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stradibarrius
15-Jan-2012, 17:45
I do not suppose the is a right answer to this...I am just curious as to when you find it better to use one format over the other.

Excluding things like travel concerns etc., what would cause you to choose MF over LF or 135mm?
Like many of you I have multiple 35mm, MF and one 4x5. I find myself wondering should I try to use my LF gear every time possible or ???

BrianShaw
15-Jan-2012, 17:56
Ooooh, too many reasons to really explain... but a lot has to do with portability, speed of use, film emulsion availability, required "image quality", lens availabity, need for corrective movements, and probably a few other things. For me the 4x5 is often the last camera I think of using. I really need to need to use it before I seriously consider using it.

BrianShaw
15-Jan-2012, 18:02
p.s. more often in the recent few years I opt to use a roll film back on the 4x5 when using them... until my neighborhood lab closed it was much easier processing than sheet film.

BrianShaw
15-Jan-2012, 18:04
p.p.s. Given my pathetic attitude and lack of dedication perhaps I should consider quietly disappearing from this forum, but I like it so much, and I like the people, and...

MIke Sherck
15-Jan-2012, 18:23
I normally reach for a view camera when my brain says 'picture!' but I'll use medium format when I'm photographing street fairs or other quickly changing situations, or in places where a view camera would be too awkward and get in peoples' way. I use 35mm when I absolutely have to have something small and light -- the camera under the seat in my car is a 35mm Yashica Electro rangefinder: a larger camera wouldn't fit under there. I'll use the autofocus 35mm when I need to photograph rapidly moving things, like kids or family, or when I'm out of medium format film.

For me, the tough question is 4x5 or 8x10? I have a 4x5 enlarger but not an 8x10 so the general rule is to use the 4x5 when I think I'll want a larger print, and the 8x10 when I want a contact print. It isn't often that I know in advance: sometimes I'm carrying the 4x5 and come across something I'd really like to make a contact print of, and vice-versa. That's a strong incentive to keep returning to places I've been to before.

Mike

rdenney
15-Jan-2012, 18:35
Ansel Adams famously answered the same question with, "the biggest I can carry."

That works for me, although it's not a physical weight limit, but rather a packaging issue. I can fit my Pentax 6x7 kit in a backpack that I can carry onto an airplane. I can't do that with 4x5 because the required tripod will not fit in a bag that I can check. The tripod and head that I can use with the Pentax will fit in my checked baggage easily enough.

Another limitation might be on speed. Medium format does not give me the same degree of control, and thus it takes less time to make a photo because I have fewer choices to make and controls to manipulate. Of course, that means I'm limited to photos that can work without those controls.

I do not use 35mm film any longer. My digital cameras can match that quality, and are much easier to travel with than any film camera.

There are times when the biggest camera I can carry is an iPhone.

I do draw a distinction between casual photography and serious photography, though I have no idea why any of my work deserves to be taken seriously. When I have an opportunity for serious photography, I will generally take no smaller camera than the Pentax 6x7. But I have done serious work with my Canon 5D, too, when that was what I could bring along.

Rick "for whom big film requires purpose" Denney

Brian C. Miller
15-Jan-2012, 18:50
"YOU FREAKING PERVERT GET AWAY FROM ME ... Oh, that is an 8x10 in your pocket. Have you ever thought about using something smaller?"

I don't shoot 35mm because it isn't that much lighter weight or smaller than either a TLR or my Fuji 645. Sure, I have a couple of point-n-shoots in the closet. And there they stay. I don't bother with a 35mm-type digital camera because they just fall down for what I want to do. I mean, really, what's the point of photographing something in the sunlight and then seeing the image with magenta distortion? Ech.

So I use film. No ridiculous distortion, proven resolution, and I'm not upgrading every year. I use the format that's convenient for me, and the camera that fits. I don't care what everybody else does, I use what works for me. These things work best in different environments, that's just the way it is.

