Some Recent Thoughts on LF

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photomc

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Saw Jeremy Moore's by line this morning...

"Has anyone told Mike that even 5x7 starts to look small... time for that 12x20"

:wink:

Well Jeremy, no one has told that, but YES the 5x7's are starting to look like the 4x5's used to, and the box of 4x5 Efke that came this week, looked so tiny.

How many of the large format crowd has moved on to larger formats? And how long did you shoot say 4x5, 5x7, etc? Or did have you assembled a mixed bag of formats and now pick the format to match the shoot?

Recalling Cheryl's post this week with her 4x5 and the comments, yes it does seem to be something that takes hold and keeps us pushing the size limits. Use to think all LF/ULF was nice work, but not something I would be interested in. Maybe a little 4x5, and why contact print when you can enlarge...well we change as we learn and now I can see the enlarger getting less and less time and the UV unit getting more and more.

So what are the more common size LF/ULF formats above 8x10? I am aware of 4x10 (8x10 cut in half), 7x11 (11x14 cut in half), 7x17,8x20 (16x20 cut in half), 11x14, 16x20, 20x24...saw a 10x12 the other day what other formats are there.? I know there are cm formats that vary around those listed above, and it looks to me that a lens that would work on 5x7 will work on just fine on 4x5 and 8x10..

Guess what I want to know is what is your favorite LF/ULF format?
 

Ole

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My favorite format is 5x7" or 13x18cm - they are practically identical.

I prefer the "sqareness" of 4x5" to the more narrow 9x12cm, but the narrower 18x24cm to 8x10"...

But 5x7" is large enough to contact print, yet small enough to enlarge. 4x5" is just getting too small for conacts - and I have no enlarger for anything larger than 13x18cm. Nor do I have room for one.

So 5x7" / 13x18 it is.
 

janvanhove

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Don't forget the 14x17 and the historical "mammoth plate" at 18x22...

10x12 is actually a pretty good format, it feels significantly larger than 8x10 when printed, but the camera is not too big...
11x14 is a "legendary" portrait format and is my favorite... (but I still have a lot of formats to try...)

PJ
 

Ole

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janvanhove said:
10x12 is actually a pretty good format, it feels significantly larger than 8x10 when printed, but the camera is not too big...

Another apugger has just bought a 24x30cm plate camera, one of the "classic" German sizes. I wish I had one, as that is my favorite print format...

I believe 30x40cm (12x16") was the largest "standard" German Plate size.

For some reason these standard sizes are still reflected in the paper sizes we can get, even those sizes where film is special order!
 

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My thinking.

5x7 is my favorite. The shape fits my mind. I have a chance of enlarging it. Or I can live with contact prints.

4x5 is too square but I have an enlarger and can crop any way I want.

8x10 doesn't appeal to me much. It's too square like 4x5. But I'll never have an 8x10 enlarger. OTOH I know it works for some things. Last week I picked up a set of 8x10 holders. So now I have holders and no camera.

I think I'd really like 11x14 but all the issues that surrond camera bigger then 5x7. Film costs are higher. Film holders are much higher. Lenses tend to be harder to find that cover and they cost more. I doubt I'll ever go this far.

So I'm basically stuck with my 5x7 plus the 4x5 reducing back. When I want something even less square I've got the 6x12 rollfilm back.

BTW not all 5x7 lenses cover 8x10. I doubt my 150mm G-claron will cover 8x10. Most of the smaller or cheaper lenses that cover 5x7 won't cover 8x10.
 

lee

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BTW not all 5x7 lenses cover 8x10. I doubt my 150mm G-claron will cover 8x10. Most of the smaller or cheaper lenses that cover 5x7 won't cover 8x10




the 150 probably won't cover the 8x10 but a 210 mm G-Claron will after being stopped down to f:16 or so. There are some 210 mm that will not reach 8x10.

lee\c
 
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Ole

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lee said:
...the 150 probably won't cover the 8x10 but a 210 mm G-Claron will after being stopped down to f:16 or so. There are some 210 mm that will not reach 8x10.

