Traveling and photography - 4x5 or 6x6?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jspillane, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. jspillane

    jspillane Member

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    Hi all,

    I am taking a lengthy trip this December/January, leaving the confines of New York for a few weeks in Sweden, Spain and France. While I'll be quite busy with other projects, I am also planning to take a large quantity of photographs during this trip. I'm a bit torn between two camera options, and wanted to get opinions from the masses...

    Option A:
    Busch Pressman Model 'D'
    Wollensak-Raptar 135mm f4.7
    6-8 film holders
    6x7 back
    75 sheets of B&W 4x5 sheet film
    10 or so rolls of color 120

    Option B:
    Hasselblad 500c
    60mm CB / 120 S-Planar / 250 CT*
    waist level finder, maybe a chimney finder
    80-100 rolls of 120, mixture of B&W and color (probably 70% B&W)

    Weight/space wise, Option A will be considerably less. I would be likely to bring the same tripod/head with either set. Shooting all 120 will result in a lot more images, as well as the ability to do more handheld shots, but it will also end up exhausting a lot more of my film budget. While color large format work is just out of my budget right now, the 6x7 back opens up the option if necessary. I, sadly, am not able to optically enlarge in my current living situation, so MF is all scanned and archived for future printing. I contact print my 4x5 work.

    Maybe I tipped my preference by posting this in the LF forum rather than the MF, but I oscillate back and forth. I do find the idea of documenting Sweden with a Hasselblad novel (I got to shoot Berlin with a Rolleiflex last year and greatly enjoyed it...) but certainly not essential. I could bring the Rolleiflex instead, obviously cutting my weight back a lot, but it is also much more limited and I think I will be doing a lot of landscapes and architecture. The limitation of a single lens bothers me less with 4x5 (and I suppose I could set my mind to getting a telephoto lens to bring as well, but I don't currently own one).

    Thanks for any advice and opinions in advance!
     
  2. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I think convenience trumps most other concerns in travel photography. Take the system that feels more automatic in your hands, say I.

    -NT
     
  3. mike c

    mike c Subscriber

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    In June of this year my wife and I went and visited relatives in Japan, first time for me but my wife was born there. I had the choice of three camera's, 4x5 with film holders, lens and a sturdy tripod, or the Hasselblad with 3 lens and 2 backs and a tripod, and the last option was the Rolliecord that had just been CLA'd. My wife made up the traveling plans and schedule and after lookin the schedule over I figured there would not be a whole lot of time to be fooling around with the 4x5 or Hasselblad as well as dragging our luggage around and visiting relatives. So toke the Rollie and was glad I did, no lens to worry about just a light meter and small tripod and 20 rolls of film. Your situation could be different from mine but this worked out pretty good for me, and as far as missing photo op's for lack of a different size lens there were all ways ample others opportunities that worked out well with just the one normal lens.

    If in the future we go back there again, then I might take the larger camera's and len's and get the phot's I passed up the first time.Good luck to ya, no matter what you take it will work out fine I'm sure.

    Mike
     
  4. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    If you have time to be alone to photograph alone so that you have time, Option A or Option B are good. Otherwise see post #2.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Option C:

    Busch Pressman Model 'D'
    Wollensak-Raptar 135mm f4.7
    6-8 film holders
    75 sheets of B&W 4x5 sheet film

    20 or so rolls of color 120
    Rolleiflex
     
  6. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    Rolleiflex gets my vote. I've traveled with one before and it's easy and produces quality film photos. 80-100 rolls seems like a lot (not to carry, but to process/scan afterwards), but might as well go prepared.
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    +2
     
  8. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Of the options you have given the only one that appeals to me is the Rolleiflex. Obviously the others will do the job as well but they will be far bulkier.

    Since I have begun using quality folding cameras I carry them in preference to all others while traveling. They are ridiculously easy to pack and a dream to carry. My favorite at this time is the Fuji GF670, but I have also successfully used an Agfa Super Isolette and Voigtlander Bessa.
     