Does an 8x10 on a tripod make sense for photographing a demonstration? Maybe, but maybe a motorized 645 works a little better. Maybe a camera with movements is good for photographing in the woods. Maybe a camera that takes a serious fish-eye is best for ultra wide-angle shots. Maybe it needs to fit in my backpack, maybe it needs to fit on my bike.

Is there a right answer? Sure. Use a camera for photography. Works much better that way.

-- Brian "for whom big film requires big film" Miller

Leigh
15-Jan-2012, 19:49
I shoot everything from half-frame 35mm through 8x10, so I'm a format omnivore. ;D

Each format/camera has its own qualities, advantages, and dis-advantages.
When I contemplate a shoot I seldom have difficulty deciding which format to use.

My overriding consideration is usually quality. The higher the goal, the larger the format.

The second consideration is lens selection. By far the widest is in 35mm (Nikon), followed by MF (Hasselblad), then by LF. The narrowest is 8x10.

Then there's the question of versatility/convenience. If I anticipate rapid movement I go with 35mm. MF is more deliberate, and LF definitely so.

I don't know if this answers your question or not, but those are my thought processes.

- Leigh

vinny
15-Jan-2012, 19:51
wind.

Roger Cole
15-Jan-2012, 20:10
35mm for fast lenses and lots of shots without reloading (relative - it isn't digital with a big memory card, but way more than my Yashicamat, and much quicker to reload too.) I shoot medium format any time I don't want to take time with the 4x5 but don't need the fast lenses/long lenses/wide lenses I have with my 35mm and don't need lots of shots or quick film change.

I find the biggest attraction of the Yashicamat is that it seems to give me at least 75% of the quality bump I'd get from 4x5 (at the sizes I print, anyway - if I printed giant prints I'm sure that would be different) while only being a small bit slower and more trouble than 35mm. If I had an interchangeable lens MF system that difference from 35mm would narrow more and I could see myself doing without 35mm, at least most of the time.

I love LF but the 4x5 is for times when the mission is photography, not taking it along while I do something else, and I have time to use it properly.

John Kasaian
15-Jan-2012, 20:50
If I'm deadly humorous about it I'll choose the 8x10 every time. The 5x7 Speed Graphic for places a tripod isn't welcome. Sometimes my image stealing requires a point and shoot for around the dinner table family stuff and since the noble old family Olympus Stylus went berserk my bride has given me a digi---I'm not in love with it yet though. Sometimes I like walking along a foggy beach and the Rolleiflex TLR with VP just seems right. When I feel downright funky and have a few extra $$ for some Efke 127 from Freestyle, I'll even drag out a fungus ridden Kodak reflex Brownie. The poor Nikon F2 hasn't seen daylight in years.

Scott Walker
15-Jan-2012, 21:49
My format of choice is 8x10.

It is the largest format that is easily enlargable and I hate contact printing. I have a 4x5 back for my 8x10 that I will use if I run out of 8x10 film in a day. I refuse to use a changing bag to load film. I also have an ultra light 4x5 that I use if I need to climb into a location.

I recently purchased an RB67 for times when travel dictated that a big camera was not apropriate. I have been finding that I am using this format more now for those occasions where I know there is not a great shot but I would still burn up a few sheets of film.

I use digi for work .

SMBooth
15-Jan-2012, 22:01
Weight, the further I 'm going (on foot) the lighter the camera.

cjbroadbent
16-Jan-2012, 05:22
If it doesn't look good on a small format it will look worse on 8x10.
The hope is that if it looks good small, it'll look better big.
4x5 does not quite make the difference.

Ken Lee
16-Jan-2012, 05:40
...what would cause you to choose MF over LF or 135mm?

It's fun to play, and I suspect that for many of us, a change of gear imposes a change of vision, or a shift in awareness.

I know that when I shoot with my 6x6 folding camera, the world becomes square: that's a matter of aspect ratio of course. Something similar happens when I mask a view camera to a panoramic format.

