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Thread: Medium or Large

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    Stephen J. Collier's Avatar
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    Medium or Large

    I recently posed a thread asking for opinions on which medium format system I should seriously look at for my step up from 35mm. Over the past few hours I have read all the responces and talked to a pro photographer that I met and I now have been faced with another question: should I skip medium format and just make the jump to 4x5. I knew the negatives were larger, but I didn't think about the limitless possiblities of being able to correct the perspective and focus plane. One of the things that I am worried about is the cost of film. Other than that, I was wondering if anyone might have a few recomendations on brands and about how much it would cost to get set up in a beginner 4x5 system. Oh, and what is the learning curve for the jump to 4x5, are there any good books and ways for me to teach myself? Thanks for the time.
    [COLOR=DarkOliveGreen][SIZE=2]"We are not at War, we are having a nervous breakdown". Hunter S. Thompson[/SIZE][/COLOR]

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    bmac's Avatar
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    Stephen,

    Not sure which part of the bay are you are in, but if you are in the south bay or travel this way much, I'd be happy meet up with ya and let get some hands on time with the 4x5 and 8x10 to see if it is something you are interested in.

    Personally, I went from 35mm to a a Mamiya RB67 to a 4x5, and finally settled on the 8x10 format. The bigger the negative I got, the bigger I wanted. The learning curve isnt too bad, it is mostly a mindset thing. Unless you are independently wealthy, you can't shoot sheet film with a 35mm mindset. I really like spending a whole day shooting and coming back with 8 or 10 negatives.

    Brian
    hi!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen J. Collier
    I recently posed a thread asking for opinions on which medium format system I should seriously look at for my step up from 35mm. Over the past few hours I have read all the responces and talked to a pro photographer that I met and I now have been faced with another question: should I skip medium format and just make the jump to 4x5. I knew the negatives were larger, but I didn't think about the limitless possiblities of being able to correct the perspective and focus plane. One of the things that I am worried about is the cost of film. Other than that, I was wondering if anyone might have a few recomendations on brands and about how much it would cost to get set up in a beginner 4x5 system. Oh, and what is the learning curve for the jump to 4x5, are there any good books and ways for me to teach myself? Thanks for the time.
    I think the question you need to answer yourself first is, what is your style of shooting? For example, I started with 35 mm many moons ago, after 6 months I realized it was not the thing for me. The camera was always on a tripod, I used very slow speeds and I wanted grainless negatives, I was ready to show Ansel Adams how it should be done..

    So I jumped straight to 4x5. I stayed with 4x5 until I became what I think was a good printer. I would visit galleries every month and examine the work there, but in the end I became bored with silver. So I jumped into 8x10 and 12x20 to contact processes. I would never go back now, my hasselblad is my snapshot camera, and the 4x5 is sitting in my safe gathering dust.

    So, to get to the point, what is it you want to do with your photography? the answer will lead you to the best format for you. Film is not expensive, you dont go through a hole lot of film in one outing and even then just carrying the holders will dissuade you from getting more than 5 or 6.

    With all respect to Brian, 8 to 10 shots with an 8x10 in one outing is a prodigious rate.. Then again he has a new toy, so that is part of it...

    After a while you will see that you go out and you take 3 or 4 pics at the most. If you go larger than 8x10, 1 or 2 pics is the norm, at least for me.

    Dont worry about film, you will see that it balances out, worry about your style. If you are a grab shot kind of guy, you will hate a LF camera. If you find you work deliberately and at a slow pace, then maybe the LF is best for you.

  4. #4
    Stephen J. Collier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmac
    Stephen,

    Not sure which part of the bay are you are in, but if you are in the south bay or travel this way much, I'd be happy meet up with ya and let get some hands on time with the 4x5 and 8x10 to see if it is something you are interested in.

    Personally, I went from 35mm to a a Mamiya RB67 to a 4x5, and finally settled on the 8x10 format. The bigger the negative I got, the bigger I wanted. The learning curve isnt too bad, it is mostly a mindset thing. Unless you are independently wealthy, you can't shoot sheet film with a 35mm mindset. I really like spending a whole day shooting and coming back with 8 or 10 negatives.

