start smaller?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by JessicaDittmer, Apr 11, 2012.

  1. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    I think I have everything now for my 8x10 camera to start learning...but I wonder should I start using my 4x5 I have hidden away first? I have all I need (except film) for it as well - should I start smaller a bit and work up? I don't have a darkroom yet for doing my own printing but working toward it in the new house- designated area which will be the darkroom at some point but we are restoring the house and adding on (other things that have to come first). I do have darkroom equipment but not for printing 8x10 negs- finances will keep that beyond reach for a while I predict. Wondering if I should start with 4x5 and see if I can learn 4x5 printing first and then go from there? encouragement, scolding, stories all welcome...need advice. thanks!
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    It doesn't make much difference. You can't get much more minimal than 8x10 contact prints. You'll need a darkroom and enlarger to print from the 4x5.
     
  3. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    so you think go for it with what I have and contact print the 8x10's to start? I have so much to learn....(saying this in a good way, not a whine LOL- looking forward to the challenge).
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    If you've never viewed an 8x10 contact, you're in for a treat. Don't be afraid of it.

    Edit - Just imagine that the only type of camera in existence was the 8x10. Would people be in awe of it, as many are now, or would they just pick one up and use it?
     
  5. Ian C

    Ian C Member

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    Here’s a 1948 film of Edward Weston. In part of the film it shows him making 8” x 10” contact prints in a contact printing frame. The link has appeared here on APUG in the past. So far as I know Weston contact printed all of his negatives and didn’t practice enlarging. Consequently, he became quite adept in contact printing. The film shows him burning and dodging a contact print.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sF8K1NfHnM
     
  6. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It felt right for me to start large format with 8x10", though I'd experimented a bit with a friend's 4x5" camera before I had my own. I could make more sense of 4x5" and 2x3" after I felt confident with the larger camera.
     
  7. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thank you so much! I needed to hear this! I'll check out the link, I may have seen this before but I'll bookmark it so I can see it again- I'll go watch now!
     
  8. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    The only reason I can think of for starting with the smaller format is the lower cost - especially if you think you might have some learning time.
    Otherwise, if you know you want to use 8x10, then start as you mean to go on.


    Steve.
     
  9. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    The first LF camera I used on my own was an 8x10, and the first prints I made on my own from LF negatives were contact prints. Both spoiled me forever. I've since gone on to work in smaller formats as well. But for me, most of the magic starts at whole plate size (6.5x8.5), and virtually all of the magic of LF is in contact prints, not enlargements.

    YMMV; you'll have to figure out what works for you. But don't hesitate to dive in with what you've got. And don't forget to have a good time, whatever you try and wherever you end up. :smile:
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Yeah, all you need to print 8x10's is a contact printing frame and a lightbulb. All you need to process 8x10 negatives is either three trays or a light-tight tube (you can DIY with bits and pieces from the plumbing department at your local Home Despot or other hardware store). Seeing the effects of camera movements is all the more dramatic on that big ground glass. You'll quickly realize how little movements you actually need. So go ahead and learn on the 8x10!
     
  11. mjs

    mjs Member

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    You can contact print either size negative with simple equipment: paper, a sheet of glass somewhat larger than the negative, a light bulb, some trays and chemicals. A contact printing frame is handy but not really necessary, at this point. The same stuff can also be used to develop the film and in either case even a small bathroom will suffice. So there's really little standing in your way -- you might as well get started.

    While 8x10 film costs more than 4x5 film, judicious shopping can minimize the cost in either case. In the US, Freestyle Photographic Sales in Hollywood, CA sells re-packaged Foma 8x10 film as their Arista.edu line for $2.40 a sheet (for the ISO 100 product.) Ilford 4x5 film can be had for about half that, but initially anyway you aren't going to me making hundreds of exposures with large format so the cost of film really ends up being manageable for most of us. Shoot, every time I travel and stay in a cheap motel I think "there goes a box of film. There goes a box of paper." :smile: Good luck!

    Mike
     
  12. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks! I process my 120 film myself already in the bathroom. I buy from freestyle a lot and really like that source, thanks! I don't have to have a special type of glass though to prevent newton rings? I thought I'd heard that somewhere- so exciting - didn't realize how little would be required to start that form of printing so that I can get going...very fun! Thanks so much! I've used the artista film before in 120 size- I'll look at the other size they make too. thanks so much for all this great info and encouragement!
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi jessica

    you might consider shooting paper negatives before you dive headlong into film
    some paper can be speedy ( asa 25 or 50 ) you just have to trim the edge :smile:
    shoot things in even light, not light with bright and shadows. it will give you a safelight view
    of loading film holders so with film it won't be as foreign ... and contact printing paper negatives
    can be fun, you just need a bright bulb or your enlarger you can use w/o a lens to get more light ...

    have fun !
    john
     
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  15. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    Without knowing the type of photography you wish to do, it is difficult to advise.
     
