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Thread: How Many Pros use LF?

  1. #11
    New Orleans, LA
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    604

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    I'm a bit of an outlier in that I am a staff photographer (rare these days, I think) for an antique store (15 years!) and use a 4x5 Sinar with a medium format digital back mounted to it. Actually, there are two of us shooting full time. We are going to start looking at other medium format systems soon though, primarily because our lenses are in Copal shutters and they are getting more difficult to get fixed. I figure another 5 years and we'll be using something like the Fuji GFX or Phase One series. The small amount of perspective corrections we do can now be done in PS without anyone knowing the difference and, with focus stacking, there's really no need to swing and tilt (although I still do it that way when I can). Focus stacking is built into the newer cameras (at least the Phase One brand). I'll be retiring before all this happens if all goes according to plan and whoever the poor bastard is who takes my place will probably never touch the view camera.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    171

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Thom,

    If corrections can be done in Photoshop, why would you stick with medium format and not just go to 35mm digital? Is it the resolution that's so important, or something else? I've been wondering if both medium and large format are still relevant for commercial work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Bennett View Post
    I'm a bit of an outlier in that I am a staff photographer (rare these days, I think) for an antique store (15 years!) and use a 4x5 Sinar with a medium format digital back mounted to it. Actually, there are two of us shooting full time. We are going to start looking at other medium format systems soon though, primarily because our lenses are in Copal shutters and they are getting more difficult to get fixed. I figure another 5 years and we'll be using something like the Fuji GFX or Phase One series. The small amount of perspective corrections we do can now be done in PS without anyone knowing the difference and, with focus stacking, there's really no need to swing and tilt (although I still do it that way when I can). Focus stacking is built into the newer cameras (at least the Phase One brand). I'll be retiring before all this happens if all goes according to plan and whoever the poor bastard is who takes my place will probably never touch the view camera.

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
    Location
    Vilnius, Lithuania
    Posts
    39

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    These days LF is fun_zies only for a long list of reasons.


    Bernice

    There is one reason, on 99.99% ocasions nobody needs bigger than A3 300 dpi output and almost all that 99,99 you can manage with consumer grade tools.

  4. #14
    Corran's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    North GA Mountains
    Posts
    8,254

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    I'm going to arbitrarily limit your definition further to just "those who make images for direct delivery" or in other words the portrait, wedding, event, product, or other commercial photography that one is most likely to come into contact with on a day-to-day basis and which primarily operates in a digital space, and eliminate "suppliers" which I have no knowledge of and "artists" or other types of folks who mostly sell prints, which to me is another can of worms (and one I am involved with and use LF for).

    Then I'm going to venture to say "essentially none." I don't think LF has any place in today's "pro" market, as defined by the above by me anyway.

    As an example, I still occasionally work for the biggest photography company in the USA as a contractor. They ship out cameras to us and we have very specific setups for repeatable, consistent results and fast delivery (next day usually) of proofs that can then be ordered, either direct digital delivery or old-school print packages. The cameras they use are the bottom-tier Nikon APS-C cameras and kit lenses for the most part, set at minimum quality and size levels. To be quite frank, the images are about on par with cellphone cameras from multiple generations ago. This is the standard to which they have built a massive business spanning internationally, and anything more in terms of quality is simply too much to bother with in terms of data handling and delivery.

    One more anecdote - when I did weddings, I not once sold a print. 100% digital delivery. Clients were hip to the print shops online or local at their neighborhood big-box or pharmacy. I was fine with that - less work for me, and custom prints at small sizes are low-margin affairs.
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram | Portfolio
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  5. #15
    New Orleans, LA
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Posts
    604

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Replying to sharktooth: The studio was already set up with this platform when I came in 15 years ago. Plus we like the resolution of the MFDB and the equipment is paid for. We rented the Canon 5Ds (50MP) a couple of years ago for a shot we needed to do that couldn't be done with the gear we had and we took the time to do a comparison between it and our MFDB setup. The 5D came close but not close enough that we would start over equipment-wise. The MFDB maintained smooth transitions in tone and color in the shadows and the highlights. As we large format geeks like to say, "it has a certain presence."

