full frame digital or 4x5 photography

Discussion in 'Canon EOS' started by luis_colon, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. I was in the camera store , one of the sales guys toll me , when you want to get serius about photography
    star using 4x5 film cameras. I was sad at that point because i shoot digital. my gear is mark 111 is not full frame but does the work and my lens 24-70 focal lens canon brnd. my question is should i star shooting with 4x5 film camera to get the real pictures.
  2. Luis, If your camera is getting the work done, stick with it. Expand into 4x5 if you wish, but I wouldn't give-up your existing gear.
  3. No absolutely not, if you don't know then don't even think about it. Yes in the right hands 4x5 film can, with lots of additional work and expense, print out higher quality big prints. But it is expensive and you can't do it yourself, well some people can, but not many.
    What are you unhappy about with your current gear? A first step, if you want to print big and are more into landscapes and set up shots would be to part exchange your 1D MkIII with a 5D MkII. This alone will give you a much higher quality big print.
  4. The saleman was BSing you. If you're into birds, wildlife, sports, etc. a 4x5 would be foolish, not serious. For certain applications, like birding, a FF camera can be a disadvantage, due to the focal length shortening and tendancy toward slower AF (camera dependent of course). For scenics and archetecture a FF can be really nice, as can a 4x5, but you'll know when you're ready for that, if ever. Your should probably stay away from that store. They seem to be preying on your insecurities.
  5. I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and answer seriously.
    In the past, if you were very serious about producing extremely large prints of certain types of subjects including landscapes, there was a very good argument for shooting large format (LF) 4x5 or even larger film formats. Of course, even then, many fine landscape and architecture, etc. photographers were producing very excellent work in these genres using medium format (MF) film equipment, and some did quite well, thank you very much, using 35mm gear - as long as their intent was not to make extremely large prints and/or the circumstances of their shooting precluded the use of LF equipment.
    1. These are not the only types of "serious photography" done by serious photographers. Many types of photography have long been done primarily or largely with smaller format cameras - think photojournalism, street photography, etc. If you just go through a list of recognized "serious photographers" you will find that they use and used all sorts of different formats. So this statement about "serious" photographs was never true in a general sense even in the past.
    2. Your salesperson seems to either have a personal large format film ax to grind or else he is way out of touch. While there most certainly are some fine photographers who still use LF film (most but not quite all of whom then scan the film and work in Photoshop) many, many of them (I'd guess most, actually) have now moved away from shooting exclusively LF film. What they have discovered is that they can get equivalent results from MF digital back systems, and that using these systems gives them many additional shooting advantages in terms of size/weight of equipment, cost, ease of transfer to computer (download rather than scan), availability of lens options, and on and on and on.
    Your salesperson, if he actually said what you say he said, is either a fool or living in the past, or else you misunderstood him.
  6. I shot 4x5 for landscape photography for several years, while still shooting DSLR for everything else. I finally migrated back to digital with landscape as well, and just sold off all my 4x5 gear for a 1Ds III.
    4x5 is great, but there are a lot of disadvantages in normal use, including in the landscape context.
  7. "Yes in the right hands 4x5 film can, with lots of additional work and expense, print out higher quality big prints . But it is expensive and you can't do it yourself, well some people can, but not many."
    It's really easy to develop your own B&W, and it's not very expensive because you don't shoot high volume with LF.
    Large Format is perfect when you need to control perspective, particularly when shooting architecture. In addition, you have control over the plane of focus. And the tonality is excellent, even if you don't make huge prints. But there are limitations, so I use digital for many purposes, such as sports and low light photography.
  8. A large negative is wonderful. Look at some of the pictures from even ancient folders and other historical cameras on the Classic Camera forum. They have a kind of detail and 'glow' that is hard to match from smaller formats, film or digital.
    Since that is so, you have to know that 8x10 view cameras are even more spectacular and will put even 4x5" to shame. There's no end to it, of course, except that it's pretty hard to come by film in the largest formats anymore.
    If you go through the old photo magazines from the late 50s and early 60s when the Nikon 35mm was just beginning to replace the 4x5 press camera in journalism you will find a considerable amount of discussion and angst over whether 35mm could equal large format. Some of the magazines even did blow-ups of sections of film from both and found that the differences were not so great as you'd think. Of course, there was a need for much greater precision in the smaller formats to get "equal" results.
    Nothing has changed. If you use the best lenses, clamp down the camera tight on a tripod of quality, and take other reasonable measures you can produce superb work, regardless of size of the image, as such.
    Frankly, if you are hand holding a 4x5 you shouldn't expect too much of it, so you shouldn't really compare a hand-held image from a small-format camera to be as rock sharp as a big camera or any camera on a tripod. Nor are all lenses created equal and some large format lens designers have been, well, a little sloppy since the larger format compensated for softness in the lens.
    There's also a huge "good enough for government work" factor here. Smaller equipment gets you to places where only an Ansel Adams or a Jackson would have packed in a large-format camera.
    So, don't be seduced by the large-format side of the force. It's extremely expensive now and will only get more difficult as time goes by.
  9. If you want to experiment with film I recommend 35mm. Depending on your lens types (crop only or full frame) you can likely get a usd film body of the same brand as your current lenses for less than $100. A 35mm film camera and a decent scanner are a lot easier than jumping into 4x5 film. If, after learning on 35mm you want to move on, a starter large format camera like a crown graphic is a good way to get the big negatives.
  10. I used to use large format in college, and I loved it for what is was suited for such as architectural, landscape and studio work. It was an excellent teaching tool in forcing you to pay close attention to the fundamentals of composition, lighting and proper focus and exposure since you wouldn't want to take lots of variations.
    Advances have been made though, and nowadays I wouldn't want to give up my FF DSLR since it's faster, much more compact, has way more lens choices and the results are immediately available.
  11. Robert,
    I come from a film background and developed and printed in the 70's when pocket money didn't stretch to processors. I can print my 6x9 negatives but I don't anymore, the economies of scale just do not add up, now because you can do all your "darkroom" work in photoshop prior to printing the reality is the skill set needed to print is not learnt by the vast majority of people and the wasted cost in time and paper and chemicals is not cheap either, especially nowadays when chemicals are made in lower volume and are not so easily bought. The film developing is easy, getting that onto a print is not, either expensive drum scans (otherwise there is no point in using bigger formats anyway) or keeping the process wet both incur expenses that are not there once you have your digital camera, photoshop (or any number of free applications) and access to an online printer with good machines and profiles.
