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Thread: 4x5 or 8x10

  1. #1

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    Apr 2020
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    4x5 or 8x10

    Hi,

    I'm new to LF but have experience in 35mm and MF, also in developing these films and printing. I have a darkroom with 2 Durst enlargers that go up till 6x7.
    I wanna take the next step and get into LF. I'm wondering if I should get into 4x5 first or just skip that and go straight to 8x10. 4x5 would allow me to scan the negatives with my epson scanner, but since I don't have a 4x5 enlarger, and I really like the printing process, I'm afraid I won't get 'hooked'. The format more portable than 8x10 and probably much cheaper as well.
    On the other hand, 8x10 would give me contact prints of decent size, would allow me to get into wet plate stuff and other nifty things like polaroid 8x10's. I really dig the 8x10 look which imho is much more special than 4x5. Any advice? Would 8x10 be too difficult to make the jump straight from Medium size?
    What if I want to make larger prints later on? How difficult is it to make your own 8x10 enlarger, let alone finding one which doesn't cost an arm and a leg?

    Feedback and mentorship are much appreciated.

    Thanks and stay safe in these corona times,

    F

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    Welcome!
    Learning to shoot LF is less costly with a 4x5.
    Used 4x5 enlargers aren't terribly expensive.
    If you want to make 8x10 contacts, that is certainly do-able right out the gate if you have the moo-lah,
    as the cost of camera, film, film holders, lens and amount of chemicals used does go up.
    Are you interested in B&W or color?
    If you want to shoot in color, then I'd suggest 4x5 would be the format to start with.

    IMHO 8x10 is no more difficult to learn than any other format. You have the same sheet film and depending on the camera, the same movements.
    Managing the size and weight of the physically larger gear is the biggest difference I can see.
    Do you want to whet your 8x10 appetite? Make an 8x10 pinhole camera and go play with it before investing a lot of $$ in the format.
    8x10 negatives are the crack cocaine of the camera world.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your adventure!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  3. #3

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    Oct 2015
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    Totally agree with John's advice. If you go the 8x10 route (my personal favorite format), EVERYTHING will be, well...more; generally, more expensive camera, more expensive lenses, more expensive film, holders, etc, and more weight to carry around. As I said...MORE! The cost of 8x10 color film will probably cause you to pause a bit; especially Velvia 50. You can mitigate the weight a bit by going with something like the 8x10 Intrepid, but, then, the light weight of that camera is problematic in wind.

    All that said, 8x10 is no harder to learn and will provide "best in class" print quality. Personally, I became addicted to the 8x10 silver gelatin print 40 years ago!

    Good luck and have fun.

  4. #4
    Foamer
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    I shoot 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and do b&w film, dry plates, wet plates. My advice is to start with 4x5. You will make a lot of mistakes starting out and that gets very expensive with 8x10. I thought it would be an easy jump from 4x5 to 8x10 wet plate but it is not. After two months of practice I'm just now beginning to get some good results after spending over $600 (not including camera and lenses--just materials.) Buying used 4x5 equipment will let you resell it again for about what you paid for it. The funny thing is I don't want to sell my Chamonix 4x5 because it's so light and portable and easy to use that I'm still using it. A 5x7 might be a good compromise in that it's big enough you can contact print, and I scan them on my Epson v700. Downside is few 5x7 enlargers (and they are getting big) and color film gets expensive. They don't make color film so you have to cut down 8x10 sheets. Those will cost you about $20 each by the time you pay shipping etc. I only shoot b&w film with large format though.


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

  5. #5
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    I agree that starting with 4x5 is best. Of course it depends on one's ultimate goal in image quality and characteristics, but 4x5 satisfies the needs of many of us at a much lower cost than 8x10. Modern technology expands the potential of 4x5. After decades of darkroom printing, I quickly grew to appreciate the potential of digital editing and printing. Even if one eventually moves up to 8x10, retain a 4x5 kit for its obvious advantages.

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    5x7...
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  7. #7

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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Welcome!
    unt of chemicals used does go up.
    Are you interested in B&W or color?
    If you want to shoot in color, then I'd suggest 4x5 would be the format to start with.

    Good luck and keep us posted on your adventure!
    Thanks for the warm Welcome!

    I'm primarily a B&W shooter. I don't even have a clue on how color processing 8x10 and printing would work (besides what I saw on youtube with the polaroid/impossible stuff).
    I was thinking to get a Svedovsky 8x10. They have a reducing back and wet plate holders as well... Chamonix is a bit expensive (but a lot lighter).
    I can sell a couple of Leica Camera's to finance my new adventure

    Thanks for all the tips and feedback. It seems large format is still very much alive!

  8. #8
    Philippe Grunchec's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    5x7 plus a 4x5 reducing back, then 8x10 and, and, and...
    "I believe there is nothing more disturbing than a sharp image of a fuzzy concept!" (Ansel Adams)

    https://philippe.grunchec-photographe.over-blog.com/

  9. #9

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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    My decision was to go with 4x5. It was the right compromise for me between a larger negative, having movements and portability.

    I like 11x14-inch and larger prints. Enlarging 4x5 beats contact-printing 11x14 or enlarging 8x10 as far as logistics go for me.

    I hike, bike and travel a lot with my camera gear. A lightweight and versatile kit was really important for me. My 4x5 field camera with 4-5 lenses, 6 holders, meter and accessories weighs in at less than 20 pounds. A can go places with it that I would never dream of going with an 8x10 kit.

    Still, there are those that get out and about with larger cameras (Vaughn for instance). I once ran into a guy in Death Valley working with 12x20. He had his gear in two backpacks. He'd park his rig, don one pack and hike till he found a suitable photo possibility. Then he'd stash the pack, hike back to the car, get the other pack and hike back to his chosen location. He'd then set up, wait for the light or whatever and make one exposure. Then it was pack everything up and make two trips back to the car... I had hiked 13 miles and made six exposures when I met him back at the parking area later that day; he'd made one. It depends on how you like to work.

    FWIW, 8x10 negatives enlarged to 16x20 or 20x24 are really beautiful; I just don't have room and resources for an 8x10 enlarger..

    Best,

    Doremus

  10. #10
    Joel Edmondson
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    Re: 4x5 or 8x10

    I don't recall 4x5, 5x7, or 8x10 as being more problematical but I will say that it is difficult (in my experience) to scale back from 8x10. I stopped shooting 8x10 about twelve years ago because of weight and cost and after all these years I still have difficulty adjusting to the smaller ground-glass image. I would not shoot 8x10 if I had no means to enlarge the negatives - I tried contact printing with 8x10 but just didn't like it! As for 5x7, I simply didn't like the format nor the dearth of available films. I still shoot 4x5 more than any other format.
    Joel

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