4X5, Obtaining Film, Developing, Scaning is it worth the effort? Cost Effective?

Discussion in 'Australia' started by l2oBiN, Feb 15, 2009.

  1. l2oBiN

    l2oBiN Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Hi everyone!

    I am sittuated in Sydney. I have been shooting digital (d200) for a while now, but i am wondering whether to take the dip into Large format. It seems that the cost of large format seems quite hight, just at startup, with purchasing the camera and right lenses (A tripod I have), but these are not the costs that scare me. Its the cost of film, + development and scanining. I have noticed film will cost me between 50-100AUD per 10 sheets, then developing each sheet a further 10 and scaning +??? (Anyone know of a place that does good drum scans on 4X5? What is the price?) It just seems like the price is quite steep! Just shooting 10 sheets off and developing them is ~150-200 dollars!

    I am just trying to justify to myself that its worth it. Could anyone else give me their experiene and advice? How do they justtify the price? I need to convince myself! =P
     
  2. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

    Messages:
    18,040
    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2004
    Location:
    West Midland
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Only you can decide if it's worthwhile & cost effective.

    I've been shooting large format 5x4 for over 30 years, cost isn't an issue, I don't waste film shooting images I might not use as all my work is project based.

    If I was to consider shooting digital instead of large format film then I'm certain that I would need to invest a considerable amount of money in equipment to achieve the same quality, and that equipment becomes obsolete after a few years and I wouldn't enjoy using it.

    My film costs (for personal work) have never been excessive and doing your own processing B&W and Colour greatly helps to keep costs manageable particularly for colour work.

    Ian
     
  3. glbeas

    glbeas Member

    Messages:
    3,307
    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2002
    Location:
    Roswell, Ga.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Why are you wanting to scan? For the costs you are quoting you may as well buy the enlarger and do the prints yourself. Anyway if you are really wanting to shoot film you might be better starting with a lower cost medium format to see if you like handling film. The main reason to do the 4x5 LF is usually so you can have the focal plane and perspective control afforded by the movements. And if you are going to be shooting it, soup it yourself to save the cost. Tray processing is pretty low cost to get started in and a 4x5 makes a pretty decent contact print.
    In other words cost is not what you need to look at for justifying LF, it's whether it will deliver what you want to achieve. You may be served as well by a Hassy or Mamiya medium format. Then again sooner or later you might get bit so hard by the bug only a ULF (way bigger!) will do.
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

    Messages:
    2,223
    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2005
    Location:
    Regina, SK,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Black and white 4x5 isn't all that costly. A dollar-ish a sheet here in North America is very doable. Some films are significantly less costly than this. You will pay more in Australia due to shipping costs, but it shouldn't be horrifically more.

    Colour film will cost proportionately more, but again I find it to be reasonable.

    As for scanning, we have a sister site about hybrid photography (I don't do digital at all so I don't know the URL off the top of my head). This site concentrates exclusively on the silver process.
     
  5. L Gebhardt

    L Gebhardt Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,769
    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2003
    Location:
    NH
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    For not much money you can develop color print film and print it your self. The cost come out about $3 US a sheet total. Costs for printing RA4 are dirt cheap (cheaper than inkjet paper and ink by far). Look at getting a Jobo CPA or CPP processor. I also shoot chrome films in 4x5 and develop and drum scan them myself. Again if you do it yourself the costs are reasonable. http://www.hybridphoto.com, the APUG sister site, has more on scanning.
     
  6. dpurdy

    dpurdy Member

    Messages:
    2,230
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2006
    Location:
    Portland OR
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    The issue with large format is whether you enjoy working that way. If you are making contact prints you will see subtle differences that are important to some and not to others. For small prints it is really difficult to make a 4x5 print that is significantly sharper than a small projected MF print. Maybe the same with scans. But working with a LF camera is a different beast than digital or roll film. Some love it some don't love it.
     
  7. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I find the cost of an afternoon's shooting 35mm, MF, or LF to be more or less a wash. As the format increases in size so does my shooting ratio of "keepers" and the amount of exposures decreases almost exponentially. Of course that's just me. I find $10-15 of film for an excursion is pretty cost effective entertainment.
     
  8. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,999
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hey there

    4x5 isn't really too expensive.

    as others have suggested, it is a little different using
    sheet film, and the cool thing about using a large format camera
    is that you can expose things like lith film, paper, and xray film that costs
    very little, and for a few dollars you can process it yourself and do
    the whole mad scientist thing.

    as jason said, it is cheap entertainment ...

    but i can understand the whole processing thing isn't for everyone ...
     
