Sharpness diff between 645 and 4x5

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by milan_moudgill, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. This follows on some issues that came up on an earlier post of mine "Help on
    Lens Choice" where the issue of sharpness in 8ftx10ft enlargements was
    being discussed.

    I wish to exhibit enlargements. I am planning on acquiring a 4x5 for a project
    so that, theoretically, the enlargements will be better than from my Contax
    645. But then that is what I think.

    But is this true?

    If I photograph the same scene on the Conatx 645 (vacuum back, and the
    super 120 Makro) and on a 4x5 (Planning on the Toyo CF) with a good lens,
    and make enlargements the same size, how will the results compare?

    Since I plan on doing landscapes primarily, will the 4x5 make an impact
    (compared to the 645)? Thus the 'movement' advantage is minimal?

    What got me worried is this answer from a gent at Mamiya on the Mac User
    Forum. The question is: "Will I see a noticeable improvement in image quality
    with a 5x4 over 66 or 67 format"

    Response from: Paul D'Ambrosio - 11:13am Jul 16, 2001 EST (1.)
    Mamiya America Corporation

    "Quentin, You should not really notice a difference between an image shot
    with a 6x7cm camera as opposed to an image shot with a 4x5" camera. We
    have seen images taken with a 6.4x5 cameras that have been enlarged to
    5'x4' and they look extremely sharp. The main benefits are the movements.
    (swings, tilts ect) that you get with a 4x5 view camera. Every photographer
    has his/her idea of what camera would be best for him or her. Fortunately we
    have many models for you to choose from. I suggest that you visit our site at There you will find all the specs and information that you
    need to help you make the right choice for yourself."
  2. I don't know what that guy is smoking but you should notice a big difference if you are planning to enlarge to 8 feet x 10 feet. Especially from a 645 neg.
  3. Not even close. Wonder what the guy's response would be if Mamiya made LF cameras ...
  4. I did a comparison a while back and a 6x7 with a super sharp lens carries close the detail as a super sharp 4x5 slide, but the 4x5 slide enlargement will be much cleaner and smoother.

    IMO 645 to 4x5 is no comparison if everything is perfect.

    Personally my rule of thumb for a super clean enlargement size should be around 10-12x max.

    Pushing it up with a super sharp lens and a lot of work I have gone up to 16X. You can always go higher still but at the loss of fine detail in print.

    IE a good print rez is 4 lp/mm in print for a 20" view distance. Most camera systems, no matter how sharp are going to top out at 40-50 lp/mm in average contrast, due to the film, technique etc. 40 lp/mm at the film plane works out to a 10X enlargement in print at 4 lp/mm.

    So for 645 a 10x enlargement would be 16 x 22. Pushing to a 16x enlargement would yield a 26 x 36 print.

    But look at a 4x5 foot print as an example.

    That would be a 29x enlargement for 645

    You can do it of course but your print rez will be down. Even if you were lucky enough to squeak out 60 lp/mm at the film plane you would still be only printing at 2 lp/mm. If you image was at 45 lp/mm at the film plane you would only get 1.5 lp/mm in print. 8 lp/mm is considered critically sharp in print.

    So for a 4x5 foot huge print

    645 = 29x enlargement
    670 = 21x enlargement (still to much for me)
    4x5 = 12.8x enlargement (perfect if you have a super sharp lens but not much room for cropping) 5x7 would probably be better.

    8x10 = 6x

    I saw a Crewdson print a while back that was amazing. It was huge. I think it was something like 5' x 7'. I believe he uses an 8x10 camera of some sort.

    If you do buy a 4x5 camera buy the sharpest lenses you can find. An average lens and a not so stiff camera might put you back at 6x7 territory. Also a cheap scanner will do the same. Its like dropping a format compared to a drum scan.
  5. "You should not really notice a difference between an image shot with a 6x7cm camera as opposed to an image shot with a 4x5" camera."

    As a general statement this is a bunch of rubbish, especially when we're talking 4x5' prints! I own a Mamiya 7, which arguably has the sharpest MF lenses available, and I've found that 4x5 starts to outperform it at print sizes around 16x20" (when drum scanned and digitally printed). When I tested the Contax 645 (admittedly I did not use the vacuum back) some time back, 16x20" prints were even softer than those from my Mamiya.

    Of course, if you are shooting non-resolution intensive subjects (portraits, etc.) then format sensitivity is lessened. But this is the first time I've heard anyone say 645 produces equivalent poster-sized prints to 4x5. Check out this comparison between 6x7 and 4x5 (compares two drum-scanned chromes):
  6. Mamiya America Corporation (MAC) -- the company Paul D'Ambrosio works for --
    markets Toyo large format cameras, LPA Design Pocketwizards, Profoto lighting and
    someother lines as well as Mamiya cameras. Paul knows what he is talking about, but

    Will you see a difference between 4x5 and 6x7cm images printed quite large? yes, but
    depending on how the prints are made as well as the photographer's technique the
    differences could be significant or minimal. Iexpect you easily see a difference between
    4x5 and 6x4.5 format images of the same subject shot on the same film type, shot in the
    same light when both are printed to the same very large print size. I'vedone a couple of
    24x30 printed portfolios where the origianl images are a mix of 4x5 and 6x7cm. The
    "quality" differences in the prints ofthe same type of subjects are pretty much subliminal
    butthen again excellent technique was used (cameras on tripod, cable releases, mirror
    locked up o nthe 6x7cm camera). if you are ever in Houston ,etexas go Hermann-
    Memorial Hospital in the Texas Medical Center and check out the prints for yourself -they
    are throughout the first couple of floors of the hospital and cafeteria.

    The real question is: which type of camera is most appropriate for the photographs Milan
    will be making? there are types of work where the more deliberate pace of workign with a
    4x5 is not compatible with the nature of the subject matter, and vice-versa.

    Never discount the ability to use view camera movements to make a large difference in the
    aesthetic quality of an image, even with landscapes. a 4x5 camera with movements gives
    the ability to shape the image exactly the way you want it to look without compromise .
    The trade off for this precision is speed and economics of operation.

    My thinking is that he'll be better off with a 6x7 camera, maybe a Pentax 67II than a 6x4.5
    format camera. From the outside it looks like the best match of tools to project: large
    negative, high quality lenses, very portable, lower film and processing costs.
  7. well, 4x5 is about 10cmx12cm, for 120 cm^2 surface area. A 6cmx7cm is 42 cm^2. So, assuming equal sharpness of image, you would record about three times more detail from the 4x5.

    One of my local camera stores has a variety of vertical banners, the sources of which range from a D70 to 4x5. If you're standing twenty feet away, you can tell the digitals from the medium-and large-formats right away. If you're standing ten feet away, you can tell the difference between the medium- and large-formats right away. If you stand just one or two feet away, you can see that the images from 4x5 aren't as sharp as you thought they were from five or ten feet away.

  8. I should have mentioned in the last message, the banners are roughly 10 feet tall.
  9. One of my local camera stores has a variety of vertical banners, the sources of which range from a D70 to 4x5. If you're standing twenty feet away, you can tell the digitals from the medium-and large-formats right away.
    given that the d70 is a 6mp camera it would be interesting to see how an image from a d2x or EOS 1ds mk.2 woud compare.
  10. "Quentin, You should not really notice a difference between an image shot with a 6x7cm camera as opposed to an image shot with a 4x5" camera."

    If one assumes that all other things are basically equal except the size of the negative, and that the print in question is larger than 11x14, this guy is wrong. I've enlarged hundreds of 4x5 negatives and hundreds of 6x7 negatives over the years. Same paper, same enlarger, same film, same enlarger and brand of enlarger lens, same everything except of course the equipment (Pentax 67 system, various 4x5 cameras and lenses). I've looked closely at many of the prints from each system. Most of the time I can see no meaningful difference between 11x14 and smaller prints from the two types of systems. I've put 11x14 prints from both systems side by side and asked others if they can tell which was made with which system and they can't consisently do so. But with 16x20 prints(the largest I've ever made) there's a noticeable difference in tonal gradation and often in detail between the two. The difference is sometimes subtle and might not be noticed if you weren't looking for it but it's always there even with 16x20 prints. The difference would only get greater as the prints get larger. Clyde Butcher doesn't use an 8x10 camera for his huge prints because he enjoys carrying the 8x10 around in the Florida swamps.
  11. You won't notice any difference. Enlarging either to 8x10 FEET will give such a fuzzy (and grainy) print that it can't be viewed close enough to see much detail, anyhow. Here is an example of a viewable print made from a 22MP back on a 645 camera.
  12. Detail.
  13. It might help if you come at the problem from a different direction. Think of it as degree of enlargement.

