Why do 4x6 prints not show whole negative?

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by david_m, Sep 17, 2003.

  1. According to my math skills 4x6ins is the same ratio as 24x36mm so
    why is it that all my carefully composed photos result in 4x6in
    prints with the feet or head cut off???? I can understand it with the
    3x5in prints but why with 4x6? This has puzzled me for quite a while.
  2. The labs are buying themselves a margin for error.
  3. That's not exactly right, but this is: It is due to masks and overprinting. A mask holds the negative, which encroaches a very small amount on all four sides of the image, to avoid inclusion of blank film alng an edge. When emlarged on paper, the image is 'overshot' a small fraction to be sure that no sliver of white, unexposed paper appears along the margins. So while the film and paper are both an exact 'full frame' format, the printing process does result in a small crop. A pro that prints by hand should position the negative so that the small crop that *is* taken does not encroach on a critical part of the subject. Other high volume labs do not hand-position the negative, and will likely crop an even amount from all four sides, all of the time. Even in custom printing, to achieve a full-frame enlargement with no crop whatsoever, a special mask must be used to avoid this small crop. Hope this helps!

  4. FYI, most camera viewfinders don't show 100% of the image either.
  5. If they're cutting off heads and feet, sounds like something else is wrong- you don't normally lose that much from the cropping. Are the heads and feet on the negatives? It could be a viewfinder problem rather than a processing problem.
  6. Yes of course the heads and feet are on the negative! That was the whole point of my post. They are cut off on the print.

    I shoot mostly people in the vertical format and I routinely compose full length shots with the head and feet in the picture (yes and on the negative!). I would say 75% of them have the head or feet cut off in the 4x6 print.

    The fact that viewfinders dont show the whole area is well known but that would help to alleviate the problem not contribute to it.
  7. n m

    n m

    Tell us which lab or labs to avoid then. I am pretty sure you can find an inexpensive lab which does not lose a great deal of the frames.

    I know that viewfinders do not have total frame representation, but even so I avoid composing right to the edge of the viewfinder as well.
    You might like to look up what viewfinder coverage your camera has.
  8. Random personal observation: Even the Fuji Frontier machines (from a 390, in my case), which are well regarded machines, will crop some information off of the edges of a 35mm negative in my experience. However, I hear that here are pro labs that will make prints that have the same content of the original negative, little or no noticeable cropping.
  9. it's not the lab, its the negative. david m is correct. the print does not fit all the info on the negative. i have a full frame viewfinder on my maxxm 9 and tend to composition perfectly using the entire frame. it disappoints me that when i scan the full frame of the negative, i have more info on the negative lengthwise than what i can fit on a 4x6 crop. there's a little bit more info lengthwise therefore you end up cropping the top or bottom of the image in order to fit it on to a 4x6 print.
  10. i've attached a scan as an example. this is a full frame scan of a 35mm negative. i usually scan the outer edges of the negative and crop later to make sure i have all the info available. the red box shows the 4x6 area.

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