  9. Moopheus

    Moopheus Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,087
    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    And you don't have to spend a fortune on gear. There's a lot of good used gear that can be had for less then you spent on the D200.
     
  10. MVNelson

    MVNelson Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,198
    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2006
    Location:
    North Florid
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I love the way Jason put it...as far as enjoyable endeavors are concerned I can't think of money better spent.... that said my only caveat is , don't fall into the more expensive the equipment the better the results pit... the results will depend on your original and acquired skills... surf the net for ideas on building your system first ..
     
  11. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,079
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Location:
    Brisbane, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    50 sheets of B&W 4x5 (eg Tri-X) will only cost you about AUD$75 here in Australia (eg from Vanbar), and can be obtained even more cheaply from the US. Processing B&W 4x5 is also pretty cheap and easy to do yourself. I therefore find B&W 4x5 to be cost effective entertainment for me. From the prices you have quoted though, it sounds like you will be doing mostly colour work? I rarely shoot colour (in any format) so cannot really help you with deciding whether that is worth the cash. But if you are not earning from it, shooting large quantities of colour 4x5 in Australia may become a relatively pricey hobby...
     
  12. largeformat pat

    largeformat pat Member

    Messages:
    287
    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Location:
    Upper Hunter
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    G'day,
    I buy my film local and from the states. I shoot both 4 x 5 and 8 x 10. I really only notice the cost on the 8 x 10. The auction site is great for deals and a freezer comes in handy. If you wish to scan yourself look at a second hand MICROTEK scanner. If you want help drop me a PM we can talk more.
    Pat
     
  13. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The $20 a shot estimates seems wildly high. In the US:

    Black and white is a $1/sheet, processing it yourself is $.50 or less.

    Color negative or transparency is $2/sheet, commercial processing another $2.00, $.50 to $1 if you process it yourself.

    You can halve the film costs by buying off-brands or cold-stored expired stock.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. David Grenet

    David Grenet Member

    Messages:
    310
    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Developing $10 a sheet? Not last I looked. $6.50 from Vision Image Lab in Waterloo, and something similar from the Lighthouse in Bondi (owned/operated by Stephen Frizza who posts here).

    As for drum scanning, I believe Steve's drum scanner has made it's way from the floor on to a bench but still isn't operational. Are drum scans really necessary? I honestly don't know as I print everything optically. That's somewhat off-topic here anyway - try hybridphoto.com...
     
  16. l2oBiN

    l2oBiN Member

    Messages:
    56
    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thank you everyone for your prompt replies. Here is some more information which might help orientate the people who have posted or about to post. My aim is to print ~1m posters. I dont think digital would come even close to the quality of 4x5. I am interested in both color and black and white. I have never dealt with old school developing or printing, therefor it seems a bit daunting to do it by myself. I also dont really have any room for setting up a darkroom. Therefore contact prints and home enalrging and developing is out of question? So I was hoping my purchases and workflow could be:

    Purchases:
    Scanner eg. epson v750
    Camera: Shen Hao 4x5
    Lenses: wide angle + normal range/macro
    Loupe
    LightMeter
    Film Holders: ~4-5?

    Workflow:
    1. Shoot film
    2. Send for developing
    3. Scan using epson v750 scanner and evaluate negatives suitable for large prints
    4. Choose the photos for 1m printing based on step 3 and send negatives for drum scanning
    5. Tweak dum-scanned negatives and send for printing


    Does this sound reasonable? Would be great to hear how other people work. I have also purchased two books which should come shortly;

    View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel and Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga. I am hoping they would help me get started and get an idea of workflows and equipment necessary.
     
  17. Venchka

    Venchka Member

    Messages:
    692
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    One camera
    One lens in sutter on lens board
    4x5 holders, less than a dozen to start will be fine
    Light meter (substitute DLSR)
    Dark cloth

    That's the bare minimum. Chances are good to great that you can find a ready to shoot kit for little more than the camera alone.

    I have been shooting expired 4x5 b&W film. No worries. Cheap. Cheap. 100 sheets of HP5+ was $15 and 100 sheets of unexpired Foma 200 was less.

    A 5 liter bag of Xtol costs $10 USD, not sure about the Oz price. You can develop several hundred sheets in 5 liters.

    3 8x10 trays will devlop your film if you have a dark space. A daylight tank isn't too expensive if you need one.

    Go for it!

    EDIT to say: Sorry, I didn't read your last post. That is essentially what I am doing except 1m posters aren't on the horizon.

