PDA

View Full Version : Starting LF Photography with ULF Camera?



alec4444
22-Jun-2006, 21:21
Hi all,

I'm really super interested in getting into Large Format Photography and I've been doing a lot of reading about how people got into it. One common theme I've been seeing is the transition to the format. Everyone appears to have started with 35mm, then medium format (6x6, 6x7, etc) then 4x5, then 8x10, etc.

I'm already at the medium format stage and I want to try large format. Given what I've read, I believe there is a 99.8% chance I will be enthralled with it. So, to cut down on the expense of upgrade after upgrade, I'm toying with the idea of getting an 11x14 as my first large format camera.

Is this a serious mistake? It seems that the processes are exactly the same, with the differnce being that one has to take a bit more care in all of the operations. I think I'd be doing that naturally at about $7 per shot. If you have advice or experience with this same dilemma, I'd be interested in your conclusions.

Thanks!
--Alec

David A. Goldfarb
22-Jun-2006, 21:44
My first LF camera was 8x10", and I thought that was a good place to start. It's big enough to see what's happening clearly on the groundglass and to make decent contact prints, but not so hard to get film and holders for, and an 8x10" lens kit lets you move up or down and you'll likely have lenses for other formats you might want to try. 8x10" also gives you the option of Polaroid (hang onto your wallet, though).

If you always print to 11x14" and that's been your ideal print size for a long time, I wouldn't rule out starting with 11x14", but it does add a fair amount of complication compared to a more standard size like 4x5", 5x7" or 8x10", if you're just learning to do LF.

Frank Petronio
22-Jun-2006, 21:50
You should get that 11x14 if you find a good one at a good price. But getting a relatively inexpensive 4x5 set-up to do your first practice with movements, handling film holders, and all the other stuff involved will pay for itself in saved wrecked 11x14 film. And it may also help you understand what you want for an 11x14 camera and lens.

FWIW, a lot of us didn't progress linearly with photographic formats.

Ron Marshall
22-Jun-2006, 21:52
Hi Alec. I have been shooting 4x5 for just over a year now, and have recently aquired a 5x7 as well, confirming the trend.

11x14 entails a much larger initial investment than 4x5, more expensive lenses, filmholders, camera, and you can only shoot near a car.

If you buy used, which is fairly easy, especially if you are not in a hurry, you can always resell without much of a loss, and you only need invest in one lens and one filmholder to begin. On the other hand, to be certain, you could always rent a view camera for a weekend to get a feel for it and see if it is really for you.

John Kasaian
22-Jun-2006, 22:04
alec,

If you want to spend all your time making great B&W portraits, maybe some landscapes close to the car, alternative process contacts and you've got lots and lots of money thats burning a hole in your pocket, its not a mistake, in fact few formats come even close to being as pleasing as 11x14 IMHO :-)

Its the money part and lack of mobility that is the issue. An 11x14 isn't much diferent than a 4x5 but it'll take a lot more work to load those big sheets of films. Many would council yo to start with 4x5 but if what you want is bigger negatives you might as well start with a camera that will provide.

There are some good reasons why that first camera shouldn't be an 11x14 however.

1) Limited film---its going to be B&W all the way. If someone is making color 11x14 film I sure haven't heard about it (and if they are, it'll be so expensive it will take all the fun out of it IMHO)

2) Horribly expensive film holders--even used ones---$200+ bucks each. With a modest 3 holder kit, thats over $600 just in holders and don't count on them all being good. With used holders there'll always a chance of a leaker in the works.

3) It'll be a big camera to haul around, requiring a big tripod and the film holder will be big and heavy (oh yeah, you'll need a big dark room for those huge trays and if yu want an enlarger---lets not even go there!) Just fine for studio use however, but quite frankly if I were going to take it out to the woods, my 12x20 is about as user friendly.

Solution?

1) try an 8x10--plenty of film to choose from, even color if you need it (and can afford it) I can still get B&W for well under $2 a sheet.

2) Used holders are a lot less expensive---like maybe six or seven for the price of one 11x14 holder.

3) The size is a lot more manageable---I can even hike and ski with it (with the right pack) The tripod is still awkward though, but if mountain troops can ski with a trench mortar then a wimpy ol' wood tripod isn't so bad a load.

If you don't like the square-er format of 8x10 theres still another option---5x7 which is very close in proportions to 11x14

1) Film is even cheaper than 8x10 and yes, color too.

2) Ditto

3) Even more ditto.

When building your kit, you can save $$ when you do feel like moving up to an 11x14 later by selecting lenses that will also provide good coverage for the larger format. A 450 Nikkor M, 305 G-Claron, or 19" Artar etc...

I don't mean to sound discouraging however. I'm just pointing out my observations having owned an 11x14 B&J YMMV of course!

Best wishes!

Brian Vuillemenot
22-Jun-2006, 22:34
"Everyone appears to have started with 35mm, then medium format (6x6, 6x7, etc) then 4x5, then 8x10, etc."

Actually, that's not true. A lot of people stop at 4X5, because for them it represents the "sweet spot" between portability, convenience, quality, expense, and availabilty of film and equipment. Others try large format, even into ULF, and then go back to 35 mm and/or MF. Everyone is different. Your situation is unique, so only you can figure out what your goals and aspirations are for trying ULF. I think a lot of the current fascination with ULF has to do with the old "bigger is better" mentality. In many instances, bigger is better. But a lot of people get into the bigger cameras because at some level they feel like it will make them cooler or more of a man or people will take them more seriously- no different from why someone buys a huge SUV or powerful sports car or ultra fast motorcycle. You don't see too many women using LF cameras...

Ole Tjugen
22-Jun-2006, 23:54
I started with 5x7" after 35mm and MF. Then got 4x5", 8x10", 9.5x12", 12x16"...

I still use 5x7" most. It's big enough that you can really see what's going on on the ground glass, yet small enough that you can see the entire ground glass in one glance. Many 4x5" lenses will cover the format, which means far more available lenses than in 8x10" - not to mention 11x14"! Film availability is surprisingly good, especially with a few 13x18cm holders: Lots of films are available in that size but not in 5x7".

The cameras are only slightly larger than equivalent 4x5" cameras, and far more portable than 8x10".

Capocheny
23-Jun-2006, 00:42
My first LF camera was a 4x5. Then, I went 5x7 and now... it's 8x10! :)

The incremental costs going from 4x5 to 5x7 wasn't too, too bad. However, going to 8x10 represents a huge cost increase from 4x5.

I can only imagine what going to 11x14 is going to set you back. And, if you're just learning the ins and outs of LF (as a newbie)... I hope you've got LOTS and LOTS of buckeroos! It isn't going to be inexpensive!

Good luck on the decision though. :)

Cheers

Geert
23-Jun-2006, 02:28
Begin with 4x5 of 5x7 (I like the latter better) and enjoy the learning curve. Then move up if you still feel tempted.
Please don't skip the smaller formats as the portability and lower cost won't discourage you in the quest.

I have a 5x7 for contacts with a 4x5 reducing back for negatives to enlarge. Very soon, 7x17 will be added to the list.

Dan Fromm
23-Jun-2006, 06:14
alec4444, what size of MF are you shooting? I ask because in his lovely book A. A. Blaker makes the point that going up in format is worth the trouble only if both sides of the negative are at least doubled in size. By this rule, the next step up from 6x4.5 is 4x5, from 6x6, 6x7, and 6x9 is 5x7. So there are your lower bounds.

N Dhananjay
23-Jun-2006, 06:53
If you have done a good bit of reading and looking at prints and you feel like its going to rock your boat, I think you'd be doing yourself a disservice not going for it. It might be worth it trying cheaper (relatively) methods (used camera and lenses etc) to confirm that it does rock your boat before actually going the whole nine yards. LF equipment (especially used) tends to hold its value reasonably well, so if you feel it does not work for you, you can sell everything without taking too much of a jab in the gut.

Having said that, I'd think a bit about the exact format you'd like to go with. The consensus seems to be that 4x5 and 5x7 are quite similar in terms of weight, bulk, travel etc. 8x10/7x17 is a quantum jump, and 11x14/8x20/12x20 is yet another quantum jump. There is an advantage to shotting the largest format compatible with what you want to do in the sense that you can always slap a reducing back on it to shoot smaller formats. But if the equipment gets in the way of what you are trying to do, its not worth it.

Good luck, DJ

Scott Davis
23-Jun-2006, 07:39
I'd add another voice to the call for reason - 11x14 is not the place to start with for large format. Just the logistics involved, and the style change you'll have to make, can be more than daunting, and very frustrating if your initial success rate is less than you'd like - with 11x14 film you're talking about $6 or so per exposure - that gets painful when you have to start tossing away that much money for each sub-your-own-standard image.

paulr
23-Jun-2006, 07:50
... and you've got lots and lots of money thats burning a hole in your pocket, its not a mistake ...

I think that's the biggest issue right there.

Any time you learn something new, you want to feel free to be playful, to experiment, to make a lot of mistakes. If you feel the burden of all those dollars-per-sheet weighing you down, then your progress will suffer.

But if that's not an issue, if the old addage, "film is cheap!" feels true to you, even when the film is big enough to use as a throw rug, then why not?

alec4444
23-Jun-2006, 07:59
Thanks, guys, this is really helpful. I AM really interested in the 11x14 format. The wider, panoramic formats (12x20, 7x17) intrigue me too, but for my first camera I think 11x14 is a nice shape. If a panorama is really needed I could always crop the contact sheet. My thought on the reducing backs was the same; if I find 11x14 too expensive I can always get an 8x10 back for a few hundred bucks. On the other hand, if I found 8x10 too small, it would cost a fortune to refit my gear to 11x14.

5x7 is still a possibility. I read an article somewhere (was it here) that spoke about why 5x7 is a nice format (cheaper film that's still available, can make reasonable contact prints, nice shape, etc.) My biggest fear is getting all this stuff and then discovering that what I was really after was something larger.

The portability factor is important to me too. An 11x14 rig + film holders + tripod will probably do me well here in NYC without a car (unless I get mugged). On a trip to Europe, I'd likely be in for a sore back. To fund this madness, I was contemplating selling my medium format equipment (6x6, BTW), which may not be too smart unless I'm willing to settle for 35mm on overseas excursions.

