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Why I use large format E6... What's your reason?!

 
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 4:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I'm snowed in, the beer stores are closed, and I'm bored stiff; so I decided to jot down why I decided to add a 4x5 camera - Speed Graphic in my case - to my arsenal I take to the track.

Shooting film in the news & sports business has almost completely gone by the wayside: Every year at Indy the number of rolls in the lab's two shoeboxes in the Photo room gets smaller and smaller, while the number of laptops is such that desk space is at a premium.

That being said, I shoot for RaceFax, which is more of an open wheel racing analysis magazine than a news service, where the quality of the image is just as important (where possible) as the image content.

However, for obvious reasons using my Speed Graphic during the race itself is all but out of the question, since I need to shoot a lot of frames in a hurry... And be ready to shoot more just seconds later. [In fact, that's why I like roll film, since most digital cameras can only shoot a few frames in a burst; and all digital cameras can only shoot as much as the buffer can hold since it takes forever to write to CF card or MicroDrive.]

In the garages and during other prerace stuff, however, large format should shine, getting magazine cover quality photos.

All that being said, there's an overriding technical reason I chose large format: Scanning in the chromes. I have a lot of experience with graphics & prepress shops and photo labs scanning in everything from 8x10" chromes all the way down to fingernail -sized APS frames, with all sizes in between. The problem with scanning film is the graininess one gets, although it's not as bad with a ColorGetter II PMT tube -based drum scanner. And the graininess gets worse as the film frame size gets smaller, meaning that cropping by enlarging a 35mm frame is all but useless when I use a flatbed scanner (like my Agfa Arcus 1200).

Shooting a 4x5 chrome, though - Even though it's not quite as absolutely sharp on the film due to the optics as a good 35mm SLR camera & lens - the net effect at a given finished size is sharper, since any focus aberrations are magnified a lot less. More importantly, there's a lot more "meat" for the scanner to "grab hold of" without getting that awful graininess.

[Continued below]



[ This Message was edited by: Discpad on 2003-02-17 08:28 ]
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Continued from above]

It's also worth noting here that I'm "cross-platform," i.e. I shoot both digital and film; and I can output to either a digital file (via scanner) or digital photo print (up to 30" wide x roll length) on a Durst Epsilon at my local wholesale lab.

So, for both overall quality as well as grain reduction I chose a Speed Graphic to take to the track.

OK, what's your reason for shooting large format?


[ This Message was edited by: Discpad on 2003-02-17 08:31 ]
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alphabetsoup



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Planet Earth

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like making large prints, the bigger the better. (I have a few 40x50" prints hanging in the house.) In theory I could spend a lot of money for a digital camera that would do the job... but it would be a poor investment for me.

The money I've spent on MF and 4x5" will mostly be "thrown away" given that film will be mostly disappearing in those formats in the next 5-10 years. (I think 35mm is about the only format with any real potential of hanging around, but I could be completely wrong about that.)

However, if I bought an expensive high-end digital camera the same would be true--because in 5-10 years people will be laughing at current models. "You're trying to use that clunker? I wouldn't give you $100 for it." (I think my Graphic has a much better chance of keeping its value or even going up a bit.)

So for $600 or so I can buy a decent used view camera and a Speed Graphic, a couple of lenses and get all the resolution I need. A medium-format outfit is a bit more than that, but we're not talking about outrageous amounts of money either. Nothing compared to the $10k I'd need to spend just for a digital body with barely enough pixels.

Digital cameras also suffer from the "cheap junk" syndrome. They aren't really designed to last or to have any enduring value. The whole marketing spiel rests on the "Look! It's got .7 more megapixels! Don't be a slob!" effect. And I doubt the camera makers will make the same mistake twice, not after the "35mm fiasco".

The digital camera thing hasn't been completely solved either. Not only do I need a digital film back or high-end digital camera... then I'd have the privilege of spending even more money on enough storage devices, and if I want something meaningful out of the vaunted preview ability I'd have to lug around around a fairly expensive (and somewhat fragile) laptop.

Don't get me wrong, I think digital cameras are an increasingly valuable tool. But for what I want to do they're just not quite there, and now is not the time for an amateur to be investing tons of money in a camera given that its value (no matter what the format) will be almost zero in five years.
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 5:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


OK, what do you define as the "35mm fiasco?" You mean going to a smaller film size, like APS?

Quote:

On 2003-02-17 09:47, alphabetsoup wrote:

/\/\/\/\/

And I doubt the camera makers will make the same mistake twice, not after the "35mm fiasco".

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alphabetsoup



Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 4
Location: Planet Earth

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 6:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking about the fact that 35mm cameras have retained much of their value on the used market, and as a consequence the manufacturers have had a harder time selling new models. (Autofocus was the saving grace.)

Does the Nikon F5 really work all that much better than an F3? Not from my perspective. I'm sure somebody cares about super-ultra-quadruple-weighted metering though...

[By the way, I'm amazed at 35mm used prices these days, at least from dealers. Ten years ago I bought a well-loved but very usable Nikkormat FTn with a Nikkor AI 50mm lens for $99. And my F3 body cost $200 ~4 years ago. Yeah, I guess some of it is inflation, but I expected to see a glut of those old journalism student cameras.]

Much of the issue with digital is that the profits from film sales and developing will be gone, so they have to figure out some way to keep their revenue up. Periodically bringing out new models with small incremental improvements will become typical, much like the way the computer business is today.
And it's even more profitable, thanks to the high markup on cameras.