  16. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    I have severe problems with Newton's rings when I use contact printing frames. The only way I found to squelch them was to put aside the printing frames and print instead using a simple glass sandwich - a large piece of inexpensive, thin glass sits on the baseboard of my enlarger, the paper sits on that, then the negative, then a thick piece of glass, larger than the paper size, on top. That's all. I have the edges of the glass beveled so that I won't cut my fingers handling it.

    I use antinewton glass successfully as the upper glass in the 4x5 universal glass negative carrier for my enlarger. But when I've tried various textured glasses in my printing frames, the texture always ends up showing in smooth-toned areas of the print. It's moot now, because the sandwich approach works for me with ordinary clear glass.

    Because Newton's rings are so sensitive to exact conditions - negative surface, temperature, humidity, paper flatness and texture, amount and evenness of pressure on the sandwich - there's a certain amount of voodoo involved in finding an approach that works. You may need to try it a few different ways to find what works for you, with your negatives, in your darkroom - don't be discouraged if you get rings at first.
     
  17. mjs

    mjs Member

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    They do make glass with a special "anti-newton's rings" coating on it and I've heard of something you can spray on glass but I've never encountered the phenomenon myself. I started out with a piece of glass about 8 1/2 x 11 and 1/8" thick and have since had a couple of different types of contact printing frames and have never seen them. Good luck!

    Mike
     
  18. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks! I do portrait work mostly and hands, feet,etc...mostly people.
     
  19. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Jessica- be aware that with 8x10 and bigger, if you're doing hands, feet, and faces, (moreso hands or feet), you'll be getting into macro territory and will have to add exposure compensation due to bellows extension. It is entirely possible to do a 1:1 reproduction of a single hand or both hands on an 8x10 sheet of film. At 1:1, you're talking about 2 extra stops of exposure compensation. at 1:2 (1/2 life size on film) you're at 1 stop extra exposure.
     
  20. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Newton rings? I started using an old contact frame, without anti-Newton glass, and switched to a very heavy sheet (almost a slab) of plate glass. I've had no trouble with Newton's rings while contact printing - it's all I've ever done with 8x10. Where they become an issue is in glass negative carriers.

    The suggestion that you make paper negatives is good, too.

    What lens are you using?
     
  21. Bill Burk

    Bill Burk Subscriber

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    I agree that diving into 8x10 is a good idea. I wish I'd done that, for all the contact printing opportunities that open up.
     
  22. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks so much for all this info. I'm going to try the paper shooting - and the apug member here that sold me some film holders pre-loaded a few with some cheaper film for me to start out too- very kind of him. The lens is a bit controversial I guess. (some say it will cover just what I need some say not....) I had one that was too long and so I have that put away and now I have another but it just covers the 8x10 (according to the seller on the lg. format forum)....guess testing it will prove. I wanted a 12" 300 but couldn't find one in my price range so this one isn't it. this is a wollensak 9 1/2" in a no.4 betax shutter. my 8x10 is at least 100 years old now but I look forward to using it as much as I can. thanks for the exposure info too TheFlyingCamera.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 12, 2012
  23. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    That Wollensak may not cover at infinity, but in the focusing ranges you're talking about (1/2 life size to life size), it will cover just fine. The $64 question is, will you like the look of what you get? That's a pretty wide lens for 8x10, and it may produce perspective effects that you don't like at that close a distance. But the only way to tell for sure is to use it. Put a bit of that cheap film behind it and see what you get. If you like your results or at least can live with them, then keep on using that lens! If not, there are a million and one 300mm/12" or 360mm/14" lenses out there for your camera that will work just fine. You can get a 300mm/12" Kodak Commercial Ektar for a reasonable amount of money and it will produce outstanding results, and the 14" Commercial Ektar is more but still not astronomical.
     
  24. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    Hi, Jessica! While coverage of the Wollensak 9-1/2" is questionable (they made a 6-1/4" that covers, and it is labeled on the lens as being for 8x10, while yours may have been made for 5x7), that is 240mm. Fuji made a 250mm portrait lens for 8x10. A 10mm difference is nothing in 8x10 terms.

    You'll have to use it and just see how it does for you.
     
  25. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    +1 for the paper negative suggestion.

    Keep in mind, that mistakes with 4x5 are less costly and shooting 4x5 is almost identical to 8x10, just scaled down.

    However, If you wanna dive right into 8x10, No one here is gonna stop you :smile:
     
  26. JessicaDittmer

    JessicaDittmer Member

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    thanks! this lens says 9 1/2 on the front - I will test it out and see what I think. The one I have otherwise is a 480 or something crazy and a bit too much for the bellows on my camera - I'll give it a try and see what happens anyway with this shorter one. my boys will humor me while I test. LOL