Dedicated 4x10 – available options
I’ve been interested in the panoramic formats for a while, more so in the last couple of years. Recently, I’ve been looking at the 4x10 format in particular because this format, among large formats, represents the best of convenience and affordability for me. After reading Kerry’s excellent articles in View Camera magazine (Sep/Oct 2005 & Nov/Dec 2005) and some of the threads on this forum, I still have some questions related to this format which I would appreciate the answers to. So here goes, and I hope you will bear with me… Apologies if any of this seems like a repeat for anybody.
#1 - Cameras: I am aware that one can use an 8x10 camera with a slider or a split dark slide to shoot 4x10, but that is not the route I wish to take. I am looking at a dedicated 4x10 camera. Having more or less ruled out the Alt View, Lotus, Wisner and the Fotoman 4x10 cameras for various reasons, I am left with the Canham and the Shen-Hao to choose from. I assume the Canham will be better than the Shen-Hao, but it will also be more expensive. What is your experience with either or both of these cameras?
#2 - Film holders: What holders will work with the Shen-Hao? Canham? S&S?
#3 - Films: How difficult is it to cut 8x10 film in the dark? I would like to shoot color transparencies and I am not aware of any such film in the 4x10 format. So I would either have to cut 8x10 film myself or send it out to a shop that does this.
#4 - Vertical mode: Is it possible to shoot any of the currently available 4x10 cameras with the camera in the vertical position?
#5 - Contact printing: Some folks say 8x10 is the smallest size for contact prints, so my question is: do 4x10 contact prints “work” for you? I know some photographers make and sell 4x10 contact prints, so I think this would really be a matter of personal opinion depending on the subject and on other aesthetic considerations. What is your opinion about this?
#6 - Enlarging: For enlarging a 4x10 negative, are there any negative holders readily available, or do I need to fabricate one from an 8x10 negative holder?
#7 – Finally, should I forget everything above and just get an 8x10?
Thank you for having the patience to read through this (if you have come so far, that is ) and all your inputs and opinions will be much appreciated.
You might check out my brother's site at www.scottsquires.com. He went the 4x10 route with an 8x10 Canham. He followed a lot of Kerry's recommendations with regard to cutter and process and describes his efforts there to get 4x10 film. He shoots primarily 4x10 with the Canham. I have a Wehman 8x10 and plan to waste film and crop. One benefit of the 4x10 camera is that you get away with less coverage lenses. A number of his 4x5 lenses are perfect for 4x10, but not 8x10.
Some ramblings - I'd suggest you see if you can get your hands on an 8x10 and try the slider route for a weekend. That would answer your questions about whether the format works for you. I've done this, and quite frankly, I'm not so impressed with the print size. Probably I haven't worked hard enough at it.
I did find a difficulty - if you are taking two photographs on one sheet of film, it's sometimes difficult to find two shots that would be developed the same. From this experience, I would say that you are correct in wanting an actual 4x10 camera (if you find the negative size acceptable.)
Cutting 4x10 film in the dark is relatively easy - just put down a relatively thick piece of tape on your cutter marking the edge of the film. 4x10 from 8x10 is only one cut, so it's not that complicated.
A 4x10 back for an 8x10 would probably give you the most options. Easy to do verticals and don't have to use a splitter which throws you out of the sweet spot of the lens' coverage, and a Wehman with a Canham back would probably weigh less than a shen hao or any other dedicated 4x10. (I beleive Wehman will make adapters for aftermarket backs, or maybe that was Phillips). And you still have an 8x10 if you want a break from pano. I agree with Juan, the size does seems smaller than expected; oddly, they seem smaller to me than 5x7. But alot of people like 4x5 contacts.
I asked Bruce about building a 4x10 back using a Canham holder. He said he couldn't commit to something like that for over a year. And I asked Canham about building a modified back for the Wehman and he said I wouldn't be excited about what I would have to pay him to do it (paraphrase). If you are going the Canhan route, undedicated, get the 8x10 and his 4x10 back.
Sponsored Ad. (Subscribers to APUG have the option to remove this ad.)
#5 Yes, it is large enough (or it is until I get a 7'x17"!). They make a nice presentation on a 12x16 mat.
#7 Don"t forget it, but keep it in mind as a serious consideration -- especially if you think you would use a full 8x10 someday. If money is no object and one goes out to photograph just 4x10, then a dedicated 4x10 would be much much simpler and straight forward to use than my method of using a cut-in-half 8x10 darkslide. I do like having the option of being able to use either format by only having only one piece of inexpensive equipment weighing a few ounces to carry around.
I have enough rise and fall on the front of my Zone VI 8x10 to center the lens for either the top or bottom 4x10 half of the 8x10 sheet of film...handy with short lenses.
Print some 4 x10's for a while and decide for yourself if it's too small. For me it would be. Consider that you are probably really looking at an actual image area of 3 1/2 by 9 1/2 at most.
I owned a 5x7 Canham and I think he makes the best wooden field cameras. As has been pointed out, if you buy a 4x10, all you'll need is a new back and bellows from Canham ot convert to 8x10 or have a multiple format camera.
