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Thread: They say to start with 4x5, but...

  1. #21
    Foamer
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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    I shoot 4x5, 8x10, and a Nikon D850 DSLR. I have some thoughts. Shooting an 8x10 is very expensive. I do about 95% wet plate with mine. How are you going to do the enlargement size you mentioned? I'm thinking you'll have to drum scan, and that's going to be really really expensive at that resolution. I shoot 4x5 as my "fun" camera or when I just want something versatile (shoots film, dry plate, wet plate) and easy to carry. I scan the negs/plates. I have an 8x10 mostly for the fun of it and to use really cool pre-Civil War lenses. I only shoot 8x10 wet plate tins with it but also plan on contact printing negs. For doing the kind of large prints you're talking about I'd only consider a high res digital camera. Doing it with film is going to not only get very expensive, but it's a ton more work. Just my thoughts and experience.


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

  2. #22

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    I shoot 4x5, 8x10, and a Nikon D850 DSLR. I have some thoughts. Shooting an 8x10 is very expensive. I do about 95% wet plate with mine. How are you going to do the enlargement size you mentioned? I'm thinking you'll have to drum scan, and that's going to be really really expensive at that resolution. I shoot 4x5 as my "fun" camera or when I just want something versatile (shoots film, dry plate, wet plate) and easy to carry. I scan the negs/plates. I have an 8x10 mostly for the fun of it and to use really cool pre-Civil War lenses. I only shoot 8x10 wet plate tins with it but also plan on contact printing negs. For doing the kind of large prints you're talking about I'd only consider a high res digital camera. Doing it with film is going to not only get very expensive, but it's a ton more work. Just my thoughts and experience.


    Kent in SD
    That's totally understandable. My large prints currently are almost all digital mosaics stitched in software. 300MP seems to be about the sweet spot for 8 foot wide Fujiflex prints. I have no problem sending off for drum scanning if I can't get something like an Epson V850 to produce acceptable results.

    The ongoing cost of 8x10 is not really the problem, it's just the difficulty of finding out if it will live up to my expectations without having to dive in headfirst. Someone suggested looking into LF clubs - I'll check - but absent finding someone with equipment and technique that I can trust to be representative, I pretty much just have to go for it if I want to find out.

  3. #23
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by jdk View Post
    The risk is that if I go this route and I am not overly thrilled with the result, I will have to wonder how much of the problem is due to the fact that I cheaped out on the equipment. So I will either abandon 8x10 without full information, or be forced to double down to know for sure. Of course, I could also be amazed right out of the gate. I'm just trying to minimize the risk of the gamble.
    My earlier point was mainly one doesn't need to purchase something like a used Ebony 8x10 and say a 600mm Fuji lens for a test (that could easily net you over the $10K range). A low price 8x10 and standard lens should give you all the information you need assuming you know how to use it. That said, it's hard to expect oneself to learn an entirely new camera system and format right out of the gate and find excellent results. Realistically, it takes years to get excellent results in any photo workflow one uses (analog or digital). With regard to equipment, most any view camera with a decent lens should provide outstanding performance. My Tachihara 4x5 ($500) takes equally good pictures as my Arca Swiss F line ($5K), with the same lens. Some cameras are more stable, some have more movements, some are lighter, etc. If you really decide to embrace large format shooting, you can decide on those advantages for yourself eventually. They will likely depend on the type of shooting you like (architecture versus landscape, etc). But you should be able to get an excellent quality image from something like an Intrepid 8x10 + Nikkor 300mm lens as a test system.

    It's great you're trying to avoid a big purchase or equipment/technique rabbit hole. Perhaps another idea is to try to rent an 8x10 setup for some basic tests? I ran a Google search and found some options out there (might require some travel). Or maybe reach out to some 8x10 photographers and ask if they might send you a high res scan of a few of their images which you can run some resolution and printing tests? A lab that offers both drumscan and flatbed services might have some sample files too.

  4. #24

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    The OP mentioned using colour transparency film (why not colour neg?). How many years or months does he think this might be available for, together with the high-quality processing necessary for accurate results? I'm confident that black and white materials will stay around, but E6 . . . unlikely, sadly.

  5. #25

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinP View Post
    The OP mentioned using colour transparency film (why not colour neg?). How many years or months does he think this might be available for, together with the high-quality processing necessary for accurate results? I'm confident that black and white materials will stay around, but E6 . . . unlikely, sadly.
    I just think its cool I'd probably try to stock up...Velvia 100 is obviously now dead here in the US, but I can get 50 from Japan for now at least. I'm cautiously optimistic that some of the resurgent interest in LF (driven by companies like Intrepid) will keep the supply chain open for a little while longer.

  6. #26
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by jdk View Post
    Image quality ("resolution") is really paramount to me; I regularly print at 6-8 feet.
    There's way more to image quality than just simple resolution. But you seem to want just simple resolution. OK, but if that's all you want you're barking up the wrong tree. A cheap digicam and a good stitching algorithm can wallop 10x8 upside the head when it comes to resolution. Look up the Gigapixel project.

    All you really need to make a reasonable job of it is a tripod and some sort of panning head. Most of this stuff is sold to people who want to make large panoramas, which are the easy thing to make -- if you level your camera and make one row of images to stitch together, you obviously limit the geometric distortion (because the film plane / imaging chip is level and plumb, no keystoning, etc.). But that's certainly not the only thing you can do. Nothing prevents you from tilting back/forward and making another row or two. Most stitching software can figure this out and make huge seamless files for you.

