4X5, Obtaining Film, Developing, Scaning is it worth the effort? Cost Effective?
I am sittuated in Sydney. I have been shooting digital (d200) for a while now, but i am wondering whether to take the dip into Large format. It seems that the cost of large format seems quite hight, just at startup, with purchasing the camera and right lenses (A tripod I have), but these are not the costs that scare me. Its the cost of film, + development and scanining. I have noticed film will cost me between 50-100AUD per 10 sheets, then developing each sheet a further 10 and scaning +??? (Anyone know of a place that does good drum scans on 4X5? What is the price?) It just seems like the price is quite steep! Just shooting 10 sheets off and developing them is ~150-200 dollars!
I am just trying to justify to myself that its worth it. Could anyone else give me their experiene and advice? How do they justtify the price? I need to convince myself! =P
Only you can decide if it's worthwhile & cost effective.
I've been shooting large format 5x4 for over 30 years, cost isn't an issue, I don't waste film shooting images I might not use as all my work is project based.
If I was to consider shooting digital instead of large format film then I'm certain that I would need to invest a considerable amount of money in equipment to achieve the same quality, and that equipment becomes obsolete after a few years and I wouldn't enjoy using it.
My film costs (for personal work) have never been excessive and doing your own processing B&W and Colour greatly helps to keep costs manageable particularly for colour work.
Why are you wanting to scan? For the costs you are quoting you may as well buy the enlarger and do the prints yourself. Anyway if you are really wanting to shoot film you might be better starting with a lower cost medium format to see if you like handling film. The main reason to do the 4x5 LF is usually so you can have the focal plane and perspective control afforded by the movements. And if you are going to be shooting it, soup it yourself to save the cost. Tray processing is pretty low cost to get started in and a 4x5 makes a pretty decent contact print.
In other words cost is not what you need to look at for justifying LF, it's whether it will deliver what you want to achieve. You may be served as well by a Hassy or Mamiya medium format. Then again sooner or later you might get bit so hard by the bug only a ULF (way bigger!) will do.
Black and white 4x5 isn't all that costly. A dollar-ish a sheet here in North America is very doable. Some films are significantly less costly than this. You will pay more in Australia due to shipping costs, but it shouldn't be horrifically more.
Colour film will cost proportionately more, but again I find it to be reasonable.
As for scanning, we have a sister site about hybrid photography (I don't do digital at all so I don't know the URL off the top of my head). This site concentrates exclusively on the silver process.
Jim MacKenzie - Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
A bunch of Nikons; Feds, Zorkis and a Kiev; Pentax 67-II (inherited from my deceased father-in-law); Bronica SQ-A; and a nice Shen Hao 4x5 field camera with 3 decent lenses that needs to be taken outside more. Oh, and as of mid-2012, one of those bodies we don't talk about here.
Favourite film: do I need to pick only one?
For not much money you can develop color print film and print it your self. The cost come out about $3 US a sheet total. Costs for printing RA4 are dirt cheap (cheaper than inkjet paper and ink by far). Look at getting a Jobo CPA or CPP processor. I also shoot chrome films in 4x5 and develop and drum scan them myself. Again if you do it yourself the costs are reasonable. http://www.hybridphoto.com, the APUG sister site, has more on scanning.
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The issue with large format is whether you enjoy working that way. If you are making contact prints you will see subtle differences that are important to some and not to others. For small prints it is really difficult to make a 4x5 print that is significantly sharper than a small projected MF print. Maybe the same with scans. But working with a LF camera is a different beast than digital or roll film. Some love it some don't love it.
I find the cost of an afternoon's shooting 35mm, MF, or LF to be more or less a wash. As the format increases in size so does my shooting ratio of "keepers" and the amount of exposures decreases almost exponentially. Of course that's just me. I find $10-15 of film for an excursion is pretty cost effective entertainment.
4x5 isn't really too expensive.
as others have suggested, it is a little different using
sheet film, and the cool thing about using a large format camera
is that you can expose things like lith film, paper, and xray film that costs
very little, and for a few dollars you can process it yourself and do
the whole mad scientist thing.
as jason said, it is cheap entertainment ...
but i can understand the whole processing thing isn't for everyone ...
And you don't have to spend a fortune on gear. There's a lot of good used gear that can be had for less then you spent on the D200.
I love the way Jason put it...as far as enjoyable endeavors are concerned I can't think of money better spent.... that said my only caveat is , don't fall into the more expensive the equipment the better the results pit... the results will depend on your original and acquired skills... surf the net for ideas on building your system first ..