I'm thinking of going large format
Hey everyone, I'm thinking of selling off my medium format gear in order to fund a large format camera and lenses. Lately I've been pining over the seemingly infinite detail in LF pics. I'm only interested in going for a 4x5 setup, and I don't really have a lot of money to get started with. Probably only on the order of $1000 after selling my MF gear.
My big question is how feasible is at home development going to be given that I don't have a darkroom. Currently I load up my 35 and 120 rolls in a closet at night and then do all the processing in a Jobo daylight tank. I've seen a few things here and there that seem to indicate that daylight processing of 4x5 film is not quite as easy or straightforward as processing my roll film.
Any suggestions or pointers would be appreciated.
If you can load and develop your 120, you can do 4x5 also. Its really isn't much different until you see the final results Do you print your own stuff?
I've never developed my 4x5 (or, for that matter, 8x10) film in anything other than a daylight tank. I use a Unicolor print drum and motorized base. There's a great description of the process on lfphoto.info. I use a changing bag to load and unload film holders and to load up the print drum for processing.
My darkroom's dark enough for printing but not for handling film. Although I'll soon finish up the remaining 1% of light-fastness, I'll probably still continue to use the Unicolor drum for development. The process is very easy, the drum and motorized base set me back all of $25, and my results are very consistant.
I'm not saying that tray development is bad...in the right hands it's probably better than what I do. But for my needs the print drum works very well, and doesn't require anything more than a changing bag and a bit of practice.
One question I will ask: Are you sure you want to sell off your MF setup to finance a large format purchase? If LF's not for you, you could end up losing money on the deal when you go to re-purchase the MF gear. Just a thought...
Good luck with your new direction.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
I'm in both the analogue and digital worlds.
I scan my negs and print with an inkjet. We simply have no place for a darkroom. Even if we did I would still probably print with the inkjet.... well then again I'm not so sure. If I had a real darkroom, I'd probably do all my photoshop work just the same (the ability to selectively make sharpness, and tonal corrections is really amazing) and then print a neg on film with the inkjet and finally make a wet print with the inkjet neg. But that is all completely out of range for me 'till we move to a bigger house!
Well Dave, I'm pretty sure I'd be ok with the LF gear. I'm pretty slow with my MF gear right now. I've never used it for anything but artsy photos which are shot on a tripod. My current camera is a Koni Omega Rapid, which is a totally manual heavy beast of a camera. If I could have both MF and LF then I certainly would. You know honestly I'm pretty happy with the 6x7 neg. If someone made a 6x7cm camera with movements I'd consider going that route also. But as things currently stand 4x5 seems to have everything I'm after, including variety.
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That's what I do and it's tons of fun. And I don't have a traditional darkroom either. Just a spare room that with tons of black curtains, plastic, etc. to make it light tight. Before I got the whole room, I used my laundry room which is no bigger than a closet.
Originally Posted by dealy663
But I would, as others have, caution you against selling your MF gear. I didn't even have a MF camera until after my LF camera... they each have their place in my heart but are chosen for a particular day's shooting style and/or subject.
So my question is, what type of photographs do you enjoy making? Are you looking for a LF camera that will be at home in the studio or one that you can easily backpack with? The answers to those questions will dictate what sort of LF kit will make you a happy camper. Once you've decided, then start hunting. You'd be surprised at how economically you can get into LF if you are patient and build your gear up one piece at a time.
Good luck to you
Come visit the dark/bathroom in our 1 bedroom apartment in Manhattan, and you might change your mind. See this thread for my darkroom and other darkrooms of all shapes and sizes--
Originally Posted by dealy663
There are a few options for daylight processing of 4x5" film. Jobo tanks, the HP CombiPlan tank, print drums as described in the previous post, and if you can find one, there is a Nikor stainless steel daylight tank for 4x5", which I often use.
Even if you don't have a darkroom, a 4x5" tank line is also not an unreasonable option, as long as you have a room that you can make dark and a place to store the full tanks when not in use (I keep 5x7" tanks in a closet and bring them to the bathroom for processing). And if you do have a room that can be made dark temporarily, like a bathroom, trays would be an option as well. 3 8x10" trays plus a wash tray or film washer don't take up much room.
I'm an outdoor photographer, it has never even occurred to me to use my MF camera indoors. So I'm going to be looking at a camera that comes closest to my needs of being relatively affordable, good quality, lightweight and has as many movements as possible. Given that I have so many needs I know that I'll be after a camera that makes compromises, it'll likely be the best at none of the above, but adequate for everything.
OK, I'll offer the contraian view. I sold all of my MF gear...everything that was sale-able that is - I still have a broken ciroflex...but that's another story. Anyway, I sold all of my MF gear and bought a bevy of LF stuff with money to spare. You don't need a ton of cash to get started. I started with a crown graphic with a 135mm Xenar, a handful of film holders and a homemade darkcloth all for less than $250.00.
I still dev my 4x5 b&w negs one at a time in a paterson super system4 tank inteded for 35mm and 120...
One word of caution though...the LF experience is quite different from that of MF...and quite addicting. Enjoy!
After you learn movements and a new concept of DOF and exposure - The biggest difference is the print - it takes a really good MF print to match up to an average LF print - huge difference. That is why I just hiked 15 miles with my 40lb backpack plus 20lbs of LF gear. For all the suffering, I knew that I would not be as happy with the 6x6 negs as I would with the 4x5 negs. Then there is 8x10 contact prints on AZO in Amidol. That is the Holy Grail of prints. I settled on a used Tachihara $500, a Rodenstock 210mm Sironar used $600 and a used Caltar II 75mm - $700. - That - a loupe, a dark cloth, a changing bag, tripod, shutter release, filters and film holders and you are in business. I have been very happy with the Jobo tank. I have motor rollers but like the look of the negs done in full tank with inversion.
My photos are always without all that distracting color ...