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Thread: Start up costs

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jul 2000

    Start up costs

    I work with a large nonprofit and we use a lot of photos in our pubs and on the covers. All of our work is currently done in 35 mm. What can we expect to spen d for equipment to get us started with LF? Do you recommend any particular do's or don'ts for getting started?


  2. #2

    Start up costs

    Why do you think you need LF to do this kind of work?

    "Do you recommend any particular do's or don'ts for getting started?"

    Do evaluate if LF is suited to the type of shots you're taking What type of subjects are you photographing?

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 1998

    Start up costs

    That's right. What expectations do you have for LF that 35mm isnt giving you now?

    How are you using the 35mm images you currently make? Drum scans of 35mm transparencies to 8 1/2 x 11 full bleed four color covers? Lots of color inside? Lots of transparency duping?

    What is the predominant subject matter in your publications? How do you shoot it now in 35mm, and is it very good quality, good enough, or still lacking something that you feel might be preserved in large format images?

    How much of your photo work is done in-house -- IE: black & White processing and printing, color processing etc? How much do you have done at "drug store" labs? How much goes to full scale professional custom labs?

    The one-hour places can't handle LF films. Some custom labs won't either. If you are doing your own printing and enlarging, you will need an investment in larger equipment to handle the larger format.

    And some good people to run it.

    Large format will:

    preserve more detail for the same size finished enlargement allow camera adjustments to make the subject appear exactly the way you want cost more per photo than 35mm require custom processing, or possible retraining of in-house techs. take longer to set up for a given shot or project require more and larger baggage require a darkroom or makeshift in the field for loading and re- loading film holders

    Large format is not good for:

    quick grab shots rapidly moving action, except when using press-type cameras like the Speed Graphics. Even then, you wont be shooting off 20 exposures in half a minute. Sending a reporter out for a quick photo with a point-n=click camera Carrying 100 or more exposures' worth of film in one pocket

    Like Sheldon says -- evaluate your needs carefully, and weigh up the pro's and con's of both formats before submitting a budget request for equipment that may not be the answer to your needs.

    All that being said, this forum is an excellent place to get a feeling for what large format photography is and is not.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jan 1998

    Start up costs


    I started shooting LF because I needed better images for my non profit group. I have since started using MF almost exclusively for that work, and do the LF as a hobby. When shooting for work I find that I don't quite have the energy to use LF and there are a lot of disadvantages for the particular stuff I do (public lands research & litigation). Also the MF image is big enough to make a decent scan if need be and reproduces fairly well and the film is cheap enough that you can burn up plenty of it. And easy to develop at home. On certain shots I really need movements and in those cases I either haul out the LF stuff or do without them. You really need to specify what your needs are and think about not so much the money but the time and effort. If you are shooting pictures of artwork LF might be the way to go; if you are taking pictures of National Forest streams ravaged by livestock grazing then let me recommend a Pentax 6x7. Works for me.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Mar 1999

    Start up costs

    I would think that 6x7 would be plenty for even large magazine covers and full spreads. Unless you need the movements, there's really no need for LF if you're just making magazine covers. Medium format cameras are much easier to use, the film is cheaper, and there's no fussing about loading holders or dust problems.

  6. #6

    Start up costs

    In answer to the "do's and don'ts", my recommendation is "DON'T". Large format is just too much of a hassle if you and the staff aren't trained to work in that size. It is great for contemplative work, but not for the daily grind of publication. Why do you think the publications all changed to 35mm and 120 format just as quickly as possible when equipment and film reached the point where the quality was acceptable? It was to speed things up and make photography less of a hassle. When we changed from a Speed Graphic to a Rollieflex I thought I had gone to Heaven. I use 4x5 exclusively now for my art photography, but I would hate to use it again for publication work. The 6x7 or 6x6 format will give you the quality you want without the hassle. Good shooting.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Feb 1998

    Start up costs

    To answer your question, a good LF starter system costs much less than a pro 35mm SLR. If you buy used, you can get a very usable camera and lens starting at around $500 or so. You will also need a few film holders, cable release, dark cloth, and of course a tripod if your current one isnt usable. Those accessories will add about $200 and up. Get 5 film holders, so you can load at least a 10 pack of film at one time.

  8. #8

    Start up costs

    I concur with Sheldon. What do you need lF for when 35mm is less costly to get into print? And as for scanable image size, why not MF? And as for the cost of equipment, a used LF system costs as much or more than a used 35mm system. A used MF system becomes the more costly of systems. The lenses alone are where the cost lies. Not to mention the cost of the backs. A cheap back is over a hundred bucks and you'll probably have to get it tuned up anyway. A decent LF camera costs around $500+ and then a meter, darkcloth, film holders, lens, tripod, cable release, filters........ A 35mm system in the CaNikoNolta range will go for $800+ and a decent lens for another $500+. But the film and processing in 35mm beats everything else hands down. Period. Unless you can elucidate a very great need for LF, forget it. And with LF comes the learning curve. And it can be steep. James

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 1999

    Start up costs

    For pubs, med format will more than suffice.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 1998

    Start up costs

    Gee, MaryRuth, folks sure seem like they dont want you to use LF, do they! Maybe you should just get a Nikon Coolpix 990, just as usable, too. Why does everyone assume MaryRuth hasnt evaluated her needs and already determined that LF is needed. Many mags still use a lot of LF images, and its noticable.

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