Even within the same film size and aspect ratio, some of us have more than one camera, and take different photos with different cameras, for a variety of reasons. Some reasons are obvious and tangible, others are... intangible.

sully75
16-Jan-2012, 06:18
I have one of everything (a nice leica no less) but I've been thinking lately of just doing Canon EOS DSLR and 5x7/4x5. I love the look of the Leica, but I can also get some pretty great pictures with the Canon at 1/100 the work. I absolutely love my Mamiya TLR, and get great results from it, but either hand processing or lab processing and scanning are both frustrating to me.

For me the 5x7 camera experience is not something I can duplicate with a smaller camera. I really like it for portraits mostly in the way that the subject reacts to it. I learn a lot from using it.

Leica is the first to go. I might hold on to the Mamiya. My Deardorff from my cold, dead hands. At least until 6 months or so when I see if I've actually used it enough to justify all the accouterments...

Wayne
16-Jan-2012, 06:23
I recently picked up an RB67, because unlike many of our contestants, I'm not a rich middle aged white guy. I'm a poor middle-aged white guy, and LF film is getting very expensive. I haven't used the RB enough to know all its pluses and minuses, but I think it has a place in my arsenal. I like that I don't have to remove the film back to frame a new shot. Advance, cock, frame, shoot. I can make more exposures quicker. I don't have to haul 25lbs of equipment just to go in the back yard for a quick shot.

Of course there are disadvantages. I have to develop all frames on a roll the same. I don't have even simple movements available. But there are times when these limitations don't matter. I'm still figuring out when those times are.

stradibarrius
16-Jan-2012, 06:44
Using all the different formats has really kept my interest level high. 4x5 has helped me to really learn about photography. For ME, my digital gear was not really helping me to learn as much about photography as about software to process my digital images.
The larger the format the more thought I put into the shot...I hate to admit but with 35mm, and certainly digital, it is easier to "waste" shots.
These are really great responses to the question that has no "correct" answer.

jp498
16-Jan-2012, 08:09
for me, 8x10 is a chance to use certain lenses that won't work on smaller cameras and for images that might make nice alt process contact prints. I don't really like tray-processing negatives, so I make the shots count.

I can't enlarge 8x10, so I consider 4x5 the more versatile of the sheet film formats. It's portable and relatively affordable when used in moderation. I can develop 6 or 12 sheets at a time in daylight and enlarge as needed. Lots of lenses also for 4x5. I keep a 4x5 camera and accessories in the car at all times. 2nd most used film size.

The most used film size is 120. I have a yashica and a rollei TLR and they are easy to focus for people/action/candids and make images of nice enough quality for printing on 11x14 paper. I stick to "straight" photography with the MF usually and use it for practical things and opportune compositions when it's small size make it apt for me to carry. It's image quality might be comparable to a high end 35mm dslr, but it's got a charm that connects with people subjects; like LF does, but more so as it's not imposing. A TLR would be a good fashion accessory if I were actually fashion conscious.

I have a very nice 35mm slr, but don't use it much. MF is so much better image quality, though 35mm has a better lens selection. I mostly use DSLRs in the 35mm system. I use the 35mm camera so little, I might as well sell it, but I worked a whole summer in high school to buy it and it accompanied me through my fun times in high school and college, so it's sentimental value is slightly higher to this packrat than it's ebay value.

DrTang
16-Jan-2012, 08:22
what I'm shootin


if I don't have to pack stuff around..and I don't have to shoot a lot of exposures, quickly..I'll take my 8x10 with 5x7 back

if I'm out and about..I'll pack a 6x6 - mostly because I like the square format

if I may need to move around a bit (spot to spot), I might bring either my 4x5 or 5x7 linhof tech..it would depend upon how much moving around

and if I want to just make an easy shoot difficult - like a parade or event..I'll pack my 4x5 handheld set up and a bunch of holders and such


almost always I'll also have a small pocket digital to record photographic 'notes' with

mlatterich
16-Jan-2012, 08:48
If I had to chose one, I'd be shooting large format a all times. What attracts me beyond resolution and freedom of composition are the plethora of options to process film to bring out the best tonality or the most vibrant colors. Right now, there is no substitute.