  9. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    Northern Europe is going to be bitterly cold at that time of year. You will not be wanting to stand around in the icy cold winds setting up a 5x4, so I'd go with the Hasselblad. You'll also find it a lot more discrete out on the streets - Important if you're planning on doing any candid shots.
     
  10. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    This is a great question and I'm also pondering the solutions.

    I think the question only revolves around convenience. This seems to be the heart of the matter. When you're out and about by yourself and there is no schedule to meet there is nothing more convenient than a large format camera and all the trimmings. When you're doing snap-shots there is nothing like a quick and dirty digital. But when really need a film fix and you're expected somewhere in a couple of hours or your wife/family/weather say's you better get going, then I'm thinking Fuji GW690W II.

    It'll give you a negative that you can hold onto. Only one lens needed. Can be carried on the shoulder and doesn't take 36 exposures before changing film.

    I haven't done anything about it but just thinking.
     
  11. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    For big trips, I would only take medium format. I can't carry enough film holders for a day of good shooting, nor do I want to spend the time every evening loading and unloading holders. On my previous overseas trips, I found myself shooting about 30-50 frames/day (3-5 rolls of 6x7) which is just not feasible for me in LF but is trivial for medium format.

    Can you get a 70mm back for the 'blad? That stuff is compact: you get about 70 frames of 6x6 (without reloading!) in a little metal can about 3x the volume of a 120 roll. Developing can be a chore though.

    For shorter trips and especially where you don't expect to get many shots per day, sure, take the 4x5. I'm going to Perth for a week tomorrow, and I will be taking my Toyo 45A, 12 holders, 3 lenses and a couple boxes of TMY2 all in a little backpack.

    Edit: while I like markbarendt's Option C, transport might be an issue. Your film and cameras should only be in the carry-on luggage when flying and I certainly can't fit both my LF and MF systems into one bag. They're each a whole bagful including film.
     
  12. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    +3. Eithe do the Hassy only or Split with the easy to carry Rollie and the 4x5 Press. Best of all worlds.
     
  13. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Don't take any of that.

    Buy a Mamiya 7 with lenses and take that, a lot more portable, better lenses, perfect!

    Also I think you're taking you many roles of film... I mean ... 80?

    I took 15 rolls into the Grand Canyon and only used 9...

    Unless you're a "Gunner"...

    Either way, choose the portable option if you're going to be shooting "around" your busy schedule, take the LF if you can actually schedule time (like a whole day) just for photos...

    LF takes all day...
     
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  15. andreios

    andreios Member

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    From what you own, I'd take the rollei.. I always take mine when I know I won't have much time to spend alone with my camera..
     
  16. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Whatever you take there will be moments of regret. I've traveled with a lot of different combos from an XA in my pocket to dragging an entire 8x10 system along (not recommended to be honest). I think I would go for the Hasselblad option (documenting Sweden with a hassy is a nice touch). Remember that Sweden in December is a pretty dark place. In the northernmost part the sun does not rise at all (north of the arctic circle). Even in the southern part there will not be too much light so LF could be difficult. During summer it is the opposite.
    Could it be possible to borrow equipment? There are some Swedes here spread over the country.
     
  17. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    only for some people ... for others it is just as fast as anything else ..
     
  18. Hatchetman

    Hatchetman Subscriber

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    This exactly.
     
  19. Ghostman

    Ghostman Subscriber

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    Someone earlier mentioned the weather. In Sweden in December it gets so cold your face will fall off. Spain will be better, but France will also be cold. I would take the camera that requires the least kerfuffle for your hands to operate. Setting up a 4x5 with fiddly knobs and film holders etc is asking for trouble. A hasselblad with extra backs solves the problem and can easily be used with gloves.

    I would go with the Hasselblad, only because I've got one.
     