    For anybody not 100% sure and with a good understanding of what is needed in the medium format film process it is very bad advice to suggest moving from a good digital setup to a film setup.
  12. zml


    Luis: Try 4x5 - you might like it... It is a different world than 35 mm (digital or wet.) Rent a camera with a few holders (loaded with film if possible...film loading and keeping the process dust-free is one of the greates headaches of LF shooting) and one lens, get some instruction and shoot some frames...
  13. Back in the days of film photography I used (and still own) a Mamiya BR67 that produces 6X7 cm pics on 120 or 220 film. I have used it very little and on rare occasions. The scans cost me a fortune and the size of photos I made did not warrant the use of such high resolution film images. I am happy with EOS 5D although I am planning to upgrade to Mark II for a bit better resolution and camera features. 4X5 is used by professionals who really need the better resolution it offers. Unless your photos end up in billboards and other large size prints, stick what what you have.
  14. If you look at the statement that if you are serious about photography use 4X5, in the context of learning, I agree with the statement. However, like learning to do anything skillfully, plan to advance in small and steady steps. Over the course of just one year of consistent practice with a large format camera, you will see a marked improvement in your photography regardless of the medium or format that you use. You will also make many mistakes and learn from each one of them.
    If you do not expect it to take practice time (and patience) to master, you will be frustrated.
    Large format is not about print size - it is about image quality. A good image looks good at any size.
  15. it depends on whether you want to expand your knowledge and explore the wonderful world of photography, or whether you are happy to continue shooting with what you currently have. large format photography requires discipline and patients, and it sure is worlds apart from a small format digicam. but learning and trying new things in your chosen hobby should be fun. no one said photography was meant to be convenient and easy. but if you create a succeful image with something like a linhof technica, then you can take full credit for the image, and you can be proud of the fact that you had no automated electroncs to nanny you along.
  16. There is nothing to stop you taking up large format but it cannot replace full frame digital as they two systems are good at different things. Digital is all about speed, flexibilty and convenience while LF is about taking your time and achieving best quality. So if you want to do large format and the money goes that far why not buy a LF outfit to go alongside your digital gear? LF cameras and lenses can be bought quite cheaply as there are lots available second hand.
    But stick with digital for the day-to-day work.
  17. "...should i star shooting with 4x5 film camera to get the real pictures."
    Should you trade your current vehicle in for a monster truck? Should you wear an astronaut's suit instead of regular clothing? Should you replace your 4-burner stove with a 12 burner stove? Should you use a sledge hammer instead of a small claw hammer? All of those things are bigger, and in some situations they are better. Can you think of any situations where they wouldn't be a good choice? :) 4x5 is definitely bigger, and folks tend to think bigger is always better. Except it's not. View cameras and large format film are just another tool and materials option. In some situations for some photographers they are the better choice, but in plenty of situations and for plenty of photographers the weaknesses of view cameras/sheet film would be detrimental.
    Do the sales guys ever talk to you about light and shadow, or composition, or color, or the emotions your photographs inspire in viewers? Those are some of what you really need to worry about if you are serious about photography. Look to the art museum for inspiration. The camera shop guys are just desperate to enhance your camera collection. A 4x5 camera is definitely a must for any serious camera collector. :)
  18. Before you jump into 4x5, you should do some homework on it and the work. Doing on the cheap always sounds fun until you hit the limit of your equipment, find it tedious, or don't like the results. And you'll find sheet film isn't cheap. Even processing your own, you're looking at a $3-5 dollars per sheet (one exposure). I use 4x5, but also take my Canon digital gear because I have similar focal lengths lens (equivalents0 and can take the same shot with both systems, and I can use the Canon to walk around to find the best place to start with the 4x5.
    And real pictures come from the photographer. The camera system are simply the tools to capture them.
  19. Buy only what you will use.
    The nice thing about 35mm is that it is so convenient and not a lot of trouble to carry around.
  20. There is nothing more satisfying (in photography) than looking at a perfectly exposed, perfectly composed image that you created on a piece of 4x5 film like Velvia 50.
    Having said that, what a pain in the neck getting there! It takes dedication, perserverance, experimentation, patience, and the list goes on. I had hoped that getting a full frame digital camera would make the 4x5 flow a little less cumbersome, since I could confirm exposure and composition immediately, but I still have a very hard time motivating myself to get the film holders loaded and get out there with my 4x5 system. As it is now I am lucky if I go out once in the summer, once in the fall, and once in the winter! Part of the difficulty is that I am in a time of my life when I am fully dedicated to the activities of my two teenagers, and my job/commute take up more than half my day. I keep contemplating selling the 4x5 system but I know in a few years I would kick myself, so I will hold on to it for a less busy time.
    When you find your 24mm lens is not wide enough, on a very regular basis, then you could consider a full frame DSLR. First it will make your 24mm even wider, second, it will open more superwide lens possibilities, and thirdly it will provide the best sensor for use with superwide and wide angle lenses. My 14mm lens is pretty much glued to the full frame for landscape and architecture, while I use a pro crop body for everything else, mainly the kids' soccer and motor racing events.
  21. There is nothing more satisfying (in photography) than looking at a perfectly exposed, perfectly composed image that you created on a piece of 4x5 film like Velvia 50.
    Guess it depends on the person. I've done that (an architectural shot for a book cover), and it is satisfying to look at those big transparencies on a lightbox. But it didn't even rank among the top 100 most-satisfying moments I've experienced doing photography.
  22. One answer to your question depends on what you're shooting and where. If you're doing high-volume shooting in a studio, stick with the Canon. If you have time to spend on composing and getting everything just so, use the 4x5. I would always have the 4x5 on hand in the studio and would usually allow addition shooting time to use it. I would sometimes spend twenty minutes, sometimes more, setting up one shot with the 4x5.
  23. Try 4x5 and 6x7 if you can afford it, without giving up your current equipment and at your own pace.
    Luis, what subjects do you use, for what purpose-audience, how large you print and how many shots do you expect to produce a month?
