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Thread: Medium Format vs. Large Format

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Jan 1999
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    Louisiana
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    235

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    Occasionally I find myself asking if I should jump from 8x10 to medium format fo r the easier portability, quicker setup, cheaper film, and a slew of other appar ent advantages. I know that I would never be able to duplicate the tonality of c ontact prints, but I often find myself passing on potential photographs because it would take too long to set up the view camera, or it's too windy, or too heav y to carry. I take landscapes mostly, with only a few portraits every now and th en. Often I'm out in my boat and I find photographs I wish I could take but don' t because I'm unwilling to lug a view camera onboard. I know the solution would be to have both formats, but I really can't afford that. I'm not trying to start a LF vs. MF debate. I'm just curious to know if anyone has tried a medium forma t transition and then returned to LF.

  2. #2

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    About ten years ago I went to medium format from 4x5 and I was not truly happy because of the lack of movements primarily. I had a Hasselblad which produced excellent image quality but there were many times I could not get the desired depth of field due to no tilts available or nonconverging verticals from no rise. So I went back to 4x5 and live with the fact that certain shots are not as easily obtainable with it. If movements are not important for the images you are contemplating then a good medium format camera can produce the quality you seek.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Posts
    10

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    I started with 4x5 about 20 years ago (I've never tried 8x10 but think about it occasionally). About 10 years ago for many of the reasons you mention I decided to add a medium format camera to my arsenal. I settled on a Linhof Baby Technica IV which came with 3 lenses cammed to its rangefinder. I have since added a fourth lens, without rangefinder coupling. It gives me almost all the movements (lacks front swings) that I get on my view camera but provides the convenience of rollfilm. I have used it hand-held on a few occasions but primarily use it as a medium format view camera on a tripod. With fine grained film, I can get almost the same sharpness, etc as I get with 4x5 (I rarely enlarge to greater than 11x14). I still do use the 4x5 quite a bit but have found the baby tech to be more than adequate for most situations.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    6,531

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    Bruce, You probably can afford both formats. Last year I bought a Rollieflex T for about the same price as Kodak charges for a 50 sheet box of 8x10 film. The Rollei dosen't have interchangeable lenses like Hasselblad, but I haven't found that to be inconsistant with my LF 8x10 experience having to make do with one focal length lens(I secretly envy 4x5 shooters who carry an assortment of nifty glass in little #0s and #1s that make a single #5 universal look like a city manhole cover!) There are other quality, inexpensive TLRs out there that are perfectly adequate for going places where your 8x10 can't fit. Come to think of it, you could get a Speed Graphic and have (nearly)the best of both worlds. With a polaroid or graphmatic holder such an outfit would be pretty handy for the purposes you've described, though adding such a back would probably cost more than a TLR. I'm trying to figure out what to feed my Rollei now that Verichrome Pan is out of the picture. By the way, don't forget the Holga! If you tape it up good enough, if you accidently drop it overboard don't be surprised if the darn thing floats! Good Luck!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2000
    Posts
    155

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    About 10 years ago I was shooting mostly 4x5 and 8x10. I hurt my back trying to unload a motorcycle frame from the back of my car, and at the time I thought I would never be able to carry a heavy camera again, so I sold the 4x5 and bought a Mamiya 7. I love the Mamiya (great camera, great lenses), but now that my back is better I'm looking at taking up the 8x10 again. You are correct, there are some shots you simply can't make with the 8x10, but there are also some shots where only an 8x10 negative will satisfy your desire for minute detail. Now if I could just get an 8x10 enlarger...

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Redondo Beach
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    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    Sounds like that familiar crossroad that I've certainly gone through where you're kind of 'hashing it out with yourself' on whether to do it, or not to do it. Do you know how many shots I've missed because I didn't have any of my cameras with me?

    I was in Rio for Carnaval this year, the one day I go to dinner and don't bring my camera the sun sets behind Vidigil sending shafts of beautiful golden light in every direction, I have to sit there and watch. I've promised myself from now on, that I'm going to have something with me wherever I go, period.

    There's e-bay, if there's gear you've got gather dust, sell it on e-bay, if there's a will, there's a way. Sounds from your post like your heart has already made the decision, your mind is just figuring out the angles. I won't say I moved up to LF, because I feel like I need all three formats, for exactly the situation you're talking about.
    Jonathan Brewer

    www.imageandartifact.bz

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    1,789

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    Bruce, I think it is possible to utilize both formats without abandoning one for the other. The two are really very different tools and permit a different way of seeing. As an example, view the work of Brett Weston who used 11x14,8x10,5x7,4x5, 6x7 and 6x6 formats. As you suggest, some things can not be done with the larger format and certainly there will be a slight technical sacrifice. But for an extension of your vision using multiple formats might work. Give it a try. I just reread your remarks and see that you can't afford both formats. Perhaps you can if you keep it simple, maybe 6x6 with with a single lens for starters. In any event, there will become a day when you can no longer lift an 8x10 and the decision will become very easy. Trust me. Best regards, Merg Ross

  8. #8

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    A few years ago, after considering the options (including the cost of buying and processing film), I made the decision to stick with medium format instead of moving up to large format. Accordingly, I bought a Galvin 2x3 view camera (and have since bought a Toyo 23G as well) and now have the best both of both worlds ... well, sort of. I've really grown to like geared movements, which means I shoot with my Toyo more than the Galvin, and it's anything but compact or light ... still, it isn't as bulky or heavy as most 4x5 monorail designs and it's quicker to setup and shoot than my friend's 4x5 flatbed camera. Someday, I'm sure I'll eventually join the large-format ranks (probably with a 5x7 or 8x10 instead of a 4x5) but for now, medium-format view cameras are (IMO, anyway) a decent compromise between cost, size and performance.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Location
    Redondo Beach
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    574

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    The Mamiya 330TLR is a wonderful camera! Viewing lens is unfettered by the shutter action of return of the mirror, it's quiet and people usually aren't aware that you're there taking shots.

    It is the PERFECT camera for infrared since your filter goes on the taking lens and doesn't obstruct the viewing lens(ever tried looking through a lens with a 89b over it, you can probably see more with a lens cap). No backs, just load it up and shoot, sure it's involved to change the lenses, ergonomic are bad(get a grip), but it takes beautiful pictures and the price sure is right.

    E-bay always has 'em, and it won't hurt your conscience to look!
    Jonathan Brewer

    www.imageandartifact.bz

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Posts
    194

    Medium Format vs. Large Format

    Yes MF and LF can co-exist. Usually I shoot first with MF then... if time permiting I will shoot with LF ... there's some situations that I'm glad that I have my MF with me such as when lighting is going away fast... or curious onlookers...but the thrill of using LF is "priceless"...

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