    Just about any film will make a resonably sharp print at enlargements up to about 10x. For 35mm, that's (24mm)/(25.4 mm/in)(10)= 9.5in, or a 9.5 x 14 inch print. Slower films can take a somewhat greater degree of enlargement before "falling apart" by showing grain and loosing sharpness. Often B&W negatives can handle more enlargement than color, because of the increased number of layers in a color emulsion. I've found, for example, that 12x is about the limit for 160PortraVC. Beyond that the print begins to have that "colored confetti" look in areas of smooth tone like skies.

    If you really want an 8x10 foot image to withstand close examination and be sharp (nose sharp), clearly you'll need a fairly big negative:

    (8 feet)(12 in/ft)/(10x enlargement) = 9.6 inches, or a 9.6 x 12 in film. You can stretch that a bit and go for 8x10 film which would be a 12x enlargement obviously.

    So, if 8x10 ft prints were my goal, I'd skip the smaller formats and go directly to 8x10. If you go to 4x5 instead, you'll find that you are making a 24x enlargement, which will definitely show grain and the breakdown of sharpness no matter what film you use. If you can control viewing distance, or you don't really care if the print is "nose sharp" than this should be fine. The compromise point of a 5x7 negative might be a good spot for you also.

    Just something to think about. Unfortunately, I don't have anything to sell or any company connections to take advantage of. The only thing I'm pushing is logic. And maybe not much of that ;-)
  14. Milan, I have seen the 11x14 prints of Brian Ellis. He is an expert printer and no, you cannot tell which camera he used. He even has a 35mm that from 4 feet you don't know which is which. At that size your 645 would be fine. When you are talking huge prints given the same film, 4x5 would be way better. Just look at the enlargement factors involved here. For me 16x20 and up would require a 4x5.
  15. A lot of fire here! thanks for your response guys... very insightful and

    As Ellis Vener points out, Mamiya makes the Toyo brand of LF cameras, and
    there is zero bias in their employees answer.

    I must add... I plan to shoot TP, scan, and get digital prints for the said

    It seems that differences will be evident only in 'large' sizes.

    Also, the viewing distance will play a critical role in judging the difference. (let
    us say, the viewing distance is = print diagonal).

    I accept that camera movements can greatly enhance the aesthetic quality of
    landscapes taken on a 4x5, but in real terms, all else remaining the same, is
    there a perceptible difference?


  16. If this was would one think a eight foot #2 pine board 1x4 was as stiff as a 2x8 board? <BR><BR>The cross sectional area of a 645 frame is way less than a 4x5 negative. <BR><BR>If 645 is viewed as being the same as 4x5; then why not say it is the same as 35mm, APS, 110 too? <BR><BR>Using vacuum cleaner marketing lingo why not say that a minox is just as good as a 4x5 camera. :)<BR><BR>One of our workers once said his Nikon was "just as good as out process camera" in sharpness for shooting E sized drawings. The process camera can shoot a 24x36 inch negative; about 864 times the area!
  17. I think the key item to remember here is Milan will be shooting primarily landscapes. This is traditionally one of the more resolution-sensitive lines of photography, where increasing format size very quickly becomes a big deal as print sizes increase.

    People photography, photojournalism, and other subject material are far less sensitive to resolution, and even benefit from a grainy, slightly diffuse look. I have seen some wonderful poster-sized C-prints (non-digital) made from 6x6 and 6x7 film cameras, which appear quite sharp to the typical viewer. But landscape photography is just a different animal. All else being equal, high-resolution detail visibly enhances the image and helps draw the viewer into the photograph.

    With typical landscape subject matter, using impeccable technique in either case, 4x5 will clearly produce a visibly sharper, higher resolution poster-sized print versus any 645 film camera. Period.

    I agree that even a 4x5 negative enlarged to this extent will still yield a fairly fuzzy print. I would shoot 8x10 if it were up to me.
  18. >Also, the viewing distance will play a critical role in judging the difference. (let us say, the viewing distance is = print diagonal).

    I would take this approach.

    In print

    4 lp/mm - 20" view distance (204 dpi on a lightjet)
    6 lp/mm - +- 15" VD (304 dpi on a lightjet)
    8 lp/mm - 8-10" or too damn close, and plus there are not a whole lot of printers that can print at that level. I think I read somewhere the old lightjets could go up to 400 dpi (8 lp/mm) Maybe Lambda prints.

    For 2 lp/mm I used to have a formula/info for the distance but I cant find it now. If I can find the info I will drop it in.

    If you dont want to guess, its probably best to start with

    1. what size you want to print and
    2. what view distance you want.

    That will eliminate all the guess work of what format you should use.

    So as above you can figure it out from there. Another calc similar to above, 60 lp/mm at the film plane (contax) and printing at 6 lp/mm would be a 10x enlargement

    Personally I want to print as big as a wall (crewdson size) and be able to look at it like a 8x10 enlargement from fairly close so that locks me into 4x5 and 8x10 and a sharp lens. It would also help to have a vacuum back.

    > I accept that camera movements can greatly enhance the aesthetic quality of landscapes taken on a 4x5, but in real terms, all else remaining the same, is there a perceptible difference?

    Yes, but your technique has to be good, and it takes a super sharp LF lens. If you have an average lens, film not so flat etc, you could loose the advantage of 4x5 over 6x7.

    To me your question boils down to enlargement size vs. view distance.
  19. Troy,
    Can we expand on this a little? This statement really hits home with me after my first test with LF

    >>Yes, but your technique has to be good, and it takes a super sharp LF lens. If you have an average lens, film not so flat etc, you could loose the advantage of 4x5 over 6x7.

    By technique I assume you mean 1) ability to focus correctly, 2) mastery of the cameras movements to aid to this end, 3) setting widest acceptable aperture to avoid difraction, 4) locking down all the movements, 5) weighting down the tripod, 6) using a sturdy tripod to begin with, 7) using ultra fine grain film, and what else might I be missing in this list ... oh sharp lenses, any comments on a Nikkor 135mm W f5.6?

    Thanks in advance
  20. My two cents worth.

    I shoot 35mm to 8 x 10 and in 8x from 35mm with the same subject and 8 x 10, the "sharpness" is little different, but the TEXTURE and tonality are immediately obvious.

    It is not so much the grain but what is between the grain, or clumps that make the difference. With a larger neg, there are more clumps and more information per square unit of print area, thus the texture and tonality become the obvious differences.

    Like what the old european orchestra conductor said: "It not zuh nuts vat counts, but vats betveen zuh nuts".

  21. This is long and are just my opinions so...

    > Troy, Can we expand on this a little?

    > you could loose the advantage of 4x5 over 6x7.

    > By technique I assume you mean

    I really mean the entire ball of wax.

    1) ability to focus correctly,

    Yes, and possibly dialing in your camera, shimming GG, etc.

    2) mastery of the cameras movements to aid to this end,

    Less so just for total resolution. For absolute resolution, its probably more important to have a perfectly aligned squared camera and perfectly flat film. This guy has the idea. I think he designed some sort of micro measurement system to make sure the standards were square.

    Personally I think tilt is slightly overrated, but I do use it when I can, although I constantly find myself in situations where I really cant use it, like where there are trees in the foreground. Also with a tight lens using extensive movements you might be moving into the edge of the image circle that might not be as sharp.

    3) setting widest acceptable aperture to avoid difraction,

    That is true up to a point, but all lenses have a sweet spot. With that said after a run at 8x10 I finally realized that you have to shoot a very small aperture a lot of time, like even 1/64 just because of the lens lengths involved.

    It can be a real PIA.

    4) locking down all the movements,

    Stiffer the better.

    5) weighting down the tripod,

    That helps especially in the wind.

    6) using a sturdy tripod to begin with,

    That probably one of the most important things IMO, but there is a tradeoff when hiking, like afterwards you are too tired to even set up one more shot. I went on a trip last year in the eastern mountains and burned out several times with a 35# pack. I bought a lighter 4x5 setup. Not as stiff though.

    7) using ultra fine grain film,

    Yes, that is what i prefer. E100G scans very clean.


    IMO, All in all, after doing a lot of research it comes down to a system approach.

    The entire camera system, lens, body, back, film, scanner, enlarger all together will determine your end results. IE I imagine a lot of people think that with a 60 lp/mm film and a 60 lp/mm lens your end results will be 60 lp/mm on film, if everything is perfect, but its not really so. Its based on a rule of system resolution and in that case it works out to around 42 lp/mm at the film plane.

    This formula below was based on a kodak theory that you need a lens with 3x the rez to take advantage of the film rez. Dont know how accurate it is but it seems close.

    (1/R)2 = (1/R)2 + (1/R)2

    That works out to about 71% if the film rez matches the lens rez.

    For 80 and 80 you would end up with around 56 lp/mm, but there are just not that many 80 lp/mm LF lenses around. An example like that might be a high contrast situation, shooting velvia, techpan or E100G, stiff camera, massive tripod with a vacuum or sticky Sinar film holder, and a new MC mega $ Scheider lens.

