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View Full Version : Is an 8x10 camera right for me?



RelBill
2-Jul-2015, 09:23
Hello, I am interested in 8x10 as I have read in my research that this format produces more textured sand. I really want to produce large prints for my family and friends. I am not a photographer, I have however started reading all I can on the subject. I have a digital SLR and I am taking pictures at least twice a week to learn photography. My question is can a digital back be used to obtain the quality of print that I can get with an 8x10. Thanks for any help that you can give me. Also if you can suggest any books would appreciate it.

RelBill
2-Jul-2015, 09:27
Sorry, I am nervous as I like to be well read and honestly I am having a hard time finding material. To help with my question I want to take landscapes, portraits and family group pictures. The landscapes will include a lot of tropical locations as I travel a lot.

Neal Chaves
2-Jul-2015, 09:39
The easiest and least expensive way to do what you want is with an 8X10 camera and film. Even a 4X5 film cannot resolve the crystalline nature of snow and sand or the tiny bubbles in the water or wine the way an 8X10 can. My old $200 Umax scanner at 1200 dpi makes a 100MB file from an 8X10 B&W negative. Price the ability to do that with digital capture.

Peter De Smidt
2-Jul-2015, 09:42
The easiest and least expensive way to do what you want is with an 8X10 camera and film. Even a 4X5 film cannot resolve the crystalline nature of snow and sand or the tiny bubbles in the water or wine the way an 8X10 can. <snip>.

A 2x enlargement from 4x5 will capture just as much "crystalline nature of snow and sand" as a 2x enlargement from 8x10. The prints, obviously, will be a different size.

Lenny Eiger
2-Jul-2015, 10:49
Sorry, I am nervous as I like to be well read and honestly I am having a hard time finding material. To help with my question I want to take landscapes, portraits and family group pictures. The landscapes will include a lot of tropical locations as I travel a lot.

There is a lot of information right here. The question of whether a digital can "match" an 8x10 is a clear "No". I think we can all agree on that.

However, I think there is a different question you should be asking. It takes a lot of commitment to lug around an 8x10 camera, with all its holders, lenses, tripod, etc. It's heavy. Especially if, as you say, you are "not a photographer". When you describe that you want to take family group pictures on has to look at the type of print quality you want.

Generally speaking, most photographers carrying around 8x10's want the ultimate in print quality. For others its the process of shooting with a large format camera that makes them go to the bigger cameras. That said, I don't need museum level print quality for my family's portraits or travel photos.

I think you would do better to define the print quality you want first, then decide what camera can supply that for you.

Drew Wiley
2-Jul-2015, 11:11
It takes a lot of will power to resist lugging an 8x10... I mean, do I go out with it tomorrow or Saturday???? Did the 4x5 thing with the Norma last week, where there were some depth of field problems more appropriate for a miniature camera like that. But I can appreciate the hypothetical appeal of a true large format
format digi back in a very limited number of studio settings where they do want to also use vintage lenses. Can't understand how the economics would ever justify this. It's a niche market. Most studio folks already have small backs plenty big enough for publication applications. An argument might also be made that shooting with one of these devices would allow nearly instant review of the result. There's a pro and a con to that, just like shooting architecture digitally. Do you really want your client editing your own work, or questioning your own professional ability to deliver appropriate quality and content? I've heard enough complaints about that already from those trying to make their living amidst that very dilemma. And the portrait photographers still trying to define a classic niche for themselves are seemingly headed back to darkroom, just to avoid the Biblical plague of locust competition, all with DLSR's.

prendt
2-Jul-2015, 12:47
There is a lot of information right here. The question of whether a digital can "match" an 8x10 is a clear "No". I think we can all agree on that.



I appreciate your positive attitude in the matter. If only all could say the same!

richardman
2-Jul-2015, 12:58
This thread seems to have drifted. I live within 10 miles of Mr. Christian. My tech geekery says that this is quite an "impossible" dream. I really do hope it is real though.

