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Monday, 13 May 2013


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I wonder if color options will ever exist?

[Not from Ilford. It doesn't make color film. --Mike]

Its not just film that's hard to get. Contact printing paper seems to be nearly extinct. Paper like Azo and Velox are long gone, and I assume that color contact paper is just as scarce. A quick search on B&H and Calumet using terms like 'contact printing', 'contact printing paper', etc. came up with a few proofing papers. and lots of inkjet paper. Are these guys doing there own? And I expect that LF shooters today must have large disposable incomes.Too bad. I had considered doing some silver prints from digital file negatives, but have dropped that idea. Just not worth the effort.

[True contact printing paper is available from Lodima:


...and of course you can contact print on any enlarging paper as long as you have a way to control short exposures (i.e., an enlarger).

I'm not aware that there ever was such a thing as "color contact paper." Contact printing is done on regular color printing papers. --Mike]

Most photographers who shoot 11x14 know this already, but anyone considering the plunge into ULF might want to know that 11x14 Ilford HP5 Plus is a regularly stocked item at B&H Photo.{MJ pls redirect link through TOP}

Obviously this is academic to most photographers, but those who are curious about wading into ULF might note that in terms of film availability 11x14 is the most "accessible" of the Ultra Large Formats (the market is so tiny that it's hard to say most "popular"). And, of course, those 11x14 sheets can be home-cut into the more obscure 7x11 and 5x14 formats.

Of course, if your 11x14 contact prints are just looking too grainy and you want a slower film than ISO 400 (HP5 Plus), this Ilford special-order period is indeed your one opportunity this year to get 11x14 sheets of Delta 100 and FP4 (ISO 100 and 125, respectively).

Hello Mike,

While that Shen-Hao looks absolutely gorgeous, I'm afraid it's a bit overboard for someone who is just starting to think about entering the large format world.

Perhaps you could write a post about equipment options for the LF beginner? I thought doing some 8x10 work may be interesting, but a quick look online shows there may be FAR fewer used/reasonably priced (say, sub-$1,000) equipment options out there than I had expected. Perhaps I'm just looking in the wrong place.

Interesting to see all the talk of film and medium/large format lately. Hopefully it persists and our options grow. I've got a few months of medium format under my belt and am really enjoying the change from digital.



With the advent / maturity of digital negatives LF photographers can now have their cake and eat it too! That is they can shoot at a convenient size, say 4x5 (and given your article and the diminishing supply of "large" sheet film this size is becoming more and more desirable), develop the film, scan it, make a digital negative to any size they want, say 16x20, and then contact print it using their favorite alt. process! The best of all worlds!

Back in the '60s I seem to remember there was a color contact paper, not a major brand, and possibly European in origin. I never used it, as i never had a home color line, and did few contacts anyway. Maybe somebody with a better memory can ID it.

Someone looking for contact-paper (silver-chloride based) can also look at Fomalux. It's even available over the counter in some European stockists, as well as by mail.

It seems that we have some luck with stock of smaller "odd" sizes of sheet film too, for example 9x12cm or 13x18cm (not quite the same as 5x7") from both Ilford and Foma. Without Ilford, the larger formats would be sparsely supported indeed so lets support them both.

A 6,5x8,5" contact print on 8x10" Fomalux could be an interesting way forwards for a certain camera, Mike??


4x5 is actually an ideal format - it's large enough that no digital option can compete in terms of image quality, except when stitching options are used. It's relatively small enough that it can be hiked around with (within reasons). And it does take that much longer to use once you put something on a tripod. OK, may be the difference between 30 seconds with a DSLR on a tripod vs. 5 mins for a 4x5.

Then you just need to process the film (DIY for the lowest cost) and a good flatbed scanner, and the rest can be done digitally.

Best of both worlds, IMHO. This is why I will have my third 4x5 very soon :-)

Ultra-large format color film is readily available from Kodak, provided you have $15,000 for the order. What makes Ilford nice is that you can get just one box of what you want, any size, once a year, no special charge or minimum or it.

If you are looking to explore LF photography without blowing a couple of house payments I have a pair of cameras in mind for you.
WARNING, if you line up at dawn at Moab with either of these rigs you will look like a dork. Long ago I embraced my inner dork so it doesn't bother me but that's me.
I would suggest starting with 4x5 even if you only plan to contact print. The cost for equipment and supplies will be much lower and even a 4x5 contact is very nice to look at.
Two worth looking for would be either a Pacemaker Graphic, preferably with a 135mm Xenar or a clean Calumet monorail camera.
The Graphic has very limited movements but in my experience rising front is what gets used the most and this camera has enough of that for most purposes.
Graphics also have coupled rangefinders so you can easily use them hand held. Stick a speedlight on a bracket, drag the shutter and you can have all kinds of fun with one of these antiques. LF street photography? Why not?
While the Calumet is a monorail camera it is still quite light weight and if you only plan to do wide angle work it can be found in a short rail variant which is even smaller. You don't need a gigantic tripod for either of these cameras. A Tiltall will work just fine.
The Calumets don't generate much interest with either the collector or fine art crowd so they can often be found at pretty low prices. There's one on Ebay right now with a Symmar and the starting price is $200. At twice that price it's still a steal.
The other benefit of 4x5 is that if you build a darkroom there are affordable used enlargers out there. When the local custom lab went fully digital and replaced their enlargers with scanners there was a group of really nice Chromegas that went out the door for chump change. Ask around and you may even get and enlarger for free.
There is also an intangible benefit to LF photography. It is the least threatening form of picture taking out there. People just love these cameras and they can be great conversation starters.
Kudos to Ilford. They can't be making any money on this but it's a very classy thing to do.

Completely agree regarding contact printing. I got started with 4x5 in the mid 90s, and without means for, or access to, an enlarger, I made contact prints on Azo, when you could still get it. (Still have a couple of boxes of that around...)

Eventually, after learning platinum/palladium printing, and wanting a larger negative, I found a 5x7 "expansion" back that fit that Osaka/Tachihara family of LF cameras. Odd looking thing, and limited what focal lengths one could use, but I was poor, relatively, and used that setup for years with only a 210mm Rodenstock Geronar and a 120mm Angulon (in Linhof shutter!). Man, that was fun. Develop film at night in trays in the bathtub, and print the next day in the sunshine!
Here's some of that work: http://www.yurtwoodpress.com/galleries/at-home/
and some of these: http://www.yurtwoodpress.com/galleries/still/

@BH, I guess that is a long way around of saying that you can do LF with limited means. Having said that, I don't think LF equipment has experienced the huge price drops like other film cameras have, maybe especially 8x10...


Not from Ilford. It doesn't make color film

Not any more. They did once though.

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