View Full Version : Switching LF Sizes
I've been using an old 5x7 Ansco for a few years and contact printing the negati ves. I sold it with the intention of moving to 8x10 as I wanted larger prints. However, I'm having second thoughts: perhaps 4x5, being substantially lighter, would be a better choice (especially since I picked up an old, but usable, Bese ler 4x5 enlarger extra cheap.)
No, I'm not asking you to make my decision for me. :)
I am curious about the experiences of anyone who has moved between sizes as thei r main camera; those who started at 4x5 and moved larger, and those who started larger and moved down to 4x5. What were your motives? Are you happy with your decision? What did you learn? Would you do it again, or with the perspective o f hindsight would you do something different?
Started with a 4X5 before the beginning of time - or thereabouts... Did tons of work with this format but felt the need for greater fidelity... Moved to 8X10 when Polaroid started selling 8X10 material back in the seventies - almost died from hauling all the extra equipment -
Settled on 5X7 - for me an ideal size as the weight and bulk is not much more than 4X5 - but with much greater image quality (my opion only of course...)...
After considerable difficulty with your very question when I got started, I could not come to grips with several issues with the 4x5 including the need for an enlarger and durability and the price of the wooden cameras that were hot items at that time. As a result, for less money I went with a Kodak Master 8x10 metal camera and got a 5x7 back with it (Kodak did not make a 4x5 back I found out) so I used the 5x7 as a way to soften the costs of film particularly with testing and ended up loving the format to this day. Great to contact and that pleasant experience led to another metal 5x7 camera - the Canham. I do shoot 4x5 at times with a reducing back on the Canham, but since 5x7 film is much more available and I have stocked up, give me the 35 sq inches of georgeous negative anyday over the adequate, but humble 20 sq inch 4x5 negative.
Recently Switched from 4x5 to 5x7 with no regrets . I'm using an ultralight Anba 5x7 at 3.5 lbs. Bigger screen,bigger film.lighter camera,better proportion,....no brainer.
Started with a 4x5 in LF. Wanted to make Pt/Pd prints, and considered moving to 8x10. I felt it was too much trouble for the cost, so I settled on 5x7. I first was able to find a very inexpensive 5x7. Wore it out completely. Then, I was able to buy an "expander" back (4x5 to 5x7)for my Wista. I could use all my 4x5 lenses. Larger negative, less dollars. Along the way, I fell in love with the proportion of the 5x7 negative. It seems much more elegant than the 4x5 or 8x10 proportion.
The only downside (and this is peculiar to me) is that 5x7 contact prints are currently not "gallery friendly" when shown next to the 20x24 or 30x40 images that are the current LF rage.
I started large format with a 4x5 metal monorail (old Calumet). Later when I got interested in contact printing again, I got a deal on an old wood Seneca 8x10, which is ligher than the 4x5. It does not have all the extreme movements, but I didn't need extremes anyway. I'm happy with both cameras. One can be twisted up like in the advertisements (impresses people who don't know better hahaha)and has all the moves, and one that is bigger and lighter. Can't say I learned much from it, but it is nice to have both formats available. The only thing to offer you is, if weight is a factor go with a wooden field camera (but you already know that).
I started with 35mm back in college for P1 and P2. After graduation I went 4x5 and have been using it predominatly for over 20 years. This morning I spent a very enjoyable 5 hours with my Hasselblad, one lens, the 80mm, no filters, tripod and spot meter. The wind was howling at 30 to 40 mph, so no way could I shoot LFP. I feel I have at least 3 good images to work with. I am thinking of expanding my arsenal to two lenses. I found I could be far more spontaneous and experimental then if I had the 4x5. Saturday am, I had my Sinar out and was able to shoot some fine images then.
I guess my point is why change formats? Do you go larger just for a macho, masculin, muscle trip? Or is it really going to help you expand your vision in the direction you want to go? The answer is really up to the individual.
Ah for me it was from 35 to 4x5...no messing around, then I got tired of hauling all those lenses, film holders etc, so went to a Hasselblad, had a lot of fun but missed the tailored development, so I decided to get an 8x10 with 2 lenses and 2 film holders, the outfit weights less than my 4x5 and it forces me to think and compose, so it where I am now. As you can see I have been all over the place so my answer to you is if you get the camera, dont get rid of your previous set up, since you will most likely come back to it in the future.
I went to 4x5 when I was a news shooter, and bought it to save my photographic sanity since I wouldn't touch a 35 mm camera on a day off!
One of the lenses I ended up getting a few years later was a Nikkor 300M, so that I had a portrait focal length capability. About a year after that I had the opportunity to buy a reconditioned B&J 8x10 for $350 (CDN) with a few film holders. I bought another two film holders a little while later and to date that's been my investment in 8x10.
Luckily I had the LF infrastructure - the filters, dark cloth, tripod, focusing loupe and so forth. My processor is the Unicolor tank and roller so even that works with 8x10.
I only have one lens for the 8x10 and I don't have any plans at all to get more. It's kind of neat to go into the field with one lens and just find ways to make it work.
Having said that,if it was 1980 I think that I'd give some serious thought about dumping the 4x5 in order to get a better 8x10 and a couple of lenses. But it's 2002 and I just wonder how long 8x10 film will be with us. The last LF film anyone will sell will be 4x5 so I think that I'll keep the 4x5 and just use the 8x10 as a supertoy.
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