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Thread: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

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  1. #1

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    8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    For those experienced in both 8x10 and 4x5 photography, how do the methods and the types of scenes or subject matter photographed differ between the two formats?

    I know there's been quite a bit of discussion on 4x5 vs. 8x10. But, I'm really interested.

    For example, I took a couple of John Sexton workshops in the last few years, and he said at one point that he's a 4x5 person. He has an 8x10 somewhere in his storage areas, but he wasn't sure where. He just doesn't use 8x10.

    Do people see differently in 4x5 versus 8x10? Might the different sizes between the two format affect the quality of the compositions?

    How tough is it to achieve depths of field that's readily available in 4x5?
    Last edited by neil poulsen; 24-Mar-2021 at 13:26.

  2. #2

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    For someone who is truly good, it probably doesn't make all that much of a difference, unless there are specific technical aspects of a particular subject making one format more suitable. I can think of some great artists in both formats with wide varieties of subject matter.

    For people who are not as good and/or are not doing it full time (ie don't have the camera work down to second nature), in my experience the size of the format is generally inversely related to the quality of the work. I know not many will agree with me on that.

  3. #3

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael R View Post
    . . . in my experience the size of the format is generally inversely related to the quality of the work. I know not many will agree with me on that.
    That's interesting. General opinion would suggest that the larger the format, the better the photograph. But, I suspect that the differing methodologies for the two formats have their own impact on the quality of the image.

  4. #4

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    That's really interesting. Common speculation would suggest that the larger the format, the better the image.
    I think that's kind of the hope people have, based on the notion that the bigger camera slows you down and forces you to be more attentive to composition etc. etc. I understand how that seems logical, but in my experience it is more myth than reality. It seems instead to be the opposite - that is, the bigger, more fiddly equipment tends to take over and actually inhibit the seeing.

    Again, this is my view and I don't think many people will agree. It's also a generalization, of course. There are exceptions.

  5. #5

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Where did the notion of larger film format results in the better photograph?

    That notion appears to be exceedingly popular today with increasing number of never folks who have never done LF photography folks leaping into their first view camera as a 8x10 view camera.. To discover lots of !.!.!.!.

    Having done 8x10 to micro 3/4 digital and phone cameras, expressive images depend LOT more on the image maker and less on the image recording device-method. This has been discussed in-depth before on LFF.

    IMO, what too many photographers get stuck focusing on are the technical details of image making. Yes, that is important. Except that is not the Only aspect of what makes an expressive image. If this reality and fact is well understood, the realization of larger image recording format automatically results in superior images is irrational and not logical and inconsistent with the realities of expressive image making.

    Yes, 8x10 makes GOOD contact prints. Making GOOD projection enlargement prints are a different set of challenges all together.
    8x10 film format has a specific set of difficulties from physical size and weight of the camera, lenses needed, camera support, camera system transport system, film and film holders. Then the exposed film needs to be processed and put into the print making process. 8x10 often demands smaller lens aperture sized to be used to gain enough perception of what appears to be in focus. This enforces strict and not negotiable limits on lens resolution capabilities. Adding to this, film flatness can become a very real issue.

    As for the ground glass image difference between 6x9cm_4x5_5x7_8x10 spend enough time with the GG image they are are much the same. It is much about learning how to see and view the GG image coupled with image composition skills, creativity and experience with the GG image. Much of this applies to phone cameras and screen view digital cameras.



    Bernice




    Quote Originally Posted by neil poulsen View Post
    That's interesting. General opinion would suggest that the larger the format, the better the photograph.

  6. #6
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Only you can answer the question. After years of 4x5 photography, I know the answer when I printed my first 8x10 negative.

  7. #7

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I work with both 4x5 and 8x10 photographing similar scenes, regardless of format. That said, most will immediately recognize the increased effort required with the larger 8x10 format vs the smaller 4x5. It's heavier and bulkier, the longer lens focal lengths mean shallower DOF, smaller apertures mean longer shutter speeds, subject and camera movement in the wind can be challenging, etc. However, given all the restrictions and considerations 8x10 is actually my preferred format. I swear that something happens to my mind/brain when viewing my image on the groundglass at final print size! And, I absolutely LOVE contact prints.

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I have bad eyes since birth nobody. noticed until was 7. Almost as soon as I got the miracle of eyeglasses, I started taking pictures to see even better.

    I shot Pentax 35 for decades and never heard of LF until age 50. Finally age 60 I found LF.

    I find the bigger the GG the better for me!

    I am now 70 and looking forward to Pictorialism on ever big GG.

    YMMV

    after that too passes I have my very active dreams
    Last edited by Tin Can; 24-Mar-2021 at 15:16.
    2022

  9. #9

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Of course itís inversely proportional! The best photographic works ever were shot with Minox (8◊11 mm) and 110 film!!

    /s

  10. #10

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    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Depends on the camera and how well you interface with it... Comparing an ancient wood camera to a modern metal monorail is like comparing a Sopwith Camel with a fighter jet, but both have their charms...

    A bigger old wood camera usually is more difficult to get precise movements, and the large bellows pleats are stiffer, making subtle movements hard, and the longer FL tends to not be as responsive to greater movements...

    My modern take on shooting is whatever can get you on/off site faster is best (before you attract unwanted attention)... (I can get my Linhof Tek out of a car and shot in less than 10 minutes total, and if security shows up, I'm waving them goodbye by then...

    My other take is how big of a piece of film do you need??? 4X5 will enlarge in a common enlarger, but if you need a big piece of film for 1:1 contact printing or alt processes, you need bigger...

    Sometimes with bigger, you are just asking for trouble (unless you LIKE to flog yourself... ;-)

    But to each, their own...

    Steve K

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