A Tessar-type 210mm will not (so my Xenar is out). Many others will. I use a 240/420 Symmar convertible and a 165/f:6.8 Angulon on my 18x24cm camera. I also have a 121/8 Super-Angulon which covers, but haven't needed anything quite that wide yet. I also have an ancient O. Simon Anastigmat 21cm/f:7.7 which covers with some movements.

Many of my 4x5" lenses cover 5x7", some of my 5x7" lenses cover 8x10".
 

kwmullet

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I'm wondering which is the main motivation for escalating from smaller LF to larger LF: the masculine "bigger=better" thing, increased grain density and all the various benefits or at least effects that provides, larger contact prints without having to either go through a digital step or a successive internegative step or the different height/width ratio available without cropping?

If someone were to come out with your favorite film but with a 4x or 16x grain density at the same speed and tonal curve, would that make you want to shoot at LF format 1/4 or 1/16 as large, or is there more to it than that?

-KwM-
 

lee

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for me Kevin, like drag racing, square inches count in Large Format image making.

I dont know what grain density is this early in the morning so I will pass on the question.

lee\c
 

Mike A

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I recently experienced the same "format complications" I have been shooting 4x5 for about 3 years now after leaving medium format, I felt I needed a change for several different reasons.

I decided to go with 11x14 which I coconsistently enlarged to in the smaller formats. Also you will find that alot of landscape shooters tend to go with the wider formats in ULF (12x20, 7x17......) Although I shoot mostly landscape I deciced on 11x14 for a number of reasons, first this was the last camera model left in this format size (Dick Phillips and Sons), as I stated before I was enlarging to this size, and lastly the square format appeals to me.

You will have to weigh all your variables including, darkroom logistics (tray size, contact frames, film processing, film holders.......) Soon as I process my first neg i let you know if its worth it, I've been told over and over it is. Good luck
 

Alex Hawley

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Ole said:
4x5" is just getting too small for conacts -

Ole, I have to disagree with you and everyone else on this one. There's a place for 4x5 contact prints. There effectiveness depends on the subject matter, but they can be outstanding. I have one up for auction right now on that auction site. I wouldn't be trying to sell it if I didn't believe in it. Just bought one (a 4x5) from George Provost - its quite lovely. A 4x5 contact print can work.
 

Nick Zentena

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I always thought ULF and even 8x10 was about the lack of gear. Weston made his contact prints with a light bulb? OTOH I always thought digital was the ultimate gear head activity. Not only do you need lots of gear you need to upgrade it about the same time it starts to bore. Perfect for gear heads. So that digital step to make enlarged negatives seems to be a totally different world. Good for some not for others.

I agree small contacts can work. People used to make contacts out of 6x9cm or even 6x6 negatives and they loved them.
 

Peter Schrager

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Thoughts on LF

I started with an old Kodak 5x7 over thirty years ago. Have one great lens for it;a Ross 10inch Homocentric;some leaky filmholders and no enlarger so I made contact prints. It was a fine way to enter LF as there were no variables and I used a 15 Watt light bulb for printing. Also picked up a Kodak Masterview with one lens and used that to make a lot of polaroids;Type 52 and 55 which is a great learning experience. Nothing like instant feedback. One contemplating LF would do a lot worse than to start out using Polaroid film. Besides the fact that Type 55 will enlarge to any size.
In the early nineties I purchased a Canham 8x10 along with the assorted lenses. I was never able to make the transition to 8x10. At least for me the camera was too bulky,cumbersome,and unwielding. However I did make some good images with it. Early this past fall I sold off the camera,film, one lens. 8x10 for me did not work. Besides I will never own an 8x10 enlarger. So basically you're stuck with just that size unless you want to do 4x10.
Now I own a 5x7 enlarger. 5x7 enlarges beautifully. It's the "forgotten" format. Almost twice the negative size of 4x5.
Cruising through the photos section here on APUG what I see from people using 8x10 is alot of static photography. Since the bulk of the camera limits portablity and set up time your choices become fewer and fewer. Example:I can set up my tripod and get my little 4Lb. Wista out of the bag with a lens on it in about 2 minutes or less. Since I've already placed the tripod where I want the exposure to be it's just a matter of squaring up the camera, focusing and loading the filmholder. This is being fluid. I can also pick up the entire package and move it 50 feet to the next photo if I choose to do so. That is also fluid. I could never get very far with the 8x10 strapped to my back. How many film holders can you carry along with a big tripod? That's limiting.
If you are thinking about moving up to 8x10 or
larger it would be a really good idea to rent one first. I know that I should have. Could have saved me a lot of time and energy.
There are also some excellant materials out now for making enlarged negatives. Maco makes one as does Bergger. None of this will ever beat an ULF incamera negative.
And although I do not use AZO, Amidol,and contact print I will match my enlarged negatives on Forte or Kodak with anyone who might be interested enough to see what I'm talking about. I've seen them and I say very nice but the holy grail remains in the IMAGE not in the process. Bigger is not always better.
Regards Peter
 
