4x5 vs 8x10 DOF for street photography

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by gongman5000, Jan 20, 2011.

  1. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I'm still in the process of wrapping my head around the math of how the movements will affect DOF on a LF camera and I would normally wait to buy a system until I fully understood this but I have the opportunity to get a nice 8x10 at a good price but need to act relatively quick. Problem is I'm not sure if a 4x5 is a better choice. I will be using the camera mainly to shoot in the street with the end goal making really big (maybe around 5ft by 6ft) enlargements with very deep fields of focus. Subject movement will definitely be an issue so I'd say shooting at 1/400th f11 (or even f8) on 400 speed film might be typical.

    I know this is a highly subjective question and there are a lot of in-camera as well as in-scene factors that will change from shot to shot but I'm wondering if, in general, 8x10 with it's larger negative size will be able to yield sufficient DOF. Do any of you guys have experience shooting 8x10 or 4x5 in a situation like this or maybe just have some advice based on your best guesses?

    A typical scene might involve the camera at eye level with a person/car/etc 10-20ft away, a building facade 40ft back, and tall buildings in the background 200 or 300ft distant. If possible, I would like to have everything in focus or very near in focus.

    It seems to me that in general this type of situation would lend itself well to the wedge shape of the plane of focus created by lens movements. However, I'm not sure that the increase in apparent resolution yielded by the 8x10 negative will compensate for it's other disadvantages vs 4x5 in this area:

    1) more limited movements (intuitively this doesn't make sense to me but I've read this in multiple places. I understand that for the same field of view you have to use a longer lens but you are also placing the lens farther from the film plane so wouldn't the proportion of the image circle to the film area be equal in 4x5 and 8x10? )
    2) the requirement of opening the aperture up more to achieve sufficiently fast shutter speeds.

    I understand that for any given print size the 8x10 enlargement will have less DOF than the 4x5, but I'm wondering if you guys think the movements of an 8x10 system will be able to create the kind of DOF I'd like. Not having any experience with LF before, and not fully understanding the math yet, I'm not sure just how "magic" LF movements are regarding DOF.

    Also, portability will not be an issue since I am usually shooting within striking distance of my car.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2011
  2. degruyl

    degruyl Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It makes a difference whether we are talking about the same focal length lens or equivalent focal length lenses. First, because the depth of field for a 240mm lens is much less than for a 120mm lens even though they are roughly equivalent when the longer is used on an 8x10 camera and the shorter is used on a 4x5 camera. Secondly, the available movement for 4x5 lenses varies widely. Some (mostly designed for press cameras) are practically locked into straight ahead, while others are good for all of the available movements in your camera.

    Personally, I think it might be expecting WAY too much to be able to get a plane of focus involving three different vertical planes at varying distances, using f/11. At 10 ft, the depth of field is about 3 ft (150mm lens, assuming a circle of confusion of 0.1 mm. Which may be optimistic for prints that large). As distance increases, this value increases of course.

    The real issue is the "subject movement" requirement. If you could stop the lens down some, it would be useful.

    One more thing to consider: I don't think there are many 8x10 lenses with a shutter faster than 1/125th. Most modern lenses are in Copal 3.
     
  3. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    That's good to know about the max shutter speed, I hadn't thought of that. I guess I could get away with 1/125th if I have to, and just be more discreet about my subject matter. That would solve some of the DOF issue anyway by letting me stop down a little more.

    when you say the DOF at 10ft. would be 3ft. you are talking about before lens movements right?
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,980
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi there gongman ..
    i have shot street photographs with
    8x10, 5x7 and 4x5 cameras ...
    i think the problem you may run into with using an 8x10 aside from hoping to get 1/400thS at f8 ...
    is size ... setting up an 8x10 for streetwork, while it can be done it is impossible to be "stealthy" and
    it is kind of a pain in the neck. as for resolution &C ... if guillaume zuili's 35mm images ( some pinhole some traditional lens )
    can be enlarged to something like 30x40" i don't think you will have trouble enlarging a 4x5 sheet of film as big as you want.

    the other thing about 8x10 is that film is oodles more than 4x5 and film holders don't come too cheaply.
    all that said if you stop way down to f11 or 22 you might get the dof you are hoping for

    good luck !

    john
     
  5. degruyl

    degruyl Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Yep. That is the size of the focus wedge at 10 ft. Or something like that.
     
