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Thread: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    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.


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

  2. #12

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I have always experienced that the bigger the camera, the greater the possibility that something will be soft for any number of reasons. However, nothing gives me the visual buzz like looking at the giant screen when viewing. Fred Picker used to say 8x10 is like looking at a giant TV screen.

    "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..."

    Howard Bond was comparing my Norma to his Deardorff, when he stated "It's like comparing a Model T to an Apollo Moon Buggy" LOL Some prefer the charms of the Model T whilst others go Apollo.
    “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”
    ― Mark Twain

  3. #13
    Tin Can's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2011

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Some, like me are late to the dance, if fact the dance is over.

    Now in lock down, with The Danse Macabre much more obvious, I for one, am just trying to amuse myself.

    I have no time left or money for more education.

    I do know how to buy and sell. So I do.

    Just this afternoon, in warm Sun, I read a study of Potters learning to throw.

    One group was told to make all pots to a given weight.

    The others were told to make as many as possible in the same amount of time.

    The fast ones became much better at Pots.

    I am making Art as fast as I can these days, as many ways as possible.

    I don't post everything.

    I have taken an undergrad ceramics class, that instructor was the only one to come to my MFA exhibit.

    My father called me Mud Moe, I never liked that. He was always an ass.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Collinsville, CT USA

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    For me shooting whole plate, 8x10, and 11x14 is a completely different experience in comparison with shooting 4x5 or any of the 120 formats. In the former three I am looking at the size of the final image on the print. For 4x5 and any of the 120 formats, I am most of the time unsure of the final image size on the print, and this sometimes causes me to just shoot and figure it out later. With the large formats, I am faced with knowing exactly what the size of the final presentation will be, and a lot of times I will decide not to shoot the image. Shooting digital is a whole different animal but in many ways similar to shooting whole plate, 8x10, and 11x14... I print pretty much all of my digital images at one un-cropped set size, and I find it easy to imagine the final print when making the exposure. Side note: for many years shot only Chromes for 4x5, and only B&W for the larger formats... In many ways it made life a bit easier for me.

  5. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2011

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    If you're into soft focus and pictorialism, the effect is much easier to 'feel' on a large ground glass (IMHO, maybe it's just me). If I'm shooting a 'straight' landscape, it makes little difference if I shoot anything from half frame to 5x7, just a matter of what I have with me and having the right lens and filter to get what I want. But if I want something that isn't a straight rendition of a scene, I prefer the 8x10 and wish I could carry 11x14.

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Mar 2012

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I don't shoot 8x10, but I do appreciate the look of an 8x10 portrait vs a 4x5.
    It's looks different, the way the fall off is & probably due to the longer focal length...

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Forest Grove, Ore.

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tin Can View Post
    . . . I am making Art as fast as I can these days, as many ways as possible.
    That is just so cool. What a neat thing to do.

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
    Orange, CA

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I primarily shoot landscapes and architecture, and progressed through 35mm, 6x7, 4x5 and 8x10 in search of optimal image quality for large (24x30 inches and larger) prints. 8x10 was my primary format for around ten years, more recently I have downsized to a combination of 4x5 and 5x7. I shoot both color and B&W.

    For me, 8x10 is where the potential divergence between process and practicality becomes acute. The process of composing on such a large ground glass is an experience like no other, and I could evaluate and fine tune my compositions and envision the printed result more readily than with smaller formats. Fine focus and depth of field was easier to assess, and there was less of a hot spot at the center of the ground glass when using wide angle lenses, a significant benefit for me since I dislike fresnels. I could use fast emulsions such as HP5+ without the slightest concern about film grain, and the option to contact print was an additional allure. In term of sheer process I enjoyed shooting 8x10 more than any other format.

    As a practical matter, handling the physical bulk of the 8x10 format meant I had to physically work harder at taking photographs, which at times become a significant distraction to the creative process. In addition to the larger/heavier camera/film holders/tripods/filters etc., my architectural subjects necessitated use of large heavy lenses with large image circles. Transporting all this gear in the field required a large backpack for the camera and accessories, and separate stand-alone cases for lenses and film holders. My wind management and camera stabilization techniques had to become more exacting, which often meant slowing down and having less time to explore alternative compositions of a subject. Slower shutter speeds meant subject movement and reciprocity failure could become much more of a problem. Depth of field is noticeably reduced versus 4x5. For example in my experience it is impossible to have a near foreground and infinity background in simultaneous sharp focus with anything longer than roughly a 110mm lens when movements are not possible. 110mm is a moderately wide lens with 4x5, but is ultra wide with 8x10, so the feasibility of shooting such compositions with 8x10 is vastly more limited.

    I think all large format photographers learn to edit their compositions in their mind's eye to conform to the practical limitations of their gear. Over the years I became acutely aware of the large number of images I was missing out on due to use of large formats and the quest for ultimate image quality. I found myself accumulating far more missed opportunities than super sharp large 8x10-derived prints. As an amateur I could prioritize enjoyment of the 8x10 process over results, but I enjoy results too.

    I did not note any significant differences in seeing potential subjects when shooting 4x5 or 8x10. To me, the 8x10 was just a bigger mousetrap.
    Last edited by Eric Leppanen; 24-Mar-2021 at 19:55.

  9. #19
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

    I'm going to go in a different direction that the folks above. I've been shooting 4x5 for the past 20+ years, 5x7 for the past 3, and a year ago started 8x10. I have some thoughts. First, 8x10 requires a lot beefier tripod, and even with one any wind becomes a big headache. The lenses tend to be heavier and more expensive. Film is more expensive so I shoot a lot less of it. That's good and bad. Set up time for all three is roughly the same for me. Now here's where I diverge from the rest of the pack. Pretty much, I only use 8x10 for shooting wet plate. With wet plate the plate size is the final print (or tin type) size. I plan on doing albumin contact prints at some point from wet collodion negatives. I find myself mostly using the 8x10 for "special" subjects or when I'm with others--it just looks impressive. I drive hundreds of miles on the weekends taking photos and most of the time I'm grabbing my lightweight Chamonix 4x5. I will shoot b&W film, dry plates, and wet plate in it as I wish. I then scan them and post on Facebook or wherever. I also sometime scan either the negatives or tin types and make prints. For me 4x5 is the most versatile. If I mostly did portraits or was selling contact prints/tin types I think 8x10 would be my preference. Really though I'm more of an outdoor roaming photographer and most of the time 4x5 is a great fit. If I could only have one camera system it would be the 5x7. It makes a big enough tin type, lens selection is good, and I can put some pretty nice 19th century brass lenses on it. Let what you photo and how be your guide. I don't think the format size matters unless you're mostly making contact prints.

    I will mention that going from 4x5 to 5x7 wet plate wasn't hard, but going to 8x10 was a whole different deal. Noticeably harder to do.

    Kent in SD
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  10. #20

    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: 8x10 Photography Compared to 4x5 Photography?

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

    I just see (or don't) regardless of gear or format. What maybe important when composing for an image is the aspect ratio and focal length relatively to the used format.
    One of observations that I made is that the larger the camera the less photographers move around with it and often end up with photographing ordinary subjects (like a pile of logs by a trail) in a close proximity to the parked car. There is nothing wrong with doing that , but does it have to be an 8x10 or ULF camera to make us "see" and photograph such things ?

    To me, the smaller the format the more flexibility is provides. And flexibility opens the door for more creativity and output.

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