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Jim Chinn

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Going to 8x10 and larger is for most a choice based on the desire to make contact prints or use alternative processes. For those with limited resources and space 8x10 can be attractive because of the simplicity of contact printing and getting a good sized print.

I think as one explores various formats you discover that the real difference is how you react with the subject matter. A portrait done with a 4x5 will have an entirely different feel then one done with 11x14. The subject and phtographer have a totally different kind of rapport and the larger format introduces its own strengths and limitations into the equation.

If you took two photographers, one with a 4x5 and one with a 12x20 and gave them the same subject matter, you would almost always have two very different interpretations of the subject. Niether one would be better then the other but the aesthetics of a print from each format would be unique.

I think photographers fall into a dangerous trap when they think in terms of the next bigger fromat is the next best thing. Each format needs to be evaluated as to how it fits with your art and vision. Just as a ULF camera can open up entirely new avenues for creativity and expression, becoming wed to one format will over time begin to narrow your view.

Of course many of us evolve through formats and will settle on something that fits our vision. This should be a process that is always being re-evaluated from time to time. I love 35mm and 4x5 but have evolved towards 8x10 and 11x14. But I always go back to smaller to renergize my point of view.
 
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Ole

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Alex Hawley said:
Ole, I have to disagree with you and everyone else on this one. There's a place for 4x5 contact prints. There effectiveness depends on the subject matter, but they can be outstanding. I have one up for auction right now on that auction site. I wouldn't be trying to sell it if I didn't believe in it. Just bought one (a 4x5) from George Provost - its quite lovely. A 4x5 contact print can work.

Even I disagree with me on this. I have made really nice contacts from every size down to 6x4.5 rollfilm, and as you say it all depends on the subject.
 

David A. Goldfarb

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If I were to pick a favorite format, it would probably be 8x10", but usually the choice of LF camera that I make for any given purpose has to do with other factors.

My most versatile camera is probably the 4x5" Linhof Tech V, since I have a good range of lenses for it, and I can use it as a view camera or a press camera, and the rangefinder lets me shoot in a more dynamic way than with the 8x10", even when I use the camera for portraits in the studio. I like it a lot for travel.

If light weight is the first concern, or if I'm shooting LF along with another format like 35mm or 6x6, then I take the Gowland 4x5"

If I want a neg that's big enough for contacts, but I want the dynamism of an SLR and can live with the few lenses I have for this camera and no strobe sync, then I'll use the 5x7" Press Graflex. The main factor here, though, is that it's an SLR, and the fact that it's 5x7" is secondary.

11x14" has been slow going, since I still have some work to do on the camera before it's fully operational. It's not quite as versatile as my 8x10" Gowland monorail, and I don't want all my prints to be 11x14", but for some architecturals and full length portraits, it would be my first choice.

If there's one more format I'd like to try it would be 7x17". I don't feel a particularly strong pull toward 8x20, 12x20, 16x20, or 20x24 (but maybe if I had more darkroom space, I might reconsider).
 
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sanking

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If I had to sell all of my large format cameras but one the format that I would keep is 5X7. For landscapes I find that this format is much better suited to type of work I like than formats such as 4X5 and 8X10.

