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  1. #1
    pandino's Avatar
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    Should I Go ULF or stick with Miniature Cameras?

    I'm looking for some thoughts from those that have shot bigger than 4x5...

    The largest format I shoot is 4x5, but the contact prints are a wee bit too small for me. I find that my favorite size to print is 5x7 ( enlarging 35mm-4x5) because they are inexpensive and my photos don't usually warrant anything bigger.

    As we are raising five kids on a single paycheck, photography usually has to be a zero net cost impact hobby for me. I have the best kids in the world and wouldn't have it any other way, but it means I have to sell/trade to keep things pretty close to expense-free. I think I just bought an 11x14 for really cheap, but no film holders or lens.

    I'd love to see contacts from 11x14, but I'm afraid this thing will collect dust for months/years until I can find an ultra-cheap filmholder and lens. My current lenses only cover a maximum of 5x7.

    My question is, "Should I keep the 11x14 and get it working, or maybe trade the beast for a miniature format (5x7 or 8x10) to do contact prints?" If I kept the 11x14, I'd probably have to shoot paper negs 90% of the time and (if I can find one) have just one filmholder.

    Also, is it possible to remove my lens' rear elements to get coverage to 8x10 or 11x14?

    Thanks for sharing your experience!
    Chris

  2. #2
    DBP
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    As for the lens part, you could always make a pinhole. Or buy a very old barrel lens that you could skip a shutter on. If it were me I would trade down to an old 5x7, which is more reasonable to carry around, costs less to operate, and matches your favorite print size.

  3. #3

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    If you're looking to keep things at a reasonable cost I would stick with the gear you currently have. The cost of 11x14" sheet film is considerable and as you say "my photos don't usually warrant anything bigger" than a 5x7" print. With 11x14" film being so much more expensive, you might find yourself shooting a lot less or spending a lot more. And then you still have to purchase 11x14" holders, maybe a lens or two, possibly a heavier tripod, another case, etc. It always adds up. And for someone who prints to 5x7", 11x14 film seems like serious overkill.

  4. #4
    pandino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Early Riser
    If you're looking to keep things at a reasonable cost I would stick with the gear you currently have. The cost of 11x14" sheet film is considerable and as you say "my photos don't usually warrant anything bigger" than a 5x7" print. With 11x14" film being so much more expensive, you might find yourself shooting a lot less or spending a lot more. And then you still have to purchase 11x14" holders, maybe a lens or two, possibly a heavier tripod, another case, etc. It always adds up. And for someone who prints to 5x7", 11x14 film seems like serious overkill.
    Hadn't thought about the tripod... So you're saying shooting 11x14 won't automatically make my pics better?

    I do enlarge to 11x14 from 4x5, but it's pretty rare. I see the ULF film is expensive, but what kind of results do you get from contact prints from paper negatives?

  5. #5

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    A large contact print is a beautiful thing and addictive. I love it and highly recommend it. ULF is more work, but can be a lot of fun and rewarding as well.

    If it weren't the money issue, I would try and assemble an older lens, perhaps a barrel, and obtain a used holder and go for it...

    A couple of other thoughts....if you really like 5 x 7, perhaps a 5 x 7 camera would be a nice replacement for the 4 x 5? You may also look into a less expensive 8 x 10, which holders can be had for $20 on the used market. Both can be contact printed.

    I might lean towards 8 x 10?

    Perhaps if you shared how much you are willing to invest?

    As far as film goes, it is expensive, but I find myself shooting fewer images in ULF than 4 x 5! Not sure if it is a 4:1 ratio though...

  6. #6
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    Um, hate to burst your bubble, but the camera you bought is a 5x7. Not a bad price for a 5x7, in any case. You'll find it much more manageable than an 11x14. Trust me. I think in the end you'll like it much better, at least until the increased size addiction kicks in and you HAVE to shoot bigger . 5x7 is still affordable. I just picked up a 5x7 field camera to take with me on my vacation to Argentina; I only have to add a few new film holders, as my camera will take all my existing 4x5 lenses.

