Anybody Enlarge 11 x 14? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am currently considering the possibility of moving from 8 x 10 to 11 x 14, with the interest in making not just contact prints but also mural enlargements by converting an 11 x 14 camera into a horizontal enlarger. Has anyone out there done this, enlarged 11 x 14 negatives, either by using a converted camera as 11 x 14 enlarger or by using an 11 x 14 enlarger readymade? If so, how difficult did you find it to convert a camera as such, and how difficult did you find it to make enlargements from 11 x 14 negatives in general, whichever of the two methods you chose? Basically speaking, I am wondering how much I would stand to gain, in terms of sharpness, resolution, vividness, etc., by moving from making 12x enlargements with 8x10 to making roughly 9x enlargements with 11 x 14.

I am also wondering how much more difficult it will be to photograph (subjects will be people mostly) with the 11 x 14 camera vs. an 8 x 10 camera.

Thank you.

-- Nick Rowan (, July 19, 2001


Nick: Ansel Adams used an 11x14 camera to enlarge his 8x10 negs. He explains the procedure pretty well in his book "The Print". He had his light system made, but you might can get one from Aristo or they may make you one. Can't tell you how difficult portraits might be with 11x14. The largest I have used is 8x10, and you need lots of light for that size because of depth of field. Go for it and let us know how it turns out.


-- Doug Paramore (, July 19, 2001.

Why not enlarge some of your 10x8s first, and see how they come out?
I doubt the difference between 11x14 and 10x8 is even noticeable at that size of print, let alone significant. You're talking about an improvement of only 1.4 times, at the very most. That's assuming that the same sharpness can be acheived on both formats, which I doubt. The difference between an 8 diameter enlargement, and an 11 diameter enlargement, really isn't that much as long as basic technique is good. I'd worry more how you're going to handle and process 100" wide paper roll.

-- Pete Andrews (, July 20, 2001.

This is something I'll probably not get past the dreaming stage on. Seems you would need a bigger space than I'll ever have. While I'm dreaming though, process cameras are getting cut up like steam engines were in 1952. The graphic arts world is all computer now, and there are dinosaurs roaming the land. Seems some of these would be imminently convertible into what you're talking about.

-- Jim Galli (, July 21, 2001.

Use the digital platform to make enlarged negatives and print these as contact prints. How many mural size protraits are you going to make? After you get over this madness, use the digital platform to make nice prints to whatever size you want. Shooting people at 11x14 will take so much light you'll have to give them sunscreen to keep them from burning up. Flash for it will blind them permenantly. There is no depth of field at this size. Ansels enlarger was a 10x10 with a 36 bulb light source with each light bulb being capable of independent variable brightness.

-- james (, July 22, 2001.

Jim, while you're dreaming about horizontal enlargers, take a look at some of the models ESECO makes to get an idea....I agree that it probably is a fantasy...when we have murals made, the labs that do it tend to make an interneg of our 4x5s on 8x10 and work from there. A horizontal stat camera might work as part of a horizontal enlarger, but it might be that you'd have to butcher up an illuminated stage from the stat camera to make the light source. I'm thinking of our old vertical stat camera (a very fancy Glunz & Jensen sp??, wih a trio of schneider lenses...) that we surplused a few years ago. This beast had a great baseboard with a really thick glass, and very even went up to 30x40 or so. But, I'd say that if you don't have access to a roller-transport print processor, that the actual print processing would be a nightmare as well....our darkroom at work was originally designed as a mural lab, and the room itself is about 20x50-60 feet easily, with a false wall to project against, and a wing off to the side for a processor...with floor drains as well...our 3 enlargers look so dimunitive in this cavern...a repair tech called it the "Taj Mahal" once...

-- DK Thompson (, July 22, 2001.

11x14" is a venerable portrait format, even in the days of hot lights, and before that in natural light studios and with flash powder, and 20x24" Polaroid portraits have their following. I wouldn't worry about blinding anyone, and short DOF is just part of the idiom.

If you manage to set up your enlarger, the method I've seen for processing murals is to use long troughs and roll and unroll the paper through the chemistry.

-- David Goldfarb (, July 22, 2001.

That's one way to do it, the other is to make big trays out of plastic sheeting, and slosh the chemistry around on your prints...way back when we made murals in our old darkroom, we had 2, 9 foot Kreonite sinks ( the kind with the built-in water jets), and would fill up one with Dektol, the other with fix....there were raised platforms to walk on on either side of the sinks, and you'd walk the mural paper back & forth to agitate....pull the plug, and fill the sink up with water to stop....then over to the next sink for the fix....then wash forever....4 ft. is sort of the max. width for most mural paper, although there are some wider rolls in certain materials...unless you're doing alot of these, it's really easier to just pay a mural lab to do this....we've made a few last minute murals at work by cutting the paper roll in half (20") so we could run it through our 2150 processor....we'd make the print on long strips and tile them together. Another time, we made a mural out of a mosaic of about 30 or so 20x24 prints....this was sort of "desperate measures" type work...sometimes you do what you gotta do....a 4x8 rc print (b&w or c- print) will run about $250 or so, for another 100 you can probably get it mounted on gator board. Throw in another $50 for a lustre coat if you need it...finding a lab to do it on fiber base will be tough these days.

