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Thread: 4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

  1. #11

    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    Hallo Andrew, well I read a lot o sensible advice, I'll add my opinion to it, if you can manage learning to use Large Format so that you are confident enough to work quickly and efficiently in front of a large group and you are prepared to shoot at the very least 4 shots if not more , then...... go for it. Groups have a life of their own and you only need one or two in the group doing something strange at the very moment you shoot to ruine it all. There is no doubt that large format will help you with the definition on prints. For practical reasons I would go either for 4x5 or , even better, for a rollfilm panorama camera choosing between 6x12 cm to 6x 17cm (these formats fit group photography better than 4x5). I would have a preference for the panorama since operating it is closer to the cameras you already have used and you don't need to learn any new skills. The Calumet-Cambo is a good and cheap camera, you can always use a rollfilm holder to go with it but it becomes very inpractical.

  2. #12

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    217

    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    James, you are not going to get flamed - where do you think you are, Photo.net? ;-)

    As a part-timer, I hesitate to give advice to a professional but.... Andrew, one Unique Selling Point for your business might be to go all the way to a 8x10 inch wooden camera. Those big rosewood & brass babies can look very impressive to people, making them feel better about stumping up so much for the prints....

    If you are looking for fine detail in a large print, I do not think digital origination is going to rock your boat for several years at least.

    Cheers,

  3. #13

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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    Gee; With all these guys saying how hard it is to shoot 4x5 at a wedding, I guess I date myself. I remember when wedding photographers used a Speed or Crown Graflex. f/8 and be there, huh Weegee? Of course you will blind the Bride. And you may forget to pull the slide, or put it back in. Or reverse the holder, or flip the slide, or cock the shutter, or load the film with notches on upper right or... Of course if you want really big prints, size does matter.

    So does stress. That's why 30 years ago I gave up Professional Photography and went into Police Work, less stress.

  4. #14

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    Sep 2003
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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    A view camera gets people's attention and lends an air of importance to the event. With a group shot where you're using a tripod already, the 4x5 is just as fast as any other camera...just push the button.

    One thing you can do with a view camera is 'fake' shots to warm them up; just don't pull the dark slide. Saves film.

    I don't know enough about digital to contribute an opinion on that aspect

    I do think that 4x5 is plenty big unless you're making contact prints, which you're not.

  5. #15

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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    LOL, Jim Rhodes.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  6. #16

    Join Date
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    Forest Grove, Ore.
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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    I know first hand that one's more likely to make errors using large format! If doing this, I would want to pick a camera that keeps the process as simple as possible.

    I'm wondering about using an older Linhof Technika III or IV. You don't have to worry about all the movements being on axis, etc. If you used the monocular reflex back, everything would be right side up. No fussing with a darkcloth. Can one achieve sharp focus with these things? If not, it's easy to make a quick check with a lupe. As soon as you start worrying about camera movements, using a darkcloth, and just general fiddling, the chances for making a serious error go up geometrically. You could have a case set up just for this camera, with the couple of lenses you would need for these shots, separate slots for exposed and unexposed film, for the back, etc. Keep everything simple and efficient.

    Your idea is intriguing. I'm always for maximizing quality. This would do it.

  7. #17

    Join Date
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    Calgary, AB Canada
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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    No one has mentioned the DOF concerns and how this translates into long exposures or monster flashes. If you are doing outdoor work you may find the exposures to long for people to realistically hold still for. Thus blurring your images. Kind of defeats the purpose of using LF.

    I could be out to lunch on this one, but I feel it could be a concern.

    Good luck!
    *************************
    Eric Rose
    www.ericrose.com
    yourbaddog.com

    I don't play the piano, I don't have a beard and I listen to AC/DC in the darkroom. I have no hope as a photographer.

  8. #18

    Join Date
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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    D100 (Mine) Just over 6MP, $1700 D1x Just over 5MP, $4000 Canon 1N 8.9MP or so $8900 Kodak 14N 13MP or so was $13000 about six months ago maybe 10 now?

