Itching to get into large format

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Edman22, Nov 9, 2012.

  1. Edman22

    Edman22 Member

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    I was a 35 mm shooter for a long time. I started shooting with a 5D2 a couple of years ago (I held out for as long as I could). Well, as my luck would have it I recently came upon a mint condition RB67 Pro-S with some very nice lenses. The bigger medium format film is blowing me away. I love working with it. Now I'm thinking I might love large format even more because...well the bigger the better right?!

    Anyways, where do I start?? What sort of budget should I look at for decent gear? I don't want to jump into it immediately, but by the time I do I would be willing to shell out maybe 1-2k (I'm okay with good quality used gear).
     
  2. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    The real tough question is not "where do I start", but "where do I stop"...

    There is a massive variety in LF as it was used for 100+ years. Speak more about how/what you wish to photograph.
     
  3. Terry Christian

    Terry Christian Subscriber

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    From 35mm to medium format is indeed a quantum leap in quality, but when I started shooting large format, I didn't get the same sense of improvement, although it is indeed nice.

    The cost of everything will depend on the size. 4x5 is quite economical, but upon going up to 8x10 the price of everything jumps exponentially.
     
  4. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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  5. ChristopherCoy

    ChristopherCoy Member

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  6. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Start with a few good books on LF photography. A forum with much valuable information exclusively on LF is http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/. People have been using LF equipment for a long time, so there is a wealth of cameras and lenses, new and old, available online and sometimes in stores and other venues. Since great photos were made long ago, old gear in good condition is still practical. 4x5 film has the advantage of better digitalizing on mid-range flatbed scanners than does medium format.

    LF cameras are usually used on tripods. Don't skimp here. While cameras often come and go, a good tripod should last a lifetime. New tripods are not necessarily better than old ones; just more expensive. I have several types and sizes of tripods, but most often use two ancient Tiltalls.

    A large format press camera is closer to what you have used than the more versatile field or monorail view cameras. Field cameras are more transportable than monorail. For studio work, the monorail is often preferred. Which type of camera should be determined by your subjects and style of shooting.

    Knowledge is power. Books are a great source of knowledge, but the internet can be even better. Feel free to ask any question here and on other sites. We all had to begin LF photography sometime.

    edit -- Rick thinks and types faster than I can!
     
  7. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Yep, that how it starts. In my own experience I started the same way except for the digital. I went from various 35mm bodies to the larger negatives from Pro-S, Hasselblad and Rollie, then on into the grander LF. Then I went from LF to 35 again and am reasonably happy with the weight and portability when traveling and hiking. So I'd start really cheap. Simple camera, reasonable lens, say a 210mm, 4 to 6 holders, heavier tripod, and a handful of filters hopefully you have on hand. Force yourself to go shoot at least 5 holders a month and develop and print. If you can do it for a year it's time to upgrade. Keep it under at a grand or under.
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    Heck yes!!
     
  9. rbeech

    rbeech Member

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    Start with a Crown Graphic. 4x5, lightweight and not too expensive.
     
  10. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Google Large Format Photography Forum and then click onto the Home Page. There is a wealth of free information there.

    Large format 4x5 cameras and lenses can be less expensive than medium format equipment. It all depends upon what you want. I have seen monorails sell for less than $100.00. Just add a $150.00 lens, cable release, a black sweat shirt for dark cloth, a cheap 4x loupe and a few film holders (5 would be great so you can load a whole box of film) and you are ready to go. You can even use your dslr meter if you don't have a hand held meter.
     
  11. Klainmeister

    Klainmeister Member

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    "Itching to get into Large Format" - I think there's a cream for that now....


    Really, get a Crown Graphic and some decent lenses...probably a 210mm and a 90mm (wide and someone normal) and start shooting. I outfitted my system for about $450 with a Crown, 90mm Linhof, and 210 Symnar-s with 10 4x5 holders. That's pretty amazing considering the quality of the photographs it can produce. Remember, lenses on 4x5 don't need to be quite as sharp since you are playing with a lot more real estate, so paying the extra dough for some of the higher quality stuff becomes less and less noticeable in the final output.
     
  12. Edman22

    Edman22 Member

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    Some really great advice. I'm trying to learn things about the format for now, my plan is to take things slow with the RB67 while reading up on large format photography.

    My shooting tends more towards landscape and architecture. I want the LF for both the resolution and the ability to do movements for architectural work. I don't have much experience in that, but I figured I'd use this as a way to learn. I think I would go with a 4x5 and something that is more portable. From my reading, I think think the type that might suit me best is a field camera.
     