-- DK Thompson (, July 22, 2001.

Thanks for everyone's input. I am getting the distinct feeling from most of the replies--and from James Mickelson's in particular as well as another person's off-site--that what I have contemplated may be tantamount to trying to travel beyond the sound barrier, that 8x10 may represent the outermost boundary of formats to stand enlargement, and that I am asking for far too much trouble and headache by pondering the prospect of going beyond that to enlarging 11 x 14. So be it--I was just fishing around for possiblities as to how I might be able to create the best large-scale b/w mural print as would be humanly possible using traditional technology, and thought that possibly increasing the negative size from 8x10 to 11x14 might provide that palpable difference. But maybe, as Pete Andrews points out, the difference in formats is not that great--and maybe that difference would be even further contracted by shooting the 8x10 with T-grain film, an interest and factor which I forgot to mention, incidentally, in my original question. T-grain film, in 11x14 format as far I know-- after just speaking at length with Ilford and Kodak--is for all practical intents and purposes, not feasibly available; Kodak makes T- Max100 in 11x14, but it's available for purchase in bulk quantities of a minimum of 69 boxes of 25 sheets each only. And maybe 8x10 in Delta 100 or T-Max 100 would equal the sharpness, resolution, and vividness of 11 x 14 in a conventional 125 ASA or 400 ASA film anyway. In addition to sharpness, I also would like the pictures to have a deep focus or alot of depth of field with a normal or slightly-greater-than- normal focal-length lens, and it sounds like that would simply be patently impossible in the 11x14 format, about which David Goldfarb says afterall that "short depth of field is just part of the idiom".

Not to base things only on what OTHERS have done, but I recently made a list of all the "famous" or "name" large-format photographers of this and the most recent (20th) century whose work I was aware of, and came up with about 40 photographers who shot in 8x10--and only THREE who shot in 11 x 14. It seems that, historically speaking, or at least post-19th century, that most fine-art photographers viewed 8x10 as the "top of the mountain", beyond which they did not consider venturing, at least in earnest.

-- Nick Rowan (, July 24, 2001.

Correction: Tmax 100 11x14 69 box minimum, in 10 sheets per box, not 25 sheets per box

-- Nick Rowan (, July 24, 2001.

Well there are still labs that make murals with horizontal enlargers. I've never asked the place that we use most if they have an 11x14 enlarger, but they do take negs up to 8x10.

Also, there was a time ( may still be so) that alot of commercial studios in our state would shoot 8x10-16x20 for doing catalog work for the furniture market. Although I think times have changed a bit now. The world's largest photo studio is here in NC. It's Alderman Studios over in High Point. They make huge sets for the home furnishings market that are almost like Hollywood productions in & of themselves. They were all lit by hotlights, and it wouldn't be uncommon to find 25+ lights, maybe even double or triple that on a set...every type of light too, from massive overhead scrims with mole-richardson nooklites, to mini-moles, and solarspots etc. In these studios, Norling is another (actually there are hundreds of small ones over there too), they would shoot b&w negs like you'd shoot a polaroid for a test. The they'd just burn one sheet of color film (CT mostly), run it and strike the set...they'd have their own labs, and it was all set up around long-roll contact printers. They'd bring in the piece of furniture and color correct against it...because the catalogs are for the distributors, so they must be correct...and the final catalog would actually be a bound volume of c-prints/r-prints. So, in alot of cases they were shooting 11x14, sometimes even bigger. The one that I assisted in mostly shot 4x5 through 8x10. The interesting thing about it was the amount of production work. A light meter was pretty scarce on these sets. I had a classmate who told me a story of his first day on the job in one of these studios, and they pointed him to a set and told him to light it & shoot it, and gave him one 8x10 holder. He asked for a meter and they looked at him like he was he nervously lit the scene (which was probably a room actually, maybe a living room set complete with 2-3 walls, and windows with fake scenes outside)...and went back to the lab and kinda got some tips on how they liked their film exposed...and shot the holder. It turned out okay, and he worked there for another 5 yrs. or so....most of the studios would use Deardorfs or some similar camera, and pretty old glass as well...the exposures were looong could walk across a set during the exposure and not be picked up by the film. They'd usually be in the range of 15 minutes or so...and you'd basically hang a box off the front standard & use a stopwatch...pull the slide, pull off the box, do the exposure....I think Alderman's has largely gone digital now, but in it's heyday you could tour the facility and see the massive cameras that they actually built in-house.

-- DK Thompson (, July 24, 2001.

Hi Nick

if you're still interested in enlarging 11x14 then check out this page on my website and read how Mike built his 16x20 enlarger....I'm not kidding!

-- Clayton Tume (, February 08, 2002.

Also, check out the recent monograph by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, which came out since this posting. Most of his portraits are 11x14" contacts.

-- David Goldfarb (, February 08, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