View Full Version : Am I going to see much difference between 645 and 6x9 at 12x18?

Hugh Sakols
13-Jul-2004, 10:57
Sorry folks for beating this to death. I really do actually go out and take pictures. If i jump to 6x9 will I see much of a difference between 645 at 12x18? I understand that sharpness is not the only reason to switch formats. I'm just trying to weigh the advantages and disadvantages before making the jump to a view camera.

13-Jul-2004, 11:02
With roughly double the negative available, yes you will see the difference. Whether it is "worth" it or not is purely subjective. A view camera is a totally different beast than your typical medium format setup. If in doubt, borrow rent a 4x5 for a week or two. Cheers,

Ralph Barker
13-Jul-2004, 11:18
As Moe said, it is likely that you'll see a difference between 645 and 6x9, even at moderate inlargements. However, if you make the jump to a view camera, I think there is little advantage to 6x9 rollfilm. If one takes the view camera plunge, why not use 4x5 sheet film, so one takes full advantage of the system? Remember, you can always crop the 4x5 negative to any aspect ratio you wish when enlarging - 6x7, 6x9, 6x12, or the full 4x5.

Paul Schilliger
13-Jul-2004, 11:29
Hugh, I would second Ralph in his advice: don't get into the trouble of using a view camera just for 6x9. Get a 4x5 camera and a 6x9 rollfilm back as well as plain sheets. So you can choose either film investment depending on the subject. But yes, 6x9 will definitely give you more than 4,5x6!

Hugh Sakols
13-Jul-2004, 11:34
I'm looking at 6x9 so that I can scan using a minolta multi pro that I presently use for 6x6 and 35mm.

13-Jul-2004, 11:49
I disagree that you'll see appreciable difference from a good negative in a 12x18 print.

Dan Fromm
13-Jul-2004, 11:51
Um, Hugh, can you tell the difference between normal regular 35 mm still and half frame 35 mm? 645 is half frame 6x9.

FWIW, when I showed some 2x3 transparencies taken with my humble Speed Graphic to a friend who shoots a Pentax 645, he nearly fainted. I fear that the parallel experience with 4x5 would have killed him. Literally.



Leonard Evens
13-Jul-2004, 11:58
Long ago, I went from mainly using a Rollei TLR to also using a Horseman Technical Camera. The Rolei was effectively 6 x 4.5 because I almost always cropped to 8 x 10 aspect ratio. With the Horseman I did 6 x 7 roll film and 6 x 9 sheet film. Using conventional darkroom techniques, I would say that I hasd slightly better resolution with the larger format, but not enormously so. In a 12 x 18 inch or similar print, I don't think I would have noticed much difference. Several years ago I switched to digital using Epson flatbed printers. I've scanned many of my old negatives, both the 6 x 6 (but then cropped), and the 6 x 7 and 6 x 9, usually uncropped. Again, I would say there is a difference, but you have to look closely. The kind of results you can get by scanning 6 x 7 with an earlier Epson scanner you can see at www.math.northwestern.edu/~len/photos/pages/e2450.html. I'm not sure which Minolta you are using, but if it is the 4000+ ppi one, you should get significantly better results than you see there. On the other hand, if you scanned 4 x 5 with the Epson 4870 or a similar scanner (approximately at $400 investment), you would probably do better than scanning 6 x 7 or 6 x 9 with your scanner. See the last example on my web page for a comparison. The Epson 4870 should do an even better job.

Brian Ellis
13-Jul-2004, 12:10
I've never used 645 or 6x9 but then it doesn't look like anyone else who's responded has either so I'll give you my guess. I don't think you'll see much if any difference at that size print. I seldom see a noticeable difference between 6x7 and 4x5 (both of which I use) with 11x14 prints. I haven't done the math (Leonard can probably do it in his sleep, I don't have enough fingers : - )) but it strikes me that the difference between 645 and 6x9 is probably less than the difference between 6x7 and 4x5.

Ted Harris
13-Jul-2004, 12:14
I suoopse it all depends on your goals and end use. I use formats ranging from 6x6 through 8x10 and generally try to use the largest that is practical for the situation.

The bottom line is that, whether or not you see it, there IS a difference in the resolution of a 12x18 print from any size negative/chrome and another negative/chrome that is twice the size (or even a third or a fourth larger) .. this , of course, assumes that everything else is the same (same film, same development, same enlarging lens or same quality, same paper, etc.).

Many will say "well the viewer can;t see the difference from a normal viewing distance" and while that may be correct (may not too) thye will at least register it on a subconscious level. I simply mean that with all else equal if you put two 12x18 prints side-by-side that are exactly the same other than the fact that one was printed from a 6x4.5 and the other from 6x9 (or one from a 6x9 and the other from a 4x5, etc.) negative or chrome the viewers will almost always pick the one printed from the larger original as the one they like best. Moral. it will sell better/impress more, etc. if the original is larger assuming all else is equal (which I freely admit is a tough call)>

Danny Burk
13-Jul-2004, 13:11
Yes, you can tell the difference. I drum scan and print from a number of format sizes, and a practiced eye can distinguish the source material. Some time ago, I used to shoot 645, but changed to 6x8 for my basic MF setup a couple of years ago. The difference in an 11x14 print from 645 vs 6x8 is roughly equivalent to the difference in a 16x20 print from 6x8 vs 4x5: sharpness is similar, especially with good sharpening technique in PS, but in each case, grain is more distinct in the print from the smaller format. In a 16x20, for example, I can see a small amount of grain from 6x8, whereas it's virtually invisible from a 4x5 original. The 6x8 results are excellent, mind you, and most viewers would probably never see a difference, but I can if I look from close range. It's a comparable difference in 11x14 from 645 vs 6x8 (or 6x9).