    If say, you shot landscapes, to sell prints for art display larger than 20x30, you can afford to concentrate on each print and have no need to produce more than a handful a week/month.... The you would probably find LF-MF film more rewarding; and certainly have the potential to produce technically superior results. But it depends on what your needs are. Sometimes both film and DSLRs have a reason to coexist. You can use a DSLR when convenience and quick turnaround is needed and film when you focus on quality and treating yourself to the experience.
    Shoot both, if you can, for a while and see where you gravitate to.
  24. The original post is a little unclear on the context of this conversation with the salesman. I can only assume that you were discussing some dissatisfaction with the level of detail you are seeing with the Mark III, and that you must have been addressing some situation where a 4x5" would actually be a reasonable idea.
    i.e. I get myself out of bed early before the sunrise and go hiking (ala Adams). I find that perfect scene that I've been pondering for weeks, just waiting for today when I know the mist is going to rise just so, etc, and I want that moment when the sun hits this whatever, and every so often after a storm the whole sky turns Orange in the morning, etc. After fidgeting with the camera on the tripod for 30 minutes, and checking light readings and exposures, timing, and the light finally hits and I make that first 20 second exposure, I know that picture is perfect. But then, when I get that large print back from the lab, it just doesn't have the fine detail that I need to justify that care and time that I have put into this photograph.
    For this reason the only natural suggestion would have been: "try a good 4x5 view camera next time, with full rise and fall, tilt, shift, and swing movements. You'll be able to nail the fine focus in area X and control the depth of field better in area Y, as well as be able to pull all the detail out of feature Z."
    This doesn't sound unreasonable to me, or even that expensive. You will find yourself taking your first picture with your brand new 4x5" alot cheaper than your first picture with a brand new 5D Mark II. And I think all this goes without saying that you are going to keep your existing gear.
  25. There is no doubt that right now, 4x5 or larger film sizes have a quality advantage over even the best digital systems. One of our customers (at Bruce's Field Camera Store), to whom quality is everything, gave up using his Hasselblad digital for 4x5 negatives shot in a Linhof. If quality is the most important thing to you about photography, you might consider adding a large format camera to your equipment. There are, of course,many advantages to digital such as no wet darkroom, no chemical pollution of the earth, speed and ease of use, easy retouching, and the picture on the back of the camera. Recently I needed a self portrait for something and quality was important. I shot 35mm film, digital with a d700 and 5x7 film. I ended up using the 35mm film picture. It was better overall than the digital picture, and as usual, the darkroom work on the sheet film did not get done in time. It really depends on your priorities, and on the time allowed for the job, whether you shoot LF film or digital. If quality is utmost, why bother with 4x5? Go straight to 8x10 film. I do not "have an ax to grind" with these comments, despite having a little LF store. I am willing to give digital photography credit for the things it does best, and I even shoot it at times, especially when shooting for the computer. However, for B&W prints, I will be sticking to film and silver or platinum printing.
  26. "Even processing your own, you're looking at a $3-5 dollars per sheet (one exposure). "
    I must be doing something wrong because it costs me less than $1 dollar per sheet.
    The bottom line is if you want to give large format photography a try then you should but don't let costs get you down because the most expensive part will be the camera and lens. Film is cheap (I pay $0.48 per sheet) and not only are chemicals cheap, you don't have to use fresh chemicals for each sheet you process. You could buy some Diafine for under $15 dollars and it will last you well over a year and process hundreds of sheets. The other materials are affordable and can be found for practically nothing on the used market nowadays due to everyone going digital.
  27. You may also consider a 6x7 SLR like an RZ67 where the portability and convenience would be better than 4x5 and also have the advantage of affordable quality scanners like the Coolscan 9000.
    Either way you go trying film you are in for a treat. Even 35mm as Bruce points out.
  28. I shoot with a 1D3 and a 1DS3. Years ago I used to shoot 6x7 and 645 - never 4x5 sheet film however. I have nothing against 4x5 or even medium format for that matter. But to me film today makes no sense as I can get whatever results I need with digital. My 1D3 gets good results up to 20x24 with no problems. I took it to the Grand Canyon earlier this year with a couple 8 gig cards loaded in each slot. This gave me over 800 RAW images. Try packing 800 sheets of 4x5 film for a similar shoot. The 1D3 also handles action like no 4x5 ever will. The 1DS3 will handle larger prints with ease. For me the larger issue is the ease of "getting the shot" vs the format size. 4x5 might work well on static subjects like landscapes or portraits but otherwise digital is much easier and far cheaper. Ask that salesman to grab a 4x5 and you take your 1D3 and both go out on a drizzly day and shoot a soccer game, a few baby portraits, then a night event, and finally a "no-flash" indoor wedding. See who comes back with the goods. Then ask him to re-touch about 100 negatives while you buzz your shots though Photoshop in an hour or so.
  29. "There are, of course,many advantages to digital such as no wet darkroom, no chemical pollution of the earth".
    This is an often repeated myth that I must set straight. The production and manufacture of Silicon chips, not to mention their eventual disposal is one of the most toxic and polluting industries on the planet! Most chemical film and print processing is heavily regulated and as clean as it can be made.
    But back onto the original post. Sure, 4x5 will give you ultimate image quality, but it's a totally different way of working than using a 35mm or digital SLR. It's more likely you'll have an SLR with you and ready to shoot. I'd say if you want to get something in between the image quality of 4x5 sheet film, and the handiness of an SLR, get a medium format film camera.
  30. Serious photography is shown in the images, or not as the case may be. If that Mark III is doing the trick for you, stick with it.
  31. I think that the answers here are very sensible, but I can't help but be curious about what sort of responses people would give if this was posted on the Large Format page instead of one dedicated to a digital camera.
  32. ... when you want to get serius about photography star using 4x5 film cameras.​
    Oh that's just silly in so many, many ways.
  33. If you want to "get serious about photography", of course it has much more to do with developing your knowledge and ability than with what kind of equipment you use!

    Having said that, I love LF but use digital for the overwhelming majority of my work. Yes, they are completely different worlds, and yes, you can learn a lot by mastering both. I think of LF as the last refuge of film, an opinion many would choose to disagree with, and that's fine.

    Perhaps I skimmed this thread too quickly, but it's also worth mentioning that, whether digital or film, there is no substitute for increasing the size of the film OR digital sensor. So full frame digital will almost always yield substantially better quality than APS, and medium format digital is yet another leap- if you can afford it. Medium format digital, combined with the latest advances in Photoshop, is an excellent alternative to LF film.
