Alberto Bregani | Mountain Photographer
My starting page
This forums owner, Q.T. Luong (I do hope I've spelled his name correctly!) works in 5x7 format, You might want to take a look at his very impressive portfolio as an example.
I think something like a 5x7 Nagaoka would be a near ideal camera---probably lighter than your current Shen! The only significant difference would be the larger film holders. BUT if you're getting satisfaction with your 4x5, really why move up? If you're planning on making huge enlargements, maybe?
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.
"You might not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." - Trotsky
You are getting a lot of great advice but ultimately it's a decision that only you can make.
I recommend borrowing a 5x7 and trying it out if that is at all possible. If not then maybe you could buy one used at a fair price and then sell it and get most of your money back if it doesn't suit you.
There is nothing like first hand experience.
5x7 should not be considered as a replacement for 4x5: it's a different instrument, with a different personality - in the same way that a trombone is different from a trumpet, a viola is different from a violin, etc.
Some people find it helpful to stay with only 1 lens, one camera, one one one. Other people find it helpful to use a variety of cameras, lenses, and... formats.
I saw this thread this morning as I was on my way out the door and couldn't respond, and now I find that there are so many good opinions that I'm not sure if I have much to add. But for what it's worth...
About a year ago, I bought a camera that had both 4x5 and 5x7 backs and decided to try my hand at 5x7. I had worked some with an 8x10 and a lot with a 4x5 but never 5x7 and I wanted to attempt something new. I also thought it would be good to challenge myself a little by composing with a different shape. So, after a year, and over two hundred negatives, I would answer your original question by saying... probably not. Or maybe I would say that it comes down what is important to you-the end result or the process. I believe that both are important, but what I mean is, does one outweigh the other? Composing on 5x7 glass is truly a joy, and there is something very satisfying in simply handling those larger negatives (after working with 5x7's for a time, 4x5's seems miniature). And at least for me, a 5x7 holder feels perfect in the hands. However, as others have said, unless you're making gigantic prints, or contact prints, I'm not sure you'd see a difference in the quality of the pictures. And (as has also been said) there is a cost to 5x7, both financial and physical. To say nothing of dwindling film choices. But hey, if you're driven to do it, I don't think anything will stop you, nor should it.
As for me, lately I've been thinking of masking off my glass to shoot 5x5 squares. I am a mystery even to myself.
Thank you again friend
you all really gave me a lot of great advice
I'd like to answer you one by one
@ John Kasaian: -->"BUT if you're getting satisfaction with your 4x5, really why move up? If you're planning on making huge enlargements, maybe? " -
good question John. I'm completely satisfied with my shen; she has everything i need considering what i have to do ( going around mountains with a good quality , lightweight, handy and nice - why not? - LF camera). When i print for myself i print (square format - hasselblad and rolleiflex) 30x30cm; when i exhibit i print 50x50 ( i still have to exhibit with large format) and considering the ratio with large format negatives i should print rectangular, so 30x40 for myself and 50x60 for exhibitions ( plus passe-partout and frame.) . So I don't need larger prints. I suppose 4x5 negatives are good enough for those sizes and i won't move up just for negatives size: i hope you agree.
My point to move to 5x7 is COMPOSITION: i mean as I wrote previously a 4x5 camera is quite "little" for me. When i'm under that dark cloth i'd like to have a bigger GG to compose in a better way, to have a brighter vision of the scene. if 8x10 is too big for me (too heavy considering film holders, tripod and so on ) and 4x5" is too little, i suppose 5x7 could fit my needs in a better way: it is not too heavy than the 4x5 so i can carry with my backpack and i could use it with the same tripod i use for 4x5"
I've read many of you writing ( Austin, just to mention one of you) "Composing on 5x7 glass is truly a joy," - Yes, so true and this is very important for me: composing the best way you can ( i mean in terms of "feeling good when you compose so you can focus on the scene and nothning else" ) is the first step (to try) to make a great image
So, is it worth to move to 5x7 JUST for composing in a better way since i don't need to change for negatives, i don't need to change to use longer lenses?
