how tricky is it to shoot with slower shutters for portraits than MF?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by 10speeduk, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. 10speeduk

    10speeduk Member

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    Hi all, I am tempted by the gorgeous resolution of LF. :smile:

    My main concern is the slower shutter speeds required. As I mainly shoot people, often indoors using natural daylight, I wonder whether this type of shooting will work against me and I will have lots of blurred shots.?? Also I read that the Dof can be really unforgiving also, increasing the need for the subject to be still (and/or shoot faster)

    I currently shoot Mamiya RZ67 on a tripod and Pentax 67 handheld

    Finally, is there a way to view the image the right way round???

    Thanks

    Paul
     
  2. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    Even in this digital age, people are used to being still for getting a picture taken. I find it helps if you tell them how long they need to stay still.
    One second or even a few seconds is generally not a problem, even for kids. For example, look at some of the portraits done on wetplate, 1 or 2 seconds is a short exposure in that realm.

    DoF doesn't need to be a big problem either, mostly it's a problem of the subject going forward or back in relation to the camera, most people will move more side to side than fore and aft. Other than that it is what it is, and generally a subject's nose and ears won't both be in focus, if either are. If the basic plane of the face (eyes, cheeks, mouth) are, then you're golden.

    Large Format lenses don't have all that much less DoF than a portrait length lens for cameras you have, if you're looking at 4x5.

    There are mirror viewing gadgets that invert the image, most of them are specific to one camera or another, but would tend to be adaptable. It's easier though, to get used to composing upside down. It's easier than you might think.
     
  3. Bertil

    Bertil Subscriber

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    Exposure, shutter speed and apperture, depends on light and film emulsion, not film format; nice 400 ISO film is available in LF format.
    Good luck with LF!
    /Bertil
     
  4. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's true but generally, people want to use smaller apertures to give similar depth of field that they get from medium format. This leads to longer shutter speeds (or more powerful flash required).


    Steve.
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Use a prism instead of a waist level finder.
     
  6. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Hey Paul,

    If you can live with shorter DOF your times should be the same as with MF.

    You can try shooting at a higher EI.

    As to seeing right way up, well maybe.

    I was at a LF seminar and we were doing portraits. I was the subject at one point with an 8x10 and a really nice old portrait pointed at me. The shooter and I switched paces so I could see.

    The camera was set close enough to get little more than head and neck, so approaching full size, maybe 80% of life size.

    Imagine my surprise when I crawled under the dark cloth and look at the glass and it was upright. Not really but my brain actually did flip it, it really did look upright. That doesn't happen all the time, never seen it on 4x5.

    Most of the time the upside down image actually helps me see composition better.
     
  7. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Both are problematic on a view camera...:wink:
     
  8. summicron1

    summicron1 Subscriber

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    actually, one of the advantages of large format is the narrower depth of field -- why do you think old pictures look so good? the narrow depth of field automatically (!) isolates your subject, which looks sharper as a result.

    Avoid the upside down image the easy way -- get a speed/crown graphic with an external viewfinder.

    i was hand-holding speed graphic shots at a 30th of a second today (cloudy day) at f 4.7 -- the bulk of the camera damps the vibration down, I am optimistic.
     
  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Yes, there are prism finders available for monorails and a very few field cameras but why? Using the ground glass alone will make you a better photographer. It slows you down a bit and also makes you see the composition better. When images are viewed normally you tend to look over things because your eyes and mind correct without you even knowing it.

    A college art teacher once taught me to put my drawings in front of a mirror. Just viewing the reversed image really showed me my mistakes.



    The larger the film format the smaller the aperture needed to get the same depth of field. You can achieve this in three ways, slower shutter speed, faster film, or increasing the light using hot lights or strobes.
     
  10. 10speeduk

    10speeduk Member

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    Thanks for the responses guys. I would prefer to view the ground glass. I shoot this shot indoor with window light with Iso 400 film at 1/60 with a 110mm lens at f2.8

    [​IMG]
    Charlotte, Portra 400, Mamiya RZ67 by The Paul Reid, on Flickr

    What would be the equivalent dof, lens and shutter speed to make this shot with a LF camera?

    Just approximately?

    Thanks for all the comments :smile:
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2012
  11. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    So a couple thoughts.

    First is that you'll probably be in the 150mm to 210mm range for focal length to get close to the same angle of view.

