BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Charles E. Mann

how to shoot photos & make enlargements

I took a picture of a city skyline with a river in front of it at night; it turn out pretty good. I went to make it into a 20x30 but thought I would make a 12x18 first to check the grain levels(someone wanted to buy it).I took it to costco and made the 12x18 it looked good but I & the lady who enlarged it thought it was starting to get grainy. I shot it with a Nikon N80 with a Sigma 70-300mm @ F4-5.6 @ 300mm. I used Fuji super HQ 100sp film (consumer film). My question is how can I get better enlargements? I've never made anything bigger than 12x18 but want to. Thanks in advance.

To love this question, log in above
5/3/2006 5:33:46 AM

Brock E. Litton   There are numerous ways to get better enlargements. The cheapest way with your setup is to shoot a slower speed film. I would try Velvia slide film plus shoot on a good tripod. Good Luck

To love this comment, log in above
5/3/2006 6:38:43 AM

Bob Fately   Charles, while Brocks suggestion about a tripod is good, it has nothing to do with grain. Velvia is considered to be one of the finest-grain films available, but as he points out it is a slide film.

ISO 100 print film is usually pretty grain-free, but of course you are talking about a 20 diameter enlargement (without cropping) to get to a 20x30 poster size print. One thing that can effect grain is the development process itself - it may be that the Costco equipment or chemicals in the machine were 'tired' or not at the exact right temperature - these factors can impact grain effects. You might want to experiment with a roll of the same film sent to a higher-end pro lab (A&I in Hollywood, CA, does excellent work and has mailers available). Of course, you could use a different ISO100 film - Fuji Reala comes to mind - it's purported to have a finer grain structure.

Finally, it is possible that you could go to a service bureau with that particular shot you want to enlarge and see about them making a very high quality scan - there are film scanners and there are film scanners - and the $20,000 PMT based scanners that some bureaus use can produce far superior scans for enlargement than the simpler scans we mere mortals can afford (or that Costco uses).

Good luck - let us know if you can find a place that can do a better job with the enlargement.

To love this comment, log in above
5/3/2006 7:48:26 AM

Charles E. Mann   thanks guys. I will look into the better labs. I did use a tripod but not an "very good" one (kmart) but did use the camera's self timer & a cable release. I use to carry reala 100 sp in the bag but had stop buying it unto I know I was going "somewhere" I don't have time to shot properly all the time slow speed film, tripod etc. so I usually have 400 loaded or higher. Me & the wife went for a ride one night ended up at the river had a 12exp 100 in the bag. As far as the 50sp slide film goes heard plenty about have never used any slide film, yet.

To love this comment, log in above
5/3/2006 8:15:19 AM

Log in to respond or ask your own question.