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Thread: Is there any real utility to ULF?

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    To get a taste of ULF build a ULF pinhole and make paper negatives

    You can make your 8x10 kit more ULF adaptable by moving to a heavier tripod (Ries A-100 is nice) and adding a ULF friendly lens like a Nikkor 450M and---whoa! You're half way there!
    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.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  2. #22

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Baton Rouge, LA

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Fun is the best reason I have heard.:-)

    One factor that has not been mentioned is what you like to take pictures of. ULF slows you down and limits the number of exposures you can do, unless money is not an object and you work out of the trunk of the car.

    When I looked at ULF, the real show stopper for me was those holders. Forget the costs of lenses - you can spend $4k+ just to get 10 holders. Each sheet of film you shoot cost several dollars plus a big chunk of time to develop.

    So make sure your subject matter fits the workflow. If you just like to mess with cameras, and fit your subject matter to your camera, no problem. It is a very valid way to work. Just make sure there is no mismatch.

    For myself, I would love to fool with a larger format than 4x5, but I know the result would be taking few or no images because the workflow would not fit into my subject matter or opportunities to shoot.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Feb 2002

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    As stated above, flatly put, contact prints. An 8x20 original neg will give you tones and detail of an 8x20 neg. An enlarged 5x7 will give you the tones and detail of a 5x7. Nothing wrong with that. It's just different.

    Of course I'll go many more places with a 4x5 or 5x7 than I would an 8x20, and I'm a relative youngster on this site.

    If you get the chance, check out some original contact prints. They have a depth that just sucks you in. It's not as obvious to non-photographers, but when I've been to exhibits and asked friends which photographs they liked best, it's usually the contact prints.

  4. #24

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobby Ironsights View Post
    Is ULF worth it?

    Wait till I get ahold of one, then I'll tell you.

    I dream of staggering large prints, with crystal clear clarity. (I'll have to homebuild an enlarger).

    I know I'll probably never own a testarossa ferrari, or do the do with a supermodel, but someday I'll know the joy of using ULF. In my mind's eye, it's really in that class.
    Bobby, Google Clyde Butcher. Visit his site, take a trip to Florida and visit one of his boutiques. You'll feel right at home in Florida, in the winter the state is infested with Canadians. After you've seen Butcher's work you'll know why ULF is still a good idea.

  5. #25

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Hieb View Post
    ...But what do I tell my wife, other than there's a fine line between a hobby and insanity, to justify spending this much money on yet another camera?...
    The immediate answer is "the less, the better".

    Buying a ULF camera is like buying an airplane. The initial purchase price is but the tip of the iceberg. Beyond 8x10, operational costs increase dramatically. It may not go up by the square, but it's not far from it. And that's actually not a bad estimate since ULF film prices are based on how many square inches of film you're buying. If you set your 4x5 expenditures as a basis, then that would put 11x14 as about 8 times more expensive, 7x17 as 6 times more expensive and 12x20 as about 12 times more expensive.

    Of course that's not a hard and fast scientific rule. But it's not bad as a conservative guideline, either. Badger Graphic currently lists the 25-sheet box of 4x5 Ilford FP-4 at $22.95. During the last Ilford ULF film run, a 25-sheet box of 12x20 FP-4 was $291.99 from The View Camera Store. That's almost $12 per shot and represents a factor of better than 12.7 times the cost of 4x5. Beyond film cost, consider that you'll need larger trays and you'll need to fill those trays with the required chemistry. (That'll probably increase by the cube.) You'll have to figure out a way to safely store those big negatives. With 11x14 or 7x17 you might be able to get away with a spring-back printing frame, but for larger negatives you will need a vacuum frame if you expect to realize the quality of the image you've strived so hard to achieve. If you're using alternative processes such as Pt/Pd, consider those costs for your format. Devil trombones, indeed!

    There are some moderating factors. Using ULF, you're more likely to have fewer lenses than with 4x5 (unless you're like me....). And compared with some of the modern glass for 4x5, some (not all!) lenses for ULF will be cheaper. You'll probably have fewer film holders and you won't be as tempted to expose film on a shot you're not sure of. In fact, the ULF kit, being so large and heavy will often sit in the closet because you just "didn't want to deal with it this time". It takes an investment of both money and dedication to be successful with ULF. The latter is often harder!

    This isn't meant to discourage, but rather is offered as a sanity check. The insanity plea may be your best bet.

  6. #26

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    NJ / NYC, USA.

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    My only experience viewing ULF contact prints was at Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery in Florida on a loney February day where mine was the only car in the lot. The gallery person was very kind in letting me spend 2 hours there examining every single print even though I told her I was just looking for my own photographic interests.

    One of my overall impressions was that many of the prints lacked edge sharpness. Highly detailed, but not super sharp. And some near the edges were even soft, as though pushing the edge of the lens' useable image circle.

  7. #27

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Western Australia

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    My 2cents worth I believe 8x10 is a better option than ULF .
    The reasons more film options even colour more lens options lighter weight than ULF
    (i never thought i would call a 8x10 light) the physical size of 11x14 and beyond leaves their usefulness too within a kilometre from your vehicle.
    Also slowing down is one of the arguments used often too increase format size.
    But are you slowing so much that you miss good shots in rapidly changing light just because the gear is slow too set up & too slow too work with?
    Also when i go out too shoot mono on 8x10 i will have 1 DD loaded with colour film just in case something that requires colour arises you can't do that with ULF
    Just my thoughts cheers gary

  8. #28
    In the desert...
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Nevada/N.Arizona/ Florida Keys

    for the birds

    It is a joy and an effort....

    I spent the last 2 days with 2 photographers and a writer from Sports Illustrated mag...a story...believe it or not on racing pigeons, a life long hobby of mine...the photographers set up a half a dozen canon digital cameras on the ground and above the release trailer and when the birds were released the cameras began firing via radio signal. In seconds hundreds maybe a thousand, I don t know, images were made...the results were incredible and totally right for the work to be done

    15 yards back I made one exposure on the Wisner 14 x 17....1/4 of a will have some blur in it....

    There are horses for courses and one needs tools of the trade....the professionals on
    this job (not yours truly) certainly got the job done in handy fashion and the results were spectacular...

    Both photographers have recently purchased large format equipment, 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 for personal use...

    In is interesting that National Geographic for its publication on 100 years of portraits, chose for the cover photo, Rob Kendricks, beautiful portrait of a young Nevada girl, made on an old bellows camera with a 100 year old lens and printed in tin type fashion...

    The invention and progress of photography, did not put an end to artistic expression in oils and other media. It did in a sense free an artist from "reality" it helped I believe in the expression of Impressionistic also itself became an evolving is a media and a medium and a is a choice...and it does have affect and effect on how we see and present our vision of our world...

  9. #29

    Join Date
    May 2002

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Almost 4 years old, and this thread still has lots of life in it!

    I dunno if Tom (the OP) is still following, but here I go: YES. ULF has utility, and then some. I'm just a poor 4x5 guy myself, but in the 5 years or so since I went large, I've learned that it isn't just about lots of film area and great images. It's also about the journey; that mystical time under the darkcloth, with its inverted 2D world, can't be found elsewhere. LF feeds the spirit. ULF is just a bigger helping.

  10. #30
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico

    Re: Is there any real utility to ULF?

    Slow, heavy, expensive.....not for me. I can set up and be tripping the shutter in two minutes (1:58 to be exact) with a 4x5 from the time I slam the brakes on and still I find myself missing that fleeting light sometimes.

    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

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