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Thread: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

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    large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I wondered if someone here has experience with both and could share experience/opinion on large format film vs tech camera with digital back.

    This would be a tool I would only use occasionally...for those times when I need to escape the real life which is fast and overloaded with information.

    I am torn between rebuying a digital back for the Artec (which I still have, but no back after selling it for an S2), as an alternative large format sounds very interesting to me - but I am not sure if I want to go through scanning and I dont have an analog lab.

    If we forget one moment about the workflow,and talk about the prcoess of taking the image....which system did you find more satisfying?

    And then-after having an analog MF negative...how do you process further?

    Thanks a lot, Tom

  2. #2
    jamie123
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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    If you're only going to use it occasionally it probably makes more sense to go with LF film and have it scanned at a lab.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    If you are someone who can enjoy a process and a methodical one, then large format is really nice. Personally, I preferred metal flat-bed view cameras (called technical cameras) over wooden or monorails. Beyond resolving power, there is something special about large image areas in terms of the quality. I would start with 4x5 to get your feet wet--8x10 is so much more in terms of expense, weight, and look.

    I am not really sure there is much of a difference in process, more of a difference in pacing. This will be much slower. You are really going out to take one or two images rather than 10 or 100. Unless you are looking for a press camera, you give more consideration to what is around you in that you are not going to shoot off in image if you are not willing to stop and take time.

    Then you nurse the camera. Thinking of framing, movements, light, aperture. You then slide the film holder in and set the exposure and take the picture. You really never see the image until the film is processed--no LCD to help you out. But then you learn to see the way the camera sees. You learn to enjoy the happy accidents of the moments. And you laugh when you take a picture with the dark slide in.

    Using large image areas give a glow and depth to the image. It is not a resolution thing, but working optics at lower frequencies makes a real difference. An the add depth of choosing the film type which also adds a signature to the final can be fun, whether B&W or color.

    If you think going out and getting lots of images is getting work done, large format may not be for you. If going out and getting better work done, then it is. It is odd, but I find the number of "keepers" is proportional to the time/effort spent, not the number of images made. For anyone that has moved up through the formats, you shoot less as you go up, but you still come out with a similar number of good images.

    But while it is easy to romanticize large format, it can be a pain. The equipment is bulkier. The film holders really add to that. Changing holders in the field can be a pain. Taking care of dust. But some find the trade offs worth it.

    BTW, while I really like large format, I found medium-format film a much better compromise for the work I do. It had the quality while giving the portability and flexibility that I like.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Thank you!
    I have used MF film and also do use MF digital (before high 6 now S2).
    I think I will try to find out if there is a good lab for scanning etc in my area and if so I might give LF a try (not to replace MF but for the few times when I want even lower pace).
    I have a flatbaed but I also dont want to loose too much quality when scanning, so for low numbers of images maybe professional lab/scan would be better.
    I also think I have to do some reading to understand the varous models and its features to be able to find out what I would want/need.
    The process as you describe it sounds what I am looking for.
    Kind Regards, Tom

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    If you are someone who can enjoy a process and a methodical one, then large format is really nice. Personally, I preferred metal flat-bed view cameras (called technical cameras) over wooden or monorails. Beyond resolving power, there is something special about large image areas in terms of the quality. I would start with 4x5 to get your feet wet--8x10 is so much more in terms of expense, weight, and look.

    I am not really sure there is much of a difference in process, more of a difference in pacing. This will be much slower. You are really going out to take one or two images rather than 10 or 100. Unless you are looking for a press camera, you give more consideration to what is around you in that you are not going to shoot off in image if you are not willing to stop and take time.

    Then you nurse the camera. Thinking of framing, movements, light, aperture. You then slide the film holder in and set the exposure and take the picture. You really never see the image until the film is processed--no LCD to help you out. But then you learn to see the way the camera sees. You learn to enjoy the happy accidents of the moments. And you laugh when you take a picture with the dark slide in.

    Using large image areas give a glow and depth to the image. It is not a resolution thing, but working optics at lower frequencies makes a real difference. An the add depth of choosing the film type which also adds a signature to the final can be fun, whether B&W or color.

    If you think going out and getting lots of images is getting work done, large format may not be for you. If going out and getting better work done, then it is. It is odd, but I find the number of "keepers" is proportional to the time/effort spent, not the number of images made. For anyone that has moved up through the formats, you shoot less as you go up, but you still come out with a similar number of good images.