    So that would get you to around 56 lp/mm, but then add in the scanner. Scan on an Epson and you can drop that to 30-35 lp/mm so you almost lost half your rez. That is really like dropping a format compared to a drum scan IMO. Same if your LF lens is 30-40 compared to a Mamiya 7 type 6x7 lens.

    Back to the 56 rez on film. On a drum scanner you would need to over scan it a bit. 60 lp/mm works out to about 3000 dpi if every row of pixels represents a line, but really you need to overscan to see it so you would want to scan it at 4000 dpi. Scanning a 4x5 at 4000 dpi and 48 bit tiff creates an almost impossible file size to work on unless you have a super computer. Seems like its around 1.3 GB.

    Also at 4000 dpi you are resolving a lot more grain. At 2000 dpi E100G is so smooth on a wet drum scan it is almost identical to digital. Very close and very nice and its pretty much ready to go straight off the scanner.

    In that case, if I were shooting a specific subject and I knew I wanted to print it huge, I would probably rather shoot it with 8x10 and scan it at 2000 dpi and end up with a cleaner file. That is assuming that you could even set up an 8x10 shot and get the DOF you need. 4x5 is a lot easier to shoot.

    All that said above is very A.R., but it works fairly well for judging what you will end up with in print.

    All that said after shooting a few rail cameras, and humping some very heavy Eq, I decided to back off from trying to get the utmost Rez, (IE heavy) and am happy getting slightly less rez, but having equipment that I can actually carry somewhat comfortably.


    and what else might I be missing in this list ... oh sharp lenses, any comments on a Nikkor 135mm W f5.6?

    No I have never used that lens, but I think the concensus is most Nikkor LF lenses are great. I am a big fan of G-Claron lenses myself. The 210 and 240 are some of the shapest lenses I have used. On the cheap a Kodak 135mm Ektar is supposed to be sharp.

    I usually go here first when looking at lenses and then do a search for lp/mm and then may come here and ask a question or two, contrast etc. Its not a complete list, but its a start.
  22. I, too, am profoundly interested in the comparison of drum-scanned color transparency resolution and print sizes. Near my home there is a superb gallery (Scanlan�s gallery in Park City), featuring landscape and travel color photography, printed largely in the 16x20 to 30x40 inch sizes. I have never taken a roll of film with a medium format camera, though I have used 6x7, 6x9, and 6x12 backs on the various 4x5 cameras that I have used for a number of years for landscape work. Granted, the print sizes above are not as large as those desired by Milan, but my comparisons between the Scanlan�s prints (almost exclusively taken with a 6x7 camera) and my own 4x5 images are that even at 24x30 inch sizes there is virtually no distinguishable difference. My images are drum-scanned at the same lab this gallery uses, and printed on the same paper. Using a crisp loupe, my images made with 110 Schneider, 150 Sironar, and 240 Fujinon-A (easily as sharp as the others�either mine is an unusually sharp sample or this is one of the most overlooked lens out there) on Velvia 50 paper are very sharp. Having said that, and obviously without walking into the gallery with an enlargement of my own to compare side-by-side, I can distinguish no difference, up to 24�x30� between their 6x7 images and my 4x5 images (or other people�s that I have frequently viewed in galleries). I am sure that in larger print sizes the difference would become more pronounced. Forgive this long post, but my query is whether others have observed similar characteristics in the 26x20, 20x24, and 24x30 print sizes between professional scans of 6x7 and 4x5.
  23. I've made wet B&W prints from both 645 and 4x5 negatives. An 11x14" from a TriX 645 negative shows grain. The 4x5 doesn't. Grain doesn't care how sharp the lens is.
  24. I think its easy to have 67 shot that is close to 4x5 although 4x5 is 3x the surface area. All it takes is a super sharp mamiya lens against a not quite so sharp, film not quite so flat or shakey, slightly OOF 4x5 shot and it can get very close.

    Here is a Mamiya 7 shot against a Sinar 4x5 shot. The Sinar shot was drum scanned at 2000 dpi. The Mamiya 7 was scanned at 4000 dpi, mostly because I was comparing huge enlargements like 40" x 50" at the time.

    Feel free to down load them or whatever.

    Also this is not my sharpest LF lens, but it is a good one. Its fairly close and all the detail is there, but it is just cleaner and sharper with 4x5. I think at 16x20 it would be a wash. Both of these are E100G.

    These have not been sharpened or worked in any way, just resized and mostly straight off the scanner.

    The Sinar crop is a 2000 dpi drum scan that is roughly 1/3" x 1/4" high on film. The mamiya crop was scanned at 4000 dpi and downsized to match the Sinar crop.

    Mamaiya 7 resized to 24H x _L 204 dpi (4 lp/mm) dpi to be printed on a lightjet. (I just resized the vert to 24" since the 67 format is more square.

    Sinar and Rodenstock Sironar 150mm resized to 24H x _L 204 (4 lp/mm) dpi to be printed on a lightjet.
  25. I'm going back to a part of the original post that has not been addressed.

    Ellis wrote "Never discount the ability to use view camera movements to make a large
    difference in the aesthetic quality of an image, even with landscapes. a 4x5 camera with
    movements gives the ability to shape the image exactly the way you want it to look
    without compromise . The trade off for this precision is speed and economics of

    The above is absolutely correct and what has been ignored from the original post is the
    choice of 4x5, the Toyo CF. You need to think carefully about the price/performance
    tradeoffs with this cameara. It has very limited movements ... no back movements at all
    for example. Might defeat your purpose, might not be the best tool for the job. You can
    get other cameras in the same price range that give you far more flexability ... the
    Tachihara or the Shen Hao. If you like the Toyo approach and design then see if you can
    find a good used A, AX or AII .... any of the three are solid performers with a reasonable
    collection of movements, unlike the CF.
  26. another point.. im an ameture and i made a family shot with my mamiya 6x6.. when i looked at the slide i noticed it was discolored (probably from being old), and not a very good exposure toboot.. i had a 8x10 made of the family shot and it came out fine.. i talked to the printer about it and she said if it was 35mm i would have been in trouble, but the medium formant had enough density to give us a decent print.. so a larger format can be better in more ways than one would think.. 21/4x21/4 is 5 square inches, 4x5 is 20 sqsuare inches, 4 times the density. the printer has 4 times as much to work with, especially needed if something goes wrong .. dave.
  27. I have no idea why D'Ambrosio made his statement. But I can tell you that 4x5 is far
    superior to 645 for high resolution tasks. I shoot a lot of large artworks with a ton of
    intricate detail (which is important for appreciating the work), where the highest resolution
    available in the market isn't even enough (but you make do with the best available). I've
    gone through most all the formats (analog and digital). In the end, the only format left
    standing was the Betterlight large format scanning system. It is better than 4x5 film
    (didn't test 8x10 or larger film) in apparent resolution and COLOR. It also has better
    dynamic range than film, which is very useful if you're shooting landscape. After the
    Betterlight came 4x5 film, 6x7 film, 645 film, and bringing up the rear, 35mm which made
    my artwork look like cartoons compared to the other formats.
  28. 1/2 century ago film grain was far worse; and the "difference in performance" was alot more; plus 645 was mostly just a Brownie Bullet 127 format! Folks used larger film sizes for a given print size to keep the percentage of enlargement less due to film grain issues, NOT sharpness issues. 120/620 was most an hobby/amateur format, ie the "Brownie format" named after a childrens stuffed animal 1 century ago. The high end 1930's and 1940's 120/620 cameras of that were were really limited by the films of that era's much poorer grain. <BR><BR>What film are you going to use for the 645 versus 4x5 issue? this matters some too.
  29. Your project involves a lot of time an money. I would suggest some testing is in order before you commit to a camera. I don't think a 645 will do what you need.

    Without knowing your intent for the final images, it's a little difficult to make a judgement. For example, I've used a 110 camera and enlarged the images to 2-feet x 3-feet specifically to see the color blobs on the film that resolve themselves into an image when viewed at the proper distance.

    But, let's assume that you want the best reproduction, finest detail etc. Film is a little bit like have too much horsepower in a race car, or being too rich. You can't have enough surface area on film for a big print.

    Really, if you wanted the best reproduction, you'd need an 8x10 camera. But, good technique and a 6x7 could get you acceptable results. A 4x5, in my mind, would be a better choice.

    But, this is where the testing portion comes in. If I were doing the project, I would not commit to a format until I tested the results of the different formats.

    All the speculation and paper calculations in the world won't substitute for seeing the real thing. I'd borrow or rent a 4x5 and a 6x7 and shoot the exact same scene side-by-side. I'd then have 1/2 size enlargements (4'x5') made from each and compare them.

    While this is not inexpensive it's a lot more inexpensive than getting into the project and finding out when you start printing that you're not happy with the results from a smaller format.

    How do you go back and reshoot? Or, at that point do you just accept what you have and ignore the fact that you're not totally pleased with the results?

