My Dilemma - To 4x5 or Not to 4x5

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by joe_casey|5, Jul 1, 2012.

  1. I've been meaning to get another film camera for a while as I used to shoot a Fuji GSW690III MF camera with Velvia 50, 100, Kodak E100 and Fuji PRO160. A few years ago I sold my Hasselblad H2 with Phase One 33MP back and film back and the Fuji690. I sold these two cameras and at the advice of other photographers I know, switched over to a Canon 5D Mark II system with a 24mm TSE II lens. I've never been more disappointed! Canon is for Wedding photographers and hobbyists, not people that want sharp, gallery quality prints.
    After two years now of struggling to continually re-program this damn thing to reduce the constant noise it produces while shooting scenes at civil twilight I've had enough! ("Low noise at HIGH ISO" - my ass Canon! It should say "some noise at low ISO, more noise at 400 ISO and a LOT more noise at 1600 ISO and Oh Yeah... don't stop down more than F8") I'm selling the Canon kit and going back to film! I've always known that large format film was what the top commercial shooters have used for years but didn't think I wanted to enter that arena due to certain limitations and the cost of scans. Now... I'm seriously considering it!
    I think I'll get about $3800 for my Canon kit when I part it out and then use that to re-invest in another system. My initial thoughts were to buy a Nikon D3200 with 12-24mm wide angle zoom and then take the rest of the cash and buy a Mamiya 7ii with 43mm lens. This would give me two excellent camera and lens combinations and fulfill my digital needs as well. I could get both cameras and lenses for around $4400. The Mamiya 43mm lens is about as sharp a lens as money can buy and the 6x7 format DWARFS even a full-frame 35mm.
    Then I got to thinking, a 4x5 can take 4x5, 6x12, 6x9 and 6x7 format with different backs and attachments AND at the 4x5 size there's nothing on earth that I cannot shoot and capture tremendous detail. The caveat is I've never owned or shot a 4x5 camera and have some reservations about going there, as a good Walker or Wista with a decent Schneider super-angulon lens would set me back about $4400... my entire budget would be blown on only one camera!
    My goal is to produce gallery quality prints for landscape and architecture work. I know here in Austin architectural work doesn't pay enough to justify using it for basic shooting but with the quality able to be produced for landscapes I figured the investment and the move could pay off down the road. Any thoughts?
  2. mtk


    First I think that making the comment that "Canon is for wedding photographers and hobbyists, not people that want sharp gallery prints" is pure rubbish, and you will be raising the hair on alot of folks here.
    Producing "sharp gallery quality prints" is the result of patience, skill, print media, software, scanning, experiece and realistic expectations. Rarely is the camera system at fault IMHO. Vist Tom Till's website. Most of his work over the years was 4x5 but he has since switched.
    I admire your thoughts about 4x5 but I don't know that you going to be any happier.......
    I wish you well in your endeavor.
  3. Mark, you can only blow-up a 35mm (digital) photo so far. That was my point.
  4. Additionally, the definition of (sharp) is a loose term that to some, sharp is simply sharper than what they've had! To me, if I can't blow it up to 40x60 and hang it on the wall and see detail in the background, it's not a sharp (or quality) image. I don't care about "bokeh" and blur. As Ansel said it best, "if the entire image isn't in focus, you're lying".
  5. Perhaps I failed to mention the banding and poor image quality I get with the 5D II when shooting at civil twilight. Daytime and indoor shots are fantastic on the Canon, don't get me wrong. But night shots, low-light, that's where a nice camera turns into a pumpkin, right around sun-down! I have no doubt my 24mm TS-E lens is sharp but the sensor behind it is weak compared to what I've shot on film. That was more my point.
  6. There are very few color emulsions in 4x5 left. If you shoot C-41 for example your only choices are Kodak's Ektar 100, Portra 160 and 400, nobody else makes 4x5 C-41 film and Kodak only stocks those 3 emulsions. If you want slide film Fuji has a few emulsions. Now that's not to say that these aren't good emulsions, they are. But if you're looking at spending an entire budget on a 4x5 and expect it to make money the film market is far to unstable to be relied upon. If those very few emulsions dry up all together you'll be left with equipment that fewer and fewer people would be willing to pay you a fare value for and you'll wish you'd kept your Canon gear at that point.

