Shooting large format cameras VS anything else?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by Ricochetrider, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. One thing LF can really make you do is do your best to make every exposure count.

    A pocket/pouch on a bag can hold easily hold a couple hundred frames worth of 35mm or 100+ frames of 120(even shooting 6x7).

    I don't think I've ever gone out with more than 5 4x5 film holders(10 frames) and that's an unusually high number for me. Usually it's 2 or 3 holders, and I might only shoot one of them.

    Of course, that's part of the beauty of it too. I know with 35mm especially, I've been known to shove some crap onto the end of a roll just so I could finish it and develop it. That's less of a problem with 10 or 12 exposures in 120. If I go out with 4x5 and only shoot one frame, no problem, I just strip that sheet out of the holder and develop it.
  2. I add again, that if they still made film packs and if Polaroid still made Type 52 4x5, I'd still be shooting 4x5.

    Large negatives, especially glass ones, make images by contact printing that are nearly impossible to equal with enlargement. This was especially true of printing-out papers and platinum prints.

    A boy and his Combat Graphic
    Jon Muller-Sully 62sm.jpg

    Of course, digital makes all this film stuff moot :eek:
  3. That looks like a Tiltall tripod in the photo, the lightest tripod suitable for 4x5 at the time and still very practical today.
  4. I think it probably was a Tiltall. It was, like the camera itself, out of the equipment locker at the River Basins Survey Office in Lincoln, Nebraska in 1962

    The yellow and red band on the tripod was the Smithsonian 'marker'

    Here are the various Smithsonian Crews and other archaeologists in the field in the summer of 1962 at the "Summer Plains Archaeological Conference". The fellow with the moustache close to the middle of the first row is Robert L. Stephenson, Director of the Missouri Basin Project of the River Basin Survey. Like the camera, he was a Marine (as I learned, not a "former" Marine).
    (taken with the Marine Combat Graphic)
    charles_escott_new likes this.
  5. I no longer shoot 4x5 but I have had very good success digitizing my 4x5 and 6x6 images using my DSLR and getting large lightjet prints done, so film is not completely moot. Hopefully finish building my 6x6 camera for Christmas! Have the film in the fridge waiting.
    ajkocu likes this.
  6. Please show photos of the camera!
  7. The DSLR, or the 5"x4"?

    Here's a totally gratuitous picture of my Devere Devon.
    Taken with a DSLR.
  8. Why do you want a bigger camera?
  9. Oh I don't know. Isn't it the Next Step? Natural evolution? More detail? Bigger negatives? Tilt/shift?
    I'm just dreaming. Always thinking, Probably hurts more than it helps but hey I have fun with it.
    Zootman likes this.
  10. If it ain't broke, why fix it?
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  11. It depends on what you shoot and what you do with the images. Modern full frame digital gives me all I need at the sizes I can print, far more than I need for screen viewing. IMO, the biggest advantage of large format is swings and tilts. You can do things that aren't possible in small formats, even with a PC lens. If you don't need swings and tilts, the reasons for large format are greatly diminished.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  12. I recently got 4x5 LF field camera in addition to 6x7 MF one and enjoying every bit of it.

    Key motivation: focus and perspective control that view camera provides. Convergency of objects and lack of possibility to put near objects and infinity in focus started disturbing me at one point.

    As a big bonus, one gets straightforward possibility to develop single negatives and thus master development process.

    Weight is the same as MF, or potentially even lighter - there are amazingly lightweight cameras and lenses out there.

    LF forces me to be more thorough, it’s not anymore “shooting” process, but finding the right motive, perspective, weather, light... which to me is fun on its own. The whole experience is in a way meditative.

    Of course, it should be possible to be as thorough with MF and digital equipment, though I find that as part of natural flow with LF.

    Film cost becomes pricey, especially for color, though it depends how you look at it. I believe that 5 *really* good images that you put effort into are better than 100 average ones.

    The cost and slowness of it makes me think that for someone with little experience it is better to gain that experience with something else first, be it 35mm, MF or digital.

    The drawback for me is that it is very difficult to find access to a darkroom with 4x5 enlarger, unless you have enough space for it at home. Contact prints are still too small, so I end up scanning them. Even good scanner can be both costly and challenging to find.

