Thar she blows!
A whale of a camera is on her way to my briny mitts. Yessir. I will be the shooter of 4×5 film very soon.
I kind of went crazy with Medium Format film. It put a moratorium on all 35mm shooting. After I went to 120 film, I never looked back. And why should I?
Some people ask “why do you need* all of that resolution?” Well, in about 99.9% of the cases, medium format film is overkill. Posting a 35mm image online and comparing it with a 6×9 won’t give you substantially different results. And indeed, the resolution advantage is completely negated when you post online. Just think about it – take a 100mb image file and turn it into 500K. Sacrilege!
So why would I even want to go larger? Before I answer that, here’s the change I’ve made over the years:
This is where I started and is what they deem “full frame” in the digital sensor world. It is 36mm x 24mm = 864mm^2.
I started with a Pentax 67 (still love that camera). These negatives are 60mm x 70mm = 4,200mm^2. This is 480% larger than 35mm.
I then moved to the Fuji GW690. I love it and won’t stop shooting with it. 60mm x 90mm = 5,400mm^2. This is 130% larger than 6×7 and 625% larger than 35mm.
I am now moving to 4×5. This is in inches. So in centimeters it’s 10.1×12.7 = 12,800mm^2. This is 230% larger than 6×9, 300% larger than 6×7 and approx. 1500% larger than 35mm.
Yep. Every shot of 4×5 film is exposing 15 shots of 35mm.
But, you are probably saying, “Size isn’t everything! It’s the motion in the ocean!” And, to a large degree, you are right. Resolution has little to do with what the end photo looks like. It’s the photographer and his technique that makes the photos.
Well, one little thought experiment I have is this – let’s say I take the photo of a lifetime. That once in a lifetime shot. And after marveling at it, I realize I wanna print it big. And I’m talking 64×86. If I shot it in 35mm… I’ll be one sad panda. But if I shoot it in 6×9 (or even better 4×5) I’ll have a lot more to work with.
As I said on a forum the other day, I don’t expect to shoot a career altering photo tomorrow (heck, my career isn’t photography anyway). But if I do, at least I’ll be shooting it with something that I can be satisfied with then I do my printing. So that takes care of resolution.
But there’s another aspect you may have noticed when looking at my photos. The images on here look different than your 35mm ones do. And this has nothing* to do with resolution and everything to do with the design of the lens and size of the image circle.
Basically when you look at an image today, the likelihood that it was shot on a 35mm camera are about 80%. Many of the lenses for 35mm cameras have the same designs. Well, when you get to larger formats, they have to change the designs and this change changes the draw of the image on the film.
So my photos look different because they were shot on 6×9 film. You may have noticed or not. I hope you did because I love the look of larger format lenses. And when you go to large format (ie 4×5 and above), the lens designs change again. Hence there will be another drawing…
Large format cameras have the option to tilt, shift and swing to your hearts content. Some have more than others of course and since my camera will be a field camera, the movements won’t be extraordinary. But having them is going to open up my toolset in different scenarios. And I am excited to master this next toolset.
This next camera will be the slowest I’ve ever worked it. It’ll take at least 5-10 minutes to setup. And each shot will require me to change the film holder. Things are just going to slow down. I don’t have a choice here. But that’s ok. It changes my photography and I am excited to become more patient and meditate while I wait for the perfect shot.
It won’t be a panacea. I am not going to start taking amazing photos right away. But I am really excited nevertheless. I’ll post pics once I get her!