The camera I was looking at is indeed used, and I plan to look at it in person soon. It's also heavy (~30lbs). I would imagine it's going to take me a year or so to get all the needed accessories (tripod, lens, film holders, etc) from the used market. I'm not made of money.

Per Ron's suggestion, I think I will probably rent a LF camera or take a course at ICP first. I think that's a brilliant idea, and a fine way to learn about the LF world before plunking down major cash. I might snag the used 11x14 before then (haven't seen a lot of them around, and the resale value is probably good) but hold off on the other pieces.

Thanks again for all your help. It's nice to see all the viwepoints and pros and cons before jumping into something like this!

--Alec

Scott Rosenberg
23-Jun-2006, 08:22
this is about as advisable as learning cycling on the Rafensteiner Bergstrasse from Bolzano. i'm not saying it's impossible, just that it's not the route that will best develop your large format photography into something that is productive and enjoyable to you. if you had a very good mentor experienced in ULF your chances of success would be marginally better. consider the cost of materials you're going to burn through while figuring things out... i'll bet that sum alone would buy you a nice 4x5 starter kit. there's a reason folks start with 120, then 4x5, then 8x10, etc... the same reason we start out crawling.

what reason is there for jumping right into ULF? the market for used 4x5 gear is very healthy presently. if you buy used and then decide to move up, you'll be able to get out of your gear nearly what you paid for it - maybe more!

good luck in whatever direction you go!!

Ron Marshall
23-Jun-2006, 08:40
Alec, instead of rental, you could buy a used 4x5 as your travel camera, and go through the learning curve on it. After shooting forty or so sheets you will have a much better idea of what will work for you.

I once thought of going the 11x14 route, mainly because it permits a decent size contact. But I soon gave up the idea because I enjoy photographing away from the car, and because of the expense. I now contact print from 5x7, and scan 4x5 negs and print on an Epson 2200, with wonderful seven tone Piezographic inks. The results are different, but both are equally satisfying to me.

Here are a few trusted used equipment sources: KEH Camera Brokers, Midwest Photo Exchange, Badger Graphics (Some used equipment), Lens and Repro.

David Vickery
23-Jun-2006, 13:25
Well, I’d say do what you have to do to go ahead a get the 11x14, since that's what you say you want. I use 4x5, 8x10, 11x14, and 12x20 and the 11x14 is my favorite. I wish that I had been smart enough to get it when I first started with big cameras. There really is a big difference between using a 4x5 and an 11x14. Except for the weight of the film holders, the 11x14 is easier to use than the 4x5! Of course, my 11x14 is home made and is light enough for me to go hiking with it in an "ALICE" backpack so I don't have to stand around beside my car to use it. Many of the lenses that will cover the 8x10 will cover 11x14, including the excellent 14" C. Ektar. The only real consideration that I would caution about is the need for a vacuum frame or vacuum easel. Even when using thick glass I could not get the entire image sharp with 11x14 contact printing, until I started using a vacuum frame. The really big frames are cheap as printing companies go to digital processes, and they will allow you to easily move up to those larger formats as the desire arises (I'm working on a 20"x36"!).

Bruce Watson
23-Jun-2006, 14:46
I'm really super interested in getting into Large Format Photography and I've been doing a lot of reading about how people got into it. One common theme I've been seeing is the transition to the format. Everyone appears to have started with 35mm, then medium format (6x6, 6x7, etc) then 4x5, then 8x10, etc.
I for one went from 35mm to 5x4, and have no desire to go any bigger. The only reason I can see to go bigger is if you want to contact print. I have no desire for contact prints - I like to enlarge. And 5x4 lets me easily enlarge to 125 x 100 cm prints which are very sharp and very smooth.

One of the things I like to do is load up my pack and hike a while. Some of my day hikes are as long as 20 Km. My 5x4 outfit is as big as I can go and survive such hikes.

And the money I save on film and processing by sticking with a smaller size goes to a) more film, and b) big prints.

Clearly, YMMV. But 5x4 is the perfect fit for me -- so not everyone is constantly moving up in format size!

Brian Vuillemenot
23-Jun-2006, 15:12
I'm surprised no one has added in the depth of field disadvantage you put yourself in as format size goes up. You have to stop down more and more with a given angle of view as the camera size increase to get the same depth of field. For example, a normal lens for 4X5 is 150mm; for 8X10, 300mm; and for 11X14, 450mm. The 450mm lens has far less depth of field at a the same f stop than the 150! With many subjects, even with movements it may not be possible to get everything in focus. The more you stop down, the more detail you lose to diffraction. The consensus on this forum is that loss to diffraction is not very noticeable unless you are enlarging, and becomes apparent at about f45 or so.

This argument may or may not affect you choice, but is something else to consider.

steve simmons
23-Jun-2006, 15:31
May I suggest some reading

go to

www.viewcamera.com

and click on the Free Articles link. There will be several that might be helpful

get a copy of one of these books

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

Large Format nature Photography by Jack Dykinga - mostly about 4x5

Using the View Camera

try your local library.

These will help introduce large format to you.

steve simmons

bglick
23-Jun-2006, 18:40
Alec, your getting some great advise from some reaally seasoned pros... I will add a few other considerations....

To best answer the format question, you should start in reverse, ask yourself what is the end product you plan to produce.... Prints? If so, what size? If a smaller format will produce equal quality prints, then do you still want 11x14?

Then move onto 11x14 limiations....

Color or B&W. If its color, forget it.... What little might still be available sure won't be for long.

Lenses? If you only want a couple, 11x14 is OK, otherwise, move to 8x10.

Do you want movements? Which is part of the benefits of LF. If so, forget 11x14.

Do you want to scan the film? Very few 11x14 film scanners and the ones that do exist are VERY expensive. B&W contact prints, well, 11x14 is an awesome format.

As pointed out earlier.... lots of DOF in your shots, if so, forget 11x14...(format gains are diminished by aperture diffraction) Which is the real reason 4x5 is the Golden format.

Weight? Do you plan to haul this gear around or use it in a studio? If you haul it, beware of weight issues, not easy to deal with...

Re sale value?

replacement parts? Accessories available for camera?

Subject matter, is it still? If you are used to shooting 1/30th on MF, and need a given amount of DOF, then each format jump will cost you 2 full stops of shutter speed. So 1/30th on MF = 1 second exposure on 11x14. Using ISO 100 film, comparing to f8 aperture on MF film, exposure times....

Direct sun, EV 14 = f 64 1/8 second exposure

Overcast day EV 11 = 1 seconds

sunset/sunrise EV 9 = 4 seconds.

If you are forced to use ND center filters to prevent light fall off, this will cost you another 2 stops of shutter speed. If you focus closer then infinity, this can cost you another stop or two. So 10 - 30 second exposures are not out of the question. What about filters for the B&W film, more shutter speed lost...

So consider how "static" your subjects are and reciprocity failures of the film. What good is a blury 11x14 image vs. a sharp 4x5 image due to subject not beign fully coopeerative with extensive long exposure times?


Wind, the bigger the format, the more camera shake.... unlike MF cameras, LF cameras bellows acts as sails in the wind.

FL of lenses, the bigger the format, the longer the fl lens required for same composure. A 90mm lens on a MF = 540mm lens on 11x14. Long lenses are much more vulnerable to shake, the same in any format.


Do you usually shoot with long lenses? If so, the longest lens available for 11x14 is slightly over normal, or 80mm for MF.

If there is no deal breakers in there, jump right in, you will love it!

Frank Petronio
23-Jun-2006, 19:12
Shuh, let him get his 11x14 outfit. Chances are we'll be able to scoop it up for a bargain after a few experiments...

I admire the ambition and it is a worthy goal. But making the slight detour to learn on 4x5 may actually be faster and less expensive that plowing through with a 30 lb 11x14 antique camera.

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2006, 19:16
What model 11x14 are you looking at? The old Scovils are actually pretty light and compact. Studio cameras OTOH were built for use on heavy cast iron stands---not a good idea if you want to leave your studio(and make sure it comes with the stand.) Phillips I think made a nifty lightwieght model. A Deardorff Field (not studio) would also be a good choice. My B&J was really a nice camera but I just couldn't pack it easily--big ol' knobs would reach out there and grab branches. If you get an 11x14 make sure it comes with at least one holder--like I said the cost of 11x14 holders are a killer. You might get by with two holders(I do on my 12x20) but three is IMHO an ideal number to start out with no matter what format. I have an old Ries tripod, a grandfather to the current A-100 that holds my 8x10 and 12x20 and is as sturdy at the Rock of Girbralter---it would be a good pick for an 11x14 field camera.

Enjoy that 11x14!

Scott Rosenberg
23-Jun-2006, 19:20
Shuh, let him get his 11x14 outfit. Chances are we'll be able to scoop it up for a bargain after a few experiments....

frank, that's exactly what i was thinking. sadly, the experience will likely turn alec off to LF photography altogether. FRANKly, i'm stunned that there's anyone encouraging a newb to 'cut his teeth' on 11x14.

Oren Grad
23-Jun-2006, 19:30
Color or B&W. If its color, forget it.... What little might still be available sure won't be for long.

Color in ultra-large formats is a special order item at this point. If you want it, you get together with enough of your like-minded friends to come up with an order for $10,000 worth of film, give or take. It will be quite expensive on a per-sheet basis - figure maybe $20/sheet at an absolute minimum.


Lenses? If you only want a couple, 11x14 is OK, otherwise, move to 8x10.

Obviously the selection isn't so wide as it is for smaller formats, but there are many lenses that cover 11x14, including some that are affordable and quite compact.


Do you want movements? Which is part of the benefits of LF. If so, forget 11x14.

Most 11x14 cameras offer a range of movements similar or identical to what you'll find on smaller models of the same design - which is to say, plenty for general field applications.


Do you want to scan the film? Very few 11x14 film scanners and the ones that do exist are VERY expensive.

