You got me thinking about how I would decide in advance if the change from 35mm film to large format would actually give me better final prints. Oh, and do it without having to buy the whole camera outfit!
We know prints are 2 metres long, done on a roll fed inkjet printer from stitched images. Assuming scans aren't done on a Hel rotary scanner, which costs a fortune, a film scanner like Nikon Coolpix or Minolta D-Image might be used. This gives 4000 dpi (dots per inch) = 157.4 dpmm, which is 24,803 dots per square mm. But are Nikon/ Canon being honest? Does dots mean pixels? In a DSLR camera, demosaicing (interpolation) divides the number of picture sensors by 4, to give the actual number of pixels. Just for the record, for 35mm format (24X36mm), that's over 21 megapixels, or 5.25 megapixels if demosaicing is involved. (If only Nikon/ Canon would 'fess up and explain, not leave customers to find out AFTER they buy!)
Cutting to the chase, your Fidelity 5X4 inch darkslide conveniently gives a transparency's useable image area of 98 X 120 mm. That's equivalent to over 291 million points, but dividing by 4, to allow for demosaicing gives a massive 72.75 megapixels. In other words, this is the resolution a 5 X 4 inch transparency would need to be scanned at to give the resolution in the same proportion as a well scanned 35mm image. In order to make use of the added resolution given by stepping up to 5 X 4, the inkjet printer would also have to be able to handle this resolution and file size, without altering or reducing its size.
Frankly, I'm sceptical there's many labs that would make a scan at full resolution available off a 5 X 4 inch transparency, or do an inkjet print at full resolution, rather than reduce the file size but not admit what they'd done.
So what's my conclusion? Borrow a 5X4 inch transparency off a mate, have it scanned and printed and see if there's a dramatic improvement in image quality, compared to a scanned 35mm or DSLR JPEG file. That way, you also find out how much you have to pay for large format scanning, the file size produced by the lab and if it reproduces all the detail available on the transparency. (Don't give them a duff one - it has to be razor sharp!!!) Remember: Using a lab is like giving away your profits. If the customer will pay the extra cost of large format film, processing and scanning, great. In the UK at the moment, the market for a 5X4 inch transparency hardly exists.
Best wishes from a freezing cold UK
Where in Victoria, AU are you, strapping. There's a a fairly active APUG LF group in Melbourne with associates as far afield as Mansfield and Geelong.
I use a Wista 45 Metal field I bought off eBay Canada for $450 and have four lenses that I also bought off eBay for about $300 each.
Fujinon SWD 65mm f5.6
Caltar 90mm f6.8 (rebadged Rodenstock)
Nikkor-W 135 F5.6
Nikkor-W 210 f5.6
If you are unsure whether you want to truly venture into LF and 5x4, get a crown graphic, preferably with a Schneider Xenar 135mm or 150mm lens. This will represent the minimal outlay and will be readily resellable with minimal depreciation, although they don't have enough movements for good architectural work.
If you ARE sure of getting into LF then you have a problem. To get ALL the benefit of the film's resolution with 5x4, you need an ultimate scan resolution of about 3000DPI which means the scanner has to have a REAL resolution of 6000DPI. Disregarding incredible deals like the Dainippon Screen pro drum scanner which just sold on eBay in Melbourne for about $500, you won't buy a scanner capable of that sort of performance for less than $15000 which means that you will pay over $100 per scan if you can still find a bureau capable of that kind of performance. Probably a Wista or Shen Hao field camera with an older lens can be bought within your budget.
IF however, you find you can afford (I can't) a 10x8 LF outfit, a scan having an ultimate resolution of 1500DPI will give the same picture resolution and a flatbed scanner capable of that performance can be had for $800 or less.
The tripod has to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the camera. A rule of thumb I use is that if the operation of inserting the film holder does not permanantly shift the framing of the shot then the tripod is firm enough. If you go chasing an ultimately rigid tripod then you will finish up lugging an anvil.
I'm not. I've recently had some of my 4x5 negatives scanned primarily for contact printing using QuadToneRIP, where you can create digital negatives of any size without loss of detail or resolution.
Originally Posted by colourgeek
Remember a JPEG image by its very nature is compressed data:
Bottomline: if you don't shoot RAW, you've already lost image data. If you're gonna go the digital route, you need to shoot in RAW mode and save your files as TIFF's -- NOT JPEGS.
If you like the "digital look," then a DSLR will suffice.
Shooting with a full-frame DSLR may give you what you want in terms of image quality and maximum print size, but that's a decision based on personal taste.
You have to decide if you like the look you get with digital versus the look of film.
What is the largest print you will ever need: 16 x 20, 20 x 30
Not sure what services are available across the pond but here in the states, I think there are labs and services where you can get good quality scans for less than $100 per scan. I know I did.
Originally Posted by OldBikerPete
Yes, quality drum scans will be more expensive. Lenny Eiger here in Calif. http://www.eigerphoto.com does high quality work --but it does come at a price.
