Its a matter of perception.....resolution and fine grain, I believe, are not the final arbiters of a good image. I have all the mentioned formats and use all regularly. I find 35mm free's me to be as spontaneous as possible. To be sure not all of my 35mm images are keepers but in very rapidly changing light conditions I can often get an image otherwise lost by setting up my tripod and 4X5.
To me, a good image is one that provides that moment of arrest of thought and senses. That WOW! No definition or critical analyisis or trying to find the true meaning or message. That is what I strive for.......have I achieved it.....in some images yes most no. I look for this quality regardless of format.
No escaping it!
I must step on fallen leaves
to take this path
this seems like such a non-issue to me but I"m rather bored so I'll allow myself some rumination.
I know I lusted after a 4x5 for as long as I knew they existed. Now that I have one I am as pleased as can be. I love the 4x5 for reasons that are very difficult to explain but I probably enjoy the smug feeling I get when strangers ask me "Wow how old is that thing!?" I enjoy taking my time in a scene; what's the big hurry anyways? I greatly appreciate grainlessness and sharpness in medium-large prints.
I also understand that there are photographs I simply don't take because my camera is folded up in a pack instead of hanging from my neck. This doesn't bother me, maybe it should. My camera is not much (if at all) heavier than my 35mm SLR but the necessity of a sturdy tripod is a huge weight. It is a sacrifice that I am willing to make. My lens choice is much less limited with the 4x5. With 35mm I can go from 17-400 and add in the digital crop dealy and it's 640mm. With my 4x5 it's only 90 or 210. I just did a project from a kayak. How in god's name am I supposed to use a 4x5 from a kayak?
So clearly there are drawbacks to the 4x5. Perhaps the question should be "If 35mm is so much better why do we bother with large format?"
Anyways, I haven't used the 35mm film since September probably. I don't know why, it's nothing personal. Besides, if you're a True Artist you'll use a Mamiya 7ii. Obviously.
I'm extremely choosy when shooting LF. This is how it should be no matter what format, IMO. The strongest points of 135 are speed/readiness, long telephoto shots, wildlfife, sports, extreme macro, etc. LF is simply a different animal and medium format falls between these two extremes.
I'd like to throw my thoughts out there. I have shot with 4x5, a Mamiya RB67, 6x9 folding range finders, and 35mm Canon autofocus cameras.
I am going to buy a Canon 1V HS and 135mm f/2.0L lens soon. I find it easier to catch portraits and wild life with the format. One might shoot 35mm if you need to focus track something moving at 50km/h towards the camera up to 8m away (the 1V's limit), or shoot at 10 frames a second. Sports, street photography, candid portraiture, etc. are perfect places to carry 35mm.
I also just bought a 134mm f/4.5 Schneider Xenar lens from 1929-1931 and am building a cherry and bronze 4x5 field camera to do landcapes and studio work with. I shot my Canon in the studio, and then shot a 4x5 in the studio and instantly saw that under controlled conditions (light, space, models), 4x5 wins hands down. For more candid studio shots, 4x5 would be way too slow.
However, I also printed some 20x24 shots of 4x5 negatives and was blown away by the sharpness I was able to get across them. I've blown 35mm up to 11x14 in the darkroom and been pleased (I'm very much a pixel-peeper, and I inspect everything up close and scrutinize) with slow films like Ilford Pan F Plus or Rollei Pan 25. I would say that for very high print quality, you can't really push 35mm past 11x14 and expect the resolution to hold up. However, one of my colleagues blew up an old 35mm color negative to 20x24, or slightly larger, and even though it wasn't tack sharp and grainless, the image was still very strong because of its content and composition.
So I guess to answer the question of the thread, I bother with 35mm because of convenience of both 36 exposure film rolls, having a smaller pack to carry, being able to capture certain moments and having advanced automated functions available. It's really up to what the photographer needs or wants.
EDIT: I also wanted to add, I bother with 35mm because I can shoot with the camera in all kinds of weather and not have to worry about weather the camera will function. I'm not going to risk any of my 50-80 year old mechanical shutters to rusting because they get wet. Simple weather sealing could be a deal breaker for certain applications, even if final print quality suffers, you'd still be able to reliably get the shot.
Last edited by samuraiwarrior2; 02-24-2010 at 06:00 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: added thoughts