4x5 vs 8x10

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by BetterSense, May 31, 2009.

  1. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Are 4x5 enlargers common? I saw some at the school darkroom and they appeared a reasonable size. My enlarger now is a 6x6 enlarger and I don't think I could ever fit an 8x10 enlarger in my cramped darkroom, but a 4x5 might fit.

    The quandary is, if I had an 8x10 camera, I can make 8x10 contacts with no enlarger at all. Like I already do with my 8x10 pinhole camera. But, I would be stuck, because I cannot see ever getting an 8x10 enlarger, whereas if I got a 4x5 camera, I could possible see getting a 4x5 enlarger and using it for all of my work. But in the meantime, I couldn't print the negatives except for very small contact prints.

    How much larger than an Omega 6x6 enlarger are 4x5 enlargers?
     
  2. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

    Messages:
    443
    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2005
    Location:
    Central NC
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I can't answer your question from current experience, but I remember working for the newspaper 35 years ago that the 4x5 enlarger wasn't that much bigger than the 35mm enlargers. The 8x10 enlarger was a beast though.

    On another note there is a current thread about 4x5 vs. 8x10 on the LargeFormatPhotography.info forum. It might be of interest to someone trying to choose between these two formats. This is more about what the formats are capable of instead of enlargers. Still, it might pertain.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,946
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    4x5" enlargers are quite reasonable to fit in most normal spaces. The things to be aware of are the size of the baseboard, since some have very large baseboards, and extra long columns, which are sometimes tall enough for the head to hit the ceiling at maximum enlargement, presuming the baseboard is on a table at a comfortable working height.

    If you have a small baseboard, like on my Omega D-II, the easel can hang over the edges with no problem, and just take be aware of the height of the column plus the head and the distance between the table and the ceiling when you're looking for an enlarger. I was able to use my D-II even in my tiny dark/bathroom a couple of apartments ago. I added an extra set of rubber feet under the baseboard, so that it could sit squarely on a rolling typewriter table and could just slip over the commode in a narrow space between the vanity and the wall. There's a photo of this somewhere in the "Darkroom Portraits" thread.
     
  4. archphoto

    archphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Holland and
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I would go for a 4x5" enlarger first, work with it and see what happens and comes along.
    Sometimes the big 8x10" enlargers are for (nearly) free as long as you pick up the beast yourself.
    Shipping cost are dramaticly high.
    Maybe you get lucky, just keep your eyes open and if you can not use the big one right now, if you have it stored properly it can be waiting for you to use when your living situation expands.

    Peter
     
  5. Rob Skeoch

    Rob Skeoch Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    983
    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2005
    Location:
    Burlington,
    Shooter:
    35mm RF
    If your happy with printing 8x10 contacts I would go that route. You wouldn't need to buy a new enlarger, the camera is easier to learn than a 4x5 and you would have no where to step up to. A used 8x10 might be less costly than a used 4x5 and a new enlarger.
    -rob
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    17,946
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I agree that it's easier to learn to use a view camera with 8x10" than with a smaller format. You can see what's going on with camera movements much more easily with a larger groundglass, and there's a strong intuitive appeal to the idea that the size of the image on the groundglass is exactly as it will be when framed on the wall. I now shoot 4x5" and 2x3" and some formats larger than 8x10", but my first view camera was an 8x10", and I think that with the smaller cameras I'm relying on instincts developed with the bigger camera.
     
  7. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,936
    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2005
    Location:
    south centra
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Knowing my habits now, 20/20 hindsight, I may have just as well gone with 8x10 rather than 4x5.

    I still use my Hassy as a carry around camera, and the Zone VI 4x5 for landscape work. I rarely enlarge greater than 8x10. Never use 35mm anymore.

    Just 2 cents rambling on....

    Mike
     
  8. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

    Messages:
    16,829
    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2005
    Location:
    Delta, BC, Canada
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've recently acquired a 4x5 enlarger (an Omega D6) and it is a pleasure to use. I've got it on a wheeled cart that is 20" high, which means I can roll it from it's storage spot into my bathroom/darkroom when I want to do some darkroom work. If the cart was higher, the enlarger would be too high to go through the door :smile:.