Depends whether you intend to make mural-sized enlargements, in which case you have a very demanding special application. If what you want is to print, say, 2x-3x enlargements via inkjet, the Microtek 9800XL with transparency adapter is quite usable. $1269.95 at B&H. Not exactly cheap, but hardly stratospheric given the overall expense of playing in the format.


As pointed out earlier.... lots of DOF in your shots, if so, forget 11x14...

UL formats do very well with big, distant landscapes. It can be quite difficult to get a pan-focus picture if you like near-far compositions and the subject configuration can't be handled with a simple tilt or swing. So you take a different kind of picture when the main subject is close by - that's part of the distinctive character of the medium.


Which is the real reason 4x5 is the Golden format.

There's no disputing taste. From my point of view, 4x5 is the least interesting, and my least favorite, of all the many formats I've tinkered with over the years. As the saying goes, YMMV.


Re sale value?

As best I can tell, not systematically better or worse than for equipment in other formats.


replacement parts? Accessories available for camera?

Not systematically different from smaller models of the same type. That is, it can be hard to find odd parts like extension beds for classic cameras, while it's easy to get parts for cameras still in production. It's easy to have lensboards made for any wooden camera, and virtually any wooden camera can still be repaired today.

So would I recommend starting with 11x14? No. I started with 8x10, which was fabulous. In my experience 11x14 is disproportionately more difficult to handle than the linear scale factor would imply. The size and weight place a huge logistical burden on every little thing you want to do, and the cost and effort invested in the inevitable mistakes as you travel the learning curve can be quite discouraging too. If you think you have a taste for the big negative, by all means don't feel that you must start with 4x5 - just think about 8x10 as a much more practical starting point.

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2006, 20:05
I think what you're dealing with is bulk, logistics and expense. As the format grows in size, so do those three considerations. In light of that, I'd suggest you attend one of the ULF workshops in Utah. The opportunity to look through an 11x14 GG and actually work with a 'big boy' will either cinch the deal or cause you to consider other options...but to discourage you from pursuing the format of your choice? Naw!

David G. Gagnon
23-Jun-2006, 20:08
Alec, you said "Given what I've read, I believe there is a 99.8% chance I will be enthralled with it. "

Okay, you've already got the mindset to get into LF, but I can't speak abou ULF because I didn't go that far. An LFer would make that kind of statement, whereas a small or medium format guy would not have used a decimal point. It's a more precise and technical game.
DG

alec4444
23-Jun-2006, 20:21
Color or B&W. If its color, forget it.... What little might still be available sure won't be for long.

Oh, B&W for sure. I print color every once in a while to keep my skills current, but that's about where it ends. Something about developing my own film that's very satisfying.


Lenses? If you only want a couple, 11x14 is OK, otherwise, move to 8x10.

I've only got two for my medium format (somewhat due to cost) and I've been pretty happy.


Do you want movements? Which is part of the benefits of LF. If so, forget 11x14.

YES, I do want movements and is one of the reasons why I think I'd like the large format system. I love architectural photography and landscapes. I realize that larger cameras pose a problem because the image circle has to be huge, but I didn't think it was a big problem. Perhaps it is? Another response by Oren seems to think this shouldn't be an issue. Not that I'm going to side with someone because they say yes, but clearly this could be a sticking point.


Do you want to scan the film? Very few 11x14 film scanners and the ones that do exist are VERY expensive. B&W contact prints, well, 11x14 is an awesome format.

God no.....thank you. I'd get a digital camera if that were the case.


As pointed out earlier.... lots of DOF in your shots, if so, forget 11x14...(format gains are diminished by aperture diffraction) Which is the real reason 4x5 is the Golden format.

If I'm to be honest with myself, yes. I typically shoot my medium format at f/16 or f/32, even with wide angle lenses. I'm not adverse to some blur, but my style typically has none.


Weight? Do you plan to haul this gear around or use it in a studio? If you haul it, beware of weight issues, not easy to deal with...

A consideration, but not an impasse. I'm in New York City, and we've got good public transportation. If I go elsewhere, I could rent a car. If I've got a burning desire to shoot something that's out of the way, I'm stubborn enough to figure out some way of getting to it. I might never shoot it again, but I'll get there once. :)


Re sale value?

No, you can't have my camera. None of you! Back, BACK! :p


replacement parts? Accessories available for camera?

Richard Ritter.


Subject matter, is it still?

Typically, yes. Landscape & Architecture.


Do you usually shoot with long lenses?

Nope. Wide & Normal. I've got an ultra-wide (40mm) for my 6x6 Rollei that's a blast.

---------------------------------------------------

These are great considerations. Someone should make a list of these and others and create some sort of web application where people can answer the questions and based on some point value get an answer to LF and ULF needs. It's just a bit of Javascript, though I'm sure the contentious part will be assigning the various points!

With the dwindling poll numbers above, I'm going to take a course in LF photography at ICP and see what I think. They have 4x5s that students can take home and play with. Over a few days, I'm sure to shoot a ton of frames, and if I like it, and I still think 11x14 is the right format, I'm going to jump in with both feet. I think contact prints are amazing, I really want to do some alternative processes with it (hello albumen prints!), and even if it's too much for travel I live in a helluva city for photography. I'm sure I'm not gonna want to carry this thing around when I get old, so now is the right time.

Having no formal darkroom, I'm going to have to try developing 4x5 sheets in a tray in my bathroom in complete darkness. If I can get that to work, I have no worries about 11x14. I've got to give that desensitizer stuff a whirl and try developing by inspection. Outside of developing, I can do contact prints at a rental darkroom, or alternative process prints in the sun.

--A

alec4444
23-Jun-2006, 20:24
John Kasaian, do they still have those ULF workshops in Utah? I read somewhere that this year's was cancelled (or they did it in Scotland or somehting) and that they are typically VERY expensive. Like "new lens" expensive.

--A

bglick
23-Jun-2006, 20:31
Me > Lenses? If you only want a couple, 11x14 is OK, otherwise, move to 8x10.

Oren > Obviously the selection isn't so wide as it is for smaller formats, but there are many lenses that cover 11x14, including some that are affordable and quite compact.

If you want modern lenses, only a few fl's will cover 11x14... so you might have a normal and wide-normal lens. I have 10 lenses for my 8x10, ranging from, super wide, wide, normal, long, and telephoto long. I would say that's a substantial difference.



Me > Do you want movements? Which is part of the benefits of LF. If so, forget 11x14.

Oren > Most 11x14 cameras offer a range of movements similar or identical to what you'll find on smaller models of the same design - which is to say, plenty for general field applications.

I was not referring to camera movements, I was referring to the image circles which are fairly maxed out on 11x14, except maybe the new Schneider ULF lenses.


Me > Which is the real reason 4x5 is the Golden format.

Oren > There's no disputing taste. From my point of view, 4x5 is the least interesting, and my least favorite, of all the many formats I've tinkered with over the years. As the saying goes, YMMV.

Sorry, I am missing the YMMV....but regardless of your taste or my taste, 4x5 is the Golden format as proven by sales that outpace all other LF's by 30:1. And this is for a good reason, as the optics become the limiting factor due to diffraction, lack of movement potential due to maxed out image circles, size and weight, less sharpness, etc. etc.. I was not referring to my personal taste. Most newbies to LF do not realize the reason the ULF were created many years because the recording media, (plates, paper, early film) was so poor compared to today, they had very limited if any enlargement factor. As film progressed through the years and could be enlarged more and more, these formats served little purpose.

Now this does not prevent people from loving the format, as quite often people use guns too big, ATV's too big, etc. The hobby part of photography leaves these options open for anyone of course.... others like collecting gear, specially large gear, then occasinaly use it. But I think its important newbies understand the limitations with going bigger and bigger.


Me > Re sale value?

Oren > As best I can tell, not systematically better or worse than for equipment in other formats.


11x14 film is more vulnerable to extinction, long before 8x10 and then 4x5. What is re sale value of cameras which has limited or NO film available? Some people would consider this a valid issue.



Me > replacement parts? Accessories available for camera?

Oren > Not systematically different from smaller models of the same type. That is, it can be hard to find odd parts like extension beds for classic cameras, while it's easy to get parts for cameras still in production. It's easy to have lensboards made for any wooden camera, and virtually any wooden camera can still be repaired today.


Accessories for smaller formats... machined lens hoods, reflex viewers, rail extensions, film holders of several variety and reasonable prices, special lens boards such as recessed, ground glass protectors, bellows variety, rail extensions, fresnels, etc., etc...

It's hard to beleive you can argue this last one... not to mention, most 4x5/8x10 camera makers are still in business, and can benefit from the accesories that maker offers. There is a few 11x14 makers today, but usualy small companies with limited accesories. Of course, my comments are generalized, as the OP may not purcahase the older 30 lb camera he found. This thread also is read by others in the future who may be comtemplating the same....

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2006, 20:34
Its usually advertised in View Camera magazine. I don't know for sure if it still being held or not, but with all the interest in ULF I can't imagine why it wouldn't be.

Hey Frank! You want to teach workshops---heres your chance---ULF on the east coast!

John Kasaian
23-Jun-2006, 20:36
Another thought. Folmer and Schwing did produce an 11x14 Skyscraper model especially for architecture. You might check out one of those.

Frank Petronio
23-Jun-2006, 20:42
One other consideration is that for architectural photography, most of the work we see is done with 4x5 or smaller formats because it is really hard or impossible to adequately get the parrallel near-far subjects sharp enough with the larger 8x10 plus formats. As Oren distinctly mentioned, but might have been lost in the static, you make different sorts of images with different sized cameras. A square Rollei can be wonderful, but the same scene may not translate into 4x5 or larger format.

Think of Frederick Evans' architectural photos... they have large areas that are not sharp. Wheras the ULF work by Watkins, O'Sullivan, and the other old topographic photographers often avoid showing much of a foreground.

Now that I think of it, pick up the Darius Kinsey books... he mastered all this many years ago.

Oren Grad
23-Jun-2006, 20:46
YES, I do want movements and is one of the reasons why I think I'd like the large format system. I love architectural photography and landscapes. I realize that larger cameras pose a problem because the image circle has to be huge, but I didn't think it was a big problem. Perhaps it is? Another response by Oren seems to think this shouldn't be an issue. Not that I'm going to side with someone because they say yes, but clearly this could be a sticking point.

