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Thread: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Mar 2007

    Red face Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!! it's 2:06am and no, I do not party (heck, I'm still young and uhh...)...well, I do not party and really, all night, all day, many weeks now, I have run through puzzles and mazes (sp), and traps, and failures, and CONFUSION! I now officially know I am crazy, but not in a bad way, grant everyone here on this forum that are all so extremely friendly and helpful. First off, thanks to all that have answered my threads/posts, and have simply been fantastic. I have to say that this group is about as sophisticated, spot on, creative, interesting, very kind, and what more can I say. I'm just happy that this forum exists because those days over on deja threads or other boards, it's arguments or crude sarcastic comments in some attempt to be uh smart? I'm not sure what it is exactly, but it's beyond my comprehension that people have to attempt to be "mindfully" smart with rude remarks. In fact, I have actually debated and been in an online playground argument with some of the most respected hi-end audio people ever to exist. I will not mention names, but it was amazing how I was able to get these people that are extremely well known in the industry (think the Beatles for music and how pretty much everyone but the Brittney Spears crowd has heard of them) to go from being so called polite, well mannered, and "mature/classy" to acting like 5 year olds crying over a toy one said was his and another said was theirs.

    Anyhow...end of this ramble and cheers and happiness to everyone on the forum and I mean everyone!

    Now to business...I am extremely "stuck". I have the Arca system. That's a no brainer for me. It's not Ole's Rolls Royce of cameras (he has the Carbon Fibre whatever it is that was built to be the best camera in the world, and most will consider it to be the most precision based camera ever built, but it is a fantastic system that is entirely modular, enabling creativity to take effect and make use of the rear standard to size any back of choice.

    Soooo...gosh...any back of choice. Sounds easy doesn't it? I can have a 4X5 back...but that back is so heavy I prefer a wood based one to eliminate the weight factor. And well, in spite 4X5 is like a micro-screen to me after looking through whole plate glass many times over, I will indeed shoot 4X5 just for the sake of having about 300 sheets of it in my freezer!!! No point in letting it waist away when I can fire away just like a fast DSLR...yippee (only joking of course).

    Now the HARD PART-What Back/S should I be going for.

    I want this camera to be my all around camera to take with me worldwide and obviously hiking, but I concern myself with its ability to pack for journeys around the world. At the same time, most know it can be rather difficult to be considered a worldly traveling device and would advise the purchase of a seperate 4X5 and/or 5X7 w/4X5 back. But then we are talking about an $800 camera if I want to get even 1/4th the movements of the Arca, and we have to go with only 4X5 or find super light 5X7 w/4X5 back like the Nagaoka=limited on movements, but so cute...and oh so rare.

    ORRRRRR....I can have built for me, for maybe even a little lower price, a Kerry Thalman inspired 5X7/5X8 w/4X5 reduction back for the Arca as my travel kit.

    AND THEN...

    Use all the rest of the formats as my, well, larger formats!

    As many may well know, I love the whole plate stuff and I have tons of holders, very beautiful holders. Sure, old, but they are "very light" and they work perfectly. It gives me just over 6"'s by 8"'s of sheet to contact/scan/etc. But now I start to consider the wider formats or even ones like 7X11...wider formats meaning 4X10 (to be scanned), 5X12 (contacts and scanned), and even 7X17 (god forbid what the holders and finding a back for such a beast like this would cost).

    I plan to do a lot of scan/print. But I also want to have the ability to contact print. I also like that with the larger sizes, especially 7X11, you have a substantial print right in front of your face after it has been lit and contacted...oh yes, developed of course prior to the contact print.

    With all this CRAZY ramble on, let me get to the basics here and simplify all I have written:

    1) I want a compact travel based camera that can still give me large enough negatives. I have 5X7 in mind with a 4X5 back. However, it would be nice to have 5X8 as a consideration, though holder prices are up the wall...

    2) I want to shoot larger formats for contact printing "though", I do debate, after all I have read about the scan and use of the new papers, that one can achieve a print that looks identical to a contact print. Hence, I question if even 5X7 with a 2X enlargement factor would do the job as my contact print or if I should be considering the larger sized backs for this work?