    But while it is easy to romanticize large format, it can be a pain. The equipment is bulkier. The film holders really add to that. Changing holders in the field can be a pain. Taking care of dust. But some find the trade offs worth it.

    BTW, while I really like large format, I found medium-format film a much better compromise for the work I do. It had the quality while giving the portability and flexibility that I like.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    part of the run of lf is tray developing sheet film in the dark. don't pass that up!

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Tom:

    If you have something like an Epson V700/750 flat-bed scanner, I would also give it a try. 4x5 is so large that the scanner does not have to be that great to get really good results. I had a student that did a project with a 4x5 camera, B&W film, and a V750 with the stock film holders and made great 36" and 48" prints. At the very least, it is a great way to proof your work before sending it in for professional scans.

    Enjoy.

    Quote Originally Posted by t_streng View Post
    Thank you!
    I have used MF film and also do use MF digital (before high 6 now S2).
    I think I will try to find out if there is a good lab for scanning etc in my area and if so I might give LF a try (not to replace MF but for the few times when I want even lower pace).
    I have a flatbaed but I also dont want to loose too much quality when scanning, so for low numbers of images maybe professional lab/scan would be better.
    I also think I have to do some reading to understand the varous models and its features to be able to find out what I would want/need.
    The process as you describe it sounds what I am looking for.
    Kind Regards, Tom

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I might join a Linhof seminar in November if I find the time and check out the "experience"

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I made my first photos in 1953 and got my first camera in 1955. My dad gave me a new pacemaker crown 4x5 in 1964. At that time everything was B&W and I started printing and processing in 1959. You might say it's in my blood after this many years. I went professional in 1968 and still work as a commercial / advertising photographer. All of my work with a few exceptions is now digital and until this year all of my personal work was still B&W. My work through my career has ranged from 35mm to 11x14 color and B&W. This year I decided to move to MF digital due to retiring in a few short years. This was prompted by possibly not having a darkroom for a few years and by the discontinuing of many of my favorite B&W films and papers. I also considered how much longer will the film and paper that I currently like and use be available. It's not like the choices are growing so any product leaving the market is now serious. There are still good film and papers out there but they're dropping off quickly and not as good as they were a few short years ago. I know many will argue the point but it's a personal like and dislike thing and after fifty years of processing and printing I have strong opinions on what I like and dislike in film and paper. Anyway I still love the process and still shoot some LF and smaller formats and love printing it but I've really enjoyed shooting my Hasselblad system for personal work.

    My personal feeling is I like film for B&W and love digital MF for color. I'm moving more into color in my personal work and can say I'm delighted with the process. Like B&W in the darkroom, color digital has become very satisfying.

    It's really a matter of what process you enjoy. some folks are analog people and others are digital. If you've had no LF experience and limited darkroom experience you may find LF very frustrating. On the other hand if you are patient and really love to learn you may really love it. Trust me LF isn't a magic bullet for making beautiful images. I can't tell you how may people I've seen think LF will make their images look like the masters only to find they hate the slow process, carrying a lot of heavy and expensive gear and the mess and smell of the darkroom and still not get beautiful images.

    Good luck with your decision.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    I made my first photos in 1953 and got my first camera in 1955. My dad gave me a new pacemaker crown 4x5 in 1964. At that time everything was B&W and I started printing and processing in 1959. You might say it's in my blood after this many years. I went professional in 1968 and still work as a commercial / advertising photographer. All of my work with a few exceptions is now digital and until this year all of my personal work was still B&W. My work through my career has ranged from 35mm to 11x14 color and B&W. This year I decided to move to MF digital due to retiring in a few short years. This was prompted by possibly not having a darkroom for a few years and by the discontinuing of many of my favorite B&W films and papers. I also considered how much longer will the film and paper that I currently like and use be available. It's not like the choices are growing so any product leaving the market is now serious. There are still good film and papers out there but they're dropping off quickly and not as good as they were a few short years ago. I know many will argue the point but it's a personal like and dislike thing and after fifty years of processing and printing I have strong opinions on what I like and dislike in film and paper. Anyway I still love the process and still shoot some LF and smaller formats and love printing it but I've really enjoyed shooting my Hasselblad system for personal work.

    My personal feeling is I like film for B&W and love digital MF for color. I'm moving more into color in my personal work and can say I'm delighted with the process. Like B&W in the darkroom, color digital has become very satisfying.

