Getting My Feet Wet

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Pioneer, May 28, 2011.

  1. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Ok, a real newbie question here. I have been shooting film for quite some time, 35mm as well as medium format, but I have yet to fire the shutter on one sheet of large format film. I am trying to step into this very gently, spending as little money as possible until I decide whether I like this type of photography or not. So I need some advice from those who have been here before me.

    I recently picked up a very nice Calumet Cambo 4x5 camera with a 150mm Schneider Krueznach Synar in a Copal #1 shutter and a Graflock back. I have picked up two Toyo film holders and a package of Arista Edu 100 b&w film. I have a very capable tripod, leveling base and heavy duty ball head from my medium format work, as well as a good shutter release cable and a spotmeter.

    I think I am ready to go out and give this a try but I realized I have no dark cloth. Not much call for those in my medium format work. Is this an important item or, is it something I can do without while I am trying this out. If you believe I need one what should I look for. I want to stay thrifty but I do realize that having decent equipment is an important part of the experience.

    If there is something else I may be missing I would appreciate your thoughts on those items as well.

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Jose LS Gil

    Jose LS Gil Member

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    Not needed

    Hi,

    You really do not need a dark cloth. They help (a lot) on very bright days.
    You can use a dark coat, black T-shirt, or even a large dark bath towel. Basically anything that will shade the ground glass, so that you can see the image better.

    Don't waste you money on some of the expensive dark focusing cloths that are sold out there for a lot of $$$. You can make your own with inexpensive material available at material, sewing stores. Just try to use white material on the outside, as this will keep you cooler on hot sunny days (it gets hot and stuffy under that black cloth).

    Good luck.
     
  3. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    Thanks a lot. I kind of suspected as much. I had the camera set up in the driveway getting used to the adjustments...actually I was playing...and when I shaded the glass with my hat I could see things all right. If I stick with it I am sure I will end up with a lot of unnecessary gear (I usually do) but for now I would just like to get some decently focused and exposed images under my belt to see whether I like it or not.
     
  4. Neanderman

    Neanderman Member

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    Go to the local fabric store and look for some black duck. Ask, they'll know what you mean. It will probably be 36, 42, 45 or 48 inches wide, just buy a square. Ideally, you'll want to get the two loose edges seamed (if you can't do this, ask the sales person -- I'm sure they can suggest a customer who'd be willing to do it), but even that's not essential right off. If you want to get fancy, have some drapery weight sewn into the seams -- that will help keep it from blowing around on you.

    White on one side is a nice option, but it is NOT essential. Once you've shot a bit, you won't be spending all that much time under the cloth, anyway.

    Ed
     
  5. Dan Henderson

    Dan Henderson Member

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    I agree that dark cloths are not needed. I have a nice, expensive one that I bought a few years ago that sits unused in my gear closet. It is heavy, takes up room in my backpack, and is a pain in the ass to keep in place on the camera. Instead, I too use an XXL, heavyweight black T shirt. The neck stretches perfectly around my camera, it is not as hot and stuffy, and adds negligible weight.
     
  6. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Welcome to APUG!

    Steve
     
  7. ROL

    ROL Member

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  8. goodfood

    goodfood Member

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    I use two pellow sew together (two layer) The large end to your head. The other end cut to the size fit to your back stand.