Getting enough movement out of an 11x14 for general landscape work, both in terms of what movements the camera allows and in terms of the image circle of your lenses, is generally not a problem.

Architecture as a specialized application could be a problem, depending on exactly what you have in mind. The one common lens type that is essentially impossible to find at a moderate price for 11x14 is ultrawide angle lenses. At 305mm, which is roughly equivalent to 225mm on 8x10, you can, for example, use a G-Claron, which is compact, moderately priced, and when stopped way down will have an image circle that allows for reasonable movement. But there's no moderately-priced counterpart in 11x14 to the big 150-165mm ultrawides designed for 8x10. If you have $3000 you can buy a 210 SSXL (add another $1000 or so if you want the center filter), which will cover with a bit of movement. The discontinued 200 Grandagon and 210 SA have comparable image circles but are also quite expensive when you can find them, and are monstrously big and heavy (~6-7 lb.). Also, for interiors, DOF and reciprocity issues can become overwhelming.

bglick
23-Jun-2006, 20:51
Alec, seems like you sorted a lot of the issues .... as for the ones your on the fence with....

Movements... Schneider makes two new ULF lenses, called Fine art lenses, I think they run $5k for both fl's. Outside of these, I doubt you will find too many lenses that will allow for ample movements. And if you do, often they have limited sharpness and also require ND center filters to compensate for light fall off. Which is another two stops of shutter speed lost. OTOH, 8x10 offers a lot of movements with a LOT of lenses.

Although buildings remain still, the tiniest bit of wind will still rock a big camera.... landscapes, well, they RARELY stay still... maybe for MF, but at these length exposures, you will start seeing shake that was not apparent when you were in the field.


I am not trying pursuade you or discourage you... if money is not much of an issue, of course, who cares if you make a mistake. For many people, when money is an issue, buying and selling gear and constantly starting from scratch can be quite frustrating. As remember, its not just the camera, its the holders, lenses, film, processing gear, etc. etc. Hence the comments.


But still, the biggest question you need to answer is, what is the end product, and what is the best means to get there. This assumes you don't want to use 11x14 for the sake of using 11x14, which is OK by me! It's always best to backtrack your needs, assuming the end product is the goal and not the camera.

I know one LF photographer who uses a massive camera (don't want to give the format, or I might give his identity away) Anyway, when talking to him once, I discovered, he was very aware of the fact better images can be made with a smaller format, for several reasons and all this weight and size was a burdened not welcomed..... but it was the mystique of the camera that people were intrigued with, and he capitalizes off THAT, and it got him lots of business!. So you may want to consider this also :-)

The class is a great idea if you never toyed with LF gear.... when I started, I used to think of the differences between the formats, 4x5...... 11x14 were small, so whats the big deal...but after years of shooting, you learn, there is a HUGE difference between most single format jumps, let alone a triple jump to 11x14. The difference between a compact 8x10 and 11x14 by itelf is usually quite compelling... But you must weigh this against how often you plan to shoot it, how well will it meet your criteria, etc. Horses for courses!

Oren Grad
23-Jun-2006, 22:07
Horses for courses!

That's the essence of it. There's no point arguing to the death over all the different technical issues we've raised, because what's really going on is that we're applying wildly different "filters" to judge what makes a format a reasonable choice for a user.

I think we've clearly made the point that the logistical burdens become disproportionately larger as you move past 8x10; again, my own advice was that 8x10 is a more practical starting point. But that having been established, I have no idea where Alex will come down once he's gained more experience - whether deep down inside he would be frustrated by a kit which doesn't have the plenitude of options, the extreme technical versatility and the easy handling upon which you place so much weight; whether what's special about big negatives is precisely the point - which is what resonates with me; or whether some entirely different criteria are what really matters, with the optimal match to that being something neither of us would choose for ourselves. It will be up to him to decide.

bglick
23-Jun-2006, 22:19
Oren, agreed..... but often, the allure of a bigger negative tricks the uninformed into a painful and expensive experience, hence everyones contributions here....this forum has rescued many :-)

As a side note, I once viewed a 20x24 contact print, I always dreamed of seeing one.... what I saw was a mediocre B&W image landscape image..... IMO, a good 6x6 shot enlarged would have been preferable to this contact print. After discussions, we concluded there is rarely a single shortcoming that causes less than stellar results..... it can be a combination of issues...in this case, older glass (how many modern lenses cover 20x24), very high f stop, f128 I beleive, LONG exposure, camera shake, subject shake, film alignment, film buckle, etc etc.

alec4444
24-Jun-2006, 04:42
Movements... Schneider makes two new ULF lenses, called Fine art lenses, I think they run $5k for both fl's. Outside of these, I doubt you will find too many lenses that will allow for ample movements. And if you do, often they have limited sharpness and also require ND center filters to compensate for light fall off. Which is another two stops of shutter speed lost. OTOH, 8x10 offers a lot of movements with a LOT of lenses.

I'm listening..... the part about movements is really important to me. In NYC you cant step back 10000 feet from the skyscraper (well, you could, but you may find yourself in NJ, and that's bad) so often the camera is going to be pointed up... which means a lot of correction is going to be needed. It sounds like if I got the brand new Schneider ULF lens and put it on an 8x10 I'd be fine.


But still, the biggest question you need to answer is, what is the end product, and what is the best means to get there. This assumes you don't want to use 11x14 for the sake of using 11x14, which is OK by me! It's always best to backtrack your needs, assuming the end product is the goal and not the camera.

The plan was, of course for 11x14 contact prints. Regular silver and alternative processes. I have a fascination with albumen prints, and there's a bunch of others I want to try too. But I've always liked the look of contact prints, and the notion of not really being able to do much about mistakes on them is somehow refreshingly honest to me in the digital craze. You spend and hour or three fiddling and setting up the shot. You take the shot. You fiddle with the neg some more to develop it just right. And you contact print it. I suppose you can spot the print, but there's something about being able to show a photograph and say it was unedited or massaged. It's RAW art, if you will. As for 11x14, I've always found the size perfect. Enough so that I have a mat cutter that only cuts mats as large as 16x20. And lastly, yes, an 11x14 with a 48" extension is like a giant middle finger in the face of digital. Perhaps I will find 8x10 just as good over time.


Horses for courses!

Hehehehe, if I can find a place to rent a large format camera, I'll ditch the course. =)

--A

Jim Chinn
24-Jun-2006, 08:19
Take the course, get some "chops" with a 4x5. Learn the movements, mechanics, and workflow of LF. If you need to buy a 4x5 get something cheap like an old Calumet 400C series. Not the most protable but built like a tank and with full movements. They are on ebay for about $150 all the time.

If you still want to go the 11x14 route, then come back and get some specific ideas on cameras available and what your options are for lenses in different price ranges. One thing about the 11x14, with the growing interest in ULF you wil not lose any money on the purhcase as it will be pretty easy to re-sell the camera for what you pay for it.

bglick
24-Jun-2006, 09:10
Alec... seems like you are honing down on your needs. If 11x14 contact prints are what you desire, and you want some big movements for architecural.... a good 11x14 camera with ample range of movements and the new schneider Fine Art lenses will be a unique fit for your needs. Two things to consider... be sure the camera has sufficent movements to meet your needs, as many 11x14 cameras may not have the full compliment of movements to take advantage of what you crave for archeticural, but 8x10 with fine art lenses and I am willing to bet you can acheive your goals.

The other thing to consider is ND center filters, as the light falloff when using movements can be extreme, and if you are making contact prints, you have less chance of accurate correction vs. Photoshop (sorry, I had to mention it)

If your shooting exteriors, then DOF is not much of an issue...so IMO, the 11x14 is a good fit for what you describe. Since just about everything can be rented in NYC, why not try a rental... although not sure if anyone rents those new lenses yet, but I would not doubt someone has them. FYI.... Kieth Canham is now taking orders for 20x24 cameras ready by 2008, just in case you get the bug :-)

Best of luck, keep us posted on your progress.... a future post to this thread will bump it forward to the top of the list, so we will all find it. For what its worth, I went from 35mm to 8x10 with no classes, no instructors, no mentors, just one book and a bit of fiddling, and my first outing produced wonderful images. I enjoyed the transition, but like you, I was well versed in photography. I have never looked back. I too considered 11x14 quite often, but I shoot color and the film was drying up.... but as Oren mentioned, most any film can be had for $10k special order, a bit more then what I would need.

Pete Roody
24-Jun-2006, 09:14
Alec,

Since you live in NYC, you can rent a 4x5 or 8x10 fairly easily. If you really are set to jump to 11x14, I would recommend trying an 8x10 rental. Lens & Repro rents an 8x10 Deardorff for $135 a week and that includes a normal lens, dark cloth, holders and cable release. The tripod will cost you $45 for the week.

Peter

Oren Grad
24-Jun-2006, 10:10
Oren, agreed..... but often, the allure of a bigger negative tricks the uninformed into a painful and expensive experience, hence everyones contributions here....this forum has rescued many :-)

As a side note, I once viewed a 20x24 contact print, I always dreamed of seeing one.... what I saw was a mediocre B&W image landscape image..... IMO, a good 6x6 shot enlarged would have been preferable to this contact print. After discussions, we concluded there is rarely a single shortcoming that causes less than stellar results..... it can be a combination of issues...in this case, older glass (how many modern lenses cover 20x24), very high f stop, f128 I beleive, LONG exposure, camera shake, subject shake, film alignment, film buckle, etc etc.

Even for loony fringers like me, there's often a point of diminishing returns. In terms of handling the equipment, 7x17/11x14 are at the far limit of what I can (sometimes) manage - and also at the far limit of what can be covered with modern main-line plasmats. ;) So that's as far as my kit goes.

And I agree, it's very hard to make an UULF (e.g., 20x24) contact print that works both technically and esthetically. Beyond a certain point the handling, DOF and optical performance constraints can become so severe that one just doesn't gain anything, especially if the intended product is a silver contact print, rather than an alt-process print that throws away lots of information anyway.