I wouldn't be surprised to see, for example, a new higher-density/faster/cheaper storage media with a totally different connector on the card so you'll have to buy a new camera when the old media is phased out. (The excuse will be "the old connector doesn't have enough pins" or whatever.) I'm sure they're thinking about how to manage this stuff already. Maybe I'm a bit cynical, but that's just one obvious way to force consumers to spend more money.
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Mon Feb 17, 2003 8:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Actually, only half of the film/paper equation will be fading away: As digital RC printers come down in price, more and more people will get fed up with their expensive Epson ink cartridges (give away the razor, sell the blades) and take their CF cards & CD's to kiosks, to feed them into Fuji Frontier, Agfa, or Noritsu minilabs for 49 cents per print.

Quote:

On 2003-02-17 10:57, alphabetsoup wrote:
I was thinking about the fact that 35mm cameras have retained much of their value on the used market, and as a consequence the manufacturers have had a harder time selling new models. (Autofocus was the saving grace.)

(CUT)
Much of the issue with digital is that the profits from film sales and developing will be gone, so they have to figure out some way to keep their revenue up.
(CUT)
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Nick



Joined: 16 Oct 2002
Posts: 494

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do I? It fits exactly the way I take pictures. A camera five holders and a couple of lens can keep me happy for the day. The other thing is relatively large format is cheap-)) Try buying a mint condition 35mm camera for what a mint older monorail costs.

On the idea that film is going to disappear. I doubt it'll happen before all of us have worn out. You'll need to convince me that the everybody [don't just think the US] is going to drop the cameras they have. When it does happen 35mm will likely go away first not last IMHO. Think about who uses 35mm. At the pro level the cost of film and the other advantages of digital matter more to them. At the low end of the consumers using relatively poor quality cameras and lens will accept poor quality digital cameras. That leaves the hardcore amatuer in the middle. Half of those are equipment geeks who'll buy any new and improved thing no matter if it's better or not. Those who are left just won't be a big enough group to matter. Some will move up in size others will make the move to digital.

Large format and even medium format is going to be higher quality for quite awhile. It already imposes certain demands that 35mm doesn't. How many 8x10 users are going to shift to digital because they can get quicker prints? If you're a large format user then you'd better have the patience to wait a little.

Now you may need to order your film from the Ukraine or some other place but film will outlast us. At least for the markets that are considered art.

Of course I've got a freezer. B&W film and paper will last quite awhile frozen. It lasts a long time even if you leave it at room temps.
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
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Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


I didn't know Ilford moved to Ukraine!

Quote:

On 2003-02-18 10:28, Nick wrote:
Why do I?

Now you may need to order your film from the Ukraine or some other place but film will outlast us. At least for the markets that are considered art.

Of course I've got a freezer. B&W film and paper will last quite awhile frozen. It lasts a long time even if you leave it at room temps.

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Nick



Joined: 16 Oct 2002
Posts: 494

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No not Ilford -) Something like Svema. Somebody sent me a link awhile back but of course I can't find it now. From what I hear it's old style film. When I looked the prices seemed okay but no need to order from that far just yet -)
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clnfrd



Joined: 26 Mar 2002
Posts: 616
Location: Western Kentucky Lakes Area

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Discpad, I shoot 2X3 because my first decent camera was a Century Graphic I bought in the early 50's when I was in High School...and I wanted to do it again...a nostalgia thing. I worked all summer to buy that camera and an electronic flash (one with the 20-pound battery case using wet cells, don't recall the manufacturer.) Anyway, I like being able to take creative photos without a computer chip doing the thinking for me...developing the negatives...and making black and white enlargements with a vintage Kodak enlarger. It's great to do it all yourself from start to finish...and I'm reliving my childhood in my retirement years. Corny...yes..but fun. Fred.
P.S. Hope you made it to the beer store.

[ This Message was edited by: clnfrd on 2003-02-18 14:12 ]
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Discpad



Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Posts: 80
Location: Sayreville, New Jersey

PostPosted: Tue Feb 18, 2003 10:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


%20 %20 %20 Hi Fred!

%20 %20 %20 First off, I finally got myself dug out of 26 inches of snow at 3PM, came inside for a hot shower... And had to take a 30 minute support call while I fumed...

%20 %20 %20 Anyway, I sure wish I still had some of my "toys" from when I was 10-11 (back in 1971), including a 120/220 Diana plastic camera I forgot all about, until I saw one on eBay(!); plus a Cox Indy car model with the Sprite/Wally Dallenbach decals.

%20 %20 %20 It always seems to cost three times as much to replace our childhood toys!

%20 %20 %20 Cheers!
%20 %20 %20 Dan Schwartz

Quote:

On 2003-02-18 14:11, clnfrd wrote:
Discpad, I shoot 2X3 because my first decent camera was a Century Graphic I bought in the early 50's when I was in High School...and I wanted to do it again...a nostalgia thing. I worked all summer to buy that camera and an electronic flash (one with the 20-pound battery case using wet cells, don't recall the manufacturer.) Anyway, I like being able to take creative photos without a computer chip doing the thinking for me...developing the negatives...and making black and white enlargements with a vintage Kodak enlarger. It's great to do it all yourself from start to finish...and I'm reliving my childhood in my retirement years. Corny...yes..but fun. Fred.

P.S. Hope you made it to the beer store.


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