Oren Grad
2-Jul-2015, 13:02
Drifted, indeed. Tangential discussion now carved out as its own thread.

aluncrockford
2-Jul-2015, 14:17
Large format photography is not in any way easy, if you are interested in moving on from digital then a step into film via medium format might be the best bet, that way you will get to know the nature of the medium before moving on to the larger formats, if you can get hold of a hasselblad, standard lens, prism head and most importantly a tripod that will provide you with a solid foundation for your first steps in to film, start by just using the camera on the tripod ,this will help you understand what is required when working with large format photography but with a lot more flexibility and a serious diminiation of film cost. regarding the capture of detail, digital might well capture a more detailed appearance than medium format film, but the aesthetic of film and digital are different, and though the detail might be more exact with digital, the feel of film might well be more desirable.

Alan Gales
2-Jul-2015, 15:03
Sorry, I am nervous as I like to be well read and honestly I am having a hard time finding material. To help with my question I want to take landscapes, portraits and family group pictures. The landscapes will include a lot of tropical locations as I travel a lot.

There is no way that I'm going to use my 8x10 for family group shots. Yes, it can be done but it's just not practical. When I shoot group shots I shoot digital and chimp like a wedding photographer. I'll even plug into a laptop when I think I'm done to make sure no one moved or closed their eyes.

I shot a 5 generations photograph not long ago with one subject being a baby. I was keeping my eye on the baby to catch a smile from her. My step daughter has ADD and moved in quite a few of them. It's a good thing I shot digital and checked! I had to reshoot one of the poses.

The family who wanted prints didn't want anything larger than an 8x10 print anyway. Most wanted 4x6. :)

Jim Noel
2-Jul-2015, 15:13
The only way to find out if an 8x10 is for you is to borrow or rent one. If possible rent a field camera and a 360mm or at least a 300mm lens and work with it diligently or a weelk or so. there is more to learn than you can learnin a week, but it will give you a good idea of what is necessary. Frankly if you are going to scan the negatives and print them digitally I think you are wasting your time,money and effort.

Jim Noel
2-Jul-2015, 15:15
There is no way that I'm going to use my 8x10 for family group shots. Yes, it can be done but it's just not practical. When I shoot group shots I shoot digital and chimp like a wedding photographer. I'll even plug into a laptop when I think I'm done to make sure no one moved or closed their eyes.

I shot a 5 generations photograph not long ago with one subject being a baby. I was keeping my eye on the baby to catch a smile from her. My step daughter has ADD and moved in quite a few of them. It's a good thing I shot digital and checked! I had to reshoot one of the poses.

The family who wanted prints didn't want anything larger than an 8x10 print anyway. Most wanted 4x6. :)

Maybe you aren' going to use an 8x10 to photograph your family, but Iuse either the 8x10, or when most are around,the 7x17.

Alan Gales
2-Jul-2015, 15:27
Maybe you aren' going to use an 8x10 to photograph your family, but Iuse either the 8x10, or when most are around,the 7x17.

I'm glad that you can do it, Jim! How do you get them all to hold still?

For me 8x10 is fine for a portrait of one or two people. When I get too many subjects it becomes a real challenge! ;)

Taija71A
2-Jul-2015, 15:55
... Also if you can suggest any books would appreciate it.

Perhaps, the following two (2) Books would be of assistance to yourself:

Ansel Adams -- The Camera (The Ansel Adams Photography Series 1).
Ansel Adams -- The Negative (The Ansel Adams Photography Series 2).

*Both of these books... Are readily available in attractively priced Paperback versions.

Regards, -Tim.

Neal Chaves
2-Jul-2015, 18:56
Yes, of course. I should have added "in the 11X14 and 16X20 enlargements that I usually make".