And curiously, the 5X7 format makes more sense today than it did back in the late 70s when I first started using it. Back then the disadvantage of the format was that the enlargers available for 5X7 were quite a bit larger and more expensive than for 4X5, for the same quality. So I made do with an old Elwood 5X7 for many years. Nowdays, with so much large format work being done digitally from negative scans the practical advantages, at last for B&W work, have shifted back to 5X7. And for those who want to be able to continue to enlarge good used 5X7 enlargers are fairly inexpensive these days.

Sandy
 

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I shot 4x5 for a little over a year before moving up to 8x10. At this point my shooting's pretty evenly split between 6x7, 4x5, and 8x10. 8x10 is for contact printing only right now as I haven't started building my 8x10 enlarger yet, but I admit that an 8x10 contact print is a pretty amazing thing to behold.

I doubt that I'll move to a larger size, but if I do it will probably be to 8x20. Although 7x17 seems like it would be good for me, the advantage to 8x20 would be the ease with which I could build an adapter to hold one of my 8x10 backs.

I'm going to spend some time this spring working with 4x10 (from 8x10 with a cut down dark slide). If the panoramic format works out well enough for me, I might start making some plans to get into 8x20. But even if I do, it'll probably be another year or two before I make the move.

(One odd thing: I have this strong desire to do panoramic work vertically rather than horizontally. I don't know why that is, and I intend to explore it this year when I start working at 4x10. I assume I'll learn something about my artistic vision that I've been unable to figure out through thinking...like most, I learn more by "doing".)
 

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photomc said:
Saw Jeremy Moore's by line this morning...

"Has anyone told Mike that even 5x7 starts to look small... time for that 12x20"

:wink:

Well Jeremy, no one has told that, but YES the 5x7's are starting to look like the 4x5's used to, and the box of 4x5 Efke that came this week, looked so tiny.

Since I jumpstarted this thread let me add my 2 cents and qualify my Apug signature. I love the value of a 5x7 camera, film real estate vs. portability, but my comment was actually directed not at film, image size, or enlargement ability. My comment was actually because while out shooting the other day with my 5x7 I tried to imagine the thrill of composing an image with a 12x20" ground glass. Nothing has improved my photography more than the ground glass. I can alway scan my 5x7 negatives and make digital negatives up to 12.5x18.5" which is quite close to 12x20, but there's nothing that could substitute for the giant ground glass.
 

Ole

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Mongo said:
(One odd thing: I have this strong desire to do panoramic work vertically rather than horizontally. I don't know why that is, and I intend to explore it this year when I start working at 4x10. I assume I'll learn something about my artistic vision that I've been unable to figure out through thinking...like most, I learn more by "doing".)

Mongo, you're in the wrong continent. Let me know when you come to visit, and I'll take you out to some of the greatest vertical panorama views in the world.

:D
 

Mongo

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Ole said:
Mongo, you're in the wrong continent. Let me know when you come to visit, and I'll take you out to some of the greatest vertical panorama views in the world.

:D

Ole...if only! Unfortunately I have a lot of international business travel ahead of me this year (and none of it is to Norway!) so I'll probably stay in the US for vacation this year. But trust me...I've had a desire to see Norway for at least 20 years, and some day I'll make it there. The only question is whether or not I'll be lugging a 8x20 when I do!
 

John McCallum

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peters said:
... static photography. Since the bulk of the camera limits portablity and set up time your choices become fewer and fewer. Example:I can set up my tripod and get my little 4Lb. Wista out of the bag with a lens on it in about 2 minutes or less. Since I've already placed the tripod where I want the exposure to be it's just a matter of squaring up the camera, focusing and loading the filmholder. This is being fluid. I can also pick up the entire package and move it 50 feet to the next photo if I choose to do so. That is also fluid. I could never get very far with the 8x10 strapped to my back. How many film holders can you carry along with a big tripod? That's limiting.
ULF images (when printed well) have a depth and reality that just knocks the socks off. And there are a few pictures of mine that I wish were contact prints rather than enlargements. The loss of information that is present in the negative through enlarging can be quite substantial sometimes, and requires work and techniques to realise these details in the enlarged print.


