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Thread: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

  1. #11

    Join Date
    May 2006
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    Blumine,
    I went through this about a year and a half ago. Like you, 8x10 contacts just seemed a little smaller than I wanted. I found an 11x14 Empire State that needed work, bought it, tore it down, refinished it, bought a new bellows and finally managed to find a couple of film holders. Already had lenses to cover, but I've added a couple more in the last year. The camera, at 15 lbs, doesn't weigh much more than my 8x10 (12 lbs). I have not yet done a lot of shooting with the 11x14 mainly b/c I don't yet have my darkroom set up for the bigger equipment I need to process the film. However, I will in the near future get the dark room set up and will do a lot of work with the 11x14.
    So far, I do have some experience with it in the field. I'm not so concerned with being limited to shooting near the car or with backpacking the camera--first, there are a lot of great locations I can drive close to; second, the total weight of my 11x14 gear is not much more than my 8x10 gear. The real limit is cost and availability of 11x14 filmholders. Unless you want to pay $350-500 each for new ones, that is. Even this is not a real limitation as I can live with making only 4 or fewer photographs per outing with the 11x14 for the time being in order to gain the bigger contact print size.

    I am having to come up with some modifications to support the camera. Unlike my 8x10, the Empire State does not allow me to center the weight on the tripod so I have to be more careful that the head is tightened into position. I also had a fright last week when I set the 11x14 up in gusty winds. The whole rig was blown over by a sudden gust just as I reached for the film holder; I barely caught it before camera and all came crashing down on the rocks. So I learned to set the tripod up with legs extended wider than I do with the 8x10 and to set my camera bag down wind of the camera. Point is, the ULF is bigger, heavier (duh) and working with it will require a little more thought, learning, and patience. Again, to me, the bigger neg is worthwhile.

    In fact, I skip the 8x10 format for bw; I use the 4x5 when I plan to enlarge and when I want something lightweight and easy to handle, and I use the 11x14 when I want to make contact prints.

    To continue with the analogies (I liked the poetry one, Bruce), I look at ULF as having a sports car in the garage. It's a lot of fun to take out on occasion, and seasonally it might be your main vehicle, but it's probably not going to be your only vehicle or even your main one most of the time (unless you live in Southern Cal).

  2. #12

    Join Date
    May 2006
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    1,242

    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    ULF format has tons of challenges. But as you stated, the 8x10 contact prints are getting smaller and you are lusting for bigger ones. Well, I think you should go with your lust. We only live once. ULF are not that heavy after all.

  3. #13
    Richard K. Richard K.'s Avatar
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    Feb 2001
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    Etobicoke (west Toronto), west of the mighty Humber...
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    What Hugo said....

    BTW Hugo, is my 12x20 ready yet? And you're sure a sexagenarian can handle it?

  4. #14

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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    FWIW I have enjoyed my experience with the 7x17.

    steve simmons

  5. #15

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    Jun 2002
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    9,296

    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    If I were a landscape photographer living in the relatively flat Midwest, as I assume you do... then a wide ULF camera makes sense to me.

    You can always get a cheap Crown Graphic or Graflex SLR and use that for 4x5 handheld or portraits if you feel the need.

  6. #16
    Geert's Avatar
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    Aug 2005
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    If I were a landscape photographer living in the relatively flat Midwest, as I assume you do... then a wide ULF camera makes sense to me.
    Or, in my case, Belgium. It's also relatively flat.

    G

  7. #17

    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    For me, 8x10 is a healthy option. There are plenty of films, holders and option on field of view in lenses... it's big enough as a contact print, small enough to be enlarged. Scanning is an easier option. Camera, field version at least, is compact enough to be carried/traveled easily over long distance whether it's driving, hiking, or flying. And the tripod required for it is not overly large and heavy...

    Once you go beyond 8x10, all these options/factors become proportionally limiting. Just as other have said, if you can live/work within those parameters, there is nothing like going big. I forgot who said it here, it becomes a very slippery slope very quick

  8. #18

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    Nov 2005
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    Richmond, VA
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    Most of these have already been mentioned, but....

    1) Will your lenses cover your desired format?

    2) Will your darkroom handle the larger films/prints?
    Will you need larger trays/sinks/washers?

    3) Have you priced out what your camera, lens, filmholders and film will set you back?

    4) Will your tripod and tripod head support the larger camera?

    5) Will your dark cloth fit your larger camera?

    6) Will you need a contact printing frame or vacuum easel for your larger contact prints?

    7) Will you need to reload holders in the field? If so how will you accomplish this? Will you need a larger changing tent?

    I just "graduated" from 8x10 to 7x17 a little over a year ago, so most of these considerations are pretty fresh in my mind.

    Good luck with your decision and if you decide to go ahead with it........Welcome to ULF.........You're gonna love it!

  9. #19

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    Dec 2007
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    Midwest US
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    Quote Originally Posted by steve simmons View Post
    FWIW I have enjoyed my experience with the 7x17.

    steve simmons
    Steve,

    Actually, your series in VC is one of the things pushing me in this direction! So I guess its partially your fault. I won't tell the wife, so have no fear. You are quite safe.

    Thank you.
    Blumine

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
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    Re: To ULF or not to ULF? That is the question!

    Steve,

    Actually, your series in VC is one of the things pushing me in this direction! So I guess its partially your fault. I won't tell the wife, so have no fear. You are quite safe.

    Thank you.
    Blumine


    Thanks. I think

    steve

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