    To me, testing would be the best thing to do. If you don't want to do the testing, then for me, the 4x5 with really good lenses would be a better answer than 645 for sure, and probably 6x7.

    I own and shoot both 6x7 and 4x5 and make prints that are 40-inches in width. I can see the difference between the two formats at that size. It has to do with detail rendering and "presence." There's just more to see in the print from the larger format.

    Let's look at it from a descriptive standpoint. If I'm taking a photo of sand dunes for example. With a 6x7 I'm aware of the sand texture, but with a 4x5 image I can start seeing grains of sand, and if the image is made with an 8x10 I can count grains of sand. That's the difference in visual content and presence. You have to decide what level of rendering you need for the subjects.
  30. Perhaps Professor Evens can rescue me here if I stray: Let's say we toss out the influence of the scanner: we use an enlarger with a top-notch lens. In addition, let's rule out the influence of the film. Just for simplicity's sake.

    Now, Let's say we start with a good MF lens which delivers 80 lp/mm and a good 4x5 LF lens which delivers 60 lp/mm. (We often see higher numbers in the center, but when we average out the edge resolution, we get something a little more modest).

    Given that critical sharpness is *roughly* 10 lp/mm, that means we can enlarge the LF image by around 6x, and the MF by around 10x.

    What % of the original image does a fine enlarging lens typically deliver ? If it degrades the image by as much as 50%, then we can only enlarge the LF image by 3x, and the MF by 5x.

    I suspect that a good enlarging lens delivers more than 50% of the original, but even so: a 6x6 negative, enlarged by 5x ends up somewhere around 12 x 12 inches. The 4x5 image, enlarged by 3x, ends up around 12 x 15 inches. They are about the same.

    If the enlarging lens is better, than the max sizes are bigger, but the primarly difference seen, is in the quality of the lenses, no ?

    A 4x5
  31. Not meant to be argumentative but....

    An 80 lp/mm lens and a 80 lp/mm film will give you 56 lp/mm system resolution before the scanner or enlarger.

    It would take roughly a 240 lp/mm lens to pull a true 80 lp/mm in high contrast out of film like Velvia.
  32. No problem Troy. I'm grateful to learn.

    Is 80 lp/mm a typical number for film ?
  33. No its all over the board and depends on subject contrast and the film type (grain) etc,. Techpan at average contrat is around 100. Velvia around 60-80. E100G IMO is more like 60.

    You might want to read through this

    but IMo the system formula is too low.

    this one is more accurate.

    There is a lot more too it than reading numbers.

    Just the fact that i can get close to the same pixel rez from an 8x10 scan as i can a Mamiya 7 scan says something.

    Personally i go for the sharpest LF lenses I can find and after shooting MF and LF cameras the rez from the sharpest lenses, MF or LF are always usually around 40-50 lp/mm. Unless you have a spy plane lens (600) and film it wont get a whole lot better.

    I got into a discussion with my brother in law who was in the Navy and did flight recon and later who knows what. He told me about lenses and film on 60-70's planes that could resolve a liscence plate # from extreme altitde. The most interesting part was that the film feed matched the plane speed so there was no motion blur. Simple concept but who would have thought.
    Also another interestng conversation considering a blackbird from the 50's could cover 100,000 sq miles plus in 1 hour.

    It would be nice to get our hands on that film.

    To boot, he said by the time the pilots got into the briefing room the film was ready to view.

    The first thing upon touchdown was to grab the film.
  34. Hi Milan - I use 6x6 at the moment and have been looking at a lot of different photographers trying to find those whose work I really like and it seems all those I find, shooting landscape - and even those I don't really like, but who are successful landscape photographers - are using *at least* 5x4. Some of the real serious guys seem to use 8x10. The ones using 8x10 (look up (click) Harry Cory Wright or Christopher Burkett) that I have found are all printing optically. It seems that with top-end digital scans and the technology these days, a 5x4 is just as good as an optically printed 8x10.
    The only photographers I can speak of with any surety that are putting out pictures of the size you are talking are Jeff Wall and Andreas Gursky. They both scan their film and print digitally. Jeff Wall has a major solo exhibition at Tate Modern in London at the moment and his stuff (duratrans on lightboxes) go bigger than what you want and are truly stunning. Have a look at the Tate's website. Gursky as well is worth a look - MOMA site.
    My feeling is that if I want to produce work like these guys, then I should pay attention to how they do it. I don't think you will find many people who are seriously and intentionally going out with a 6x4.5cm camera to take landscapes to be blown up to the sizes you are talking about.
    Your trip sounds fantastic. I look forward to hearing about it's success (shame you don't have any pics uploaded for us to see!) Also I would be interested to know more about your project.
    As for jumping in at deep end - JUMP !
    All Power to you - Robert
  35. "1/2 century ago film grain was far worse;"

    Was it?

    Almost 50 years ago, I was shooting Plus-X, souping in Microdol-X, and making nice 11x14s from 6x6.

    Nowadays, I shoot Provia 100F, scan on a Nikon, and make nice 11x14s from 645.

    Doesn't seem all that different.

    To get back to the original question, though, I'm finding 6x7 to be a lot bigger than 645. 645 is beginning to be a stretch for making grain-sniffable 13x19s, but grain-sniffable 13x19s are like falling off a log with 6x7.

    So my intuition is that 4x5 would be _way_ better than 645 at 16x20 and larger.
  36. Troy; The effective aperture size and thus the resolution can be higher with a spy situation. The ground, film and plane speeds are matched. With a long exposure the object on the film will have a longer aperture; somewhat :) more resolution.<BR><BR>With the P2 Neptune guys would distroy the old magnetic tape (data) by feeding it thru the bubble sextant port. The 1/4 inch tape reel held with a pencil; letting the tape suck out of the sextant port. If let out too quickly, the tape reel would shatter due to too high an rpm. Sounds like a proper data distruction procedure? :)
  37. Interesting
  38. After reading through the articles you recommended (thanks) I see that Chris and Kerry's test numbers, wisely include the influence of the chosen film (TMX 100). And that's where I got my numbers of 60 and 80 lp/mm for LF and MF lenses.
    But my math was wrong: Ignoring the influence of the enlarging lens, and looking for 10 lp/mm in the final print as defining critical sharpness, once can enlarge the MF negative by 8x (not 10x), and the 4x5 image by 6x.
    A 6x6 negative enlarged by 8x gives an 18x18 inch print. A 4x5 enlarged by 6x results in a 24x30 inch print. The 6x6 print will exhibit 33% more grain, since it has been enlarged 8x instead of 6x.
    Given that the enlarging lens takes away 10 or 20%, perhaps the prints need to be a little smaller - but then again, people can't really see more than about 8 lp/mm, so we're even.
  39. These pages seem to have compressed in them a well of knowledge. My
    sincere thanks to you. I have been silently watching, and have gained
    immensly from your views.

    To put things in perspective, which will allow you to fine-tune your
    comments, let me give you some background.

    I live in India, and import of products is my ONLY source of camera gear.
    There is a miniscule MF and non-existatant LF market here. I must depend
    on sites like this for knowledge/guidance.

    As such I CANNOT hire and tryout equipment prior to purchase. It is a
    setback that I must accept. Had I half a chance, I may never have been on
    this page!

    So, I must make a choice by 'remote control', a proxy decision in which you
    all will play an invaluable role. I may muck up a bit, but I suspect not by a
    lot. It is an expensive route to follow, but I have no alternative.

    Next, the project:
    I travel and photograph in a remote corner of West Tibet for a book/
    exhibition project of mine called "Kailash-Manasarovar, A Journey to the
    Centre of the Universe".

    This area is considered by many South Asian cultures to be the centre of
    the universe. The physical manifestation of the myth of Mt Meru, if you
    know of it.

    Kailash is supposed to be the mountain of the myth, around whose axis the
    universe rotates. Manasarovar is the massive lake of the myth from which
    the four great rivers are supposed to originate. In reality, the Brahmaputra,
    Indus, Karnali and Sutlej do not originate from the lake, but from very close.
    Close enough to give believers yet another similarity between the
    geography of the area and the myth.

    A visit to the area (including a 3-day circumambulation of the mountain) is
    one of the biggest pilgrimages a Hindu, Buddhist, Jain or Bon-Po can make
    and, as such, it attracts scores of pilgrims every year.

    The sources of the rivers were first visited in 1906 by the Sweedish explorer
    Sven Hedin. Since then, there seem to be accounts of the visit of only one
    other ヨ Swami Pranavanada. I will visit the sources of the rivers in the
    course of the project.

    I have tried to keep this introduction short!! To give you a taste of the
    terrain I will attach a few images.

    Will I have the endurance and patience to lug a LF around??... yes. There
    is no doubt here.

    I would appreciate your views on a camera system in the light of the above.
    What do you think. Are we talking 8x10 here? What camera do you
    suggest? And lenses? Which 8x10 brands are light and portable?