RelBill
2-Jul-2015, 20:41
Hello All, thank you for the honest answers. Just a few thoughts.
1. Yes, Of course I will read all of the books that you have mentioned.
2. I live on the beach and my work lets me travel to other tropical locations for extended periods of time. These pictures are what I am mostly interested in taking and having look great. I want to share this beauty with my family and friends. I will be wanting large prints to give my family and friends, the kind of prints that they will want to display. Money is not really the issue. Also setting up and taking down the camera etc... is not an issue. I am a tenacious person and I want to produce the best possible product.
3. As I said I am not a photographer, but I am trying to remedy that situation. I have an engineering mind but I do also have a creative, artistic streak. I am dedicated to learning lighting and the art of taking fine photographs. I am better with science so the artistic stuff takes me longer, but as I said I am artistic.
4. The reason I am interested in all of this is that life is about memories. think back about your earliest memories. they are probably form a photo that someone told you the story about. like your third birthday when this happened or that happened. you see it as a memory but really it is a story about the photo. I want to share as many memories with my family and friends as possible. I want to provide them something to talk about that they will be proud of displaying.
5. I agree that digital is best for family portraits and will be using my digital for that but I also want to use large format so if I get a good shot, I can then share it with the family. but I will always have the digital photos and I take so many of those that I will have something to share. But just imagine if one of the large format turns out great. It will he handed down for generations. It will be a memory and a story for generations to come.
6. I will continue reading the posts and the books a practicing my photography. I will rent a large format to see what I like nd dislike about it so I can make the right choice when I purchase my own.

Seriously I do appreciate all of your responses. They have all been a tremendous help.

RelBill
2-Jul-2015, 20:44
Adam, I am in China and I am having a hard time opening this web page. I will try a VPN.
Taija, I just purchased and downloaded the books that you suggested and a third book called the print.

John Kasaian
2-Jul-2015, 21:26
8x10 is FUN. Really. It's kind of masochistic at times, but oh so much FUN:)
I've got a shoot planned for Monday and I can't wait!

StoneNYC
2-Jul-2015, 22:22
This certainly is the kind of thing that is a "can of worms" there are many perspectives and many opinions, and often times the perspectives are not up-to-date so to speak as they have been solidified during an earlier time in one's life.

Current digital technology resolves at an amazing level, don't get me wrong, I love film, I love large format, I recently sold my professional digital camera to invest entirely in film for artistic and personal reasons

However my Canon 5D Mk II could produce a 20x24 print at 300 dpi, the new Canon 5Ds is 50mp... easily sharp prints at 30x40 at 300dpi from a single file, not stitched.

If you are simply looking for sharp images of sand grains in the photo etc. and are only concerned with the details, the new digital pro camera will give you that easily, and those who might tell you differently probably haven't used them.

8x10 film can easily match that on a technical level, but there are so many more stumbling blocks to overcome. Dust, wind vibration, scanning, processing, printing from a digital file or "the old fashioned way" on such a large price of film means they there are some minor variables that can make a big difference in the end result.

I'm not saying any of this to dissuade you from shooting 8x10, in fact I would love if you did, and I would love if you fell in love with the film Fuji Velvia50 because you would contribute to the use of it and help keep it around a little longer (my favorite color film for 8x10), it can only be purchased in Japan or from a Japanese online retailer (they keep all the best stuff for themselves) and fall in love with film. It's great that money is not an issue, but there is a steep learning curve, jumping right from digital to 8x10 film.

THAT SAID I think you should pursue this, but one camera, one lens, and a few good holders, and see if this format is truly for you.

Three years ago I had gotten my first 4x5 camera (before I went 8x10) and I had the camera body, the film, the holders, and was waiting on the lens, I got the lens in the mail the morning of the family picnic, I came out with only 2 holders (4 sheets of film) and made 4 exposures, one of my uncle, one of my aunt (who is now 95) and two of the entire family, one normal smiling and one crazy funny, they all came out wonderfully for my first ever large format image, and everyone teased me "hurry up its starting to rain!!" And "just use your cell phone!"

I was panicked making sure the exposure and shutter and focus were all correct, but I got the picture...

Life is about the moments we have with each other, and the OP touched on the most important thing, the memories...

I'm proud to have shot this on large format, and to have caught this moment for my family, it may not be technically perfect, but ya know what... life is short....3 of these people are no longer with us... but the visual memory remains to remind us of the happy times we shared together...

136266

I wish good things for this new journey you are about to undertake, and I hope you come out with some amazing memories to share with those around you. (AND GET A TIMER or you won't end up in the picture... Like me! Oops!).