There are practical considerations that make me soot medium format film and digital. For example, if I am in the studio and have to have something to show the next day, I will shoot digital. When I go places for the first time, I usually carry my film MF with a variety of different films. Main reason are compromise between mobility and ability to shoot reasonable photos. If I like something after developing the MF film, I usually head back out with my LF.

While there are some really great 35mm cameras out there that are well suited for candid and street photography, it is not my "thing". I have totally abandoned shooting 35mm three years ago after being spoiled by MF and especially LF.

To come back to the original question - I have mental check-list to consider before I pack my camera back. If I'm driving somewhere, I usually have my spare 4x5 field camera in my trunk ... just in case ;-).

Noah A
16-Jan-2012, 08:59
I pretty much shoot 4x5 for everything. I chose that format since it suits the way I wanted to shoot. The camera imposes certain limitations but I have chosen to work within those limitations, so in a way my choice of equipment kind of keeps me on track.

I do have a DSLR kit, but I only use it for deadline and/or low-budget jobs.

Preston
16-Jan-2012, 09:42
I pretty much shoot 4x5 for everything. I chose that format since it suits the way I wanted to shoot. The camera imposes certain limitations but I have chosen to work within those limitations, so in a way my choice of equipment kind of keeps me on track.

I do have a DSLR kit, but I only use it for deadline and/or low-budget jobs.

Noah's remarks pretty much sum it for me. I prefer my 4x5 over other formats. I do a smattering of digital, and my Mamiya 645 system has become a closet queen.

--P

vinny
16-Jan-2012, 09:51
to add to what I said earlier about WIND!, I prefer 8x10 but I've found myself shooting more 4x5 since I got a chamonix 45n-2. I just like using that camera a lot. I prefer the view camera as it's just easier to work with a larger viewfinder and camera movements. I hate processing roll film and the resulting quality isn't up to par with my LF originals.

Brian Ellis
16-Jan-2012, 10:44
I stopped using 35mm decades ago, the quality just isn't there for anything larger than 8x10 and even that's stretching it. I used to look for excuses to shoot 8x10, I just loved working with that format. However, I found that the weight was limiting where I could go and therefore the types of photographs I made so I reluctantly discarded it. Today it's almost exclusively my Canon 1Ds MarkIII, I find the quality perfectly fine for the size prints I usually make - about 16x20 or smaller though I've gotten excellent results from the few 20x30 prints I had made - and there are many advantages to using a digital camera compared to film. I've gotten away from being as hung up as I used to be on equipment and materials and try to concentrate on the photographs without worrying too much about how they were made. But if I ever again live in a house where I can have my own darkroom I'll get back into 8x10 at least occasionally, just for the sheer pleasure of using the format.

Jim Jones
16-Jan-2012, 10:47
I haven't ran film through my Leica M in a year or so, and the Nikon system for even longer. Recent indoor sports shooting with a basic DSLR was much more difficult than with the Leica, although the digital images are satisfactory. MF falls somewhat short of LF in image quality, and quite short of 35mm in versatility. My 8x10 hasn't had a taste of film in decades. Much photography is for others, and digital is the logical choice for that. 4x5 is my favorite when choosing quality over convenience. Older LF cameras often have a beauty of engineering that is hidden in modern smaller equipment. Elegant tools make any job more pleasant.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
16-Jan-2012, 11:22
I don't shoot 35mm anymore but I would like to get a digital SLR that would take my lenses. For medium format I have a Yashicamat. If I had an SLR that I could use tripod mounted, that had very sharp lenses I would shoot entirely medium format for film work.