  34. Bottom line: The notion that "serious" photography requires the use of any particular format is nonsense. Again, all you have to do is look at the range of photographers past and present whose work you might acknowledge to be serious... and you'll find that they used and use a wide variety of equipment.
    The statement from the salesman is nonsense and/or naive.
  35. What problem are you trying to solve - DSLR pictures are real.
    If you want a wider angle move to a full frame body
    If you want full motion go 4x5 (TS lenses are a limited alternative or Fuji GX680 and some Rollei bodies offer a lot more front movement)
    If you want to slow down and become very deliberate buy a cheap MF or old film body and prime lens (try goin out with just a single prime on your DSLR this will make you work harder for shots)
    I shoot lots of MF and have two systems (one the Fuji GX680 weights about 20 lbs if I take a few lenses). The big difference between film and digital is the time and cost to produce an image. I find that I always take things slower with film and thus often get better results. This helps my digital photography as I can start to use it for landscapes like i use film. I might lug a 5DII and 2-3 lenses around all day without taking a shot. I suggest that you should try film photography (but perhaps start with MF before you jump into LF) but do not sell your DSLR. Think about my first question and decide what in your photography needs work - then work on that. new equipment can help but only when you clearly know what you are getting it for.
  36. A professional who worked in the days of chrome slide film told me this about his magazine cover sales. He said that photo editors of magazines liked to scan the medium format film on a light table. And were less excited about getting out their loupe to view the slides in 35mm. Kodachrome 35mm (25 and 64 ISO was almost grainless and could be enlarged to great sizes without loss of detail.)
    A large medium format transparency in a Hasselblad projector was a breathtaking sight to behold, for sure. The salesman has his prejudices. What fits your budget and what you use it for is the key. Architectural Digest vs Field and Stream or Rolling Stone...The best reason I can think of to shoot large format or medium format film is that it will indeed slow you down so you are more careful and deliberate with each frame you invest in. In that, there is a kernel of value. I do wish you well and smooth sailing. Try larger format and buy a used Bronica and do some low cost personal exploration if you like.. most of us have used a variety of formats and now compromise on digital for reasons well stated above in the thoughtful comments you got. gs
  37. I use my 4X5 only when a client absolutely insists. For most of my architectural work, long the absolute domain of the view camera, I now use a medium format camera with a digital back. For everything else (mostly aerial photography) I use a D3x.
    A 4X5 is a good learning tool, and I'm glad that I've owned one. But having having done a lot of 4X5 shooting makes me really appreciate digital!
  38. Luis,
    Your camera is fine. Keep using it and don't listen to anyone who tries to convince you otherwise. The guy in the store is a salesman, and he's probably trying to get you to BUY something. Your best strategy is (a) to keep learning and (b) to keep adding to your Canon system (lenses, flash, etc.).
    Large format cameras (4x5, 8x10, etc.) are very specialized. It takes a lot of time and effort to learn to use one properly. They have certain advantages (mostly movements), but I have seen images from Canon DSLRs that rival the quality of a 4x5 print. (And before anyone gets the idea that I'm a "film basher," I own and use two 4x5 cameras in addition to my DSLRs.)
    Remember, it's not the camera that makes a good photograph. It's the photographer.
  39. It's nice to see examples of output from the various media. What is a complete waste of time is comparing output in a web browser format. You have to see the output in a form that suits - I would suggest on paper is best. At the moment, there is no way a 35mm image, digital or otherwise can compare with a 4x5 shot. HOWEVER, how often do you print? There aren't many people who can print 4x5 nowadays. What some people do is to 'digitise' their film output and then work on them in the computers - I do this with medium format. But the scan process makes compromises between dpi and file size - I should imagine that a file size of a 4x5 slide at a reasonable dpi must be absolutely huge and which would mean a pc of considerable cabability. To scan a 4x5 slide at a low dpi would effectively defeat the object of taking 4x5.
    One advantage of 4x5 is the ability to use camera movements, which can give advantages in perspective, dof plains and such like, some of which can be spoofed in digital anyway. Another advantage with 4x5 is that the camera can be for life, where a digital camera will be upgraded every few years or so.
    If I had the money, I would buy a 4x5 and a darkroom to be able to deal with black and white - but that's more about having a foible than a quest to being a better photographer. The camera doesn't make the photographer, a good photographer can create good images from anything.
  40. The salesman should have said something like "if you ever want greater image quality or more detail in your large prints give 4x5 film a shot." But to insult all the great photographers who use formats and mediums other than 4x5 film is just plain silly.
  41. I must be doing something wrong because it costs me less than $1 dollar per sheet.
    Only if you shoot B&W and have a equipment, chemicals and space to process the film, and then don't include your time in the cost. But look at the cost of sheet film and the development at labs, it's not a cheap hobby or profession. And color is just more per sheet.
  42. Without attempting to comment on the broader debate, I do want to respond to this by David Stephens: "If you're into birds, wildlife, sports, etc. a 4x5 would be foolish, not serious. For certain applications, like birding, a FF camera can be a disadvantage, due to the focal length shortening ... "
    It can't be right that a full frame camera is a disadvantage compared to a smaller sensor "due to the focal length shortening" because the focal length does not shorten; the sensor is just cropped, and if one could easily enough just crop the photo rather than the sensor. Sure, if the cropped-sensor camera has greater resolution than would appear in an image cropped from a FF sensor, then there might be a loss in resolution, but that's a different point (as is difference in the viewfinder).
  43. Are you planning to shoot for a living? Commercial? Hobby? Artist? "Quality" aside (which will probably be surpassed by digital in more than a decade or so..) LF and ULF photography is more of a craft. Do you like to take time in building things as an Artisan ? Or are you a quick and easy/convenience as an DTP operator?
    BTW I make my own paper negatives, costs me close to nothing. Also make my own chemistry, costs me close to nothing. LF camera is cheap, easy to repair (easy to make...). Tons of lens from lots of different makers. Camera movements! If you like new stuff some makers such as Chamonix offers extremely light and rigid designs for a great price.
    Again very different from a high pace digital production.
  44. Lobalobo,
    You are right, ff cameras are at no disadvantage for bird shooting or other telephoto use. There is not a tele advantage now to using a crop camera now pixel numbers are where they are. This thread links to several examples people have posted showing it just is not true.