  20. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Subscriber

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    Yea if you have a speed graphic, or don't care about hand holding your images for 30 seconds with all sorts of blur where you can't really tell what the image is, but it's "artistic" hehe
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    when i do work for clients, documenting the built environment for archives &c, it doesn't take me an hour or half hour to set up
    the shot ... and that includes surveying the site for locations i am going to photograph, schlepping the tripod and camera &c to the site
    from the car setting up the camera on the tripod, selecting a lens, focusing &c ...
    i always laugh out loud when people say or suggest that large format photography has to be slow or it's no good
    it is as slow or as fast as you want ....
    i am referring to 4x5 - 8x10 ...
    and last night i made so portraits with a 7x11 / 11x14 camera that didn't take an hour to compose either ...
    not sure why people insist LF has to be painstakingly slow i worked for a portrait photographer ( 5x7 camera ) who had appointments every 15 minutes all day long
    and i assisted highend annual report and architectural people back in the 1980s as well
    if it took 1hour to make or compose or whatever each photograph, they would have been out of work in a heartbeat ...

    heck if LF has to be so slow, then every other format should follow suit ... people use tripods for 35mm as well as MF for shutter speeds slower than the focal length
    of the lens on the camera ... if such "care" is taken for LF it should follow for everything ...
     
  22. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Yep.
     
  23. jspillane

    jspillane Member

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    Wow-- thanks for the many replies! Lots to chew over.

    I agree that 80 rolls of MF might be excessive... but from previous experience, 3-5 rolls of MF a day is probably what I would do (some days not shooting much, some days shooting a lot). I will be traveling for about 20 days, and I'd hate to start running low or feel the need to be conservative with shooting. Film is a lot more expensive over there (in Sweden anyway, not sure about Spain). A roll of 120 is probably the same as taking 4-6 shots of 4x5 for me. For better or worse, I would have the 4x5 with me less and would therefore shoot less, just focused work.

    Option C (4x5 + Rollei) is tempting, except that I need to get the film transport on my Rolleiflex repaired and the good repairmen I know probably couldn't turn it around in time (using someone in NYC is very expensive so I would prefer to send it off). I tend to use the Hasselblad more due to a preference for the 120mm lens over the 75mm on the Rolleiflex, so I've been putting off having it repaired. Also, I need to take digital equipment along for work purposes, and having 4x cameras seems truly excessive!

    If I was in a situation where I could be making enlargements, I'd probably stick to the Hasselblad. I find scanning negatives annoying and am never really pleased with the results. I probably just need to work on my technique and be more patient... or start ponying up the cash for serious lab scans of the good negatives.
     
  24. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I just got back from 9 days in France with just a Rolleiflex (see my gallery here for results). I thought it might be limiting with just the one lens, but it was anything but. The 80 rolls might be a bit much also, but that's a matter of personal experience - I did go through 34 rolls in 9 days in France, and probably would have shot more had I been by myself instead of with my dad. I probably brought way too much film with me (think 150 rolls give or take), but it was as much insurance against having to try and find some in France where it is much more expensive than here. If your Rollei needs servicing and you have to take the Hassy instead, I'd probably take just the 60 and the 120 and leave the 250 at home. It's a boat anchor weight-wise, and you'll in all likelihood only use it for a half-dozen shots on the entire trip. The less you have to fiddle with, the better.

    For that reason, I'd not bring the roll film back for the 4x5 if you go that route. Switching between formats while shooting is a royal pain, and if you only have the 135mm lens for the Busch, what is a mild wide on 4x5 becomes a mild tele on 6x7. Your brain can't handle that kind of switching easily, especially when it's a question of b/w large format sheets vs color roll film. Too many variables.
     
  25. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    My light weight kit is a Press camera either a Crown Graphic or more likely a Super Graphic with a couple of lenses and a TLR (usually a Yashicamat 124) plus a small Slik tripod.

    Ian
     
  26. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    I sort of agree with you, but other formats don't usually require you to remove the film in order to compose and focus, or to do the routine with opening the aperture, opening the shutter, focusing, closing the shutter, and stopping down. It's not LF per se that's slow, it's ground-glass focussing at the film plane.

    And, sure, of course you can get that process to be automatic enough that it isn't one-shot-per-hour slow, but doing it is always going to be slower than not doing it! But the Pressman typically has a rangefinder like a Speed Graphic, right?---which would mean GG focussing doesn't need to be involved.

    I stand by what I originally said, but personally I see some enjoyment value in running around Europe shooting large format from the hip.

    -NT