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Thread: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

  1. #1

    Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    Hello! I ask this question half in jest and half serioiusly. I've been using a Tachihara 4x5 and enjoy it qute a bit. I get out on the weekend and over two to three hours I expose and develop 4to 6 4x5s TMax400. I've played around with an 8x10 pinhole as well.
    I've been curious to try my hand at some contact printing with silver, cyanotype, and/or POP and I recently purchased a Kodak #2 to give it a try. Weight and expense seem to go up exponentially with increase in size and longer lenses become more difficult to use.
    As I try out the 8x10, I'll answer the question for myself, but I'm curious about those who decided to switch from 4x5 to 8x10 - why did you make the jump? What was there about 8x10 that attracted you? Did you ever regret switching to 8x10 or even decide that 8x10 wasn't for you and went back to 4x5?
    Thnak you and best regards.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Jönköping, Sweden

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    When I entered LF a couple of years ago, I didn't had the money to buy an enlarger for 4x5" and therefore I built an 8x10" which I could contact-print the negs.

    Today I would have saved the extra money and bought an enlarger for 4x5", but that was my reason why I choosed 8x10".

    / Marcus

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2001

    Smile Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    I moved up because I was just starting contact printing via pt/pd and found that the 4x5 negative just looked too small as a contact print. An 8x10 color transparency is also pretty cool.

    I do not regret making the jump from 4x5 to 8x10.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Westminster, MD

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    Looking at a ground glass of an 8x10 or larger is like looking through a window.

    Looking at a 4x5 gournd glass, being 4 times smaller, is like any other camera viewfinder - small.

    Don't get me wrong, I do shoot 4x5 and soon 5x7 (Graflex SLR for portraiture), but with 8x10, or larger, something magical happens.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

  5. #5
    reellis67's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    I used 4x5 first, and got an 8x10 camera primarily so that I could do contact printing with a larger negative, although you should keep in mind that 8x10 costs more, weighs more, and requires a much heavier tripod than smaller formats. For what it's worth, I find that the 4x5 is useful still, and I choose the camera based on what I want to accomplish. I use MF, 4x5, and 8x10 depending...

    - Randy

  6. #6
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    My first LF camera was 8x10". It all felt more intuitive to me than 4x5". I liked the idea of working at 1:1, where the print would be the same size as the image on the groundglass, and the effects of movements were easier to see at first on the big screen. Contact prints from in-camera negs still look better to me than enlargements. 8x10" is about the size of a sheet of paper, so it seemed like the normal size for a photograph.

    After shooting 8x10" for a few years, 4x5" and even 2x3" started to feel more natural to me than they did at first.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    Except for the ability to contact print, I think that it's some people like driving a staid old Bentley, some prefer a Corvette.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    I tried 5x7 and 8x10 for Platinum/Palladium printing, and went back to 4x5 (and kept the 5x7), because I found that Pt/Pd images did not always suit my subject matter.

    I do intend to make Pt/Pd prints, but via digital negatives instead. This will allow me to size and crop according to the needs of each image, and make Pt/Pd prints from 4x5, medium format, digital, whatever.

    Ironically, the increase in detail that we see in 8x10 and beyond, is often lost in the fibers of the paper that we coat by hand for alternative processes. That would not be the case, of course, when contact printing onto smooth commercial Silver-based papers.

  9. #9
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    I use a 4x5, but if I switched to 8x10 it would be to contact print, and also to find out how looking at the world through that big ground glass effects the way I see.

    I'd also be curious to know what would come out of the different working habits that such a beast would force on me.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    New York City

    Re: Why 8x10 instead of 4x5?

    I started with my intended end product and let the camera format flow from that. When I went into large format photography I knew I wanted to make essentially two types of prints – contact prints, and 30 x 40 enlargements. So I asked myself: Self, what is the BEST tool to accomplish this? The answer was 8x10. Sure it’s more expensive, heavier, and sometimes more difficult to work with than 4x5, but that’s the sacrifice I had to make as an artist, and I wasn’t willing to compromise. Your needs may be different given your goals and constraints. For what I needed to do, 8x10 was the best choice

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