    For proofing scans, the V750 is overkill. Look around for a used Epson 4990 or older model. I just bought an Epson 1680 for $150. It works fine for normal size prints & web posting. Microtek and Canon made similar scanners.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 15, 2009
  18. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    2,385
    Joined:
    Sep 2, 2006
    Location:
    Cleveland, O
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This discussion now belongs in the hybrid group, but, may I suggest going directly to having LlightJet prints made from your edited digital file. There is no reason to produce a negative from the digital file.
     
  19. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    You'd be insane not to develop your black and white yourself. Really. It isn't rocket science. Everyone here will be glad to help answer questions.

    The scanning stuff needs to be taken up on Hybridphoto.com
     
  20. Alex Hawley

    Alex Hawley Member

    Messages:
    2,894
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2003
    Location:
    Kansas, USA
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    After being on the side of several d****l workflow discussions, I wonder why people think its great? Its an awful lot of tedious fidgeting work compared to being in the analog darkroom.

    Many people with minimal living space successfully set up temporary darkrooms in residences. Its not hard. A 4x5 enlarger is still easily portable.

    I have no experience with drum scanners as they are hugely expensive, but your Epson V750 is as good as a flatbed scanner gets I think, and it will scan negatives quite nicely. Take a look at the latest 4 in my gallery of the railroad locomotive. They are all 4x5 negative scans done on a V700.
     
  21. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,079
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Location:
    Brisbane, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Even if you only develop your sheets yourself, and then scan them instead of enlarging, you don't need much space at all. You can easily process your B&W sheets in your bathroom if you can make it light-tight. You can even do it (although somewhat less comfortably) without a light-tight room at all, if you are prepared to unload your film holders into a small tank (eg a Combi-Plan) inside a small changing tent (eg a Harrison).
     
  22. JBrunner

    JBrunner Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    7,075
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2005
    Location:
    Basin and Range Province
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    This is what I do, but because I can develop six sheets at a go. Of course I could do that by shuffling in a tray, but I prefer to work in the daylight. When I used to tray develop all the time I started feeling like a bat.
     
  23. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,079
    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2006
    Location:
    Brisbane, Au
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I know what you mean about bats, although they at least have echo-location! I mostly use a Combi-Plan tank, but I prefer to load it in the darkroom because I don't enjoy fiddling around inside the changing tent too much (it makes me start to feel like a gynaecologist!)
     
  24. junqbox

    junqbox Member

    Messages:
    27
    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2007
    Location:
    Sydney, Aust
    Shooter:
    35mm
    hi,

    I'm also Sydney based and manage to shoot & develop 4x5 for about $10 per shot. As has been mentioned above, you tend not to shoot that many 4x5 frames in a day, compared with an slr (digital or analogue). One option you may want to consider is a MF attachment for your LF camera. My Toyo also has a 6x9 roll film attachment, which I found really useful at the beginning as I could take a number of bracket shots to get myself more acquainted with the equipment.
    As for who to use, there are still quite a few pro-labs around town, personally I use Vision Lab in Waterloo and have had no problems. They'll also do quality drum scans for you too.
    For the record, I shoot all formats, including digital so I believe I'm giving a fairly unbiased opinion here.

    Cheers,
    junqbox
     
  25. Palantiri7

    Palantiri7 Member

    Messages:
    131
    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2006
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    As I live out in the boondocks I shoot 8x10 transparency film as cheaply as I can. That means developing the sheets myself with Tetenal's 3 bath E6 developer. The 1L kit does 40 8x10 sheets!! So that's an $1. per 8x10 sheet processing cost. MWAHAHAHAHA! Need hi-res scans? No problem: with 8x10 film you can scan it with a dirt cheap scanner (I use an Epson 2450), and stitch 4 4x5 frames together which enlarges to 32x40" for printing easy.
     
  26. OldBikerPete

    OldBikerPete Member

    Messages:
    369
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2005
    Location:
    Melbourne, A
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    G'day.
    I'm Melbourne based and shoot 5x4 color neg., develop myself using solutions I compound from chemicals imported from Canada. I buy film in bulk from Badger Graphics in the USA and scan at 2400 DPI using an Artixscan M1 scanner resulting in 100Megapixel images which I print on a 980mm wide HP ink-jet printer. The development costs me AU$0.47 per sheet and the film costs around AU$2.50 per sheet depending on exchange rate.

    If 100 Mp images aren't enough justification, for those who shoot architecture or (like me) landscapes, the movements available on LF field cameras to broaden the effective depth-of-field are ample justification.

    If, as predicted, 100Mp digital cameras become available in the next 10 years, I will still work with my field camera becuse of the movements - or I may move up to 10x8 to get 400Mp!!