I have added a rollfilm back for my large format camera. 6X7 is a good size piece of film for my uses. Movements are not used a lot but they are nice when absolutely necessary. In a perfect world I would have a 6X12 camera with SHARP 90mm and 150mm lenses, and a MF scanner. I would have bought a 6X12 holder instead of the 6X7 but my camera does not have the international back. 6X12 holders that fit under a spring back are few and far between.

Since it is not a perfect world, I haul out the beast (but use roll film holder) if the picture might make it to my wall, and I use the Yashicamat if I feel like creativity for creativity's sake.

tgtaylor
16-Jan-2012, 11:51
Excepting the 6x6 and 5x7 formats, I shoot with everything from 35mm to 8x10 format. Which format I choose depends solely on the task at hand.

For example street photography demands a quick and discreet response so I'll choose a 35mm with zoom lens or preferably a 645 system which has auto focus, a superior metering system, and delivers a larger negative. On a project that I am currently working on I don't need the speed or flexibility of the smaller formats but do need a faster set-up than large format so I'm using a 6x7 tripod mounted camera with a 200mm lens which is idealy suited for this project and delivers an outstanding negative that can be enlarged to 16x20 or beyond.

My camera of choice for landscape photography is the 4x5 field format and I have a lightweight 4x5 system for backpacking, bicycle touring, and other occasions when minimal bulk and weight is required, and a technical 4x5 system for those other occasions when carrying a few extra pounds of camera and a heavier tripod doesn't matter. For those landscapes, cityscape, and architecture that require greater camera movements are road and dolly accessible, then the 4x5 and 8x10 monorail become the camera of choice with preference given to the latter if an alternative process is envisioned.

So for me the choice of camera and format it totally dependent on the need.

Thomas

falth j
16-Jan-2012, 13:18
For most, Time, and available technology was the main issue from the beginning...


Years ago, there weren’t many choices for reproduction.


I’ve heard where one scene maker spent years trying to get the ‘right effect’, and after all that effort, wasn’t paid for his work, even though he spent the majority of his time on his back working aloft on ‘his masterpiece’, and ended up having to sue or beg for a pittance for his efforts.

As time marched along, covered wagons wet plates and chemistry replaced pigments and hairs.

Technology of reproduction soon obsolesced covered wagons and donkey caravans.

Diminution and minisculizations soon replaced the old big is better philosophical diatribes and rants.

Today, electrons are rapidly replacing miles of shelving once devoted to films, papers, and chemicals that lined the aisle of many stores and warehouses.

Companies that produced these things are dying day by day.


Pretty soon, most of us will all be bald, and there will only be rumored stories about splitting hairs over what was better pigments and hair choices, chemicals, cellulose or tintype choices, and finally electrons, protons, and holographic representations…

our heirs are on YouTube, facebook, ipads, and iphones, what the hell do they care about yesterday, today, or tomorrow, most of them have shaved heads, and inked skins, what the hell do they care about splitting hairs of years long passed them by and the technology….

Who cares about the little piece of plastic that once filled the hole of an old 45 rpm record?

What was that thing called anyway…. An ESDI drive?

John Kasaian
16-Jan-2012, 13:41
[QUOTE=falth j;833069]For most, Time, and available technology was the main issue from the beginning...


Years ago, there weren’t many choices for reproduction.

QUOTE]

Aren't you forgetting the Kama Sutra?

Jay DeFehr
16-Jan-2012, 13:44
I'd be lying if I claimed my choice of format was determined by some requirement of the image I intended to make. That's only true occasionally. At least as often my choice of format is determined by my mood, or curiosity, or desire to use a particular camera or film. I don't use my Zorki RF because it's particularly good at anything as much as it's just fun to use. Same goes for my Bellami barndoor compact, or any of my old folders, or box cameras, etc. Sometimes I'm heading out the door, and one of my cameras gives me that sad look, and I have to take it with me. Sometimes I think a particular camera accessorizes my ensemble. Other times I want to finish a roll because I've forgotten what was on the beginning, and I want to find out, or I want to test a developer and need some exposed film. Trivial? Probably, but photography is all about fun, for me.

