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Thread: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

  1. #41
    Large format foamer! SamReeves's Avatar
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    It all depends on the cost of doing LF. If it gets to be prohibitively expensive to print and process film, then that Canon 50D or 60D looks awfully attractive. I haven't reached that point yet, but who knows what will happen to film/paper prices in the next decade.

  2. #42

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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    I first started out on digital when canon started making the digital rebel. I have a 5D II now and I barely ever use it. There's something about looking at the ground glass and composing through that that makes me never want to pick up a digital camera ever again. Digital backs are way too expensive and theres just something about film that appeals to me. It's the general hand processing involved that really appeals to me, the craft of it is great.

  3. #43
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    There is no question that I would make more large-format photographs if I could do so with digital equipment reasonably. The time required to deal with film exceeds the time I have available, and and that limits what I do significantly.

    When digital equipment superseded my 35mm film stuff, I absolutely made many more pictures than I had done previously. Is that a good thing? Well, there is a balance between quantity and quality. I find myself stuck--taking out the large-format camera and film makes such a demand on limited time that I feel I can't waste it on mundane images, but trying to move my unartistic brain past the mundane has seemed like a barrier in recent months. Thus, I do too little, and bring even less of it to fruition. The digital workflow would allow me to get more stuff done, absolutely.

    I have never liked spending hours in the darkroom, despite having built compmlete darkrooms in two of the four houses I have owned over the years. I always preferred being out in the field with the camera. Being able to do work on the pictures a half hour at a time, or maybe two hours every three weeks, is a boon. That is difficult with a darkroom--dust gets on everything, chemicals become stale, and lab technique gets rusty.

    I still use 6x7 film because I cannot afford the digital equipment that would match it. I still use a 4x5 camera (even if I use a roll-film holder) because I cannot do without the movements. Putting what amounts to a 6x4.5 digital back on a 4x5 camera is not acceptable. I do not have the money for the high-end ultra-short lenses that are needed, or for the camera with fine enough movement controls not to be frustrating with lenses that short. I like wide-angle lenses.

    I have held a Pentax 645D in my hands. It is a completely sensible camera, and I would own one if I had the available scratch. If I did, I would probably retire my 6x7 stuff. It would not, however, replace the 4x5 view camera, which just has too much image-management power to set aside.

    When a 645D-like camera costs under a coupla grand (which is what I paid for my 5D), I'll probably get one, as long as (like the Pentax) it will accommodate the lenses I already own. Five years ago, that value would have been higher, but I'm a little more careful now. I spent less for my complete Sinar kit including many, many accessories and several lenses to add to what I already had.

    Here are my requirements for a digital system that would cause me to stop using film in the Sinar:

    - at least 3x4 format so that I can use conventional and classic large-format lenses with reasonable expectations.

    - at least 100 megapixels, which is what I get now scanning 4x5 film in an Epson. That's about the same pixel density as my Canon 5D--just a lot more area.

    - Single-shot operation using the shutter as the control. I'm thinking a double cable release seems a reasonable triggering device. Scanning backs have some interesting applications, but I don't see them as a general-purpose solution for me.

    - Self-contained. No tethered computer, and batteries that could hang off the tripod. Tethering off something like an iPad, which is used for a live view and for displaying stored images, would be acceptable. An 8-pound laptop that take five minutes to boot up would not.

    - Graflok attachment to a 4x5 camera.

    - Price under $3000. This value fluctuates.

    - At least 14 bits of honest dynamic range.

    - No heavier on the camera than a Sinar Vario holder (which is not really a demanding requirement)

    The current cost of film is not particularly important--time is far more limiting than the price of film for me. I have a pretty good supply of film in the freezer that I'm not doing nearly enough with. But it isn't just film we depend on--it is also processing, at least for those of us who do color.

    I'm inching my way back in the black-and-white direction, and I suspect that if I get back into that fully I will still do it even if the above requirements are met. I am sure that it will be more difficult for a digital back to replace black and white than it is to replace color, at least for the work that I do.

    Rick "defining requirements in terms of uses and constraints" Denney

  4. #44
    colotonphoto's Avatar
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    I have actually been headed the other direction lately. I recently sold my MF digital system and have been shooting much more 4x5 and MF film. I ultimately still scan the film for delivery and post-processing, but I have enjoyed developing film myself again. I still use digital for anything that requires capturing motion or quick image delivery turnarounds.

  5. #45
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    I've become a pragmatist with gear. I evaluate what I need for any new project. The decision comes down to what will best serve the work and what I can afford.

    In the last few years I've used 4x5, hasselblad, and now dslr.

    My current dream would be a medium format technical camera with a digital back, but it will be a long time before I can afford such a thing. Likewise, my #2 choice would be large format color, but I can't afford the film and processing, and would be greatly slowed down by the workflow. So it's dslr for the current work.

    The vision is always more imporant than the materials and tools. This is the litmus test for distinguishing art therapy from art.

  6. #46

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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    I don't really see the need for a lot of pixels but what I like about large format is the depth and rendering you get from the larger film size. Since larger sensors may never become economical -- it is hard to imagine a pressing need or mass market for a 4x5 CMOS sensor -- I doubt even the finest medium format digital backs will ever be capable of capturing the same sort of image quality. It's likely digital may have a great dynamic range and higher ISO potential than film but the rendering will never be the same because of the size difference between a sensor and large format film.

    The real question for me is why I should shoot 35mm film versus digital? While I still shoot a few rolls, I end up back with digital not only because it is easier but because I think it is usually better.

  7. #47
    aleatorist David R Munson's Avatar
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    I'd still like someone to tell me why these things have to be in competition with one another. Seems to me that we're just making everything more difficult than it needs to be when we could just be concentrating on making photographs.

  8. #48

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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    Not even when they stop making film ... I'll hand coat plates if I have to!

  9. #49
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    Twin Lens Life: Digital vs. Film - Canon 5D Mark II vs. Kodak Ektar 35mm "Pound for Pound, Pixel for Pixel"

    What about quality?

    If I were a 35mm photographer, I wouldn't switch to digital for something that was critical to me. Take a look at the comparison these wedding photographers did. Do you like what you see? Or not?

    The current 80Mp back is full-frame 645 format.
    645 format lenses do not produce the same look at 4x5 or 8x10 format lenses.
    Lenses with five aperture blades produce different effects than 8-, 10-, or 16-blade apertures.

    It isn't just a megapixel count, it's also the size of the sensor area. Yes, Canon produced a 10-in square sensor. No, it won't be seen in cameras any time soon, if ever. Scanning backs are still scanning backs, not an area of instant image capture.

    Then there is the issue of the medium itself. My profile image is from a section of 8x10 film, from a distorted reflection of clouds in a window. The crop area measures about 2mm x 2mm. (I think the whole window is 4x8mm) The digital equivalent is something like less than 100 pixels square. I like having the option of enlarging a crop like that. And yes, that's enlarging with an enlarger.

    I would switch to digital if I could not get either film or chemicals to make plates. And I do mean any film at all, which includes x-ray film.

  10. #50

    Re: When will you give up large format and switch completely to digital?

    When I can create a 4 foot wide nose sharp print from a body that costs $3k USD or less I'll go completely digital again.

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