Analogue LF Portraiture - most useful camera?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous Equipment' started by JohnRichard, Aug 17, 2013.

  1. JohnRichard

    JohnRichard Member

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    I was not sure where to put this discussion, and thought this might be the best fit.

    I am thinking about opening a small studio space - Totally analogue.

    The area I live in is conducive to people paying for the products and waiting on the "art" of development.

    I have a 4x5 speed graphic, but an 8x10 or larger studio camera would be great to have also. I'm looking for something that will allow me to move around in the space (turn of the century loft), use the space and natural lighting
    AND provide the opportunity to shoot some really great large format portraits. I prefer to use the oldest technology I can get away with, so super-nuclear-computer controlled studio strobes powered by aliens in a box will not be high on my list of purchases. I'll likely use bulbs with my 4x5, and I've got access to a big Beseler enlarger. I once had a Century Studio camera. It was a bit unwieldy and unforgiving however I have seen them in perfect condition and think perhaps that might be an option. A 20x24 shooting paper negatives might not be a bad thing. Since I will probably have enough space for a darkroom, what is the most chameleon like camera that could do a bit of everything but also is moderately easy to move about a studio space.

    Camera wise, anyone have any thoughts?
     
  2. cliveh

    cliveh Subscriber

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    What area would that be?
     
  3. garysamson

    garysamson Subscriber

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    What is your budget and how will you enlarge 8x10 inch negatives if the client wants larger prints?
     
  4. thegman

    thegman Member

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    Fotoman make interesting, handheld large format cameras. Limited movements (or none at all), but maybe you don't need them so much for portraits.
     
  5. Dan Dozer

    Dan Dozer Subscriber

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    I shoot a lot of this type of image almost exclusively with the 8 x 10 (Deardorf). While I do bring out the 4 x 5 occasionally, the old lens options for the 8 x 10 are much more than for the 4 x 5 format. Unless you are only thinking on shooting sharp focus images, I recommend you consider the 8 x 10 size.
     
  6. clayne

    clayne Member

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    You could shoot either 4x5 or 8x10 based on what the client wants. 8x10 would provide the ability to do contact prints easily - whereas 4x5 would provide the ability to enlarge to any size they want without needing an 8x10 enlarger (much harder to find vs a 4x5 enlarger).
     
  7. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

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    I'd get a monorail 4x5 with a couple of lenses (an imagon, if possible !!) and mount it on a studio stand [​IMG]! This will allow you to move it easily and set it up quickly ! A binocular mirrored viewing hood will help you frame, focus quickly and correctly.

    * I know the camera on the pic is not a monorail, this is the only pic I could quickly find !!
     
  8. AgX

    AgX Member

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    Using a dolly like that Manfrotto offer for their tripods and a tripod you can alternatively put the camera on top or hang down should bring you around house without efforts and enable most positions.
     
  9. fotch

    fotch Member

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    The camera stand is way better than the tripod dolly, I have both. The tripod & dolly is portable and can go on location which the studio stands cannot.
     
  10. George Collier

    George Collier Member

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    Second (third) the rolling stand or dolly pod for sure. Hand held 4x5 would be tough.
    Also, you imply natural lighting, which could produce very long exposures, although Ed Weston lived with it.
    I would start with 4x5, try some and see how it works. Even 4x5 could be longer exposures, depending on the light quantity.
    The general rule that I was taught for traditional portraiture (above the belt with the head) would be the sum of the two film sides (9 inches for 4x5, so, slightly telephoto).
     
  11. rorye

    rorye Subscriber

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  12. Maris

    Maris Member

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    For big face LF portraits I find a critical feature in a camera is back focussing. Front focussing cameras change the repro ratio as the lens moves back and forth. In the worst case a front focussing camera will deliver various size blurry faces but never actually deliver focus at any point in the entire focussing travel.
     
  13. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Another vote for the studio stand as the support mechanism of choice. For the camera, any tailboard/rear-focusing camera would be good. I'd go for 8x10 if that's not a budgetary issue because there are a TON of portrait lenses out there made for 8x10. Bigger sizes are cool, but other than 11x14 you're talking annual special order for film, and significant increase in all other costs. Weight also becomes an issue. Going above 11x14 you're looking at getting one of the Foba or Linhof studio stands and spending a small fortune on getting it. I have an INKA studio stand which does more or less kinda sorta work with my 14x17, but it's not entirely happy with that camera. Some of that I think is limitations of the camera design - it's a Canham 14x17, which gets wiggly at portrait focusing range. A 14x17 head and shoulders portrait is in the 1:1 macro range, so you're talking about adding at least two stops of exposure compensation for the bellows extension.

    [​IMG]

    Here's a close-up shot of it, and the following shot is a wide shot showing the camera on the stand in my old studio.

    [​IMG]

    Bear in mind also that with an 11x14 or bigger, at portrait distances the camera will all but require two operators, as the bellows will be so long you can't operate the shutter controls from behind the camera. Because of those huge bellows extensions and the price of ultra-large format film, you may find you need those strobes you eschew after all - nothing says no repeat business like a second re-shoot because every shot was blurry from too long an exposure and/or insufficient depth-of-field. Minimum DoF for 14x17 to have an acceptably sharp portrait? minimum f32 (which means you need to hit f64 in terms of light level). No way you're hitting f64 worth of light with daylight faster than 1/15th or 1/8th of a second, even with HP5/Tri-X.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 18, 2013