RelBill
3-Jul-2015, 03:54
I have a feeling this is going to be a Breaking Bad kind of thing. I will start for my family but I will end up doing it because I LIKE IT. I hope to have the Heisenberg level of quality after a few years but it took him five seasons.
That Family PIC and the story is exactly what I am looking for in my efforts.

pdh
3-Jul-2015, 05:13
Large format photography is not in any way easy, if you are interested in moving on from digital then a step into film via medium format might be the best bet, that way you will get to know the nature of the medium before moving on to the larger formats, if you can get hold of a hasselblad, standard lens, prism head and most importantly a tripod that will provide you with a solid foundation for your first steps in to film, start by just using the camera on the tripod ,this will help you understand what is required when working with large format photography but with a lot more flexibility and a serious diminiation of film cost. regarding the capture of detail, digital might well capture a more detailed appearance than medium format film, but the aesthetic of film and digital are different, and though the detail might be more exact with digital, the feel of film might well be more desirable.
I've often seen (not so much at Lfpf perhaps, but elsewhere) it suggested to newcomers who enquire about 10x8 that they get themselves a 5x4 press camera to "see if they like lf shooting" before embarking on the big expense.

I do understand why people might suggest this, but my own experience is that however much miniature format, medium or indeed even 5x4 shooting one does, it does not prepare one for the physical challenge of 10x8.

That is not to say it has to be any more technically difficult than any other smaller format, but it is a very different experience. The only way you know whether it'll work for you is to try it ... In which case it might be a very good idea to try and find some local users and make friends with them.

mdarnton
3-Jul-2015, 06:27
OP realized that if he intends to shoot color as he takes for granted with his DSLR, the cost is going to be enormous?

Louis Pacilla
3-Jul-2015, 07:08
OP realized that if he intends to shoot color as he takes for granted with his DSLR, the cost is going to be enormous?

The OP mention that money is NO TROUBLE.. "Money is not really the issue".

fishbulb
3-Jul-2015, 13:01
Uh OK... Well if you can find a copy of that out-of-print, no-longer-published, no-longer-making-anyone-any-money book that was published by a now bankrupt company and whose primary author is dead, it is called "Photography with Large Format Cameras" and was published by Kodak.

StoneNYC
3-Jul-2015, 14:13
Uh OK... Well if you can find a copy of that out-of-print, no-longer-published, no-longer-making-anyone-any-money book that was published by a now bankrupt company and whose primary author is dead, it is called "Photography with Large Format Cameras" and was published by Kodak.

This?

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=281624496629&globalID=EBAY-US

Alan Gales
3-Jul-2015, 14:17
This?

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=281624496629&globalID=EBAY-US

You ought to grab it, Stone. It's worth the price just for the photos of the hottie on page 36!

Michael Cienfuegos
3-Jul-2015, 14:31
You ought to grab it, Stone. It's worth the price just for the photos of the hottie on page 36!

Stone does quite well with the hotties. (very tasteful)

fishbulb
3-Jul-2015, 14:46
This?

http://pages.ebay.com/link/?nav=item.view&alt=web&id=281624496629&globalID=EBAY-US

I think that's an earlier version. Mine is 1988, and almost 100 pages. That one is 1977 and 48 pages.

mdarnton
3-Jul-2015, 14:56
The OP mention that money is NO TROUBLE.. "Money is not really the issue".

Yeah, I deal all the time with people who say that until they discover that their idea of "not an issue" is 1/10th or 1/20th of "bare minimum", so it never hurts to make sure

Alan Gales
3-Jul-2015, 15:04
Stone does quite well with the hotties. (very tasteful)

Oh, I agree.

It's just that this one has to be older than me now and I'm 53. I don't think Stone would go for a lady that old. ;)

dsphotog
3-Jul-2015, 15:25
Just don't order a new Deardorff.
It might take a while to arrive.

djdister
3-Jul-2015, 15:42
Uh OK... Well if you can find a copy of that out-of-print, no-longer-published, no-longer-making-anyone-any-money book that was published by a now bankrupt company and whose primary author is dead, it is called "Photography with Large Format Cameras" and was published by Kodak.

Plenty of copies available for purchase on Amazon.

John Kasaian
3-Jul-2015, 17:08
Shooting an 8x10 is like playing a baritone sax. You don't simply "operate" one and expect good results. Once you really get the hang of what these big toys are capable of, it's kind of like you're holding on and dancing with it :)

DennisD
3-Jul-2015, 19:16
To the OP, RelBill,

You sound very sincere and eager to get into large format, particularly 8x10. You also mention that you are using your DSLR and "learning " photograph. However, it also seems you've idealized and glamorized getting into 8x10 without really knowing too much about large format in general.

