Best format for street shooting

Discussion in 'Street' started by Frank Teodosio, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. Frank Teodosio

    Frank Teodosio Member

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    I've always thought that your pictures had to be tack sharp and able to be blown up to 16X20 without much quality loss. But without using medium to large format can you achieve acceptable results.
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Go see the Robert Frank exhibit at the National Gallery of Art to see beautiful 16x20s from 35 mm frames on a basic Leica rangefinder.

    But no, Ralph Eugene Meatyard showed us nothing needs to be 'tack sharp' to be good. I've always achieved the results needed regardless of formats because one needs to use the correct tools for each unique photographic situation. If you are going to cover the D-Day invasion, you don't shoot with an 8x10 field camera. A quality medium format camera can't give you lens movements of a high end studio view camera.

    So what do you mean by quality loss? James Nachtwey's body of work shot on 35 mm needs the graininess when printed large to convey the image's emotion. Ansel Adams work needs the seamlessness to convey his image's emotion.
     
  3. Allan Swindles

    Allan Swindles Member

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    I always took my best street shots with my Rollei 3.5F, many of which were taken with the camera facing left or right, whilst I was facing straight ahead and appearing to be taking photographs of something else. My favourite street pictures were taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He used a Leica with a handkerchief wrapped around it for many of his photographs!
     
  4. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    35 mm can be sharp at a reasonable viewing distance at 16x20. Grain free...no. Can you do it with a consumer zoom lens...probably not. At 16x20 and 35mm you need to use the best lenses (enlarging and taking) and the best technique if you want a reasonably sharp result.
    The question I ask is whether it is really necessary for all the reasons mentioned above. I have always questioned the need to print large anyway. An artist friend of mine told me about a saying in art school. If you can't make it good, make it red. If you can't make it red, make it big. I think there is a bit of that in the photography world too.
     
  5. Simplicius

    Simplicius Member

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    From my limited experience, I'd have to say 35mm is the only way to go. I have tried TLR, 6x6 and 6x9 Folders. the 35mm wins hands down just for sheer speed and ease of pre-focussing (I know you can do that with all ther others too, just find it easier with a nikkor). I tend to use a 50mm Prime or 24mm depending on situation, my best and most consistent results come with a 50mm, especially protests and up close.
    As for enlarging, I have taken FP4, HP5 , Neopan 100 and 400 up to 16x20 and grain hasn't taken from the subject,

    Neopan 100 in Rodinal Special 1:30 -- non existant grain- sweet.

    my next experiment in Street is going to try and see how I get on with 50ASA film -- which given our dull climate is a big step up from my usual 400 asa, which is the standard for the dull Irish climate.

    Final comment who said 16x20 is the magic size? I love 12x16 and 35mm reaches this with little strain.
     
  6. wayne naughton

    wayne naughton Member

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    yes you can...... but many street shooters seem to exhibit at around 12x10 or 16x12....anyway the fundamental of street photography is ALL about the occasion NOT how good a technique you got...that's a bonus

    wayne
     
  7. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    The best camera I've used so far for street photography was a Minox 35mm GTE. The only problem was the guess estimate focusing which slowed me down a little but I would set aperture and hyperfocal focus in advance. Lens was sharp tho and the minute size was a real plus. Everything else I shot would stand out and people would take notice because of the size whether I was shooting a Nikon, Hasselblad, Graphic (obvious), or Rollei; Or maybe it was just me. My suggestion would be to try a RF as the Minox was not very robust and learn to set the camera ahead of time and wait for the shot. It takes practice to be a good street (people) shooter; You really do need to stand around a bit and you have to be willing to loose some shots.
     
  8. jd callow

    jd callow Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Your title asks: "Best format for street shooting," the body of your post asks something else.

    If you want tack sharp 16x20 you probably need 6x6 and larger, be careful with camera support and exposure, and I assume that out of focus areas don't need to be tack sharp.

    That isn't really a good foundation for street photography, but one way to shoot street is to stake out an area and wait for the world to come to you.
     
  9. Ian David

    Ian David Subscriber

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    Agree completely. But if it is big AND red AND good, it can really have an impact eh?
     
  10. Colin Corneau

    Colin Corneau Subscriber

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    I used a Widelux with TMax 100 film...got beautiful 16x20's, in that they were sharp, not grainy, etc. They held up really well.

