Instant Film for 4x5

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by laroygreen, Jul 28, 2012.

  1. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Good day,

    After shooting some nice (to me anyways) landscape/cityscape images with my 4X5, I want to return to my natural habitat and start doing portraits with 4x5 (it was a nice hiatus).

    Trouble is, I typically use 1 or more strobe flashes, with various modifiers, on a "set" (might have a still life going on in the backgroud, or maybe an interior shot with 2 persons, as an example), and while I don't have any issues with regards to metering, focusing and composition, I am worried that I won't be able to reliable predict shadow contrast and how the light will interact/fall between various objects and the main subjects on the set (the modelling light is useful, but other than the fact that you'll set your subjects on fire, it isn't totally reliable or accurate IMHO - it works better when the set is really dark, but I don't always have control over that).

    I always had in the back of my mind that I would shoot Fuji instant once I got everything set up, but I found out this morning that Fuji instant isn't available anymore in 4x5 sizes. As far as I can tell, most studio photographers using film back in the day (from what I can find on Youtube), typically take a few polaroid check prints before putting a final image down on film, so I know I'm not the only one who is concerned about light when using strobes.

    Are there any practical ways around this? Does it make sense to use the smaller instant film size or should I just keep 4x5 for landscapes and use medium format for portraits (I prefer not to!).

    Any help would be appreciated!
     
  2. wildbill

    wildbill Member

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    experience goes a long way but a DSLR is a decent way around instant. I won't go further into it than to say they can be had used for less than $200 with a lens from keh.
     
  3. Heinz

    Heinz Subscriber

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    There are holders with which you can put the Fuji 8.5 x 10.8cm Instant Peel-Apart Pack Films (which are still in production and hopefully will be for a long time!) to a 4x5 graflock back:
    http://www.japanexposures.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=228
    There are also similar ones from Polaroid which you can find used sometimes.
    I recently bought one of these as I read that the 4x5 Fuji Instant films go out of production, even if I have some of them still in my refrigerator (not freezer).
    For checking purposes the smaller image size (that is not centered in the 4x5 image frame, at least for the Polaroid holder) might be useful.
    Best regards, Heinz
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2012
  4. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    You don't need a graflock back. The Polaroid 405 holder, which is in my experience far more common used than the Fuji, fits in a spring back and takes the 3.25x4.25 film just fine. As a bonus, the film is much less expensive, less than a dollar a shot in the US, than the 4x5 was even before it was canceled. I elected to go this route even when the 4x5 was available because the image area is quite large enough and close enough for proofing, or even shooting for itself if you like and compose accordingly, the film was 1/3 the price, and I can use the same film packs in my Mamiya 645 Pro Polaroid back.

    I should say it fits some spring backs, maybe. It is pretty thick and it's a tight fit in my Tech III and I occasionally waste a sheet when the dark slide gets stuck and removing the back pulls it out as well - but I'm getting better about remembering to use both hands and do this carefully. :wink:

    The stuff is kind of addictive. The color is vibrant but does tend to go blue easily. I need to get the equivalent of a skylight or slight warming filter for my 3x3 filter holder for the 4x5, to use this stuff.

    Do be aware that most of the backs available have long ago lost the overlay for a 4x5 ground glass and the image area is NOT centered in the 4x5 frame - it's offset mainly vertically. But there are .pdf templates you can download to cut out your own mask.

    Here's one I took this week. We were attending my wife's family reunion and staying at a lake house in Alabama. I shot this off the back deck. Linhof Tech III, 90mm Angulon, 1/100th f/16.

    [​IMG]
    AL_LakeHouse1 by Roger Cole, on Flickr
     
  5. Heinz

    Heinz Subscriber

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  6. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    It does. I paid $80 on eBay for mine, but it has the darkslide and is in nice cosmetic shape. Pay your money and take your pick - they come up regularly on eBay and the classifieds on this forum and the large format forum. You could post a WTB add here or there or both, too.
     
