet wide or larger for the firts time is an experience up there with sex. The colrs, sharpness, resolution, and just plain IMPACT will blow you away. Seriously, negatives can be good, but slide will give you maximum differentiation/something unique that digital cant. As mentioned, any Walmart or Kmart sendout film service can process your slides for about 6 bucks and a week.

    Also, slides in general scan much cleaner (less grain, and sharper) than negative film. Only the professional/commercial scanners like the Noritsu used by Costco do negatives really well. They were designed for negative film, wheras the Nikon Coolscans and similar home user scanners are optimized for slides.

    As for the myth of slides being hard to shoot, thats only true if you have no meter in your camera. Even inexpensive modern point and shoots like the Olympus Stylus Epic shoot slide with no problems.

    Anyways, back to your original question. In general, you can get excellent looking 11x14's from any 800 speed or slower film from Kodak or Fuji (except Kodak Max 800). I even have a 12x18 portrait from Costco that looks fantastic, from Fuji Superia 800!

    However, the type of scene also dictates maximum size. Landscapes are probably the most demanding, as they have tons of intricate detail, while portraits have large smooth areas with little detail. I have found that for potratits, a 6 megapixel file (or Costcos 2000x3000 scans) will let you print at any size you want up - the resizing algorythms used by minilabs are that good nowadays. However, with landscapes, the more resolution, the better.

    In the end, you must try yourself and see, But I think you will see that perfect 11x14's from negative film are easily attained, even with fast film.
  19. david_henderson


    I like being able to get up close to my prints, because I never know who else is going to do that and if they look ok to me from a foot away, I guess that'll do for others .
    Following that, the max for me from 35mm negatives would be 14" x 11", and that requires a high quality original, tripod mounted, and nicely exposed. From a drum scan I'd be happy to go a size or two larger, so up to 20" x 16" if absolutely everything is close to perfect- original. scan, and print process.
  20. FWIW, I've had success with high resolution scans (courtesy of NCPS in CA) of Fuji Velvia 100 35mm. I've enlarged it to 11"x14" with no issues. The 8"x10" prints from the 14MP scans look even better!
  21. Much depends on view distance, subject matter, film and technique. Using good technique and slow film like Velvia or EFke 25, I have no problem going to 13X19. At this size the prints are sharp and detailed, even viewed at 12 inches away. This is the largest my Canon Pro -9000 will print. My workflow is simple. All scans are done on the Coolscan 5000.
    Hope that helps
  22. ****One can make a 12x48 foot Billboard from 35mm.

    ****Thus this daily question has no real answer.

    One might also be shooting a fine detailed map and only a 8x10 small print can be done.
    The question is like wanting a specific black and white answer about how much one can dilute milk; OJ; Beer; lemonaid; tea.
    A critical user can *sense* the lack of quality.
    ****Unless a viewing distance is known; there is no answer on how big a print can be made from 35mm.
    Unless one knows how close you are going to sit to another; there is no answer on how often the chap needs to bathe too.
    Closeness might have a tighter need for quality.
    A Farmer might bath more often when with his wife for a dance; or at church; then tending the hogs.

    *****Run some experiments for your type of images; for your type of viewing distances; that is what really matters.

    In microfilm Aperture cards that are sprocketless B&W 35mm film; we use to blow them back to 30x42" all day with line work images; BUT they were shot when there were standards for minimum type size on a E size drawing; today some CAD chaps have turn out crap; like widths 0.001 and 0.002 thick; type 1/32 or 1/64 tall; on a E size drawing; ie McDuffus stuff; a SOB to scan or shoot.
    With Our old microfilm blow back camera I use to make 42x63 inch greyscale prints on Kodak Super-X; it had a 60mm F5.6 Schneider Componon-M a variant for microfilm blowback; ie mural ratios. Here one was making about a 45x enlargement. Thus if one could get say 45 line pairs on film; one got about 1 on the print; thus it looked great about 3 to 10 feet away. A criteria from the 1930's is say 7 line pairs on a small print at say 12 inches; this would be 7 feet for the poster.
    ****In pro work their is a specific goal; a 12x48 ft billboard that is 300 feet away; an airport Kisok backlit transparencey that one gets only as close as 5 feet; or a slide show for an XYY digital projector; or an actors 8x10 headshot print. In amateur work few folks have goals; fewer folks consider viewing distance; thus one gets a mess of answers.
    In pro work a chap might want a saw to cut 4x4's in one wack; in amateur work one might want a saw because you want one; and two cuts is ok for a 4x4.:)
    ***Take existing prints you have and pencil on the back what the enlargement ratio is; then compare them at different distances. A dumb 4x6 " print from 35mm from Walmart is thus about 4x; probably about 4.3X to 4.4 X ish since the 35mm short dimension is about 24mm on most cameras; ie 24/25.4= .945 inches ie 4/.945=4.23

    A 16x20 from a 4x5 is just abit over a 4x enlargement too; thus it looks great. From 35mm it would be over a 16X enlargement; where warts show! IF one gets close to it.

