Large format photography, like any specific format, has its pros and cons. In this article, we’re delving deep into the advantages, the disadvantages and some of the details of large format images. 

The Pros of Large Format Images

professional art prints reproduction artist jennifer vranes artisanhdOne of the biggest features boasted by large format images is the details that simply come along with a larger image size. According to Q.-Tuan Luong “Results are sharper, have a better tonality, and are grain-free.” The large format camera allows for the delicacy and intense detail of in image to be fully and justly represented as it actually is, rather than trying to enlarge a photo and potentially distort its fine details. 

In an article by Alain Briot, he says that when asked why he chose to use a 4×5 camera, he answered as follows: “My immediate answer was the one you would expect: I use 4×5 because of the superb detail available from such a large original, the superlative lens quality, the movements afforded by a view camera, and so on. In one word: quality.” 

Another positive benefit of a large format camera is the camera’s movements. “You have more control on the final geometry of the photographed objects and of the perspective as well as on the areas of sharpness,” says Luong. 

Additionally, with large format images, you have much more versatility regarding the types of film you can use (and use easily). This includes the option of using Polaroid film. Every sheet of film is individually attended to, which allows for a very precise outcome. 

large format banner at GCUAnother advantage to large format images is the ability to have a deep impact on people and attract attention, for example, in advertising. If a company is looking to draw people in and really catch the consumer’s eye, large format images could be the perfect answer. According to Influence Print NYC, “The products that large format printing offers have the capability to create are designed to draw attention, making it an effective medium for high impact advertising.” 

Among the many reasons to utilize large format images, quality seems to be one of the most popular; the ability for each photograph to boast its most intimate details. 

The Cons of Large Format Images

Although there are many advantages to using large format cameras/imaging, there are also a set of disadvantages that come along with this practice. 

Q-Tuan Luong also mentions that one disadvantage to large format printing is that everything is manual. Luong stresses that “Most other cameras do some things automatically for us that we take for granted — like preventing fogged film, double-exposures, non-exposures and so on.” He points out that you have to remember to do these things for yourself with a large format camera, given that it does not automatically do things for you that standard-sized cameras typically do. 

Another disadvantage is the equipment and film that is necessary to use large format cameras. Much of the necessary equipment is bulky, heavy, and you always need a good tripod. This, along with the cost per photograph printed, can often get pretty pricey. 

Additionally, the processes necessary for large format images can be lengthy and take a great deal of time and effort. 

What You Need for Large Format Photography

large format camera

JG large format camera

There are various pieces of equipment that are necessary to pursue large format photography and its images. According to Luong, the key items you will need are a camera, lenses, film holders and film, and a tripod. There are also some accessories that may be helpful, including (but not limited to) darkcloth, focussing loop, a cable release, and a meter. 

Luong also discusses the different kinds of cameras you can choose from. It is important that you ensure that the camera you choose is portable enough to get the job done. Additionally, the camera needs to be easy enough to operate. “Geared controls, positive and well-placed locks, spirit levels, various scales, zero detents, smooth operation, rear focussing…” are all helpful, says Luong. 

There are also specific qualities to look for in the kind of lenses, film, and holders you choose, which Luong goes into great detail about here.

If large format images are right for you and you need some guidance in the printing process, ArtisanHD is here to help. With our HP Latex 3000 printer, we are able to carefully and precisely print your image as large as you may need. Our extensive experience in printing and our attention to customer care and service make us a great partner for your printing needs, especially large format image printing!

UPDATED MARCH 2020