However I'm glad Peter made his comments - they fit closely with my preferences of LF format. I have difficulty with the thought of giving up the versatility of 4x5" - and I guess 5x7 would be similar, but I prefer the aspec ratio of 4x5 now for landscape images.

My interests are very much in capturing a moment in the natural landscape. Sometimes that moment is reoccuring and predictable, but even if it is, it is likely to be less effective as time goes on. So speed of setup is important in those situations.

It appears (and I certainly stand to be corrected) that 8x10 and upwards, by nature of practicality, tend to orient the photographer towards more static images, as Peter stated. The photographer then needs to wait for the right conditions. If they have preempted the conditions well, or are lucky, they'll get a good image. But for me, this approach seems a little taylored towards the equipment in use.

However, the benefits of larger formats can't be ignored. And if there was the possibility of capturing my images on formats larger than 4x5 ...... well just hold me back :smile: .
 

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I just acquired a 11x14 Deveere enlarger dichroic head in absolutely mint condition. Free Standing with wall mount attachments. I think I will be able to make 30x40 inch from 11x14 negative.
My problem is now to acquire a 11x14 camera and lens (portrait) not too interested in shooting colour so an older lens would be fine.
Can any one here suggest a make/model of camera/lens??? .
I have one of those monster studio tripods that could definately hold this puppy .
I have never shot larger than 4x5, but with this enlarger the possibility,s are now open for me to move up in size.
 

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John McCallum said:
It appears (and I certainly stand to be corrected) that 8x10 and upwards, by nature of practicality, tend to orient the photographer towards more static images, as Peter stated. The photographer then needs to wait for the right conditions. If they have preempted the conditions well, or are lucky, they'll get a good image. But for me, this approach seems a little taylored towards the equipment in use.

And this is the one true advantage to being my size...I carry an 8x10 the way most people carry a 4x5...on a tripod, over my shoulder, moments from being ready to shoot.

It's no fun paying so much for clothes, and I hate the fact that car shopping involves eliminating 90% of the vehicles on the road because they either have too little head room or too little leg room...but at my size, I find 8x10 to be a pretty fluid experience. (My avatar picture is me under the dark cloth on my Calumet C-1...that should give you some idea of my height and build.)

The only reason I mention any of this is to point out that there are fairly light 8x10 cameras out there if you want to shoot with fluidity similar to how you shoot 4x5. The truth is that I do slow down sometimes when I'm shooting 8x10...but for economic reasons, not physical reasons. At 4x the price per shot, the light and the scene have to be pretty good before I'll start shooting 8x10 quickly...but I do it sometimes and the results are just like fluid shooting with 4x5, only bigger.

Strangely, I tend to carry six film holders with me whether I'm carrying the 4x5 or the 8x10. Twelve shots seems to be my maximum for a day, so I never carry more. That probably says more about the speed with which I shoot either format than it does with how fast I could shoot. If I want to shoot 100 frames, I'll take the RB67 instead.
 

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Bob Carnie said:
I just acquired a 11x14 Deveere enlarger dichroic head in absolutely mint condition. Free Standing with wall mount attachments. I think I will be able to make 30x40 inch from 11x14 negative.
My problem is now to acquire a 11x14 camera and lens (portrait) not too interested in shooting colour so an older lens would be fine.
Can any one here suggest a make/model of camera/lens??? .
I have one of those monster studio tripods that could definately hold this puppy .
I have never shot larger than 4x5, but with this enlarger the possibility,s are now open for me to move up in size.

I'd suggest keeping an eye on eBay for a large bellows; they've been showing up with some regularity lately. (There was a set of 20x24" bellows with a Buy It Now price of US$89 just a couple of weeks ago.) It should be a simple matter to build a frame to convert the bellows into an enlarger. For a lens, keep an eye out for the Nikkor f10 process lenses. They have huge image circles and were made for the process industry, so they should work very well for enlarging.
 
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