Roger Cole
16-Jan-2012, 14:18
As time marched along, covered wagons wet plates and chemistry replaced pigments and hairs.

They did? All the people around the world who still happily put pigments to canvas using brushes made with hair would disagree. They might have replaced painting for reporting and for realistic illustration, but not for art. If anything it freed up painting to be more remove from the literal rendering of the subject.


Today, electrons are rapidly replacing miles of shelving once devoted to films, papers, and chemicals that lined the aisle of many stores and warehouses.

Companies that produced these things are dying day by day.


Pretty soon, most of us will all be bald, and there will only be rumored stories about splitting hairs over what was better pigments and hair choices, chemicals, cellulose or tintype choices, and finally electrons, protons, and holographic representations…

our heirs are on YouTube, facebook, ipads, and iphones, what the hell do they care about yesterday, today, or tomorrow, most of them have shaved heads, and inked skins, what the hell do they care about splitting hairs of years long passed them by and the technology….

Who cares about the little piece of plastic that once filled the hole of an old 45 rpm record?

What was that thing called anyway…. An ESDI drive?

HAPPY? Nonsense - many of us are not happy. I'm fine with digital existing, but not replacing film as for me it won't do that.

I'm already bald, have been mostly since age 23. Not even sure I get the joke there but I'm not touchy about it. ;)

Nothing wrong with shaved heads (my fiance wants me to shave the rest of my hair off my head) or inked skins. Those have nothing to do with appreciating the things of the past and tradition. In fact I find more appreciation for the film work I do and the craft of traditional photography among the artistic set prone to such things.

I also drive stick shift cars, bought a new car December 2010 and insisted on the manual. They had to get one from a dealer in Florida to get just what I wanted with what I wanted, including the five speed manual.

The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost...

Edward (Halifax,NS)
16-Jan-2012, 14:23
Who cares about the little piece of plastic that once filled the hole of an old 45 rpm record?



I want a tattoo of that design on the back of my neck.

falth j
16-Jan-2012, 18:16
Thank you guys, for the quotes,

and for the kind words....

I'm much too old to be splitting hairs about such things, and my heirs don't give a damn about what I talk about in the way of art, photography, lenses, film formats, lens resolution, paper, inks, and electrons...

not that they aren't smart enough to 'care', but it is not in their 'culture', and....

besides all the criticism keeps me on edge...


BTW, my name is really 'walter'....

and my boss jeff, keeps me strapped in this damn stinky dark suitcase, most of the time,

the least he could do his keep a bottle of water in here, so I can take my meds and be at the top of my game when he lets me out and sets me
on his lap while he asks stupid questions.... that only serve to pis me off...

the jerk never gives me my meds before he wakes me up, but only when he decides to box me up again...

jnanian
17-Jan-2012, 06:05
even thought i am able to replicate the same "look"
in whatever format i shoot ( half frame to 11x14 and dslr )
i think the reason why i use large format sometimes
is because ... i can ... even out the window of a moving car ..

but when i run out of film and paper i might use something else.

BrianShaw
17-Jan-2012, 06:24
... and my boss jeff, ...

That sounds just like my boss, except her name is Christine. It is going to be a rough day, in fact a rough week and a half... so thanks for the giggles!

Gordy
19-Jan-2012, 14:16
For me, the big issues are (1) camera movements for perspective and plane of focus control, and (2) image quality. If it weren't for (1), medium format would be good enough much of the time.

I still use 35mm sometimes, and digital quite a lot when convenience, portability, and speed of use are important, but image quality is secondary. Between 4x5 and 8x10, I have the same issue as many others--8x10 is great if I know that a contact print is big enough, but since I am not equipped to enlarge 8x10 negatives, I use 4x5 most of the time. Then I have the ability to print larger or smaller. No digital scans of LF negatives for me (yet).