View Full Version : What To Do, What To Do?

8-Jan-2007, 11:21
Hi all,

This is my first post and I'm looking forward to reading your informative responses.

Though I use my RZ pretty much exclusively, I bought a C1 a couple of years ago with the intention of getting into LF.

Now, having not really used the beast, I'm considering losing the 810 and going for a 4 X 5. Obvious reasons are expense, the enlarger, weight & size.

I am admittedly new to LF and have hardly gotten my feet wet so I'm seeking wisdom from those in the know as to whether I'd really be losing anything (besides neg size) by going the 4 X 5 route?



8-Jan-2007, 11:29
I have a C-1 and, admittedly, love it. I also have recently gotten an RB67. As a result, I rarely shoot 4x5 anymore. I prefer the 8x10 for view camera work, and the RB67 is close enough in size to replace the 4x5 in most instances. Additionally, I can take photos with the RB that I can't with view cameras. Then again, I don't enlarge the 8x10s - I contact print those.

Ralph Barker
8-Jan-2007, 11:40
The 4x5 format is certainly less expensive to shoot and simplifies the enlargement process, both in terms of equipment availability and expense. Depending on the size of prints you wish to make, 4x5 is probably more than sufficient - unless you're planning to create huge prints. So, it's entirely possible that you'd be losing nothing by going to 4x5, with the exception of making really yummy 8x10 contact prints.

If you're like many of us, you might eventually succumb to format creep, and want the 8x10 for occasional use. So, unless you really need the proceeds of selling the 8x10 to fund a 4x5, you might want to keep it for a while. A 4x5 reducing back on the 8x10 also comes in handy for using longer lenses for which the bellows on a 4x5 may not be sufficient.

For guidance on the selection of a 4x5 suitable for your needs, you may find the articles on the home page here helpful. (See the "LF Home Page" link in the blue navigation bar above.)

Walter Calahan
8-Jan-2007, 12:26
Before you do anything, try shooting a few sheets of 8x10. A 10 sheet box, develop the images, and do a few contract sheets (or scans).

Just give it a try. If you don't like the results, then switch to 4x5.

I have both 4x5 and 8x10. Looking at a 4x5 ground glass is like looking through a viewfinder. Looking through an 8x10 ground glass is like looking through a window.

Ron Marshall
8-Jan-2007, 12:34
I shoot both 4x5 and 5x7. That may sound somewhat silly, but I really like the aspect ratio of 5x7 and the large ground glass is great; but for color, hiking and travel the 4x5 Toho rules.

8-Jan-2007, 13:00
I think the first question you have to ask yourself is more basic. Do you enjoy the LF experience? If you haven’t tried it, you can’t answer that. To me, it’s not so much about negative size (although once you’ve printed from a LF negative it’s hard to go back) as it is the way images are seen and made. Some people think I’m weird but I walk away from a lot of potential photo opportunities, even after spending considerable time working with a subject. How can I spend 30 minutes to an hour getting everything just the way I want and walk away without making a negative? Because I make one last “judgment” on the ground glass and decide that while this subject is the best thing I’ve seen all day, it really isn’t all that good and I wouldn’t print it anyway. But here is the odd part. I enjoy the experience of exploring that subject almost as much as if it were a prizewinner!

LF isn’t for everybody and it certainly isn’t good for all subject matter. So, think about what you would like to photograph, determine if that’s something that LF excels at, and finally, think about whether or not you enjoy the experience. If you decide that LF is a good fit for you, then you can worry about the detail of 4x5 vs. 5x7 vs. 8x10 vs.?????


Ted Harris
8-Jan-2007, 13:47
Beefore you make any decisions do some reading. There are excellent articles on the Home Page of this Forum and you may want to get the book "Using the View Camera" by Steve Simmons. You will find all sorts of varying opinions on the best equipment but only you can decide that and until you have a bit more feeling for waht you are going to do with LF you may find your head spinning with the advice you get.

Starting out with 8x10 can be tough as you have the size, weight, cost and depth of field issues to wrestle to the ground. Ralp hit the nail on the head in terms of what you lose going to 4x5 and unless you are interested in contact printing the answer, for the most part, is very little or nothing.

John Bowen
8-Jan-2007, 13:56
I got my first 4x5 over 20 years ago and picked up an 8x10 2 years ago. I rarely use the 4x5 anymore. Walter is correct, once you start looking at the world on that large ground glass, you'll have a hard time going back to 4x5. I should add, that most of my photos are within 50 yards of the truck. If I have to travel much more than 50 yards the 8x10 stays in the truck and the 4x5 gets some action. Also when traveling on vacation with the family the 8x10 stays home and the 4x5 comes along. The 8x10 takes up too much room to take along on family vacations unless we take more than one vehicle. Either way, welcome to Large Format Photography, you're gonna love it.