    1) I wouldn't want to try this with an 8x10 enlarger;
    2) I expect, but cannot say for sure, that my Omega may handle the smaller sizes (135, 6x4.5, etc.) more conveniently than an 8x10 enlarger.

    That being said, I'm keeping my previous enlarger (a Beseler 67 series with both condenser and colour heads). If I ever get a dedicated darkroom again, I intend to set both enlargers up (for colour, and maybe 35mm as well).

    Matt
     
  9. jbbooks

    jbbooks Member

    Messages:
    173
    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  10. Jim_in_Kyiv

    Jim_in_Kyiv Member

    Messages:
    231
    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Location:
    Ukraine
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    If you're thinking about both contact prints and enlarging, 5x7 might be an alternative for you. My first foray into LF was buying a garage-full that included a 5x7 view camera, Solar enlarger (think old hairdresser's sit-under hair dryer) and a 4x5 B&J press camera. I liked 5x7 for contact prints, and the enlarger, while NOT small, could still fit into a niche and be used on top of a lever-operated, porcelain, American Standard spent-developer removal system.

    When I moved to Ukraine, I gave away the enlarger to an area guy who was getting into LF, so yeah, they can be cheap! And if you find the camera before you find the enlarger, you can still contact print.
     
  11. Removed Account

    Removed Account Member

    Messages:
    907
    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2007
    Location:
    Nanaimo, Bri
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There are also horizontal 8x10 enlargers, useful if you don't have a particularly atmospheric ceiling. That's an option if you want to shoot 8x10 and enlarge. Unfortunately, they have the opposite problem and take up a lot of floor space. But if you're short on height and long on m^2 then that could be the way to go!
     
  12. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

    Messages:
    419
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    If I knew then what I know now, I would have started with 8x10, but only if I were a rich man. Learning on 8x10 can be a very expensive experience.

    It sounds as if you have not yet shot a lot in large format so I would recommend that you get a 4x5 camera and enlarger. Even if you start with only the camera, you can contact print 4x5. Sure it is a little on the small side, but you will still get the benefit of being able to expose and develop single sheets. Used 4x5 enlargers come up all the time and you might even be able to get one for free these days.

    I started in 4x5 without an enlarger and learned a LOT about exposure and development before I finally got one. I now also shoot 8x10 but I only contact print it. I have no real desire (yet) for an 8x10 enlarger.
     
  13. fschifano

    fschifano Member

    Messages:
    3,216
    Joined:
    May 12, 2003
    Location:
    Valley Strea
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Don makes a very good point. Supplying an 8x10 camera is an expensive proposition - more so if you are new to large format photography. There are all kinds of ways to screw up and waste film when shooting large format. Holders can get loaded incorrectly. You can forget to close the shutter before pulling the dark slide. You can mess up easily while tray processing the negatives and scratch the film. The list could go on, but you get the idea. 4x5 film can be had for as little as $.60 US per sheet from Freestyle. The least expensive B&W option for 8x10 film will set you back $2 US per sheet with the more expensive options coming in at around $5 US per sheet.
     
  14. pgomena

    pgomena Member

    Messages:
    1,382
    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2003
    Location:
    Portland, Or
    I owned an 8x10 for a few years and decided I just didn't like to contact print. Heresy, I know, but there it is. I'm also over 50, and lugging my old Korona view camera and a big tripod was no picnic.

    I would follow the advice of those posting above and start with 4x5. That will tell you how involved you want to get. Modern 4x5 films will blow your socks off. As others have said, you likely can find a 4x5 enlarger cheap or even free. Used enlarging lenses can be found cheap, too. I gave my ancient Beseler away a couple of years ago when I found a great deal on a newer model.

    Heck, if you want to try contact printing a large negative, build yourself a pinhole camera and throw some film in it. Saves a lot of investment.

    I recently started using my 4x5 again after a period of a couple of years using rollfilm exclusively. Glad I kept my kit, it's worth the effort.

    Peter Gomena
     
  15. BetterSense

    BetterSense Member

    Messages:
    3,126
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2008
    Location:
    North Caroli
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I already do that with paper negatives; I think I'm going to buy some xray film for my pinhole camera, and maybe experiment with crude lenses.
     
