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Thread: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

  1. #1
    Large Format Curious
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    One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    I'm curious - why go with LF?

    There are 3 immediate reasons I can think of, but wanted to ask here.

    1. Individual development of each negative for better/finer control (doesn't PhotoShop make up for that, unless you're contact printing?)

    2. Movements for perspective control. Necessary in architectural shots, helpful in landscapes, any use elsewhere?

    3. Large negative. Great for contact printing (I sold my darkroom, including a really nice DeVere 504 with color head).

    I use MF exclusively, and am really curious about getting into LF, but am not sure what more it will offer.

    I was wondering why people choose to go with LF. What's the advantage or appeal? No right or wrong answers, just wondering out loud.

    Thanks!

  2. #2

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    I'm curious - why go with LF?
    Because the cameras are big and heavy, the process complicated, the cost very high and all of that make you feel superior to those who use dinky formats.

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    No right or wrong answers, just wondering out loud.
    There are right and wrong answers, mine is probably wrong. If you need validation of your decision not to use LF, look elsewhere.

  3. #3

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Virtually complete control is possible, one just needs to learn how to get there; that's real the fun part.


    Mick.

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    www.analogportraiture.com

  5. #5
    Large Format Curious
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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Thanks for the replies guys (are there any women here in the LF forum?)

    As I said, I've been interested in and curious about LF for a long time, wanted to try it out but never got that far. Now that I'm on the cusp of actually putting my money on the table, I want to check with myself why exactly I want to use LF, what I hope to get out of it, what's the attraction. To be honest, I'm still not sure, but hearing other people's reasons and rationales sometimes help one become clear of one's own.

    I do know that there are some landscape pics I've done where I really wish I had movements to get more DOF, and I'm really intrigued by the portraiture possibilities and application as well, using the limited DOF and movements to lead the viewers attention, hide and reveal different parts of the composition. But I'm not sure that's enough of a reason (for me anyway) to spend a bunch of money. Especially when I already have a bunch of quality gear, and never enough time to really use it to it's fullest.

    The other thing that appeals is the methodical and slow way one is forced to work (hand held Graphlex aside, although I expect even there a tripod would improve the results noticeably), although I'm wondering if I actually have the time to dedicate to it.

    I'm one of the odd people who tend to go against the stream, and in many cases prefer quality to convenience, despite the majority of the world heading the other way, where convenience always trumps over everything else. Which leads me to think that LF might be a really good fit for me. But I'll never know until I try.

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    A few women post, who knows how many just read.

    Questions about where are the women may be destructive.

    Next time you join a male-dominated forum try a female name and see what happens.

    Randi Moe
    sin eater

  7. #7
    Large Format Curious
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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    That's a shame if true, and says more about the men online than anything else...

    Can anyone link to a photographer or two, some examples (modern/contemporary) of shots that would not have been possible or wouldn't have had the same impact if they hadn't been made on LF?

    I'm still trying to get a handle on what the advantages offer, maybe seeing some images would help make that clearer.

  8. #8
    Les
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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Just a couple of things. What format will allow you to have a 5x7, 4x5, 6x17, or even DSLR attached - all in one camera ? I could attach 35mm film rig too, but that would be right down silly, tho someone has done it.

    OK, PhotoShop or not (not everyone uses that software)....what MF or DSLR allows you to use a myriad of lenses that are out there, I mean going back to mid 19th century ? Just having a lens is one thing, but to be able to come up with an interesting and quirky image (using it) is way more meaningful.

    Les

  9. #9

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    OP, I don't really belong here. The largest format I shoot is 6x12.

    I started out with 35 mm still, to shoot live fish in aquaria. I eventually went on to shoot flowers and insects and such in the field. This is somewhat problematic with 35 mm still. One can get as good detail as possible in the subject by filling the frame with it, at the cost of losing its setting. Or one can place the subject in its setting, at the cost of losing good detail. Can't win.

    So I moved up to 2.25 x 3.25 (2x3 for short, 6x9 in metric) to be able to get as much detail as I'd been getting with 35 mm plus more of the setting. As I've already mentioned, this is much more difficult than using a 35 mm SLR. As I haven't mentioned explicitly, I wasted a lot more shots with 2x3 than with 35 mm.

    So why move up in format? Because larger format gives a larger negative. Opinions differ on this, but film can't be enlarged more than around 10x. 8x10 is 35 mm's limit. Larger prints need a larger negative. And there you are.

  10. #10

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    The other thing that appeals is the methodical and slow way one is forced to work (hand held Graphlex aside, although I expect even there a tripod would improve the results noticeably), although I'm wondering if I actually have the time to dedicate to it. .
    Your underlying question gets asked and turned into threads periodically. The "quality" argument goes both ways, i.e. some argue that the large negatives and individual control cannot be matched by any other approach. The counter argument is that with ever-improving sensors, tilt lenses, and PhotoShop, one can now make images of equal quality in the digital domain. Without taking a personal side in this debate (I have one, but it is no more valuable than all the others), I would throw in that PhotoShop does add a degree of creative flexibility that does not exist in the LF/darkroom world.

    But the part of the argument that seems to be agreed to by most, including myself, is that one chooses to do LF work precisely because one enjoys the method. The thought-process, choice of subjects that lend themselves to LF imagery, and the detailed actions required in the process is not just a by-product, it is a large part of the rationale for choosing the process. I attend a monthly get-together of photographers using all mediums, although digital now outweighs film considerably. I have come to recognize that I cannot "justify" my love for LF in terms of somehow "better" imagery, I stick with it because I enjoy the process much more than any other. I include in this the simple tactile enjoyment I get from holding large negatives in my hands, which you will recognize again as a "process" argument rather than a "quality" one.

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