  45. The industries greatest photographers did not haul around 11x14, 8x10, 5x7, or 4x5 cameras as well as the necessary truck load of support equipment only because they wanted more exercise. And why do you think that today's photographers must sell their first child to purchase digital LF digital equipment. The answer then, and the answer today is still, "bigger is better," almost always. It is understandable for a D300 guy or gal to boast about their equipments remarkable resolution and how much it cost. The boast is usually followed by the claim that it is "almost" as good ais film. Everything being equal, which everything never is, bigger is always better. But..... bigger is usually always a great deal more expensive, always more cumbersome, usually more limiting, and most importantly, usually requiring more knowledge and greater professionalism to master.
  46. Dennis, digital is generally better than film in the same format, with the possible exception of some unusual types of shooting. In general, and in IQ terms, a digital system can roughly equal the performance of the next larger format in film. E.g. - cropped sensor DSLR can equal 35mm film, full-frame DSLR can compete with MF film, MF digital backs compete with 4 x 5 film.
    One other reason that those folks hauled around those larger systems is that at that time it was necessary if one was to produce high quality images that could stand up to being printed very large. However, you can produce some very large and very high quality prints from full-frame DLSR systems today - 20" x 30" is not at all unusual and it may be possible to go a bit larger with care. With a MF digital system you can essentially print as large as you could with scanned 4x5 film.
    But, that said, let's go back to what the OP actually wrote:
    I was in the camera store , one of the sales guys toll me , when you want to get serius about photography star using 4x5 film cameras.
    This is, in plain and simple terms, nonsense. Are we to believe that HCB was not a "serious" photographer? Diane Arbus not a "serious" photographer? What about Ansel Adams when he made photographs from MF and, yes, occasionally from 35mm! (Look it up.) And on and on.
    Bigger does have the potential to produce higher image quality, but today smaller produces astonishingly good image quality in the hands of those who know how to use it.
  47. The original post is just way to vague. "...to get the real pictures"? ".. to get serius about photography"?
    "Very high quality" is a very subjective term nowadays, who sets the standard? Go with the gear that suits your vision or client base.
  48. So who is going to write the book?
    4x5 and 617 work is still beyond practical digital manipulation, but there are a couple of digital backs that will record the 1Gb plus images. But having a computer with the horsepower to anything with them it is another thing.
  49. Oh, another disadvantage with a 4x5 is that you have to focus manually - from what I've seen huge swathes of digital photographers don't - although it is true to say that most 35mm viewfinders are so small it's difficult to see anyway.
  50. the shot you took with a 35mm camera is always going to be better than the shot you didn't take with a 4x5. i used to shoot hasselblad, but to get the best out of one of the beautiful cameras really requires a slower though out, more deliberate process. now whilst that can be enjoyable, the photography that i like to shoot doesn't lend itself to that type of style. if you think that the 4x5 may be too large to carry to certain destinations, or your photography thrives on spontanuaty, and you wind up leaving it in the car, then the small format camera will get the best pics everytime. Ansel Adams mantra was to use the biggest camera you can carry, but he was predominately a landscape photographer, and sometimes discreetness is better.
  51. Just to toss out a little extra, from a part-time salesman and part-time professor:
    1) The salesperson's comment doesn't seem to take into account that in many cases, the technological advancements in 35mm or 120mm format lenses make them objectively superior to anything but the best LF gear - especially in less-than-ideal conditions. I know my friend's old Zeiss glass is technically better than my new Nikon stuff, but in many cases we'll compare prints and mine beat the pants off his. Newer coatings provide much better contrast, clarity, and resistance to flare and ghosting. When all the pieces fall into place his larger negatives will yield much better enlargements, but that happens a very small amount of the time. While advances have been made to LF cameras and lenses as well, a NEW large-format camera is priced such that unless you're super rich or super professional, you won't be getting one of them.
    2) From the salesman's perspective, he's terrible. If you're the sort of customer that is easily swayed by his comments (and I mean no offense by that), then its only a matter of time until he sells you something too complicated and expensive and probably loses you as a customer for good. I'm not saying don't shop there anymore, but maybe there's a different employee you could deal with from now on. The other 'camera nut' at my shop has a different style of shooting and working than I do, and we have customers that only deal with him or only with me.
    3) From the teacher's perspective, use what works for you and what you'll carry. You'll take the best photos with the camera you have with you. I know that my medium-format gear takes better photos than my Nikon gear, but my Nikon cameras have taken a million more good photos, since I'm more likely to have it with me. I could take a body, 2 lenses, and a flash for the same amount of weight (and almost the same size) as a 4x5 camera. Unless I really need a poster, the extra lens and light will give me better results almost every time.
  52. The resolution debate is endless. This is about the two-millionth time that it's been covered, and we're not going to resolve this time either. If you're convinced that digital is better than film or vice versa, don't worry, be happy, because RESOLUTION is NOT the only thing that matters. I'm content to believe that film and digital capture are BOTH very useful when applied sensibly.
    4x5 cameras and other large-format cameras are wonderful tools when used in the right context. That context usually means a situation where you are free to spend some time composing, focusing, and metering until you get everything "just right." If the light is changing rapidly, if your subject is likely to walk away, if the wind is shaking your tripod, or if you're in a place where you're going to get hassled by someone for trying to take a photograph, a large-format camera probably isn't going to be the best tool for the job.
    With a 4x5 it can take up to twenty minutes from pulling the camera out of the bag to successfully capturing a sharp, well-focused, well-metered image. Sometimes it's a lot less, but I don't think I've ever done it in less than four or five minutes, and that's with minimal movements. Depending on your compositional skills, your DSLR can capture dozens of memorable images in that time. I can't count the number of times that I've walked away completely empty-handed because I just couldn't get the 4x5 focused before the light ran out. That's an empty feeling. It's also one of the reasons why I always take my DSLR along for the ride. Even if all we had were 4MP cameras, the digital images in our backpacks would be worth a lot more than a large-format image that we didn't have a chance to complete because of a change in the weather or some ill-timed cloud bank in the western sky.
    Small-format cameras give us more than just resolution (and, yes, their resolution is quite good). They give us freedom. They give us the ability to react quickly and spontaneously to changing conditions. They give us the ability to capture fast-moving subjects at subjects at great distances. Large-format cameras stink at all of the above.