    So the industry is marching on further and further into digital only territory. If you're unhappy with Canon you may give Nikon a shot, I'm sure most Nikon shooters will tell you that's where it's at. Then again you may just jump into medium format digital.
  7. Consider an EOS 1v to shoot Portra 160, Portra 400, or Ektar 100 for those twilight shots. (Or any EOS film camera, it's just a box with a shutter.)
    Are you sure your camera is working right, maybe it needs repair? Maybe the sensor is heating unevenly on long exposures, causing that banding. Borrow another 5D II from someone else.
    Try renting a 4x5 outfit to see if you like it. See if 4x5 film scanned on a Epson V700 or V750 meets your expectations, so that you can get affordable scans. Else you're looking at the drum scan cost. (I'd be glad to scan one neg on my V750.)
  8. I think 4x5 would be worth a shot.
    The issue of colour film availability is a concern but Velvia is still around. Neg film is a bit more rare with only a couple of choices. Still if you are willing to shoot with MF reducer backs, then you have more choices in roll film.
    The price of the camera you quoted is way more than what you could realistically get one for. One tip is to not buy new unless you really have to. Lenses can be had for much cheaper used than if they were bought new at retail price, even when they are in really good condition. Cheaper cameras can be had too, even new. One such choice is a Chamonix 45. They get great reviews and are pretty affordable. If you are willing to hunt a bit more then you can score cameras from a couple hundred dollars up. Are you set on a field camera? Monorails are stupid cheap these days and the only downside is their physical size when "folded" up. Weight-wise, they are not much heavier than a comparable field camera and are much sturdier and offer greater movements, if you need them.
    MF is a good choice also but the only advantage it offers over a LF setup with a reducing back is the weight and size. Actually depending on your lens selection, a LF setup can end up being lighter and more compact than a MF setup since LF lenses are much more compact. Lens sharpness of LF vs MF is an issue that is heavily debated but with the newer designs of LF lens, I think you will be fine. Plus you get movements with LF and the option to use a larger film size.
    If you plan to print big then LF is definitely the way to go. You can see differences in print quality between MF and LF even in sizes as small as 11x14. Things just look cleaner and crisper in LF.
    If you are still not sure about LF, why don't you buy a cheapo monorail camera and a decent lens and then shoot some tests? The lens will hold its resale value (assuming you buy used) and the monorail will be in the range of $100 which you could probably sell for around the same amount as well. If you decide you want to stay with LF, you have a good lens and you just need to buy another camera and the monorail will let you decide on what features you want/need for the next camera.
    Check out the large format photography forum/site. They have a classifieds section although you need to register. Its an awesome place for LF discussion.
  9. A few points:
    I don't think there's much of a technical rationalisation for 4 x 5 these days, unless you specifically need camera movements. I still shoot the format, but nowadays I think you do it if you already have the gear and know how to make it work without easier options, or else you do it because you are in love with it, and that's what you want to do. These are the good reasons to get into it.
    I have a roll film back - it's a waste of time. It's useful for quickly testing hardware, but I could never make sense of using such a 'small' format when I could make a 4 x 5 exposure of the same thing. My Mamiya 7 would always do a better job than the roll film back anyway, unless I needed macro or lots of movements. If you are getting into 4 x 5, don't kid yourself by saying you can do lots of other formats on the camera et.c et.c The camera is at its best as a 4 x 5, and given it's general inconvenience, why would you bother using it for a compromised result?
    In terms of the cost - I suggest you budget something like 2k for a camera, holders, one or two lenses etc. Used Sinar's and other monorails are for nothing on Ebay - indeed they are not ideal for landscape - but are useable, great cameras, that nobody wants anymore. And to save you a lot of frustration dealing with far off labs, and having no immediate results for your efforts, use the rest of your budget to buy a great scanner, and if you can find one, a Jobo film processor too, and you will be totally set up. Buy everything used. Best of luck!
  10. Dan, I believe Ektar is no longer in production, although some places still have stock. As far as I am aware, the only colour choices are Portra 160 and 400.
    If you don't plan on using a lot of movements, you can buy a Linhof Technika III pretty cheaply on the used market - that's what I use. There is a huge price jump between the IIIs and the IVs, largely do to camera movements, and the fact that the IV ran for quite a while, and will probably be much newer. Avoid the IIs; I don't believe they use modern film holders.
    As far as lenses go, I would always buy used. LF gear doesn't hold its value real well once its used (even in near-mint shape), so buying an EX+ lens from KEH will save you a lot more money than if you were buying used Canon gear.
    The older Linhofs will usually come with a single-coated lens (which I recommend replacing with a newer optic), and the bellows will probably have small holes. I fixed mine with black duct tape, but you could buy a new one if you liked. Mechanically, most of them are very sound.
    I stongly recommend that your first 4x5 be a budget model or a fixer-upper. You can buy a nice lens, but don't go crazy on the camera until you've developed some film, and you're comfortable shelling out some $70 for 10 photos.
    Speaking of which, I recommend Praus Productions in Rochester, NY for your processing.
  11. Oh, and far as the need for a 4x5 negative ... scanned, it gets you something like a 40x50 at 300 dpi. Of course you will get some grain (even with 160 film), but it's what you want if you want to make huge prints.
