All Those Oddball Formats?
It has been roughly 4 years since I found APUG and have been seduced by the large format world. In that time, I have noticed a number of formats both LF, MF and even 35mm that are used that would be considered odd-ball formats. 35mm has fans of the 1/2 frame, and various panoramic formats, MF has the 645, 6x6, 6x7, 6x8 and 6x9 fans as well as the 6x12 and 6x17 pano formats, LF - let's see there are the mainstream 4x5,8x10 (or 10x8) workers (5x7 could fit here today), the the ULF crowd with the 7x17, 8x20, 11x14, 12x20 and even 20x24 - then there seems to be a big movement to Full Plate 6.5x8.5, plus the really odd formats 4x10, 5x12, 7x11 (my personal favorite), 10x12, 14x17 and 16x20.
Curious how many are out there shooting the non-standard formats and why you do? Is it because you bought a camera and that is the format it was set up in? OR is it, as in my own case, the traditional formats did not fit your way of seeing? In my own case I love 5x7, but 8x10 did not fit like the 7x11 does.
Would be interested in hearing the Why? I know there are those out there that think we are nuts when we choose one of the odd-ball formats, let's get serious there are not a lot of film holders out there, film is either bought through "special" runs, or cut down from other sheet film sizes.
How would you answer someone when they are "why bother" to work with obscure formats when there are a lot more "common" formats that have film available and more choices for lens, film, etc?
I've grown to like 6.5" x 8.5" plates. I started out doing them in wetplate collodion with a modified 8x10 film holder. The largest standard plate that fits in the modified holder is full-plate. Plus, when cutting glass for ambrotypes I usually started with large glass sheets that I'd size to full-plate sheets and then cut into 4 quarter-plates for use in smaller cameras.
It turns out I can also just barely hold a full-plate glass straddling it across my extended fingers. This helps a lot when sensitizing plates and loading the special holder. 8x10 is just too big.
I also use 10x12 for similar reasons. Those plates will fit in a modified 11x14 holder.
I never really liked the 4x5 or 8x10 aspect ratio preferring to print 5x7 or 11x14. The latter two formats comprise the camera formats I most frequently use now. Another reason for the use of 11x14 ULF is that it is the smallest camera format where a life-sized head projects comfortably on the film.
I've used a 6.5cm x 9cm sheet film camera. I think it's the smallest sheet film you can buy. I started shooting it because it was fun, the camera was free and I could buy cheap film from JandC. It has a great lens on it and the portraits I shot turned out pretty good.
I guess it was a novelty but worth the time and effort. I still have film in the freezer so it remains an option when the mood strikes.
5x7 and 8x20, because I like the ratios and the cameras. I'm just about to try 6.5x8.5 because the contact prints are a little more pleasing than 5x7 in size. I also have 8x10, but that's "main-stream".
6.5x9cm, 9x12cm, 13x18cm, 18x24cm, 24x30cm and occasionally 30x40cm. They are only "oddball" when seen from the "wrong side of the Atlantic", though...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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In MF 6x12 and 6x17. The roll film holders are reasonable so the chance to try out the format isn't a big reach.
In LF I got a 4x10 back and some film holders. The reducing back for 4x10 was a fraction of what a 11x14 film holder would cost.
All three of the formats I mention work with my lenses. Anything that covers 8x10 obviously works with smaller. 120 film isn't an issue. Cutting 8x10 in half hopefully won't be an issue. New film holders are being made for 4x10. So other then things like film sleeves it's not much effort to shoot. Very painless.
Of course the fact I find 8x10 too square often is the big reason for me.
Oddball formats allow for individualism in an era of mass marketing.
Any one seen using any large format film is seen to be mildly eccentric by most of the population, particularly the camera phone brigade. But that eccentricity and dedication is part of the fun of using these formats.
I photograph 4x10, and 5x7 (well the holders and film are 13x18cm).
As to why, well I've battled with 4x5, being unable to compose comfortably, always forcing a composition and being dissapointed with the results. Although I know it can be done well (4x5,8x10), it just isn't for me. It is too square (although I use a rolleicord as my toy camera!)
Sourcing 4x10 isn't difficult. Cameras are made (canham, shen hao, fotoman and lotus), holders too (plastic fidelity-type in the form of canham and fotoman) and one can even buy film off the shelf (berger bpf, adox chs 100, and ilford through the ulf order).
My main formats are 5x12, 8x10, and 6.5 x 8.5.
I was inspired by several articles on Tillman Crane in View Camera a few years ago and by Michael Mutmansky's Ireland pictures on his website to shoot the 5x12 format. 8x10 was just a big step up from 4x5. I tried a little 5x7, but found that the negatives just didn't look quite right to me. Then I started looking into whole plate and got hooked again.
I find that these formats suit my way of seeing more than any others. I don't care anymore if people think I'm nuts. Life is too short to worry about that.
Apologies Ole when I started this I reminded myself to include the metric formats and did not do so...:o
Originally Posted by Ole