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  1. #11

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    I'll agree that MF is the sweet spot for ease of use and quality. I'll disagree on prices. I bought a used 4x5 press camera for less then $70. Even came with a lens. Bought a big old heavy monorail for $100. If you stay away from the fashionable stuff LF gear is very cheap.

  2. #12

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    The same could be done with MF.. Lets say we are only talking top quality gear that you plan on caring for and using for many years.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Zentena
    I'll agree that MF is the sweet spot for ease of use and quality. I'll disagree on prices. I bought a used 4x5 press camera for less then $70. Even came with a lens. Bought a big old heavy monorail for $100. If you stay away from the fashionable stuff LF gear is very cheap.
    art is about managing compromise

  3. #13
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    Good point about Thornton's Book. Up to about 16x20 , most human eyeballs can't perceive a difference in quality between an enlarged 6x6 negative and a 4x5 LF negative. In some cases, film flatness (or lack thereof) and diffraction resulting from the necessity of very small apertures, can actually cause visual sharpness of a LF image to fall below one taken on a MF camera. Since I don't go above this print size, I'm under no impression that I'm missing anything in terms of print quality. The thing that does interest me about LF is strictly camera movements and the ability to correct distortion of linear objects. This alone is why I'll probably give it a shot in the future. I've also been keeping my eye out for some MF tilt shift lenses which would be ideal for me.

  4. #14

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    In reading the initial post, I notice that there are a lot of "ifs" in it. "If" you don't need movements, "if" you are using medium speed film, and "if" you are using a high acutance developer...then there is no advantage to using 4x5 over medium format. The problem is that most photographers don't fit all the "ifs."

    I suppose you could rewrite the first parpagraph of your post as follows: If you are not using the best gear, if you are not using medium speed film, if you are not using high acutance developer, if you need movements, or if you print larger than 16x20, then 4x5 still holds an advantage over medium format.

    There are a lot of variables that go into choosing a camera for a particular job. Print size is only one of them. When I travel, I do so with a Mamiya 7. Even with 3 lenses, it fits in a small shoulder pack. I can take it into a museum--I would have to check the 4x5. It is the right choice for my desired result, travel photos. But, I rarely enlarge them past 11x14. I use Tri-x because I prefer the look of that film to the finer grained films. I don't fit the "ifs". I suppose I could take my 35mm range finder on the trip, but I prefer the bigger, medium format neg even though it is less convenient than 35mm. It gives me the option of doing 8x10 of 11x14 prints from my travels which 35mm does not. I rarely enlarge a 35mm neg over 5x7. I weighed the variables based on my photography, my materials.

    I have read Thorton's book. It is one that I reread every few years. But, I also tested his limits using the materials I prefer. For my work, 11x14 is the upper limit of a 6x7 neg. 16x20 is the upper limit for 4x5. Those are my standards, based on my materials, based on my experience. I could change to finer grained film, but I won't because I like the look of the old style emulsion better.

    The point, medium format and large format are different animals. Each has it strong points and weak points. Which you decide on is up to how you weigh the pluses and minuses of each. Print size is only one of those variables. And, if you use materials different from those used by Thorton, you will have to reach your own conclusions as to maximum print size.

  5. #15

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    I agree with virtually everything Allen writes here, except for the part about 35mm which I don't use much at all.

    I use medium format a lot, especially when I travel since it gives greater portability, access, and can be used hand-held. However, there is no doubt in my mind but that for prints over 11X14" the 6X6 and 6X7 formats can not stand up to 4X5, unless you start throwing in the "ifs". At 6X9 cm on a tripod and maximum print size of 16X20" medium format looks a lot better, but even here I believe 4X5 still wins in a close call.

    If I thought I could get equivalent print quality up to 16X20" size from 6X9 cm as from 4X5" or 5X7" I would sell the view cameras because I shoot all medium format for scanning and can adjust out out most perspective problems in Photoshop. But for my eye it just isn't happening.

    Sandy






    Quote Originally Posted by Allen Friday
    In reading the initial post, I notice that there are a lot of "ifs" in it. "If" you don't need movements, "if" you are using medium speed film, and "if" you are using a high acutance developer...then there is no advantage to using 4x5 over medium format. The problem is that most photographers don't fit all the "ifs."

    I suppose you could rewrite the first parpagraph of your post as follows: If you are not using the best gear, if you are not using medium speed film, if you are not using high acutance developer, if you need movements, or if you print larger than 16x20, then 4x5 still holds an advantage over medium format.