    Both the 10" radial arm saw and the 10" BigFoot hand circular saw can bed used to cut/make fence posts. One could always get real close and see that the Bigfoots blade makes a rougher cut; or maybe birds will have their bottoms roughened up sitting on the post tops? But for me it was easier to cut them with a giant hand circular saw. The cuts are OK; the VIEWING DISTANCE is many feet away; thus roughness being slightly higher is not a problem. If it is a problem for the birds; maybe it is good; they can make their deposits elsewhere.
    The 10" Bigfoot uses a 10" blade; but it has a diamond knockout like a smaller worm drive saw. One can walk into a Home depot of Lowes and sometimes find an old stock 10" blade with a diamond; today they are mailorder; or you file out the diamond by hand. IF one asks the box store chap for this item; the ALL are instant experts; and preach that this blade doesnt exist; with great authority; it is really quite funny.
  23. John-
    Everybody's going to have a different answer. Mine is "as big as you want to". Especially with that Fuji 100-200 film, you can easily get good results unless somebody along the way does something stupid like scan the film at normal settings and get a 1,500x1,000 image which then gets printed on 24x36 (which would still look fine if viewed from 10 feet).
    BTW, two other things:
    300DPI is overkill in many situations. You don't want lower than 300 in a 4x6 print but in large than 8x10 then requirements start to drop. Something being hung on a wall can easily be 150. I've heard of billboards at 2 DPI.
    Also, when getting large format prints done, remember tha "Giclee" is French for "Inkjet".
  24. I once had a 100 foot roll of 35mm Tri-X that made grainless 11X14s, but I never bought another roll that good......Well, I had to put my 2 cents worth in.......Jim
  25. It really depends on your personal standards and on the film you use. For one person it might be 6x9", for someone else 20x30. I do not go over 16x20 from 35.
  26. How big can you print? As, big as you want and you are happy with the resuts. That's all it boils down to.
  27. My 11 x 14" comment is based on shooting 100 ASA Kodak color film with a Leica M6 and 35 Summicron. Of course I could have printed bigger, but my personal "quality" threshold was at the upper limits at 11 x 14 for handheld landscapes. The difference between 8 x 10 and 11 x 14 is substantial. I actually preferred the 8 x 10s but could live happily with the 11 x 14s, beyond that, you take a big hit. FWIW.
  28. Alex Webb enlarges his Kodachromes to 30x40 inches.
  29. I'd say 8X10; but, I rarely do color. I say this solely because of my black and white negatives. Now, I can get an 11X14 out of there; but think about cropping room. Slice a small percentage for composition and there's a few inches gone. I'm sure an expert can do it well, but if you have to ask or send it out; I'd say, wrap it up at 8X10 and count yourself lucky.
    To my way of thinking, 5X7 is pretty big considering the size of a 35mm neg. I really like the 3.5x5s and 2.5X3.5s. That smallest size is about the size of a credit card; wallet size, basically. Hang on to it at 8x10 and be proud. You can put it in a frame.
    That frame and mat money will be out the window if genius at the lab makes the wrong mistake. I'd have a good enough relationship with a lab tech to know his face, not the store's franchise name, before I'd want to go in there and push it. No joke, best service I got in color this last year, wet or digital, was from out of a self-service robot kiosk at Kinko's. Surely not capable of competing with a good lab; but, really, have a lab on your side if you go over anything bigger than an index card. I'm discouraged; but, I wouldn't want to bait you into thinking that you can go into a lab just anywhere and expect those guys to hit a home run. Give the commercial labs simple tasks. Set some low goals and succeed.
    Watch this: I think you will get such a bill for failures (even if it is not in money), that you could have had three 8x10s, easily, and one of them in a simple frame to give to somebody as a nice gift by the time you get halfway --halfway!-- to getting the bigger enlargement done. The guys above are right, but I'd still say 8x10.
  30. "Costco." Ansel Adams didn't go there for processing. The other store names wouldn't have done well with me, either. In my opinion, a lot of them are in such a state of low quality control that they are on the brink of total failure. If it had been something like, "Well, I've gotta overnight it to Dwayne's for the slides and just bill 'em to the grave," okay. How many threads have we seen with, "What did I do wrong, I just took my film to the franchise place. . . " No offense to the Costco people, but you need John-Stevens-co. Don't be a victim. 8x10.
  31. Image content makes a huge difference. When the 110 format was introduced with the pocket instamatic in 1972, a set of 16x20 demonstration prints was made. They used Kodacolor II, the very first C-41 film. It was a big step forward in its day, but modern films are vastly superior. These scenes were carefully shot to look good with extreme enlargement. They were busy scenes to hide grain--no blue sky, no uniform gray backgrounds. While there was a lot of busyness to the scenes, there were no hard edges that would invite close inspection for sharpness.