    Brian
    Brian---
    I live in San Jose and would love to get a look at a 4x5 before I get into one myself. Did you find it important to go to medium before large or was that just how it happened for you personally. I guess the question is: do you feel that you benifited from using medium before large format. I have been trying to slow down when I am out photographing and so I think the more expensive film would be good for me. Thank you for the imput.
    [COLOR=DarkOliveGreen][SIZE=2]"We are not at War, we are having a nervous breakdown". Hunter S. Thompson[/SIZE][/COLOR]

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    I had the same order of progression as Brian. In retrospect, I wish that I would have done things differently. However, as Jorge mentioned, there is no right or wrong way to proceed. It depends more on the individuals temperment then anything else. It depends on your pace and also on what you want to produce in the way of photographs...both in subject matter and also in quality.

    Each format has it's own niche.

    In retrospect I wish that I had moved into 8X10 with my first camera (over twenty years ago). I had the same concerns that you have about costs and I ended up spending the money on equipment that I no longer use. I could have bought a lot of film and chemistry instead.

    As someone famous once said "Don't sneak up on it".

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    bmac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donald Miller

    In retrospect I wish that I had moved into 8X10 with my first camera (over twenty years ago). I had the same concerns that you have about costs and I ended up spending the money on equipment that I no longer use. I could have bought a lot of film and chemistry instead.
    Here Here!
    hi!

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    bmac's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen J. Collier
    Brian---
    I live in San Jose and would love to get a look at a 4x5 before I get into one myself. Did you find it important to go to medium before large or was that just how it happened for you personally. I guess the question is: do you feel that you benifited from using medium before large format. I have been trying to slow down when I am out photographing and so I think the more expensive film would be good for me. Thank you for the imput.
    I Went into medium format because I wanted a bigger negative, and a more grainless enlargement.

    Good points: it forced me to slow down, I used different backs, so played around with N-/N/N+ development

    Bad points: I picked the wrong camera for field work, it was WAY too heavy to lug around a body and three lenses, as well as three backs. While it gave me a taste for the larger negative, for my standards, it was close but no cigar when it came to the look I was after.

    I went and bought a 4x5 monorail. Again, this was probably the wrong camera for field work. It was heavy, and it was too big to hike with. Enlargements were much better, but I still liked the way my contact prints looked much better.

    I then bought an 8x10 (probably what I should have done in the first place). I have taken down my enlargers, and am going to focus the next 12-18 months just shooting LF and printing contact prints. I still have a 4x5, and will use it when I feel the image would be better as a 4x5 contact print, and take it with me when I go on multi-mile hikes, since the 8x10 would be too heavy.

    As for the cost of film. I am using Tmax 400 (TMY) a box of 8x10 (50 sheets) is over $150. Add the cost of chemicals, and paper, I figure every time I press the trigger, it costs me roughly $5. With the 4x5, I'd say about $3. With two kids under two years old, and a single income, you bet shooting LF has slowed me down!


    Jorge, the reason I can fire off 10 shots is because it is just so beautiful up here Actually, since I have a lot of family commitments, I only get to go out and shoot one or two days a month, so I have to make it count
    hi!

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    I would take Brian up on his offer.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

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    Logistically, on the darkroom end, the step from roll to sheet film is a consideration. Different processing equipment, different enlarging equipment. Moving to LF offers wonderful, unique advantages all of it's own but consider the whole picture. There is more to it than simply buying a different camera. The photographic experience is different. As has been suggested before by smarter folks than me; decide where you want to go with your photography and then choose the equipment that will take you there.
    That is called grain. It is supposed to be there.
    =Neal W.=

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    jss
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    i can't add much here to say, except to add that my first 4x5 was a monorail.. and a few weeks into using it, i learned it wasn't for me. i got myself a new shen-hao 4x5 and love it. while i was still using the sinar monorail, i decided to at least learn as much as i could with it. i really should sell it off. what's great about doing 4x5, is i managed to get an omega 4x5 enlarger for free! i totally love printing from LF.

    just last week i sealed a deal on a 8x10 ansco and am looking forward to going bigger.

    i too live in the south bay, and wouldn't mind checking out bmac's 8x10 gear ;-)

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