    Secondly, do you know of manufacturers who may be open to sponsoring a
    system? I would need a system for the length of the project (another year
    plus) after which I will be more than happy returning it? One is into creating
    great images... not into amassing camera systems. Any guidance here will
    be awesome.

    Looking forward to your inputs.

  40. Some of the answers have been along the lines that the posters experience is that 16x20 or 24x30 prints from medium format and large format films are of extremely similar quality. This really doesn't answer Milan's question about whether there will be a difference in print quality for 8 x 10 foot prints. Up to some size, the medium format enlargement will be of very high quality, and above that enlargement factor, the quality will start to drop. So up to that print size, the difference between MF and LF will be small, above that print size, the difference will increase with larger print size.

    It's mostly explained by enlargement factor. A simple experiment that Milan can try is to enlarge one of his existing films to various sizes (or a portion of the film), representing the various enlargement factors that he is considering: MF to 8x10 foot, 4x5 to 8x10 foot, 8x10 to 8x10 foot, so that he can see the sharpness, graininess and tonality. Of course he will have to ignore the different print sizes.

    Milan: there are many previous discussions about 4x5 and 8x10 cameras and lenses in the archives of the forum. I suggest browsing some of the past postings.

    I also suggest seriously considering whether you will be able to haul around an 8x10. The weight will depend a lot on how many lenses you take and how many film holders, which are pretty bulky. If you take a only a few filmholders, you shooting rate will be limited.

    I also think you would make a mistake to switch to LF just before starting on your expedition. I think you should practice with your new-to-you LF system for several months so that you learn how to use it well and learn the mistakes to avoid.

    Other advantages of LF (both 4x5 and 8x10) include the larger screen to better compose your images, and the ability to use movements such as front rise and swings and tilts. But the number of photos that you can take per day will be reduced and the cost per exposure will be higher. Most LF photographers tend to work in a slower and more deliberate manner, aiming for a higher fraction of "keepers", so that they end up with the same number of keepers despite their smaller number of exposures. These are other aspects to consider whether LF is for you. My opinion is that if you want high quality 8 x 10 foot prints, you should be using LF.
  41. Milan,

    Your latest question really amounts to a separate thread! 8x10 will be much heavier and larger, requires a larger backpack and tripod, has less depth of field, film is far more costly, and you'll have to make do with relatively less lens coverage than 4x5 to stay within your $3,500 overall budget. Folks generally do not go 8x10 as their first LF camera, as the LF learning curve is expensive due to the film costs. Having said all this, here are my suggestions for a lightweight, cost effective 8x10 field kit (I chose multi-coated modern lenses since you will be shooting color for poster-sized enlargements). Prices do not include shipping.

    Wehman 8x10 field camera: $1,850.
    The best bang-for-the-buck in a new, low cost lightweight field camera. A caveat: new cameras won't be available until March 2006 according the Bruce Wehman's web site. Alternatives are a used Canham or Phillips, but a used Phillips in particular is as rare as hen's teeth.

    Fuji 240A: $575 used or Germinar-W 240: $??? (per my comment on your previous lens thread).
    Limited movements with the Fuji, but extremely sharp within its image circle. The Germinar has move coverage when stopped down (it's basically a multi-coated G-Claron).

    Nikkor 300M or Fuji 300C: $495 used.
    Excellent performance-to-weight ratio, albeit with only moderate coverage.

    Fuji 450C: $700 used.
    Arguably the best performance-to-weight ratio available in any lens. Excellent performer and coverage despite its tiny size.

    Used 8x10 film holders: $40 each via Ebay if you are patient.

    Third lens board (two come with the Wehman camera): $50

    Total cost will be around $4,000 including shipping, so you will blow your budget a bit. You can save money by going with a heavier, used camera, or by going with older, single-coated lenses, but in your application these would defeat the purpose of going 8x10 IMHO.

    A problem with 8x10 is that modern multi-coated wide-angle lenses are large and expensive. The 240mm lenses I suggest are not as wide as the 90mm you proposed for 4x5, but there really is no lightweight WA multi-coated lens for 8x10 (except perhaps a 210mm Computar, which is extremely rare). A single-coated 210mm G-Claron, while covering 8x10 when stopped down, probably lacks the sharpness for the enlargement factors you are considering. A used SS150XL (theoretically the best choice) would cost as much as your camera. The 240 and 300mm lenses also have less relative coverage than their 4x5 counterparts, so you'll have to tip the camera up more (to compensate for limited rise) and sometimes use a combination of front and back tilt (to compensate for limited coverage for front tilt) to compensate.

    More food for thought!
  42. Milan
    sorry, this is long
    No way would I lug around a 8x10 camera in Tibet. Forget it unless you hire a sherpa. They are heavy and cumbersome and its not just the camera, its everything else like the film holders are heavy and an 8x10 tripod, you need a changing tent etc etc. Also 10 minutes under a dark cloth in Tibet, and you might get conked on the head.
    10 8x10 film holders are very heavy.
    And I own an 8x10 camera so I know what it is like to lug something like that around. Harder to set up, and a lot harder to focus than a 4x5 with a reflex viewer.
    I have gone back and forth between all sorts of rail cameras 4x5's 8x10's a bunch of MF cameras etc and this is what I think.
    For a your book, a MF camera would be fine, and my choice for a hiker would be a light Fuji GA645ZI. Just remembering that its fine for publication, but probably not enough for a wall size poster. 16X is about as big as you would want to go. Also its a mostly automatic camera, but with a very sharp zoom lens, so it might not suit everybody.
    Of all the LF cameras I have used, I have boiled it down to a few basic items that work for me that are probably worth your consideration.
    Film and holders
    Kodak E100G is the cleanest scanning film I have found, but I actually like Velvia 50 color better. E100VS is more saturated but not quite as sharp IMO. At any rate to save time and weight there is nothing that can touch quickloads/readyloads. They are lighter than any other way to transport 4x5 film. They are a lot more expensive than sheet film, but there are times when weight means a lot. Get the latest readyload holder and you have a lightweight film system that is easy, fast, no dust, convenient, and no changing tent. You could also go for the later plastic 545 polaroid holder. They work with fuji or Kodak film.
    4x5 Cameras in general
    After going through too many of these including a Sinar F2 etc, I have simplified my life with lighter weight, smaller size (means a lot when hiking), and ended up with a Graflex Super Graphic camera. Its an all aluminum folding Field camera, top mounted rangefinder, has a rotating back, enough extension to shoot a 240mm lens, and it weighs about 4.5# and folds up into a compact box about 7" x 7" x 4" and is very tough. If you strip the RF parts out you can drop them down to 3.5#. Also they have no back movements, but I dont need them. They have full front movements, with a drop bed. If you want full back movements there are some lightweight wood field cameras out there. Linhofs have full movements but are very heavy.
    At any rate one of these is what I am talking about. I really like my super graphic camera a lot and I would highly recommend one to anyone, that does not need back movements.
    Graflex Super Graphic on eBay
    and with 400 film it is very easy to shoot handheld. I got lucky and my RF is accurate.
    Get 1 or 2 super sharp small ones and be done. Personally I would go for a 135 or maybe a 150 for an all around lens and maybe 1 WA lens. A 90mm lens on a 4x5 is equiv to 28mm.
    If you have to have a 3rd longer lens go for a 210 or 240 G-Claron or other sharp schneider. The 210 and 240 G-Clarons are among the sharpest lenses I have ever used on any camera. Also the 240 covers 8x10 with room to spare.
    The lenses I like the best are the G-clarons, Nikon 90mm (not light), and super angulons (not light either). There are a lot of other sharp lenses out there, but its best to start here.
    Focusing, viewing and such.
    I like the option of having a rangefinder and using the framing hoop for framing, as sometimes i dont have time to GG focus. Also nice when your GG breaks.
    For GG focusing there is nothing like a reflex viewer. Its a must have IMO. First off, the image is right side up, you dont need a dark cloth, and no loupe although I do carry one still. This is one setup for a super graphic camera like I mentioned above. I have used this type setup myself and it works very well and it is in sync with the stock GG back. This is a Cambo GG back on a super graphic with a cambo viewer. The Cambo binoc viewer is too heavy and bulky, but this type of monocular viewer is small and light.
    Graflex 4x5 Super Graphic on eBay
    There are about a million of them out there.
    Gitzo is probably the best and expensive, but i ended up with a Velbon from Ritz to lighten my load. Its CF and magnesium and is rated at 25# but only weighs 3.5#. Also it only costs $260 including the head.
    So with all that,
    Camera 4.5#
    1 or 2 small lenses and boards 2# (a G-claron 150 is tiny), (with a reflex viewer it is easy to focus a slow lens. F8-F9 lesnes are a lot smaller than fast lenses)
    Velbon tripod 3.5#,
    Mono Reflex viewer, not sure but probably 1.5#,
    small light meter, .5#,
    All that adds up to around 12# and is a very light weight package. Add to that, 8 pounds for readyload film and holder and a backpack and a few other items, and you are in under 20# and you might have enough room for some survival gear.
    Sounds like a great trip.
  43. Another thought:<BR><BR>A 6x7 cm format compact camera with a fine lens offers quicker less weight than a 4x5" settup, with alot more surface area than a 645 camera.<BR><BR>A new camera just before a major trip is dicey. <BR><BR>If one is going to use 120 rool film why not look at a 6x7 format camera too?
  44. Milan,

    We've been flooding you with excellent suggestions here; I think I can take the liberty of summarizing a consensus as well as some recommendations:

    - 8x10 is too bulky for venturesome fieldwork, especially for an LF beginner.

