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Saturday, 08 December 2007

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Yeah, but how many megapixels?

"Yeah, but how many megapixels?"

About 350, roughly.

Mike J.

Well this enormous slice of nostalgia is what I might expect a photo historian with a Ph.D. in "Spanish Language and Literature" to use! (http://www.alternativephotography.com/artists/sandy_king.html)

To each his own! Have a wonderful time with your new camera Sandy King. Post some snaps when you get a chance!

Me no Leica.

JC

Could anyone please explain to me what the latest large format frenzy here on TOP is all about? Pixel-peeping for film photographers, maybe? Or is it that film photographers are trying to justify their using film by shooting on ever larger formats?

"Approximately 350 Megapixels - take THIS, 5D-owners"

He's not going to get many megapixels at all without a lens in there. ;)

These big cameras look like a lot of fun. Buy there must be a point of diminishing returns for quality of the image as you go up in camera size.

Longer lenses tend to be less sharp, also to get any depth of field your most likely at f/90 to f/125, I'm sure diffraction sets in way before that. So how much sharper can a system be at this size then say a 4X5 with a good apo lens and enlarged with a point-light source oil-immersion enlarger. Don Browning used oil-immersion enlarging on 35MM and bigger or smaller negs to make 30X40 dye transfers; you would swear the 35mm prints were made from a 4X5 chromes.

Your sort of stuck with a 20X24" print and at the proper viewing distance, how much more detail can the human eye actually see. I think we need some side by side tests.
Bigger is not always better. Taking pictures on a slightly windy day with a 5 second exposure, I'm not sure you will get sharp photos. As far as great tone quality, you can get the same results from an oil-immersion enlarger.

Have fun with it.

As the germans say "Der Weg ist das Ziel" which literally translated means "The journey is the reward".

It's true that "Der Weg ist das Ziel," but that's not it *entirely*...bear in mind that many LF photogs are *printmakers* and that a number of print processes require contact printing. So the print can only be as large as the negative. (This was generally the case in the era of the heroic Western landscape, too--people like William Henry Jackson and Carleton Watkins carried humongous glass-plate cameras into the wilderness on mules and in wagons to make their splendid 19th-century views.)

Mike J.

David Goldfarb: Even with my minuscule little 4x5, I think I got some benefit on my portrait subjects when I did one of my "Pool Party Portrait" sessions with that. I also limited myself to 2 sheets per subject, to try to force me to direct the subjects more and think about the final result more, and that worked out well too. I got at least a usable shot of every subject, and a couple of quite good ones I thought. I hadn't thought about how much the more intrusive camera might have been influencing my subject's actions before, thanks for pointing that out.

"Could anyone please explain to me what the latest large format frenzy here on TOP is all about? Pixel-peeping for film photographers, maybe? Or is it that film photographers are trying to justify their using film by shooting on ever larger formats?"

Resolution is not really a defining feature for LF or ULF, beyond that you have plenty for a reasonable enlargment with just 4x5. The purpose from about 8x10 on up is about contact printing for various processes. Contact printing can yield nuances that are hard to show on a computer- 3D is as good a way to express it as any, for some processes, like traditional silver gelatin. Other processes, like platinum, allow for a great range of paper texture, subtle rendition and micro contrast in the highlights, and other things that show to greater or lesser degrees in the print. Basically, these type of cameras are a means to an end, and that end is the print, with other considerations, such as electronic display, relegated to second place. A 20x24 print isn't that huge by todays standards. (working with the huge camera and neg is a different matter))

It's nice to see some LF stuff sometimes- we're not all dead yet.

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/features/story/0,,1680908,00.html

The lab i use used to have these huge portraits in reception - full length shots of people that were printed up to a size that was a good bit taller than your average door. Looking at them from inches away they were still sharp as anything - you could see every pore, every hair on a shaved beard. They were quite something. I asked about them and was told they were taken by a man called Alistair Thain, with a camera he had built himself, using a lens that I think he had bought from the Russian space program. The film he used was I think about 20x24. They were stunning. Apparently the biggest challenge was building a tripod that would hold the camera. So as far as being stuck with a 20x24 print goes, the answer is that you are stuck with whatever you can do. The lab said they learnt a lot from working with him.

