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Thread: Starting with ULF

  1. #1

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    Starting with ULF

    Hi all,

    I do 810, and Im considering larger formats. However, what does one need to consider before getting into this when it comes to the different formats, cameras/lenses, film availability and price?

    Cheers
    Peter

  2. #2

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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Hi Peter

    I have an 'Empire State' 11 x 14, it's here behind me where it's resided (sic) for the two years, next year it's going to get a full run out, it didn't cost me too much (thx to a great seller on here), film is readily available i.e. Adox and as to lenses, I have an E Francais (Paris) casket set which fully covers the format (which as casket lens sets aren't overly popular (and for many years) cost very little). No shutter of course but that far from phases me..................

    Total cost (apart from film) under £1,000 UK£ which I consider to be a reasonably cheap investment in this format. Since buying, I've found that film holders are probably the costliest investment

    And fwiw I just fancied a format larger than 8 x 10 and it really is significantly larger - I've found that simply looking through the GG has the effect that I go around different areas of the ground glass simply looking at the overall effect - it's simply something different and it was that that appealed to me

    Good luck and regards

    Andrew

  3. #3

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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Peter, Hi again

    The 11 x 14 size (and I'm more than happy to be corrected if wrong) is as far as I know a 'US initiated size whereas the British ULF formats started at 10 x 12 and 12 x 15 (again please correct me, someone, etc), I suspect that I was 'drawn' to 11 x 14 by Brett Weston's work, an Artist/Photographer who I've always significantly respected. Brett's father, Edward did a lot of work in 10 x 8 (and no larger, again correction required from those on here, if necessary, please?.....) as far as I know

    Brett if you weren't aware was a (great) friend of one, Donald Ross, his son Merg posts on here regularly, Merg's work, I hold in very high esteem. I'm not sure if Merg has ever used ULF Cameras....? Anyhow, I'm rambling on,..............hopefully others will 'chip in' as I know that there any many ULF Photographers on here

    Good luck and regards (again)

    Andrew

  4. #4
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Starting with ULF

    I've done 35mm, 6x6cm, 4x5, 8x10, and some 14x17. The biggest issues I've seen with the biggest format are:
    * space in the darkroom for trays for processing
    * tripod suitable for the big camera. If you have an overkill tripod for 8x10 you'll probably be OK.
    * film holders are somewhat expensive but don't lose their value.

    Film is available in the 21st century sense in that you can get it from a forum member selling excess, or be patient and order new well in advance of needing it.

  5. #5
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Starting with ULF

    An important question is 'why?'

    My answer for going 11x14 was simply that I wanted bigger prints (and was up for the challenge). I only contact print using alt processes. This is big enough for me. Perhaps if I was in my 30s again I would consider bigger, but an 11x14 or 5.5x14 print is a very comfortable size to work with and to view.

    Larger formats have longer 'normal' focal length lenses as the film size increases. DoF becomes an increased concern. Choices and the practicality of longer than normal lenses decrease...a second tripod for the lens might be needed. Wider then normal focal lengths with enough coverage become more commonly used.
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  6. #6
    Foamer
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    Re: Starting with ULF

    I thought of moving up from 5x7 to 11x14 but decided to just go to 8x10. I want to make contact prints. My thinking is everything is more expensive: film or dry plates, holders (both film and wet plate), lens choice gets expensive and dramatically smaller, will need a heavier tripod, and the system would be very heavy to hike with. I mostly wanted to use it to do wet plate in the field and this just didn't look practical. Who knows, might change my mind in the years to come though.


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

  7. #7

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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Quote Originally Posted by pkr1979 View Post
    /lenses,
    https://www.angusparkerphoto.com/blo...ndations-14x17

  8. #8

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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Camera: Started out by acquiring an 11x14 Improved Empire State View Camera in the early 1980s. Around 2000 sold it and acquired an 11x14 Burke & James Commercial wooden flat bed. Then probably 6 years ago sold it and acquired a new 11x14 Chamonix. First 2 cameras were sold for maybe 4 times what I paid for them. The new Chamonix was a splurge, but without regrets.

    Lens: A 508mm f/7 Caltar in an Ilex No. 5 shutter. Found it in the early 1980s and still use it. It definitely covers 11x14, projects a bright image on the GG, and is very undervalued so can still be found for a great price. Sharpness and contrast are excellent.