    - Negotiate with Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo to purchase a LF camera. a Fuji 240A lens (comparable 4x5 focal length to your Contax 645 super 120 Makro), and a single-sheet Readyload holder (which supports both Quickloads and Readyloads). IMHO the Fuji 240A is the sharpest modern lens of any focal length available for 4x5. If Jim does not have one currently in stock, he should be able to find one quickly for you.

    If you really want to be thorough, you can also try a Mamiya 7, which is the sharpest 6x7 field camera available. It will definitely be sharper than your Contax 645. But if you elect to go 4x5 with the optional 6x12 rollfilm adapter you were considering, then the 6x7 is probably redundant.

    - Take some test shots with the 4x5 and Contax 645, and make some 8x10 inch prints using the same enlargement factor required for a 4x5 foot print (i.e., crop the negs to increase the enlargement factor of the print). Compare the prints, and decide whether your Contax is "good enough" or whether 4x5 will be necessary.

    - If the Contax is "good enough", return the 4x5 equipment to Jim for a full refund. Otherwise purchase the remaining LF lenses and accessories you need.

    This is the only surefire way to determine which way to go. It will also give you a feel for what shooting with LF is like.

    How about that? :)
  45. Milan:

    I have been following this thread with great interest - a lot of information from many knowlegeable photographers. If I were you I may still be confused as there are so many options.

    My foremost opinion: As Michael Briggs has suggested - I would not consider using 4x5 unless you have had a few months of practice before you leave for your project. It is simply a different beast than shooting with 120 and a MF camera. It takes time to learn the nuances - I am a year + into it & I still feel like a 3 year old. I have been involved in photography for 40 years & until I entered the LF world I thought I knew it all - wrong:) Some good results but still a lot to learn. It's not the quickest format to learn. Maybe you would pick it up more quickly - I do not know.

    With that said - It's the old saying that it's better to get the shot than no shot at all - Meaning use your Contax with a fine grained 220 film & the vacuum back. Before I go further it's my understanding that the vacuum back along with the Contax 645 uses batteries pretty quickly - may want to stock up on them. Could be wrong on this one though.

    My son has a Contax 645 & the image quality is great - has not gone beyond 16x20 yet but I feel it's capable. The 120 Makro that you have is considered a top lens. Not sure about shooting at a distance but close up it is right there.

    As an aside to all of this - I read where you cannot buy or rent locally - Also looking for a sponsor perhaps - I would consider loaning you my 4x5 equipment for a certain period of time depending on the circumstances, etc. & also maybe others would consider doing the same. Email me offline to consider.

    Lastly - Although the grain from a 4x5/5x7/8x10 is obviously going to be better than 120 film - if the intended viewing of your final images is for gallery viewing of up to 8'x10' prints the grain of 120 film may be an asset depending on your shooting style.

    My gut reaction is to simply shoot 4x5 or larger - once learned - but shoot with what you know how to shoot with to get the shots you want even if it's 35mm.

    Good Luck
  46. Guy! Thank you very much for your the time you have taken in providing
    detailed feedback and inputs throughout. I am indebted.

    A bit of a boo-boo. Only one of the images i wished to upload seems to be
    linked (must be a size restriction issue). It gives no idea of the terrain! The
    image shows Nepali's crossing a feed to the Kali. The Indian pilgrim trail
    follows the Kali river (the natural boundary between India and Nepal - on its
    west edge), across the Himalayas, into Tibet, to Kailash-Manasarovar and
    back, making a 28-day circuit.

    Here is a picture of Mt Gurla Mandhatta from the Kailash foothills, looking
    across the Barkha plains. This is the kind of vista that may benefit from LF??

    I will digest your comments and get back

    Sincere thanks

  47. Great shot Milan.
  48. Wowww,

    Maybe I will meet you there (I wish). That is awsome.

    Forget MF, that is LF country.

    I take back my statement on 8x10 too. Hire a Sherpa and drag along an 8x10, but run at least 30-40 shots through it before leaving as a crash course. Thats a perfect shot for tilt and the schumlflug (sp) effect.

    Seriously though I would go for LF or a 4x5 of some sort. If you pick one up, you can crash course it and learn movements pretty quick. I find in all actuality movement are highly overrated (IMO)for MF and 4x5. I think they are more needed more for 8x10 and it takes much longer to set up.

    90% of my 4x5 landscape shots use only 5-8 degrees of forward front tilt max and that is it, other than framing.

    There are some simple rules to follow, like zero your camera after every shot is one. All in all just keep it simple and you will do fine with 4x5.

    Actually a shot like this one is made for a Nikon 90mm lens, and that lens just shooting stopped down to F32 with no movements, and focused properly everything will be in focus from 5' to infinity so tilt would not really be needed. At least not much

    That is really an awsome photo op, and I am Jealous.

    Wow again.
  49. There is probably already enough information on this thread to keep you busy for a while
    thinking. But here's my summary. Yes, you will notice a difference between 6x45 and
    5x4in film at the huge print sizes you mention. And yes, 10x8in film would look best. And
    if you decide to go Medium Format, I would strongly agree with the people who have
    suggested shooting 6x7cm. The mamiya 7 is an incredible tool that seems well-suited to
    your needs. But after viewing the incredible landscape image you posted, I would LOVE to
    see that shot on 10x8 film and printed the size of a wall, but I have to amit as someone
    who only shoots 10x8, that it's not the most convenient format. Have you considered
    shooting 5x7? The equipment is only slightly bigger than 5x4, but the film is almost twice
    the surface area. And the cameras and holders are much smaller than 10x8.

    Two other quick points:

    One, learning LF is not as hard as some people would have you think. Read a book, look
    for advice online and try it out a bit before your trip. But don't be intimidated. To this day,
    my first 10x8 photograph is one of my favorites.

    Two, if you decide to shoot MF, you might want to bring a spare camera, which to some
    extent lessens the weight advantage of the smaller camera. With LF, most of the
    mechanics that can fail are in the shutter, so if you bring two lenses and one shutter dies,
    you have a backup. (Maybe an extra groundglass is a good idea) But the contax especially,
    and all MF cameras to some extent, are more complicated and can fail. So it would be
    good to have a backup. I say this as a former contax user who once had one die in the
    middle of a shoot.

    Good luck! I can't wait to see your photographs. Technical talk aside, I'm sure they will be
    equally powerful no matter which format you choose.
  50. God, I can tell I am getting bored when I start posting these too long replies. I think I need to go take some photos.

    Hmmmm, good point Noah on the 5x7. I actually like that ratio better than the too square 4x5 or the way to square 6x7.

    Milan, now I am thinking back to past trips and how I shoot. You really dont want to schelp around an 8x10 camera 100% of the time but that location and a few others I am sure deserves the most resolution. It reminds me of this photo. This guy set up this camera just for this one shot.

    Here is a thought.

    Usually on a trip, I will carry more than one system but usually pack one or two and carry along a tiny digital too.

    I will be out with any camera, digital, MF, 4x5 or whatever and think gees this shot deserves more rez. These are usually places I can get back to relatively easy. For areas that I know I will want high quality, but I cant return or they are not that accessible (hard hike) i will carry a lightish 4x5 and 2 lenses for landscapes and maybe my pocket digital.

    I guess what I am saying is while I am out shooting a smaller format or digital sometimes I am doing a bit of scouting too. I ran into a place 5 years ago like that, but at the time i had not set up an 8x10 camera yet, and because of all the hurricanes down here now this one place has been closed and unaccessible almost the entire time. I hopefully will make it back there one day.

    I guess it also depends on how you are traveling. Will your trips through the country be quick, or are you going to stay in an area for several days.

    This is what I would take personally if I were going on this trip and I was not in a hurry. Just the basic stuff and my opinion so.......

    A tiny light digital camera, pocketable with a big card and a storage bank with a viewer screen, just for snapshots etc. Last year just going through my digital snapshots, I found one that stood out. I drove back 3 hours just for one LF shot. Sometimes I will see something in a quick digital I did not notice in real life.

    A MF camera of some sort for people. I think MF is an easier people camera. The lighter and faster the better. That would probably be a GA645ZI for my case. The ZI weighs about 2# and is basically a P+S MF camera with AF, AE, and autowind. the lens is limited, but at least it is a zoom although short. Also it would be nice if it was a 6x7 but what can you do.