    However, large-format cameras also have much to offer, and I'm not just talking about resolution. Movements open up a whole world of photographic possibilities. They allow us to select our focal plane. They give us the tools to counteract perspective distortion to some degree. And perhaps more importantly, the slow, methodical operation of large-format cameras is as much an asset as a liability.
    For instance, a camera that takes ten minutes to focus forces you to predict the behavior of light. You can't say, "Hey, look at that sunset," and snap a photo of it. You have to consider the movement of the sun and clouds and shadows and calculate what it's going to look like in fifteen minutes when you're finally ready to trip the shutter. You slow down and evaluate everything in the scene. What needs to be in focus? What exposure challenges does this scene present? Should I take steps to reduce perspective distortion? And the most important question of all - is this photograph really worth the effort, or should I move on to a more promising scene?
    Given all of this information, how can anyone say that one type of camera is superior to another? Every tool has its application. Someone who has the time to invest in learning to use a large-format camera will come away with some great benefits even if they don't intend to use LF cameras on a regular basis. Likewise, someone who learns to get the most out of a small-format system (and the requisite software that supports them these days) will reap great benefits from that investment, as well.
    Cameras don't take pictures, people do. The skills and the artistic sensibilities of the person with their finger on the shutter release is what really matters. Formats and resolution are just tools. If an image needs 8x10 film or a 200 MP sensor to impress the viewer, the photographer hasn't done his job very well.
    The photo below was taken with a 6MP camera and a cheap kit lens. I think it looks rather nifty. ;-)
  53. Hi
    my question is should i star shooting with 4x5 film camera to get the real pictures.
    when you hear anyone say something like this you should become immediately aware that the person is speaking from their personal passion and prejudice.
    Years ago I took this image with a compact digital
    it appars to be a real picture to me
    Moving to 4x5 is a step into a realm which requires much learning. To get the most out of the format you will need many disciplines. In all but the best situations you will get results inferior to what can be had with a full frame digital. It is only when all comes together you will get a superior result.
    I woulud suggest that the use of LF over digital is about compositoin, use of focus and control over perspective. To some extent this can be done in full frame with some TS-E lenses. However I still use digital and LF and do not own a Full Frame digital.
  54. The majority will be shooting DSLRs for conveniece and other reasons, so what? Who cares for the majority. Why not try 4X5? 6X6? 8X10 wet plate collodion? It's all about fun! Life is short.
  55. For me photography is much like fishing.
    I enjoy the art and form by using it at it's most simplest form (with a MF camera and a 4x5 camera) much the same way as any fisherman likes casting a line and enjoying the moment.
    I could also choose to go out on a boat and use a drag line or nets and get the same result, but not learning anything positive, much the same way as digital 35mm makes it easier to 'pray n spray' shoot.
    I find myself in the position of selling all my digital 35mm gear to focus solely on medium format film and large format film.
    And finally, the most serious form of photography will always be the type with whatever camera you've got in your hand :)
  56. "For anybody not 100% sure and with a good understanding of what is needed in the medium format film process it is very bad advice to suggest moving from a good digital setup to a film setup."
    I shoot both film and digital - no reason to abandon one for the other. It isn't hard or expensive to use a completely wet printing process if you have the space (excellent enlargers are very cheap). And if you don't, scanning isn't difficult. Besides, many of us have film archives that need to be scanned anyway. A decent flatbed is fine for general scanning, and services that use Nikon scanners are reasonable.
    I shoot film because I like the process. Most of my days are spent doing computer work, so a session in the dark with some music on is a great way to relax.
  57. Operating 4x5 is not like 35mm format camera.You need to learn the basics of LF camera.It depends on what you want to achive from your camera and of course,what kind of photography you want to do.
  58. due to the focal length shortening and tendancy toward slower AF (camera dependent of course).
    The focal length is what it is, it's not dependent on the camera. And full-frame cameras have similar, if not better AF performance since they're generally higher end than the crop cameras. Small sensor cameras have poor tonality (images look thin, not as rich) and minor focusing accuracy problems are accentuated by the large magnification that is needed to get to a good print size.
  59. I've shot and owned FF digital, 6x7 medium format film, and 4x5, and I can tell you that each has inherent advantages over the other, and each appeals to me in a different way. More often than not I wind up "getting the shot" with my 5D, but I also very much enjoy setting up and using the larger formats. It's simply more about aesthetics and nostalgia for me at this point. Definitely do not invest in a large format system unless you WANT to do it. Don't do it because some guy at the camera store said so.
  60. Good work can be done with any camera, digital or film in almost any size format. Pick one and work with that format until you own it. Then explore the others. For me working large format makes me think more about what I am about to do. Lugging around a 4X5 and tripod is not easy. But I love it.
  61. I have shot both LF and FF digital, I use 5D Mark II with vertical grip and 24-70 F 2.8 and 70-200 F2.8 lenses. Believe me it does not weight less then a wooden field camera.
    Secondly digital is expansive as you need to upgrade to new body every 3 year or so.
    Medium format digital will not be in a reach of normal photographer in next 8 to 10 years. Whereas film MF was within the reach of amatures as well.
    Weather one should use film or digital depands on the fact why he or she is doing photography. If it is just a profession and way to earn living, then go with the trend and use digital or whatever is convenient.
    If it is about make images that lives even after you are gone, and are piece of fine art than I think one should choose film, better still medium format or Large Format.
  62. I have shot both LF and FF digital, I use 5D Mark II with vertical grip and 24-70 F 2.8 and 70-200 F2.8 lenses. Believe me it does not weight less then a wooden field camera.
    Secondly digital is expansive as you need to upgrade to new body every 3 year or so.
    Medium format digital will not be in a reach of normal photographer in next 8 to 10 years. Whereas film MF was within the reach of amatures as well.
    Weather one should use film or digital depands on the fact why he or she is doing photography. If it is just a profession and way to earn living, then go with the trend and use digital or whatever is convenient.
    If it is about make images that lives even after you are gone, and are piece of fine art than I think one should choose film, better still medium format or Large Format.
  63. Like many, I started long ago with a 35mm film camera, a Nikon FE, and loved the ease of use and portability for street and candid shots. Then I acquired a motor drive, and soon was shooting off whole spools of film, and I became indiscriminate in my shooting style. Also, it become impossible to keep up with the processing. That experience turned me off photography for a long time, until I tried a Leica rangefinder, which made me think more about the essentials of taking a photograph again.