  16. archphoto

    archphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,066
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2008
    Location:
    Holland and
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    What gear do you have right now ?
    Just a pinhole camera ?

    The typical learning curve for LF starts normaly with 4x5": the camera's are not too expensive and so are the lenses for it and the same with film.
    Start with a Graphic or so or a cheap monorail, get some lenses and start photographing.
    Those lenses can be used again on a better 4x5" if you decide that LF is what you realy want.

    The lighter monorails can be used outside and in the studio, for the heavier ones like the Sinar P2 you will need some musselpower if used outside.
    A field camera is great for the outdoors and less suited for the studio where you want to focus with your back.
    (the distance between the lens and the object determines the size of your object and focussing with the lens means that that changes)

    A Sinar F (1 or 2) can be a great starter kit, it is light and you can add parts if needed and use the old parts for a lensshade and so on.
    Growing from a 4x5" Sinar to a 8x10" Sinar is a matter of changing the back, the rest stays.

    Keep in mind that the cost for film and processing between 4x5" and 8x10" is a factor 2-4.
    Lenses for 8x10" are more expensive, a lot.

    Right now I have a Sinar P2 4x5" + 8x10" and a Shen Hao 4x5" field camera, but that is after many years of saving money for it.
    I started out with an old Plaubel Peco 4x5" with a Tessar 150mm, a couple of film holders and a Polaroid back.....

    Peter
     
  17. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

    Messages:
    545
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2005
    Location:
    Salt Lake Ci
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Printed last night on the 8x10. Made 5 prints of one 4x10 negative. I had my JR AP Photo students shoot 8x10 and both contact print and enlarge their 8x10 negatives. They did VDB's for the contact prints.

    I asked them yesterday during their critique to give me some thoughts on the 8x10 camera and enlarging the negatives. I have 4 students in that class and 3 of them said that the enlargements were not worth it. We did 20x24's and they look really nice. One of the students said that enlarging the 8x10 negative was worth it. The other three loved the 8x10 contact prints. The one who liked enlarging did not like the 8x10 contact prints, instead she enjoyed 4x5 contact printing better. Their observations were pretty interesting to hear.

    Personally I love having that 8x10 enlarger. I drug it out of storage earlier this year and set it up in anticipation for this class. I'm glad I did. Not only for the student's sake, but for my own work as well. I am shooting all kinds of large format cameras and have really enjoyed enlarging both 4x10 and 8x10 negatives. These are some of the best GSP's I've ever made.

    Here are some shots of our setup.
     

    Attached Files:

  18. Don Wallace

    Don Wallace Member

    Messages:
    419
    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2006
    Location:
    Ottawa, Cana
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Michael, I am intrigued by the responses. Are these young photography students or older folks, like most of us?
     
  19. Kimberly Anderson

    Kimberly Anderson Member

    Messages:
    545
    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2005
    Location:
    Salt Lake Ci
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    These are high school students in their third year. In the states we call them 'Juniors'. These are kids that are 17 years old. We have a 4 1/3 year long photo program where I teach that is modeled on the traditional university model. A very basic intro darkroom class for one term in 8th grade, a two-year course in 9-10, half is wet darkroom, half is Dig. There is an additional two-year course called AP that our juniors and seniors can take. This is mainly darkroom, large format and alt processes in 11th grade, and they can choose what process and format to pursue for 12th grade. They have a year-long project they shoot during their senior year and submit it for several major competitions at the end of the year. It's quite a program and we have churned out some very talented young photographers. A few have gone on to shoot professionally, but most will just use it to enhance the quality of their lives. The school I teach at is The Waterford School, located in Sandy, Utah, USA. www.waterfordschool.org
     
  20. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    wow,

    i really wish that i had a program like that when i was in high school (i graduated in 2006). i'm just starting to shoot 8x10, having moved up from 4x5 quite rapidly... it sure has pared down the amount of negatives that i have to process :smile:! the main thing that i appreciate the most about LF is that it slows me down and makes me have to think completely about the shot. 8/10 of the time, I look at the ground glass and think; "I don't want to shoot this, I'll never print it". It sure is nice having the Arista b/w film in 8x10 though. Making the learning easier though!