    A light 4x5 system and 2-3 lenses, like a 90, 150, and 240 (a 240 that will cover 8x10) and readyloads tripod etc. If its a folder you can get all that in a smallish pack.

    The lightest stiffest most compact 8x10 camera I could find, with full front movements and at least rear tilt, use the 240 lens from the kit above, and maybe 5 film holders. Of course with this you need a changing tent etc. The 8x10 would not be something you would want to shlep around all day, but maybe keep in a safe place. And come back for it for a few special shots. They attract a lot of attention, so in that situation I would look for one that is well used. Also if you are shooting with just one lens, you can use a shorter compact setup since you would not need a 30" draw.

    Now that I think of it I like Noahs idea too. Alternate to a 4x5 and an 8x10 you could do as Noah suggests and go for 5x7 like maybe a Canham to take the place of 4x5 and 8x10, but you loose some of the advantage of 4x5 a bit of system lightness, no rangefinder unless its an old 5x7 press camera and no lightweight readyloads either.

    Tough decision really, but just guessing, with the ZI weighing 2# and the digital maybe 1#, my day pack setup would consist of the 4x5 kit from the post above at 20# with the pack film and everything, so add the digital in my pocket (barely noticeable) and a ZI around my neck at 2# and you would still only be around 23#.

    An 8x10 with film holders, film and a changing tent would weigh around 20# on its own unless it was a toho or a bender, but I dont think a bender would be tough enough. Both are very light though.

    If you did decide to go for a 5x7 they weigh probably 2-3 # more than a 4x5 folder, but no quickloads so the film holders are a heavier load than readyloads. I usually like to carry around 20-40 sheets so that would work out to 10-20 film holders and that is definitely not light. The 8x10 tent weighs in at 2.5# so all in all it would add some weight to your pack, but you would not have to drag around an 8x10 camera body and you would have the larger format with you.

    Also you could carry a 4x5 back for the 5x7 so you could still shoot readyloads, and just carry 4-5 5x7 film holders for those special shots.

    A lot of options really. Probably too many.
  51. I am quite speechless from your responses!

    Lee thank you for considering loaning your equipment. You are truly a kind

    I should have posted the landscape image earlier so that the context of my
    questions was clear. Attached is another... Pilgrims have just crossed Dorma
    La, a 18,600ft pass on the second day of the three day circumambulation
    around Mt. Kailash. In the background is Lake Gauri Kund

    Without getting into specific issues, let me give an overarching response.

    The Mamiya 6x7 is a great idea. However, having just invested in a Contax
    set, I cannot justify another MF purchase.

    I am quite convinced that there will be a significant difference in quality
    (betwen MF and LF) when enlargements touch the 8ftx10ft size.

    Which clearly suggests LF is the winner.

    I am VERY VERY aware that getting good images out of LF is not a light task.
    It may take a long time before I get good at it.

    I know it is unadvisable (silly) to get into a project with an unfamiliar tool.

    In this context let me say: I will carry the Contax and 'cover' all the LF images
    that I shoot on the 120. A safety net if you will. No loss if I screw up the LF. But
    if I get the image... wow!

    Also, I hope to make multiple trips (3-4) over 2006. I know the area like the
    back of my hand. I can always attempt the LF pictures again. (Obviously I will
    never be able to replicate the light conditions etc.)

    And I plan on spending at least 2 months in preparation with the LF camera.
    Not much by any yardstick... but at least it I will not go in blind.

    Having said this... I need to decide between a 4x5 (or 5x7) and a (8x10).
    Leaving the expense aside for a second... it seems that a 8x10 will give me
    better 8ftx10ft enlargements.

    Weight and set up time are one of the several things to consider. Set up time
    does not bother me as much since I have time on my side. And, I certainly do
    not plan on carrying the LF. I will in all probability pack it in a hard case and
    strap it onto a pack horse.

    So I propose to study the 8x10 forums, follow the links in this thread, and
    educate myself. Do not wish to hurry into a decision. I will also take up the
    suggestion of calling Jim at Midwest Photo.

    All suggestions towards lightweight 8x10 field cameras (keeping the expense
    out for the moment), that I could study, will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks again to each and everyone of who has taken the trouble of
    responding with in-depth answers

  52. Sounds like a good plan. You cant go wrong with a Contax with a 4x5 backup, or visa versa.

    Going back to some of the enlargement iterations from before I would say for LF if everything is perfect, 12x should be your max so you can figure it out from there. That would be roughly 4x5 feet for 4x5, 5x7 feet for 5x7 and 8x10 feet for 8x10, but where in the heck are you going to find an 8 foot printer. A friend of mine had a 6' printer, but I have never heard of a high rez 8'.

    Also another consideration for 5x7 and 8x10 is scanning. A drum scan is what you want and they are time consuming to run and very expensive to send out. I bought a used howtek 4500 just for that reason and I got it cheap. 8x10 E6 film if you buy it new and send it out to dev cost around $16 per shot and to do a 48 bit tiff drum scan at a top shop, could cost as much as $100-200 each and you have not even printed yet. At that price you could afford to buy a used drum scanner and come out ahead. I ended up with a total of about 2G complete in mine after I bought the latest version of Silverfast.

    Right now I have a 8x10 rail camera and it is too heavy for me. I recently talked to jim at Midwest about lighter weight solutions.
    One of his suggestion for a new camera was a TACHIHARA.

    Also there is the older Kodak masterview metal folder that weighs around 12#. That would be one of my choices for a tough older metal camera. They go for about +- $1500 .

    There is the Wehman that goes for $1900 and it weighs about 9#.

    Also there is the super light toho. With the short rail it weighs 3 Kg. I am not sure how sturdy it is though.

    On the super cheap and super light side is the Bender kit camera, but it does not have any sort of focus knob. Its slide rail only but it weighs about 5 3/4 #. Combine that with a 240mm G-claron and you should be at around 7#. If I were to go this route I would modify the lower rail clamps and tripod base to something more durable.

    Thats about all the LF 8x10 cameras that interest me, that I can think of and are fairly light and reasonably stiff. Jim did mention that the Canham 8x10 is a bit on the flimsy side so i ruled that out.

    There are others too, like older Burke and james field and rail cameras, Kodak wood 2D, Ansco etc, but I am not sure how stiff those cameras are.

    Personally I am working on sort of a hybrid 4x5 - 8x10 camera, but I dont know how it will work out.

    2 months is plenty of time to learn LF and especially if you are going back for more trips. The biggest learning experience will be using it on an extended trip. It might not hurt to take a weekend local trip to get used to managing film, loading/unloading holders, how do I sort and store the exposed sheet film, how do I keep track of my film holders etc etc. 4x5 is much easier to shoot than 8x10 especially with a reflex viewer and does not take so many movements like 8x10. I have gotten to where I can set up a 4x5 shot really quick. 8x10 just takes a lot longer setup per shot due to the shorter dof per shot but the results are outstanding. Also I would spend enough time with the camera and holders to make sure they are not warped, no light leaks etc etc etc. Things you dont want to discover in the field. Oh also calibrate or double check your camera first thing. I cant tell you how many I have bought used that had the GG in backwards, Fresnel in wrong etc etc, and that can lead to OOf shots from the start.

    If you follow the basics, use simple minimal movements and zero your camera after every shot you will do fine. Also always double check your focus especially at the corners, after setting movements and probably the most important, is to shoot enough before you leave to get into the rhythm of shooting LF. There are a lot of small steps, that are a bit overwhelming at first.
  53. Milan,
    Since you will have the services of a pack animal and some time for practice, I think you will have a lot of fun with an 8x10. Set-up time is little different versus 4x5.
    My only concern for you now is availability. 8x10 field cameras are in hot demand, and dealers currently have very little inventory. The Wehman 8x10 camera is a nice option, but may not be available until at least March 2006. Tachihara and Shen-Hao are also possibilities at your pricepoint. A used Deardorff might even work since you will not be carrying the camera.
    If you will be traveling in windy territory, then it may be helpful to have a support brace (connects to one of the tripod lens and presses against one of the camera standards) to support your camera. 8x10 is especially vulnerable to wind. I use a Bogen long lens support arm, which is very help in stabilizing my 8x10, especially with long lenses. Here is one source:
    Bogen/Manfrotto Long Lens Support 3252
    Good luck!
  54. Christopher Perez, the same fellow who has shared so much excellent lens-testing data, also has great information on his travels to India with MF and LF equipment. He can suggest what to bring and avoid.
    Large Format Camera in South Asia
    Shooting 4x5 Large Format - Southern India.
    On an related note, the tradition of making pilgrimage to the symbolic center of the world, and circumambulation around it, is a very ancient one. It is an outer ritual, symbolic of an inner process of contemplation. The axis of the world is the spine, and the mountain peak at the top corresponds to the crown of the head. Climbing to the apex, is symbolic of the journey towards higher levels of experience. Any Yogi in India should be able to tell you about these things: they are traditions which carry a deep meaning.
  55. If you're considering shooting 10x8, which I think is a smart idea considering you will have
    access to a pack animal, you might check out a Canham jmc 10x8 camera. The camera is
    an all-metal field camera that is quite light, and packs up very small. I have had some
    reservations about the camera's stiffness, which I have posted about in this forum, but
    when it comes down to it, the camera makes sharp images and is pretty tough.

