6x9cm vs 4x5in

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I alternate between shooting 6x9 roll film and 4x5 on my LF cameras. Given that the tripod is in a fixed position (perspective doesn't change) and that I switch lenses to closely match the same composition from format to format (i.e. a 90mm for the 4x5 and switch to a 65mm for the 6x9) I still like the feel of the image on the larger format. Is this caused by the difference in "compression" from using a longer lens on 4x5? Or is it an illusion?

Has anyone else experienced this?


-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 16, 1998


I don't think "compression" is the answer. The compression one sees when using a 300mm lens on a 35mm camera is nonexistent when using a 300mm lens on 8 x 10. In other words, I believe the compression effect is a function of angle of view, not focal length. Could the effect you're seeing be due merely to aspect ratio, namely 1.25 for 4 x 5 vs. 1.5 for 6 x 9? Do you still see the effect when comparing 4 x 5 and 6 x 7, assuming angle of view is comparable?

-- Stewart Ethier (ethier@math.utah.edu), December 16, 1998.

I is an illusion, if the field of view is the same. Its like Stewart says, that its a function of the angle of view. If you take a wide angle shot, then crop it down to a small section in the center, perspective is the same as a telephoto shot in the same angle of view as the cropped portion. I think the reason you always like it better, is because of increased resolution, and everything else that makes a larger negative better.

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), December 16, 1998.

Which are you evaluating, the neg, or a print? If you're evaluating the neg, don't you feel that a larger image always feels less compressed. If you are looking at a print, that was the same size enlargement from each format, then I would imagine that one would see very little difference.

-- Lawrence Watson (larry@ora.com), December 16, 1998.

Thank you for the responses do far. i should add that both my 65mm and my 90mm lenses are Rodenstock Grandagons and that whilethe 65mm is newer, the coatings appear to be the same and the color rendition on the film is the same. I shoot 95% transparency (Velvia and Provia, occassionally some E100s or E100sw.) I think what i am trying to define is something I have named "presence" which is probably a combination of resolution of detail, rendering of micro-contrasts, and sharpness. May be it is something I see (even in prints) because i make the images. I really should do a blind side to side a/b comparison of a reasonable print size (say 11x14) and have others look at the two prints and pass judgement.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 17, 1998.

I think I know exactly what you're talking about. When I look at a medium format image, I simply feel like I'm viewing a transparency. When I'm evaluating a 4x5 chrome, I feel as though I'm in the middle of the location. I'm sure size has something to do with this but I also have a sense the image is all around me with 4x5. "Presence" is a good word for it.


-- Mike Long (mlafly@aol.com), December 20, 1998.

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