Contact Paper Negatives : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I want to lay an 8x10 single weight antique photo in contact with an RC b&w paper to produce an 8x10 paper negative to make 1 to 1 reproductions. My reason is, I don't want to reduce and then enlarge. I feel I can retain the extreme sharpness of the original. I realize my enlarger exposures may be lengthy - exposing through the back of the original print to imprint the 'negative' paper. Is the tonal range of paper significantly less than that of fillm? Anybody experienced in this matter?

-- David Godwin (, June 13, 2001


David, yeah I've done that, but only when I was in a real hurry to reproduce a photo without making a copy neg....and....It didn't really matter how great it had to be. I have also made used paper in film holders as well, and then pretty much done the same thing. They are surprisingly sharp, but I would say that is this is an old photograph, that it would probably be best to just shoot a 4x5 or 8x10 copy neg of it to begin with. This way, if it's faded or stained, you can either filter it or use development to alter contrast...i.e. make a good copy neg. If you shoot on 4x5, you can always make an enlarged neg, if that's your goal in the end. Look at it this way as well, you'll be making a copy to save for the future, that will hopefully be more durable than a paper neg.

-- DK Thompson (, June 13, 2001.

It would be a good learning experience, DO IT! Pat

-- pat krentz (, June 13, 2001.

I would also suggest doing it on Azo single wt. paper, broader tonal scale and easier to print through single wt. Pat

-- pat krentz (, June 13, 2001.

David, Along with all the fine details you're going to print paper fibers, any stains or written stuff on it's back, even trade marks on some RC papers. So, be careful.

Cesar B.

-- Cesar Barreto (, June 13, 2001.

Okay, when I've done it, I've just used MGIV deluxe, or Rapid RC. We use a processor here so it's fairly easy to do this rather quickly. By the way, just what kind of "antique photo" is this & how old? Just curious, really.

-- DK Thompson (, June 13, 2001.

I am doing this for a historical group. The print is an 8x10 aerial view of the Savannah, GA depot area probably in the 1940-50's era. In the print you can count the railroad crossties (timber) in the track. It is really tack sharp. I copied it with Kodak 120 size Technical Pan film in 6x7 format. The prints from the TechPan negatives yielded a good print but, I wanted to get the max out of this project. If there were ever a time to preserve this moment I feel this is that time.

-- David Godwin (, June 14, 2001.

Tech Pan's a good film for copywork. But do you have access to a view camera or something like an MP3 or MP4? I'm only saying this, because from a preservation point of view, sheet film is better in the long run. This is actually what I do for a living. While there is always a little bit of detail lost in any copying process, it is possible to make some very good copynegs using large format films. You are right is saying that you don't want to reduce & then enlarge, but 4x5 has become something of a std. for this sort of thing. If you have an 8x10 camera, then I'd say use that. One other plus is that sheet film on a polyester base is extremely stable. This may be important to your clients. A paper neg is not going to be as stable in the long run, as a sheet of ESTAR film. Especially one properly processed & stored. And it will be much easier to reproduce as well. But, then maybe you just want to do it this way? Whichever way you go, good luck.

-- DK Thompson (, June 14, 2001.

I do have a Toyo Omega 45D & Graflex Crown Graphic. Available lenses - Rodenstock Gerenar 150mm f-6.3, Osaka 360mm f-6.8, Schneider 240mm/420 f-5.6/12, Toyonon 127mm f-4.7, and Graflex Optar 135 f-4.7. I wouldn't consider any of these a flat field lens. I opted for the 6x7 because of the shear volume of originals to copy (over 200). My Jobo will only develop 6 sheets in one processing session. Hence the roll film. Film vs. paper..... I had not considered the Archival qualities.

-- David Godwin (, June 15, 2001.

I guess it depends on what they want to do with the copies down the road. Is this for an exhibit? Or is it for preservation, or doing a research file? Because by only making a paper neg, you've limited the reproduction of the original to only being an 8x10 print, and only being contact printed by this process as well. Depending on just how the historical society is set up, or what their mission is, the original print should be considered the "artifact", that would be cared for & handled as little as possible. You could make a copy neg, or several negs. One would be stored in a safe place, and the others would be for making working prints. This includes taking care of all the copy negs, and being careful not to loan them out. The thing about roll film, besides it's small size, is that most of it (not all) is on a form of acetate which is not as stable as polyester. You've got to figure that acetate based film has about a 50 yr. lifespan under normal office type conditions, whereas polyester is more like several hundred years. So, if there's a choice to made, you'd opt for the most stable medium. I wouldn't worry too much about the flat field lens, although we do use G-Clarons here. I've done good copywork off Tessar type lenses too. The problem is more with the film & developers, and dealing with any stains or fading. There's an old book called "Collection, Use and Care of Historical Photographs" by Robert Weinstein and Larry Booth (published by the AASLH- Am. Assoc. for State and Local History), that is sort of the bible for this sort of thing. It's from the late 70's, but alot of people still reference it today. I could see how it would take forever at six sheets at a time, we have a similar problem with our E6 machine, but it is possible to do it this way, it just takes a long time.

-- DK Thompson (, June 15, 2001.

Just an afterthought though...6x7 is better than 35mm for this sort of thing. Another plus for sheets is the control you can get over individual shots, in either pushing or pulling to alter contrast etc. We routinely shoot like this, and divide the originals up in batches based on size (so you're not moving the camera alot), or density & contrast. If you get a good set up, it is possible to copy quite a few images in a work day, especially using a solid copystand, you can use a four bladed easel to hold down the originals, and as long as nothing moves, you can shoot alot of copies before ever having to refocus etc. Your limiting factor will be in your Jobo, really. With 200 to copy, plan on having some reshoots in there as well. Some places will use roll film for down & dirty record shots of their photos. But, one thing that tends to happen is you never have the time to pull an object out again and make a better copy if you need it, so it's nice to just do the best you can up front. But if the prospect of developing 400 sheets of film seems like a nightmare, then shoot the largest image size you can on 120.

-- DK Thompson (, June 15, 2001.

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