  12. Just my 2 cents - I've been shooting 4"x5" and 5"x7" large format film for about 9 years now ( - all shot with film) and I recently bought the Nikon D800E. I have been waiting this entire time for a digital that was affordable and that I felt could produce very large gallery quality prints.
    Even though a lot of digital people believe 36 megapixels is outrageous the reality is that I've had over 200 megapixels for years with my 5x7 and those megapixels make a HUGE difference in 30x40 and larger prints. However, my gut feeling so far (not scientific at all yet) is that the D800E is about half way to 5"x7" and about 3/4s of the way to 4"x5" resolution wise (assuming very sharp lenses and good technique on the D800E). But I feel that the color accuracy and dynamic range increase I get from the D800 (and other obvious digital benefits like speed etc) made it worth it for me to finally make the switch despite the resolution loss. But I'll still be using my large format for subjects that suite it well - and using my D800E for when I don't have time (almost always :) ). I feel you're pain on the Canons noise - I've seen many files with outrageous noise - maybe you should consider the Nikon.
    But - back to your question - large format is much more of a time commitment than you might think - I would second the suggestion to buy some cheap used equipment and try it out first. With just around $1000 dollars you could easily come away with a good 4"x5" setup capable of producing amazing prints. The only reason to pay more is if you want extra convenience or exceptionally sharp images. 4"x5" with a crap lens is still sharper than ANY dslr.
  13. LF equipment is very cheap used. You can get excellent lenses and cameras used for around $500 each, that will work well for what you say you want to do. The key to making it work is, as I said above, your workflow post-shoot. Is there a decent lab in Austin? Maybe not. So what you will miss most from digital is not being able to see what you've shot in a reasonable turn-around! Unless you figure that end of things out, its going to be a very abstract and frankly unsatisfying process imo. Either you need an old school darkroom where you can do B&W yourself, or you need a scanner, and some means of processing film in a reasonable turn-around, whether that be a local lab, or at your place. Buying a camera is the easy part.
  14. To be fair, a crap 4x5 and a nice lens will still yield the same quality image as a nice camera and the same lens. For the most part, a more expensive camera simply has more movements, a better ground glass screen, and/or is much easier to use. My Technika III takes splendid photos, but it is fiddly as all hell.
    As far as developing/printing goes, B&W is somewhat easy to do. I do mine in the bathtub with a Yankee daylight tank. The hard part is trying to load the tank in a changing bag. You can build your own drying cabinet in a few hours, and for pretty cheap to boot. Chemicals are cheap, provided you use them plenty. Otherwise, they'll go bad before you can use them.
  15. Joe Casey: with today's cameras and software, who says you can not get a 35mm type digital to not go to what your looking for in prints:
    there noise control software and and enlargement software to do all that for a little extra time:
    Sometimes its better to Listen to your self and not others, gave up hassey with a 33mpx back , now that would the cats meow for me,
    . You need to talk to yourself and say ok WHAT do I want to do and get from what I am doing :
  16. Lauren, Andrew said it best. There is a HUGE difference when you blow things up to 40x50! I'm impressed by what I'm seeing in the Nikon 800E but it's so new that testing will be ongoing for a couple of years I imagine before we truly know. What I truly want is to get gallery quality prints when I see a gallery worthy composition, which I've seen more times than most people as I do travel to places like San Francisco, Fallingwater in PA, the Great Barrier Reef.
    I've always wanted a Fuji GX617 and the only reason I haven't bought one yet is that I considered the extreme wide angle format limiting in what I could use it for. Walk into a popular gallery and you will find that MOST prints selling for real dollars, have been shot either on a Mamiya 7ii, a Fuji 617 or Linhof 617 or some kind of 4x5 or 5x7 camera. I've yet to see anything I'd pay thousands of dollars for, shot on 35mm (film or digital).
    Keep in mind I've shot MF film for some years now and know what the larger format can produce and I assure you, if you've never shot Velvia 50 or 100 on a Fuji, Mamiya or Hasselblad, you've never truly discovered the magic than can be produced in the field.
    Since moving down to 35mm I've been disappointed with the results: more noise, less definition, less contrast, more programming and lots and lots of post production work. If you enjoy spending hours, even days hunched over a keyboard, trying to make gourmet soup out of crap, buy a 35mm DSLR. But if you're like me and you want to know that 50-75% of your work CAN be achieved i the field with only minimal sharpening and color correction afterward, then MF or LF is the only way to go. IMHO... and experience.
  17. And please don't respond with Annie Liebovitz's last portrait of John Lennon! I don't shoot people. Don't care to. Few people want to look at other people, hanging over their sofa or fireplace. Besides, even she's used MF for years to capture more detail.
  18. Call me a purist. Tell me I expect too much. I've seen quality work, I've got 6x9 positives in my vault that could adorn most galleries and I don't plan to stop until I've mastered the art, the technique and the quality I'm looking for.
    Ansel didn't say, "that's good enough", nor does Peter Lik, Mr. Porter, Julius... People that are remembered as great photographers never stop at GOOD ENOUGH!
  19. Joe..I disagree that people don't wanna look at other people...That's primarily the reason behind photography. Who would not want to check out photos of those from the past whether it be Lincoln, Hitler or Lennon?
    I sometimes get old glass negs in for scanning of dudes from the 1880's and to see them come to life again is somewhat of a feast...
    It's not the format that matters most, it's just that film has a distinctive historical look about it that digital will always struggle to replicate.
    Don't get confused with the difference between imagery and photography..4x5 will always look different to digital, no matter how many megapixels are employed.
    Film is just plain more intimate.
