Monday, April 13, 2009

DSLR vs. 4x5 Again

From ED, a very experienced view camera user who does documentary fine art photography:
This weekend, after printing a really nice black and white 8x10
from a crop of a D700 file, I was thinking...... are we getting to the point where it is hard
to justify 4x5 if our universe of prints is in the 16x20 range?
To me at 16x20 from anything less than a 2x stitched file from a DSLR starts to look thin especially if there is sky involved. The lack of micro fine detail combined with the lack of grain makes DSLR files at this size look mushy and plastic on close inspection. This is especially true if the file has been worked allot to expand contrast and tone resulting in enhanced noise. Noise is bad where grain is good. Having said that I have made 20x24 b&w prints from heavily detailed (stone wall) 12MP 5D files that look very good. Knowledgeable photographers at the show thought they were from 4x5.

Are you tempted to shift to digital for your personal work? With shiftlenses and multi-exposures to deal with dynamic range, will it work aswell? I still like the 4x5 because I can see what I am doing much betterthan with a 35mm. I tried a 6x9 view camera with a MF back in a workshop, and that was the worst - you could not see as well as with the35mm because of the slower lenses, and it cost the earth. But you know the hassles of hauling around 4x5.

Yes for a few images I have. I try to always have a digital camera with me (5DII these days) so that I never miss an opportunity. I know I can make a small exhibition quality image at least from a single file and much bigger if I can stitch. Hauling around a view camera is a hassle and a joy. I love the tradition and how deliberate and contemplative the VC work method is.

See also: From 4x5 to DSLR

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