Bigger is NOT always better
The bigger the better bit is a bit of a fallacy.
Choosing format size is extremely important in delivering the best possible end result. Assuming you have a choice of using 35mm, 120 or 5"x4" (or larger) there are a number of other considerations. Probably the most important is do you want to use a tripod or hand-hold.
Of course you then have to decide on film stock & it's speed.
Subject matter ultimately dictates format & film choices, and landscape can be shot in any format on any film and you can achieve excellent quality results, and sure the larger on a tripod will be far better.
Now what about people, of course great shots have been made with large format, one only has to think of Irvin Penn's work, but here on this forum (and elsewhere) great images are being made on smaller formats, the work of Nicole McGrade could not be made large format nor that of Cheryl Jacobs. Before you ask I've had no contact with either they just happen to have posted images recently.
So choice of frormat is made after taking into account a wide range of factors, which really relate to practibility and expectations.
A camera is only a tool, sise is not as important as useing the right format for the job. I love shooting portraits in 8x10 but I am finding the slow pace realy bothers some people and the hasselblad is a better choice. Others love the novelty of the 8x10 and say it is like sitting for an oil painting. For children if the print will be no larger than 8x10 I shoot 35mm with t-max, kids are fast and a 35 does not scare them if I am in real close. I love LF but pick the best tool (camera, film, lens....) for the job. If there was one absolute "best" camera that would be the only camera made. As for me all I want is a multi-format 35mm to 11x14 with a 14 to 2400 f1.0 zoom at under 3lbs. watertight of course.
and the lens multi coated, with changing colors to suit the situation.
Originally Posted by raucousimages
Ah, yes the rainbow coating. Canon once tried to achieve this, with their super spectra coating.
It is said that a couple of their engineers actually achieved the rainbow coating (TM). As soon as they realized what they had accomplished, they went in search of the pot of gold and the end of the rainbow.
One of the men suffered a mild stroke when confronted by a Leprechaun, the other was never seen again...
.... and then the lens misted up never to clear until the plaque of digital was driven from the land
Originally Posted by Andre R. de Avillez
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Usually to start with, the intrepid photographer will learn on a semi auto 35mm (or 35mm of some type) and ventures into the landscape or suburbia armed with their prescribed allround film, and dreams of making their mark on the world of fine art photgraphy.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
It doesn't take long for the landscaper to find out that they can't seem to be able to get the results they were expecting on the 35mm cheapy B&W or Kodak Gold that they were expecting .... and moves up to a pro film. Even this doesn't seem to provide the quick path to Artist recognition they were seeking, and after frequent exposure to the miriad of fine examples of landscapes that are published regularly, they make the leap to a larger format (bound by their own financial contraints) . If their aspirations are cultivated by Lee Frost et alia, they may be content to remain with the MF. If they aspire more towards Jack Dykinga et alia, they are still unsatisfied. And so the steps towards seeking the holy grail of the technically perfect landscape print are trodden.
If they are nutters like some of us around here, they are never satisfied, and even a negative that has to be reduced instead of enlarged won't be good enough. And it will become necessary to use things like hand made artists paper, platinum and gold to approach the quality level they are seeking. At which time, they have usually surpassed the quality appreciation levels of the wider audience, and they need to seek an audience with a higher 'artist appreciation quotient'.
Meanwhile the others take their own road.
So, from this perspective, photographers find their own format of film to fulfill the personal requirements they have.
Then there is the other kind of nutter. The one that wants to be different, not just by being better/more skilled at what everyone else is doing, but by using their highly developed skills to push a camera into something that it was not originally designed for. 8x10" handheld, candid people photography, polaroid transfer (perhaps not such a good example) but you get the idea.
As I see it, none are really wrong. Thing is people will always have their own levels of satisfaction to fulfill in their photography, and choice of film format and type is a consideration.
A friend of mine as a very successful print of a New Zealand landscape icon. It was taken on 35mm film and grainy. It would just not have worked on any larger format.
For me however, and despite this example, I personally don't agree with Ian's first statement above. For me, it's gotta be large format (even MF is a compromise on necessary info in the neg).
But who is to say this format is correct, and that isn't. "Or Horses for Courses". As soon as we go down that track, we take away a choice for the photgraphers' own personal expression. just my 2c
Yeah but ya know, I just can't get the same look with my 4x5 that I do with my Retina II using Tri-X shot at 1250 developed in diafine.
On the other hand, the Retina never gave me prints that the 4x5 APX100 does.
It's a tool.
tim in san jose
Where ever you are, there you be.
Originally Posted by Ian Grant
I think you should look a little beyond the work posted here on APUG. While there has been some very nice work posted on APUG. There is much more out there in the world.
I absolutely disagree that subject matter ultimately dictates format & film choices. Just because your shooting photographs of people does not mean you can't work with large format equipment. Sally Mann worked with 8x10 for her family images, and I read that was even hand held. Michael A Smith published a book a while back of portraits from a boys camp. And View Camera just published an article on a guy who shot 8x10 color photographs of porn stars. What about Avedon's American West Series? It was shot with an 8x10 camera.
The photographer should be the only one to "dictate" what film and format choice they want to make based on their vision.
Single axle with a 2" ball receiver maybe.
Originally Posted by raucousimages
Imitation cameras come with big egos, real cameras do not include accessories.
My grandfather, who died in 1905, used a 5X7 folding camera with a viewfinder like those on early Kodak and other folding cameras and a ground glass screen as well, sometimes on a tripod, sometimes handheld. I have over 100 of his glass negatives. Some are in pretty good condition, others are in terrible condition because his descendents did not take proper care of them.