Regards, Danny www.dannyburk.com

Guy Tal
13-Jul-2004, 14:18
A couple of facts:
1) A full frame 6x4.5 will not enlarge to 12x18. You will need to crop to get the same aspect ratio, leaving you with even less than 1/2 the 6x9 frame to work with.
2) Stretching the smaller frame to 12x18 will require you to resolve over 2200ppi. With the 6x9 frame you're at around 1500ppi. At that enlargement ratio film grain will start to become visible.

Scenic Wild Photography (http://www.scenicwild.com)

Ken Lee
13-Jul-2004, 14:57
"I'm looking at 6x9 so that I can scan using a minolta multi pro that I presently use for 6x6 and 35mm"

Since you have a great medium format dedicated scanner, you can easily test this for yourself.

A 6x6 requires the same enlargement to make a 12x12, as a 6x9 needs to become a 12x18. A 645 negative, on the other hand, requires more enlargement. Hence the corresponding degradation of quality, which you would like to see for yourself.

Try this: Scan a 6x6 image, and print it out at 12 x 12. Think of it as a 12x18 which has been chopped off. Now scan a 645 negative, and enlarge it to 12x12. Think of it as another 12x18 image which got chopped.

Now compare the quality - whatever that means to you. Print the results and frame them. Compare at the final print image quality - not under a loupe, or on the monitor, etc.

Keep in mind that often, we don't always get the composition exactly right, so we have to crop. That 645 starts to get pretty small when you crop it.

One other thing to keep in mind is that as the format gets bigger, you are more likely to use a tripod, and take more time composing and contemplating the image. "Quality" may go up, or it may go down, as the nature of your images changes.

Neil Miller
13-Jul-2004, 17:34
Hello Hugh,

I use a Mamiya 645, a Mamiya RB67 and a Voigtlander 6x9 and although I usually print no larger than 11x14 I can see a difference between all of these formats. Love the 645 for chromes, though - picture libraries used to like the trannies, too. There is not a quantum jump between 6x7 and 6x9 as far as I am concerned (one is too 'square' the other is too 'wide' - 6x8 in a portable folder would suit me fine!) although I frequently either crop or use a smaller part of the paper, but there is a definite difference. And there is a very appreciable difference between 6x9 and 6x4.5. I'm not a great methodical printer/developer or exponent of the zone system, and I find that the larger the format the more latitude I have. Like you pointed out, it isn't just the sharpness that's an issue. For me its the ability to squeeze a bit more out of the negative. I also use 4x5 and 5x7, which allows me to take many more "liberties" with film than the smaller formats do. Sometimes that's a great plus, sometimes not. I agree with Ralph - use each format for its own intrinsic benefits - I wouldn't use a larger format, say, with a rollfilm back - I'd far rather use a smaller camera and do without the movements. It's a trade-off - up to 6x9 can be used as point-and-shoot, reportage style, while above that you are forced to be more contemplative. Might not add up to a better photo, though! In practice I usually pack a field camera along with a folding 6x9 camera - best of both worlds and great training for back and biceps. Moe's practical advice seems sound, though - borrow or rent and find out for yourself if the difference is worth it!

Regards, Neil.

Jim Ewins
13-Jul-2004, 23:17
"...so I can scan using my...". Your may use your new camera for a lifetime, but scanners become obsolete almost in a manner of weeks. I think I get great 4x5 scans from a Epson 3200, but there will be a better scanner out next week. Jim

Al Seyle
14-Jul-2004, 08:07
I shoot furniture for a living. Started out with the 100mm Zeiss on Hasselblad because thats what I had. After a few months I bought a Technikardan S and 180 Schneider which I shoot on 6x9. I scan with Imacon. Subjects are furniture so for me camera movements were important in the decision. In my experience after shooting thousands of 6x9s, the difference still amazes me. When I make display prints for shows the quality difference is greater than I expected. It was definitely a worthwhile upgrade for me.

14-Jul-2004, 08:26
Hi Hugh, I'll say the opposite to what a lot of folk here seem to be saying. I recently had the choice of either going 5x4 with an epson or microtek flatbed, or staying with MF and scanning with the minolta scan multi pro. I did a lot of tests and for me you get better results at bigger sizes with MF scanned with the sharpness of the optics in the scanmulti to 5x4 on a cheapish (under 1k euros) flatbed. In the past I've used a horseman 6x9 field camera and it isn't as versatile as 5x4 by any means, but if you don't go wide its ok. If you have the bucks, an arca swiss 5x4 with a roll film back would be ideal