    Also, learning to shoot 10x8 isn't harder than 5x4. You have a much bigger groundglass
    screen to look at, and for a given enlargement size there is actually more margin for error
    since the negative is bigger. (Not that you have much margin of error for 10-foot prints,
    but still everything is less critical since your enlargement factor is smaller than with 4x5).
    My main lens, which I shoot nearly 90 percent of my pictures with, is a 240mm
    Rodenstock Apo-Sironar S. It's a great, super sharp lens that allows for some movements,
    plenty for landscape use.

    As I said before though, don't overlook shooting 5x7. It's a great compromise format.
    Canham also makes a small folding metal camera in that format.
  56. A useful thread, given I similarly plan to go to Tibet! Given the vast landscapes there, I had been thinking about purchasing a 4x5 field camera for optimum quality -- I currently have a MAMIYA 7 camera, which I acknowledge takes ultra sharp photos.

    I will probably never go for enlargements bigger than 24"x30".

    1) Sorry to reiterate the same type of question, but just how much difference is there between an approx 24"x30" image that is taken with a Mamiya 7, vs. taken with a 4x5 large format with a brand-new top lens? According to a West Coast Imaging chart, the image quality off 6x7 is "almost" the same at 24"x30", so I'm assuming the differences are actually really very subtle?

    2) I think Eric has possibly mentionned a crucial point regarding Milan's choice of camera?? I have explored the South American altiplano many times at an altitude of approx 15,000-17,500, and I speculate that Tibet's environment could well be very similar -- ie, there will be a constant nagging wind that has nothing to stop it as it whips across the flat plains. Acknowledging this wind factor that could cause vibration of a big camera with bellows, is a 8x10 camera (and maybe a 4x5?) a bit of a risk?

    Many thanks for your feedback
  57. Jon Warwick

    I currently have a MAMIYA 7 camera, which I acknowledge takes ultra sharp photos. I will probably never go for enlargements bigger than 24"x30".

    Nice camera. I had one a while back.

    1) Sorry to reiterate the same type of question, but just how much difference is there between an approx 24"x30" image that is taken with a Mamiya 7, vs. taken with a 4x5 large format with a brand-new top lens? According to a West Coast Imaging chart, the image quality off 6x7 is "almost" the same at 24"x30", so I'm assuming the differences are actually really very subtle?

    A 4x5 drum scan will be cleaner but 99% of the detail will be there with the M7. You can basically scan the 4x5 at almost half the rez for the same size print so you start out with a cleaner file with less grain. What I did was a 2000 dpi 4x5 scan vs. a M7 6x7 4000 dpi overscanned file resized to match the size of the 4x5.

    IMO 16x20 is about the break point although if you looked very very close in print you might see a minor 4x5 advantage.

    Here is the comparison. These are two scans ready to go to a lightjet, resized to 24x30. Feel free to download them and do a crop print. Also this is not my sharpest 4x5 lens but it is a good one.

    2) I think Eric has possibly mentioned a crucial point regarding Milan's choice of camera?? I have explored the South American altiplano many times at an altitude of approx 15,000-17,500, and I speculate that Tibet's environment could well be very similar -- ie, there will be a constant nagging wind that has nothing to stop it as it whips across the flat plains. Acknowledging this wind factor that could cause vibration of a big camera with bellows, is a 8x10 camera (and maybe a 4x5?) a bit of a risk?

    That is a good point. I was in the mountains last year, at a fantastic spot, with my 4x5 Sinar and the wind was whipping up to 30-40 mph. Very difficult and 8x10 would have been much worse. In that case I would have been better of using 400 film, and or a MF smaller camera. I did get a few shots though. I had to weight the center pole, and hold the camera down with my hand and wait for a lull. The wind was strong enough that if I had not held the camera down it would have tipped over and that was with a 150mm lens so not a lot of draw.
  58. Milan -
    the more I read and the more I see the images you are posting the more I get the feeling that you are just trying to make us all jealous about the landscapes you are going to photograph !

    Your first image you say gave no idea of the terrain, and yes it lacks the amazing mountain vistas of the latter two. I looked at it assuming it was an example of the kind of place you would have to be carrying your camera and when I finally saw the little man clinging to the rope shimmying across that river I thought "Crikey! I wouldn't want to carry an 8x10 across that!!".

    When are you off ?

    Maybe you should try and get someone from Europe or USA to come join you on your trip and then they could buy and bring over a camera for you when they came. I'm looking for somewhere to take pictures and spend a few months right now, and India is certainly a possibility.

    More stunning mountain landscapes please.
  59. I am off again this February. The lake Manasarovar freezes over in winter. It
    will be a sight to behold... the lake is almost a sea. Picture attached. (Kailash
    looms in the distance).

    Thanks for the interest you guys have shown. It is very encouraging. I have
    been working on this for three years now and positive feedback suddenly
    makes it all worth it!

    I am a practicing graphic designer - photography is only a hobby. It is where I
    burn the money I make!!! Which, I suspect is the case with many of us?

    What makes the project insane is that the Indian currency is weaker than the
    US dollar by a factor of 46. Which means, for me, a 5000$ camera set is 46
    times more expensive. Ouch!

    Lets make great images!
  60. What length lenses were you using (eg, normal, telephoto) for your photos of Mt Gurla and Manasarovar? Is this perspective common for many of the shots you intend to take during your pending trips? ...... I only ask, because it may be interesting to see if the lens length you're mainly targeting influences the advice on which format camera to use.
  61. Hi Jon, I had a 80-200, 2.8 on. I suspect that I shot the Mt Gurla image at nearly 200. The amazing thing about Tibet is that the atmosphere is so rarified, that there is sharpness and clarity that carries to the horizon. Quite incredible. Also, this is a vast vast vast flat-land. There is, at times, little in terms of an obstacle that cuts off your view of the horizon. Deep landscapes are the norm. As such the Himalayas to the south and the Trans-Himalayan ranges (that run parallel to Himalayas) to the north are are the only natural barriers. Since there is nothing to the east and west, mornings and sun downs are spectacular. The whole place can get bathed in a golden glow till the sun dissapears below the horizon. Attached is an image of pilgrims approaching the Thugolo Moanstery (for a night halt) on the second day of their 4-day circumambulation of the lake. All this backgound for a reason... Altitude gain is not impossible (as in the case of the Mt Gurla picture), however, in most cases, one will be on the ground (low point of view), looking across a deep landscape. In such cases, sometimes, i prefer shooting with a long lens to cut out the foreground. The foreground can be very unattractive, and mostly is. Not your typical swaying grass, or carpet of flowers in Tibet. In fact, in the picture I would have liked to cut out some more of the foreground.
  62. Using a longer lens to reduce the amount of foreground also, obviously, reduces the horizonal extent of the scene that appears in the photo.

    Another way to reduce the amount of foreground is to point the camera upward, but this changes the shape of objects. With buildings or trees, it can be very noticable, leading to "converging verticals".

    With a large format camera and lenses with excess converge, there is a third way: front rise. You raise the lens on the front standard. Basically the lens projects an image that is larger than the film and you are cropping at the time of taking the film. It might be easier to understand conceptually by thinking of moving the back, which we tend to do with sideways shifts. With vertical movements, we tend to move the lens instead. The shift and rise/fall movements have the advantage (if this is the artistic decision of the photograper) of not causing converging verticals. This type of image control is another reason to use view cameras.
  63. Milan,

    From photos I've seen of Tibet in guidebooks, where the foreground terrain is basically just miles and miles of dirt/grit, I'd agree that it does seem that a longer lens is required to make the most of some scenes. I'd previously thought about a 4x5 field camera with a 90mm lens, but I think its wide-angle perspective could lead me to photograph huge and rather boring Tibetan dirt foregrounds with (ironically) tiny-looking Himalayan mountains in the background ... not really the images that I'm after! I'm only just starting to look at the possibility of large format, but I think I'm correct in believing that an approx 90mm lens in 35mm format (which I'd think would do quite well to isolate some of the mountains, etc) is the equivalent of approx 300mm in 4x5 -- plus the bellows on the 4x5 camera would need to be extended out? This is making me think again about 4x5, given I'm not sure about how solid the set-up would be the moment the wind starts hitting the bellows when on location somewhere remote and exposed (like Tibet, or the Andean high plains).
  64. I think this photo succeeds so well mainly because of the dirt foreground...

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