  6. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,390
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2006
    Location:
    Rural NW MO
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    You will have to use about two stops smaller aperture on the 8x10 to equal the DOF of the 4x5 for equal angles of view. For example, old Kodak DOF charts give 44' to infinity at f/11 with a 152mm Ektar and 56' to infinity at f/22 with the 12" Ektar. To simplify the math for working without DOF charts, for fairly critical sharpness the hyperfocal distance is about 2000 times the apparent diameter of the aperture as viewed from the front of the lens. A 5" lens at f/32 on a 4x5 camera might satisfy the OP's requirements while a 12" lens on the 8x10 should yield sharp images from 22' to infinity at f/45.
     
  7. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

    Messages:
    7,470
    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2007
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    The movements DECREASE depth of field. They change the location of the plane, but a tilted plane winds up with less depth front to back than the plane parallel to the film.

    In general, a constant linear aperture across film formats (when enlarged to the same viewing size print) leads to similar DOF. HOWEVER, the 'world' becomes more like a close up object the larger the film format, so that will decrease DOF more for the large format camera at closer distances. This really will come into play starting around 12 feet or so for an 8x10 camera.
     
  8. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    I'd suggest starting small and cheap. Buy a good 4x5 Crown Graphic press camera and put a 150mm studio view camera lens on it instead of a press camera lens. This will give you plenty of image circle for the limited movements such cameras offer. It's relatively light, fairly cheap, and easy to set up and focus. Buy some film holders and a few boxes of T-Max 400 sheet film with the savings over the 8x10 and have at it.

    8x10s are heavy, bulky, and slow to use. Setup and focusing are critical and take time and care. Wind and vibration become your mortal enemies. You will get more "keepers" for a lot less cash with a press camera. If you decide you need the bigger negative, trade up. My bet is that with 4x5 and a fine-grained high-speed film like T-Max 400, you will have everything you need, and you can carry enough film and gear for a day's shooting in a single manageable package.

    Peter Gomena
     
  9. Guillaume Zuili

    Guillaume Zuili Subscriber

    Messages:
    2,655
    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It all depends on what you want to achieve with 2 options that will influence the way you shoot : handheld or tripod.
    Tripod you can use any format and camera but you loose the instant snapshot you may want.

    Handheld options are various.
    Box cameras with lens on hyperfocal. You are limited by the need of light to close down the aperture or you use flash (a strong one...)
    I used to shoot in Paris with a Hobo style 8x10 and had an assistant holding a Norman flash...
    Not really discret. A real pain in fact !

    The best option is the good old Graflex SLR. I got one recently and it's a joy to use handheld.

    Whatever you choose, you need to make it yours and make it work. Camera becomes your hand and you forget about it to concentrate on the subject,
    Easier in 4x5 than 8x10 for street photography. In the end you will have to compromise as for DOF, speed, etc...
    And for enlargement as John said there is no issue at all.


    G.
     
  10. degruyl

    degruyl Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    No matter what you do, if you are using a LF camera for street work, the heisenberg uncertainty principle (and hence Schrodinger's cat) apply. You cannot take a picture without your subject knowing that you have a camera. Get used to that idea.

    By the way, I have taken to using a Crown Graphic with a Metz hammerhead flash as a night / bar camera. It is great, and very much in the press camera style. On the other hand, I don't use movements or anything, I just focus with the rangefinder.
     
  11. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Lots of great info so far guys!

    Ok this confuses me, I was under the impression that using movements you could basically bring everything from the near limit to infinity into focus with the caveat that you are losing focus area in the foreground above the focal plane (and I suppose also below it depending on whether or not the extended plane of focus intersects with the ground). In other words, compared to a system that isn't utilizing a tilt, you end up with much less front-to-back depth near the camera but an enormous amount more at great distances from the camera. Is my thinking still wonky here?

