View Poll Results: Which format would you suggest?

140. You may not vote on this poll
  • 8x10

    32 22.86%
  • 4x5

    88 62.86%
  • Other size, please specify

    20 14.29%
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Thread: Is 4x5 big enough?

  1. #21

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Wasserman View Post
    I don't wish to put a damper on your interest, but if you are only going to use 12 or fewer sheets a month I'm afraid it might take you about 7 years to become proficient with the camera and the entire process of large format—I think you need to shoot about 1000 sheets to really know what you're doing. Large Format photography generally takes a bit of work to learn—it's not hard. but is more complex than using roll film. I would urge you to buy an inexpensive 4x5 with one lens, between 150-210mm, and see how you get on with it before investing heavily in larger or more complex equipment. I recommend a monorail camera, something like a Sinar F where it is fairly simple to control the movements and see directly what they are doing.
    Wise words.
    Shooting an LF camera is very different than a roll film camera---there is a learning curve for getting acceptable results and it would be difficult to appreciate either your camera, or your own abilities with it, until some sort of mastery (or sympatico?) Is attained. That will take time---and sheet film.
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

  2. #22

    Join Date
    May 2013
    Derbyshire, England

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Whole Plate (6" x 8") is the perfect format. Big enough for decent contact prints, small enough for enlarging and the proportions are just right. Ansel Adams once wrote that it was his favourite format. It is certainly mine...

    Ilford offer it in FP4 Plus, HP5 Plus and Delta 100.


  3. #23

    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    South Texas

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I didn't vote because I've yet to decide for myself. If I still had the funds and my health I'd shoot 8x10 and probably larger... maybe 12x20. I can still afford and handle a lightweight 4x5 field camera and "probably" a lightweight 8x10 field camera. However, I'm very tempted to try 5x8 because that's a half-sheet of 8x10 so film is still readily available and it requires only one cut vs. 5x7 which requires two cuts. Of course, there's the enlarger issue with 5x8... I'd still need an 8x10 enlarger. Also, the film holders are very pricey but I'd need no more than 4 of them. Another thing is most any lenses that cover 5x7 will also cover 5x8. The same isn't always true when moving up to 8x10 so lens cost, weight and availability are bigger concerns with 8x10. Lastly, I tend to crop narrower than 4:5 ratios... I like 2:3 and 1:2 better so 5x8 (cropped to 5x7.5 or 4x8) isn't much smaller than 8x10 (cropped to 6.7x10 or 5x10)... but it's significantly larger than 4x5 (cropped to 3.3x5 or 2.5x5).

    To recap: If I had my health and plenty of funds then I'd shoot 8x10 and larger. If I had the funds but my current health then I'd shoot 5x8. In my current financial and medical state I should stick to 4x5.

    RE the above recap: I suppose I've just talked myself into sticking with 4x5 unless/until my financial situation improves and if my health doesn't decline significantly.

  4. #24

    Join Date
    Jan 2015

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Thanks so much, all of you. Before I was really edging towards 8x10, but now I think I'll go for 4x5. I like the flexibility of being able to use colour film if I want. And due to the learning curve that you've all suggested it would probably be sensible to go with something a little more budget orientated to start with. I think 5x7 offers a really nice middle ground as some of you have said, but I think it might be hard to get film/choice.

    It's really nice to know that there are active communities of photographers who are using these formats, and who all seem to be helpful and enthusiastic.

  5. #25
    Drew Wiley
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    SF Bay area, CA

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Pick one or the other and stick with it until you find some compelling reason not to. Becoming proficient and spontaneous with specific equipment is a lot more important than nitpicking the details. ... unless you're a format schizophrenic like me, who loves both 4x5 and 8x10, and wished I had 5x7 too, but can't afford yet
    one more pile of filmholders.

  6. #26

    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    Auburn, Indiana

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    From somebody who got started last year more full time in large format...

    I bought a wisner 4x5 which has a ton of movement and control and while the camera isn't all that geared (except focus) it's still a lot better than other cameras I've used in that format. I see that now. It was about $700, or I think that's between 400 and 500 pounds, as it sounds your somewhere around the UK based on the price you were hoping for. I'm replying after reading through the second page so I hope I don't miss anything.

    I initially chose 4x5 because of price and because I had used it before. I wasn't ready to even think about 8x10. I found a decent collection of lenses for some decent prices and there's such a large collection of them. Film, you can get some 4x5 black and white film, 100 ISO, 50 sheets, for about $32 from I don't know how it is shipping it. Ilford is great, anyways, and a little more...well, maybe twice as much, I don't know. Either way, that same film at freestyle, same quantity, is $131 at freestyle, so of course, around 4 times as much because it's 4 times the film. I know you said you wouldn't use much, but you'd be surprised how much you can go through. I haven't done color because I've always wanted to do it all myself in the darkroom, and that seems like it'd be hassle beyond measure.

    Then you've got processing costs if you're going to do color, or have anybody else do your processing.

    As I've looked at 8x10 cameras and all that recently, I am presented with much fewer options and higher costs when I do find some of the options I like.

    I'd just go 4x5, and if you can process your own stuff, black and white, to start.
    I'm armed with a Wisner 4x5 Technical Field and a lot of hope. I got this. Oh, and my name's Andrew.

  7. #27

    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    You should start with 4x5....
    I like to refer to it as a gateway format...
    I'm an all of the above guy, dslr, 35mm 120, 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10, depending on subject, conditions and intended use.
    If you use xray film 8x10 is actually cheaper per shot than 120 or 4x5.
    Real cameras are measured in inches...
    Not pixels.

  8. #28

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    Go for 4x5. 8x10 will wear you out, both physically and financially.
    (Or better yet -- rent a LF outfit for a couple of weeks, and use it seriously. You'll probably go back to 6x6 with a sigh of great relief!)
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  9. #29
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    hi josh

    if you have the $$ and patience maybe you should start at 8x10. why not ... you can always shoot paper negatives ( or X-ray film )
    to start to make sure you get the load/set up/focus/expose/process routine right so you don't dump a lot of $$ on film to start.
    and then when you get used to the whole large format dance start using film.
    there are a lot of folks who start with 4x5 and work their way up the food chain to much larger sizes, if you want to start at the top
    why not, it will save you the $$ you might have used to buy smaller formats + the film to feed them. and then, if you decide after
    a little while that 8x10 is not for you ( too cumbersome, hard to deal with &c ) you will most likely be able to sell the camera for what you
    got it for, and move down to a smaller format. just get one lens to start with so it won't be a huge start up cost.
    others might be able to do the math to figure out what the translation between your "normal" lens on your current format
    and what it will be for 8x10 ..

    good luck !

  10. #30
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: Is 4x5 big enough?

    I'm glad my first LF camera was an 8x10". Being able to see what I was doing on the large groundglass helped a lot in learning how to use smaller formats, where the movements need to be smaller to create the same effect, and the effect often has to be seen through a loupe or even figured out more on the basis of intuition than on visual inspection of the groundglass.

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