20x24 Ultra Large Format Photography
20x24 Ultra Large Format Blog Articles
2022 Planning - The Year of The 20x24 Ultra Large Format
I ordered my 20x24 Chamonix on November 7, 2021 from Hugo with Chamonix and received the camera on (not received yet).
"It does one good to think how photographers, even while exercising the new art for money, have pursued it with a generous ardor for its own sake, and emulate each other in the magnanimity with which they throw their own discoveries into the common heap, and scorn to check the progress of their art for any selfish motive." -Henry Morley and W.H. Wills, 18531
TIPS/INFO FOR 20x24 ULTRA LARGE FORMAT
My primary reason for investing in the 20x24 ULF camera is to make world class ultra large format contact prints.
Just like Edward Weston, we all know that large format contact prints have no equal in terms of that special x-factor.
As contemporary large and ultra large format photographers, we have never had more creative options in any time in history.
While it is possible to make digital negatives up to very large sizes, I don't find that to be a workflow that I want to pursue. The endless software and computer upgrades, not to mention the level of nightmares associated maintaining large format inkjet printers, I just don't find any of this appealing. I don't have any opinions about how other people decide to work and have no judgements about any of it.
I am focused on creating handmade artisan ultra large format analog contact prints. My workflow is completely analog from beginning to end and this makes my heart sing. I am passing my knowledge and experience down to Tim Jr., and he will be able to carry our methods forward.
Very few people in the world are actively creating new fine art work with 20x24 ultra large format cameras and so those of that are, we band together and help each other.
If you are an ultra large format photographer, then you will want to be part of my Ultra Large Format Photography Group that I started on Facebook.
WHY 20x24 ULTRA LARGE FOMRAT?
Each photographer would have to answer the question of why 20x24 large format for themselves, however, I will share some of my personal thoughts with you and if you would like me to update this section with your ideas, just send me your comments and suggestions, and I am happy to post them here.
First, I should mention that I love large and ultra large format contact prints, always have, and always will. Maybe the thought of Weston making 8x10 prints in his simple, but highly effective darkroom is part of the mystique and romance.
I got my first 11x14 camera in 2010 and I was astounded by how much bigger 11x14 was over 8x10. I guess I didn't realize that 11x14 is about 192% larger than 8x10.
Once I started making 11x14 silver chloride and platinum prints and then matted and framed them, they seems huge compared to 8x10 prints and everything that I loved about 8x10 contact prints was even better with 11x14. The details were even more impressive and the "x-factor" of these bigger contact prints became very special to me. The detail and overall feeling of the larger contact prints is nothing short of impressive with the correct subject.
I added a 14x17 ultra large format camera in 2021 so I could offer even bigger contact prints to my art buyers and collectors. I mount my 14x17 contact prints with a 4 inch border to make a 22x25 finished piece of art.
After using the 14x17 for a while, I gained the confidence to step up the ultimate ultra large format camera, the 20x24. There is nothing bigger unless a person was to custom build it themselves.
Depending on your personal situation, you may find if you shoot ultra large format exclusively that you may actually spend less money overall on your hobby/passion.
For example, if you use smaller formats and make enlargements, then you have all of that expense associated with that workflow. Large format enlargers and the full range of tools and supplies is typically not a cheap endeavor. But, if you only make ultra large format contact prints, then you can eliminate a lot of other gear and expenses.
When you buy an ultra large format camera and lens, it is a lifelong purchase that never needs to be replaced or upgraded. Compared to the rate of consumption of new gear for digital photographers, ultra large format may actually be cheaper in the long run for many photographers.
Everyone comes to ultra large format with a variety of different needs and desires, so your mileage may vary on some of the considerations that I list in this section.
Depending on your physical ability to lug, transport, and haul your big camera around, this may be an issue for some people. Make sure you understand the total size and weight of your future kit before making a purchase. Some of the smaller lenses are relatively lightweight, but others are the size and weight of a small child!
Make sure you have a dark tent or other suitable means of loading your big film holders.
If you are on the fence about getting an ultra large format camera, do everything you can to see if the new gear is what you are truly seeking. For example, if you think your 11x14 contact prints will be better than your 8x10 prints, buy an 11x14 contact print from an accomplished photographer or maybe try and work out a print swap deal or something similar if money is tight.
Make sure you know how and are capable of doing ultra large format negative development in trays because this is most likely how you will be developing your negatives. If you don't have a proven process for developing in trays, start with a smaller format and master that first because everything is much more difficult at full scale.
If you tend to fly by the seat of your pants, then ULF might not be for you. You will need to plan just about everything from ordering your film once a year to doing extensive research if you plan to go out in the field with your kit. Working with larger formats like 11x14 and larger requires a lot of patience, planning, and willingness to work through a series of inevitable problems.
I personally think the challenges are worth the end results and when you get to the point of making high-quality contact prints that bring a tear to your eyes, I think you will feel the same way.
LENSES FOR ULF 20x24
A standard lens for 20x24 based on the film diagonal of 31.2 inches or 793mm
Soft Focus/Pictorial Lenses
Tri-Tran Signature Pictorial Lens (link)
Nikkor 480mm F9 APO Process Lens (Nikkor APO PDF)
16x20 General Purpose Lenses With Coverage Wide Open
30 inch lenses and longer should all cover at infinity.
