View Full Version : 4x10 opinions and thoughts

19-Sep-2005, 17:54
I posted this earlier but it disappeared so I'll try again. I read most of what I could find in the archives but want to here from folks using it today. The stuff in the archives is a bit old and wanted to here from others as well.

I am looking for opinions about the 4x10 format. Pros and cons of usage. I love the pano aspect and intimate contact prints.

I would like to here from users and former users about why they are using it and maybe why they quit.

I know about the article in VC and someone is mailing it ot me.

Those who shoot do you use a split darkslide mask and do you have issues.

Peter Galea
19-Sep-2005, 18:21
I like the 4x10, especially vertical. Matter of fact I'm going to shoot some Ektachrome tomorrow, weather permitting. The pros are being able to shoot two exposures on one sheet, the aspect ratio of it, and having two formats with one camera. The con for me is trying not to bump the camera (I use a wooden camera) out of alignment when removing the full darkslide and then inserting the half slide.

Scott Killian
19-Sep-2005, 18:52
I've been working for the last year on a photographic project consisting entirely of 4x10 contact prints. This is for a monograph I am publishing on the Great River Road (the road which follows the Mississippi River from its headwaters in MN to the Gulf). I had been happily making 8x10 contact prints when I tried using a split darkslide - immediately fell in love with the format and have been using it exclusively on this particular project.

The print size is just right to me - small enough to invite a closer look, but large enough to have a presence across the room. I also like being able to get twice as many photographs per film holder and per sheet when I develop film, etc... It makes it easier to travel with the 8x10 (which I often do by airplane) because I can get 16 shots out of only 4 holders.

I really don't see any significant downside to doing it this way. You do need to be careful when handling the film holders to keep track of the exposed half. I got into the habit very early to shoot the top half first and then the bottom to avoid double exposing them. You also have to remember to put in and remove the half slide - this may seem obvious, but it's an extra step that's easy to forget when you're used to just pulling a darkslide and exposing the film. I guess the only other possible downside could come from having a negative needing normal developent on the same sheet with a negative that needs N+. I avoid this by taking good notes in the field and simply grouping negatives needing each form of development. Otherwise, it's bullet proof. I've exposed at least 200 sheets of film this way with no problems.

If you already own an 8x10, making or buying a split darkslide is really no big deal so your best bet is simply to try it and decide for yourself. If you're thinking of buying a dedicated 4x10, I would recommend against it unless you're absolutely committed to the format. This requires buying special (expensive) film holders, cutting down film, etc... You're not saving much weight or space, so it just doesn't seem to make much sense to me when 8x10 cameras are so plentiful (and cheap, by comparison). You can also rotate your camera back on an 8x10 and do verticals, something not possible with a dedicated 4x10 camera.

Good luck. I have some 4x10's from my River Road project on my Website at www.scottkillian.com

19-Sep-2005, 19:27
Thanks guys. Nice images Scott. I live thirty minutes from your shot of Canyon De Chelly and that is a place that screams Pano and one of the reasons I am taking this road.

Ken Lee
19-Sep-2005, 19:48
The nice thing about using an 8x10 instead of a dedicated 4x10 camera, is that you can also make 3x10, 5x10, 6x10, etc. - and
that's just the whole numbers. You can cut a darkslide to any ratio - or mask the image while making contact prints.

I like 6.18 x 10 (the Golden Mean of classical fame), and 4.5 x 10, which is quite close to the square root of 5.


Brian Vuillemenot
19-Sep-2005, 19:51
Hi Mark,

4X10 is a great underappreciated format. I've done it both ways- with the half darkslide on an 8X10 and using a dedicated 4X10 camera. I would strongly recommend that you do it using the half darkslide method, particularly if you already have an 8X10 camera, at least to get started. One of the big issues with this format (as Kerry Thalmann has pointed out in his articles) is the difficulty and expense of getting film holders. I got mine from S&S, and it took a while to get everything working smoothly. My camera back had to be modified slightly to fit the holders- Sandy King was very helpful with this.
I imagine that you shoot B&W, so this probably doesn't apply to you, but for color shooters like myself who rely on sending film off for E6 processing it can be problematic. I still haven't found a lab that will do it at a reasonable cost. A local lab was charging me the same as for a sheet of 8X10, in which case I could have just exposed two shots on at 8X10 for the same price! I didn't want to have to start processing my own E6, but I may end up going that route.
Of course, a dedicated 4X10 camera does have its benefits. It puts you more in the "panoramic mindframe" when you view a 4X10 ground glass rather than an 8X10 one. It's also lighter and less bulky. You will have to cut your own film in the dark, which isn't really that difficult, but it involves another, sometimes tedious, step. I still haven't completely made up my mind which is the better of the two methods for shooting 4X10, but it is clearly better to start off with the cut darkslide. Best of luck, and let us know how your 4X10 efforts work out!

-Brian www.imagesofenchantment.com (http://www.imagesofenchantment.com)

19-Sep-2005, 19:58
Why not just crop from a full 8x10 at contact time? Seems like a lot of bother just to save half a sheet of film. And of course you wouldn't be restricted to exactly 4x10 every single time.

19-Sep-2005, 20:00
...and you could use the middle of the lens if you like, which might be useful for low-coverage lenses like the SSXL 110mm.

Sidney Cammeresi
19-Sep-2005, 20:50
One big advantage to buying a dedicated camera for a small banquet format is that the camera will be a lot smaller and lighter than its cousin. I'm not sure what the weights are for 4x10 vs 8x10, but I'm considering buying a 5x12 that weighs 11 lbs, whereas my 11x14 camera weighs 20 lbs. The 5x12 would actually be backpackable, and I could get into places not accessible by wheels.

20-Sep-2005, 01:56
I've used the split darkslide method and find it quite good... the main problems I've encountered are keeping track of which halves have been exposed, and dust from the repeated in and out of the darkslide (each sheet needs twice as many removals and insertions). What I've found to be quite a handy feature of my Cambo is that I can rotate the whole back 180 degrees, eliminating the need to shift the lens or back from +2" to -2" to go from one shot to the next (for horizontals only). This also makes it easy to choose rise or fall depending on the shot. Compared to cropping from a single sheet, the split slide method cuts film and processing costs in half, no small consideration with the current cost of 8x10 color film.

George Stewart
20-Sep-2005, 16:10
I've been shooting a 4x10 box-camera (Canham) with a 90XL for about 10 years now. If one wanted a very wide view this is the setup to get. For focal lengths of 300mm or greater I would think that a cropped 8x10 would be better overall. At a certain point (shorter focal lengths), economizing by shooting 4x10 cropped from 8x10 would n0t make sense to me.

20-Sep-2005, 20:04
I've been of late shooting 5x8 and 4x10 on a 65 year old Deardorff. I didnt have the wooden back dividers so I just made some out of matt board. They work just fine. I really like this setup. The only thing I would like better is if the Deardorff had shift so I could use the center of the lens circle. This is a great way to photograph.... 3 formats in one. All very useful. Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com.