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Thread: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

  1. #1

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    Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    Aloha everyone!!!

    I've been thinking about taking the plunge into LF (can't wait!!!) but I have several questions which will help me make a decision on which camera to pick up. First off, let's talk about my reasons I want to shoot LF. Print size, print size, print size. Not to mention, I really enjoy taking my time on finding a good location, getting the right composition, and really thinking through a photograph. I'm mostly interested in shooting landscapes, (away from car) so I'd like to keep the weight down if it's possible but it's not my number one issue. I'd like a camera that wont limit me in movements so I have the option of shooting architectural and wider lenses, (granted I'll probably have to pick up a different bellows for that at some point). I'm also a big fan of 6x17 format, which has steered me in the direction of 5x7, so I can pick up a pano back and use the same lenses. HOWEVER, reading through all the information on this awesome site has made me wary about the availability of 5x7 film... I really enjoy color, which supposedly is hard to find and difficult to find a good lab to process it? So what's the truth on 5x7 film availability? What is your favorite 5x7 b&w and color film? Where do you order it from?

    Some cameras I've been looking at are the Sinar F2 (looks like some good deals on them used, however 4x5...) the canham mqc, and the shen hao 617. From a budget standpoint, the Sinar F2 makes the most sense as I can pick up a used one with a lens and all the accessories but I'm really torn on trying to move up to a 5x7. I think if the film is too hard to find and way more expensive then I'll just stick with 4x5.

    Anyways, I'd appreciate your thoughts on the matter, especially regarding film scarcity!!!!

  2. #2
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    I don't shoot 5x7, but I think only one colour emulsion remains, Portra, and it is special order (someone please correct me if I'm wrong).

    As for choice of camera, the best thing is to find a cheap monorail or field camera, use it for a while, and decide what features it has/lacks that you'd want on your next camera.
    Then trade up.
    I went through about 4-5 cameras, some of them I really liked, before I settled on the one that works best with me (and vice-versa).

    So take the plunge, the point is to shoot and learn.

  3. #3
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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    There's a Canham DLC45 for sale on this forum at the present time. Look in the classifies section.

    I suggest USA made Canham cameras, and I recommend the 4x5 format (unless you want to make larger contact prints).

    5x7 and 8x10 sheet film is expensive, and will be even more expensive as it becomes scarce.

    Even if LF sheet film becomes scarce, you could add a roll film back to that 4x5 and use 120 roll film, which will be around for a while at an affordable price.

  4. #4
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    Freestyle B&W film
    B&H sheet film

    Freestyle has the largest selection of 5x7 sheet film. There's a lot for B&W, but if you want color then it's special order. Fact is, all Kodak film over 4x5 is special order these days.

    If you really want to shoot color, then you should either buy a 4x5 camera or else a 5x7 with a 4x5 reducing back. There is also the Shen-Hao 6x17 back for 4x5 cameras. Graflock backs are fairly standard on cameras, but you'll have to check first that the camera you buy does have one.

    Oh, and welcome to the forum!
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  5. #5

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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    Thanks for the quick replies! Looking up film, and especially because I'm interested in color, I think 4x5 is the way to go. The 617 shen back for the 4x5 looks like that means I wont have to go to 5x7 just for the advantage of shooting pano. However, what do you suspect the limit for shooting 617 on a 4x5 will be as far as lenses go?

    Also, I can't check out the classifieds because I haven't been a member for 30 days yet... But thanks for the tip! I'm currently considering this f2 on ebay

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/Sinar-F-2-4x...item43b5b2a491

  6. #6

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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    Monorails are great for architecture and for use with wide angle lenses and bag bellows, but not so great for packing into the mountains. If architecture were the main thing you wanted to do I'd suggest a monorail first. But since you mention landscapes, my experience is that the extreme moves aren't as necessary as you might think. A bomb-proof 4x5 folding metal box camera with a rangefinder (one that can be set up in fast changing light, ready to shoot in as little as 30 seconds) is what I've held onto for this, having all the moves I need for landscape.

    You may end up using two cameras, each for different things. No harm in that. The used marketplace is awash in bargains the past few years. Bigger expense is likely to be film and processing over the course of a year or two's time.

  7. #7

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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    BH lists Portra in both 5 x 7 and 11 x 14 in addition to 8 x 10. Looks like the 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 are in stock but 8 to 10 week wait for 11 x 14. Some of the Japanese camera stores are still showing Velvia and Provia in 8 x 10 (and Acros in 5 x 7 and 8 x 10 for that matter)

    I think 5 x 7 is a great format - big enough to compose easily on the ground glass without the weight and bulk of an 8 x 10.

    I have 4 x 5, 5 x 7, and 8 x 10 and use them all but I like 5 x 7 best.

  8. #8

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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    For color? D800E. I gave up LF color a long time ago. Black and white, wonderful. Color, not worth the time and trouble and MONEY. I was just reminded by looking at Galen Rowell's work, and that huge book, Himalayas, of the wonderful work done on 35mm film. If you live in a really big international city, you might be able to get LF color film processed for a few more years. If you have a lot of money to burn, then go to it. Figure you will need to shoot about 1000 sheets to get good at it, multiple that by cost of the film and processing, and make sure you are comfortable with the number. Then think about how you are going to get it printed. Optical by someone else? Take that number you just calculated and double it to cover making prints to learn what is going on. Optical yourself - you need a big, expensive darkroom for big color, and lots of time. Or go digital for printing. You will need at least a 24" wide printer to begin to make prints big enough to show the advantage of LF over a D800E. You can have someone else make your prints instead. Then figure drums scans at $100+ per negative and that same big additional number for printing. If you are rich, none of this matters. If not, think hard. Why are you going to make those huge prints? Are you a successful photographer who is already selling huge prints? Then ignore me, because you have already figured out the game and I would love to know your secret.:-) If not, and you are not rich, are you sure this makes sense?

  9. #9
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Richards View Post
    For color? D800E.
    Is it, really? D800E: $3,300. The OP is looking for a used LF camera, so I'm guessing $300-$500, plus another $200-$300 for a decent lens, so good to go for $500, plus a few accessories like film holders. But since he's interested in 6x17, then it's roll film all the way for that, which is of course significantly cheaper than sheet film. Then flatbed scanning for some decent pics, and maybe he'll pop for a drum scan for something significant.

    Now, what would that 6x17 equivalent panoramic crop be like on a D800? That would be 7360 x 1733, so 12,754,880 pixels. I'm sure that even a cheesy roll film scan can coax out a higher resultion than that, let alone what Lenny can do. Sure, he can do a panoramic multiple capture. Personally, I like to get the whole thing in one go, which eliminates a lot of problems. (And if he does panoramic with a digital camera, why spring for a D800?)
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  10. #10

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    Re: Several Questions... Including Film Scarcity

    I'd be interested to know where you came up with the 1000 sheet requirement to get familiar. I've been at this for 50 years and I haven't even come close to 1000 sheets in any format. I figure that if it takes more than a couple of dozen sheets to figure it all out there must be something seriously wrong. And a reducing back to let you learn on 4 x 5 is not a bad idea (or a used Graphic)

    Processing can be done by mail - and there are still quite a few labs doing C-41 and E-6. I have one 10 minutes from my house and I live in TUCSON . Not many peoples" idea of a big international city!

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