Comparing 6×6 and 4×5 Formats With Pinball

So I have yet to share my results from the hiking trip I went on with some good friends of mine earlier this month. The results weren’t quite what I was hoping for but I definitely learned some things along the way. I initially had a hard time scanning in the film to the point I was starting to wonder if something was wrong with my lens. So I thought I should try an A/B test. A few days prior I took a photo of the playfield of my Star Trek: The Next Generation pinball machine using my Bronica SQ and 80mm lens. It was just for fun (I had a shot left on a roll of film I wanted to develop and thought it would look cool). The shot turned out pretty well and so I thought to try the same thing on 4×5 to compare the sharpness between the SQ and my Intrepid 4×5 and my Fujinon 150mm 5.6 lens.

Both shots were at 1″ and f/8 using HP5 pushed to 1600 and developed in HC-110 B for 8 minutes at 24C. 4×5 has a narrower depth of field at the same aperture (because the film is larger) but they both had a decent amount of sharpness to compare with (it helped that I used front-tilt on the Intrepid). Here are the results:

The resolution they are at here actually makes it a bit hard to tell which is which but the Intrepid shot has, of course, far less grain but is also at least as sharp as the Bronica (actually I would say sharper). At least for this test, I think it’s safe to say there isn’t any problem with the lens or my setup here. It isn’t a perfect comparison though – the sharpness concerns I had which prompted this test were with smaller apertures (f/32), outdoors, and looking at vast landscapes versus focusing close up like I did here. Even so, it did make me feel a little better that the issues, more than likely, aren’t with the lens but may be something else (the photographer maybe?).

Another point, perhaps unrelated, wow HP5 looks great in 4×5. I’ve been searching for a good medium speed film in 4×5 and I initially thought I found it in FP4. My results from the hike were ok but not quite what I was going on. I developed the FP4 in XTOL 1:1 (versus HP5 in HC-110) so that’s one difference. Likewise maybe my scanner is having trouble with the fine grain but either way, my scanned results show FP4 actually had less pleasing grain than the above HP5 shots (which were pushed 2 stops from 400 to 1600). What a beautiful film! Though I still want to try Pancro 400 in 4×5. In 35mm it’s a grainy beast but it sure does have beautiful tones. And likewise I would still very much like to have at least one medium speed film in my arsenal.

One thing is clear between all that though, man I really need a 4×5 enlarger…