    One of my shooting buddies has an 11x14 which he dragged out in the field the other day. Three film holders. A Ries A-100 tripod. Two lenses. He came back with only two shots the entire day. And very nearly a herniated disc and/or coronary infarction from carrying all that crap in 90+ degree weather.

  7. #7
    Paul Sorensen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
    Um, hate to burst your bubble, but the camera you bought is a 5x7.
    A 5X7 on a miniature washer and dryer? If you look at what it is sitting on for scale, I can't see how it is smaller than an 11X14.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Sorensen
    A 5X7 on a miniature washer and dryer? If you look at what it is sitting on for scale, I can't see how it is smaller than an 11X14.
    Opps. My bad. I was reading the description, and didn't notice what it was sitting on.

    In that case, that was a STEAL on the 11x14. You might want to talk to Ryan Macintosh about his experience with the Burke & James 11x14.

    If you decide to keep it, your wife will start to ask if you have a new mistress named Ebay>Cameras&Photo>Lenses>For Large Format, because you'll be spending a LOT of time scouring the listings for lenses to cover the format. There are exponentially fewer lenses that cover 11x14 than there are for 8x10 or 5x7. Film holders will be the next element of torture for you, as they're hard to find, and expensive. If you want to shoot 11x14 glass plate ( ) I still have a few 11x14 glass plate holders I'm willing to sell at a very reasonable price. You'll love every minute of the torture you'll endure to use it, but just be forewarned - if you're using it outside of your home for studio portraits, it WILL be torture to use it.

  9. #9

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    I vote it's an 11x14. B&J didn't use independent rear springs on anything smaller. Then there's the point about the washer/dryer....

    The film holders will be your biggest expense. There's just really not any way around it. They're expensive and they're an important aspect of the camera. Film is expensive, but you can look for specials at J&C and shoot judiciously. There are a lot of lenses which will work. Many may not be "great" lenses, but they'll make images. The results really are in your hands anyway. Consider adapting a surveyor's tripod if you don't already have anything big enough. There's a lot of that stuff on Ebay.

    It can be done on the cheap, but the "5 kids/1 paycheck" remark doesn't bode well. ULF is expensive. Everything is bigger. That includes trays, chemistry requirements, paper, washers, negative storage, presentation and framing. It does add up! You got an amazing deal that the rest of us missed. But in an ironic way you'd almost be better served if the camera really were a 5x7.

    Quote Originally Posted by TheFlyingCamera
    ..One of my shooting buddies has an 11x14 which he dragged out in the field the other day. Three film holders. A Ries A-100 tripod. Two lenses. He came back with only two shots the entire day. And very nearly a herniated disc and/or coronary infarction from carrying all that crap in 90+ degree weather.
    Actually it was one shot of a garbage can and I was mostly just pissed off...
    My Verito page

    Anyone can appreciate a fine print. But it takes a real photographer to appreciate a fine negative.

  10. #10

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    That was a KILLER deal. Selling that beast should easily be able to fund an entire 5x7 outfit. I have an old Korona 5x7 that is actually lighter than my 4x5 cameras and is a joy to use. They can be had pretty cheap and 5x7 cameras can probably use some of your 4x5 lenses. The contact prints are great. The tripod required isn't really different from 4x5 as they're comparable weight (although I tend to use a heavier tripod anyway for stability). Film is a little pricier than 4x5, but it's worth it. Right now J&C has a deal on 8x10 400 speed film that is cheaper than 5x7, so I'm looking at cutting some down and doubling the savings.

    I shoot 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 and 8x20, but the 5x7 is the most fun. It just seems the "right" size for initmate lanscape prints and nice portraits. 8x10 prints are nicer, but the cameras are much heavier and the dimensions aren't as pleasing for many subjects.

    I have a B&J 8x10 reducing back for the 11x14 that I might be willing to part with. I was going to make a homemade 8x10 out of it. But I think you'll find the 11x14 too heavy to carry, so unless you're only shooting indoors I'd vote for reaping the profit and raking it back into a smaller format.

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