  20. First off, lets not start rumors, Ektar has not been discontinued, it is actually in stock at B&H in all formats up to 8x10:
    I had 100 sheets of it show up at my doorstep yesterday..
    Secondly, with all due respect Mr. Casey, my wife just got out of the shower...she has a lot of hair, could have dried it in 1 minute with all the hot air in this thread. I am sure I am not the only one thinking it, but where are examples of your work that are worthy "Gallery Quality Prints"? The sale of real "Gallery Quality Prints" made in my darkroom from both 120 and now 4x5 make up 40% of my photography income, which is 100% of how I earn my living by the way. But I also have made huge prints for clients from my D800 and my friend who is a famous mountaineer from John Krakauer's book "In to Thin Air" has pulled in...ready for this Joe: $24,000 from the sale of three 50" x 70" prints from his 5D-II of an aerial mountain scene in the past few months..guess we are in a good market.
    Not trying to diminish your interest or need in making 40 x 60's from your images, but when I read stuff like "What I truly want is to get gallery quality prints when I see a gallery worthy composition, which I've seen more times than most people as I do travel to places like San Francisco, Fallingwater in PA, the Great Barrier Reef."....I want to see at least something, anything that represents you are even in the ballpark of a decent photographer.
    I started using 4x5 because my darkroom has the capacity to do so and I am getting requests for print sizes that are much, much larger than 40" x 60" these days with price tags that make it impossible for me to turn down.
  21. About six months ago Daniel, Kodak sent my store a notice saying that all sheet films but Portra 160 and Portra 400 were being discontinued, along with a list of slide and monochrome films that were also being canned. The last time I looked for sheet film elsewhere, neither B&H or Freestyle had anything but Portra, and to this day my store can only order Portra. Or at least, there's no SKU for Ektar in our catalog.
    Perhaps it was an issue with our distributor dropping those lines, but I'd hardly say that I'm trying to start rumours.
    That said, methinks you doth protest too much. I wonder if there isn't enough hot air in your house already? I mean, you began your response to Joe with "with all due respect,"and then basically went into a rant about how you're more successful than he is, and you didn't need a fancy camera to get that way.
    Didn't seem very respectful to me.
    Guess what? Nan Goldin is more successful than any of us, and the camera that she used for her best-known work is piece of crap. And the most of the record holders for most expensive prints ever sold were taken with view cameras.
    We can all let this turn into a giant internet pissing contest about how much money we've made with photos X, Y, and Z, or we can simply accept the fact that (A) a 4x5 negative yields considerably better print quality than anything that costs less than a brand-new economy car, and (B) most buyers and collectors don't care.
  22. Zach, just fact check, OK? Even though in some ways film use is on the rise, it still takes a beating needlessly from people who love to do nothing but stir debate, call digital their personal lord and savior. For all I know, Ektar could be in danger, but I do know this, if it is, then the whole line up of yellow boxes are because Ektar 100 has been one of the best selling C-41 films of ANY company in recent years. I ordered 100 sheets of it in 4x5 just incase. I have a couple hundred rolls of it in 120 for a long term project and thought it might be good to use it in 4x5 as well, why take the chance, better stock up.
    Things are very quiet at Kodak, including the fact that Scott Disabato left the company for greener pastures back in late May. Even though I am a total supporter of Ilford, I have some preferences for some Kodak products such as Xtol, Tmax and other items, so I spent thousands and stocked up.
    Now, back on topic. I can backup what I say with visual facts. I can show what image was shot with my D800 that was stitched to 15 feet wide and paid off a car. I can show fine art images made in my darkroom that earn me a great living in galleries. Can the OP show some work? Because when I start hearing massive amounts of CO2 fill this thread that he is seeing better compositions in tourist traps than most people and he needs gallery level quality for his 40 x 60's and says that Canon is for wedding photographers and hobbyists, I want to see some real work man, seriously.
    Yes, 4x5 is great, it does hold up well in print and I expect that when I hand over my Ektar 100 negs to my lab that will do drum scans of it, the resulting prints will be fantastic, but there is not a photographer in the world worth his wall space that would do something as stupid as to say "the Nikon 800E but it's so new that testing will be ongoing for a couple of years I imagine before we truly know."
    Most people with half a brain already know that you can surpass 40 x 60 with a D800 and never have to go near a 4x5, but the OP seems hell bent on saying over and over again that for what ever reason, he needs Gallery Quality Prints and only 4x5 will do. I call BS until I see some work man, end of story.
  23. Moonset at 12,000 feet for a double page spread for a cover story in a magazine that goes to press Monday, D800, ISO 6,400, at ISO 3,200 it smokes the D700 in terms of noise because it has massive resolution. Read that again pixel peepers, even though the D800 is behind the D700 in terms of noise at ISO 3,200 and higher by about a half a stop at the *pixel* level, it crushes the D700 overall at those settings in actual print because of sheer resolution...
  24. The cost of producing a ready to print file is getting more expensive at lease in where I m here in Vancouver Canada,
    slide film what usually people like to use for landscape shooting are 2 to 5 dollar a piece and developing is and other 4 to
    5 dollar per sheet, and the most expensive part is scanning service which will run from 20 to 100 dollar depended on the
    quality and size of the scanned file( how many MB). In my case I spend close to 10 dollar per image before scanning,
    fortunately I have my own scanner a good one ( forget about Epson if you want 40" x 60" print). But I just love my 4x5, the
    GSW690III is awesome too and I love it as well. Good luck on your shooting