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Jun 2001
    Location
    North of Chicago
    Posts
    1,564

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Bennett View Post
    Replying to sharktooth: The studio was already set up with this platform when I came in 15 years ago. Plus we like the resolution of the MFDB and the equipment is paid for. We rented the Canon 5Ds (50MP) a couple of years ago for a shot we needed to do that couldn't be done with the gear we had and we took the time to do a comparison between it and our MFDB setup. The 5D came close but not close enough that we would start over equipment-wise. The MFDB maintained smooth transitions in tone and color in the shadows and the highlights. As we large format geeks like to say, "it has a certain presence."
    Working where you do I imagine you are aiming for the best quality possible. I owned an antiques business and always drooled over your inventory (figuratively speaking).
    ____________________________________________

    Richard Wasserman

    https://www.rwasserman.com/

    http://richardwassermanphotographer.tumblr.com

  7. #17

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Location
    Newbury, Vermont
    Posts
    1,383

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Lots of LF location work back in the day...hauling power packs/lights/backdrops - testing with Polaroid and starting with gray card/color card snaps to establish processing/printing color balance. Architecture/industrial/products/people. Did two or three weddings completely with a Crown Graphic (all Tri-X) - got pretty quick slinging holders (no bag-mags for me!).

    Then again, my career had its beginnings in the mid 1970's...and if I were starting out today I'm sure things would be different - "pro gear" wise. A bit of irony...now that I am "retired," that the bulk of my (non SS) income comes from LF work - enough, so far, to add my schedule C to our taxes...but who knows how long this will last.

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Jul 2020
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    171

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Thanks for the feedback, Thom. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. Seems like the logical situation for now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thom Bennett View Post
    Replying to sharktooth: The studio was already set up with this platform when I came in 15 years ago. Plus we like the resolution of the MFDB and the equipment is paid for. We rented the Canon 5Ds (50MP) a couple of years ago for a shot we needed to do that couldn't be done with the gear we had and we took the time to do a comparison between it and our MFDB setup. The 5D came close but not close enough that we would start over equipment-wise. The MFDB maintained smooth transitions in tone and color in the shadows and the highlights. As we large format geeks like to say, "it has a certain presence."

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Posts
    2,712

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    There was a time way back when... Photographer's source books were one of the means of doing PR and promo.

    circa 1993, 1996.
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    Sample image:

    Chicago 1996:
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    California 1993:
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    San Francisco Bay Area (south of SF was known as one of the national Photo centers).
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    These Foto source books serve as a reminder of who were the majority view camera users and why at times extreme technical demands were made on lighting, monorail camera and related, film, processing and more, the creative art they produced as commercial product, the high standards they held and what customers expected back then.. Compare the creative works produced then to now. IMO, the level of expectation, creativity and .. has gone down hill. Majority done in data -vs- done mostly in camera back in the day.

    Seems these days, view camera folks battle over camera, format size, lenses and.... instead of focusing on creative work and what is possible.

    Pro simply means getting paid for services provided.


    Bernice

  10. #20

    Join Date
    May 2015
    Location
    SooooCal/LA USA
    Posts
    2,434

    Re: How Many Pros use LF?

    Also, remember the 70's/80's/90's, the LF "community" was deeply divided, where the "pros" had their "time is money" attitude and was expecting a drum scan of a large piece of film and charge more for a bigger film... The amateurs would like to laugh at how most pro results were straight out of a Kodak manual, and the pros would laugh at the "amateurs" as apostles of AA and Fred Picker trying to find the tripod holes of the "rocks & stumps" club, with their woody old cameras and "zone system"... Little love between...

    Then there were the "collectors" who had a room museum full of cases of Victorian gear (they never used), and would gasp at the idea that there were "users" out there, and the "geeks" who rarely shot much outside, as they were too busy shooting resolution targets etc...

    Despite not having the industry support of yesteryear, I think the "community" is closer than it ever was before... ;-)

    Steve K

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