    In the real world the prices are more like this: D100, about $1700 to $1600; D1x about $3500; Canon EOS 1Ds $8000; Kodak 14n $4800 approximately.
    I have no idea what your settings are (JPEG? NEF?) ISO settings, or lenses are. A D1x using the Capture 3.5 or Capture 4.0 software from Nikon, produces a 10Mp image. It will do a fine 16'x20". I know because I've done it -- so will the 1Ds & 14N. At 11x14 you are starting to push the limits of a D100.

    granted a lot depends on your post shoot image processing, but that is true of any photographic endeavor.

    By next Spring you'll be seeing some very interesting digital backs to fit on a medium format camera like the Hasselblad H1 & Mamiya 645D that will be in the $6,000 range. They will produce better technical quality iamges than any medium format camera on the market today. They won't needto be tethered to a computer. Maybe the quality might be as good as 4x5 film is today (once the film is converted through scanningto a digital image). ifyou think you will need movements , there is the Cambo Ultima camera which is designed to be either a 4x5, use the "medium format" digital backs, use 6x9cm film or use a 35mm SLR like DSLR body as imaging device.

    Outside of that, the four things you can do right to improve your image quality in big setups are:

    Buy and use a really good tripod & head combination.

    Light better.



    Use better lenses, thef/2.8 AF-S Nikkor zooms are terrific, better than many single focal length lenses.

    Shoot NEF files at a low ISO and use either Capture One DSLR, Nikon Capture 3.5 software or use the Adobe Camera Raw Photoshop plug-in for your NEF conversions.

  9. #19

    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    I just shot a group portrait this summer, for friends & family. 8x10 Astia, 240mm, exp 1/2s at f32 around sunset, indirect light. Of about 40 people, two moved their heads. Almost everything else include two toddlers and a cat is sharp and crisp. Got the image scanned on an Imacon at about 1000dpi, around 200MB, printed as wide format 20" wide.

    At the time of the shooting, my 8x10 got a lot of attention. People took the shoot very seriously (they still don't know that one of the two exposures made was on an empty film holder). This attention was needed, as it took me some five or ten minutes to get everyone in place and ready.

    The resulting transparency is impressive. Details down to single hairs are clearly visible, it is possible to tell the difference in seconds between wrist watches. The scan is equally impressive, although at 1000dpi it does not at all capture the detail available on film. Very clean, lifelike scan, no grain whatsoever.

    And this was on the five years outdated Astia for 59c from Freestyle.

    Now, 4x5 can give equally impressive results at least up to a certain size. But it sure is easier to get the attention of the audience with an 8x10!

  10. #20

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    4x5 LF appropriate for on-location group portraits? Can cheap LF cameras produce great prints?

    I'm a relative newcomer to LF (under a year) and even MF. But it occupies most of my free time (also in high school).

    Once again, I'd suggest going with MF. My ETRS can surely do 11x14. If you shoot weddings, might as well get a Hassy. Why? Because they're good, and they're pretty much the standard. If you have the money, go for it, you won't be disappointed. As much as I don't like dissuading anyone from LF, for your purposes a good MF rig will work well, and will be easier to manage. Two other considerations with poritraits. One, with LF, you can't see the image anywhere near the moment of exposure. You need to insert film holder and stop down lens, which takes time. Number two, the setup time may annoy many of the subjects.

    On the other hand, 4x5 will definately do it. Remember, a camera is just a box that holds lens and film. Put more money into the lens and lots of holders. You'll need lots of shots to defeat the sheer odds of closed eyes.

    Also, consider the mechanics of using LF - bellows extension, field of view, image/subject distance. Make sure the camera and lens would work for your application.

    I don't do portraits yet with LF, so I don't know what to say about that. But with landscapes, you might want to keep it light and use a field camera. I carry my Caulmet (Cambo) 810N into the field regularly (45+ lb pack with camera, accessories, food, water, tripod, ETRS). It limits travel distance quite a bit, and makes the hike a little less enjoyable, though allows much more pride.

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