RDP

Some of the finest examples of contact prints from one of these whoppercams I've seen are those by Nicholas Nixon (of the famous "Brown Sisters" series). Earlier this year he brought some of his large contact prints of Boston here to Chicago. They were lovely, and some of his stories behind them (ex: shooting with a whoppercam from a high-rise roof on windy days) were even more memorable.

JBrunner noted above, "Basically, these type of cameras are a means to an end,...". Indeed they are. But so often the means seem to BE the ends. That is, owners of these specialty cameras seem to define and distinguish their work by their tools and techniques rather than by the images they produce. (That is most definitely NOT the case with Nicholas Nixon, who seems rather reluctant to discuss his tools.)

Perhaps I'm just becoming crankier but I find this every bit as much of a boring distraction from the real "ends" as those who define themselves by their digital cameras, lenses, and inkjet papers.

Ken,
I think people should just be free to do whatever interests and gratifies them and feels fun to them. For some people that's LF. I don't think we can assume the attraction is ideological.

Mike J.

"I don't think we can assume the attraction is ideological."

Well, it's certainly not practical.

However, for me, and I just shoot puny 8x10 at present, the reward is both the means, and the end, and this particular means keeps my concentration on the end. Plus I just enjoy working with this stuff. Keeps me centered on my photography, because the equipment doesn't change, even if it gets bigger. It's not like I can upgrade the firmware, and the basic operation manual is about two paragraphs. (And then a life time of practical application)

I have always been fascinated by Large format stuff. I know nothing about it but the interest is still there.

The problem I keep running up against is that I always had this notion of it being more contraption than content. I am sure I am mostly wrong........

It reminds me of a friend in Alaska who is a fishing guide. He makes all his own equipment for fly fishing and spends hours talking about it and telling stories. While it's difficult in Alaska to come home empty handed I have never ever heard him say he had a bad day fishing cause he didn't catch anything.

If he was a photographer he would be into this stuff for sure.

"The problem I keep running up against is that I always had this notion of it being more contraption than content."

Charlie,
That's probably due to the fact that you don't primarily look at prints. (Not that I'm blaming you; few people do.) When you do so, the special qualities of large format become obvious.

Mike J.

"Charlie,
"That's probably due to the fact that you don't primarily look at prints. (Not that I'm blaming you; few people do.) When you do so, the special qualities of large format become obvious.

Mike J."

You're probably right Mike.

While I have seen loads of high quality prints in my life (mostly 35mm and 4x5) and "mostly" behind glass in museums and shows it's not really about that. I don't dispute for a second the quality of the output and final print. I'm close with a couple people who are at least considered to be really "excellent" traditional B&W printers....

What it comes down to for me at this point is that my "propeller" just does not spin as fast as most people's who are into LF.

If you catch my drift?

It's the same with music for me. I have a much better than average stereo system (even if it's 25 years old) My Audiophile friends think I am a heretic for even owning an i-pod let alone listening to Monk or Bach on it.

;-)

Not wishing to get into a bigger than yours,
but a camera into which you climb to take a photo?

Some guy converted a delivery
truck into a pinhole camera with an integrated darkroom. This one
takes 4ft by 8ft images, so if he'd ever bother to use negative film
he could contact-print murals! He may also be the only photographer
who sits *in* his camera while taking pictures. Unfortunately the
original website of the project appears to be gone. Some shots of the
guy and his truck are here:
http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/multimedia/2003/08/59929?slide=4&slideView=4

Could anyone please explain to me what the latest large format frenzy here on TOP is all about? Pixel-peeping for film photographers, maybe? Or is it that film photographers are trying to justify their using film by shooting on ever larger formats?"

Film users do not have to justify their use of film to anyone!

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