  25. I don't own a D800, to me it's just a big over optioned paper weight. Even with 36 megapixels its results will always lack the character of a LF film image, so they should NEVER be compared.I guess it's easier to shoot a successful image with a DSLR because one can just keep popping away until the right image materialises.
    The skill of metering, exposing, developing and the sheer joy of forthought that goes into the LF image is a real attraction....despite the effort. Whether one makes money or not has nothing to do with the satisfaction factor of nailing it without the use of a memory card, battery, LCD or mode dial.
    I've recently witnessed some amazing images taken on glass plates a hundred or more years old, that no amount of pixels could create....even if they're Nikon....
    A sheet of LF B/W film, an old Russian lens, the right light and a bit of chemical still takes some beating.
  26. Good for you Daniel. You made a lot of money on a photo. You should be proud.
    You should also understand that what you made on that photo has absolutely NO bearing on what other work is worth, nor on what other people need to get the work that they want.
    It adds nothing to the conversation, and as such you're adding just as much hot air as the people you're complaining about.
  27. Zack:
    You have made some excellent points in this thread, but so has Daniel. Joe started this discussion with some rather negative comments about Canon and 35mm Dslr's, and I understand his need/desire to produce the best quality print/neg he can produce. He is not alone in this quest.....
    There's an old saying, "You don't need a sledgehammer to drive a nail". Hell, you don't even need a hammer. It can be done with a good rock..however both the sledge and the hammer have it's uses. Film and digital are different. They always will be. Just as watercolor and oil paintings are different, and both have achieved commercial success, as well as bringing fame to certain artists. Both Ansel Adams and Nan Goldin have become famous, using different equipment, however, you can be commercially successful without being famous, and you can be FAMOUS without having commercial success (Van Gogh, among others)....
    From Joe's post, money seems to be a big factor (what one can afford)... most of us are limited by this factor. What we would like to use, and what we can afford. Zack offered a good compromise, an inexpensive view camera with good glass (oh the value of good glass). Another option is a good MF camera with an awesome scanner (as you know, that alone can kill your budget).....At any rate I applaud your quest to be your best. History has revealed that great photography has NOT de-valued paintings, nor will great digital devalue film photography. As long as camera companies compete, the quality will only get better, or should I say DIFFERENT.
    Final point, there seems to be this bias toward those on PN who have acheived commercial success, and /or have mentioned or boasted about receiving awards. I think it's great for anyone who can make a living doing photography. Daniel made a statement about showing proof before telling others what they can or can't achieve with certain equipment. I agree with his point. What one chef can create with a knife and a saucepan can be completely superior to another with the same equipment.....
  28. Making photographs is not a competitive sport (despite the tone of some of the cr*p on here). And selling a photo for a lot of money confirms nothing much.
    To any informed reader the O.P.'s questions were clearly the questions of someone inexperienced in LF. The O.P.s subsequent comments were clearly the comments of somebody who's a little naive about photographic practice. The appropriate response is surely to be patient, and pragmatic about what's actually involved in resolving the original question, and ignore the more naive bluster.
    I find it a little discouraging that the LF forum should turn into the sort of discussion seen here. If I want that I can just read the juvenile comments on youtube videos etc. LF is really suffering as a viable practice - I've noticed how the forum here has dried up over the last few years (I've been visiting the site for over a decade and have learned a lot). I hope all the sensible practitioners have not been lost to digital, and that the LF forum isn't left with the cranks. There are young people interested in analog, and LF, and they will be looking to places like this for advice and guidance. Discouraging them with exchanges such as we've seen here is going to help kill off LF film production, and kill the resale value of all my kit too when the D800e finally arrives! (Edit: Last bit is humor!)
  29. Phil, my comments weren't designed to start a pissing contest and you must take it in the context of what I was referring
    to "landscape photography". For your style of work the 5D II would be well suited! That I wouldn't argue. However, show
    me a Julius Schulman, a Peter Lik, an Elliot Porter, Ansel Adams... any gallery print (that people would pay thousands of
    dollars for time and again) that you can point to and say.. "THERE, now THERE'S Canon or Nikon at it's finest".

