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PRB

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Hi All,

So here’s the thing: I have been shooting MF for several years now and love the large negatives and the time in the darkroom with them. Now I have a chance to buy a nice Linhof Technika IV 4x5 kit (three lenses with cams, many accessories) at a great price, and this comes at a time when I have been thinking of trying a larger format. And I have an enlarger and the lens that will handle the 4x5 negatives.

But I hesitate. My MF negatives and prints are pretty good. And I have forced myself to shoot at a relaxed adn thoughtful pace with my Rollei SL66. Is 4x5 really that much better? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Onward,
Paul

No matter how slow the film (the) Spirit always stands still long enough for the photographer it has chosen.
--Minor White
 

rbarker

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Don't switch. Just add the 4x5 to your tool kit. :wink:

The Technika IV, with cammed lenses, at a great price is a good find, and will add considerable capability to what you can accomplish. But, You'll still find some things for which MF is the better tool. Use both accordingly, I'd say.
 

papagene

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Ya - what RalPh said!! :D

gene
 

bobfowler

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Agreed. Large format is a tool to add, not to replace, your medium format gear.
 

Calamity Jane

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DON'T DO IT PAUL!!!

First there's all the stuff you need to process 4x5, then you'll get fished into other things like "alternate processes"!

I wandered into LF a year ago and I haven't had two pennies to rub together since :smile:
 

photomc

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I had always 'thought about' lf until taking a chance with it about 2 years ago, and now I wish I had done it years before...4x5 led to 5x7 and alt processes..and loving every minute..problem is there haven't been enough minutes lately.

As others pointed out, just add to, there is no replacing just new tools.
 

jovo

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PRB said:
Hi All,

And I have an enlarger and the lens that will handle the 4x5 negatives.

. Is 4x5 really that much better? Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Absolutely keep both!! Already having the enlarging capability makes a big difference. I would have added LF to my MF kit years before I did if I'd been able to deal with the darkroom issues. As to whether or not 4x5 is better or not, I think the answer is mixed. I was actually somewhat happier with my P67 negs than I was with my 4x5 ones for quite some time (not having to deal with dust spots etc when using roll film is no small thing right off the bat for instance). After two years,though, I've finally begun to have a sense of the right occasion to use each, and I'd feel very limited if I didn't have both from which to choose.
 

Nick Zentena

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PRB said:
And I have forced myself to shoot at a relaxed adn thoughtful pace with my Rollei SL66. Is 4x5 really that much better?


If you're already on a tripod then I say don't wait just do it. I agree with everybody else and keep the smaller camera for things that it'll be better at.

LF doesn't need to be expensive if you buy used. Even new it tends to be cheaper then MF. But used it can be very cheap.
 

mark

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Do both. There should be no question, each will do what you want it to do and those LF negs and Trannies are something to behold.
 

r-brian

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I added 4x5 not necessarily for the larger negative but for the controls a 4x5 camera gives you with its movements. There were some photos that I just could not do with my Bronica.
 

Ian Grant

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Go for it.

Linhof kit is superb, if the lenses are marked Linhof as well as Schnieder then that means they were picked after testing by the company, to ensure the highest possible quality.

One thing using LF will do is make you look at things quite differently when out making images. So expect to see a change in your photography.

Buy it and enjoy using it.
 

fotch

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I found that the 4x5 needed more thought process to what I was doing and helped me take better pictures with all my cameras, regardless of format. For photo restoration and retouching, could only be better with 5x7 or 8x10. JMHO
 

Mongo

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As others have said: Go for it. Keep the MF and add the LF.

If the price really is good on the Linhof kit, then all you're risking is some time away from your money. LF equipment has been pretty stable in value, so if you decide it's not for you then you'll be able to get your money back by selling the equipment.

But I'm willing to bet you'll be hooked once you've tried it...goodness knows I am!
 

Ian Grant

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fotch said:
I found that the 4x5 needed more thought process to what I was doing and helped me take better pictures with all my cameras, regardless of format. JMHO
Quite agree with you, it tightens up your techniques and increases your eye for detail.

As I moved up another step from 5x4 to 10x8 at Christmas I've noticed a renewed heightening of perception in my new work.
 

blaze-on

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Don't listen to Calamity...she doesn't have 2 cents left, so her "2 cents" don't count :smile:

Go for it...you can always sell it at or above what you got it for if it ain't your thang...
 