    After all, I am convinced that it is not the format or equipment that is deciding, but the amount of effort, time, and persistency to improve that one puts into photography.
    Ricochetrider likes this.
  13. There is an easy calculation for bellows compensation. Requires you know the focal length of your lens in inches. And you need a pocket tape measure.

    So say you have a 150mm lens. and you have extended the bellows 9 inches. The 150mm is close to 6". So you have 6" and 9" . Instead of thinking of these with inches in mind, now make them Apertures. So F 6 and F9. What is the exposure difference? F6 is 5.6 1/3. F9 is F8 1/3. = 1 stop. thats it done. With a little practice you can do this in about 30 seconds....

    If I have a 210mm lens, about 8". And I have extended it and the bellows measured just a tad over 16". What is my bellows compensation? F 8 to F16 is 2 stops. Done.

    Oh by the way, when ever bellows extension is twice the focal length( for telephoto designs which are not good up close anyway) the reproduction ratio is 1:1 Life-size and the compensation is always 2 stops. If the bellows extension is 1.5 times the focal length, the reproduction ratio is 1/2 life size and the compensation is always 1 stop.

    Hope this helps.

    Rod Klukas
    US Representative Arca-Swiss
    International Technical rep Arca-Swiss
    oldwino and Ricochetrider like this.
  14. I'm sure there are "better" digital cameras out there. I don't care. I like what I like. If I'm eventually forced to become a painter, so be it.

    I think we're probably at about the break even point on LF v. Digital for overall data capture. Here's FP4+ in Pyro scanned via Epson V800, reduced image size 5X (to 3K from 15K pixels, long-side) for this forum. The original has much more detail, of course.

    And then there's tonal "feel". Different films and digital management techniques are like brushes or oils v. acrylic v. sketch v. watercolor. What medium do you like?

    I like this. It's slow and fun, and I did it all myself.

    Stairs and Squares Smaller.jpg
  15. Hmmm, your profile is familiar to me ... painting can fill the void that photography is unable to fill. And the challenge is much greater as well as rewarding.
    I don't know whether to tell you to try it or not even think about it ...
    wonner likes this.
  16. For me, large format was about finding and learning the heart and soul of photography. I had been in 35mm for about 35 years when I became curious about LF. I thought I knew photography. I did not, I only knew 35mm photography. 35mm gave me a huge head-start but 35mm and LF are miles apart in many ways. Try to imagine taking 30 minutes for each sheet of film exposed--not always, but often.

    I shoot mostly MF film these days, but wouldn't trade my LF experience for anything.

    One last caveat; be sure to look into the costs associated with LF film and processing before jumping in. Sheet film is expensive, both color and B&W, and you may decide you want a darkroom and a scanner to get the full LF experience.

    Hope that helps.

  17. Although you mentioned "shooting" spare a thought for the results. I use many different MF cameras but for sheer quality, 4x5 blows MF away. Yes I know some replies may say that's rubbish but in my experience a 20x16 enlargement from 4x5 is mind blowing. Once again, this is MY experience. I'm sure 10X8 is stunning but there is no way I could afford the money or space for that. I also have a 16x20 camera (but only ever used 11x14 film in it) and contact prints were fantastic.
    Using LF isn't difficult, it's just different. Yes film is more expensive but you will probably use a lot less of it. I have often been out for half a day and made 2-3 exposures.
  18. MUCH more weight. That blasted tripod is almost half the weight I have to lug.
    Lugged it it ONCE, never again. If I can't wheel it in a cart from my car, I don't shoot my 4x5.
  19. What cart do you use?
  20. I first used a luggage cart with a plastic milk carton case to hold everything.
    But the milk carton case did not fold, so it became a hassle to put in the car.

    Then I got a folding cart something like this one:
    The problem was the wheel was too small. Small wheels do not work well on anything but smooth surfaces.

    Then I found a similar cart that had large wheels. I think it got it at either Office Depot or Staples. But dang if I can find that cart any place online.
    The large wheels make it SO much easier to pull on less than smooth surfaces. I have been using this for the past few years.

    At a large format photo outing, I saw a gal with something like one of these:
    It easily held her 5x7 camera, tripod, and gear.
    There are many different variations of this cart. Some with only 3 wheels, some with WIDE wheels for going on soft ground.
    Because it is larger than my current cart, I think something like this will be my next cart.

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