450mm Nikkor M will barely cover if you stop down to f/45, but the image will be very soft on the corners
Zeiss Jena 450mm F9 copy lens (~$400 on eBay)
550 Schneider XXL (Expensive and wonderful if you can afford it)
Brand new Cooke Series XVa Triple Convertible (expensive $4k range in Copal 3)
Focal lengths: 645mm (25") (front cell only), 476mm (back cell only), 311mm (front + back)
On the 645mm (25") will cover on 20x24, 476mm will cover 14x17, and 311mm (will cover 8x10)
600mm Fujinon C will cover but not with very much movement and soft in corners
600mm Apo Nikkor will cover but not with very much movement and soft in corners
1000mm Germinar Single coated
750mm Germinar would also cover
750mm Nikkor Process lens (hard to find now)
30 inch Dallmeyer Rapid Rectilinear
24 inch (wide angle), 30 inch (standard) and 35 inch (tele) Gorez Red Dot Artar lenses all cover 20x24
Best bet for inexpensive lenses for the 20X24 format would be process lenses in the 24" and longer range. The 24" lens would just cover (stopped down a whole lot) , while anything longer than 30" would cover fine.
20x24 Lens Guide Published by Wisner in 2007
Degrees on 20x24
|Goerz/Zeiss Hypergon||150||6.0||138.1||very rare|
|Zeiss Series V Protar||275||10.8||109.9||very rare|
|Zeiss Series V Protar||325||12.8||100.7||very rare|
|Zeiss/B&L Series V, IV Protars||390||15.4||90.3||rare|
|Goerz Am. Opt., Series III Dagors||420||16.5||86.1||sometimes available|
|Goerz Dagors, Zeiss VII Protar||480||19.0||78.5||sometimes available|
|Zeiss VII Protar||590||23.2||67.2||available but can be $$$|
|Goerz American Optical Company Dagors||610||24.0||65.5||rare|
|Zeiss Series V Protar||632||25.0||63.7||rare|
|Zeiss VII Protar||690||27.2||59.2||sometimes available|
|Goerz Apo Artar||760||30.0||54.6||generally available|
|Goerz Apo Artar||890||35.0||47.6||$1,000 on eBay 8/21|
|Turner Reich||915||36.0||46.4||$884 on eBay 8/21|
LENSES FOR ULF 16x20
Note: some of the 16x20 may work for 20x24, especially for closeup and macro work, but not at infinity. Depending on your style and use case, I list these lenses here for your consideration because some of these lenses may work for you and may also be more available.
Vintage 16x20 Soft Focus Lenses
Crown Anastigmat Series I 23 1/4" F4.5
Dallmeyer Patent Portrait Lens Series A No.6A 30 inch F4
16x20 General Purpose Lenses With Coverage Wide Open
B&L Extra Rapid Universal Series D 22 3/4" F6
B&L Special 30" 700mm F6.3
Carl Zeiss APO-Planar 32" 800mm
Carl Zeiss Protar 24" 600mm F7.2
Goerz (Berlin) Dragor Series III 30" 750mm F7.7
Voightlander Collinear 24" 600mm F6.3
Buying 20x24 B&W film is a once per year event that will make you cry if you miss the annual Ilford ULF film order and even if you don't miss the order window, you will cry when you look at your bank account.
You don't have to use film...
As I have shows in many episodes of the Darkroom Underground, paper negatives are a great option for negatives with no compromises in my opinion. Also, all of my 20x24 negatives that I use for making my alternative prints for platinum/palladium and salt prints are made on Ortho Litho film which is cheaper than black and white sheet film for 8x10.
If you want to help support our film and darkroom work, click on the Amazon or B&H Photo logos below and we earn a small commission when you use our links at no additional cost to you. Every little bit helps and we appreciate your support.
What Are Members Saying About The Darkroom Underground?
There is no shortage of people providing information on photography on YouTube and the internet. Some are even aimed at the analog photographer, but what Tim has done with the Darkroom Underground (DU) is nothing short of pure brilliance. DU is not only for the analog photographer it is also for the Large Format & Ultra Large Format Photographer. I don’t know of anyone else who is covering ULF.
He has simplified learning with wonderful videos that are supplemented with show notes so you have all the information for you to do this on your own. But unlike anything else out there you have Tim as a resource, too. He has always been easily available for questions or clarification and he welcomes suggestions for future shows.
If you are serious about learning all aspects of analog and LF/ULF this is the place to be. -Michael Wellman
The videos and blogs are shot and edited in a very professional way. Tim is always ready to receive and share the suggestions and ideas coming from other people. He is a very good community manager.
I would like also to underline the growing role of his son, Tim Junior who contributes also greatly to the quality of the videos, text and explanation. Last but not least, Tim is always welcoming suggestions and questions and ready to interact. I recommend warmly the work of Tim Layton. -Stéfane France
ANALOG PHOTOGRAPHY TRAINING LIBRARY
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