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Thread: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

  1. #1

    Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    A few friends and I were recently talking about how the rise in popularity in analog photography has seen an increase in the cost of formats. A few mentioned they selected a format of choice based on the availability and cost of lenses, etc in relation to the sense that we “missed the boat” of low prices.

    Obviously this is more in line with people who experimented in the past but never had a solid kit set up.

    It was a curious conversation between 4x5 and 8x10 +


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  2. #2

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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Well, I suppose that if wide angle lenses that cover large by larger are hard to find and very expensive, that could be a reason for people who want to shoot wide to choose a smaller format. For huge by huger this might be true of normal lenses. I make this last comment because I get occasional questions about where to find, for example, a 2500/12.5 Apo-Saphir.

    For curiosity and because I rarely encounter people shooting film, why do you and your friends believe that shooting film is more popular than it was a few years ago? I haven't been very interested in the matter so haven't looked for hard data on film sales. In fact, I'm not sure where to find it.

    Further on this point, are usable lenses for 8x10 really rare and expensive? I don't shop for them so don't follow prices.

  3. #3

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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    The prices of used "modern" view camera lenses has declined considerably in this decade. I see good-condition used lenses selling here for a fraction of what I paid for the same optics 25 years ago. The 'classic' and 'cult' lenses (Goerz Dagors et al.) are still up there, it seems. I can't speak to the pre-WWII and brass lens market.
    But I'd say the far more important cost is that of the film. You buy a lens or three, that's a one-time expense. 4x5 film isn't cheap. 8x10 film is expensive. ULF film is exponentially more so. Note that many LF shooters these days are using x-ray film, despite the compromises involved... or shooting wet-plate, which is a step into another world.
    The cost of the outfit- camera, lenses, tripod- will be quickly rivaled by these expenses if you're a serious 8x10 (or larger) worker.
    (Full disclosure: I chose 4x5 long ago as the best compromise between image quality, cost and bulk.)

  4. #4
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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    ... or shooting wet-plate, which is a step into another world.

    I have now stepped into that world.


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  5. #5

    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Sampson View Post
    The prices of used "modern" view camera lenses has declined considerably in this decade. I see good-condition used lenses selling here for a fraction of what I paid for the same optics 25 years ago. The 'classic' and 'cult' lenses (Goerz Dagors et al.) are still up there, it seems. I can't speak to the pre-WWII and brass lens market.
    But I'd say the far more important cost is that of the film. You buy a lens or three, that's a one-time expense. 4x5 film isn't cheap. 8x10 film is expensive. ULF film is exponentially more so. Note that many LF shooters these days are using x-ray film, despite the compromises involved... or shooting wet-plate, which is a step into another world.
    The cost of the outfit- camera, lenses, tripod- will be quickly rivaled by these expenses if you're a serious 8x10 (or larger) worker.
    (Full disclosure: I chose 4x5 long ago as the best compromise between image quality, cost and bulk.)
    Context matters... in relation to their cost when new at the height of production in the market, sure...

    But 10 years ago on eBay you were seeing them being sold as near door stoppers.

    The rise has been in the last 5 years , just tracking prices on forums, eBay etc.


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  6. #6

    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    I have now stepped into that world.


    Kent in SD
    I find plates to be an intriguing way of working. It’s interesting ... both easy and yet immensely difficult


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  7. #7
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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by dodphotography View Post
    Context matters... in relation to their cost when new at the height of production in the market, sure...

    But 10 years ago on eBay you were seeing them being sold as near door stoppers.

    The rise has been in the last 5 years , just tracking prices on forums, eBay etc.


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    Yeah I've seen that, and the cult stuff going up even faster.

    I am lucky and got in at a great time, and paid next to nothing for most of my gear including cult lenses.

    I won't sell, because they probably won't get cheaper, and I'll probably miss whatever it is I sold.

    As to your original post - it does seem like more and more folks want to jump up or even start all the way at 8x10. This is confusing to me, due to the lack of options for wet printing from 8x10. In contrast, 4x5 enlargers can be had for peanuts still, and has more than enough on film to make big prints, if one does their job well. I don't see these folks doing alt process generally, so I don't think that's it, though admittedly 8x10 contact prints (silver gelatin) are also compelling. But "large" is IN right now so perhaps it's just mostly hybrid process.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    For curiosity and because I rarely encounter people shooting film, why do you and your friends believe that shooting film is more popular than it was a few years ago? I haven't been very interested in the matter so haven't looked for hard data on film sales. In fact, I'm not sure where to find it.
    I don't offhand know data points but film is way up after bottoming out. Yeah, you don't see it on the street everyday, but I do see people with 35mm on occasion out IRL these days.
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  8. #8

    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    Yeah I've seen that, and the cult stuff going up even faster.

    I am lucky and got in at a great time, and paid next to nothing for most of my gear including cult lenses.

    I won't sell, because they probably won't get cheaper, and I'll probably miss whatever it is I sold.

    As to your original post - it does seem like more and more folks want to jump up or even start all the way at 8x10. This is confusing to me, due to the lack of options for wet printing from 8x10. In contrast, 4x5 enlargers can be had for peanuts still, and has more than enough on film to make big prints, if one does their job well. I don't see these folks doing alt process generally, so I don't think that's it, though admittedly 8x10 contact prints (silver gelatin) are also compelling. But "large" is IN right now so perhaps it's just mostly hybrid process.



    I don't offhand know data points but film is way up after bottoming out. Yeah, you don't see it on the street everyday, but I do see people with 35mm on occasion out IRL these days.
    My mentor in grad school told me if he wanted a bigger print, he got a bigger camera. I’m with him. I’ve shot 810 for the last 8 years or so but always kept a minimal kit. It made me appreciate (or become envious) that for the cost of my 210/240 graphic kowas in 810 I could get a 65,90,135,150, 210 4x5 glass for the same cost.

    I scan for the web but contact print everything.


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  9. #9
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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Contact prints are certainly a nice option.

    Are you enlarging from 8x10 at all?

    What if you want a 16x20 print?
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  10. #10

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    Re: Allowing Lens Availability to Dictate Format Choice

    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    Contact prints are certainly a nice option.

    Are you enlarging from 8x10 at all?

    What if you want a 16x20 print?
    Use a 16x20 camera of course! :-)


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