But Alec, if you go ahead with 11x14, do yourself a favor and try one of the 14-16 lb classic cameras rather than a 30 lb monster like a B&J. And if you want to get all that information from the negative into the print, try to find yourself a vacuum frame.

CXC
24-Jun-2006, 11:45
Alec, it sounds like you have a lot of good reasons to go directly to 11x14; in particular, the commitment to contact printing.

One point that may need to be stressed for a first timer: the ability of a LF camera to extend depth of field via tilt and swing is not unlimited. And, naturally, the bigger the camera, the longer the lens, the shallower the native DOF, the more limited the DOF will be, no matter what you do. But shooting landscapes at infinity and flat building facades won't be a problem.

I for one am not convinced that learning is necessarily easier on 4x5; in many ways the bigger ground glass and the forced slow-down of bigger cameras make the process easier, or at least less prone to errors of haste.

The thing you need for downtown architecture is rise, and plenty of it. Quantify it. I took a look at one of those 11x14 "skyscraper" cameras, and the actual rise available was not that impressive, though probably more convenient. A lensboard with the hole drilled off-center can make a big difference (and with very little downside bother, BTW), especially for larger lensboards. This should encourage you to favor cameras taking larger lensboards, say Sinar-sized (5") or bigger.

Forget shooting in the wind. Go home, or use something else.

Don't be embarrassed to use a pro lab, especially at first. Or if you don't have space for a viable darkroom. Also, check out the availability of rental darkrooms.

Have a good understanding of the monetary costs before commiting yourself. If your keeper rate is similar to mine (1 in 4?) and you have a typical beginner's ruined-sheet rate (guess 1 in 8 or maybe worse?), you will need to shoot several sheets, most of which you will have to develop, before you have a negative worth printing. Then there's the printing costs... By the way, how good are you at reading negatives? You may need to do a test print before realizing some negatives are not worth the effort. It can add up in a hurry, and be twice as bad for beginners.

Finally, count on attracting a crowd of intrusive loud-mouthed idiots whenever you set up in town.

bruce terry
24-Jun-2006, 12:22
Alec - Eight years ago, after much reading (no computer) I cold-turkeyed straight from 35mm into 8x10, for p/p contacts, which I love. I don't think you need to "work up" to ULF, but as has been said, you might find 8x10 to be all you'll ever need.

alec4444
25-Jun-2006, 15:10
Movements... Schneider makes two new ULF lenses, called Fine art lenses, I think they run $5k for both fl's.

Well, actually the wider one is about $7500 US. But they're kind enough to engrave your name on them for free, so that makes all the difference. :rolleyes:

If one were to buy one of those new, any idea what the resale value would be? I'd imagine that since it is "used" (regardless how much) the price would drop 20-30%. But then there's the fact that so few are made, it may not be so bad...

Outside of this folly, what size image circle would one need to adequately cover 11x14 with some movement? 500mm or so?

Peter, thanks for the Lens & Repro referral. I'll be over there on Monday on my lunch break I'm sure. Can't wait!

--A

Ole Tjugen
25-Jun-2006, 15:41
500mm will cover 12x16", so that should give you a bit of movements, yes.

450mm just covers.

I've got a "classic monster" 12x16" (30x40cm) Russian plate camera which I've found to be just too big for my taste. I much prefer my elegant lightweight classic German 24x30cm (9.5x12") plate camera, the difference in size and usability is much greater than you'd think!

Joe Smigiel
27-Jun-2006, 10:15
IMO even an 8x10 is a toy compared to 11x14 and larger. There is just no comparison. Using a ULF camera is so much more involved than the smaller formats that I think it a different beast altogether.

Consider the extremely shallow depth of field you are going to deal with using a normal 480mm lens, or the extremely long exposures if you stop down to improve the former. To comfortably load a film holder you need about 20 inches of horizontal space for the holder, another 20 for the film, and if you are like me, another 10 or so for the partially inserted darkslide. The bellows draw is huge and the camera becomes a sail as a result. As others have mentioned. cost is also a factor as are available options in film and equipment.

If you are prepared to tackle the logistics and limitations of such a large camera, then go for it. You should know you want to do contact prints in that format, or fit a 1:1 head into the picture and not have to enlarge it to get lifesize. Otherwise, consider carefully why you want a LF or ULF camera.

IMO, 4x5 is too small to get a decent contact but it allows for easy enlarging (or scanning). 5x7 makes a good contact and reasonable enlargers are available. 8x10 presents some monetary challenges for enlarging but I don't like the format and see no reason to have an 8x10 vs 4x5 with identical aspect ratio unless you do like that contact size. A lot of the choice revolves around wanting to enlarge vs wanting to contact. 4x5 keeps you in the realm of enlarging so why wouldn't you just go with your MF if that is all that would be important to you?

IMO, unlike going from 35mm to MF to LF there isn't a logical progression from 8x10 (or smaller) sheet formats to those 11x14 or larger. Instead there is a distinct break in considerations and limitations at that point.

Jimi
28-Jun-2006, 05:58
I don't pretend I could give any useful advice, but sometimes you just need to go where you need to go - and see what's there! If we're talking contact printing, then for me, 5x7 or 8x10 is the sweet spot. Double the size and quadruple the challenge, money- and equipmentwise. I'd love a 7x17 or 12x20 camera, but realistically, it would be a case of me or the camera living in my apartment. If I could get it through the door...

Joe has a good point about enlarging - given MF and the good films available, you could have the best of both worlds, prints in 11x14 (or bigger) and you could do a internegative in say, 11x14 and do contact printing in albumen also. If you need movements, you could get by with a MF viewcamera.

alec4444
29-Jun-2006, 20:19
Hi! So I took your advice and rented a large format camera for a week, starting yesterday. Rented a wooden 4x5 format camera (& 135mm lens) in the make I've been considering. (Leaving that out intentionally.) I would have rented an 8x10, but I wanted to see how I like the format and in particular THIS camera.

Got off to a sticky start. Had a helluva time trying to figure out how to get the Polaroid back working. The guy that rented me the camera suggested highly that I rent the back to get an instant result before messing up a sheet of film, only to wait two days to find out I screwed it up. Sage advice indeed. So on day one, I ruined two sheets of 4x5 Type 54 film before giving up and switching to sheet film. Was stressed for time (was at the Botanical Gardens and they were closing) so I promptly ruined another two sheets of film by forgetting to change the ISO on my light meter.

Undeterred, I came home and set up shop in the study, with all available lights illuminating the messy bookshelves. I set the camera low to the floor and practiced trying to get the vertical lines of the shelves straight by playing with the tilt, shift, rise, and fall. It's going to take me a while to figure those out, though I've got the basic idea. I also was able to get the instructions online for the Polaroid 545i back, and after screwing up a third sheet got that down cold. Without wind and in the airconditioned comfort of my home, I made two decent exposures (LONG; 1.5 mins) of the shelves onto Polaroid film. Thrilled I had conquered the beast on day one, I crashed.

Today, work seemed to never end, but when I was finally done for the day I hauled ass home, grabbed my prepacked bag with loaded film holders and rushed out the door. Was insanely humid, but I wasn't going to let that hold me back. Went a block or two from my apartment to a fountain, and set up shop. Image one was way over exposed, and in checking my light meter I found out it thought I was using a flash. It's going to take me a while to get used to it; my Rollei 6008 has a built in meter and I only used my Seikonic for night photography.

Second shot was fine. Threw in the sheet film and made two exposures, then changed locations. Set up my second shot, and a new gust of wind kicked up and blew the fountain water into my open bag, and saturated the camera. My polaroid film box was open, of course, and it also soaked the top sheet. But the photo turned out ok:

http://www.alec.com/4x5/4x5polaroid.jpg
(also attached)

After drying off my stuff as best I could I set up shop to take a picture of the arch behind me. Got trapped by a couple of gawkers. Got back to the shot and it seemed to take forever to get it set up. Huge raindrops were beginning to hit and started seeing lightning. Undeterred I set up my polaroid back and took the first shot. Was all screwed up, I think due to the fact it got soaked. So I switched to the film back as thunder started rumbling then crashing. I got off another shot and it began to poor. my film holder got a few drops on it before I was able to get it back into the bag, and I hope it's ok. If it IS ok, it's probably still garbage because the wind was picking up and the exposure was roughly 30 secs. I'll have all the sheet film developed tomorrow and we'll see how it went.

That said, I'm still undeterred. When I get better at this, I'll know if I have enough time to set up a shot, and if I don't, I won't take it. I will probably do a still life shoot indoors on crappy days. I will learn to keep my camera bag closed, and figure out how to use my light meter consistently. It will take time, and by the end of a week (thank goodness I have a four day weekend) I will probably have improved enough to get more consistent shots. Thanks to your advice, it is very nice to be screwing up 4x5 film rather than 11x14 film on the first go at this. =)

What I have enjoyed in the camera itself. I was telling my wife that it's not unlike a puzzle box. Whilst oogling over it last night, I was slowly making discoveries...."OH so THAT'S why they put the levels there, so you can level the camera before you even open it....smart!" and "OH, I get it. So in theory you never need to tilt the camera base....you can use all the movements while keeping the base level and stationary....nifty!"

We'll see how the negs look, and in the meantime, can't wait for the four day weekend!

Cheers!
--A

Andre Noble
29-Jun-2006, 21:09
How 'bout the aspect ratio consideration: 11x14 not very appealing, in my opinion. A panoramic aspect in ULF works better, I would guess.:)

Ron Marshall
29-Jun-2006, 21:47
I like the fountain shot. Your adventure by the fountain is hilarious.

So now that you have gotten your feet wet, no pun intended, what are your first impressions of LF? Everyone is bound to mess up a few sheets, with so many ways to do so.

Gary Tarbert
30-Jun-2006, 05:12
Alec444 go 8x10 at the max ,If you shoot landscape i believe 5x4 is the format for the the following reasons 1. lighter 2. more films available (more of a reason if you shoot color )
3.wider choice of lenses 4. much cheaper per frame to run 5.D.O.F problems. 6. roll film backs available if you want to shoot say 6x12cm
Having said this i am looking at 8x10 myself .
Also if you decide this LF is not your bag a 5x4 or 8x10 would be easier to move on
Cheers

alec4444
30-Jun-2006, 07:05
So now that you have gotten your feet wet, no pun intended, what are your first impressions of LF? Everyone is bound to mess up a few sheets, with so many ways to do so.