    Much more recently, I found myself, like some respondents above, shooting off a thousand pics with a 5D (there was a good excuse-it was a week's trip to Cuba!). But again, out had gone the care and thought that I prefer to put into making photos. So now, here I am, with my 5x7, learning LF from scratch, slowed right down, and having to make the photo myself, not relying on a computer chip to replace my brain.
    If this works out, I may get an 8x10, and concentrate on making contact prints, which should give excellent results for B&W work in terms of tonality and image quality. I still have the 5D though, because for some occasions, it's just the right tool for the job!
  64. Cameras don't take pictures, people do .​
    People use cameras to take pictures. This is important.
  65. Luis,
    Funny you should ask this question! Just this past weekend I was "playing around" with a 4x5 view camera bequeathed to me by my late uncle (who's birthday just happens to be today). I was using a roll film back and actually shooting with 120 film but I was marveling over the available movements which potentially affords so much more artistic freedom in the process of photographing. I'm certainly no expert. I can still count on one hand how many times I've actually taken the thing out of its case. It was quite refreshing for me though and I've vowed to myself to use it more often! So I'm blabbing on here but my response is intended to suggest that choosing to use LF does not exclude use of other formats (film or digital) for the appropriate need. I certainly couldn't lug this gear to the stands of a sporting event and expect to capture anything useful. But where the applications overlap (such as shooting studio portraiture) LF is another option with it's own inherent strengths and limitations. So don't worry! Your canon is getting the "real pictures"! If you have the time, desire, and $, LF could be an alternate means to get other "real pictures"!
  66. I only want to add that if they still made 4x5 Type 72 Polaroid, I would go out an buy a 4x5 view camera tomorrow. Negtives are just too hard for me to handle in that size now, but of the thousand and more pictures I shot on Type 52 in 1965 and later, they still are clear and sharp and when scanned show incredibly rich highlight and shadow detail.
  67. People use cameras to take pictures. This is important.​
    People use telephones to "take pictures." Making a photograph requires non-tangible resources: heart, mind, and soul. If you take away the camera and give a good photographer paper and charcoal, he or she will still make a meaningful image - even if the technique is crude - because the image comes from their whole being, not from their camera.
  68. Making a good photograph requires a whole lot of stuff... including a camera. Photography is one of those arts (like instrumental music, film-making, and so forth) in which the ability of the artist to create great art is intimately connected to using the right tools and knowing them so well that their use becomes intuitive. In essence the tool disappears - not because it is unimportant, but because it is known so well.
    Consistently making wonderful photographs requires (in virtually all cases) the right equipment and experience applying that equipment to the creation of photographs.
    By the way, if the photographer puts away the camera gear and makes a wonderful charcoal drawing (not that I could do this) the result is not a photograph. It is a chalk drawing. If the photographer puts away the camera equipment and cooks up a wonderful stew, that is pretty much irrelevant to my point, too.
    Heart, mind, and soul are necessary but not sufficient conditions for creating photographic art. A camera (broadly defined) is a necessary but not sufficient condition for creating photographic art. Put both together and you have a sufficient condition for creating photographic art, or...
    "People use cameras to take pictures."
  69. when you want to get serius about photography star using 4x5 film cameras​
    Yea.....that's why we see all of those Sports Illustrated photos packing a 4x5 film camera out onto the football field. Or wedding photos packing them to/around a wedding. Or newspaper journalists packing them around.....you get the point.

    #1) Does the salesman even shoot 4x5? If not, he shouldn't be making that statement. I know two camera shop salesman who shoot 4x5, but they also shoot w/ 5D MkIIs for the majority of their work.
    #2) It really depends what type of photography you do. For architecture, landscape, and even portrait I could definately see an advantage to 4x5 (other than variable costs). For everything else I wouldn't see the point.
  70. I added 4x5 to my kit in 1989, and haven't found a reason to give it up yet. Resolution schmesolution, I use it and my darkroom because I enjoy it. I love my Mk2 digital and my 5d and my 1v and myF1 and my T90...you get the point. Frankly I"m glad I can still buy 4x5 and 120 film and darkroom chemicals. They're all just tools, and other people's opinions don't matter to me.
  71. A properly shot 4X5 View Camera picture on a good lens, will blow away any digital full frame 35 mm, or any Medium Format for image quality. You can't escape the fact that in negatives, size counts. More importantly, though, it doesn't really matter, because it's highly impractical, unless you really want to shoot the view camera, and take on the learning curve. But it's not your normal walking around kit.
    Funny this came up, because I've been shooting some urban scape with a D700, and although the quality is decent, I've been kicking around the idea of doing it with a view camera.
  72. Ola Luis!
    Don't worry too much: You have very good equipment.
    I think perhaps the salesman meant that if you have only used digital cameras with automatic focus, automatic exposure, etc. then working with a manual view camera will be a very different experience: You will have to think (and learn) about new theory and techniques. It is a bit like learning to drive an automobile with manual gearshift after first learning on automatic - you will be "grinding gears" at beginning :)
    If you live close to a college or university, why don't you find out if there is a course you can take about large format photography?
    For a relatively small cost, you could learn about it, and then decide if you like it more than digital.
    Please forgive my short answer: My only experience with 4x5 was while working in a medium size commercial studio (6 staff shooters + assistants, 2 retouchers, 6 lab staff), where it was the standard for most advertising and catalog work that didn't involve moving subjects - so I haven't done as much as many of the other people posting here.
    Good luck in your search for the real picture
  73. 4x5 is for wimps. Those who are serious about photography shoot 8x10 ;-)
  74. This really depends upon YOUR needs. For weddings and portraits, I would really not go back to film use....my 7D does a great job. For landscapes up to about 16x24, the 7D is really good....but even at that size, you can see the benefits of MF and 4x5.
    Daniel, I hope you've been able to get your hands on the 7D like you wished. It is truly and awesome camera. In my opinion, better than the old 1Ds2.
  75. Seems to me the biggest difference other than being able to make razor sharp huge prints with dense detail (advantage to LF film) is being able to get the shot (major advantage to digital, or the 35mm form factor and the available lenses anyway). I couldn't have achieved 90% of the photos in my portfolio - baboons running around in the mountains of South Africa, birds fighting in the wetlands of California, microscopic mushrooms at ground level in tropical rainforests, rapidly moving dancers in Peruvian festivals, etc. - with a field camera, not even close.

