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The Smart Way to Make Photo Enlargements

October 21st, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

The market for digital cameras is evolving very fast. Even if you tried to keep up with the highest resolution, unless you are willing to invest in a new camera every six-twelve months you would find that impossible. However, some people buy a digital camera mainly because they want to enlarge their photos and the resolution is therefore very important.

Luckily there is a different way of achieving this, one that will keep you satisfied for many years. With an investment of under 1,000 U.S. dollars, you can purchase a used 4×5” film camera and a high-resolution flatbed film scanner. This way you’ve got more than one hundred mega pixels in high-detail film, which you can enlarge to 30×40” keeping the same quality. This technique has been successfully used for nearly on hundred years in both personal and commercial photography like wedding photos, portraits, documentary, landscape and advertising.

But where can you buy a used 4×5” film camera? As these cameras have been widely used before 1960s, they can be easily found on U.S. auction websites. A good camera with lens can generally be purchased for no more than four hundred dollars. With flatbed film scanners is even easier. You can find a brand new one for less than five hundred dollars. All you have to do is make sure it can scan films.

There are a few features you should look for when buying such a camera: it has flexible bellows, it can be folded into a compact box, it accepts sheet film, the lenses are interchangeable, it has a ground glass focusing screen, it has an optical viewfinder accessory and it can be easily handheld. There are four main categories of lenses: general-purpose, wide field – generally used in landscape and close-ups, extreme wide angle and special effects. However, for most photographs all you need is a general purpose 127x152mm lens. If you want to take macro and architecture photos, you can buy a special lens manufactured after World War II. They have excellent performance compared to today’s cameras. Lenses can also be found on auction websites. When buying an old 4×5” camera, make sure that: there are no light leaks in the bellows; there are no scratches or fungus on the lens; the lens shutter works fine at all speeds; the focus works good between the film and the ground glass.

Using a 4×5” film camera coupled with a flatbed film scanner for enlarging photos is a viable and affordable option. A 4×5” film camera is cheaper and usually offers better quality than top digital camera models. If you want even more detailed enlargements, you can always opt for an 8×10” film camera. This offers four times wider film size and is though of as the ultimate step in photo enlargement. Analog product can sometimes work better than their digital counterparts. If you’re doing photo enlargements a lot, you should try a 4×5” film camera. You may be surprised of the results you can get with it.

Alex Don

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