Ok...so 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.
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.