Cutting film down is easy, but use a high quality cutter like a dual track Rotatrim.
Now that you have a 4x10 exposed sheet of transparency film, be sure you have a couple of sources for getting it developed. You will probably pay the same price as you would for an 8x10 sheet. I'm not sure a Jobo expert 8x10 drum could safely handle a 4x10 sheet of film, either.
When I looked at this 4x10 question including the cost of 4x10 holders and all, I decided that if I really wanted a 4x10 piece of film, it would be just as cheap to shoot 8x10 with 4x10 marked on the ground glass and cut the film after it was developed.
Hope this helps and good luck with your decision.
You've already got some good answers to most of your questions. I'll see if I can provide a little more help.
Concerning cameras - as you've read my articles, you know I'm using a hybrid 4x10 monorail I assembled on an ARCA-SWISS F-Line chassis with a back and bellows from Lotus. I absolutely LOVE this camera. It's a true joy to use. Since my articles came out, I've upgraded my front standard to an F-Line Metirc Format Frame with micrometic Orbix axis tilt. Here's a photo showing that configuration:
I am currently in the process of re-building the back standard based on my 7x17 Franken-ARCA design. This will make it more rigid and compatible with the newer F-Line rear function carrier (instead of the older style rear function carrier shown in the photo).
I don't shoot vertical "panoramas", but if I did, it would be a simple modifcation to add a second dovetail plate to one side of the camera back to permit using the camera in a vertical mode. I also have the 8x10 front format extender (for use on my 7x17 Franken-ARCA) that could then be used to help add enough additional front rise to center the lens on the vertical 4x10 image area. So, vertical 4x10 would be easy enough to implement based on my existing design.
While this is a unique one-of-a-kind camera, it would be fairly easy to assemble one yourself based on a monorial of your choosing (I like the ARCA-SWISS for the modular construction, compact design and high quality, but another brand could be used if you wish). Shen-Hao makes an inexpensive 8x10 - 4x10 reducing back that could be cut down to the 4x10 size. You could make a simple rectangular wooden box frame for this and get a custom made bellows from Camera Bellows in England. If I was building another 4x10 hybrid today (and didn't luck into a 4x10 Lotus concversion kit on the German eBay), this is the route I would personally take.
That said, if you're not a do-it-yourselfer and just want an off the shelf solution that gets you out taking pictures, there are certainly options available. If you told us why you ruled out the Wisner, Lotus and Altview, I could probably offer some more detailed advice. The Lotus and Canham are very similar in specs and design. So, I'm not sure why you ruled out one and not the other.
I haven't used the 4x10 Shen-Hao yet, but I'm hoping to get one to review soon. It's priced similar to the Altview, but with a longer bellows and more movements. It will also likely be considerably heavier, but that may not be an issue for you.
As far as contact printing goes, I shoot almost exclusively color tansparency film in 4x10. While 4x10 can be contact printed, in this format I prefer to enlarge (I make 12x30 color inkjet prints from scans of my 4x10 color transparencies). For contact printing, I prefer the 7x17 size.
As far as holders and cutting film, I am expecting to get a new 4x10 camera from Fotoman, along with some 4x10 holders they are manufacturing in China, as well as a dedicated 8x10 to 4x10 film slicer for review soon. The dedicated film slicer should make cutting down 8x10 film even easier.
Hope that helps,
Stew, thanks for post. I did go through Scott's website when he posted a thread with his experiences with the Canham 8x10/4x10. It was an interesting read and I'm looking forward to more updates. BTW, I emailed Richard Ritter and he said it was possible for him to build a 4x10 back for a Wehman, so you might want to explore that option since you mentioned that you were going to use a Wehman 8x10 to shoot 4x10.
Originally Posted by Stew Squires
Thank you all, guys, for your advice and opinions, and for taking the time to read through my long post. I appreciate your help.
I am envious of your custom 4x10! Unfortunately, I am not a DIY kind of guy and will have to make do with something off the shelf, or enlist someone's help. For now, I would prefer to go the off-the-shelf route.
I ruled out the Wisner because of two reasons - the issues with the holders and the man's reputation, which seems to have taken a beating lately (from threads that I've seen in this forum). I ruled out the Lotus because of cost. At current dollar values, EUR 3500 (as of 04/2006, excluding VAT) is more than I can afford. Lastly, I ruled out the Alt View because of it's non-folding design and limited movements although it does have the advantage of being able to shoot vertically. I have a Cambo 4x5 monorail that I haven't been able to take out to the field a few yards beyond the car. So, if I am getting another LF camera I would like to be able to hike with it.
I will be looking forward to your review of the Shen-Hao 4x10, as well as the 8x10 to 4x10 film slicer. That would be really interesting.
As far as film goes, I plan to shoot color transparency film and B&W. The former will go off to a lab for processing (and some printing) while the B&W will be tray-processed at home, and printed at a rental darkroom (no room in my apartment for an 8x10 enlarger).
I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
And once again, thank you all for your help with this.