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Thread: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

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    medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    hello--

    Please take moment to define different qualities of prints for both medium and large format photography. Said another way: is it true that for b & w prints the larger format will capture more light-bearing image--and, is preferred for that reason (owing solely to larger surface area of negative) than a medium format negative--or, does the MF negative have features particular to that format size (e.g., thinner emulsion) that LF does not?

    I am venturing into LF--keh has a couple of basic 4 x5 cameras for around $200: an omega

    4X5 OMEGA VIEW 45C LARGE FORMAT VIEW CAMERA BODY http://is.gd/liCTaQ

    and a calumet

    4X5 CALUMET 540 CHROME LARGE FORMAT VIEW CAMERA BODY http://is.gd/6yc7N6

    Which appears to be the better value?

    Thank you

    Dean Taylor

  2. #2
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Taylor View Post
    Please take moment to define different qualities of prints for both medium and large format photography. Said another way: is it true that for b & w prints the larger format will capture more light-bearing image--and, is preferred for that reason (owing solely to larger surface area of negative) than a medium format negative--or, does the MF negative have features particular to that format size (e.g., thinner emulsion) that LF does not?
    The answer to the first part – Yes: the bigger the better.

    If I understand your question correctly and addressing the question specifically - assuming the same (or equally similar film) and the same competence of Photography and Darkroom, we will expect the gradation of the intermediates across the total tonal range will be more defined and better represented in a large print if the neg is a large format neg, rather than a medium format neg.

    The (difference) in emulsion thicknesses (in fine grain film) is not of such a great concern (assuming Competent Darkroom) that it would play a significant role to adversely counter the gains by using a larger format film/camera.

    ***

    The answer to the second part – apart from “convenience factor” of Medium Format:

    (As far as I can think at this moment),the only advantage within the confines of the question posed, that medium format has over Large Format is that of the film roll being stretched and thus (usually) ensuring film flatness on the film plane.

    If you move to LF, it is necessary to use quality DDS(**1) ensuring the sheet film is flat: not so much for reasons of wandering Depth of Focus but rather - (your concern mentioned in the OP) – slight curvatures of film may allow for internal reflections across the emulsion, which is seen sometimes at the edges and or at the middle; and these flaws (loss of: tonality – contrast – gradation) in the neg/ print, often go undiagnosed because their presentation is of an erratic nature between shots.



    Quote Originally Posted by Dean Taylor View Post
    I am venturing into LF--keh has a couple of basic 4 x5 cameras for around $200: 4X5 OMEGA VIEW 45C LARGE FORMAT VIEW CAMERA BODY http://is.gd/liCTaQ
    and a 4X5 CALUMET 540 CHROME LARGE FORMAT VIEW CAMERA BODY http://is.gd/6yc7N6
    Which appears to be the better value?
    Thank you Dean Taylor

    The Calumet 540 appears better value to me: with a better range of camera movements – and maybe a little studier than the Omega.

    But it depends what you will be using it for – I had a Toyo 4x5 and It was more than suitable for everything I required and excellent for Studio Portraiture for which it was mainly used.

    If you want to play with LF then perhaps it will be better to have a larger range of movements.

    Outside the bounds of the question: ensure that you have a good source and broad range of film stock.

    WW

    (**1) Footnote: "Double Dark Slide" Please see post #4
    Last edited by William W; 3rd February 2012 at 12:53 AM. Reason: Added footnote

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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    I have used neither of these cameras. However I found a few references to them on the Internet. You may already have viewed these but, I am posting them in case you have not...

    http://photo.net/large-format-photography-forum/003iYg


    Adorama is selling a Calumet 540 for $299 USD
    http://www.adorama.com/US%20%20%20%20386049.html

    You should make sure that a lens board is available for the specific camera. The Omega uses Toyo modular components for which you can easily find a lens board and then getting a lens should be no problem.
    https://www.google.com/#pq=cambo-toy...w=1326&bih=601

    Calumet lens boards are also available...
    https://www.google.com/#pq=cambo-toy...w=1326&bih=601

    BTW: recessed lens boards are used on view cameras when a very short focal length (wide angle) lens is mounted and the camera cannot physically retract to a point where you can focus the lens. The recessed lensboard allows a shorter focal distance.

    Here is some additional information on view camera lenses, lensboards.
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lenses-primer/

    The 4x5' is a nice format but, you need an enlarger capable of handling 4x5" negatives. Additonally, the processing of 4x5" film, if done correctly uses four tanks (Developer, rinse, fixer and wash tanks) plus film hangers. Some folks developed their 4x5" in trays but, I never liked to do that because of the possibility of scratching the negs and the possibility of uneven development.

    The good news is that this type of equipment can sometimes be found on eBay, craigslist or other used equipment sites at a very low price. I would not consider buying new at all.

