Medium & Large format slides

Discussion in 'Film and Processing' started by kaugu_ciems, Jun 22, 2018.

  1. Hello, forum!

    As a hobbyist, I have an idea to construct Large Format camera 10x8" / 25x20cm to shoot slides.

    I figured I can buy sheets of Fujichrome Provia 100F in quantity of 20 sheets per package for the price approaching $500, which makes my hobby very expensive. I never bought such product before.

    Has anyone got experience doing large sheet slides?
    For example, if I made 5 shots and want to develop only those, how do I send exposed sheets to the lab? i.e. is every sheet in the package comes in its own light-sealed envelop?

    Really wanted to figure this out before spending first $500.

    Thank you in advance, fuji-provia-100f-8x10-20-sheets-1095-p.jpg
  2. AJG


    Large format film isn't individually wrapped--the best thing would be to find another photographer who shoots large format and ask him/her for empty boxes from previously exposed and processed film. A lab should also have empty boxes and should give you some. Be aware that these are three part boxes with a foil wrapper inside with the film between thin sheets of cardboard. You need all of those parts to send your film to the lab safely without fogging it.
  3. Nothing against discussing it here, but there is a "large format" forum which could also be useful.

    There are film holders with dark slides, at least for some sizes.
  4. 8x10 is a "standard" size.

    As mentioned, film holders exist. They typical are a wood or plastic frame with two "grooves" to hold the film sheet and a dark slide to keep it covered while out of the camera. Most film holders hold two sheets of film-one on each side.

    The usual procedure is to open the box in a changing bag or darkroom. It comes in a three part box, and then will be a black plastic bag inside that box. There's usually a sheet of tissue paper between each sheet of film. The holders are loaded in the dark, and then can be closed up and carried to wherever to be exposed on site.

    There is a certain "routine" to all of this, and film holders are fairly efficient to load. Each sheet of film has a notch in one corner of the short edge. When holding a sheet with your right hand, if the notch is under your index finger the emulsion side is facing you. Film holders hinge open at the bottom, so you will hold the film in this orientation while you slide it under the rails in the holder. Larger sheets are more difficult, but it's the same whether you're loading 2x3 or 16x20.

    I'd offer the following suggestions to you, though:

    1. 8x10, as you've discovered, is VERY expensive. I encourage you to start with the most common sheet film size-4x5. The film is typically 1/4 the cost or less, commercial pricing is 1/4 the price, things like film holders are plentiful and inexpensive, and the equipment is a lot lighter. Fuji transparency film runs around $80/box of 20 in 4x5.

    2. I hate to discourage innovation, but given the cost involved and the relative high availability availability and low cost of equipment, I'd suggest that you not try to "reinvent the wheel" when you are learning LF photography. There are a LOT of ways to mess up, and a $300 monorail 4x5 camera/150mm lens or a $400 Speed/Crown Graphic with a 135mm lens will let you get the process down without questioning whether or not your equipment is a problem. Large format really takes the principle of a camera being a "light tight box" to the extreme, and you can take existing platforms and put pinhole lenses or whatever else you can imagine on them without a huge amount of work. For your own sanity, though, start off with known good bodies and lenses.

    To more directly answer your question about processing-this is what led me to do E-6 processing myself. There are only a handful of commercial labs in the country that handle sheet film. A typical price is $3-5 per sheet of 4x5. Most labs will charge you 4x that cost for 8x10. I've never shipped film off, but the folks I know who do will repackage it in a commercial 3-part box with the black plastic bag, then tape up the box and attach a note to it that it contains exposed film for processing. You can mail film holders, but a single two sheet holder is typically larger than a 20 sheet box, and at least one lab I know of charges an extra $1 per sheet to "strip" the film as it's called.

    Dust is a perpetual enemy in LF. You need to be meticulous about keeping both your film holders and loading environment clean.