As for me, I decided I was going to shoot 4 x 5 and have the negs scanned because I'm not setup to do traditional darkroom processing/printing, nor do I have the space or $$$ to spend on enlarger, easel, trays and chemicals.
But I do love my Chamonix and I love the the advantage a larger negative provides in terms of image quality and resolution.
1+ regarding choice of heads. Some LF guys use ball heads, but I have found that the process of leveling the camera is pretty tedious unless you level the head prior to mounting the camera. I use an older Bogen (Manfrotto) "3D" platform head, the old version with the "L" levers. It is pretty much an ideal fit for my Chamonix 4x5 and is very easy to level.
Originally Posted by BrianShaw
I also want to add my vote regarding the Caltar lenses. @lilmissmaggie has the Rodenstock 90/6.8 in his quiver. I have the Caltar version (Caltar II-N) and couldn't be more pleased with the lens. I think I paid $300 in Ex+ condition. I also have the Caltar II-N 150/5.6 that I got at Adorama for $249. I might have done better price-wise if I had taken time to shop, but I was pretty happy with the cost at the time.
As for @colorgeek's comments...I scan my 4x5 on an EPSON V700. I could scan at the practical max of 2400 dpi to deliver a 96 megapixel image such as is currently on my harddrive, but support from my imaging tools for that large a file (almost 190 Mb from a 16 bit monochrome scan) is pretty sketchy on my hardware. As a result, I generally scan at about 1800 dpi for fine work and downsample for display or printing
So why bother as compared to say FF digital or medium format film? One word...
Once you have them, it is hard to imagine shooting certain subjects without them. Tilt/shift lenses on 35mm or medium format are another option, but oh, the price!
I do the scanning myself on an epson V7000 and the printing myself on an epson 9900. Great shots I'd get drumscanned.
I am sure I want to get into LF. If I could pick up a great lens and a good camera for under $800 I'd be stoked. Why would you use a crown graphic over a Shen Hao or the like if back movements aren't an issue?
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The reason to use the Crown over the Shen-Hao is that the Crown is intended for hand-held use. So if you're looking to shoot hand-held, street photography Weegee-style, with just one or two lenses, the Crown is for you. If you want to use anything wider than a 90mm (28mm equivalent on 35mm) or longer than a 210mm non-telephoto, then a Crown is NOT for you. If you do a lot of portrait (vertical) shooting, you'd be better off with a Shen Hao or something else that has a back that can be switched from vertical to horizontal - a Crown has a fixed horizontal orientation back. For your money, if lack of movements are not an issue, you might want to look for a Graflex SLR - you can get a complete camera with revolving back and a lens for under $800. The downside is that you won't be able to do wide-angle at all, and the mirror getting out of the way is quite noisy, although not as noisy as say an RB67.
Well, if you are use to 2 meter prints from 35mm film, then doing only 2 stitches from 4x5 is very convenient. You then get from 4x5 (after including overlap with stitching) either 4x9 or 5x7. However, you have one problem left...the scanner. An epson class scanner (4990, 750) are good to about 3-4x enlargement with high quality. So you won't get those 2 meter prints you want. If you shoot 8x10, you will get to 40 inches, and maybe that is enough. On the other hand, drum scanners (Howtek 4000 and 4500) have come done a lot in price (few thousand) and would give you enlargements of 10x or greater easily and solve your problem, but do you want to get into mounting stations, fumes, and scanning supplies? The advantage of sticking to 4x5 is ligher weight of camera and film holders, less bulk, and far greater choice of films.
Another choice is shoot 617, and scan with a Nikon 9000 scanner. Two stitches will get you 4x7 (with overlap). The Nikon scanner will easily get you to 2 meters and more. I consider this the most affordable approach, because buying into a system means you must think not just about the camera, but also the scanner. If you go the other route, and decide on a drum scanner, remember one thing.....one repair can set you back $5000 easily, so most people buy a spare one for parts. Is it worth the hassle? For 617 you have 2 types of styles.....617 view cameras (look at Shen Hao, Ebony), or panoramic cameras (like Fotoman, Goaersi, Widepan, Fuji, Technorama).
Some other advantages going this route are....carry a days supply of 120 film in your shirt pocket, no dust issues, need for film tent, easier to process, and total cost of film/lab is far less.
A third option (a 617 roll back for your 4x5), but there are issues with wide lenses.
Last edited by Van Camper; 01-13-2011 at 02:05 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Considering used LF cameras and lenses hold their resale value, I would like to start with 4x5 and once I get a feel for the system and the results it can produce I'll see where I want to go from there. I am going to try and meet some APUG LF users and get some hands-on time, actually see what I'm dealing with, which will help a lot. But at the moment, I think a Shen Hao is the most likely choice.
The only good reason to shoot LF is because you want to shoot LF Well maybe some architecture and murals might benefit from LF, and you can certainly get a LF kit for far less than the latest and greatest digi outfit but if this is worth it to you is a question only you can answer.
Yes I want to shoot LF. I like film, technical photography, and taking my time when shooting.