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Thread: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

  1. #1
    Niels
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    How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    Hello everyone. My first post.
    Out of the blue, a pristine large format lens landed in my lab - and I take it as a sign that I should try to familiarise myself with LF photography - I have practiced film photography since the mid 70's so better late than never.

    I am in no great hurry and will use some time to scout for camera and accessories but I would also prefer not to overspend.
    Noticing that it is more economical to buy used 4x5 filmholders in quantities, I was wondering how many would be a good starting point?

    Looking at my current work/life balance, I imagine a future use-case scenario where I will seek out a location with a potential subject and spend around 2-3 hours to photograph and look for compositions and alternatives.
    I would only bring one film type.
    In such a scenario, how many film holders would you bring?
    ----
    Niels

  2. #2

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    6 or 8, unless it's a site where I return a few times for the right light and circumstances and the type of film is already decided. So normally, 2 B&W, 2 color and 2 other B&W with other ASA. So, that means 4 sheets per type of film. In the beginning of getting acquainted with a film I need 4 for bracketing, later on I use it for different scenes or viewpoints.
    Thus, in your scenario two holders should be enough. They are not that heavy either, so it's not a big deal for me.

  3. #3
    Ironage's Avatar
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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    My practice is to take 2-3 holders. That way I can process all in one batch. My b&w tank holds six. I made a pouch which I sling over my shoulder so that I have quick access to them when my camera and tripod are being set up.
    ...Dilettante! Who you calling a Dilettante?

  4. #4

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    4x5 - six holders, many times have shot all 12 negatives
    whole plate - six holders, usually only shoot 2 or 3 negatives
    8x10 - 4 holders, usually shoot 4+ negatives
    11x14 - 3 holders, usually shoot 2-3 negatives

    So much depends on the location and subject matter. When shooting locally around town, most of the time take only one or two film holders. When I spent one afternoon photographing at the Blowing Cave Park (Nature Preserve) in Kennebunkport, Maine, I also took a film changing bag with me and ended up shooting 30+ 4x5 negatives. All close up images of the rocks. Ironically not one image of the Blowing Cave.

  5. #5

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    I think that the answer depends on how much money you want to spend on film and processing, as well as on how much time you want to spend on processing/scanning if you do it yourself. You don't say what format you'll be shooting, but as the screen captures below show a single sheet of 8x10 colour film can cost U.S. $24 ex-tax. Also, note that sheet film costs significantly more per cm² than roll film.

    I keep cost and wasted time down by scouting a location in advance and planning what I'm going to photograph and how. To do this, I use a Sekonic light meter and the apps Artist's Viewfinder and PhotoPills. Because you're only using one lens, a digital camera with an equivalent lens might help a lot in controlling cost, saving time and avoiding mistakes.

    My objective is to know in advance how many different images I want. There needs be a good reason for more than one. If I think that it's necessary, I'll include additional sheets for bracketing. If the subject is a person, I expect to expose more sheets than if the subject is inanimate.

    I don't know the price of film where you live. However, I'm attaching two screen captures that show the prices of Ilford, Kodak and Fuji films that are available in the U.S. for both 4x5 and 8x10. These were B&H's prices, ex-sales tax, in August 2021. The second price in a cell is the price per sheet or frame.




    Cost of Black and White Film Stocks

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    Cost of Colour Film Stocks

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    Last edited by r.e.; 22-Jan-2022 at 07:31.

  6. #6

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    id say 6 to 10 is about right. when i started again, i bought 100 holders because they were alot cheaper than getting a few for about the same price. i tried selling them but no one was interested at the time.

    today, 90 are still in the closet... how many do you want?

  7. #7

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    Six. I carry my 4x5s in either a Domke F-2 or a Domke F-7. One feature similar about those two bags is there are two side pockets that are perfectly sized for 3 4x5 film holders each. So, since my bags are both spaced for 6 holders, thats what I carry, though for a single day outing, I only occasionally shoot that many sheets.

  8. #8
    David Schaller
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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    For 4x5, I think you should buy 12 holders. Taking 6 out for a few hours should be sufficient, and you would have the other 6 loaded for another shoot. I still take two exposures of each shot, both sides of the holder, so it might be some time before I get around to developing the second sheet. If you have too many holders, those undeveloped sheets can pile up.

  9. #9
    Niels
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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    Great input and lots of food for thought - thanks a lot!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ironage View Post
    My practice is to take 2-3 holders. That way I can process all in one batch. <snip>
    A very good point. Makes sense to use that as a criteria - or perhaps multiples of processing capacity; 3, 6 or 9...


    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    <snip>
    Cost of Black and White Film Stocks

    Click image for larger version. 

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Views:	65 
Size:	58.2 KB 
ID:	223808


    Cost of Colour Film Stocks

    Click image for larger version. 

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ID:	223809
    Cost is certainly a criteria and the price of 4x5 color film and processing would be prohibitive for me. I process my own BW film and intend to do the same with the 4x5 sheets.
    My initial thought is to burn some Formapan to get the hang of it (which cost less than half of everything else), and then use Ilford FP4+ going forward as it is my preferred film in other formats.


    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Ron View Post
    id say 6 to 10 is about right. when i started again, i bought 100 holders because they were alot cheaper than getting a few for about the same price. i tried selling them but no one was interested at the time.

    today, 90 are still in the closet... how many do you want?
    LOL. Thanks! That reminds me of my stash of reloadable 35mm cassettes - more than I will ever load simultaneously. Exactly what I (and my wife) wants to avoid. I would gladly relieve you the burden of 6-9 holders but suspect that the trip across the Pond would end up inefficient costwise when including shipping and custom fees. But thanks anyway
    ----
    Niels

  10. #10

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    Re: How many film holders do you bring for a day out?

    Further to post #5, these videos, uploaded to YouTube in the last few days, show a photographer named Mike Grey making his first 8x10 photograph. I'm posting these videos because they show an approach that differs from "finding" photographs. Grey is an actor turned photographer, and I suspect that his approach owes a good deal to what he's learned on film shoots. No doubt one motivator was cost. He took four shots at a cost of US$400. His film, Portra 160, is currently US$21 per sheet, so the balance was presumably for the professional processing and drum scans that he arranged for.

    The shoot took place at a vacant house at Bombay Beach in California. He scouted the Beach in advance to identify a location, conceptualise his photograph and work out technical issues. The shoot involved three models, but there is no reason in principle why he would not take the same approach if he was only photographing the house.

    I'm splitting the videos between two posts due to the upload requirements of the forum. This first video is a brief overview. The video in the next post is a detailed behind the scenes.


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