    We ALL KNOW the answer to that though... don't we Phil. ;-) And there lies the rub as Shakespeare would say.

    No worries, great discussion and I've sourced a Fuji GX617 for a good price that I'm going with.
  30. Gerard I feel you and I think the pool is indeed shrinking. I must be nuts but I just LOVE shooting film. Trecking through
    the woods, holding a light meter - using Ansel zone method to determine the best shutter speed, loading film... and then
    the not knowing I think it the best part. It's like a birthday present everytime I develop film (I don't process my own I send
    it out). I've shot stuff that isn't flattering but with years of practice I've learned to remove the lens cap - then fire ;-).

    And I've yet to see any digital device match the color tone and contrast I get with Fuji Velia or even Kodak E100.
  31. Must admit, I get rather tired of digital continually blowing out the highlights...something rarely experienced with matter how incorrect the exposure is. I too had a 5D MK2 and was amazed at how much noise is evident.
    So much so I ditched it in favour of the new Olympus OMD and fitted with a 58mm (116mm) f1.2 Minolta lens, the OMD actually gives a film like appearance at f2.
    It's a great camera, but 4x5 is still way in front.
  32. Hi Zach,
    So I got word from Audrey Jonkheer at Kodak this morning, they have not discontinued Ektar in any format, only that 8x10 is made to order and they are about to revamp the page for it on the Kodak site, so lets keep supporting them, nix the rumors by getting the facts and make some great images with it, regardless of format.

    I use it in mostly 120 and now 4x5 for an ongoing body of work based on multiple exposures, it is stunning film.
  33. That 617 is a nice camera Joe, I have a ton of Techpan that would look incredible with it, so enjoy it! But just realize, it is just a camera and even though the tech side of this craft has always been a big start of debates, it is far worse than ever in the internet and digital age, so when you come out of the gate saying what you did about a proven piece of equipment, you are not serving even your own purposes very well. You want input, but you don't want to alienate people either, that is why I called you on posting some images...I see a lot of talk, right or wrong, I want to see the work too.
    As for loving film use, are preaching to the choir, my goal being to shrink digital use down to no more of 20% of my annual shooting. I have at least a 10 year supply of film, paper and chemistry to my name and rotate stock evenly. But I also know that I can take a camera like a D800 and make it sing in a big print kind of way.
    That is the beauty of being a photographer in this day and age, we have a lot of choices and even though some are shrinking, a lot of the best stuff is still left. When you consider some of the best work out there, Michael Kenna, Jeff Wall, etc, they use at most two films and make it happen. They stock a lot of it, they use what has the best quality and consistency and above all, the highest probability of sticking around. So yes, the pool is shrinking, but that is to be expected, we have to give up some of the least used products in order to keep the best of it all.

    And Zach, I am not bragging by giving examples of the whys and whats of my opinions, I am just backing it up so that when those young people come on here to get information, they get tangible results of my personal findings and opinions.

    In my opinion in mentoring young people in photography, there are a few things that will inspire a youth to try out film, one big one being a FRESH new look on what is considered an old medium, push the boundaries, not wax poetic about how it used to be, show these kids that film is not done yet because the talent that uses it is not done imagining new ways to use it...

    For example:
  34. So nice to see Chris Usher on the US campaign trail shooting 4x5 film with a camera of mine.....A bigger supporter of Kodak film I've yet to see.
  35. John, I also did a lot of shooting with the Fuji GSW690 and loved the little camera. Light and easy to take even if you are loaded with 35mm gear for birding. I bought a old used Graflex 4x5 and hit the used shows and B&H for used lens and lens boards. My lens are older and most don't have flare coating, but I figure I have around $2500 total in 4 lens, light meter, camera, tripod and film backs. I shoot and own 35mm, 2/14, 6x9 and 4x5 and frankly love my 4x5. Such incrediable detail. I also print off a 7800 so can go big where the detail really shows. But there is something about the process of 4x5; setting up carefully after studying the light, viewing the image upside down as you tweak the focus. It seems so much more like art. Instead of just banging away with 20 shots to be sure, you have to take your time, understand the transfer from 3D to 2D, the light, the composition because you will only shoot one or two films and they have to be right. On some of the landscapes I shot, I often go back to shoot when sun is in different locations to see result. One lake landscape took me 3 years to get just right, but the biggest problem of wind stirring the lake surface.
    Couple of hints I found; for reasons I don't know, 4x5 seems to have more exposure latitude than 35mm even using the same film type. My favorite lens is a used 60mm with a recessed lens board. I would get a field camera next time, easier to carry. Stay away from self loads if possible, it just takes on small hair to ruin a slide, I only shoot slide film. Fuji makes a unit that takes preloaded film and last time I looked, was still supplying Velvia and Provia. You will need a good light meter. NO one knows how long film processing and film will be around but you can still get E-6 chemicals, and while the processing is tight, for 4x5 it is not difficult.
    35mm is for work. 4x5 is for pleasure.
    Good luck,
  36. Dan: If you want to try large format. Rent or buy a 4x5 press camera---like a super graphic.
    Load a couple of holders. Go outside a few hours before sunset and shoot four sheets of whatever you care about.
    Take it to a lab and ask them to make contact sheet. Then choose the best for an 11x14 enlargement.
    If the lighting and subject are decent, you'll see the difference.
  37. Thanks to everyone for the great input and I promise when I can scan what I have on film I will post some shots at a later date. For example, here is a shot of Fallingwater in Bear Run, PA. I shot this composition both on film and digital; the shot here is from my 5DMKII and 24mm TSE series 1 lens. The original digital RAW file was horrid when compared to the raw film slide shot on Velvia 50 from a Fuji GSW690III. Again, when I can show the film to compare you will see what I'm talking about. (Hey, how do I upload images here?)
  38. Daniel, here is another shot from my 5DMKII, 24mm TSE II lens. This was two shots combined, shifted at opposite extremes. Here the Canon works well for interiors however the highlights and even the mid-tones are not as strong as they would be shot on film with a Mamiya 7ii.
  39. This is probably one of the best examples of stitching with a 5DMKII: this was shot (just for fun) one a day trip to Seattle. I had my 50mm 1.4 lens on and used a nodle slide adapter with the camera turned vertically. This is a series of 5-6 shots, stitched and processed from RAW images. If you look closely enough, you will notice banding and again, the general lack of strong contrast and detail that film coupled with good glass can provide.
    The Canon 50mm 1.4 obviously is a cheap portrait lens but for the "35mm DSLR" die-hards, I'll reshoot this next month when traveling that way again, this time with a FUJI GX617 and I'll scan it so you can see the clear difference.
  40. rent a camera &c and see if it works for you.
    cameras and lenses are affordable used
    and don't cost close to 3K.
    there aren't many color emulsions left in 4x5 or bigger
    so if C41/E6 is what you are planning on using, you might
    be better off using a smaller format.