Alan Rabe
8-Jan-2007, 14:55
As youv'e seen an 8X10 is a beautiful thing. It is also expensive to use and hard to carry around. Looking thru a 4x5 ground glass is not like looking in a view finder. It's not near as good as an 8x10 but then again you don't buy a camera to look thru the groud glass. You but it to take pictures and unless you are going to make huge prints it is hard to justify it's expense. Look into the cost of film, film holders and all the other things that go with any camera. If you can justify the expense with print sales then by all means go with the 8x10 but if not get a good 4x5 and enjoy taking pictures.

Ernest Purdum
8-Jan-2007, 16:27
You didn't mention a lens. Do you have one yet? If so, what?

Greg Lockrey
8-Jan-2007, 17:07
Looking at a 4x5 ground glass is like looking through a viewfinder. Looking through an 8x10 ground glass is like looking through a window.

That would be a neat quote line, Walt. Can I use it? :) :) :)

Ted Harris
8-Jan-2007, 18:23
And looking through a 12x20 gg is ......... ?

8-Jan-2007, 18:37
Thanks All!

I shot maybe 10 sheets of film with the camera. For the first couple, I was guided by an experienced 810 shooter who was very helpful in understanding the movements and their uses.

As for the lens, it's a 375mm, f/6.3 Orbit on an Ilex #5 shutter.

The film I've used is HP5+ and I had no problem developing it. I developed a few sheets in a tray and the rest in the Jobo 3005 drum on my Chromega "dual action" agitator.

The cumbersome-ness of the set-up I suppose is not a big deal if I just keep the 810 as an occasional use scenic camera. The expense falls into the same category.

I appreciate some of you pointing out the difference between the 810 and 4 X5 when it comes to the view through the ground glass. I hadn't thought about that.

When I went from 35mm to MF, it slowed me down and made me think more about composition. So did the 36 vs. 10 frame thing. LF makes me think in terms of minutes per shot, not seconds. I like that.

Given what I can expect to get for my C1 and accessories, and your valuable advice, I'm thinking I'll stick with it (or rather use it) and see where it goes.
Besides, I love my red bellows!

Now, about that enlarger.....

Thanks all.

John Kasaian
8-Jan-2007, 22:11
Stick with contacts first. If you find you really want an 8x10 enlarger there are Elwoods to be had for very little money (shipping the monster is likely the biggest expense!) You just have to be patient.

Since you already have your kit I think you'll find that 8x10 can be done quite nicely on a budget. APHS ortho is probably cheaper than 4x5 film and soups in expired paper developer. Bargain panchros like Arista.eduUltra are often relabelled high quality imports from abroad, like FOMA. You'll use more chemicals of course, but there are ways around that as well. A rotary processor like a Unicolor (about $40 on ebay) will cut your film development chemical usage by about 2/3rds and if you want, bulk chemicals for the education trade are availabel quite economically---I like Naaco Super 76 which is a highly concentrated liquid d-76.

Brian Vuillemenot
8-Jan-2007, 23:06
I think I'm probably in the minority here, but I prefer looking through a 4X5 ground glass to an 8X10 one. I find it easier to take in the entire scene on the 4X5, and often miss details on the 8X10. Looking at an 8X10 ground glass can be like trying to watch a movie in a theater from the front row. Perhaps I just need to back up a bit...

9-Jan-2007, 01:00

Biggest drawback to shooting 8x10 is weight and expense. Film is a lot more costly and lenses tend to be bigger, heavier, and more expensive.

I shoot all 3 formats and love them all... but if I had to make a choice between the three (4x5, 5x7, 8x10) I'd certainly pick 5x7.

The major advantages have already been mentioned...

It's a tough decision but I'd highly second the notion of keeping the 8x10 considering that you'll get next to nothing for it.


9-Jan-2007, 08:29

I even took it out and set it up right here next to me.
I'm gonna use it, I swear.:)

Thanks for all the responses. For some reason, I'm not getting notifications.
I'll take a look at my settings. Sorry for the delayed response.
I'm going to try some of the less expensive films and see what I get.

My thinking now is that between the 35s, the RZ, and the 810, I have nothing to complain about. Now, about that enlarger....