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  1. #1

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    How and Why Did You Choose Your Format?

    Why do you shoot the format you use most often?

    I understand that a lot of folks shoot more than one format, but I'm guessing most folks gravitate towards one single format most of the time. And while variety is the spice of life, there's a lot to be said for hunkering down and getting really good at one thing.

    In doing a better/faster/cheaper analysis, LF wins hands down for better but not at all for faster/cheaper.

    MF seems to be a really great compromise, but then there's the 645, 6x6 or 6x7 question (not to mention 6x9 and exotics).

    35mm wins for faster/cheaper but not for better (unless one is willing to go for Leica/Zeiss glass, it seems?)

    But, there's always more to it than better/faster/cheaper.

    If you use a format because of its compsitional or artistic merits rather than cost or tech qualities or whatever, why?

    Horses for courses and all that, but I'm wondering why people who have chosen made the choices they did, especially the art photographers.

    Thanks!

    Clint

  2. #2
    KenM's Avatar
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    Apr 2003
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    Calgary, Alberta
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    I wanted movements to be able to alter the plane of focus, so that meant sheet film. I wanted a big negative, on film that will be available for the foreseeable future, so 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, etc. I'm also lazy, that meant that anything larger than 4x5 was out. So, 4x5 it was, and still is. It's my primary camera for 'art' photography. I have a dig for family outings....

    But I also have a 6x45, and a 6x7. Which I also consistently use. For art.

    As you say, horses for courses :-)
    Cheers!

    -klm.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Italia
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    Cheapest in equipment choices would have been LF I think.

    I like a certain type of format. 35mm,645,6x9,5x7. They look best to me for most things.

    35mm has all the goodies. Motordrive,ttl and ttl flash,AF.

    645 has the goodies to plus a bigger negative with higher quality.

    My 6x9 is fairly basic in terms of added features. But that big negative.

    5x7 is of course even bigger.

    So it depends.

    Which to use depends on what you're photographing.

  4. #4
    David H. Bebbington's Avatar
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    Dec 2004
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    My principle for years was "Use the biggest camera that you have time for." Recently I have got increasingly antipathetic to the idea of carrying heavy equipment and more and more sympathetic to the idea of capturing as much spontaneity as possible, so it's 35 mm most of the time and otherwise a 3x4 Crown Graphic with a 6x9 cm rollfilm back!

  5. #5

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    Jan 2008
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    Southlake, TX
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    35mm cheaper? Not really... I have more invested in my rarely used 35mm system than I do for my medium format or large format equipment. Canon "L" lenses cost about the same or more than lenses for medium or large format cameras. And used MF or LF cameras can be picked up quite cheaply.

    Reasons for my choices on what format to use:

    Large format 4"x5" for landscapes, scenics, or architecturals when the light is "just right," there's ample setup time, and hopeful the images captured will be wanted for large prints. Always used on a tripod.

    Medium format for the exact same usages as above, but with less setup time available, not as perfect light conditions, or multiple films are wanted to be used for the scene (by changing backs... usually carry 3 different backs with different films), and ease of use. Always used on a tripod.

    35mm film used for action, or street, or photography "on the run" where tripods can't be easily used, or the use of the motor drive is essential. Hand held or used on a monopod.

    Digital Point & Shoot for generic shots, grab shots, or for pretesting settings prior to burning sheet film.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2005
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    Westminster, Maryland, USA
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    It's what works for how I want to interpret the subject matter. Format is simply one of the tools we use. One day I'm shooting with an 8x10 camera, then next a half-frame 35 mm, and the next digital. In the end it doesn't matter, as long as the image works.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Dec 2006
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    Humboldt Co.
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    Well, my dad gave me his Rolleiflex when he up-graded to an Instamatic 804 in the 1970's for the family snapshots.

    I used it (without knowing it) just like a view camera...tripod, f22, viewed on a ground glass, landscapes, hand-held meter, etc. So moving to LF was a natural feeling move for me. I have migrated 4x5 to 5x7 to 8x10, and also use the 8x10 as a 4x10.

    No particular love or hate for the 8x10 proportions...it is what is there, so I happily make the most of it. I enjoyed the 5x7 proportion even more. The 4x10 (same proportions as 7x17) is a wonderful sweep of light across the frame.

    Vaughn

    PS...the "better/faster/cheaper analysis" is really only valid when applied to a specific set of job/image requirements. If one needs to adjust multiple planes (film/lens), 35 does not work, nor does the "really great" compromise of MF.
    At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.

  8. #8
    mooseontheloose's Avatar
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    Sep 2007
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    Kyoto, Japan
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    I mostly shoot 135 although I like medium format (6x6) as well. However, it's probably at least 10:1 in terms of films shot with each format. I would like to make a permanent move to medium format, but it's not financially viable for me at the moment (even used - I'm an amateur and make no money from my photography). Interestingly enough, while I'm happy with the frame size in 135, I find I don't like anything rectangular in medium format. I really compose much better in a square format (something I've just come to realize). The other problem is weight. I travel a lot and have to carry my gear wherever I go -- and when I need to carry gear for 12+ hours a day I have to make some hard choices as to what comes with me and what stays behind (I don't usually rent cars and have to rely on my feet or public transport to get around). While I would love to make the move to large format (4x5) it doesn't make any sense for me to do so since I don't have access to an enlarger for that format and I have yet to learn any kind of contact printing process. And since I'm not likely to make mural-sized enlargements anyway, it seems a moot point. Finally, even though I like to shoot landscapes (great for a larger format system), most of my shooting is in cities and on the go and it's much more practical for me to carry smaller cameras.

    And I wouldn't necessarily say larger is better (even though I do yearn for it). ;-) I've been reading Barry Thornton's book and he makes a strong argument for the merits (and weaknesses) of every format. It's easy to get caught up in the bigger is better (or newer technology is better in the d-cam world), but I've seen amazing photos from point and shoot cameras and pretty lousy ones from large format ones. It's not just the photographer and his/her camera. It's what works better for YOU with the subject matter you want to shoot.

    rachelle

  9. #9

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    Jul 2003
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    nc
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    I use my 35's most because I can move the fastest with them, and the FM2 more than the F100. I prefer manual. I love using the Hasselblad, but hate that cumbersome, heavy tripod and I don't do well handheld.

    I liked my old Nikon FG best of all, but it broke. One day I'll replace it.

    Janet

  10. #10
    Travis Nunn's Avatar
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    Jul 2005
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    Henrico, Virginia USA
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    I took a different approach. I bought a medium format camera I could afford and it happened to be a Mamiya 645 1000s. I used the hell out of it and got used to it, which wasn't too difficult considering I went from 35mm to 645.

    I wanted a bigger negative so I bought a RB67. Again, it was the least expensive 6x7 setup I could find so I bought it. I've used the hell out of that camera so now I feel completely comfortable with all 3 formats that I use.

    As others have said, each camera is used for a different purpose. I don't have one format I stick to.

    LF interests me, but not enough to buy one.

    Not just yet anyway...
    ____________________________________________
    Searching my way to perplexion

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