How to Use a Large Format 4×5 Camera : Advantages of a Large Format Camera

Film negatives from large format cameras produce crisp, sharp images. Learn how to use a Speed Graphic large format 4 x 5 camera in this free camera lesson from a professional photographer.

Expert: Anthony Maddaloni
Bio: Anthony Maddaloni is a professional photographer from Austin, Texas.
Filmmaker: MAKE | MEDIA
Video Rating: 4 / 5


  1. steveseason
    April 28, 2015 at 3:10 am #

    >>>one 35mm film frame/exposure has more than 24megapixels of info on it.
    Actually its more like zero megapixels, film doesn’t have any. You can only
    compare quality, and there is so much debate on the issue with the general
    consensus seem to be that a 35mm frame is equivalent to aprox. 10 – 16MP
    image even with Velvia 50. But then there is also the quality of MPs. I’ve
    seen 10MP images from pro cameras that rival 35mm velvia. Just for the
    record I mainly shoot 6×7 medium format.

  2. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 4:01 am #

    @neosonic66 well yeah that’s true and im aware that has nothing to do with
    the dynamic range of a chip but what im trying to say is thats irrelevant
    with the speed you can take photos now. If you wanted to scan film 4×5 you
    would need to (as far as i know and correct me if im wrong) is manually
    load up 3-9 4×5’s and manually change the exposure each time? Now by then
    the light could have easily changed in quite a dramatic fashion, the wind
    could start blowing, or at least the clouds shift.

  3. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 4:12 am #

    @Siwep as for the size of a sharp image is concerned I find it hard to
    believe (although I haven’t bothered to do the math) that a 180 megapixel
    back wont produce crisper sharper images at a larger size than a film neg
    without producing any grain. and thats not even getting into multiple shots
    or exposures. now.. I know you could probably take camera obscura and such
    into account.. but that’s not a large format camera.

  4. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 4:42 am #

    @chompychomps one thing film cameras can never do: work without film

  5. stevevox1
    April 28, 2015 at 5:23 am #

    @cinechromefilms yep your right most go for easy to use that gives quick
    images but there are purist around me being one that uses 5×4 for its
    stunning image quality, there are times Ive used 35mm digital because by
    the time I’d set up my 5×4 the shot would be gone but Im never happy with
    it, good luck

  6. ellofatman101
    April 28, 2015 at 6:18 am #

    I live in Austin Texas!!! haha thats funny!

  7. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 6:28 am #

    @cinechromefilms digital has a larger dynamic range because you can shoot
    more exposures and combine them into a HDR image.

  8. adrianrubi
    April 28, 2015 at 6:31 am #

    i think the issue between film and digital formats can only be settled on
    what print size and resolution you want for large prints. film will always
    do better for high resolution 30inch by 40inch prints. and your 6x7inch is
    more than perfect for this.

  9. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 6:38 am #

    I’m sorry but you’re wrong. Digital backs are higher quality now.

  10. neosonic66
    April 28, 2015 at 6:49 am #

    @Siwep that still has nothing to do with the dynamic range of the sensor.
    But yes, you’re right, it’s much easier to do with digital. But large
    format film is still ahead´╗┐ of digital when it comes to shear size of a
    sharp image. I shoot digital, but I realize that neither format is the
    king, both have advantages. Besides, I can still scan film negatives and do
    all the HDR magic on a computer. Being able to rapidly take multiple
    exposures is definitely a digital advantage though.

  11. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 7:07 am #

    @neosonic66 plus in the near future digital camera will be able to shoot
    huge amounts of FPS (in the hundreds) which means being able to shoot
    bracketed at moving objects without getting blur. (post processing can take
    that out anyway) so yes it does have to do with film and digital. thats
    like saying yeah film is more useful than digital because i always shoot
    digital with the lens cap on

  12. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 7:27 am #

    @MrPhilippeLeb Phase One/ Hasselblad

  13. adrianrubi
    April 28, 2015 at 7:28 am #

    i think 4×5″ film has more than 400megapixels of info on it. just think of
    how many 35mm frames can fit on that huge film and one 35mm film
    frame/exposure has more than 24megapixels of info on it.

  14. MrPhilippeLeb
    April 28, 2015 at 7:47 am #

    Which actual digital camera is the best right now, if we think in terms of
    large print?

  15. goodtimes616
    April 28, 2015 at 8:25 am #

    there is no need to go into details, digital is a practical money maker
    (mostly for the companies who make them) and for amateurs. Film is an art
    form that requires skill, so much so that the whole process from neg to
    darkroom feels closer to painting than it is is to digital. And there is no
    comparing digital with a real printed picture from a good neg…ahhh
    blablabla tired of this shit

  16. Chris Johnson
    April 28, 2015 at 8:38 am #

    @neosonic66 yeah im sorry but it does. i really wouldn’t consider that to
    be an increase in dynamic range at all. but yes i am aware of the great
    wave and early multiple exposures. but they simply dont compare to the
    posibilities of modern digital HDR. good luck doing that with a building
    with 8 very different lighting conditions in it. film HDR also really only
    works if you’re working across a straight line like horizon and is still
    extremely hard to do properly

  17. neosonic66
    April 28, 2015 at 9:28 am #

    @Siwep bracketing different exposures into an HDR image has nothing to do
    with digital or film cameras. Photographers were shooting HDR in the
    1800’s. They would shoot two different exposures of a seascape, and use two
    negatives to create 1 image with a properly exposed sky and properly
    exposed sea. It’s just easy to do badly with a digital camera. And using
    multiple exposures has nothing to do with the dynamic range of the camera,
    only the image… which is all done in developing

  18. mjaxdes
    April 28, 2015 at 9:48 am #

    A 4×5 negative equates to about 750 megapixels… you do the math -OR you
    can buy a Hasselblad 25 dig mp for about 30,000 dollars.

  19. cinechromefilms
    April 28, 2015 at 9:59 am #

    megapixels is one thing, film has what dynamic range to digital? plus a
    computer printers tonal output depends on the number of inks used and the
    paper on which it is printed until you get into the range of something like
    the RED camera, which just started to approach the range of high speed film
    lets see digital compared to kodachrome 64 or 25 4X5 , not just yet.
    Digital is cheaper and faster, so we give up the quality and go for fast