    Holders: Started out with 11x14 Medical (can't remember the brand) which additional strips off plastic, one each side, that had to be removed (easy). Can still be found for bargain prices at state surplus stores/outlets especially associated with Health Centers, you just have to be patient and look around. Few years ago replaced most of them with 11x14 Chamonix holders. Two I kept are dedicated to an 11x14 Pinhole camera (acquired an 11x14 Burke and James back and built the camera around it).

    Film: Begger initially and loved it till it was discontinued. Since then Ilford HP5 plus, which B&H stocks. Tried X-Ray film, but just wasn't for me. Always preferred pan film with a decent ASA.

    Tripod: Initially a Burke & James wooden Commercial? tripod with a very simple hinged wooden platform head. Linhof Heavy Duty tripod for a while but was really heavy to transport around. Finally about 6 years ago when I acquired the Chamonix, got a large Ries with a large Ries head.

    Darkroom: 4 11x14 trays. Large plexiglass washer maybe 10 years ago. JOBO tanks about 5 years ago. Also a Stark SST4 to rotate the JOBO tanks in a temp controlled water bath. Chose it over a full sized JOBO, saved me a chunk of money and prefer to fill and empty the tanks by hand. Initially Edwal FG-7 in a 9% Sodium Sulfite solution. Now Rodinal, HC-110, or Diafine.

    Prints: Platinum/Palladium or Salt printed from 11x14 digital negatives. Had access to a large EPSON scanner till a while ago. Now use my EPSON V750 and scan the negatives in 4 or more sections, until next year when I plan on getting a large ESON scanner. Able to dodge and burn, control contrast, and with carefully controlled digital negatives save a lot on Platinum/Palladium chemicals.

    Started out with what I could afford at the time and just traded up over the years. The 508mm Caltar was an exception, found it at a camera store in the 1980s with a "make me an offer" tag on it. At the time spent way more than I intended on spending, but was well worth it.

  9. #9
    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Before committing to ULF consider negative storage. Sleeves in your preferred size may well require some searching. Likewise print storage is a consideration. As mentioned, tray size may be an issue, as well as where to store those larger trays if space is at a premium. Since you'll [probably] be contact printing, do you have a large enough printing frame? Chemistry requirements are proportionately larger than 8x10.
    These items are rather mundane compared to discussing things like impressive lenses. But they're important to the overall process.
    ULF is a sea change. Proceed wisely.
    Last edited by William Whitaker; 8-Jan-2020 at 20:57.

  10. #10

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    Re: Starting with ULF

    Hi all,

    And thanks alot for getting back to me. Lots of useful information here... from not so costly lenses to negative files. And I agree, the mundane is just as important as the fun in a process like this.

    Vaughn, as to why, you and Jim responded to another thread I started (regarding PQ Universal) and your carbon printing workshop in Yosemite came up and it made me curious (I live in Oslo, Norway and are married with two small children - so if my wife will permit to travel across the Atlantic for that remains an uncertainty) - on both carbon printing and larger formats, since it is contact printing ULF would be cool. A question though, in your experience, are certain films particularly suited for carbon printing?

    I have pretty sturdy tripod I expect will do. I also have a Jobo CPA2, but will have to get bigger tanks if moving up from 810. I would also have to get trays and lightning source for contact prints. I have actually only developed E6 and black and white reversal myself… and I am a bit uncertain on what is the max size for a jobo tank on that machine. How does people develop these large negatives… in trays? There is a 20x24" tank that might fit.

    I had a quick look at B&H to check what they sold of film… and here is an issue… I like the aspect ratio of 810 (67 is my favorite)… but the BW film I prefer at the moment is Ilford Ortho Plus – which they only have in 12x20(?). If I went for 11x14 there is also color film available (no Ortho+ though), but if I choose to move up from 810 it would be cool to maybe go up to 14x17 or 16x20 (I don’t actually mind carrying my Cambo SC 810 around – but a 16x20 might be troublesome though?). What are the different sources for getting film for the different formats? I didn’t see any 14x17 film at B&H. Film availability is somewhat important.

    I'll think this through before I potentially step up :-)

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