Carefully consider the commitment in equipment and learning by diving into 8x10. It's not the commitment of money, it's the commitment of time, energy and learning about:
the camera
making good exposures
developing film
Darkroom & printing - you'll need a darkroom to do your own printing.
....otherwise you'll be outsourcing development and printing
Plus many other related things.

LF is not like digital photography - no immediate results here. You will also need to learn a great deal before you begin to get the results you're thinking or wishing to be able to produce.

Many on this forum have devoted decades to their LF interest or profession. I bet most will say they are still learning !

There's some wonderful advice in the previous posts. It could be in your best interest to start small, but if 8x10 is really your thing, rent and try one out as previously suggested. Find out firsthand what's involved.

ALL THE ABOVE SAID, there is NOTHING like LF photography (whatever size camera you chose). The investments you will need to make are worth every penny, minute of time and every ounce of sweat required to become a good LF photographer.

If you're really serious after diligent investigation GO FOR IT. Get into LF.
If not, as someone else mentioned, there are several high end digital cameras that will give you great results for what you mentioned. Not to mention immediate gratification.

P.S.
Sorry if this post sounds a bit didactic, but if you stick around here long enough, you will find that most LF people tend to be passionate in their beliefs and willingness to advise and help others.

RelBill
4-Jul-2015, 08:47
Hello all,
I have read all of the advice and again I want to thank you for the advice and yes I do see the passion. It is refreshing. I wil continue my research. As I said before I must feel that I am well read before proceeding. I also agree very much with renting equipment. As everyone know reading and doing are completely different. Until I get my hands on a camera and actually work the process from beginning to end, I will not know if it is right for me. ThNks again. Please let me know if you have any more suggestions for me. Have a great 4th!!! Should be a great day for some amazing pictures.

ic-racer
4-Jul-2015, 09:23
If you have never done photography before, your pictures are going to suck of you don't first know how to develop film and make excellent prints in any format.

Luis-F-S
4-Jul-2015, 09:42
Just don't order a new Deardorff. It might take a while to arrive.

Find a used Deardorff in good shape, it will be a whole lot less frustrating. They show up on this forum fairly regularly.

But to answer your initial question about should you get into 8x10, my answer would not be just no, but hell no! It takes years to become proficient with LF cameras and if you've never photographed, you will end up frustrated and disillusioned. Get a digital camera similar to a Nikon D800 which has a huge file size and get those enlarged and give to your friends. If you really want to try film, I'd sure start with a cheap medium format camera like a Yashika Mat 124G 6x6 and see how you like film. Learn to develop it and then print it (you will need to get a MF enlarger which they pretty much give away these days). Then if you're still with us go to a 4x5 LF camera BEFORE going to 8x10!

John Kasaian
4-Jul-2015, 11:20
Find a used Deardorff in good shape, it will be a whole lot less frustrating. They show up on this forum fairly regularly.

But to answer your initial question about should you get into 8x10, my answer would not be just no, but hell no! It takes years to become proficient with LF cameras and if you've never photographed, you will end up frustrated and disillusioned. Get a digital camera similar to a Nikon D800 which has a huge file size and get those enlarged and give to your friends. If you really want to try film, I'd sure start with a cheap medium format camera like a Yashika Mat 124G 6x6 and see how you like film. Learn to develop it and then print it (you will need to get a MF enlarger which they pretty much give away these days). Then if you're still with us go to a 4x5 LF camera BEFORE going to 8x10!
Luis -F-S, that is an extraordinarily logical advice.
Fortunately extraordinary logic isn't one of the hallmarks required for shooting 8x10:rolleyes:

Luis-F-S
4-Jul-2015, 13:56
Luis -F-S, that is an extraordinarily logical advice.
Fortunately extraordinary logic isn't one of the hallmarks required for shooting 8x10:rolleyes:

Yup, you've got a point. L

M.B.
4-Jul-2015, 14:07
Hello!
You should go to a LF Workshop. That was my way. I get some impression about the LF photography bevor I go and buy a camera, lenses etc. Now Im lucky with my choice. But Im a beginner in LF and I would be a beginner the next x years...
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