View Poll Results: Which format would you suggest?

Voters
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  • 8x10

    32 23.53%
  • 4x5

    85 62.50%
  • Other size, please specify

    19 13.97%
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Thread: Is 4x5 big enough?

  1. #11
    multi format
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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Kellogg View Post
    You missed 5x7, the sweet spot in terms of size, resolution, weight, aspect ratio, and cost.
    +3

  2. #12
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    +4 5x7

  3. #13

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I agree that 5x7 is a great format (I've got two 5x7 cameras), but this guy is starting out, and I second the advice from Rayt and Jim Jones - start out with a easy to find 4x5 and figure out where to go from there, whether to 5x7, 8x10 or to a different 4x5. Chances are you're going to change some of your equipment after you start doing some real shooting.

  4. #14

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I was thinking more on the order of hundreds of pounds, as apposed to thousands of pounds for the camera, and slowly investing in lenses when I can. I didn't think too much about the price of film, as I don't think I'd really use it that much. I'd imagine I'd use fewer than a dozen sheets a month, maybe quite a lot less as I'm rather busy at the moment. I would use both colour and black and white. Black and white does have a beautiful look, but I feel that sometimes it's an abstractions from reality. I did think of 5x7, although I've heard that it's harder to find equipment and film for it, is this not the case?

    From my searches so far, I've found that the 8x10 bodies don't seem to be that much more expensive than the 4x5 (I've been looking at pretty old, low end equipment), but there's a lot more 4x5 stuff out there. The lenses, seem to be where most of the price difference is, but I was probably just going to get one, fairly wide, lens and experiment for a while. Thanks very much for your comment, you've given me lots more to think about.

  5. #15

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Thanks, that sounds like a really good idea. I had this plan of getting a camera that I'd keep for decades, but I see that that's not really possible. Your Italy trip sound fantastic.

  6. #16

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    While it's true that 5x7 stuff is scarcer, do you need more than one of everything? I didn't have any trouble getting what I wanted--I just didn't have hundreds of examples to select from, as with 4x5. I have been using 8x10 also, and I find it much more difficult because I can't really get far enough away to get a feeling for the composition on the ground glass, and the stuff is really heavy too. 5x7 is perfect for composition, and the equipment isn't that heavy. I like 4x5, also, but only with a magnifying/reflex type hood. Otherwise, it seems tiny to me now.

  7. #17

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I think the key consideration for me was the fact that I grew to love contact printing and alternative processes. 4x5 has always seemed too small to me for contact printing while 5x7 makes a nice print. The choice came down to "do I want to enlarge or contact print?"

    I might recommend a 5x7 field camera as they are not much larger than 4x5s to lug around. 8x10s are bulky by comparison. Personally, I own a 4x5 Deardorff Special which is essentially a 5x7 model that can take a reducing back for 4x5. Folded, its not much bulkier than many 4x5s and is probably a smaller package than some. And, 5x7 enlargers can be found if enlargements would be desired.

    In terms of format preferences I'd have to go whole-plate (6.5x8.5), then 11x14, 5x7, 8x10 and 4x5. If I went with anything else, it would probably be 14x17. Each has its own virtues and limitations. 4x5 is going to be the most portable with lenses and accessories that are much easier to find and also of relative less expense. For some reason I've never liked the 16x20/8x10/4x5 formats.

  8. #18

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    [QUOTE=Is it better to move straight to 8x10? [/QUOTE]
    No, in my opinion that's just dumb. If I want to learn to fly, should I learn on a Cesna or should I go straight to a 737 because it's larger? Same analogy. Stick to 4x5 until you find out what the heck you're doing and if you'll like it.

    L

  9. #19

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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I don't wish to put a damper on your interest, but if you are only going to use 12 or fewer sheets a month I'm afraid it might take you about 7 years to become proficient with the camera and the entire process of large format—I think you need to shoot about 1000 sheets to really know what you're doing. Large Format photography generally takes a bit of work to learn—it's not hard. but is more complex than using roll film. I would urge you to buy an inexpensive 4x5 with one lens, between 150-210mm, and see how you get on with it before investing heavily in larger or more complex equipment. I recommend a monorail camera, something like a Sinar F where it is fairly simple to control the movements and see directly what they are doing.

  10. #20
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    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    6 1/2 x 8 1/2 is my favorite, but given your budget, that's not the way to go if you want to be able to buy everything quickly and conveniently.

    8x10 cameras are generally a lot larger and heavier than 4x5 cameras with similar design and features. 8x10 film holders are a lot larger and heavier than 4x5 holders. Depending on the cameras, a tripod adequate for 8x10 may be heavier than a tripod adequate for 4x5. If you're willing to stick with lenses in the normal to moderately wide range, though, the lenses don't have to be a lot larger, as there are quite a few in #1 shutter that will serve for 8x10.

    As you'd expect, the size/weight tradeoffs are intermediate for 5x7 and 6 1/2 x 8 1/2.

    I use large format cameras to make negatives for contact prints. Where the subjective boundary is between a contact print that feels small and a contact print that feels large is up to you. For me the boundary is between 5x7 and 6 1/2 x 8 1/2. But I use all of these formats, happily. It's not necessary for every picture to feel large, or to feel small.

    8x10 color is frightfully expensive - in the United States, figure $20 to $25 per sheet for film and commercial processing. I suspect it will be substantially more expensive than that in the UK.

    Pick something within your reach without worrying too much about it, and start exploring.

    Don't worry about learning all the complexities at once - your merit in the game of life is not proportional to the number of camera movements you use. Just start making pictures the same way you've always done, and learn the extra features if and as you need them to solve technical problems that you encounter.

    Good luck, and enjoy!

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