    the quote "if the entire image isn't in focus, you're lying" is kind of funny
    seeing if everything is in focus it is just as much as a lie.
    good luck -
  41. 4x5 yet has utility beyond just resolving power (which it also has in abundance, with good technique and lenses used at optimal apertures on well-scanned film). My feeling is that many of the most interesting landscape scenes have a subject and a background that call for extreme depth of focus. Beyond 645 or 2-1/4" formats, camera moves such as tilts and swings become necessary to achieve that result (or at least these moves become quite useful). With a camera doesn't have moves, I'd either be gravitating away from these scenes, or using sub-optimal apertures.
  42. I had similar feelings about digital, though I don't want to spark more debate on that issue. I switched to the Mamiya 7II system, and then 4x5.
    The Mamiya 7 has wonderful lenses and the prints, up to 40x50in, from Portra 160NC are very sharp and detailed. The new Portra 160 wasn't out yet, but it would be even better. But after shooting with the Mamiya for a relatively short time, I realized that I was shooting primarily on a tripod, and that I could really benefit from camera movements since I usually shoot in urban environments and I like to keep vertical lines vertical.
    So I switched to 4x5, and I love it. The quality from a drum-scanned 4x5 negative really has to be seen. I've printed up to 48x60in. and the prints are sharp, even when viewing from very close. They also have a unique quality that only comes from film, I think. The grain is not objectionable even at large print sizes, but it does add texture that actually tends to make the prints look even more sharp.
    Your idea of picking up a Nikon digital is a good one if you plan to do commercial work. The profit margins probably won't support the expense of shooting film. But for personal projects or if you do work for gallery shows, I think you'd be more than happy with the results. I'd argue, though, that a 4x5 kit would be a better complement to a digital kit. The reason is that you'd have two very different options. The digital kit would be fast, responsive and usable handheld. The 4x5 would be slower, stuck to a tripod but with extremely high image quality. If you choose a digital kit and a Mamiya 7 kit, there's more overlap.
    The only question is if large format suits your style of working. You'll always be working from a tripod, it takes a few minutes to set up a shot, and it's somewhat slower than smaller formats. But if you're ok with these things, I'd give it a try. Before you spend a lot on gear, can you borrow/rent a camera or maybe take a class or workshop?
    You don't need to spend a ton of money. I would advise that you buy used gear. You'll save a ton and not really lose anything. LF gear is simple and usually quite durable. You could buy a cheap Sinar monorail for a few hundred bucks. Field cameras are more portable but also more expensive, but even there you don't need to go crazy. You can find used Linhof Technika IV's for under a grand. Used Toyo metal field cameras sometimes show up for as low as $500, and they're quite good.
    My favorite focal length for urban landscapes and architecture is a 120mm, but a 90mm would come close to your 24mm Canon lens and they're plentiful and cheap on the used market. Add a 150 and maybe a 210 and that's probably all you'd ever need.
    If you're going to spend $2k on the nikon kit, that would leave around $2400 for a 4x5 kit, and that's definitely doable.
  43. I sold my Canon kit and I'm going to be picking up a Fuji GX617. It's a limited format for shooting but boy what results! I've wanted one for years and just recently renewed my rental insurance so I can shoot with the GX617 and then rent 4x5 or a Mamiya 7ii to test the composition more.
    Thanks to everyone that responded.
    Best wishes!
  44. Joe, I shot the same scene that you did at Union Station L.A. on 6x7 negative film with a 50mm ULD lens on Mamiya RZ. For some reason your shot looks like it was compressed in the horizontal direction. Also I have a lot more fine detail in the negative than you ur image has. Just saying. na na
  45. Joe casey, Peter lik extensively used Canon 5D mark 2, Linhof 617, phaseone and hasselblad. He is doing more post processing work then you think.So he is now fully digital(almost) and he never had problem with Canon 5Dmark2.
    Most people shifted from 4X5 to 35 mm others who could afford moved to digital medium format.Why not keep both formats.
    If yo are not satisfied with Canon you will not see drastic change in Nikon too(i am nikon shooter by the way).so why not have film medium format (mamiya RZ Pro from keh in 600 USD whole kit) and keep 5d Mark 2 for some time.Try this combo for 1-2 months and then take decision.
    oops i just notices you sold canon..all the best with Fuji 617 its fantastic
  46. Funny, but I was very disappointed with the Canon 5D MK2. A noisy and unwieldy beast that often struggled to focus in low light even with a 24-70mm f2.8. The damn focus screen often fell out and it was heavier than my 4x5 rangefinder. The MK3 is what the MK2 should have been.
