Large Format or Medium Format : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am a self taught 35mm photographer (approx. 8 yrs. "hobby guy"); however, I have NO experience with larger format equipment. For the past two years I have been shooting "product" shots for my company (racing components)- although the results are "acceptable", I know a larger format will give the products more depth, color, "life"... I have read books in regard to 4 x 5 and medium format- but I am still seeking an answer- which is best for me?

(1) I would rather work with flash photography- recently purchased a complete Elinchrom system.

(2) Digital is the future... I currently have my 35mm slides sent out to be scanned on a drum scanner. I would like the option for digital photography- esp. for our new web site.

(3) I currently enjoy my 35mm world- so the 4 x 5 or medium format camera would be purchased soley for product shots- although I am sure I will find many other uses- my objective is for "life like" product pictures.

(4) Most of the product is 60" or less in length- most produt is illustrated (enlarged) to occupy to 20%-70% of a 8.50" x 11" catalog page.

Help?- I love photography- so I am willing to spend the XXXXXX hours self learning either format- but I am unsure which would be the best for me now & in the future.

-- Jeff Stange (, April 24, 1999


As long as you don't need the perspective (swings & tilts), angle of view (vertical & horizontal shifts) depth of focus and focus plane adjustments swings and tilts again) that you get from a view camera, there is no reason for you to get one.

An interchangable back medium format camera like the Hassleblad, the Mamiya RZ 67, the Rollei 6000 series, or even the Fuji 680 III camera (some camera movements with this camera, front standard only). Will work for you very well. I am suggest these particular cameras because I know there are digital backs already being produced for them that you can easily interchange with standard film and polaroid magazines. My suggestion for you right now is to keep the camera fiddling to a minimum and concentrate on learning to use your new lighting equipment. If you are like most photographers I know that will keep you busy for, oh maybe the rest of your life. Seriously, concentrate on learning to work with your lights. get a medium format camera (I recommend 6x6 minimum) that has polaroid capabilities. Polaroid is the best teaching tool photographers have.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 25, 1999.

If product shots is your purpose I would advice LF. If you want to do this with creativity and originality: LF. If you want it conventionally 'right' (sharpness, depth of field, no recognizable reflections of the camera or lighting equipment, etc.): LF. Don't forget that DoF is already a large amount smaller with MF than with 35mm, so with product shots from nearby you'll have to swing to get a reasonable DoF.

-- Lot (, April 25, 1999.

I think LF is the way to go, also. As Lot mentions, DOF with MF is less than you are getting in 35mm, and that may become a problem. You will need the movements LF provides. And an up side of LF, it will be cheaper than MF, as well.

-- Ron Shaw (, April 26, 1999.

Go with the 4x5. I have switched from 35 to medium to 4x5, and I wished I had gone directly to 4x5. Once I got used to having rise and tilt, a medium format (without movements) seems quite limited. Since you will not be taking the camera on a hike, the size or 4x5 is of little concern and the movements should come in handy with product photography.

-- William Marderness (, April 28, 1999.

The backs you want, Polaroid, ditigal are available for 4x5. You just slide it in the back. And, yes, 4x5 is cheaper than medium format.

-- William Marderness (, April 28, 1999.

I am a commercial photog and do a lot of product shots. Although I have a full range of equipment I now shoot most "non-cover" product photos with a 4x5 AND a 6x7 roll film back (and proof with a Polaroid 405 back). With todays great films, unless a photo is going to full page, the 6x7 film size is great. With a view camera you have control over depth of field and other movements. With roll film you can bracket and shoot quicker. Just be sure you get a 4x5 with interchangable bellows so you can put on bag bellows. Also the 150mm lens is perfect product lens with 6x7cm format.

-- Richard Stum (, May 02, 1999.

While I have never shot product, I do have (3) 4X5'S AND 2 roll backs, a 22 and a 23 and have shot some rolls of B/W and color slide, I love Ektachrome 63 and the 23 format, I would suggest skipping the MF and go with the versitility of the 4x5 with roll backs. While slide material is about a dollar a sheet plus $1.50-$2 for developing, a roll of 120 is about $4 a roll and will get you 12 (22) or 8 (23)and processing will run about $6-8 per roll. Pat

-- pat j. krentz (, June 21, 1999.

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