Sanity Check : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

OK folks, I am in a bit of a quandary over cameras. I already own an 8x10 with a 4x5 back that I really like. Portability for travel has been my biggest concern and I am contemplating the purchase of a 4x5 wood field, and trading in the 4x5 back for the 8x10 on a 5x7 just for variety. Is this a rational decision given the smaller size of everything for the 4x5 or am I just wanting to buy another camera? I am also in need of a moderate wide angle lens for the 8x10 and looking for suggestions (keeping in mind that I am a Goerz fan). THank for the sanity check in advance.

-- David N. VanMeter (, December 13, 2000


Looks like a pretty rational reason to me. After all, several folks have more than one 4x5 camera. The difference in portability between a 8x10 and a 4x5 is certainly more than the difference between two 4x5. Some folks even have more than one lens of the same focal length, the only significant difference beeing a few hundred grams of weight. I'd think about keeping the 4x5 back so that I wouldn't have to carry two cameras, though.

-- Q.-Tuan Luong (, December 13, 2000.

You are perfectly sane as I went through a similar check a while back.

Portability is a very important component of large format and with my 8x10, I was logistically constrained primarily with weight.

I would recommend that you keep the 4x5 back simply because you already have it and look at a 5x7 field camera. My point is that the 5x7 format is so wonderful as soon as you get the 5x7 back on the 8x10, you will be wishing you got a 5x7 camera.

Here is my rational - as an 8x10 user, you are already a non- compromise individual looking for the best images possible. While there is nothing that is quite as appealing as an 8x10 contact, the 5x7 comes in a close second. What the 5x7 gives you is nearly double the size of the 4x5 negative plus some excellent proportions to compose with that is different that the 8x10/4x5. I decided to purchase a Canham aluminum 5x7 camera that weights about 6# and costs the same as a 4x5 of the same materials. This camera will allow me to pack it into places that my 8x10 will never see.

You can always add a 4x5 back to the 5x7 if you so choose. Most of the lenses you will normally use with the 4x5 can work very well with the 5x7. My only incentive to go with the 4x5 back is if the film manufacturers will continue to produce ready loads, which I am not completely sure is a certainty.

Good Luck.

-- Michael Kadillak (, December 13, 2000.

How are you intending to print your 5x7s? If you want to enlarge them, do you have the ability to do that now, or will that be an additional expense to be factored in? If you are only contact printing, in my opinion, 5x7 is a much better size than 4x5, and perhaps you should be looking for a 5x7, rather than 4x7, "travel" camera.

-- Chris Patti (, December 13, 2000.

David: I like your original idea of trading the 4x5 back for a 5x7 back for the 8x10 and getting the 4x5. Not only would the 4x5 be lighter than a 5x7, but you will be able to find more varieties of film for the 4x5. The Goertz lenses in the 7 to 10 inch focal length will serve as a long normal/short tele on the 4x5, a regular normal on the 5x7 and a wide angle on the 8x10. Saint Ansel used the 7 in. Goertz on his 5x7 a lot. You can add a 90 and 135 for the 4x5 and be pretty well covered with lenses for all the cameras. A 135 with good coverage will also cover 5x7 and serve as a wide angle for that format. As for needing a sanity check as a criteria for buying another camera, forget it. I go by the old adage "one missed photo opportunity is sufficient reason to buy two additional pieces of photography equipment". Good luck with your quest.


-- Doug Paramore (, December 14, 2000.

With respect to your question about a moderate wide angle for 8x10, I recently purchased a 210 G Claron and have been very pleased with it. I stop down to F 32, sometimes F 45, and it seems to have plenty of coverage. The image circle given by Schneider for this lens is very misleading when it is used as a general purpose lens rather than a close up lens. I believe it will actually cover 8x10 at F 22 though I haven't tried that. I know it will cover at F 32 because that's what I've been using. My understanding is that with this lens design the image circle continues to get larger as you continue to stop down. As a side benefit, it's very small (Copal 1 shutter) and inexpensive (by large format standards) - around $450 including shipping from Robert White.

-- Brian Ellis (, December 15, 2000.

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