    If you're going to do a lot of this there are ways to spend more money and improve your output. For example, you can get mounts that let you rotate around the entrance pupil of the lens (they are called, IIRC, nodal rails, but you want to rotate around the entrance pupil, not the front nodal point, although they are typically close together in SLR designs so it's often a distinction without much difference). There are also motorized mounts, and computer controlled mounts (will account for camera/lens automatically so you don't have to do much if any math). People have been doing this for a long time; it you can think of it it's probably already available.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OTOH, if you really want to go the LF film route, what I can say about resolution is just this: To maintain the same DOF as 5x4 (say you're at f/22), you have to close down two more stops in 10x8 (to f/45). This will almost always put you in diffraction limiting with 10x8, and it will also more often than not push you into reciprocity failure somewhere on that big sheet of film.

    Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, et.al. formed Group f/64 because they realized that getting everything in acceptable focus was more important than maximizing resolution. Think about that.

    Bruce Watson

  7. #27

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    There's way more to image quality than just simple resolution. But you seem to want just simple resolution. OK, but if that's all you want you're barking up the wrong tree. A cheap digicam and a good stitching algorithm can wallop 10x8 upside the head when it comes to resolution. Look up the Gigapixel project.

    All you really need to make a reasonable job of it is a tripod and some sort of panning head. Most of this stuff is sold to people who want to make large panoramas, which are the easy thing to make -- if you level your camera and make one row of images to stitch together, you obviously limit the geometric distortion (because the film plane / imaging chip is level and plumb, no keystoning, etc.). But that's certainly not the only thing you can do. Nothing prevents you from tilting back/forward and making another row or two. Most stitching software can figure this out and make huge seamless files for you.

    If you're going to do a lot of this there are ways to spend more money and improve your output. For example, you can get mounts that let you rotate around the entrance pupil of the lens (they are called, IIRC, nodal rails, but you want to rotate around the entrance pupil, not the front nodal point, although they are typically close together in SLR designs so it's often a distinction without much difference). There are also motorized mounts, and computer controlled mounts (will account for camera/lens automatically so you don't have to do much if any math). People have been doing this for a long time; it you can think of it it's probably already available.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OTOH, if you really want to go the LF film route, what I can say about resolution is just this: To maintain the same DOF as 5x4 (say you're at f/22), you have to close down two more stops in 10x8 (to f/45). This will almost always put you in diffraction limiting with 10x8, and it will also more often than not push you into reciprocity failure somewhere on that big sheet of film.

    Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, et.al. formed Group f/64 because they realized that getting everything in acceptable focus was more important than maximizing resolution. Think about that.
    I put the word "resolution" in quotes because I understand it is quite the loaded term...and ironically has dubious applicability when it comes to film.

    I have been doing digital mosaics ("panoramas") for years. They work well for stationary subjects when the light is not changing quickly. But when you have moving subjects (water, clouds, etc.) and quickly changing lighting conditions, stitching becomes anything from a nightmare to downright impossible. I've done relatively modest 12 panel mosaics during blue hour where the first exposure was 30 seconds and the last was almost 4 minutes. It's not a recipe for a seamless image.

  8. #28

    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Joe, it really depends on how you intend on using the photographs once you've made them. One of the only real advantages of working with 8x10 is to make contact prints, and the extra real estate makes for beautiful contact prints. But if you are scanning your film and post processing digitally, then there are fewer reasons to choose 8x10 over 4x5. As others have stated, working in 8x10 is considerably more challenging, and your skills must be more finely honed to get the best from the medium.
    That said, there's no reason not to buy an Intrepid 8x10 and start with that. You CAN put together an 8x10 kit to learn on for under $1000, lens included, if you are willing to treat the investment like a learning kit. Some of my favorite large format lenses have been acquired for under $100, shutter included. You do NOT need to spend $1000 to get a very good lens. Even the Russian Industar-37 is a spectacular lens in the hands of a skilled photographer, and those can be had for $250 or less. (Yes, I own one and its wonderful)

  9. #29

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    I might have missed this, but to me the type of representative subject matter could be a factor. If you are typically shooting stuff usually from far enough away that you won't run into depth of field issues with reasonable apertures, 8x10 might make quite a bit more sense than if you are often going to be in situations requiring tiny apertures and/or depth of field compromises (both of which will obliterate resolution). Etc. For example, quickly browsing through the link you posted with the comparison, it seems like the usual sort of thing where they evaluate the resolution/sharpness of something in the object field on the plane of sharp focus or similarly at infinity.

    Just some thoughts.

    I sympathize with the predicament. Most often when it comes to LF decisions, we can't actually get our hands on anything without buying (based merely on specs, opinions, beliefs etc.). The only way out of analysis paralysis is usually to get stuff, and then hope you can sell it if it doesn't work out.

  10. #30

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    Re: They say to start with 4x5, but...

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    Joe, it really depends on how you intend on using the photographs once you've made them. One of the only real advantages of working with 8x10 is to make contact prints, and the extra real estate makes for beautiful contact prints. But if you are scanning your film and post processing digitally, then there are fewer reasons to choose 8x10 over 4x5.
    This is not the first time I've heard this, and it still confuses me. Is it really the case that the only real advantage of 8x10 is for contact prints? That seems so counterintuitive given the massive scans they yield. I make very large prints - in the realm of 6 to 8 feet. It seems like 4x5 would be stretching itself at that size.

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