  7. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Ok, so this is going to sound mad crazy (did legs in the gym today, so my blood isn't where it should be at the moment), but would it at all be possible to say, have 2 4x5 lenses, one that I would use exclusively with the 3.25x4.25 instant film, and one that I would use with 4x5 film, with the trick being that the crop factor would be compensated for between the two lenses, e.g. if the instant film was 1/2 the diagonal of the 4x5 film, get my lighting figured out on instant film using a 105mm lens and then I could do my actual shot with a 210mm lens? I could also use camera movements to "center" the frame for the instant film (not physically move the frame, just shift the composition so that it matches up exactly)?

    Even if that did work, this is going to take a LONG time (take a shot, wait for the film to develop, adjust lights, repeat, change lens, tweak composition, check focus, expose), and I was already concerned about how long it would take to do portraits with 4x5.

    Maybe I should just accept the heart crushing blow (thanks Fuji!) and get a Mamiya RZ67 to do my portraits.

    @wildbill: As for the option to use digital - I have a very good DSLR that I use all the time, but I don't want to go down that road in this instance. It is a good and valid option - and there is certainly nothing wrong with it, just isn't what I am looking to do, but thanks for the suggestion!
     
  8. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    Why make it more complicated than it really is? Do you really crop THAT tightly and must your proofs show the entire frame right out to the edges? Cut out a square of paper 4x5 and one 3.25x4.25 and compare. You'll be surprised how close it actually is. If you need, make the mask for the ground glass and you can then re-position the center for the 4x5 shot with just a touch of rise (if shooting vertically - as is probably likely for portraits) or shift, if shooting horizontally.

    Get a 405 back and some FP100c. Shoot portraits. The size difference just isn't that important for proofing purposes.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 28, 2012
  9. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Sorry for the delayed response! Tried replying from my mobile but that didn't go so well.

    @Roger Cole: You are right. I actually thought that the fuji instant film image area was much smaller as I saw a video with someone using it with a Hasselblad, I just figured that only a small area of the sheet actually would develop an image. I'll give the mask a try, and see how well it suites me.

    @wildbill: I agree about the experience, and your suggestion about using a digital camera is a sound idea, but as it is right now, I want to keep my DSLR out of the equation for the time being as a personal preference.

    Again, sorry for the delayed response, and thanks to all for taking the time to give me some advice!
     
  10. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    On a Hassie it will be 6x6 cm just like the negative. On my Mamiya it's 6x4.5 like a negative - tiny or at least small image area on a big print, nice for proofing but pretty darned small. On my 4x5 it gives full frame and us close enough to 4x5 for my and most purposes.
     
  11. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Is there a cheaper more common alternative to the Polaroid 405 holder? Only finding a few on eBay (none on KEH) and they seem to be quite expensive for what they do, between 160-250 USD.

    Also, do they no longer make single sheets for something like the Polaroid 545 holder?
     
  12. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    No more single sheets made, no.

    There is a Fuji holder but the rare ones I have seen were more than the Polaroid. Most of the 405 holders were in the $75-$125 range when I shopped them on eBay. They may have shot up in price or there may just be a surge in overpriced ones. I'd try to be a little patient, check eBay regularly (they probably come up too often for too much money to do a saved search on them) or post a WTB ad either here or on the LFPF.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2012
  13. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Well, it is what it is I guess :D ... I am still happy that in 2012 I am able to do this.

    Last question! Will the 405 holder work on my Cambo Legend and would it only work if I removed the GG assembly and used the graflock system (i.e. I can't just slide it in like a regular dark slide)?
     
  14. Roger Cole

    Roger Cole Subscriber

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    Mine slides in the spring back on my Linhof Tech III. It's tight, but it fits. I think it will fit. In fact I don't think it would work with the graflocks if you removed the GG, but I'm not sure about that. I don't have a camera with graflock back to try it on.
     
  15. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    Thanks for all the help! Really appreciate it.
     
  16. Heinz

    Heinz Subscriber

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    On my Linhof Kardan Color 4x5 the Polaroid 405 holder (as well as the 550 for the 4x5 fuji packfilms) fits into the Graflock after removing the grondglass. I did not try yet to push it below the groundglass, because I do not want to force the spring back that wide open.
     
  17. laroygreen

    laroygreen Member

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    I don't have any issues taking the back off, was just curious. Guess my only concern would be shifting the camera while doing all these things, but rechecking focus wouldn't be an issue, just would need to remember to do it - would just take some practice I guess, but when it comes to large format, practice is the name of the game.