    Ha! I like the analogy. I tend to shift between modes of discreet shooting and very overt shooting, I've gotten called every name in the book by now so in general I don't have a problem being noticed by the subject and will adopt whatever shooting style the camera allows for. I guess I should have specified this from the beginning; I'm interested in shooting from a tripod with a studio camera as I do all my hand held with my mamiya MF. My general strategy will be to choose a location, compose, and wait for something or someone(s) interesting to happen. I tend to think though, that while the view camera will have a much more noticeable presence than an SLR, the act of shooting will be much less overt and that subjects, overall, will be less aware that they are being photographed.
     
  12. degruyl

    degruyl Member

    Messages:
    123
    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2009
    Location:
    Philadelphia
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    What you can do is change the plane of focus, to the point where you might even be able to get everything you want into focus. Assuming you can find a plane that everything is on, and can adjust all of the tilts and swings to get that plane in focus.

    The comment about decreasing DOF applies to distance from the camera, because the depth is a spread around the plane which is acceptably in focus and that focal plane is no longer parallel to the film plane, you effectively make it shallower.

    I actually think that you understand this, but I figured I'd confirm your thoughts.
     
  13. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,004
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you plan on shooting at '400 at f/11, you had better save your shots for sunny days only, and avoid shaded areas of your composition if you want any detail there.

    4x5 will give more depth of field than 8x10 at a given angle of view and f stop.

    Tilts and swings will do the same things on both formats.

    Modern films are extremely good. You may be able to get the enlargements you want from 4x5 film. It would only be about a 10x linear enlargement. That is up to you, though. I'd try blowing up a piece of 4x5 to see how it looks at your intended print size and viewing distance. If it just isn't sharp enough for you, then I would use 8x10.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 20, 2011
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,980
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format

    yeah graflex slrs are perfect in this situation !

    john
     
  16. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    ok so it sounds like I should probably go with 4x5 since DOF and shutter speed are going to be critical factors. Also, hadn't thought about the increased vibration issue with 8x10, especially since I'll be shooting around moving vehicle, etc.
     
  17. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,004
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    IMHO, 4x5 is the way to go for this. As I mentioned earlier, it is not all that extreme of an enlargement with today's films. Blowing 4.5 inches up to 60 or 72 inches will be a 13x or 16x enlargement, respectively. It's a lot of enlargement, but not unheard of. The 72 inch print will be roughly equivalent in quality to filling a piece of 16x20 paper from a 35mm negative. It starts to fall apart, but IMHO it looks good. It will be important to compose in camera such that you do not crop much when printing, however.

    I'd take a look at T-Max 400 for this project. It's an outstanding film that will help you to minimize grain.
     
  18. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    Buses make a heck of a vibration when they go by. I used to work in a building on a bus route. The whole place shook.

    T-Max 400 can be enlarged quite a way, and doubt too many people will have their noses in the print looking at grain. Grain and any minor softness will be unobtrusive at viewing distance. If you've never handled an 8x10, I'll tell you that while the rewards are great, the hassles are many. Good luck on your project!

    Peter Gomena
     
  19. phfitz

    phfitz Member

    Messages:
    540
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2004
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If you visit www.shorpy.com you can see exactly what to expect from an 8x10 for street photography, lots of examples. Look for 'Detroit publishing' photos, most were 8x10 glass plates, doubt they reached 100 speed. Have fun and good luck with it.
     
  20. jbbooks

    jbbooks Member

    Messages:
    173
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Excuse me, but how are you defining "street photography"? I would agree that what you showed as examples are what you could expect with an 8x10 (without comment as to the bulk and weight of the equipment required), but it is not an example of what I would think of as "street photography". Fact is, I think the term "8x10 street photography" is the quintessential example of an oxymoron.
     
  21. phfitz

    phfitz Member

    Messages:
    540
    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2004
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    "Excuse me, but how are you defining "street photography"?"

    It really does not matter how I define 'street photography', it's the OP's question. The link does provide several real examples of what to expect from 8x10 daytime photos. DOF trade-off for shutter speed = people movement. Modern 400 speed film may provide 3 - 5 stop real speed difference over the glass plates, modern coated lenses another 2 - 3 stops.
     
