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Thread: reasons for shooting different formats?

  1. #1
    stradibarrius stradibarrius's Avatar
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    reasons for shooting different formats?

    I do not suppose the is a right answer to this...I am just curious as to when you find it better to use one format over the other.

    Excluding things like travel concerns etc., what would cause you to choose MF over LF or 135mm?
    Like many of you I have multiple 35mm, MF and one 4x5. I find myself wondering should I try to use my LF gear every time possible or ???

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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    Ooooh, too many reasons to really explain... but a lot has to do with portability, speed of use, film emulsion availability, required "image quality", lens availabity, need for corrective movements, and probably a few other things. For me the 4x5 is often the last camera I think of using. I really need to need to use it before I seriously consider using it.
    Last edited by BrianShaw; 15-Jan-2012 at 19:00. Reason: spelling

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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    p.s. more often in the recent few years I opt to use a roll film back on the 4x5 when using them... until my neighborhood lab closed it was much easier processing than sheet film.

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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    p.p.s. Given my pathetic attitude and lack of dedication perhaps I should consider quietly disappearing from this forum, but I like it so much, and I like the people, and...

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    MIke Sherck's Avatar
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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    I normally reach for a view camera when my brain says 'picture!' but I'll use medium format when I'm photographing street fairs or other quickly changing situations, or in places where a view camera would be too awkward and get in peoples' way. I use 35mm when I absolutely have to have something small and light -- the camera under the seat in my car is a 35mm Yashica Electro rangefinder: a larger camera wouldn't fit under there. I'll use the autofocus 35mm when I need to photograph rapidly moving things, like kids or family, or when I'm out of medium format film.

    For me, the tough question is 4x5 or 8x10? I have a 4x5 enlarger but not an 8x10 so the general rule is to use the 4x5 when I think I'll want a larger print, and the 8x10 when I want a contact print. It isn't often that I know in advance: sometimes I'm carrying the 4x5 and come across something I'd really like to make a contact print of, and vice-versa. That's a strong incentive to keep returning to places I've been to before.

    Mike
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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    Ansel Adams famously answered the same question with, "the biggest I can carry."

    That works for me, although it's not a physical weight limit, but rather a packaging issue. I can fit my Pentax 6x7 kit in a backpack that I can carry onto an airplane. I can't do that with 4x5 because the required tripod will not fit in a bag that I can check. The tripod and head that I can use with the Pentax will fit in my checked baggage easily enough.

    Another limitation might be on speed. Medium format does not give me the same degree of control, and thus it takes less time to make a photo because I have fewer choices to make and controls to manipulate. Of course, that means I'm limited to photos that can work without those controls.

    I do not use 35mm film any longer. My digital cameras can match that quality, and are much easier to travel with than any film camera.

    There are times when the biggest camera I can carry is an iPhone.

    I do draw a distinction between casual photography and serious photography, though I have no idea why any of my work deserves to be taken seriously. When I have an opportunity for serious photography, I will generally take no smaller camera than the Pentax 6x7. But I have done serious work with my Canon 5D, too, when that was what I could bring along.

    Rick "for whom big film requires purpose" Denney

  7. #7
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    "YOU FREAKING PERVERT GET AWAY FROM ME ... Oh, that is an 8x10 in your pocket. Have you ever thought about using something smaller?"

    I don't shoot 35mm because it isn't that much lighter weight or smaller than either a TLR or my Fuji 645. Sure, I have a couple of point-n-shoots in the closet. And there they stay. I don't bother with a 35mm-type digital camera because they just fall down for what I want to do. I mean, really, what's the point of photographing something in the sunlight and then seeing the image with magenta distortion? Ech.

    So I use film. No ridiculous distortion, proven resolution, and I'm not upgrading every year. I use the format that's convenient for me, and the camera that fits. I don't care what everybody else does, I use what works for me. These things work best in different environments, that's just the way it is.

    Does an 8x10 on a tripod make sense for photographing a demonstration? Maybe, but maybe a motorized 645 works a little better. Maybe a camera with movements is good for photographing in the woods. Maybe a camera that takes a serious fish-eye is best for ultra wide-angle shots. Maybe it needs to fit in my backpack, maybe it needs to fit on my bike.

    Is there a right answer? Sure. Use a camera for photography. Works much better that way.

    -- Brian "for whom big film requires big film" Miller
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  8. #8
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    I shoot everything from half-frame 35mm through 8x10, so I'm a format omnivore. ;D

    Each format/camera has its own qualities, advantages, and dis-advantages.
    When I contemplate a shoot I seldom have difficulty deciding which format to use.

    My overriding consideration is usually quality. The higher the goal, the larger the format.

    The second consideration is lens selection. By far the widest is in 35mm (Nikon), followed by MF (Hasselblad), then by LF. The narrowest is 8x10.

    Then there's the question of versatility/convenience. If I anticipate rapid movement I go with 35mm. MF is more deliberate, and LF definitely so.

    I don't know if this answers your question or not, but those are my thought processes.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    wind.

  10. #10
    Roger Cole's Avatar
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    Re: reasons for shooting different formats?

    35mm for fast lenses and lots of shots without reloading (relative - it isn't digital with a big memory card, but way more than my Yashicamat, and much quicker to reload too.) I shoot medium format any time I don't want to take time with the 4x5 but don't need the fast lenses/long lenses/wide lenses I have with my 35mm and don't need lots of shots or quick film change.

    I find the biggest attraction of the Yashicamat is that it seems to give me at least 75% of the quality bump I'd get from 4x5 (at the sizes I print, anyway - if I printed giant prints I'm sure that would be different) while only being a small bit slower and more trouble than 35mm. If I had an interchangeable lens MF system that difference from 35mm would narrow more and I could see myself doing without 35mm, at least most of the time.

    I love LF but the 4x5 is for times when the mission is photography, not taking it along while I do something else, and I have time to use it properly.

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