    As far as the guy in the camera store and being "serious" and taking "real" pictures, he's full of it-sh. Chip on his shoulder and a holier than thou attitude. Probably bitter that he's stuck working in a camera store.
  76. Luis,
    Many good points have been made here. What it comes down to, really, is your personal satisfaction. 4x5 with all it's swings, tilts, rises, etc. are great when you need all of that stuff. Most people do not need that simply because what they are taking (sports for example) certainly doesn't lend itself to their use. I rarely use my 4x5 camera. It's a press view (limited rise and tilt only) simply because for me what it's capable of isn't what I need day-to-day. To clarify, I have used a 4x5 camera with all the movements but I own a press view. Don't get me wrong ... I LOVE the results as far as sharpness and tonality, etc. it's just that for me 4x5 (any large format) is too cumbersome. That's me.
    I use both digital and film. I have 35mm, APS-C digital, 4/3 digital and 6x7. By far my favorite to use is 6x7. I feel there are qualities to the image in terms of sharpness, tonality, etc. that I just don't get from the smaller formats. I get the most satisfaction from shooting with both my RZ and my Mamiya 7II ... and I prefer film for my own work. Again, personal choice.
    That said, if I'm shooting photos of my daughter riding her bike down the street I'm shooting an APS-C or 4/3 digital. Why? Because the subject I'm shooting warrents the advantage of the plentiful exposures available on a memory card. When taking more candid photos I will go with one of my 6x7 cameras (10 shots 120 film, 20 shots 220 film). And, oddly enough ... when I'm working on a personal project using a 16mm fish-eye lens, I go to my 35mm film camera. Why do I say "oddly enough?" Because the reason I went to 6x7 in the first place was because I felt that the qualities I referred to above were just not there in my 35mm equipment. That, and I don't own a fish-eye lens for my 6x7. Again ... that's me.
    So, Luis ... are you happy with your system? Is there something that it's not giving to you in terms of image quality? If so, then maybe rent or borrow some other format and give it a try. See if you like it. See if you find it easy to use or cumbersome. Only you can decide what's right for you ... not the salesperson.
    My final thought is this. Though I believe that sometimes equipment does make a difference ... a skilled photographer can make great photos with whatever equipment they have at hand. I can't remember the guy's name now but he did a big series with images from a camera phone ... long before the days of autofocus camera phones. Some of the images were outstanding. Not because of their sharpness, tonality or any of the technical things I look for in my own images ... but because of the composition, lighting and subject matter. Composition, lighting and subject matter really make the photo. The rest of that stuff just makes the image a little better.
    To me good lenses make a difference in my personal need for sharpness and tonality but that doesn't mean I've not made money with images from lower quality lenses. Those lower quality lenses allowed me to make money to buy better lenses and different formats. Great technique and a solid skill foundation are key. Couple that with the equipment that gives you the results that satisfy your tastes in sharpness, contrast, tonality, etc. and your shooting style/subject matter and you'll then know what you need is what you already have.
    just my 6x7 cents,
  77. People use cameras to take pictures. This is important.​
    People use telephones to "take pictures."
    "Making a photograph requires non-tangible resources: heart, mind, and soul."
    A photograph is an image produced by exposing a sensitive surface (film or sensor) to light, anything you else you read into it is a subjective, personal, and often emotional response, which is fine, but it doesn't mean that a photograph without heart mind and soul is not a photograph. If we accept that words have meaning, usefulness, and adhere to standards of definition - which we do - then a "photograph" requires none of that. In objective reality, making a photograph requires only tangible resources, a camera with a sensitive surface, a lens, and a person or machine to operate it.
  78. Lots of answers here. Sorry I didnt read them. I fullframe and doubleframe digital, and Sinar Largeformat. I am a bit lazy , so my Nikon d700 works best for me. One thing I love with largeformat is that you can use long lenses as wideangles, and normals. A 150mm gives another look than a 35mm. I think I will pick up my LF again. But the digitals are best for learning fast, a huge number of exposures can be made easy , and at a low cost.
    I always carry my Nikon d700.
  79. "... making a photograph requires only tangible resources, a camera with a sensitive surface, a lens, and a person or machine to operate it."
    more accurately
    "... making a photograph requires only tangible resources, a camera with a sensitive surface, an opening to allow light through, and a person or machine to operate it."
  80. if you really want to be serious you need a leica m8, all the lenses a large format camera exactly like the one adams used, a nikon d700000, again with all nikon prime lenses, 2 pinhole cameras, one of those polaroids that make the little stickers, and a kodak disk...otherwise your pictures will stink
  81. I've been using my 1DsMarkII for five years. I'm one of the first who has tried it. Before buying, I talked to a lot of people. I was absolutly in the same point than you, Luis. A lot of people voted in 4x5 format and a lot of people went to digital.
    I needed equipament to shoot architecture and interiors and my clients wanted a lot of good images of each buiding or project. So, digital was the best option for me because it's much faster and cheaper. And the image quality is good to my clients (architects, interior designers and good magazines, including the well-known Vogue).
    So, I think it depends on your business. A 4x5 camera is a very nice tool for a lot of type of photography, and the FF digital is a very nice tool for a lot of type of photography. There are a lot of photographers that do a single shot a day and this shot is a fortune. It's OK to them. But there's a lot of folks that have to do 500 shots a day. Who are you? There are tools and there are people.
  82. This reminds me of a posting a few years back from a fellow using a Ptx 67. When he was told his photos may not be as sharp as they could be because of mirror vibration and lack of mirror lock up he became unglued and lost total confidence in his eq. Until then he had been fine, producing fine photos and sure his eq. was the best.
    I was going to use the example of "The Psychic Condominium" from Monty Python. All the tenants residing in the condo. believed it existed so it did but, when questioned by a reporter and doubt started creeping in, the psychic condo started crumbling and tipping over. However, when the interviewee became firm again in his belief that the condo actually did exist it reassembled itself and stood straight again.
    As I referenced in a posting last month, if photographers spent more time learning a bit more about all aspects of their art, the eq. and the principles underlying it they would be greatly benefited.

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