Adams

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Fear no format my brother. Jump in, head first. You'll be amazed at the differences, even the subtle ones. I think the fellas are right though don't give up what works for you already, just add it into the mix. Medium format is just another way of doing the same things done in 35mm. You'll simply have more lattitude and control in large format. It can be a whole new game, depending on how funky you wanna get with it... and oh yes one can get funky with large.
 

Troy Ammons

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I would go for it, at least with some sort of camera but keep all this in mind.
These are just my opinions so........

You really want 4x5 for movements.
It is painfully slow and very manual and expensive.
If you shoot quickloads and send them out it cost $5 per shot. If you buy sheet film and develope yourself its cheaper.
If you are going to shoot all outdoors get a lightweight folder or an Arca Swiss field camera. Last fall I hiked with my Sinar, tripod, 1 extra lens, film holders and a digital camera and it was a killer. Way to heavy. To hike you really want 15-20# max for everthing including the pack.

If you are going to shoot in a studio and maybe out of the back of a car, get a rail camera.

If you campare the actual size of 4x5 to 6x7 its not that big a difference. Also unless you use the sharpest 4x5 lenses you could get diminishing returns sharpness wise, IE a mamiya 7 shot would probably carry the same amount of detail as a 4x5 photo with a 40-50 lp/mm lens and the mamiya 7 is small and light. Even with that said it still blows me away to look at a 4x5 negative.

The big difference I see is that you have to scan 6x7 at a higher DPI maybe 3000 dpi which resolves more grain. The same shot on 4x5 you can scan at 2000 dpi and its much smoother especially with a film like E100G. If you scan E100G on a softish scanner something like a Epson 4870 at 2400 dpi there is really no apparent grain at all, but its fuzzy compared to a film scanner or drum scan.

For MF you really need a good scanner like a Nikon 8000, 9000 or a drum scanner, imacon etc. Also nice for 4x5, but not quite as critical. Also there are just not that many reasonable 4x5 super sharp scanners out there.

That Linhof although technically excellent is a heavy beast. I think they weigh about 12#. I shoot a Sinar F2 and its about 11# so its not much better, but if I were to do it over again, for landscape I would get a light weight, like a Arca Swiss Field camera.

Here is a comparison of some artwork I photographed a while back. Its digital, 6x7, and 4x5. The digital is roughly equal to 35mm film. Big difference between it and 6x7. Not as big between 6x7 and 4x5.

Just a note. the 6x7 was taken with a RZproII and the 4x5 with my Sinar and a super sharp Sironar 150mm lens. The MF shot is E100G the 4x5 shot is E100S which has more of a salt and pepper grain.

http://www.pbase.com/tammons/misc_comparisons
 

John Kasaian

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Sep 24, 2002
Messages
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Let me put it this way---if you don't, your life forever after will be one vast surging regret. You might find that LF dosen't suit you, but you'll never know until you dance the dance with Ma Linhof(or whatever else comes your way!)

Cheers!
 

jimdavies

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Jan 7, 2005
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4x5 Format
I was thinking of going to LF for 20 years, and finally took the plunge 18 months ago, and it's great. My camera is older with not wonderfull lenses but I enjoy the process of taking a photograph. I now will sit and wait for the light, magic.
I have also discovered that if the subject is faster than glacial you'll need something quicker, I've just bought a MF, and this is also a joy, they complement each other.
Regards
 

photobackpacker

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Depends on what you are shooting. For landscape, still life and posed protraiture, LF is wonderful. If you are shooting sports, street shooting or wildlife, it probably will not grow to your favorite tool.

The controls will open up an entire new dimension (and necessitate new learning and dicipline) to your photography. The control you will gain over the negatives you make will also be appealing to you. I shoot 2 identical negs of each subject and develop them seperately. if the first one shows that your recommended development needs a bit more or less time in soup, I do that to the second neg. It has meant the difference between an acceptable neg and and exceptional one in a number of cases.

I kept my MF. I take it out of its case every few years to look at it. I like it but I just don't use it. On the other hand, I love my Linhof. It is a dream to use and its only limitation is occasional bouts of too much density between its operator's ears.
 