    3) I love Panoramic. 5X12 looks fantastic and it would even enable me to "possibly" get away with using it as a travel kit. I know the Shen 5X12 back is VERY LIGHT and with a light wood and some light DDS holders, it would not be too difficult to pack it along with two holders. And then use a reduction back that is say, 5X7 or 5X8 or...etc. etc...

    4) I have a TON of whole plate holders. This gives me a 6X8 image which is quite substantial to me in size. No, it's not a 7X11, but it's still very nice indeed. I have the back and holders, so I am perfectly set to shoot that format and split off the paper going 4X8 and 6X8 by cutting down aerial film or 8X10 E6.

    I suppose...I need to leave this one up to the group. Feel free to ask any questions as I merely want to fall into some resolutions so I can get shooting with the Arca and not be limited with the old field cameras that are gorgeous, but not up to what I expect/demand in a camera like the Arca.

    Thanks everyone for your help and even bits and pieces of your opinions would be very very very much appreciated.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Nov 2007

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    I'm glad I completed all my hi-end audio projects and am out of those forums! It's so much more relaxing taking pictures while listening to music, than fighting against the other audio guys over a new speaker driver or whether it's best to put the woofer in car doors or rear panels =)

    Here's what advice I can give from my one year of intense existence in the large format realm. I do contact prints because I don't have a 4x5" enlarger and to save money over scans. They are not really any higher quality than an enlargment or a drum scan. The resolution and dynamic range on the original film far surpasses what the photographic paper can hold by orders of magnitude (16 lp/mm versus 50+ lp/mm). Unless you use some special kind of paper that nobody makes nowadays, contact prints on ordinary enlargement paper is nothing special. So I wouldn't focus too much on contact prints. You'll get the exact same results shooting 35mm film or from a DSLR and enlarging to 5x7". Some people dispute this but I've seen the comparison with my own eyes. Contact prints may be really detailed but so are the smaller formats when you are only enlarging to 5x7. If you want to make contact prints, why not 8x10" instead?

    Technically the contact print still has more resolution than any inkjet printer, but you'll need a magnifying glass to see the difference. I did the math and estimate that an 8x10" contact print (or enlargement) can hold about 50MP of optical resolution. That means you're still only taking advantage of 10% of what is in the original film.

    If you're scanning, then stick with 4x5 unless you really like the 5x7 aspect ratio. With 4x5, you get more movements which is the soul of the view camera. My 4x5" is so small I just keep it in my backpack. With 5x7, you'll get less DOF unless you stop down more. So you're looking at typically f/22 in 4x5" versus f/32 in 5x7" and if you do the math the resolution will be the same due to diffraction. So there is no resolution benefit to 5x7". With 4x5" you can actually get more resolution by using movements to maximize DOF and won't have to stop down as much. 5x7" is just a different aspect ratio, nothing more.

    If you like panoramas there's the much more manageable 6x17 cm format. It's still quite big, though. Whenever I'm at the beach with my 4x5" camera, people go "what the heck is that?" they think i'm too poor to afford a digital camera so they feel sorry for me that i have to use a cheap view camera. Anything bigger than a 4x5" is simply too big to carry around with you, and will attract too much attention in public. people will ask so many questions you'll never be able to take any pictures.

  3. #3

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    If you are going to scan+print digitally you can use a smaller film size for the same output size. Digital printing methods are 200-300dpi, while scans are picking up detail at 1200 or 2400 dpi or more for good scans. So to print that you need to print at a minimum of 4 times the original neg size. So you may as well stick to 4x5 and 6x12/17 as your square and pano formats, unless you want to make really huge prints of course.

    WP is only for contact printing.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2005
    Richmond, VA

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    re: 7x17 check out this auction on Ebay 110225278857

    No, it isn't my listing, but it sure looks like a great value if the bidding doesn't go crazy.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    Don't stick to anything.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    You've demonstrated that you are indeed crazy, which is useful in making me feel like I am a little more sane.

