4x5 or 2x3

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Hi, I do still life fine art, using TMax 100. Sometimes architecture is part of the shot. I want to work with a view camera. My only experience with this type of camera was in school using a Calumet (4x5). I'm very mixed on going with 4x5 or 2x3 monorail view camera. I here its hard to get even developement with 4x5 film, (I'm not sending my film to a lab). In the Abbey catalogue I see a Yankee tank, a plastic box with film holder and a lid with an opening. There is also the Jobo, which has cylinders. Any feedback on this would be appreciated. The weight of my equipment is very important to me. No more than 6 lbs. I know the Arca Swiss Discovery is about 5 lbs, but another concern is the bulkiness of my equipment. The A/S 6x9 is so compact, but I fear I will regret 4x5 size negs. But then again, with the film I'm using, and 3 film backs for the Zone system, (N, N+1, N-1), can I go wrong? P.S. The bellows of the A/S 6x9 doesn't seem to extend enough to do 1:1, is this so, because a "standard" bellows replacement is $300.00!!!! What is the best lens, Scheider or Rodenstock? (No Nikon, I'm not pleased with there optics) All answers are much appreciated. Thanks, Raven

-- Raven Garrow (mtand13@netreach.net), March 06, 1999


Response to Can't decide, help!

I think you're right regretting 4*5 when you use a monorail view camera for as 'little' as 6*9. You still have to unpack all your things. Never heard of uneven development on 4*5, except when you develop in an open tray, this requires practice. I think I work with what you call a Yankee tank, it requires less practice and I've got no problems at all with it. It cntains 6 negatives (3*2).It's very handy changing liquids with a light-safe opening at the top and at the bottom. I've developed in a cylinder too, but I don't like the idea, it does not work that handy and the risk of scratches is greater. Besides in the Yankee tank it's easier to get N, N+1 and N-1 in one process. You have to work in the dark then, but you can take the negatives out easily. This is not possible with a cylinder.

-- Lot (lotw@wxs.nl), March 06, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

Question #1 I use 4x5 frequently and have never had a problem with uneven development using trays and tubes. If anything you'll have more of a problem with tank developing(uses horrendous amounts of chemistry,they leak, and you have no control over individual negs). A JOBO would be nice but they are expensive and if you are looking to cut costs that's not the way to go. Trays and tubes offer the most control. Question #2 You're gonna be hard pressed to keep any equipment above 35mm under 6 pounds! (this assumes you carry more than just the camera body) The Arca Swiss might be a good choice considering just weight and bulkiness and if you carry a couple film holders, lightmeter, 1 lens, loupe, and a decent tripod with head you might just make it under 20 pounds. When I first started using 4x5 and hiked more than a couple hundred yards from my car I thought maybe I made a mistake and should have gone with medium format. Once I saw my first couple LF negs. I didn't regret my decision. (they actually weren't that great but seeing LF negs. for the first time is really something) Question #3 Schneider and Rodenstock are really on par with each other. You might try some older classic lenses. Some are really nice and much less expensive than new lenses.

-- Brian Jefferis (jefferis@erols.com), March 06, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

As previously mentioned, uneven negatives should be the least of your concerns in the 4 x 5 format. I started out with the Beyond The Zone System tubes and graduated into the Jobo for larger processing volumes. Never had anything but satisfaction in the negative department.

Would like to hear why you are so down on Nikon lenses ? I use them exclusively since they were considerably less expensive than the other big name products fron Schneider and Rodenstock and love them. Many other photographers I have talked to express the same satisfactions.

Weight is really not that big a deal with me within reason. It is incredibly easy to secure a light weight camera and by the time you add a few film holders, meter, cloth, loup and tripod, you are right where you were hoping to stay away from as far as weight goes. One guy I trek with regularly comments about how light weight his equipment is, but after a weigh in he was shocked about the reality of the load. He always carries large numbers of film holders that quickly add up. Good luck.

-- Michael Kadillak (kadillak@rmi.net), March 06, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

Thanks for your responses. I have since found out that the A/S 6x9 can be upgraded to a 4x5 by purchasing a 4x5 rear standard. I am however, considering the Discovery, too,(my concern with weight is because I have a bad back).

As far as Nikon lenses go, I don't feel that my prints are any sharper than with my old Minolta, (two other people I know have said the same thing). I had two autofocus lenses and now own three manual ones. If I were to stay with 35mm, I would do Leica for sure.

Thanks, Raven

-- Raven Garrow (mtand13@netreach.net), March 06, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

I suspected your prior experience with Nikon lenses was with either an autofocus or a zoom telephoto. Single focal length plasmats for Large Format use are far superior to the 35mm offerings for reasons that are really not worthy of text here.

As has been stated by many on this board and was appreciated when I was at your critical junction, lenses by all of the four big manufacturers - Schneider, Rodenstock, Fuji and Nikon will produce marvelous images. The differences are nominal but the prices are not.

-- Michael Kadillak (kadillak@rmi.net), March 06, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

You might want to look at two more cameras. The Arca Swiss 4x5 FC, if you really want a precision monorail, and the Canham 4x5 DLC. I use both both. I am an extremely critical photographer as I shoot architecture and portraits for a living. These days, for studio and some interior architecture work I use the Arca, primarily because the Arca has rear rise and fall whereas the canham has no rear rise/fall. For everything else: exterior architecture, portraits, landscape and macro i use the Canham. Some people like the feel of Canham, others do not. In my expereience most of the people who do not like the DLC, either havenot really used it, only poked and prodded at it at camera stores or they don't like it's unconventional design (i.e. it is a modified Deardorff copy.) In nearly a year of continuous shooting I have found it to be a very versatile solid tool. there are camera that "feel" more rigid (but aren't) and also cameras that "look" more precise. I looked long and hard and rented and borrowed lots of other cameras before I replaced my Sinar C with another monorail, and my criteria was equally high when I started looking for a compact very portable field camera. For me the Arca Swiss F-line and the Canham DLC were the best. I could go on but let me stop here. If you have further questions I'll be happy to answer them.


-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), March 08, 1999.

Response to Can't decide, help!

Just going to large format licks the sharpness problem, so dont get too anal over lens selection, cause it doesnt matter. Check out this site for the low down on lenses. http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/results.html

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), March 08, 1999.

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