First impressions:
--The best photographs will be achieved by living near the area you want to photograph. Screwed it up? You can go back an infinite number of times until you get it right. Or you can keep going back under different conditions. In other words, at this point, I'd be hesitant to take this on vacation unless I had a lot of free time and developing equipment with me. Perhaps that will change with my ability and confidence.
--I need to figure out how the movements work. With that, my enjoyment of the format will increase, as will the quality of my photographs.
--The gawkers are indeed annoying. Had some old woman ask me to develop her 4x5 film. I think she meant she wanted prints from some 4x5 negatives she found in her attic. One nice way to ward off the gawkers is to wear headphones; my iPod was also used as my timing mechanism while my watch was being fixed. Nobody has asked me yet if it's digital.
--I think i'm going to like 8x10 or larger. The screen on the 4x5 is a bit small.
--Thank god for the tiny aperatures, because I'm having problems getting more than a square inch or three in sharp focus.
--In medium format, I always shot ISO 50 or slower film. That may need to change with LF. (Shooting Tri-X right now)

I like fiddling with the camera and I have the patience for it so I think the large format stuff is fun. I'm having second thoughts about dumping my medium format gear, but then again I've only shot 6 photos with this and I'm flying blind. If a nice sunset appeared I'd probably be set up by sunrise the next morning. This is going to take time and patience, but I'm still very intrigued.


11x14 not very appealing, in my opinion

Humbug, I love 11x14! It's still my goal, though again, I may not replace my medium format gear with it.

--A

Ron Marshall
30-Jun-2006, 07:33
Alec, Your first statement is I think the central truth of LF, at least for me. Sometimes by the time I have set-up the light has changed enough that it is no longer an image I want.

You may also want to give 5x7 a try. The image is fairly large, the film is not very expensive, the equipment is not much heavier than 4x5, and since many 4x5 lenses can be used on 5x7, and are available used, they are generally less expensive than larger formats. I think of it as "The Goldilocks format".

Also consider reciprocity failure when selecting your film, if you will be shooting in low light.

alec4444
30-Jun-2006, 07:47
Also consider reciprocity failure when selecting your film, if you will be shooting in low light.

LOL, "low light" meaning when you don't point your camera into the sun? Yes, I've been adding a few seconds (not scientifically) to each exposure as needed to compensate.

Yeah, shooting "in the area" seems to be what it's all about. and I'm not talking about somewhere close to home necessarily, but rather someplace you can go back to again and again. There's a section of woods in CT where my wife's parents live that I am DYING to shoot with LF, and that's fine because we can keep going back as often as needed.

I have these romanticized visions of myself lugging an 11x14 or 12x20 into the mountains of Bhutan. Certainly feasible, but it would really suck to get home to find the negatives over-exposed because of human error with the light meter. Gaining consistency is my main goal.

--A

Ed Richards
30-Jun-2006, 16:40
Shoot a lot of Poloriod until you get the hang of it. Carry a good loupe with you and use it to look hard at the Poloriods - they have a huge amount of detail and you can tell about focus and the like if you use a loupe. You might buy a cheap 4x5 and lens and tripod - you can always unload it without losing anything, and if you do go to 11x14, you will really want to have a 4x5 for those times when there is a good shot out there but wind or whatever makes it impossible to use the 11x14.

Use it until you really get consistent and can see what you are doing with the movements. There is no substitute for shooting a lot of film to learn, and you are not going to do that with 11x14. (Which might be the reason why there are so few really inspiring ULF shots out there - few people are going to get enough experience to get very far out on the learning curve.) When you get consistent, then learn to make a good 4x5 contact print. They are like jewels when done right, and the experience will be invaluable. Once you can do all of that, you can move to 11x14 and will probably be making much better shots than if you had started with it.

alec4444
3-Jul-2006, 19:03
SOLD! on large format photography. The amount of detail one can capture in a polaroid is insane. Still have a few more sheets of film to shoot & develop, but I'm sold on this whole thing.

NOT sold on Polaroid Type 52 film. I've been shooting Type 54, and decided to get a box of the 400 ISO stuff so that I could get faster shutter speeds. Was thrown when I opened the box and found that the film was accompanied by some weird "vials". Read about it to find out I have to paint my own clear coating over this stuff...! What sort of nonsense is that? Huge mess.

Another obsevation: shot nearly all day today and only had 2 gawkers. I think the NYC mentality of leaving people alone (hence the number of celebs here) is helping out a lot. That's refreshing given the amount of concentration needed for this; especially as a beginner.

So now the cosideration is size again with the camera. 4x5 contact prints while perhaps nice are too small. 5x7 is a possibility. The only concern is that my other half will probably limit me to one LF camera; otherwise I'd get a 5x7 and the 11x14. If I get the 5x7 I can probably get all the stuff for it and shoot it soon. If I do the 11x14, I'll be collecting the accessories for it over a year or so; perhaps even longer for a suitable lense. 5x7 can do international trips, 11x14 can do insane NYC photos. 11x14 may require unloading the Rollei 6008 & related gear. 11x14 will make phenomenal contact prints.

Hmm, I think the solution is to sell the wife on the benefits of both formats. :-)

--A

Experiment Results (to date) HERE (http://www.photo.net/photodb/folder?folder_id=618001)

Oren Grad
3-Jul-2006, 19:34
Alec, before you make any decisions and buy anything, see if you can find some 8x10 contact prints to look at. 5x7 is wonderful too, and you may decide you like it best, but at least to me, it still feels quite small. For me, the breakpoint is 6.5x8.5. While that's an uncommon format today, 8x10 equipment and pictures are easy to find. The descriptive power of a big contact print can be pretty intoxicating. Do try to find a way to taste it before you set your course.

sanking
3-Jul-2006, 19:55
I use both LF and ULF formats and they all have their place for me. The small 5X7 is the outfit that goes with me when traveling by air. When working out of the car I use the 12X20 or the 7X17. Remember however, that the total size of a 11X14 or 12X20 outfit (case, holders, lenses, film, etc.) will be about ten times the size of a 4X5 or 5X7outfit.

From a financial perspetive, ULF is obviously very expensive, but a good case can be made that purchase of ULF equipment is an investment since there is a big market for this type of equipment and limited availibility. And later, if you decide that ULF is not for you chances are you will be able to recoup most of your investment rather quickly.

Finally, you want to read as much as possible about ULF before spending any money. However, I am not sure that any amount of reading will prepare you for just how different ULF is from 4X5 or 5X7.

Sandy

alec4444
3-Jul-2006, 20:40
The descriptive power of a big contact print can be pretty intoxicating. Do try to find a way to taste it before you set your course.

Haven't tasted it yet, but it sure smells good! :D

You're right, I should have a look-see at some. NYC is chock full of galleries, so I'll see what I can find here. The online thing won't work unless I can find some uncompressed images, and even those are questionable.

I'm under the impression that in contact printing large negatives you don't really have a lot of control over the image. Is this correct? I mean, you can use graded papers and all (or multi-grade papers) but there's no real dodging or burning one can do except over mammoth areas of the image, yes? And spotting. And I'd imagine you can do even less with alternative processes like albumen and platinum and cyanotype. So really, it's a WYSIWYG kinda thing, yes?

The other part of my experiment is going to be an attempt to develop sheet film on my own. The rubberband + tank method is intriguing for 4x5, but I was going to try tray-based development utilising a desensitizer bath first. Any words of wisdom on that? If I can't do that, 11x14 is practically out; there's no way in hell I'm sending an expensive negative to a lab to develop at $14+ per sheet for poor results.


Finally, you want to read as much as possible about ULF before spending any money. However, I am not sure that any amount of reading will prepare you for just how different ULF is from 4X5 or 5X7.

Sandy, are you suggesting that I need to rent an 8x10 before making a leap to something larger than 8x10? Or do you mean that I'll be in for a pleasant surprise?

--Alec

sanking
3-Jul-2006, 21:01
Sandy, are you suggesting that I need to rent an 8x10 before making a leap to something larger than 8x10? Or do you mean that I'll be in for a pleasant surprise?

--Alec

I did not mean to suggest either of those things. All I am saying is that the leap from what we call LF (4X5, 5X7 and 8X10) to ULF of 11X14 and above is really great in terms of size, weight, portability and ease of working, and no amount of reading is going to explain it. Even working in 8X10 won't adequately prepare you for 11X14.

From a purely aesthetic perspective I find that your reasons for wanting to contact print with ULF make a lot of sense. That trumps a lot of practical reasons against the move up offered by others. Unfortunately many people just try to convince you to adop their own equipment and working habits and don't take into consideration that others have different creative impulses.

I am also saying that you don't have much to lose because if you decide that ULF is not for you it will be very easy to sell the equipment in a year or two for as much, if not more, than you paid for it. So there is not much of a financial risk with ULF, as there might be for examle with a new digital camera, which will drop in price a whole lot over a one or two year period.

Sandy

Oren Grad
3-Jul-2006, 21:30
I'm under the impression that in contact printing large negatives you don't really have a lot of control over the image. Is this correct? I mean, you can use graded papers and all (or multi-grade papers) but there's no real dodging or burning one can do except over mammoth areas of the image, yes? And spotting. And I'd imagine you can do even less with alternative processes like albumen and platinum and cyanotype. So really, it's a WYSIWYG kinda thing, yes?

Well, local controls are more difficult, though not necessarily impossible. If you have experience in B&W printing, you may know already whether that will bother you. I don't care for extensive manpulation myself, even when I'm enlarging. If a negative needs more than minimal dodging or burning I move on. I make more negatives than I have time to print anyway; life is too short to spend hours agonizing over any single one.


The other part of my experiment is going to be an attempt to develop sheet film on my own. The rubberband + tank method is intriguing for 4x5, but I was going to try tray-based development utilising a desensitizer bath first. Any words of wisdom on that? If I can't do that, 11x14 is practically out; there's no way in hell I'm sending an expensive negative to a lab to develop at $14+ per sheet for poor results.