    Seriously though, if I were you I'd stop dicking around with equipment and go shoot some pictures and put your abundant energies into the images. Use 4x5, 8x10, off the shelf gear... the rest is a distraction.

    But maybe fiddling with camera equipment is the real hobby? I can appreciate that, but you might as well just go for it then... Sell the lenses, build more cameras ;-)

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    Somehow, I understand how you feel. I shoot 7x11,8x10 and 5x7 - all with the same camera. But then 8x12 sure looks interesting...nope, have to stop that...but wait there is 11x14 - what a nice size to contact print.

    It is easy to start the 'hey, that's a nice format' game..and IT WILL drive you crazy...I'm there. To be honest, the best advice is to shoot a boat load of film, in whatever format you have and pick up a back or camera when you can - if the format does not fit, then sell the camera, you should be able to get your money back on it.

    But don't listen to me, after all I'm crazy too!!
    Mike Castles
    My Web Site

  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    I have to agree with Frank on this one.

    Go out and take some pictures. It sounds like you have two great cameras. Don't buy another camera for one or two years. It's mainly a black box with a lens at one end and film at the other end, and all the other things are details.

    If you find you're shooting a lot of 4x5" with wide lenses and cropping them to panoramic format, then think about a panoramic camera.

    If you take the Arca on a couple of hikes and find that it's unmanageable, then read Kerry Thalmann's great article on equipment for backpacking and think about a different camera.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    Frank is right - do you want to be an equipment collector or a photographer? Several of us have been in the same place, and you have to decide. (Or consider Wellbutrin.)

    Your key decision is whether you want to make contact prints. This is a personal decision. You do contacts because you like the process and like to run a darkroom - no one who sees you pictures will notice or care, except for a handful of other OCD LF photographers. If you have never run a darkroom and made contacts, then you might find it is a real PITA.

    If you want be a good photographer, you have to take pictures. I have no idea about your background - if you are an acomplished digital or small format photographer, who has mastered printing and has a strong personal vision, you make different choices than if you are really just learning photography. If you are just learning, then there is only one choice:

    Get a single 4x5 camera, get a single lens, probably 150-210, and go shoot a 1000 sheets or so to learn how to use the camera and how to make prints. Do not just shoot, make the best possible prints as well.

    If you have money to burn, buy 500 sheets of 4x5 Polaroid before it is gone - there is no faster, more effective way to learn to shoot LF. Bring some readyloads with you, so you can shoot regular film if you get a good shot.

    If you do not have money to burn, then shoot black and white and process it yourself. Then scan on a consumer scanner or set up a darkroom and get a 4x5 enlarger. Do not get into the scanner wars - if you are getting started, it will be years before you can make a good enough print that scanning matters that much. (Remember - you can always get better scans later.) If you want to shoot color and money is an issue, get a DSLR and forget LF until you have become a master printer and photographer with digital. Then you can go back to LF. Since you have to shoot a lot and print a lot to get any good at this, doing it in LF color is a rich person's game, unless you want to do it over a long period of time.

  10. #10
    Ted Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    New Hampshire

    Re: Format Sizes...I'm going absolutely Crazy...HELP!!!!

    Everybody is saying the same thing to you and others have said it in previous threads. If collecting the equipment is your main interest that is cool, there are lots of folks here that fall into that category. OTOH, if your primary interests is making the best images you can then get out there and do it. Question, with no malice meant at all, have you shot any LF film yet? I'm betting you have. If you have or as soon as you do, starting asking yourself all the questions you arae asking now but ask them in terms of how you can make your shooting experience easier/more enjoyable/more productive, etc. What parts of your kit or your approach do you think you want to change to make this a better experience for you. Same applies to where you are after you expose the film.

    The point of all this is that you just don't know the answers to any of the questions you are asking and won't until you have tromped around with a camera for awhile, exposed some film, studied it, made some prints.

    Nothing, absolutely nothing anyone else says at this point is going to have any relevance. Everyone is telling you the same thing.

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