    It's really a matter of what process you enjoy. some folks are analog people and others are digital. If you've had no LF experience and limited darkroom experience you may find LF very frustrating. On the other hand if you are patient and really love to learn you may really love it. Trust me LF isn't a magic bullet for making beautiful images. I can't tell you how may people I've seen think LF will make their images look like the masters only to find they hate the slow process, carrying a lot of heavy and expensive gear and the mess and smell of the darkroom and still not get beautiful images.

    Good luck with your decision.
    Thank you,
    very interesting answer and thoughts!
    I am not a good developper, my knowledge is very very basic in this area.
    My biggest fear is that I would end up taking images with LF and then having the undeveloped plates lying around my house or developping them and not doing much with them.
    This is one of the reasons of my original question about LF vs Techcamera with MF digital back.
    Sometimes I want to do things but in the end when owning stuff I get lazy and dont use it as planned.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I really like using my Hasselblad back on my Technikardan 23. It's a wonderful blend of digital and technical photography. Using LF for so long I like the discipline of a view camera. It satisfies my need for working with a view camera vs a more portable spontaneous camera like the Hasselblad or DSLR.

    If you really want to shoot analog / film and don't feel comfortable with the darkroom and scanning try a 4x5 field camera with a Fuji 4x5 instant back. I find small images quite beautiful and feel more engaged with the image when I hold it in my hand and view it. These images are large enough to view easily and can be framed quite nicely. Fuji color 4x5 is miles ahead of what polaroid was offering when it was discontinued. The one consideration would be you have to be satisfied with 4x5 images and one of a kind.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    I really like using my Hasselblad back on my Technikardan 23. It's a wonderful blend of digital and technical photography. Using LF for so long I like the discipline of a view camera. It satisfies my need for working with a view camera vs a more portable spontaneous camera like the Hasselblad or DSLR.

    If you really want to shoot analog / film and don't feel comfortable with the darkroom and scanning try a 4x5 field camera with a Fuji 4x5 instant back. I find small images quite beautiful and feel more engaged with the image when I hold it in my hand and view it. These images are large enough to view easily and can be framed quite nicely. Fuji color 4x5 is miles ahead of what polaroid was offering when it was discontinued. The one consideration would be you have to be satisfied with 4x5 images and one of a kind.
    Thank you - instant back sounds interesting. Many good suggestions here. I really have to sort out what I want to do.
    But having one piece 4x5 in hand is probably better than havoing an undevelopped or unprinted negative.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by DDudenbostel View Post
    If you really want to shoot analog / film and don't feel comfortable with the darkroom and scanning try a 4x5 field camera with a Fuji 4x5 instant back. I find small images quite beautiful and feel more engaged with the image when I hold it in my hand and view it. These images are large enough to view easily and can be framed quite nicely. Fuji color 4x5 is miles ahead of what polaroid was offering when it was discontinued. The one consideration would be you have to be satisfied with 4x5 images and one of a kind.
    A similar approach with a bit more effort for the OP would be to contact print the 4x5 negatives. One of my personal favorites, couldn't agree more with the "personal" jewel-like nature of the size.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I wanted to give some feedback...
    my Artec has been sold some months ago (great camera but I did not use it enough to justify).
    Last week I have decided to buy a used 4x5 (Technika V ) with 2 lenses (90 and 210mm) and give it a try.
    I will definatly also check out to shoot some Fuji instant images with the combo.
    Looking forward to the experience and I will report when I have the first results.
    Thanks again for all the feedback here.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Well done, a 4x5 Technika is a great choice.

    Do not underestimate yourself, processing 4x5 B&W is easy at home in a daylight tank (no more difficult than 35mm) and an Epson V700 is all you need for scanning to get superb quality images. You can then either get a good printer or send your scanned files off for printing. One big advantage of keeping it all 'in house' is that any mistakes (and there will be some) can all be traced to one source! Good luck.

    Steve
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/steve_barnett/
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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I do also shoot with LF just recently and i have a scanner, V750, the quality scan for 4x5 is unbelievable even it is not a powerful scanner, it is way more details than scanning 35mm or even MF, for 35mm/MF i may go with a drum scanner and/or film dedicated scanner, but this Epson one do a great job for 4x5 up to 8x10, i will shoot more and do scan more in the future and see, i may try to print something and see.
    Tareq

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    here is an example: 4x5 trix, toyo monorail, schneider 210mm, developed in HC110, negative scanned with Epson 700
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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
    processing 4x5 B&W is easy at home in a daylight tank
    I'm a little off-topic (as usual) but out of curiosity which daylight tank are you talking about?

    I used to have one of those cubic-style ones (can't remember the brand) and always had problems with over-developed streaks down the side edges.