  47. Joe, I understand your search to find the best format / system you can within the usual constraints experienced by most of us ie cash. As an amateur, I also indulge myself in this expensive hobby. For me, a significant part of the enjoyment of LF is the much slower, more thoughtful, therapeutic end-to-end process in preparing for and creating an image with no auto-this and auto-that, followed by the developing and printing. The quality, of course, is self-evident but I find it the most satisfying workflow of all systems I use.
    All this enjoyment despite my lack of talent. Every time I'm out in the field, I can't believe I'm the luckiest man in the world.
    I use Ebony SV45U2, often with the 6x17 back when creating landscapes. Pin sharp 6x17 format with movements! Also, Schneider SS XL 110mm or Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S 135mm or Cooke PS945 forms my base system for landscapes.
    I also enjoy Leica M7, Contax RX, N1 & 645 and Hasselblad 203FE but I think I enjoy LF most of all. But I wouldn't trade any of my kit - they all have their place
    Good luck Joe, hope you make the right decision for you - may the force be with you
  48. I'm with John on this...
  49. My Razzle 4x5 just kills anything digital...simply because it's film. It's not better, just different... and the incredible detail, bokeh and general mood is unmatched. It's as simple as that. So what if it takes a bit of effort to develop and requires some chemistry? Photography should be science, art and patience combined.
  50. Sunil: Peter Lik has never 'extensively' used a Canon 5DII. That's grossly incorrect! Yes, he is seen at rare times on his show (which was only one season) using a Canon DSLR with black electrical tape over the model and name, but mostly for scouting locations. I've actually been to three of Peter Lik's gallery locations and was once granted access to his personal proof book by the director of his Oahu store, which has his field notes (the book they don't sell!). ALL of the work for sale in his gallery was done with either a Hasselblad H2 (both film and digital), a Mamiya 645 and a Linhof 617, this I know for a fact.
    Only recently did he start using the Nikon D800E, and only for a limited number of prints. I get it though... some people will get their panties in a bunch over my initial comments about Canon, however those comments stemmed from two years of frustration in working with inferior equipment! Mind you I went from using a Hasselblad H2 with P30 back to a Canon 5DII (a big downgrade), which I did mostly for size and weight.
    If you honestly believe the Canon 5DII makes sharp images, I must ask you this: Have you blown them up to 30x40 and hung them (on a wall...) next to the same composition shot with 4x5 or 5x7 LF film? I'm certain you wouldn't like the outcome and would be left feeling rather inadequate in that circumstance. You see, what your eye perceives as 'sharp' is only relative to the size of print or image you are viewing. If you are viewing an image with a true resolution of 4000 x 6000 (just an example) yet you are only seeing it as a thumbnail or down-sized sample online then of course your eye will think what are seeing is sharp. If the composition is interesting enough and the lighting and/or subject is able to hold your attention well enough, your eyes will be more captivated by the context of the image and forget about sharp detail. Where this all changes is when you stand in a gallery and look up at a picture on the wall. Do you stand back 10 or 15' feet or do you walk up and look at within a few feet? ;-))) Most people don't stand in the next county when viewing pictures in a gallery. They walk RIGHT UP to it! And that's where the images shot on a DSLR (regardless of software processing, noise tweaking, magic powder sprinkling) cannot hold a candle to large format film. There are just too many factors to even go into here: image circle, distortion, available light (which is huge in landscapes and greatly affected in smaller format lenses, contributing to noise), resolving power, film plane size (which in the 4x5 format equals about 200 + Megapixels).
    People / portraits, sports, weddings, action, photojournalism, yes... 35mm will dominate these areas as it still is the go-to format for specific work. The aforementioned types of photography however are not what I'm referring to. Multiple internal filters intentionally designed and engineered to BLUR the image to help prevent 'jaggies' do not result in a DSLR print besting or even equalling 4x5 film.
    Until recently I was eyeing the Nikon D800E as I'd given serious consideration to it. I've also seen some great landscapes shot with this camera that when blown to actual size (true resolution) with a pier in the frame....
    ......IT'S GOT JAGGIES! Yep! Nikon's best DSLR still has jaggies. Those funky lines that show up (when viewed at true resolution), that cannot lie and prove why digital photography hasn't come as far as most people would like to believe.
    I greatly appreciate everyone's input and putting up with me ;-). I've owned the Fuji GX617 for a while now and cannot express enough how much I love shooting with that camera. I'm picking up a used Wista 45SP next month with a couple of Schneider SA lenses. Sorry digital... I'll always come back and dust you off for travel shots... and taking pictures of the kids!
    And for those worried that film is dead... it's not (still alive and kicking)... it just smells funny ;-)
  51. it


    "Canon is for Wedding photographers and hobbyists, not people that want sharp, gallery quality prints."

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