    However, there are some drawbacks, the tanks, are relatively big and use a lot of chemistry. The enlarger is also quite big. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Omega-D2-V-E...item5644c1c92f IMO, this type of developing setup is better for a permanent setup and is not something that you can break out; set up on the kitchen sink and then break down and put away...

    I have not investigated the availablity of 4x5" film but, that is something which might be consdiered. Kodak was not the only supplier of film but, with the "Yellow-Box" folks going out of business, the supply of film might be curtailed.

    You will also need film holders. I never liked using either a 4x5" magazine or a 4x5" filmpack with a view camera. I always used individual film holders with a two sheet capacity.

    One more remark... I never liked using the Graflex 4x5" view camera which was standard Navy issue for many years...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 3rd February 2012 at 04:11 AM.

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    You will also need film holders. I never liked using either a 4x5" magazine or a 4x5" filmpack with a view camera. I always used individual film holders with a two sheet capacity.
    thanks rpc


    It was after reading this I realized that the term "DDS" might have been confusing.
    I think "Double Dark Slide" and the acronym "DDS" could be an area specific name / term for film holders which have capacity for two film sheets, as Richard described. I recall that my mention of DDS previously, has cause confusion with Photographers residing outside AUS.

    I also developed 4x5 in tanks not trays - for the reasons Richard has mentioned.

    WW

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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    Ever since getting started in photography, I've been wanting a View Camera. A fixed body camera, irregardless of format, makes concessions for ease of use over focal plane and perspective control. This aspect alone is what I find particularly beneficial.

    An alternative to printing LF negatives, you may want to consider a hybrid work flow where you shoot film, process, and scan the negative into a digital file which can then be post processed as any image from a digital camera, except that a LF 4x5 can yield an image file on the order of 1,500 MP. There are film processing labs which perform in house scanning services for large format minimizing the potential risks of damage to the negatives through repeated shipping.

  6. #6

    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    hello all--

    Thanks to everyone for taking the time to share their expertise here...

    At any rate--and, not to throw a wet blanket on this dynamic thread topic--I have looked into lens boards for the Calumet (not cost prohibitive at all...) and all that remains for me to begin exploring 4X5 is the matter of the lens. Here is my (clumsy) question:

    As it would seem to be the case that a lens for this 4X5 may run upwards of four hundred dollars (or more) have any of you encountered a photographer who has made a go of--for lack of a better term--gerryrigging a lens/shutter front from an inexpensive camera (garage sale, ebay, etc.) to the Calumet lens board? Or, is it more likely than not that by attempting same I would be throwing away fifty or so bucks? Or--and, if that is somehow feasible (and not to press the issue) is it within the realm of practical possibility that I might then purchase, e.g., a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D (about a hundred bucks) and attach it to the lens board?

    I dare pose these tedious/tacky suggestions as temporary remedies to a temporary scarcity of funds--i.e., until I can manage the proper Calumet lens from keh, and, in order to get started loading b & w 4X5 film in the Calumet and, off I go! Just the mathematical possibilities kindle excitement: 4X5 = 20 sq inches of negative--a HUGE canvas for me to fill (pardon the metaphor: I also paint murals w/acrylics)!

    Thanks again!
    Dean

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    William W's Avatar
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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    Good Morning Dean,

    Not to rain on your parade but rather throw more fuel on this raging conversation we all have going . . .

    you can certainly jerry-rig a 50mm, 135 format lens onto the lens board . . .
    but the (smaller than 4x5) image circle it will throw . . .
    will kill you. . .

    and then you will probably need to use a lens cap - as the shutter.

    Does that make sense?


    WW

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    Steaphany's Avatar
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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    A 50mm SLR lerns will not cut it. Not only are you fighting the small image circle, the lens is not designed to work with such great distances between the lens and film plane. For a normal field of view you need 150mm.

    I have heard of LF photographers finding ancient antique lenses and adapting them to a view camera, but you can also look on ebay and see if anyone is selling a LF lens. You mnay be lucky going that route.

    As posted earlier, do read through Introduction to Lenses for Large Format Cameras and infact, the whole web site for Large Format Photography . Info is a gold mine of information to get you going. They also have their own forum where you can join and ask questions covering every aspect of LF photography. The forum is very active and often has in excess of 500 members active at any one time.
    Last edited by Steaphany; 3rd February 2012 at 08:41 PM. Reason: Typo & added more

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    Re: medium format, large format: is 'more' necessarily more...?

    There are lots of large format lenses of varying prices and quality on the used market. Ensure that the lens you select is not an enlarger lens which is optimized for flat surface reproduction nor a copy camera lens which is also optimized for flat surface reproduction. You will need a lens that incorporates a between the lens shutter. These usually have a relatively limited selection of shutter speeds and a relatively limited flash sync capability. You would want one with X-sync capability if you are intending to use it with studio flash. Many of these lenses have no sync capability at all sincesome of them were manufactured at a time when few photogaphers used flash for studio work.

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