How to do Super 8 Enlargement & Printing

Who hasn't looked at a great scene they've shot on Super 8 and thought "I'd love a big print of that"? Well, I finally got the opportunity to try this out courtesy of one of the huge enlargers at Darkroom.

There are a couple of hurdles that need to be overcome to get good prints;

  1. It is very hard to get good focus over such a long distance.
  2. Most Super 8 is reversal rather than negative.
  3. Producing good quality black-and-white prints from a colour image is not easy.

Giant Enlarger

If you look at the enlarger plate above you can see something that looks like a microscope. That's a grain focuser; harder to use than a loupe but vital for doing these kind of prints. For this setup we used a 50mm lens and about a 6 foot drop.

As you can see below, this gave us a decent 8x10 image. You can see sprocket holes and some of the preceding and following frames but that's a nice formalist touch that I think adds to the print. Once the film is on spools, it is relatively easy to run up and down the frames until you see one that you want.
Film Strip

The first print is going to be a negative. It is important to have the focus correct here because all the prints will come from this original. Once you have the negative print you can do positive contact prints from it in a normal enlarger.

The new sheet is place face up, the negative is placed face down above it and then the two sheets are pressed together under glass. Mella from Dark Room worked out the settings for these particular prints;

  1. 90 seconds at Grade 4
  2. 90 seconds at Grade 4
  3. 10 seconds at Grade 0

The final exposure is to bring up the midtones that are knocked out by the yellow filter that you get with colour film. You can skip that step if you are working with Black and White stock like Tri-X or Orwo.

Super 8 Prints

Once processed and dried, these are ready to frame!