  22. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Cool link phfitz. Jb, I don't think 8x10 street photography is an oxymoron at all. What you might typically think of as the "act" of street photography--constant motion, bringing the camera up quickly, snapping and moving on--is just a process, not a genre. The very large body of images that make up the genre of street photography have been created using many different processes I'm sure.

    Its worth noting that I visited the Annenberg Space for Photography today as I noticed their current exhibition features some of clyde butcher's 8x10 work and I noticed a couple of things that might be relevant.

    First, butcher takes some phenomenal photos and if you happen to live in the Los Angeles area I highly recommend you go check them out while you still can. I also noticed that while overall they are amazingly beautiful, in terms of sharpness, they did not live up to my expectations of what I imagined 8x10 enlargements to look like. This could be due to unrealistic expectations--having never seen 8x10 enlargements of that magnitude (most hovered around the 40x50in range.) Or it could also be due to butcher making compromises to achieve the depth of field he wanted since a lot of his photos revolve around numerous foreground and background elements. For instance, judging by things like leaf trails in the water, etc it looked like he must have used fairly long shutter times to accommodate the small fstops he needed. Overall it was an enlightening experience as I think some of his compositional situations are similar to the ones I would like to achieve and it convinced me that I may be better off going with 4x5 to maximize my DoF. The only other factor is that it looked like he might have been using some colored filters which would have cost him maybe 2 or 3 stops of shutter speed. Not to mention the fact that he was also shooting in swamps with his tripod literally sunk into the mud/water or floating on a less-than-fully-stable platform boat. Another thing that amazed me was the total lack of grain. I thought I saw some, then realized it was just the texture of the paper...
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 22, 2011
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    I was amazed a couple of years back when I looked at a gallery exhibition of Ansel Adams' Museum Set. All were 16x20 from 8x10 negatives, I think. While they were wonderful prints, full of the virtuoso clarity of his technique and printing, they didn't look as sharp as I remember some of his other prints I've seen in the past. (My eyes are not as sharp as they used to be, either, so that may have played a role.) I may also have been spoiled by looking at the apparent resolution and digitally enhanced sharpness of inkjet prints.

    Whether or not a big print from an 8x10" negative is needle-sharp is less important (to me at least) than the amazing overall quality of a print made from a big negative. It's an experience in itself. One of my strongest reactions to a print was to an Adams "Aspens" at his 80th birthday exhibition in San Francisco about 30 years ago. It was about 30x40", and it hit me right in the gut from clear across the room from the entrance to the show.

    Peter Gomena
     
  24. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,467
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'd think if I saw someone setup with an 8x10 on the street, they'd be after some sort of architectural image, and I'd really ignore them as a street photographer, especially in comparison to someone with a big piece of L glass on a canon dslr. Nobody can really tell the exact moment you take a photo with a view camera unless you are showing your hand with the cable release. But you won't be able to get high shutter speeds with a typical 8x10 lens.

    4x5 with tmax400 film will be surprisingly high quality, and people'd probably still mistake you for someone doing architecture or a glass plate fool. (They'd ask if you can still get film for that)
     
  25. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,980
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    with a 8x10 or any view camera set up, people always stop and ask questions
    " wow do they still make film for that, is that a movie camera, is that a hasselblad, are you working for a magazine, or a newspaper, is that a digital movie camera, do you have a permit, do you need a permit, wow, that a big tripod, are you ansel adams, wow, that's old ... " the questions and comments are endless and it can be a pain ..
    with a graflex slr, or press camera, or handheld or ... people tend to leave you alone ...
     
  26. gongman5000

    gongman5000 Member

    Messages:
    19
    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I good technique I've found to minimize the distraction of questions, or even of confrontation sometimes (though some of my best shots have been taken in the moment of confrontation.) Is to wear a set of the big over ear headphones. Sometimes it can be nice to listen to music while shooting and other times I want to be in tune with the sounds of the street, but even then often I'll leave them on and just pretend I can't hear anyone who is bothering me. Most of the time people will just leave you alone because they assume you can't hear them anyways.