Get a 20x24 and be done with it.
Thanks to all for your interest and generosity in responding. Notes in the body ext.
I read though everyones thoughts, and I think I see a general theme:
large format is king! (and I'm very tempted, but the cost of darkroom/camera set-up is just too much for me at present)
my assumptions about the format are more-or less correct, though 'improvement' over 35mm may not be as great as I expect.
My assumption about equipment requirements are not correct. There are a lot of recommendations for very low cost TLR's.
Most importantly I had one very insightful PM (I'm not sure if I should quote a PM, apologies if I get the etiquette wrong) effectively advising me to put more effort into improving my work with 35mm first. after thinking hard about my results and how I get them, I believe he's correct.
So, here's my plan:
stay with my 35mm for while & use my tripod more, much more,
take more shots with bracketing or simpy sacrifice a few shots on each roll to keep my 'projects' fresh in my mind for darkroom work.
buy a lightmeter to enable incident and improve/ease spot metering,
test my safelight and replace if necessary (I can hear a collective 'well; doh!'),
buy a better enlarger lens (unless someone can specificaly say that my 6-element 50mm Komura or 75mm Fujinon's are in fact, good enough? when I do well, my 8x10's seem deadly sharp to my inexperienced eye with the 50, though I admit to not having tried the 75 seriuosly yet)
use more Acros and less Tri-x, and try out that bottle of rodinal that came in one of my box-lots. If I like it better than D-76, buy some more! But generaly, move my 'standard' film/developer combo to smaller grain/higher accutance. And put more effort into keeping my chems fresh! (I can hear another collective 'well; doh!')
print more, lots more (hey, I like it! and as I'm thinking about what I'm doing I'm bound to improve, and using my chems quickly has to be better than dumping them due to age, right?)
Keep an eye out for bargain TLR, 'cause it's gonna happen sooner or later! Anything with a tessar taking lens and clean mirror methinks...)
Thanks again for all your support,
AFAIK, fuji doesn't make bad lenses; if you have a fujinon enlarging lens, it's probably good. There are many people with no-name enlarging lenses that have seen better days.
Tessar TLRs are a good bargain. I think the triplet Yashica lenses are almost as good and better than most people would expect.
Originally Posted by MattPC
Well..........if you shot an 8x10 LF camera, you wouldn't need an enlarger at all. Just contact print them.
Kent in SD
Sounds reasonable, Matt.
The 6-element enlarging lenses sound just fine.
I'd plan on hurrying up the TLR buying schedule. The bigger the negative, the smoother the tonality can be (everything else being equal, of course). There is just more real estate to spread the same image onto. You will easily see the difference between a 35mm and a 6x6 negs enlarged to 8x10 or 11x14. Way too much fun!
But it can really wait. Exposing film, making prints, looking at photographs (yours and others), and enjoying the process is what is important.
At least with LF landscape, a bad day of photography can still be a good day of exercise.
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As someone here pointed out to me some years ago, because I was apparently too thick to recognize it myself, the sharpest lens in your camera bag is the tripod.
Originally Posted by winger
Sticking with the 35mm format for now is a good choice as you hone your shooting and printing skills. Medium format can be quite cheap to get into once you're ready.
My cameras are a Yashica D TLR and an Agfa Isolette folder. $60 for the Yashica and $45 for the Agfa with new bellows. Both were good finds and I'm glad I waited for them and not jumping at the 1st ones that came along.
120 film can be cheap as well. $3 a roll (in a 5 pack) for the Fuji Acros 100 that I'm using now. I just started using it and so far I'm pleased with it.
There's one on ebay for $11,000.
Originally Posted by tomalophicon
LF most certainly is not the king! Not in my kingdom at least Look, there are different tools for different purposes. If I had to use LF for everything, well, I simply wouldn't have many of the shots I considered worth taking.
Medium format is a great combination (not a compromise!) of the ergonomics and speed etc of 35mm with most of the detail and tonal charactersitics etc of the larger formats. if you know what you need, you'll very likely find it in medium format- it's the most diverse format, in terms of gear availability. View cameras, TLRs, RFs, SLRs, you name it... you can find it in medium format. It's also a format at the intersection of sheet and roll film, and instant film if you still use it. All of this can be quite handy.
Let me put it this way, if you've settled into your niche and have clear projects in mind, then go ahead and settle on one format. But if you are experimenting and poking into this and that, then do not assume that any one format or piece of gear is best. Let the purpose guide you to the gear, not vice versa. And if you are uncertain, then there is no alternative to trying a lot of things out.
I probably shouldn't comment further on LF so I don't ruffle too many feathers, but I'll just say that I've seen a lot of people engage in Ansel and Edward roleplay long before they have a clue what they will bring to the medium, rather than vice versa. Per described it as incest, and I think he was on to something.
With regard to the original question: There are good ideas in this recent discussion in the following link about what can be accomplished with the 35mm format.
Once youve mastered this relatively inexpensive format, should you find it limiting, then it makes sense to move to a larger film size.