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Thread: Trends in Large Format Lenses and Cameras

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Trends in Large Format Lenses and Cameras

    You can be sure that as the American "baby boomers" retire from the work force, many photographic hobbyists will revisit large format. This is already happening and should last 30 or so more years. These are men and women who may have taken some photography classes in the '50's and '60's with a 4x5" Speed Graphic and remember the thrill of the big image. They have planned for years to have an elaborate darkroom in their retirement "dream" homes--and they will!! Seminar leaders have already noticed an increase in affluent "senior" attendees; and this population alone will account for significant growth in the interest of the medium. Listen up, manufacturers!!

  2. #12

    Trends in Large Format Lenses and Cameras


    Thanks for your question. I would be very interested to learn about the results of your research, if you are inclined to share them. I asked a similar question on this site about two months ago (it's in the digital section under "Will digital replace large format?"). My motivation for asking was that I was planning to buy (and have now bought) an expensive new LF lens and wanted to know if digital would make it obsolete over the next ten years or so. Ten years sounds like a lot but part of the justification for spending the money was that it would last a lifetime (hopefully a lot longer than 10 years!)

    Well I bought the lens so you could infer that I have made a commitment to "traditional" methods (although I'm hedging because a digital friend recommended the lens I bought as being suited to digital - this is only an issue is conventional film goes completely off the market). I am a bit disturbed by the fact that T-max is apparently going to be withdrawn this year in the 5x7 format, but I am encouraged by a few facts...

    1) Schneider is still bringing out new lenses (I bought the Super Symmar 110mm XL for the record). They also brought out a 150mm XL, 210mm XL and are bringing out an 80mm XL lens. I would guess that developing a new lens is very costly and so hopefully they do not see this sector as drying up soon. 2) Digital will probably exceed LF quality soon, if it hasn't already. Apparently there is a digital "35mm" camera which has LF quality. I use quote marks because the camera requires half a room full of equipment and can only take three pictures at a time. However advances in technology being what they are this is bound to change. Despite this I am sure LF will always be around. Why? It's actually quite simple. Digital formats and standards are bound to change every few years. For example, I used to own a Commodore 64 computer just ten years ago - and do you think I can use it now? Can you imagine yourself using a mobile phone from even two years ago? And I bet last year's palm pilot seems outdated. So even if I go out and buy a top of the line Kodak digital camera, Epson printer, and whatever else, and save my picture as a jpeg or pdf file, I bet that in 20 years I won't be able to access it. It's not truly archival, which sounds extraordinary I know given that digital information doesn't decay. A negative, however, can always be printed. We can still print negatives from Ansel Adams and will always be able to. I think therefore that photographers will shoot a negative for their records, then scan it into a computer for the image manipulation. 3) LF photographers, as others have mentioned here, are a crazy bunch. I for one love it and cannot imagine myself switching to digital (although I'm no Luddite and love other elements of the digital revolution). Digital just doesn't seem fun to me. I love fooling around with chemicals and paper. And since I work with computers at work, who wants to hit "control-P" to print my work? It just isn't satisfying. I am hoping that there are sufficient like-minded people out there who will keep the market for film and other traditional methods alive, no matter how "niche" it becomes. 4) You can still buy valve transistors. Hang in there film!

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Sep 1998

    Trends in Large Format Lenses and Cameras

    Thanks to the net sites such as this promote the use of large format. Sooner or later serious 35 mm shooters tend to investigate large format photography and some of them make the leap. The rewards are many for those who use large format cameras.

    One of the biggest problems I had was having to compose a scene while squinting through a 35 mm viewfinder. The other was I was taking the shot gun approach to photographing a scene with 35 mm. Use of the larger cameras has largely eliminated these issues and let me concentrate intensely on the image and nothing else. The precise controls available are of great value to my still life work.

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