There are many different ways to develop a sheet of film, and a correspondingly wide range of preferences among different users. You should look carefully at rotary development as another option. If you have the money and space a Jobo processor is hard to beat, but if not, you can still get excellent results using drums and inexpensive rotary bases, or even manually rolling the drum. You can search the message base here; there has been plenty of discussion on this.


Sandy, are you suggesting that I need to rent an 8x10 before making a leap to something larger than 8x10? Or do you mean that I'll be in for a pleasant surprise?

I do agree with Sandy about the special character of ULF. While I think that 6.5x8.5 and 8x10 are qualitatively different from 4x5 and 5x7, 11x14 represents another big leap, both in visual impact and in burden of equipment handling. And I agree as well that it's very difficult to fully understand the difference just from reading about it.

Kirk Fry
3-Jul-2006, 22:18
"I am also saying that you don't have much to lose because if you decide that ULF is not for you it will be very easy to sell the equipment in a year or two for as much, if not more, than you paid for it. So there is not much of a financial risk with ULF, as there might be for examle with a new digital camera, which will drop in price a whole lot over a one or two year period."

Short term, maybe true, but how long will any film company continue to maintain very expensive sheet film production equipment for a few hundred/thousand wierd cameras used by a bunch of artists. It becomes a simple spreadsheet issue. How much are those ULF's going to be worth without film. At least the 4X5 cameras can be used with digital backs. We can all relearn how to make wet plates. Once large format digital backs become affordable for the average artist type, sheet film will take another big hit. More spreadsheet issues. Even large format x-ray film is doomed. And yes, Steve, I know there are 52 types of 5X7 film being sold but how long will that last. There are not 52 types of ULF film being sold, even on special order. The Great Yellow Father is clearly not interested in film anymore. No money there. The Chinese may save us for a while, they have not converted to digital just yet in huge numbers. I am not quite sure how they make sheet film, maybe 8X10 and 4X5 are cut down from 20 inch wide chunks, in which case these formats may save the larger ones for a while. It was astounding how fast 35 mm film went away (I know they still sell it somewhere but not Costco anymore, at least not at mine). The camera manufactures must have loved it. Now they get to sell you a new one every 2 years.

John Kasaian
3-Jul-2006, 22:21
Go for it!

Life is too short to waffle about stuff like this. If 11x14 is what you truly want to shoot and you can afford the gear then get one and start having fun with it!

As others 'learn the ropes'---but I'll add that you'll never get the time back that you spent on those formats, and time is what LF takes (and lots of it.) Spend it with a camera/format that presses your creative buttons.

phil sweeney
4-Jul-2006, 04:59
I'm under the impression that in contact printing large negatives you don't really have a lot of control over the image. Is this correct? I mean, you can use graded papers and all (or multi-grade papers) but there's no real dodging or burning one can do except over mammoth areas of the image, yes? And spotting. And I'd imagine you can do even less with alternative processes like albumen and platinum and cyanotype. So really, it's a WYSIWYG kinda thing, yes?
--Alec
Hi Alec,

The hardest manipulation (for me) is burning in a small area. I usually use a proof to cut hoes in, which helps me register to the image. Fast papers make it more difficult. Outside of that small problem dodging and burning is no different than with enlarging. Instead of holding a card some distance to create a penumbra one shakes the card close to the cover glass.

phil

David Vickery
4-Jul-2006, 08:40
Alec,

Why do you feel the need to use a desensitizer bath first?? Processing sheet film in trays is no more difficult than processing photo paper in trays. A desensitizer is completely unnecessary even if you want to develop by inspection and would only complicate matters.

In my earlier post I tried to say what John Kasaian just said. He said it much better and his point is so much more relevant than you will really understand until you actually start using the format that you are really wanting to use- -then you'll see.

You have received a lot of advice from a lot of well meaning people who may not have ever used an 11x14 camera to make contact prints on a regular basis. Keep that in mind.

There really are a lot of lenses available that will easily cover the format. I currently have around 14, most of which were very inexpensive. The most expensive lens that I have ever purchased for large format is a 270/9.0 Computar. I paid $700 for it and it is a tremendous lens, but small in size. If you can find one of them it would be good for your type of location.

As far as the Myth about lenses not being sharp once you start using them on the larger formats---I say that is just bunk! I have a photograph of an old wooden building that I photographed with a 300/5.6 Caltar II-S lens on 11x14. Near the gable of the building there is a small hole where a wire comes through the building. There is a black spot near the hole that I was worried about one day so I used a magnifier to try to figure out what it was. I was surprised to see that I could count the legs and wings and body sections of a wasp. And there was another one coming out of the hole as well. All of the lenses that I use on 11x14 are more than sharp enough, by a long shot, for making 11x14 contact prints.

Dodging, Burning, Masking and other printing controls where perfected in Contact Printing before enlargers were in widespread use and maybe even before they were invented. Itís done a little differently but great control is easily possible in contact printing. See Phil Sweeney's post. However, I predict that once you get going with it you will find limited need for extensive manipulation. 11x14 is easiest when you keep things simple and straightforward.

I have never noticed this problem with Depth of Field that many have listed a reason not to use 11x14. I think that it is another myth, or rather maybe a misunderstanding. If you were going to enlarge your negatives then 11x14 might be beyond the point diminishing returns for enlargements, but definitely not for contact prints!

Brett Weston used 11x14 on location.
Dick Arentz uses 12x20 on location.
Art Sinsabaugh used 12x20 on location.
Tillman Crane uses 12x20 on location.

The list is much longer than this, as is the variety of ULF cameras used. But it is true that it is difficult to find compelling images on the internet that were made with cameras larger than 8x10. If the internet is the final destination for your images then forget 11x14 and stick with 4x5 or smaller.

As for film, we really don't need a large variety of film types available in 11x14 or other ULF sizes. We just need one or two. I believe there will be plenty of us buying film in these sizes to keep somebody in business. Especially if new people like you come along to join in the fun.

Check out this website if you haven't already; http://www.mamutphoto.com/

(http://www.mamutphoto.com/)

Keep in mind that there is no substitute for a well executed contact print from a ULF negative, and it doesnít have to be as difficult or heavy or expensive or limited as so many would have you believe.

Well, Iíve said much more than I intended to. I really just meant to ask why you want to use a desensitizer.

David Vickery

sanking
4-Jul-2006, 09:24
Short term, maybe true, but how long will any film company continue to maintain very expensive sheet film production equipment for a few hundred/thousand wierd cameras used by a bunch of artists. It becomes a simple spreadsheet issue. How much are those ULF's going to be worth without film. At least the 4X5 cameras can be used with digital backs. We can all relearn how to make wet plates. Once large format digital backs become affordable for the average artist type, sheet film will take another big hit. More spreadsheet issues. Even large format x-ray film is doomed.

Almost every thing we know is in change so I would not disagree with the idea that in the long term large format film might not be available. But frankly, all of the indicators suggest to me that this time will be farther away in time than you might think. 35mm has taken a big hit because the market for it was primarily the snapshot consumer market, and that market is shrinking fast, or gone. Roll film has taken a big hit because the market for it was primarily commercial photographers, and that market is also shrinking very fast. Some large format films, especially color emulsions, are also taking a hit, because that market also was driven primarily by commercial photograhers. LF sheet film in B&W, however, is different, in that the market for it is not shrinking nearly as fast. In fact, there are some indicatons that certain parts of this market, which consists primarily of skilled amateurs and fine art photographers, are actually increasing.

If there is a substantial market for LF and ULF sheet film someone will meet it. The price may go up, and choice of emulsions may go down, but if the economic incentives exist for supplying this market someone is likely to do so.

As for the method of production, sheet film is made in rolls some 50" or so wide by several hundred meters long, and is then cut into a variety of different sizes. Since the cutting is done by computer operation packaging the film in a variety of LF and ULF sizes is not particulary cumbersome.


Sandy

bruce terry
4-Jul-2006, 10:20
Alec - Enough of the pondering. You are going to get an 11x14, there is no doubt your gut has decided it is YOU. To sneak up on it, waste your passing life - would be a waste.

And with that big neg, Single sheet tray development will be to-die-for - you'll love the Karma.

Gregory Gomez
4-Jul-2006, 11:47
"Everyone appears to have started with 35mm, then medium format (6x6, 6x7, etc) then 4x5, then 8x10, etc."

Actually, that's not true. A lot of people stop at 4X5, because for them it represents the "sweet spot" between portability, convenience, quality, expense, and availability of film and equipment. Others try large format, even into ULF, and then go back to 35 mm and/or MF. Everyone is different. Your situation is unique, so only you can figure out what your goals and aspirations are for trying ULF. I think a lot of the current fascination with ULF has to do with the old "bigger is better" mentality. In many instances, bigger is better. But a lot of people get into the bigger cameras because at some level they feel like it will make them cooler or more of a man or people will take them more seriously- no different from why someone buys a huge SUV or powerful sports car or ultra fast motorcycle. You don't see too many women using LF cameras...


Good points Brian. There are a few women, however, that do use large format. I sold one of my 8x10s to a woman, and Sally Mann uses an 8x10 as her main camera. But you are generally correct in what you are saying.

sanking
4-Jul-2006, 12:21
Good points Brian. There are a few women, however, that do use large format. I sold one of my 8x10s to a woman, and Sally Mann uses an 8x10 as her main camera. But you are generally correct in what you are saying.

Let's not forget to mention Lois Conner.

Sandy King

Oren Grad
4-Jul-2006, 13:59
Let's not forget to mention Lois Conner.

Sandy King

Just off the top of my head: Judith Joy Ross. Andrea Modica. An-My Le.

Joe Smigiel
4-Jul-2006, 14:13
...How much are those ULF's going to be worth without film. At least the 4X5 cameras can be used with digital backs. We can all relearn how to make wet plates. Once large format digital backs become affordable for the average artist type...

