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Thread: Preferred Format, and why?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Preferred Format, and why?

    What is your preferred format in which to photograph, and why?

    Thinking about it, I would have to say that mine is 4x5.

    I have others: medium format, 5x7, and 8x10. But, there's something about 4x5 that's special. It's a nice cross between convenience, expense, and availability. Yet, a 4x5 negative is large enough to obtain beautiful tonalities in smaller photographs.

    In addition to liking the 4x5 size, I would have to say that 4x5 is my favorite aspect ratio. I can handle 4x3; but, 5x7 is a bit long for my tastes. And, I really dislike the 2x3 aspect ratio of 35mm photography. (Digital or film. Yuk!)

    I also like processing 4x5 negatives in the darkroom. Larger than 4x5 negatives become a little cumbersome. But, 4x5 is large enough for individual sheet processing. It's nice having control over each negative.

    It helps that I really like my particular 4x5 camera. It's a delight to use.

    With this said, I'm fond of medium format. One can do nice work with medium format; yet, it's compact. That said, paradoxically, medium format camera outfits can be heavier than 4x5 outfits. The lenses are often larger in medium format, and carrying multiple medium format film holders is kind of a drag.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Bend, OR

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    Im with you on not liking the 2x3 aspect ratio!
    my preferred format is 4x10- I'm a panorama-type shooter and this set-up gives me film that can be scanned for file sizes that allow me to print as large as I can go with the equipment at my disposal. The Chamonix camera I have is also light enough to backpack without breaking my back. Other formats I shoot are 4x5 and 8x10, plus digital SLR when the situation calls for it (ie wildlife)- and I typically crop those 2x3's to a more likelable format!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    Aspect ratios are like colors: there is an infinite variety and they can all look lovely or work effectively at times.

    I have tried cropping certain images to fit my own preconceived notions but in the end had to accept that they looked best as they were, sometimes even in 2x3 !

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jul 2016

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    But, there's something about 4x5 that's special. It's a nice cross between convenience, expense, and availability.

    Enough quality for anything, with modern lenses and film a larger format is an overkill. A lot of choices for the lenses.

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    IMHO "5x7 is an interesting compromise between 4x5 and 8x10".

    Close to have all advantages of both 4x5 and 8x10, and way less the drawbacks.

    Perhaps best choice if scanning with a flatbed, cheaper to shot it than drum scanning 4x5. Cameras and enlargers still with moderate size.

    We may have to cut 8x10 sheets to have 5x7 with many films.

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    and 8x10.
    if one makes the mistake to look through a 8x10" GG... it generates addiction...

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Oct 2015

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    Though I have all formats from 35mm to 8x10, my preferred format is 8x10. Yes, it can be bulky and it is fairly expensive (I shoot only B&W in this format so it's not too bad), but IMO something happens to my brain when viewing the image at actual print size (I only contact print.) And, speaking of contact prints I just love a good 8x10 silver gelatin contact print! During the decade of the 80's and, probably, for about half the 90's 8x10 was all I shot.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    My favorite format is a square. Why? It just feels right most of the time for me. My favorite camera is an ALPA SWA. My second favorite camera is my Linhof 4x5 and then my Mamiya 6. A square cropped from 4x5 or 120 film is fine for me. I also like the 6x17 format from my pano back made with the Linhof.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    I only contact print, so it depends on how big of a print I want, what type of image I want to make...and where I need to get to!

    120 roll film up to 11x14...including 4x10 and 5.5x14.

    I've been making my first 11x14 pt/pd prints...pretty cool!
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    The Netherlands

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    35mm, seldom used, for special things only, and 8x10" also seldom used, 10 - 20 images a year.

    I love 4x5", film price is bearable, the camera is small enough, Linhof Technika. With 90mm and 150mm lenses, in a small backpack.

    Now medium format, Mamiya RB67SD, I really think twice there, you want this because you have more lenses, but they are so much heavier, it weighs more than my Technika with 10 film holders.
    I own the gear, but those don't make masterpieces. My everyday experience.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Oregon now (formerly Austria)

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    I found early on that I needed camera movements for the type of photography I wanted to do. Plus, I really like the quality of larger film.

    I do a lot of work outdoors, carrying my camera walking or bicycling. 4x5 is, for me, the perfect compromise between quality, availability of movements and portability. I like prints 11x14 inches or larger, or I might contact print 8x10. 8x10 just seems too small for what I want, so enlarging 4x5 is my choice. I print up to 20x24, but usually 11x14 and 16x20.

    I admire people like Vaughn, who lug large cameras around and contact print. I just can't see myself doing that; it's enough carrying my 4x5 kit for 8+ hour hikes in rough terrain (or trudging through sand or crossing exposed slopes or biking around cities...). I can carry my wooden folder and five lenses, plus tripod, six filmholders and accessories and be really comfortable. I can slither through slot canyons, scramble over rocks and through woods and climb anything that's not technical). My kit is in a waist pack and small pouch when out in the field, or in a small rolling backpack when working in cities. It weighs in at around 20 pounds when fully loaded (camera, five lenses, six holders, meter, filters, tripod, etc.).

    Plus, I like the lens choices for 4x5 that allow me to shoot from really wide (65mm) to really long (450mm) and everything in between. I can concentrate on finding an ideal camera position and then just choose the lens that does the job for me from that place. And, 4x5 is large enough I can crop a bit when enlarging to compensate for a slightly too-wide lens or to place my print borders exactly where I want them. Contact printing doesn't allow that unless one trims the final print to size.

    Finally, availability of everything associated with 4x5 is better than with larger formats (I wouldn't have room in my darkroom for an 8x10 enlarger, but I've got two 4x5 enlargers set up).



  10. #10
    Eric Woodbury
    Join Date
    Dec 2003

    Re: Preferred Format, and why?

    Different camera yields different photographs, even in the same setting. I like them all from "dirty-5" to 8x10. I think the best camera is the one with film in it.

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