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Thread: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

  1. #1

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    recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    Hello. I'm just getting started with large format. I have lots of 35mm and some medium format experience, but I want to try an all analog project photographing portraits of friends, coworkers and relatives. I plan on using black and white print film or color transparency film. I know 5x7 transparency film is probably not an option. The finished product would be a contact print or transparency since I don't have room for an enlarger at this time. Would a vintage 5x7 with an additional 4x5 back be a good set up to do this kind of project? I've seen some old Ansco and Kodak 5x7 cameras on the bay that might be suitable. What do you all recommend?

  2. #2
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    Film, processing, cameras, lenses, etc., for 8x10 are probably not much more expensive than the same for 5x7. So, if you are not going to enlarge, you might consider 8x10 over 5x7.

  3. #3

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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    Color transparency film for 5x7 can be made by cutting down 8x10 color transparency film. This is NOT difficult to do.

    As for 8x10 -vs- 5x7, 8x10 does make nice contact prints and results in the common 8x10 portrait size. Difficulty is dealing with 8x10 from camera to lens choices (suddenly limited and $ with 8x10) to camera support to processing of film and all post image exposure processing to print.

    There is a LOT of current obsession with 8x10 being the "ultimate film format" in reality, there are many real world problems with 8x10. This is not to say 8x10 is not worth while, it is a matter of trade offs.

    As for portrait project suggestions, most any individual or individuals who are willing to sit for you will do great. One can do street portraits from urban to country folks to industry workers to tech folks to street performers and most any location or event that involves humanity.

    Think it would be more important to connect with your work with passion as this tends to motivate and bring our your way of sharing your perception of humanity and places they conduct their life.



    Bernice

  4. #4
    multi format
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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    Hello Ben Haning
    Sounds like a lot of fun. I'd skip 4x5 and 8x10 and get something like a Rembrandt Portrait Camera with a split 5x7 back ( there is one for sale on the yard sale right now ). 5x7 and split 5x7 ( 4x5 ) are ideal formats for portraits, and the lenses can be similar if not the same as 4x5. They have a packard shutter too, so if you want to use an inexpensive barrel lens ( without a shutter ) you won't have trouble. Good luck getting the film processed if you go the ChromeRoute, you might have to file for Chapter 11 after you get it all processed !

    Good Luck !
    enjoy your coffee

  5. #5
    Foamer
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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    I would skip 4x5 for this and use 5x7. You could find a 5x7 & 8x10 combo. If you are funding all this you should first look at prices of 8x10 color film and processing. $$


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  6. #6

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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    As a 5x7" user, i'll say that properly matted & framed 4x5 contact prints are a thing of beauty. Also if you're thinking head & shoulder portraits, the aspect ratio of 4x5 is a good fit, while a vertical 5x7 can be on the long side.

  7. #7
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    You have to decide what size prints you want to make, whether by contact printing, traditional optical enlarging, or by scanning. If you're only going to contact print, then desired print size is the biggest factor. You also need to decide what kind of portraits: Group, environmental, full body, head shot.....As one gets to a tighter framing, one needs longer lenses to stay far enough away from the subject to avoid shape distorting, with elements, such as noses, being enlarged as they get closer to the lens. Unless you're using this distortion to some purpose, you probably want to stay at least 4 feet from your subject. This means using longer lenses with larger formats. The lenses tend to get more expensive, and the large bellows draw can be a problem for stability and general usability. To cut to the chase, headshots with a 4x5 will likely be easier to manage than with a bigger camera. 4x5 cameras are also cheaper, generally, and there are more film choices.

    Photographing with LF is quite different than other formats. If you have the money and time, sure you can dive in an get very expensive equipment, like an 8x10 Gowlandflex. But another option is to use something like a Crown Graphic, which are cheap, sturdy, pretty easy to use. You can do terrific work with one. If you decide that LF portraiture is not for you, you could sell it for little or no loss. After you put in a lot of practice, you will learn things about what might make your process better. With that knowledge, you can then investigate other options with some knowledge.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing You Don't Already Know

  8. #8

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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    If this is your first endeavor into sheet film, suggest starting at 4x5 and not any larger as there is a steep learning curve with using any sheet film camera. There will be many mistakes made, much film wasted and more. This sheet film stuff is different from other film cameras and digital. While there are many basic artistic skills and creative process that are identical, it is the mechanics and techniques that make using a sheet film camera different than other cameras film or digital.

    There are many very good reasons to begin this journey at 4x5, from camera availability, lenses, film, ease of processing, lower overall cost and more.


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Haning View Post
    Hello. I'm just getting started with large format. I have lots of 35mm and some medium format experience, but I want to try an all analog project photographing portraits of friends, coworkers and relatives.

  9. #9

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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Haning View Post
    I know 5x7 transparency film is probably not an option.
    You always can cut 5x7 from 8x10, you cut a 1" strip then you have 7x10", then you cut it in two halves so you have two 5x7 sheets. It requires some practice in the dark, and some tooling, but no high technology required.

    Anyway, better to start with 4x5...

  10. #10
    Les
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    Re: recommended 4x5 or 5x7 for portrait project?

    My, suggestion is to test, test, test and test some more. Arrive with reliable standard and you can use 4x5 or 5x7....24/7. Paying attention to detail is important.
    Enjoy the upside down world.

    Les

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