    I agree with those who said, "Try it and jusge for yourself."
  32. Stop using Costco, take it to a pro lab, it maybe more $$ but well worth it. I would have it printed on a Light Jet 5000. It can make a print form a 35mm neg/slide look like it was done by an 8x10. Personally after working in labs, I'd say it all depends on the quality of negative and or scan. Also consider where you are going to hang it? Will it be in a small room? Or a large room. People don't view artwork at close range, most people will stand six to 10 feet back. I have to agree there a lot of variables.
    here is a link for some info on the lightjet
  33. If you are seeing big differences between Portra 800 and Max 800, then there is a difference in the way the films were stored. These two films share most of the same components. As the film leaves the plant, the performance of these two products is similar. As a professional product, Portra has some tighter tollernaces, but on the average, fresh samples of gthe two products are equivalent.
  34. Have a look at
    Galen Rowell used 35mm film and if you've ever been at the gallery in Bishop, CA. the web images don't even come close to the impact of the photos hanging in the gallery.
  35. I've printed an image 44" x 120" from a x-pan neg. It was somewhat grainy but I'll tke grain over pixels anyday.
    I've also printed some 40" x 60" fiber murals from tri-x and it held together amazingly.
  36. Hi John,
    I agree whole heartedly with Bryan, that grain is much more pleasing to the eye than pixels. With that said, up until
    I switched to my D300's last year, I was shooting all my wedding gigs with Fuji Pro 160S and Pro 400H and Fuji NPZ
    for color and Fuji acros and Kodak BW400cn for black and white. We would routinely have our lab print 11x14's and
    sometimes 16x20's from our well exposed negs with outstanding results. I still shoot those films on smaller jobs.
    Of course, as it was stated earlier, a lot depends on the quality of the equipment being used and the individual
    technique of the photographer, and the lab that is doing the processing and printing. One more thing, even though
    negative film has a much wider exposure latitude than transparency film, you are much better off with a slight over
    exposure than being under exposed. I always had my Nikon F5's and F6's set to +7 exposure compensation, that
    would be 2/3 of a stop over.
    Thanks, John
  37. 40cm x 60cm looks fine from colour negative fine grain films like Ektar200, UC200, RoyalSupra200 or whatever had been the name of that Kodak film for the last 10 years. I do subjects like street/people and landscape shoots.
  38. OP,
    I print 35mm at 16x20.
    This is a scan of Ektar 35mm. Give it a shot at printing it.
  39. As Kelly pointed out, some questions are impossible to answer. Can you make the ultimate flavored pasta dish without fresh pasta? Those who say yes change their mind when they have the dish at my house with pasta made from scratch 15 minutes, boiled one minute, before they eat it.
    A 13 second quarter mile car feels very fast to absolutely everyone except those who have driven a 10 second car.....then the still truly quick 13 second car feels boring.
    If you like critical sharpness, as I do, if you like to look at even a 16 x 20 print at 8 inches, then 5 feet, then 8 inches again (come on, everyone talks about viewing distance but secretly don't you all want to put your nose up to the work?) then you'll absolutely notice a great dropoff at 8 x 10 color print from 35mm compared to an 8 x 10 from from medium format. So for me, in color, I keep it below 8 x 10. I like some subjects with the right black and white film at 8 x 10 though.
    Those who say they get "pin sharp" prints at 16 x 20 or 11 x 14 have a different definition of "pin sharp" than me. But if it satisfies them, great.
    You have to do the tests and see what satisfies you.
  40. Steve Swinehart wrote:
    Practically? 16x20 is about it from 35mm - I don't care what kind of film you're using or whether the print is made in a darkroom or digitally. The BS about Duratrans prints in Grand Central is meaningless...unless you're having Kodak make the prints for you.​
    I am going to disagree here. Galen Rowell had a 6 foot wide analog print made from a KM-25 original ( Riders and sand dunes ) and it was reported to be utterly spectacular.
    In 1994 I had 20x30 type R prints made from both Kodachrome and Velvia at A&I that the lab insisted on displaying, they were nearly grainless with incredible detail.
    But the best was recently when I made a print from an XPan Kodachrome for my girlfriend for Valentine's day. It was scanned using a 9000ED and glass holder, over 150MB in size. It is 24x65 inches and very, very well detailed, even at a viewing distance of just two feet, the grain is negligible.
    So yes, there is BS being doled out here, but it has nothing to do with Kodachromes blown up as Duratrans in Grand Central Station.....
  41. jbm