    Look, people have used 4x5 or even 8x10 for 'street' photography. With film today, you can easily do it in 35mm. As with so many other threads, it ultimately comes down to your vision, your preference. 35mm is a fine start, although 645 or 6x6 is viable, too FWIW.
     
  11. Ektagraphic

    Ektagraphic Member

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    35mm.
     
  12. eddym

    eddym Member

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    My two favorites are currently my M Leicas and my Rollei TLR. Both are silent and can be shot from the hip. Years ago, I used to have a Linhof 220 camera that took 6x7 negs. It was also great for quick street shots, especially if you like the vertical format.
     
  13. Robert Budding

    Robert Budding Member

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    I've used a Crown Graphic for street photography. But I've used 35mm and MF, too. Depends on what I'm after.
     
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  15. phc

    phc Member

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    The best format for street photography is the one that works best for you, to get the results you want. If you want sharpness at large print sizes then I guess you'll be looking at MF. A lot of people have done great street work with TLRs.

    Find out what works for you. Cheers, Paul.
     
  16. gbenaim

    gbenaim Member

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    I'd definitely start w 35mm and a wide-ish lens, burn lots of small film, see how you like the whole experience of street photography. I just recently got the bug (again), put up some of my older street work on my blog, stop by.
     
  17. Lruw

    Lruw Member

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    Say what you will, but I've actually had good luck using the Kiev 88 and Arsat 80mm. It seems that people aren't as weary around it for some reason and actually take interest in it. As a bonus the Arsat lens can be set to hyperfocal. Plus it was cheap enough that I don't have to be worried as I would be for carrying a more expensive camera around.
     
  18. aparat

    aparat Member

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    I would suggest Fujifilm GA645. It is much cheaper than a Leica, but the image quality is fantastic. The GA645 is an medium format equivalent of Konica Hexar 35. Very easy to use, great autofocus, lots of manual overrides. The only negative is that it is louder than a Leica, but this should not be a problem for city street shooting.
     
  19. Andrew Moxom

    Andrew Moxom Member

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    A modern Mamiya 6 or 7 is a great street camera. Large negs, QUIET as a leica shutter, decent metering, Rangefinder focusing. Capability of 220 film too allowing more shooting before reloading. Handles like a big 35mm SLR.
     
  20. nyoung

    nyoung Member

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    Go with whatever camera(s) you are most comfortable with.
    I have thousands of "street" images in my files, most of which are tack sharp and very enlargable (I cull my files every few years and fuzzy generally goes to the trash), all shot on 35mm. An amazing amount of those on Kodachrome.
    I use Nikons exclusively, not because they are any better than any other brand but because I've been shooting them on a daily basis since the 1980s and I can literally run them blindfolded in the dark.
    BTW, an F4 or F5 with a 20, 24, or 28mm AF lens and the prism housing removed - allowing waist level operation - is a very discreet tool for crowded street situations.
     
  21. Phormula

    Phormula Member

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    Well said, there is not THE camera for street shooting. Some people prefer rangefinders, other P&S, others medium format, others SRS with long tele lens or ultra wide angles, my advice is take whatever camera and lens you are so comfortable to use that you can use it in the dark :wink: and put some film trough it while walking around your town. Then evaluate the results and see if you need to change something.
    Besides, my favorite street camera was the Yashica T4, just replaced with a Nikon 35TI, both loaded with 400 ISO B&W film or 200 ISO slide film.
     
  22. clayne

    clayne Member

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    If you have to ask...

    Anyways, short and simple: 35mm / 135 film.
     
  23. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    In my limited experience in street photograpy, I found that my Rollei TLR was the best for me.

    Jeff
     
  24. oldnick

    oldnick Member

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    Anyone have used old Hasselblads in streets or are they too "look my pro camera" type of cameras?
     
  25. Anton Lukoszevieze

    Anton Lukoszevieze Subscriber

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    Pinhole, no-one ever notices you sitting there with a small wooden box next to you. :smile:
     
  26. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    35mm is the out and out winner for street work IMHO. Technically less perfect than bigger formats but tonnes more good shots grabbed because it is smaller, faster, has more DOF, fewer film changes etc.

    35mm can be effectively grain free at 20x16. Try any modern 100 speed film (Delta 100, Tmax 100, Acros etc) in dilute Xtol. D100 is great with xtol 1+1 and you will find grain only on inspection. Who cares though? I love some crisp grain with my street work and prefer films with more grain and grit.