Get into 4x5 or Just Stay in MF?
Here's the dilemma: I've moved from 35mm to MF and have loved using a couple of new Rolleiflexes. I love the big negatives, tones, format, etc. Because of this, I sold off one 35mm system and now have some money to spend. Question is: Do I take a dive in 4x5, which I understand is very different from MF, or do I go ahead and delve into digital 35mm and buy a bodythat backs up my film 35mm (and MF to a degree). My forté is portraits, not landscapes.
Well, I personally love film and film only and I have wanted to shoot 4X5...How have portraits been going with MF? I understand it takes a good amount of time to work with 4X5...it depends on if you have that.....If you went with 4X5 and really didn't like it I am sure you could always sell the outfit....
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
I went from 35mm (Praktica) to 645 (Bronica ETRS) to 4x5 (Nagaoka, Shen Hao) to 8x10 (Tachihara) Each time, I've had to change my way of thinking, because each format has it's own problems/benefits. It depends on you whether you feel the benefits outweigh the problems. As you go up in size, you will find that you become more contemplative about your photography, and not just go bang, bang, bang with the shutter.
I am having much the same dilemma. I have a 4X5 up for sale for a friend and have some offers on it, but at the same time I am wondering if I should keep it and make the jump up in size. On the other hand, I already have so many cameras to feed that I am afraid a 4X5 would bankrupt me.
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Recently, I began printing 35mm and 6x6cm negs 20x24" on FB paper, and now realize the potential for really stunning work. A Besseler 45 enlarger came up for sale locally, and I bought it, not even needing it. However, I knew I'd want to use it someday. The next day, I bought a Crown Graphic. So I slipped into 4x5 photography in a partially unintended way. I can imagine the sweet tonality and excellent detail that will be possible. After several years of being ga-ga over using my Leica M3 [and not doing much printing], I now have a great affinity for producing FB prints.
I'm beginning to think of the cameras as necessary tools down the path to great prints, rather than cameras as being isolated whizz-bang-neato gadgets on their own. I hope this makes sense.
Between that and your user name BOKEHGuy, I'm inclined to think you would be very happy with 4x5
I love the big negatives, tones,
photomem; you might consider that when you move up to 4x5 you tend to slow down and get a lot more "keepers" than you do with smaller formats and if you process at home the Arista film from Freestyle is fairly well priced.
Just my thoughts
Real men use Speed Graphics and flashbulbs.
The jump from MF to 4x5 was by far the greatest growth period I've experienced in understanding photography. Assuming you're processing and printing yourself, I think it's an incredible format and you'll find it tremendously rewarding.
"There is a time and place for all things, the difficulty is to use them only in their proper time and places." -- Robert Henri
For portraits, you can use almost any 4x5 camera. I used to take portraits with a 5x7 Linhof with a home-made lens board, an Ilex Paragon lens without shutter, and a lens cap. (Of course, I also had the use of a professional studio with studio flash at the time).
All that really matters is the lens and the lighting. I have several 4x5 Speed Graphics, pre-Anniversary, that I got for peanuts. They are sort of plain, and don't have much in the way of swings and tilts, but that does not matter for portraits. You can do this without breaking the bank.
Also, if you use B&W film in 4x5, you can indulge in retouching the negatives using nothing more exotic than a #2 lead pencil.
This answer is sure to offend some 4x5ers but here is my feeling: MF (and by that I mean 645, 6x7, 6x8) is what I use when I wish to enlarge something. When I want to see the subject closer to actual size on ground glass and do contact prints, then I do 5x7 and up. 4x5 is just big and slow enough to be burdensome but not big enough to give me contact negs.
I do enjoy enlarging 4x5 from time to time but... for me it is just too close to MF to invoke all the joys of using big ground glass and making contacts. These days, when I do use 4x5, it's for remaining type 55 and for 4x5 slides. I also like the fuji fp100c instant film, for making emulsion lifts.
On the other hand! Since you mention portraiture, maybe a speed graphic (focal plane shutter) and some brass lenses would indeed be useful. You don't need much tilt/swing, if any, for portraiture. But being able to use vintage glass, waterhouse stops, etc... that may be just the thing for you to delve into. Before jumping into LF, though, I think the central question is what will be your final output.
One other comment in favour of 4x5: my first experience with LF was a 4x5 crown graphic and I learned a lot.
N.b. you can also put a 6x12 rollfilm back on a 4x5... (as well as a 6x9 and a 6x7)