    There are a lot of variables that go into choosing a camera for a particular job. Print size is only one of them. When I travel, I do so with a Mamiya 7. Even with 3 lenses, it fits in a small shoulder pack. I can take it into a museum--I would have to check the 4x5. It is the right choice for my desired result, travel photos. But, I rarely enlarge them past 11x14. I use Tri-x because I prefer the look of that film to the finer grained films. I don't fit the "ifs". I suppose I could take my 35mm range finder on the trip, but I prefer the bigger, medium format neg even though it is less convenient than 35mm. It gives me the option of doing 8x10 of 11x14 prints from my travels which 35mm does not. I rarely enlarge a 35mm neg over 5x7. I weighed the variables based on my photography, my materials.

    I have read Thorton's book. It is one that I reread every few years. But, I also tested his limits using the materials I prefer. For my work, 11x14 is the upper limit of a 6x7 neg. 16x20 is the upper limit for 4x5. Those are my standards, based on my materials, based on my experience. I could change to finer grained film, but I won't because I like the look of the old style emulsion better.

    The point, medium format and large format are different animals. Each has it strong points and weak points. Which you decide on is up to how you weigh the pluses and minuses of each. Print size is only one of those variables. And, if you use materials different from those used by Thorton, you will have to reach your own conclusions as to maximum print size.

  6. #16
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    If I didn't read very carefully, I would think that we had a "my dad can beat up your dad" thread vis a vis various formats
    There is a certain best of both worlds quality to MF (which kind of goes along with the term "medium" in the name) - I know that the first time I saw a MF negative, I was so blown away, I wondered why anyone would shoot 35mm. But then novelty wore off (but not he magic!), and now the formats all peacfully co-exist, each with a strong point to more than justify its existance.
    And then there is the fact that the bigger the format, the more beautiful and enchanting the camera! And I know, its just a tool to many, but to me, a largepart of the enjoyment comes from all that gorgeous, unique looking equipment!

    Peter.

  7. #17
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    Brett Weston; Agfapan 25; Oriental Paper

  8. #18

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    For me the irony is that most people start by using 35mm and those who are then searching for something extra may move on to a larger format and invest their time and skill in a newer format. In terms of any craft maybe this could be a wrong way round. In other arts and crafts it is unusual to start in a minature format before building skills with the materials. Perhaps in photography this is why, for some, dissatisfaction with 35mm quickly arises.

    In my experience (having tried and enjoyed all the formats from 35mm to 8x10) it is the 35mm format that needs the most care and skill to get the successful print. It is possible to get stunning 35mm prints (not neccessarily evidenced in my own work but in others I have seen!) but great skill is needed to fully maximise the small negative and fight against the limitations such as the proportionally greater enlargement of defects, dust etc. I can more easily produce a good print from a 6x6 negative even with my slightly sloppy technique (for example when I am rushing) than from 35mm. And yet it is 35mm where most beginners and inexperienced people start.

    My other reflection is that I tend to use larger formats more for the improved tonality than for issues such as sharpness and detail. To my eyes certain films in 6x6 glow in a way that their 35mm equivalents struggle to produce.

    Very interesting thread by the way and a nice tone to the discussions.

    Best wishes

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by pauldc
    For me the irony is that most people start by using 35mm and those who are then searching for something extra may move on to a larger format and invest their time and skill in a newer format. In terms of any craft maybe this could be a wrong way round. In other arts and crafts it is unusual to start in a minature format before building skills with the materials. Perhaps in photography this is why, for some, dissatisfaction with 35mm quickly arises....
    You know - that is a fascinating point! I never thought of it this way, but once you "put it out there", it makes tremendous sense!
    I suppose the popularity of 35mm as a compact, all around picture taking device makes it the first contact many people have with photography, and I suppose they start with whatthey are familiar with. Also, there is the huge flexinility at a comperatively (stress that "comperatively"!) low cost of a 35mm slr.
    But, having said that, I know in my case, personally, I had to re-think a lot of things when I tried to get knowledge beyond the simplest exposure basics. If I had taken a structured approach and started with a larger format, I would have a much better grasp on many concepts because I simply could not skip that step and still make pictures.
    My long-winded way of saying great point!

    Peter.

  10. #20

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    Exactly! I don't think that if anyone that is happy with their 35mm work is going to care how I feel about it, but personally I am all thumbs and I am not a careful worker. I had tons of trouble getting the 35mm on the reels, and 120 was a piece of cake. Maybe 35mm just doesn't like me.
    art is about managing compromise

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