Field camera for portraiture

Discussion in 'Darkroom Equipment' started by fleetwoodjazz, Jul 4, 2008.

  1. fleetwoodjazz

    fleetwoodjazz Member

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    Hi,

    I am completely new to the Large Format things so I need help :smile:. I am getting into portraiture seriously so at first I thought about a 4-5 monorail but considering my travel schedule, a monorail is not very practical.

    So I am looking for a field camera to reduce my carrying weight. However, I heard that field cameras do not have the same extensive movements as monorails which are extremely important for controlling DOF in portraiture. I'm kind of confused since based on forum discussions, it seems that only some products photography and architecture require such movements. I wonder if the Shen Hao TZ45 IIa is sufficient for fashion portraiture.

    I am also getting interested in Fuji instant pack films FP100B and FP100C but this instant film topic confuses me....I reckon I need Polaroid 550 or Fuji Pa 45 holder? Do they fit Shen Hao TZ45IIa? These holders are also extremely hard to find:sad:

    Please help!
    Thanks
     
  2. Pinholemaster

    Pinholemaster Member

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    Extensive movements are usually needed for architecture, not portraiture.

    A basic Speed or Crown Graphic will do as a starter kit. Remember to keep it simple, especially when starting out.

    There are monorail cameras that break down into very small packages for travel.

    All the standard instant film holders fit modern field cameras.

    We can not say if a Shen Hao will work for your vision. You'll have to try one out to see if it works with the way you see.
     
  3. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    I did a lot of portraits with a field camera until I got a rail camera in the studio. I still use the field camera for outdoor portraits. In the studio I usualy only use rear rise/fall and shift because it is easier than adjusting the camera stand. You can do great portraits with a field camera, in fact one advantage is that as they are smaller they can be less intimidating to the subject.
     
  4. wilsonneal

    wilsonneal Member

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    I started with a Crown Graphic for portraits. Decided the lens was too short pretty much right away. Longer lenses on a Crown get tricky, as it has limited bellows extension. Tele-lenses, with shorter bellows requirements are available like a 270mm. I've personally never been all that excited about the Shen Hao Fields. I think the older grey Toyo 4x5 is the camera I'd look for as a starter 4x5 Field for portraits. Light, tough, inexpensive (around $500), boards widely available, fairly long bellows (easily handles a 300mm at head and shoulders distance). Previous poster was right about movements not being critical. Sometimes, I might use front swing a tiny bit to bring two side-by-side subjects into the same plane of focus, or maybe a little front tilt to pull focus in a portrait with two rows of subjects--minimal movements.
    Neal
     
  5. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    A Crown.

    Works great with a 10" lens (Commercial Ektar).

    A 180 - 210 will easier to manage with at first.

    All the movement stuff is not really important for portraiture.
    A Crown will let you make a living in portraiture for a long time.

    .
     
  6. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Welcome to the forum.
    I have a Shen Hao TZ45-IIA, it's first rate and of excellent build quality, in fact it's much better than excellent. The longest lens I have is a 240mm and it has plenty bellows draw for that. As to movements, more than enough for portrait, landscape and most architectural work.
     
  7. Frank Szabo

    Frank Szabo Member

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    If you find a human subject that requires a view camera's movements, I'd really like to see that person.

    Kidding aside, portraiture requires (my opinion) a 1.5x - 2.5x magnification lens - I use a 300mm w/4x5 and a 485mm w/8x10. Standards are straight and verticle with rise, fall, and maybe a shift but no funny business re: tilts or swings, front or rear.

    Mostly though, I'll use an RB or Hassy for the portraits as people don't care to sit still and the medium format cams are simpler.
     
  8. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Frank, an interesting comment of yours. It begs the question, given that I use the same film and lens aperture for my Shen Hao as I would for my Mamiya RB, why would my sitter have to "sit still" for the field camera and not the Mamiya?
     
  9. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    SLR versus ground glass would be an issue I think. None of that hold still while I load a holder.

    Only reason I can think of for movements is why you don't want "normal"
     
  10. Dave Miller

    Dave Miller Member

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    Presumably the larger negative is attractive. A pre-measured length of string has usually got over the problem of focus for static sitters, a bit different though for fashion models on a cat-walk.
     
  11. fleetwoodjazz

    fleetwoodjazz Member

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    Hi,

    I just realised that I posted in a wrong forum:smile:

    I will be using my camera mainly for fashion work which requires front+rear swing and tilt. It looks like the Shen Hao can do that just fine but since I have experience with LF, knowing how much is sufficient is not that possible.

    For the lens, I feel a 210mm would suit me well. The Fujinon have image circle that is generous but again, I don't know how much is enough. I'm getting paid for shooting portrait so I can pay a little bit more...just to get it right in the first place. I can afford Sinar, Linhof but frankly I would prefer supporting more innovative underdogs than paying vast money. Does anyone know about the Walker Titan SF? The only thing I know is that it offers nothing more than the Shen Hao (maybe build quality)...yet I feel like Walker is another underdog that offers great value in the long run...I'm intrigued.
    Thanks
     
  12. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Remember if you focus closer then infinity the lens image circle grows. But even at infinity a 210mm image circle is fairly large for 4x5.
     
  13. eddym

    eddym Member

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    I guess I'm just at a loss to imagine what kind of fashion shot -involving models- that you will be doing that would require swings and tilts. Do you have any kind of example or link you could post to illustrate what you have in mind?
     
