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  1. #1

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    Best format for street shooting

    I've always thought that your pictures had to be tack sharp and able to be blown up to 16X20 without much quality loss. But without using medium to large format can you achieve acceptable results.

  2. #2

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    Go see the Robert Frank exhibit at the National Gallery of Art to see beautiful 16x20s from 35 mm frames on a basic Leica rangefinder.

    But no, Ralph Eugene Meatyard showed us nothing needs to be 'tack sharp' to be good. I've always achieved the results needed regardless of formats because one needs to use the correct tools for each unique photographic situation. If you are going to cover the D-Day invasion, you don't shoot with an 8x10 field camera. A quality medium format camera can't give you lens movements of a high end studio view camera.

    So what do you mean by quality loss? James Nachtwey's body of work shot on 35 mm needs the graininess when printed large to convey the image's emotion. Ansel Adams work needs the seamlessness to convey his image's emotion.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  3. #3
    Allan Swindles's Avatar
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    I always took my best street shots with my Rollei 3.5F, many of which were taken with the camera facing left or right, whilst I was facing straight ahead and appearing to be taking photographs of something else. My favourite street pictures were taken by Henri Cartier-Bresson. He used a Leica with a handkerchief wrapped around it for many of his photographs!
    I'm into painting with light - NOT painting by numbers!

  4. #4
    Mark Fisher's Avatar
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    35 mm can be sharp at a reasonable viewing distance at 16x20. Grain free...no. Can you do it with a consumer zoom lens...probably not. At 16x20 and 35mm you need to use the best lenses (enlarging and taking) and the best technique if you want a reasonably sharp result.
    The question I ask is whether it is really necessary for all the reasons mentioned above. I have always questioned the need to print large anyway. An artist friend of mine told me about a saying in art school. If you can't make it good, make it red. If you can't make it red, make it big. I think there is a bit of that in the photography world too.

  5. #5
    Simplicius's Avatar
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    From my limited experience, I'd have to say 35mm is the only way to go. I have tried TLR, 6x6 and 6x9 Folders. the 35mm wins hands down just for sheer speed and ease of pre-focussing (I know you can do that with all ther others too, just find it easier with a nikkor). I tend to use a 50mm Prime or 24mm depending on situation, my best and most consistent results come with a 50mm, especially protests and up close.
    As for enlarging, I have taken FP4, HP5 , Neopan 100 and 400 up to 16x20 and grain hasn't taken from the subject,

    Neopan 100 in Rodinal Special 1:30 -- non existant grain- sweet.

    my next experiment in Street is going to try and see how I get on with 50ASA film -- which given our dull climate is a big step up from my usual 400 asa, which is the standard for the dull Irish climate.

    Final comment who said 16x20 is the magic size? I love 12x16 and 35mm reaches this with little strain.
    Simplicius

    "defying gravity since 1898"

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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by photo144 View Post
    I've always thought that your pictures had to be tack sharp and able to be blown up to 16X20 without much quality loss. But without using medium to large format can you achieve acceptable results.
    yes you can...... but many street shooters seem to exhibit at around 12x10 or 16x12....anyway the fundamental of street photography is ALL about the occasion NOT how good a technique you got...that's a bonus

    wayne

  7. #7

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    The best camera I've used so far for street photography was a Minox 35mm GTE. The only problem was the guess estimate focusing which slowed me down a little but I would set aperture and hyperfocal focus in advance. Lens was sharp tho and the minute size was a real plus. Everything else I shot would stand out and people would take notice because of the size whether I was shooting a Nikon, Hasselblad, Graphic (obvious), or Rollei; Or maybe it was just me. My suggestion would be to try a RF as the Minox was not very robust and learn to set the camera ahead of time and wait for the shot. It takes practice to be a good street (people) shooter; You really do need to stand around a bit and you have to be willing to loose some shots.
    W.A. Crider

  8. #8
    jd callow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by photo144 View Post
    I've always thought that your pictures had to be tack sharp and able to be blown up to 16X20 without much quality loss. But without using medium to large format can you achieve acceptable results.
    Your title asks: "Best format for street shooting," the body of your post asks something else.

    If you want tack sharp 16x20 you probably need 6x6 and larger, be careful with camera support and exposure, and I assume that out of focus areas don't need to be tack sharp.

    That isn't really a good foundation for street photography, but one way to shoot street is to stake out an area and wait for the world to come to you.

    *

  9. #9
    Ian David's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Fisher View Post
    I have always questioned the need to print large anyway. An artist friend of mine told me about a saying in art school. If you can't make it good, make it red. If you can't make it red, make it big. I think there is a bit of that in the photography world too.
    Agree completely. But if it is big AND red AND good, it can really have an impact eh?

  10. #10
    Colin Corneau's Avatar
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    I used a Widelux with TMax 100 film...got beautiful 16x20's, in that they were sharp, not grainy, etc. They held up really well.

    Look, people have used 4x5 or even 8x10 for 'street' photography. With film today, you can easily do it in 35mm. As with so many other threads, it ultimately comes down to your vision, your preference. 35mm is a fine start, although 645 or 6x6 is viable, too FWIW.

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