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  1. #1
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    4x5 compared to 8x10 in absolute image quality

    I'm wondering what the point is of 8x10, other than the ability to contact print and the ability to view a larger groundglass.

    It seems to me that in even poster-sized enlargements, 4x5 should be good quality, but I personally have no experience with monster enlargements.

    Is actual image quality a valid reason to use 8x10 or is it used mainly to facilitate contact printing and other reasons?
    f/22 and be there.

  2. #2
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Sure, print quality is a good reason- contact printing is arguably the very best you can do. One less lensing step in the workflow. Larger negs are also easier to touch up, if you need to. (However, you can make very nice enlarged negs from much smaller formats)

    The extra tonal detail in the neg (or slide) is a good reason too, but frankly I think that advantage is usually overstated, relative to what 5x7 and 4x5 can do. Other issues like lighting and exposure/dev usually play a bigger role than format size alone, IMHO.

    For wider-angle work, 8x10 can be advantageous; for tight crop stuff, oh heck no, go with the smaller format! 600mm really isn't long at all on 8x10! But something like a 150SW, mmm, very nice on 8x10.

    RE: the larger groundglass, I like 8x10 with a reducing back when I am actually shooting to 5x7 or 4x5.... because I can see the image circle on the 8x10 glass and that is useful. Then I switch to the reducing back for final focus and shooting.

    My favourite format, though, is 5x7. I started 4x10 and 5x8 and also like those very much. 8x10 just hasn't suited me as yet, though I am restoring a really light, wooden 8x10 and when that's ready then I may feel more inspired!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  3. #3
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    It can be used for absolute image quality, and one could argue that if you contact print, then that's a significant improvement in image quality over even the best enlargements, though some will dispute that of course. Even if one thinks that a 4x5" neg enlarged to 8x10" is as good as an 8x10" contact print, the 8x10" contact print is the standard to meet, not the other way around.

    I use 8x10" and larger formats in part for the purpose of having a good sized neg for contact printing.

    I like the aesthetic of working 1:1, knowing that objects as I see them on the groundglass will be the same size on the print. It's about the same size as a sheet of letter sized paper, so the format feels familiar and intuitive to me (my first LF camera was 8x10"). It's easier to learn LF with an 8x10" camera, in my opinion, because you can see the effects of camera movements more clearly on the larger groundglass.

    An 8x10" camera and contact printing also make it possible to use historic lenses more or less as they were designed to be used. There are many classic portrait lenses that make beautiful contact prints, but the image can fall apart if you try to enlarge it.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  4. #4
    BetterSense's Avatar
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    Other issues like lighting and exposure/dev usually play a bigger role than format size alone, IMHO.
    What kind of issues? I'm a LF noob.

    For wider-angle work, 8x10 can be advantageous; for tight crop stuff, oh heck no, go with the smaller format!
    I'm confused as to why this matters; is it so you can use cheaper lenses and they will be 'wide' enough on the larger format?

    I asked this question after seeing this. Even in digital form this is very impressive, and I understand it came from a 8x10 camera.

    http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/photo/imviaduct.htm
    f/22 and be there.

  5. #5

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    I've been on the LF side lines for many years and am just now getting back into it. I used a 4x5 when I was younger and I can say with no hesitation that 4x5 does have its limitations. With that in mind and the fact that I prefer wider formats I'm opting for 4x10. However, this is largely due to my inability to carry anything bigger/heavier these days... and financial constraints.

  6. #6
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I'm wondering what the point is of 8x10, other than the ability to contact print and the ability to view a larger groundglass.
    To me, this sounds a lot like saying, "What is the point in breathing, other than the ability to keep living?"

    I do not enlarge, so for me, the biggest advantage of 8x10 over 4x5 is that with 8x10, I get a bigger print. Another advantage is that I get more exercise with the 8x10.

    Vaughn
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  7. #7
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BetterSense View Post
    I'm confused as to why this matters; is it so you can use cheaper lenses and they will be 'wide' enough on the larger format?
    I think what Keith is pointing to here is not so much that wider is easier as that tighter is harder with a bigger camera, because you've got less DOF and more bellows factor than with a smaller format, but still, you can do it. In the era of the great Hollywood portraits, 8x10" was the standard format, and a lot of still life for advertising has been done with 8x10", because the negs are easier to retouch. The Playboy centerfold used to be shot on 8x10" as well (I have no idea if it still is), and while the size of the enlargement is often assumed to be the reason for this, I suspect that the ability to retouch the larger transparency was more of a factor.

    Here's a mix of 8x10's near and far on my flickr site--

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/tags/8x10/
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  8. #8
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The advantages of 10x8 have been stated clearly by others, I intended to contact print when I bought mine but one look at the negatives and I bought a 10x8 enlarger, with no regrets.

    But a 10x8 also has major disadvantages, size, less portability, can't be used hand-held and then the cost of film and processing if working in colour.

    So personally I use both 5x4 & 10x8 the choice being mainly dependent on the location & also degree of portability required, and sometimes the project involved. With good technique the quality from 5x4 is superb and is a big jump from 120, but the extra quality from 10x8 is harder to less obvious.

    Ian

  9. #9

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    Fidelity. I find it easier to achieve as the negative size increases. I also like the sound of this word. "Fidelity".
    "Lo único de lo que el mundo no se cansará nunca es de exageración." Salvador Dalí

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    I just got done printing some 11x14" enlargements from 4x5" and 8x10" negatives. Same film type, Fujinon 150mm and Fujinon 300mm lenses. Same subject matter (distant landscape) same aperture size (6 to 7mm).

    Under close scrutiny of the 11x14" prints, the ones from 8x10" negatives are all clearly superior. As you increase the viewing distance, you do reach a point where you cannot tell them apart. So you have to consider how close your viewer is going to be. I always have my nose in the print, so I prefer the 8x10s
    Last edited by ic-racer; 08-27-2009 at 11:47 PM. Click to view previous post history.

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