    To the OP:
    It really is not a simple answer. I am learning myself exactly what the limitations I would say the best answer is to start by reposting and telling us what you expect your workflow to be. From subject matter, shooting styles, film speeds, to scanner type (the scanner is huge...HUGE) and then we might have a clearer idea.
    I've scanned some 35mm film on an Epson V750 and others on Nikon Coolscan scanners. What someone wrote above is true: some frames will hold up to massive enlargement, others degrade at anything over 8x12". I have printed via White House Custom Color a couple of negatives scanned using the 6400 dpi lens on the V750 and made 24 x 36" prints that look fine but are viewed from several feet away...this from C41 processed BW film at ISO 400 (Ilford XP2 Super). Then I've shot some gorgeous shots on good 100 speed film that degrade with any real attempt to enlarge them.
    My best advice to you is to just start monkeying around with scanning see what you get. Google your way to the different scanning resources and make your way through it. My other piece of advice is, if you are planning on doing your own scanning, to go with a Nikon Coolscan 5000 or 9000 depending on what your needs are. They are the best scanners you scan have at home, beyond going nuts and selling a kidney to buy an imacon or a drum.
  42. If you can make a decent 16x20 print, you can make any size. As prints get larger than 16x20, the viewing distance increases so that magnification on the retina (which is what really counts) stays about the same.
  43. Your milage will vary.
    That answer covers it.
    Everyone else has bickered on details, but it is really just that. It depends on the printing method and what film you are using. Superia 1600 scanned using an old flatbed and printed to 5x7 viewed at 6 inches might not look very good, but Velvia 50 scanned with a drum scanner printed at 18x24 and viewed at a foot might look very good and that same superia 1600 combo printed at 18x24 might look just fine if you viewed it across a room 20ft away.
    Personally, with the method I use which involves scanning the negatives with an Epson 4490 the biggest I am willing to print is around 8x12. I might print 10x15 or 11x14 if I wasn't going to be viewing it really close. By this I mean if I was say 5-6 feet from it (like over fire place or something similar) I wouldn't have any problems printing that big or maybe even 12x18, but again I would want a decent viewing distance. I know darned well, especially at something like 12x18 the image quality would fall apart if you viewed it closely (a foot or two away). The 8x12s I have printed from scans look just fine even viewing the print up close.
    Now get me something like a Nikon Coolscan V and I would feel like the film quality is the bigger issue then the scan quality. Then I'd say it highly depends on the film (with the 4490 I can see a very small difference between using Reala and Superia 400 for negative resolution when scanning, its there, just not much with what the 4490 can pull).
  44. To expand, since you said color negative film, the supposed resolution of Reala is 140lp-mm with a high contrast area (such as a tree branch with blue sky behind or a power line with blue sky behind). That works out to 280dpmm or around 7112dpi. So if you want a 300dpi with the perfect scanner and perfect camera lens you'd have a print 33.6 inches long and 22.4 inches high (22x33 lets call it). So that is with a perfect lens, perfect scanner and a high contrast area of the image and 300dpi print. Since neither scanner nor lens are ever perfect you'd probably have more like 70-80% of the theoretical resolution (supposing a very good scanner and lens), your now to 16x24 in a high contrast area for 300dpi. Reala's rate resolution in low contrast areas is 63lp-mm or around 3200dpi. So to repeat everything for low contrast you have around 10x15' with those perfect lenses and scanners. Since the 63lp-mm is much more modest you'd probably see pretty close to that perfect scanner/lens numbers, maybe 90% to make up a number.
    Since most pictures are neither low contrast or high contrast pick an abitrary number in the middle for what the print would look good at. So for this made up math with Reala you could probably manage a 12x18 print and look really great from a pretty close distance (a foot or two) if you used a very good lens and a very good scanner.