    One last thing-sheet film use to be available in individual envelopes-or rather two sheets per envelope-called Quick Loads or Ready Loads(one was a Kodak trademark, the other a Fuji). They haven't been made in 10 or 15 years, and even the more recent stocks will be a pretty limited set of emulsions. You needed a special film holder for them(one of them-I don't remember which-could use a standard Polaroid pack film holder). Like many other things, they have their ups and downs. The biggest downsides were cost(and that's even more true on the secondary market), limited availability, and issues with film flatness vs. traditional holders. The upsides were that they were much easier to carry than a bunch of loaded film holders, and since they were packed in a clean room they didn't(in theory) have the dust issues of loose sheets.
  5. Thanks, everyone for responses about 8x10.
    Something for me to think about and make some decision. Thanks for the lead to another forum too.
  6. One last thing-before jumping full-bore into color, I suggest getting a good handle on B&W.

    It's a fraction of the price-I pay $35 for 25 sheets of Ilford FP+ in 4x5, and $100 for 50 sheets of Kodak TXP 320. As I said, multiply these prices ROUGHLY by 4 to get the 8x10 price(Ilford actually is remarkably consistent), and with Foma/Arista film you can get under $1/sheet in 4x5. Of course you'll need to do this at home, but B&W is easy.

    To get REALLY cheap, though, you can even use printing paper. The sensitivity is much lower than film and it takes some trial and error, but it's a fraction of the cost. The last box of paper I bought was about $90 for 100 sheets of 8x10-and of course one piece of 8x10 is 4 pieces of 4x5.
  7. ben_hutcherson has one of the best answers I've ever seen to your general question.

    4x5, while not cheap, is many times less expensive than something like 8x10. Large enough to contact print for negatives and transparencies can be mounted in a frame with rear lights.
    Learn with 4x5, and see if your enthusiasm and wallet lead you on to ever larger formats:)

    There are, of course full field cameras in 4x5 in addition to the "press" models which have a little less "wiggle" for perspective control, etc.
  8. James G. Dainis

    James G. Dainis Moderator

    It would be cheaper and faster to develop the 8ix10 sheets yourself. An Arista E-6 one quart kit costs around $35. That should be good enough for 8 sheets. I used to develop 8x10 Ektachrome film in the laundry sink in my basement. The developing tray would sit in a 101F degree water bath in the sink. With the door closed and a heavy blanket over the window it was plenty dark. Easy-peasy.

    I did learn that if I put six sheets of film that were at room temperature of 70F degrees into developer at 101F degrees the film would almost instantly cool the developer down to 98F degrees resulting in magenta cast results. After that I would start with 104F degrees developer before I put the cold film in. In retrospect, I suppose it would have been better to pre-soak the film in water at 101F degrees.
  9. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    "I figured I can buy sheets of Fujichrome Provia 100F in quantity of 20 sheets per package for the price approaching $500"

    What the hell!? That is extremely expensive. I have never seen 20 sheets of Provia 100F in 8x10 costing that much. Where did you get that figure from??

    4x5 will be no cheaper than the uber-expensive 8x10 format if you are commercially processing. And mistakes you make during learning will make the process overall potentially offputting and disconcerting. LF requires a lot of time and skill to apply yourself to. It is the complete anathema from the easy-going nature of using and processing roll film (35mm or 120, for instance).

    In my mind, having individual 4x5 or 8x10 sheets commercially processed will be prohibitively expensive in the medium- to long-term, depending on your output. If you were to click away through 50 sheets and had those commercially processed at, say, $10 a pop... well, do the math!! Much easier to glove-up on an E6 kit for home use, with the only critical thing to consider being temperature control: E6 is very, very sensitive to varations in temperature. A stable temperature sous vide cooker can be very useful in this application.
  10. Nearest store to me has Provia 100F in 4x5 for $71.

    I believe that the 8x10 is usually about 4x the price, so maybe $284.

    Including processing, it is might be close to $500.
  11. Silent Street

    Silent Street Silent Street Photography AUS

    Yup. I would be extremely surprised if a hobbyist goes this way in his/her first steps in large format. The potential of a box of 8x10 costing $500 makes my toes curl...

    4x5 certainly, at whatever price you can stretch yourself out to as an 'entry level' to appreciate the work that is necessary in LF.

    I'm still wondering about the DIY large format camera idea. While not actually abundant, used 8x10 gear would be better than a DIY job, especially in the absence of precision required for the construction and alignment. Wistas, Cambos, Linhofs... lots and lots to angle for in 4x5 and the relatively smaller size would be appealing too. Still, not a choice for anybody but the OP...

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