    I presume it was my agitation that was at fault, but I never did cure it.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by jamie123 View Post
    If you're only going to use it occasionally it probably makes more sense to go with LF film and have it scanned at a lab.
    Likewise I shoot MFDB;

    Yet even though selling most of my 5 camera systems the other year, somehow I seem to not be able to part from my Shen-Hao TFC45-IIB since Quickloads were discontinued and now even when Velvia 50 is being discontinued. LF is simply a lovely way of working on occassion. I am tempted getting 2-3 film holders and attempt some B&W film. All I have is one lens; Rod 150 Sironar-N, but why would I need more?

    One thought is to simply scan 4x5 in a late model normal scanner, not sure if anyone have tried... but depends I guess what we will do with the images later...

    Shen-Haos are very reasonably priced and work very well. Pretty much no matter what camera, an upgrade to a Maxwell ground glass or similar will lead to seeing very well on the groundglass.

    My obvious advise; LF

    If not... then 6x9 large format with roll film, such as the non-folder made by Shen-Hao.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Well, i did shoot only 5 sheets in my life, i think that was last year, and here are my first mistakes with my first ever 5 sheets:

    Acros 100


    Velvia 100F




    Acros 100 again at home another day


    All above done by Shen Hao HZX45 IIA, Rodenstock 150 Sironar N, scanned by my V750, first 3 processed in the lab, the last one i did process at home with trays, and i think using D-76, scratches everywhere, and you will ask where is the fifth shot........

    The fifth shot is blank not exist, because by a mistake for first time shooting with LF i double exposed the first shot above, it should be one shot but i did shoot on same sheet without knowing it, so the other sheet gone blank, and with color ones, the second one i think i did extreme movements i think the tilting one, i didn't know it was out of the range.

    I will see next time shooting LF what i can do, i have bought something to process 4x5 sheets easier with daylight tank, can't wait to test it.
    Tareq

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    LF is better but digital is easier
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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by lowep View Post
    LF is better but digital is easier
    Good poll for people, which one do you prefer, better or easier???
    Tareq

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
    Well done, a 4x5 Technika is a great choice.

    Do not underestimate yourself, processing 4x5 B&W is easy at home in a daylight tank (no more difficult than 35mm) and an Epson V700 is all you need for scanning to get superb quality images. You can then either get a good printer or send your scanned files off for printing. One big advantage of keeping it all 'in house' is that any mistakes (and there will be some) can all be traced to one source! Good luck.

    Steve
    There is some temptation to develop myself.
    I am also considering shooting some polaroids specially in the beginning to learn the basics of LF photography.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    which one would you recommend for 4x5?
    JOBO International GmbH: System Tanks 2500
    or
    JOBO International GmbH: Expert Drums (306 or 3010)

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Paratom View Post
    which one would you recommend for 4x5?
    JOBO International GmbH: System Tanks 2500
    or
    JOBO International GmbH: Expert Drums (306 or 3010)
    Do you have the processor to use that first or second drum with? Which processor do you have?
    Tareq

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Professional View Post
    Do you have the processor to use that first or second drum with? Which processor do you have?
    I dont have anything...yet. I thought I could turn those with my hands like I did 25 years ago when developing some 35mm films? Sorry for my non existing knowledge. LF is totally new for me.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Paratom View Post
    I dont have anything...yet. I thought I could turn those with my hands like I did 25 years ago when developing some 35mm films? Sorry for my non existing knowledge. LF is totally new for me.
    Not with those, you need another tanks, if you want i can tell the methods of which to process 4x5 and you can choose, i don't know them all but i know most, i have 4 of them and i did test only one, will try the another one sooner or later i hope.

    I am new to LF too even i did shoot only 5 sheets ever.
    Tareq

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    I recently sold my Jobo and kept my LF tanks. I now use a uniroller or beseler roller with the jobo tanks and it works just as well. I found the Jobo fantastic but got tired of setting it up, cleaning it and the storage space.

    I have and use a combiplan daylight tank with excellent results. In the US it's sold by H P Marketing the Linhof distributor. It's very small, easy to use, very well designed, very inexpensive and have never had streaks, agitation marks or other issues. It works with 4x5 and smaller sheets and holds 6 sheets.

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    Re: large format vs. digital back on Tech camera

    One of these Mod54's and a paterson reel tank might help.

    Also remember that sharpening scans is very different to digital. Be more aggressive but avoid sharpening the grain by adjusting the radius.
    Last edited by wentbackward; 8th December 2012 at 18:08.

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