    Some of the slide films and B&W films are even higher resolution with high contrast resolutions around 160lp-mm for Velvia/Provia and some of the slow B&W films are around 200-300lp-mm and the grain is low enough on those slow slide/B&W films that they can take advantage of those resolutions.
    If you are looking purely at the scanner capability, something like the Nikon Coolscan V which can actually do almost a full 4000dpi scan like it claims (test at around 3950dpi if memory serves, unlike the V750 which tested in around 2500dpi if I remember correctly) you'd be looking at 12x18 if the scene/film was capable for a 300dpi print.
    I've done prints at lower then 300dpi that looked just dandy. I can't tell much difference between 240dpi and 300dpi in a print unless I look at them side by side and it is a modest difference at best. I don't think I would feel comfortable printing below 240 dpi unless the viewing distance was pretty far.
  45. I was quite pleased with a 16x20 print of a railroad yard taken from a bird's eye view under overcast skies. I used Kodak Gold 200 and had both the negatives and enlargement inexpensively done by an inexpensive mail order processor about a decade ago.
  46. My favorite color print film, Fujicolor 200 will make grainless needlesharp 20x30's.
    b/w: Delta 100 in rodinal 18X, TMX in Rodinal over 20X, Fuji Acro Rodinal over 20X, PXP in D76 over 20X, New TMY D76 about 16X, UFG over 16X, TriX D76 about 12X, with UFG close to 20X, Fuji Neo 400 with UFG over 18X
    All of the 100 speed chromes will do 20X
  47. I have seen Galen Rowells work in person a number of years ago at his gallery in Bishop. Stopped out of curiosity one day while driving thru bishop though I have absolutely no interest in this type of cookie cutter photography (although very popular with the elves who edit these posts so I should be carefull what I say)
    The prints were quite sharp. However, you could tell they were decidedly NOT medium format. Stare at them a foot away and you will see clumping/grain/rough tonality at the big sizes.
    If they had been made with even a small medium format camera with a modern set of optics (i.e pentax 645/Bronica Etrsi/Contax 645 etc) they would have held up quite a bit better. Not a criticism. I'm sure 35mm was the best for his needs. Hiking with a ton of medium format gear can be taxing and you are forced to work with primes exclusively. Not nearly the flexibility of 35mm especially when it comes to optics. Chasing the "light" often does not lend itself to bigger gear.
    35mm drum scanned with lightjet/chromira printing still makes some beautiful prints up to around 16x20. I agree with Dave Henderson on this point. I wll not print mine larger than this if they are to be exhibited and usually display this stuff at 11x14.
  48. Actually most folks have it all BACKWARDS. IF one makes a print too small one actually looses details. Thus if one makes a 2x3" inch print; or even a 4x6 print one often LOOSES information; looses details. In court case work 35mm negatives are enlarged enough so details are not lost; maybe a 8x10 or 11x14 strip print. Printing can only hold so much details; if not enlarged enough the details cannot be supported in the print. On the other side 35mm is good enough for a 12x48 foot billboard. Amateurs often have no goals; no viewing distances, no clients with defined tasks; thus this question gets asked each week on It is like asking how long one can go without bathing; stealing from ones employer; or diluting coffee.
  49. this is a really great question - i've been wondering the same thing. i was hoping that i could ask the same question - but with a bit more specifics.
    could i print up to 5'x4' using 35mm? I know that technically it's possible - but i'm wondering what would be the method by which to do so?
    Would it be better to work from negatives, or from slides? Oddly enough, I'll be starting from digital and having the files transferred to film.
    I'm thinking of artists like bill henson or ryan mcginley - both shoot 35mm and print rather large.
    I'm aware i'll get lot of grain - but i rather like that. if you've seen a bill henson in person, they look more like paintings than photos, and the effect is rather stunning and dreamlike.
    but yeah, pros, cons, ideas on how to approach this?

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