That's my first question to answer. Obviously i know that gonig for the 5x7 format all the process will earn in terms of quality ( negatives, scanning them, contact prints and so on), but i'd just like to talk about composition
@Ken, thanks a lot: we are completely lined up
if you just take a a look at my "vision" or "statement" ( i don't know the right expresisoni in english) on my "Starting Page" you can read this : "Mountains and photography involve walking, letting your eyes guide you, improvising, discovering, moving from place to place, and seeing familiar ones in a new light. Just one camera, one lens, a tripod and handful of black-and-white rolls your only companions." I don't use many lenses: when i go out shooting with rolleiflex it means just one lens, with hasselblad for me it means just two lenses ( 80 and 150) and with large format two lenses too.. dependind where i'm going to shoot. Anyway no more than two at a time: less is more it's my philosophy.
@ Alan said --> I recommend borrowing a 5x7 and trying it out if that is at all possible." ..heheh here in Italy large format camera are not so "popular". There is not a huge community as you have in Usa. Yes, maybe you can ask someone for a 5x7 to lend you, but maybe he is 500km far away from you... and to test a camera for me it means to use it for one/two months at least..
So i think could be better to buy one and "then sell it and get most of your money back if it doesn't suit you"
Ok think i've talk too much :-)
hope i have clearly explained my point of view
Looking forward to read your comments
ps anyway i'm going to convince myself i could have them both... maybe could be the right way to follow once i've tested one
When i go climb i take the 4x5
when i don't climb and i just go for mountain landscapes i could take the 5x7 one..
Alberto Bregani | Mountain Photographer
My starting page
You're dealing with a complete system that you are part of. When presbyopia sets in, you'll appreciate the much easier viewing and focusing available with a 5x7. Should your distance vision require negative diopter correction and you either wear eyeglasses or a different contact lens in each eye, 5x7 enables working without a loupe. Also worth knowing is that one can get a Maxwell Hi-Lux integral screen/fresnel for 5x7. Larger formats are stuck with actual ground glass and a separate fresnel, a less bright combination.
Another thing to consider is how many lenses of what focal lengths you carry. This can impact the weight/bulk differences between 4x5 and 5x7 kits almost as much as camera and holders will.
Using black and white film exclusively in large format, my approach has been to stick with 5x7 on the longest hikes for as long as I can carry it.
For day hikes (okay, strolling a few miles under the redwoods), the 5x7 (an Eastman View #2) is on the tripod and over my shoulder, and the film holders and meter in a shoulder bag. A waterproof stuff sack goes over the camera and lens to protect it from branches and rain. The Computar 210/6.3 lives on the camera...a very fine lens in a Copol 1 shutter...but soon to be joined by a 159mm.
I put it in a pack for longer hikes in rougher terrain where I need both hands, but compared to my non-lightweight 8x10 gear, the 5x7 feels like a point-and-shoot!
It would be great, Alberto, if you could find someone semi-local to see their 5x7.
I dunno Sal, I am badly nearsighted and became presybyopic a few years ago - been wearing progressives lenses for seven years now. But the only affect on my large format photography has been that I really need to remember to bring my dedicated reading glasses with me to work under the dark cloth. Otherwise, it's so hard to get into the very close up bottom range of the progressives I just take them off, typically dangling them from my teeth, which I'm sure looks weird - a guy with his head under a BTZS hood with a pair of glasses hanging out. For shutter speeds and f/stop settings and such I typically just prop them on my forehead and get within 6" or so of the object.
I've thought about larger than 4x5 formats but I have two 4x5 enlargers and nothing for larger. I don't think any size would be appreciably easier to work with from the point of view of my close up vision. My computer monitor is larger than an 11x14 ground glass and I need to use the middle of my progressives or wearing my reading glasses for it.
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Most blest is he who lives free and bold
and nurses never a grief,
for the fearful man is dismayed by aught,
and the mean one mourns over giving.
- Hávamál verse 48