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Thread: Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    El Portal, CA (Yosemite)
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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    Dear Folks,

    I'm having a dilema of whether I should give 4x5 a shot or stay with 35mm and 6x6. Let me first give you some background info so that you might be able to enlighten me.

    I live on the edge of Yosemite where I am an elementary school teacher (not a professional landscape photographer). My form of escape is to take off Friday afternoon alone and photograph nature and landscape compositions in and around the park. I usually work in a slow deliberate manner. Some days I return having not taken a single exposure. I shoot Fine grained Fuji Velvia or Provia F (I may start using Astia). Now for my questions:

    1)If I don't make prints larger than 11x14 is there any reason to shoot 4x5?

    2) Would having movements alone be reason enough to go to 4x5 considering that I may not get any better resolution.

    3)Can I get super sharp prints scanning 4x5 on a Epson 3200 or am I better off saving for a dedicated scanner for my 120 film.

    I know there are a number of fabulous landscape photographers who don't print more that 16x20 and use fine grained transparency film. Why do they use 4x5 - why not just 645?? Is it solely the process that attracts you to the view camera or focusing ground glass? Any input would help me. I want to make the most professional, artistic looking prints I can at home without having to pay $$$ on drum scans.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    3,928

    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    Unless you have a problem with your present system, stick with it. Only change to something else when there is a real need not a theoretical reason. And do you need a part-time teacher's aid (I'll work cheap!)?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3
    Resident Heretic
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    Sep 2003
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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    1) Yes. Movements. Groundglass. Larger negative, which among other things give better tonality, I think. Slow, deliberate methodology forces you to really understand what you are doing. You can't wander back and forth with the camera attached to your face looking for the right place to take a picture. You have to walk the scene without the camera - you have to understand what you are trying to capture before you set up. This alone will improve your art.

    2) Absolutely. You'll finally have trees that stand up straight, and buildings that don't keystone. Or, distortion when you want it, how you want it.

    3) I did it with an Epson 2450, I don't know why a 3200 can't. Up to a 4x enlargement you may have difficulty seeing the difference between scans from the Epson flatbeds and a drum scanner. After that... well, if you have an image you really like, you'll want to get it drum scanned.

    People who don't print bigger than 16x20 but use a 4x5 or 8x10 camera almost always do it for control, IMHO. A close second is for the deliberate way you have to work. A close third is for the image on the groundglass. A close forth is the size of the negative. Less magnification is a good thing, IMHO. And with 4x5 and larger, you don't even have to consider grain - it just becomes a non-issue. You pick the films you use for how they handle light and how they render color and tonality rather than grain size.

    Of course, these reasons could just be why I do it!

    BTW, do you guys need more teachers? I could use a job near Yosemite ;-)

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4

    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    Just one more vote in favor of large format: there's nothing like a big chrome on a light table.

  5. #5
    Resident Heretic
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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    I usually work in a slow deliberate manner. Some days I return having not taken a single exposure.

    One other thing. You already have the temperment for using a view camera. More than a few times I've carried my camera on my back the entire day without taking a single picture - I know exactly where you are coming from.

    Bruce Watson

  6. #6

    Join Date
    May 2002
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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    I've been shooting 4x5 for a little more than a year, so I'm still a tadpole in this pond. I decided to start shooting LF to get the increased film area, as I was seldom pleased with anything larger than 11x14 from 35mm. Along with the bigger film comes the most control you'll ever have of focus and composition. Your question about scanners, I can speak to, since the Epson 2450 was the final piece of the puzzle for me (I spent my youth in wet darkrooms, tired of that mess, and needed an affordable scanner to make the leap to LF.) The 2450 is rated at 2400 dpi, though many photographers say it is really only good for about 1600 dpi true resolution. Dunno about that, but I know that setting the scanner for 2400 dpi gives me a large enough file to print larger than 24x30 at 300 dpi, and needs to be reduced in size to make smaller prints. Yes, you can get amazingly sharp prints from the Epson scanners; the biggest advantage drum scanners have is better dynamic range. It's possible to "expand" the dynamic range of the flatbeds by scanning an image more than once (at different settings) and sandwiching the scans. More work, yes, but affordable. Yeah, I'm attracted to the LF process; there's something amazing about working with the inverted image on the groundglass. If you're already a slow, deliberate photographer, you'll probably like it too. Sorry for the ramble...

    Dunno if this will add inspiration, but here's one I shot last week:


  7. #7

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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    If you're stuck with 11x14 prints then there is no reason to use a camera bigger then 11x14-) Personally there is an obvious difference to a smaller enlargement. An 11x14 from a 4x5 negative is similar to a 3x5 from a 35mm negative.

    4x5 cameras can also be relatively cheap. An older less then shiny 4x5 camera with a nice lens will produce high quality negatives.

  8. #8
    Tachi Bloke
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    Sep 2003
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    Fremantle, Western Australia
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    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    Hugh,

    Hogarth summed it up pretty well. You will notice an improvement going from 6x6 to 5x4.

    I use the Epson 2450 for scans and I'm very happy with enlargements beyond 16x20" done on Lightjet printers.

    Your methods are already leaning towards the LF style of working. Hire a camera for a week and try it. I think you'll take it up.

    Cheers, Graeme
    If I were more creative, I'd write something witty here .....

    www.scenebyhird.com

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    san jose, ca
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    150

    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    Since I assume you don't process your own, I would advise you to stay with MF. The cost difference for developing and printing will be quite a shock especially seeing that you live in the wilderness. If, on the other hand you said you were going to start developing B&W, because of where you live, I would recommend 8x10. Huge difference in beginning expenses (8x10 camera, film holders, and one good lens), but the speed that you shoot at would keep ongoing expenses down. The first time you saw an Azo print made from your negative, you would understand. Unreal detail.

    Shooting color in Yosemite? The whole place is gray anyhowz.

    tim, only slighty pulling your leg, in san jose

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    St. Paul, MN
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    141

    Go to 4x5 or Stay with 6x6 - I need some clarification

    I agree with Hogargh and Graeme. I use 4x5 with the Epson 2450 and I find that's a great combination for both black and white negs or color negs/trans. Along with the camera's movements, you'll get smooth sharp prints and almost any size you want. I agree with Graeme that you should rent a camera outfit and try it for a weekend or two and see how you like it. There is a learning curve so don't expect to master view camera movements overnight, but its not that hard. I learned just by doing it.

    Steve

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