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  15. fleetwoodjazz

    fleetwoodjazz Member

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    I know nothing much about LF since I am new. My fashion work will involve selective focus and if I read correctly, tilt and swing are needed to control focusing plane. Please correct me if I was wrong.
    Cheers
     
  16. fleetwoodjazz

    fleetwoodjazz Member

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    Or to put it correctly, I don't want my images to be in sharp focus from corner to corner. This can be done easily with my medium format gear, the whole point of me flirting around with LF is to have full control blur and sharp areas and that is how I am really concern with movement.
    Cheers
     
  17. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    How do you do it with MF? You aren't using movements.

    You may find it hard to get enough DOF.
     
  18. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Is skew still fashionable ? I thought that was done.

    Anyway, using longer lenses generally makes it easier to isolate subjects by focus.
    Since larger film needs longer lenses, larger film gives more focus isolation.

    The image will be the same with a 210 on 6x7 as it would on 4x5, you just get more
    context to the image... and for shooting people, that is the best way to think about it

    When you start swinging and tilting and all that, you multiply the difficulty of the shot,
    and stop shooting life... everything becomes a tabletop.

    There are MANY things you'll have to learn to be able to make consistently
    good pictures with a 4x5... using a simple camera, like a Crown, as a box camera.
    Adding the countless variables takes even longer.

    The wisdom of the ages suggests, humbly, that you begin with a simple camera
    and when you've got THAT under control, say, in a year or so, you'll know what
    you need, and have the experience to begin using it.
     
  19. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    You will find the Shen Hao to be a very versatile and useful camera. The longer bellows is an advantage for portraits.
     
  20. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    For that you want a camera with _back_ swings and tilts. You can do it with front movements if you have shift and rise but it is a PITA.

    Back movements on most field cameras are limited to non-existent. Front movements aren't much to write home about either.

    You can pick up a respectable used monorail for not much money, certainly a lot less than what is usually asked for a field camera. A standard Calumet, Sinar F or Graphic View II [among many, many others] would do fine for this purpose. Sinars are the easiest ones to find accessories for.
     
  21. eddym

    eddym Member

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    No offense intended, but are you trying to emulate the Lensbaby fad?
     
  22. fleetwoodjazz

    fleetwoodjazz Member

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    Kind of :smile: A client asking me to shoot with polaroid film with selective focus. I have not accepted yet since I have no experience with LF but still I got one month to study this offer.

    The problem is there aren't many LF photographers in my country...everyone has gone digital and I am left with my MF gears so I thought this is a great chance to move up to LF.
    Cheers
     
  23. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Try this.
    Focus with the part of the subject you want sharp in the center of the image.
    Use back swing to de-focus the left and right sides but keep the middle sharp.
    Use front tilt to de-focus the top and bottom.
    Refocus until the center is sharp.

    I have done this to blow out cluttered backgrounds when I had no ability to control DOF with a wide f stop.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    A $200 - $300 Pacemaker Crown graphic kit would be a good place to start, IMO. At this price, it should have an Ektar 5" lens, a case, some film holders, a Graflok back (make sure of this), and a flashgun with reflector, synch cable, and solenoid. If it is in clean condition you might want to pay $400 or even $500 if it is super dooper clean. They are built like brick $hithouses, very easy to find, and very cheap. Very plentiful and very well known = easy and cheap to find parts and service. They fold up into a nice and easy-to-pack size, especially if you pull off all the extraneous stuff like RFs and VFs. (These can both help a lot for shooting portraits though.) They have front shift, plus some other movements, which is all the movement you need for most applications. If you don't care about originality, and are mechanically inclined, they can be hacked to provide a great deal more front shift. I highly recommend these things. They are great. One of the most versatile cameras ever made. I would get a *true* tele (not just "long") lens so you can fit it on the Crown and still get your classic tight headshot or head and shoulders shot. Schneider Tele-Xenar 240 or 360. Keep the Ektar for environmental portraits as well. It's a great length for that. Don't forget a good incident meter like the sub-$200 classic Sekonic Studio meter. Don't forget to calibrate your RF to your favorite portrait lens as well.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 6, 2008
  25. Nicholas Lindan

    Nicholas Lindan Advertiser

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    Though if you have base tilts, Sinar F for example - where it drives me nuts, you have to raise/lower the standards after tilting the front. If you can do all the swing and tilt at the back you only have to refocus.

    You can run into some rather funky distortion with lots of adjustment - use a large aperture and the minimum amount of bellows pretzel.

    BTW, if you want to stick with MF, some models of the Mamiya Press cameras come with back movements and an accessory ground-glass back. Linhof Technikas will do the same thing, though at a much higher price.
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    hey there

    have you seen mark tucker's plunger-cam series ?
    he used a mf camera and a focusing loupe from what i remember -
    and made his own mf lensbaby.

    you can use a crown ( or speed ) graphic body and do something similar i am sure.
    a speed might work better seeing that it has a focal plane shutter ...
    you can use magnifying lenses, diopters, you name it, for lenses,
    and make your own lf lensbaby, it isn't hard, and would be fun.
    you'd have to figure out your focal length ( easy - see where it focuses at infinity )
    and then divide your lens opening into the focal length to get your fstop.
    i've used lenses harvested off of olde beat-on folding cameras on my speed
    (and graflex slr ) and gotten effects that might be similar to what you want.
    if you don't want to deal with a focal plane shutter, you can get a single speed
    packard shutter with a flash sync. they are still being made
    at the packard shutter company

    have fun!
    john