    Second the maximum aperture on the lens will probably be marked as somewhere close to f/5.6. Bellows draw as you move in close reduces effective aperture so maybe 5.6 & 1/3 to 5.6 & 1/2.

    That puts you around 1/10th for speed. That's not the whole story though.

    You need to test your film in real terms with a real live subject just like your example. 3 shots done at EI 400,800,1600 with the film you intend to use. If you find that you can shoot at 1600 and get the detail you need/want/like then you are back to 1/60thish. If 800 works the 1/30th.
     
  12. Dismayed

    Dismayed Member

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    I'd recommend that the OP use studio flash. You really need at least f/16 to get reasonable DOF with lenses that are 200mm and up.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi paul

    you can shoot handheld, and have the image right side up use available light ...
    use / shoot faster films and stop down ... too

    look for a graflex slr or any of the slr type large format cameras ( they made them upto 5x7, and even a gowland TLR that is 8x10 )

    you can put the camera on a tripod and view the glass with a dark cloth, or through the hood.
    the graflex slrs are the most versatile large format portrait cameras made ...
    i've had and used one for almost 20 years, and it is probably my favorite large camera to use .. portable too ...

    good luck !
    john

    ps. nice portrait !
     
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  15. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Put it this way ... some of the best portrait work ever done utilized big view camera and lenses far
    more primitive than what has since been made. Look at the damn auction prices, and what some
    folks are willing to spend on a classic 1920's portrait lens without even a shutter, for example. I've
    found that subjects are more cooperative, whether in studio or in enviro portraiture settings, if they
    know it's serious. In other words, a big 8x10, darkcloth, and groundglass image actually helps. But
    as insurance, I made it a habit of keeping either a MF or Nikon with a long portrait lens nearby,
    just in case.
     
  16. Bob-D659

    Bob-D659 Member

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    There is always the old style subject head clamps used way back when. :smile:
     
  17. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    The old school approach
     
  18. Poisson Du Jour

    Poisson Du Jour Member

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    Use a leaf shutter with high speed flash sync. The Pentax 67 has the 165mm f4 leaf shutter lens (or the 90mm LS) for portraiture and high speed flash sync to 1/500. It's minimum focus though is 1.2m, so you're well back from the subject and able to control depth of focus satisfactorily. Film of 400 ISO would be a good choice.
     
  19. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    People will generally hold still for a slow shutter speed. Dogs on the other hand do not always cooperate.

    Dave
     
  20. polyglot

    polyglot Member

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    You can figure this out from the ratio of the film sizes, which is easy in this case because 6x7 (55x69mm) is basically the same aspect ratio as 4x5 film (95x115mm), and the ratio of the two sizes is about 115/69=1.66. If you're familiar with 6x7 and want to think about 4x5 options, keep that 1.66 number in mind for all your conversions.

    To get the same field of view, you need 110*1.66 = 180mm lens. And for the same DOF, f/(2.8*1.66) = f/4.5. And because of the smaller relative aperture, you need 1.66^2 = 2.8x (about 1.5 stops) more illumination, exposure time or sensitivity.

    f/4.5 lenses are not real common on 4x5 but they do exist, e.g. Xenars. Most people just cheap out and buy modern f/5.6 lenses and ignore that last half-stop - you won't be able to shoot in as low light as you can with the RZ; you will need 2 stops more light (f/5.6 vs f/2.8) than the RZ does. That's the tradeoff with bigger film.

    If you go to 8x10 that's a doubling, so it's 2 more stops of light required over what 4x5 needs.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 5, 2012
  21. 10speeduk

    10speeduk Member

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    Great explanation. Thanks polyglot. Am looking at sinar f2 at the moment. Indoor portrait with the odd outdoor shoot.
     
  22. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

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    just to show a simple portrait made with window light - 18x24cm paper neg (iso about 6) old Petzval lens - "top hat shutter" about one sec...
     

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  23. 10speeduk

    10speeduk Member

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    Its very beautiful. A very distinctive render also. thank you
     
  24. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    Dogs and fidgety kids can always be stuffed in a freezer half an hour in advance of the shoot, just like butterflies. Besides, reflections of ice are always nice in black and white prints.
     
  25. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    Or duct tape...
     
  26. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hitchcock suggested nails ( from what i remember )