Kirk,

Some of us have no interest at all in digital photography and would never make the move. I think it also highly unlikely that ULF digital backs will ever be made. What would be the point? So, the current use of 4x5 digital backs for commercial and architectural stuff will probably be all that is ever needed for view cameras. What reason would anyone have for using a ULF digital back when the smaller, more portable, less hassle, 4x5s, MF, and smaller digital cameras would give high quality results?

No. It is a process thing IMO. It's the manual rituals of handling and souping film or plates and making contact prints that go along with ULF practice. That is far removed from using digital backs, scanning, or making inkjet prints.

I'll echo Sandy's take on the ULF market and future availabilty of materials. But, I'll agree with you on one thing: "we can all relearn how to make wet plates." Last year I did exactly that and took up wetplate collodion , largely in response to the changing market trends you cite, but also for aesthetic reasons. I consider myself an Ambrotypist now and am very happy about that. :) I have a freezer stash full of 11x14 films in b&w as well as color, and boxes of black, purple and clear 10x12 and smaller glass plates. I'm set.

alec4444
4-Jul-2006, 20:31
Why do you feel the need to use a desensitizer bath first?? Processing sheet film in trays is no more difficult than processing photo paper in trays. A desensitizer is completely unnecessary even if you want to develop by inspection and would only complicate matters.

Thanks, David, that's helpful to know. I do want to develop by inspection, and I'm also somewhat concerned with the number of light leaks I may get in my bathroom. My thought was to put the film in some kind of box and use the desensitizer first before attempting to develop it. This is a New York City apartment, with not a lot of choices of rooms to choose from for developing. Bathroom is small too, unlike those palacial things out there in the burbs.

Thanks for demystifying the sharpness and DOF issue. Both are important to me.


All I am saying is that the leap from what we call LF (4X5, 5X7 and 8X10) to ULF of 11X14 and above is really great in terms of size, weight, portability and ease of working, and no amount of reading is going to explain it.

Yeah, my shoulder hears ya. The 4x5 gear I was lugging around left a rash, and that was with an inadequate tripod. I would need to get a backback, and I'm guessing it would be custom made. =(


Life is too short to waffle about stuff like this. If 11x14 is what you truly want to shoot and you can afford the gear then get one and start having fun with it!

LOL, it's the "afford the gear" part that's iffy at the moment. Might be able to get the gear, then not buy film. I've always been a "jump right in" kinda guy, but in purchases such as this I try to be a bit more careful. Even if I can sell everything and recoup 100% of costs, there's still a lot of effort in making such a mistake.

--A

Mike A
10-Jul-2006, 06:10
Alec, I jumped from 4x5 to 11x14 two years back and reading this thread made me realize I should have skipped the 4x5 and went to 8x10. I became familiar with the 4x5 by taking a couple of classes at the local junior college while still owning and shooting MF, I should have just went to 8x10.

After making many 11x14 contact prints the last couple of years a well made ULF negative is easier to contact print most of the time than it is to enlarge.

For your situation I would try 8x10 first.

8x10 equiptment can be had for a much cheaper price, a large range of used choices via fee-bay.

The lenses, tripod..... and some other miscalanious equiptment can be used in 11x14 when you decide ULF is were you want to go.

Trial and error in 8x10 regarding your materials will be less costly. Handling a 11x14 neg and handling a 4x5 is very different.

As far as your love for architecture goes, I recently started doing some here in Chicago with my 11x14. I have found that lens coverage was more of an issue than limitations with camera movements.

Good luck,
Mike

Diane Maher
10-Jul-2006, 09:40
I'm a woman who is shooting 8x10 and recently started shooting 5x12. FWIW, everyone here has made many valid points.

Are there any LF photographers on this site shooting 8x10 and/or 11x14 who are located in New York City and would be willing to meet up with Alec to show him their camera(s), and maybe even allow him to shoot a sheet or two of each format?

Just my 2 cents worth.

Diane

Austin Moore
12-Jul-2006, 14:58
I'm in NYC and i primarily shoot 8x10. email me if you want. austinmoore84@gmail.com
Austin

alec4444
14-Aug-2006, 21:01
Thanks, Austin, for your kind offer. However against the poll results, I've just today purchased my very own 11x14 camera! The single week with the 4x5 was enough to sell me on the added control, and I'm either brave or stupid enough to waive the size issues. This thing is huge; I saw it in person. It's a Wisner Technical Field weighing in somewhere around 30 pounds. It's one of the heavier (possibly the heaviest) 11x14s out there, but I sense there is a balance between weight and rigidity. Given that I'm going to need a cart to wheel this around the city, what's a few extra pounds?

The camera will ship tomorrow from the seller directly to Mr Ritter to solve a rather tight geared front standard. Still working out the details of accessories with the seller, but I will keep you all posted. I'm guessing that it will take some time to get everything together that I need to shoot this camera, and in the meantime I have to unload my Rollei 6008 System. Anyone interested in medium format? You can put a digital back on it! :p

Cheers!
--A

Brian Vuillemenot
14-Aug-2006, 22:10
I would hold off on selling the MF until you get your 11X14 up and running successfully.

alec4444
21-Mar-2007, 19:43
However against the poll results, I've just today purchased my very own 11x14 camera!

Was reading through this entire post again today...kinda fun to re-read the responses I had received now that I "know" a few of you better. Was interesting to see who recommended what.

Thought I'd give the 7+ month update on my decision:

LOVE the 11x14 format, and I'm getting better at LF in general. Ruining a few less sheets of film each time I go out. I'm getting better at metering, and I've got a pretty good routine in place for developing my own film. The Efke film does scratch easily, but beyond that it's fine.

First lens was the 360mm Symmar Convertible f5.6, and I really liked the lens. Great coverage and WAY bright. But I cracked the rear element when it fell off my camera one day. Still usable, but not great. I've since bought the 355 G-Claron and I'm going to give it a shot this weekend. Very excited. Exploring ways to make sure this doesn't suffer the same fate.

I've been getting around ok by making use of the paved areas of NYC (roller luggage) and using mass transit. I do wish the camera was a bit lighter...I was jealous when I saw David's 11x14 camera that was nearly half the weight. But the Wisner 11x14 Tech Field is SOLID and I like the fact that it has all the movements (and I mean everything but rear shift). It just leaves me a bit sore after pulling it around for a day. The heavier camera required a heavier tripod, so I have the Ries A100 with the A250 double tilt head. LOVE the tripod, but again, really heavy! Filmholders looked to be a problem, but I found a couple on the 'bay, and then Ryan McIntosh sold me four for a great price. I currently carry five and I'm happy with that number.

I have not had the depth of field problems people had mentioned. In fact, my appreciation for a shallower depth of field has increased, and I've found myself more and more interested in that style for various purposes. But if I want a tack sharp picture I can definitely make one with this outfit.

As far as the format is concerned, I would not give up the 11x14. I do want a 5x7 to accompany this (anyone considering selling a Wisner 5x7 Tech Field please PM me) and I have occasional yearnings for a 7x17, but I think this will remain my primary format for a while.

Thanks to all who responded to my first post here and offered their candid advice. Whether I heeded it or not is irrelevant; you made me think through a lot of choices and provided a great list of pros and cons for each. The good news is that I'm happy with the choices I made, and Frank didn't get my equipment for a song! :D I'm really enjoying LF, and I'm soon going to begin doing the alt process stuff that got me thinking about LF and ULF in the first place.

Cheers!
--A

Ron Marshall
21-Mar-2007, 20:39
Glad to hear that it is working out for you. LF, and especially ULF, is a commitment and worthwhile if you stick with it long enough to get past the steepest part of the learning curve.

Brian C. Miller
21-Mar-2007, 21:49
You might think about making a lensboard keeper for your camera. Then if the lensboard falls out it will just dangle on the cord and not hit the ground.

I started with MF, and I should have ignored advice about not going to LF much sooner.

Great to hear that you are enjoying the camera!

Turner Reich
22-Mar-2007, 02:41
Ole what film is your favorite with 5x7. Do the metric holders work in all 5x7 cameras or do you have to use a metric back? How do you use both film sizes? It sounds like there are more film choices in metric sizes.

tr

Oren Grad
22-Mar-2007, 07:22
Alec - the best part about following this saga has been seeing how much fun you seem to be having now as a result of it all. Thanks for the update!

Hyok Kim
20-May-2012, 00:25
Having said that, I'd think a bit about the exact format you'd like to go with. The consensus seems to be that 4x5 and 5x7 are quite similar in terms of weight, bulk, travel etc. 8x10/7x17 is a quantum jump, and 11x14/8x20/12x20 is yet another quantum jump.

Do you still use Meridian as your 4 x 5? and do you feel there is enough difference between 4 x 5 and 8 x 10 in your favorite subject matter?

Hyok Kim
20-May-2012, 01:15
Thanks, guys, this is really helpful. I AM really interested in the 11x14 format.

Dear Alex, why are you interested in 11 x 14?

Hyok Kim
20-May-2012, 01:26
Well, Iíd say do what you have to do to go ahead a get the 11x14, since that's what you say you want. I use 4x5, 8x10, 11x14, and 12x20 and the 11x14 is my favorite.

Why is 11 x 14 your favorite?





There really is a big difference between using a 4x5 and an 11x14.

What is the big difference?



Except for the weight of the film holders, the 11x14 is easier to use than the 4x5!


Why is 11 x 14 easier to use than 4 x 5?

Hyok Kim
20-May-2012, 01:35
I'm surprised no one has added in the depth of field disadvantage you put yourself in as format size goes up. You have to stop down more and more with a given angle of view as the camera size increase to get the same depth of field. For example, a normal lens for 4X5 is 150mm; for 8X10, 300mm; and for 11X14, 450mm. The 450mm lens has far less depth of field at a the same f stop than the 150! With many subjects, even with movements it may not be possible to get everything in focus.


Thank you, Mr. Brilliant. That's one of the things I had not known.





The more you stop down, the more detail you lose to diffraction. The consensus on this forum is that loss to diffraction is not very noticeable unless you are enlarging, and becomes apparent at about f45 or so.

Do you agree with that consensus?

Old-N-Feeble
20-May-2012, 05:36
Five-year-old thread alert!! :D