Tom Stanworth

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I started with 35mm, spent a little time with MF and then took on LF (5x4). I now have sold my 5x4 to be replaced by a 5x7 which can handle short lenses and 5x4 back and I also have a 10x8. The LF 'thing' is truly wonderful, but it is only a part of it for me. I love printing my gritty 35mm negs of my kids and street scenes. LF could never displace that. What it did displace was my time with MF and this was a mistake. I recently sold my dear Rolleicord and RZ67. I dearly regret the loss of a MF capability. As much as I love LF I can find that it is wearying at times. There are times when I want more than 35 mm but cannot be doing with the demands of LF. Although I see LF as the core of what I am about, I think that I will need the smaller formats to keep me sane and to allow the sort of documentary syle work which I started to miss. Keep your MF or if you replace it with LF and immerse yourself in it to acclimatise as fast as possible, budget for buying back in at a later date, for those times when you want a more casual approach. Personally I would love a MF rangefinder for my travel work and when I am on trips that cannot be dedicated to photography. LF takes up a lot more time and is more conspicuous and sometimes it just is not appropriate (as I found out in spain recently). I have thinned out my kit and feel that a 35mm a MF ranegfinder and teh 5x7 would be all I need. I will keep teh 10x8 only if I get over the factors whioch I have found to be a nuissance so far (it is bloody big...).

Tom
 

MikeS

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Jan 10, 2005
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Newport, TN
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4x5 Format
I agree with the statements made by other here, with one exception. You're talking about getting a Linhof with lenses that are cammed to the camera, so you have a rangefinder you can use. While 4x5 lets you use all sorts of movements which basically require a tripod, and using the ground glass, if you're not using movements, it is possible with a rangefinder equipped 4x5 to use it handheld almost as fast as a MF camera. I have a Speed Graphic, and several Grafmatic holders (each holder holds 6 sheets of film) and can shoot pictures almost as fast as many MF cameras.

If you're really not sure, you can always buy the setup, and send it to me, and I'll let you know if it works well or not :smile:

-Mike
 

photobackpacker

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MikeS said:
I agree with the statements made by other here, with one exception. You're talking about getting a Linhof with lenses that are cammed to the camera, so you have a rangefinder you can use. While 4x5 lets you use all sorts of movements which basically require a tripod, and using the ground glass, if you're not using movements, it is possible with a rangefinder equipped 4x5 to use it handheld almost as fast as a MF camera. I have a Speed Graphic, and several Grafmatic holders (each holder holds 6 sheets of film) and can shoot pictures almost as fast as many MF cameras.

If you're really not sure, you can always buy the setup, and send it to me, and I'll let you know if it works well or not :smile:

-Mike

I own a Linhof Master Technika and no cams - I wouldn't know what to do with them. I made my own darkcloth out of black ultrasuede so I could view the ground glass image in near total darkness. I love that step - it is magical to me. Working and shooting fast is not my objective.

This is the beauty of our passion - I use LF because it forces me to slow down and strive for perfection with every shot. That lights my fire. The above is written by someone who loves wielding 20 square inches of negative and catching fast-changing subject matter. I would enjoy seeing his images. We are kindred spirits with vastly different styles but linked by the appreciation of what those 20 Square Inches of negative can do when well exposed.

By the way, have you ever let an "innocent bystander" get under the darkcloth and look at the ground-glass image? I do this often and remember fondly the reactions. People are stunned by what they see.

I was shooting the Mackinaw Point lighthouse in Mackinaw City, MI early one morning when, from under the ground glass, I heard the sound of a bus pulling into the parking lot. I continued focusing and composing until I noticed feet standing beside me. I came up for air and here were 20 people standing around me taking pictures of the lighthouse. Evidently they supposed I knew the "best" spot for a picture.

One lady asked about my camera (I was shooting a beautiful Wisner 4X5 at the time) and I asked if she wanted to look at the scene under the dark cloth. She did. She expressed absolute delight at what she saw. The rest of the tour lined up in perfect single file and waited in line for their opportunity to see what had delighted the first viewer. I stood there, smiling as each person took their turn - each one surprised by what they saw.

I didn't get the picture that morning but I got a keeper nevertheless. I am smiling as I write this recalling that morning and the bewildered expression on the face of the tour guide as his entire tour group was momentarily hijacked by the beauty of 100-year-old technology.
 
Joined
Nov 19, 2004
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Depends on so much - I have staved off the LF chimera by realising that for colour transparencies of wilderness I do need to bracket, set up fast quite often, carry lots of film, and be able to keep moving somewhat frequently. I have settled on a Fuji 6x9 and a Fuji 645, which along with an 1127 tripod and filters etc, comes to about 11 pounds. I carry one camera in a front loader pouch, so my backpack is mostly for backpacking. I would miss so many shots if LF was all I had, and one cannot easily carry both systems.
Print size is a vital factor as well. Drum scans of 6x9 come up very well for 6x-8x
enlargements, and I am happy except for no movements. Film cost and loading would be bugbears too.
My admiration for the LF folks, goes without saying, and I wish you the best if you go ahead.
 
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