  13. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

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    I never did own anything resembling a large format "beginner" setup. I simply bought the best 4x5 camera and lens system I could realistically afford and never regretted it. But I did just get one lens
    at a time - in fact, I worked with only one for about a decade until slowly branching out. I guess it
    depends on what you expect. For about 2 yrs I worked in med format, but the quality jump from there into 4x5 was far greater than from 35mm into MF. Then 8x10 became my favorite format. But
    I still shoot them all as occasion or whim demands.
     
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  15. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    It's a worthwhile format, the negs can be beautiful. But be forewarned, if you print in a darkroom and live in a dry climate, dust on the neg during exposure is a real problem. It's still something I struggle with to the point that I will shoot up to three holders on a key shot that I could nail in one frame with medium format...

    I started using it this past Spring with a inexpensive Toyo and three lenses, got hooked and now have a full blown Chamonix system with 7 lenses including one I bought brand new...
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    The worst starter camera is a Crown Graphic, the deficit of all but minor movements means it can be a very limiting camera. I have been using one for about 6 years in Turkey, but had other 5x4 cameras in the UK.

    This is from another Forum today:

    "I bought a Speed Graphic a few months ago, because I thought using barrel lenses would be cool. But it's too cool for the likes of me! My main frustrations with the camera were the difficulty of switching from landscape to portrait mode, and the size/weight/handling.

    So this month I bought a Super Graphic, and I love it! The rotating back is awesome. I didn't realize that having more (and easier) movements would be so useful. The ground glass is better than the Speed. The size and weight are more appealing, and despite what others say, I think the styling is beautiful."

    I started using a Super Graphic about 3 years ago, I'd become frustrated by the Crown Graphic and had taken my Wista 45DX to Turkey but would have to decide on whether to take the Crown or the Wistya depending on whether I'd have to shoot handheld, I wasoften travlleing with a backpack so taking both wasn't an option. The Super Graphic meant I'd one camera that I could use for everything, plenty of movements, a rotating back etc.

    There's plenty of other camera options but I'd suggest finding an LF worker near you and seeing if you can go out and see cameras in action.

    Ian
     
  17. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Large Format is so much fun, and so different! Its completely different to small formats, so its not about supplanting them. Its an addition, a new skill and medium. Apart from cruising the large format forum (another site), the best article I've read for newbies is this;

    http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/tachihara.htm

    I ended up buying the same Camera brand new from Badget Graphic, a wonderful shop in the US with a new Rodenstock 240mm lens and a second hand Super Angulon F8 (also based on recommendation from Kenny). These are cheap, plentiful, small and wonderful. The Tackihara folded up is smaller and lighter than my D50 DSLR (the smallest and light DSLR).

    You can buy second hand for a field camera, but unless you buy something really heavy and solid, they can sag/flex over a few decades, and the Tak is cheap new anyways. So why not support a company with your Wallet? The whole setup will cost lest than an L-series lens.

    Film is cheap, as you use bugger all.

    Daniel.
     
  18. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Personally, I would try and see if you can borrow or rent a camera before committing - I thought that LF was where I wanted to be, but to be honest after having a play with one (albeit, small), I am not so sure now.
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i agree with hoffy

    not sure where you live, maybe there is a LFer nearby
    and you and he/she can go on a safari together
    and swap cameras &c. i would have suggested renting one
    but there are so few pro stores around nowadays
    that it might be easier to just get together with someone ..
    if you live in / near RI i would be happy to show you a speed graphic
    ( focal plane shutter ) + crown graphic too ( both just p/shoot 4x5 press cameras / boxes
    with nothing but a tiny bit of rise, and a toyo cx ( monorail camera so you can do movements to
    straighten out architecture, and do looming foreground &c landscape shots ...
    the toyo is currently for sale here in the classifieds
    ( http://www.apug.org/forums/forum379/111101-fs-toyo-cx-recessed-lensboard-bag-bellows-more.html )
    thanks rick for the cue !
    john
     
  20. waynecrider

    waynecrider Member

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    Architecture is a different beast. If your talking outdoors then more then likely you going to go reasonable wide angle on the lens and a camera with plenty of movements such as a rail with perhaps a bag bellows. Indoor architecture usually requires lights, light balancing materials, light stands etc to do it right. Do yourself a favor and either checkout a library book on it or peruse the local bookstore for literature. If you just want to do the odd city street thing you might not be hassled, but I've run into over zealous security at downtown firms that made me wonder why I should even do it, and it wasn't that I needed it. Then they call the police and that's another story.
     
  21. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Starting out with a cheap used monorail like a Cambo/Calumet is a good way to go. A monorail is straight forward and easy to learn movements on. They are awkward to backpack with but some people do it.

    If you later decide you want a press or field camera you can always sell the monorail for close to what you paid for it. Monorails do make great portrait and still life cameras and can compliment a press or field.
     
  22. Halka

    Halka Member

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    So, the smallest possible jump? :D
     
  23. snaggs

    snaggs Member

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    Too bulky, too heavy. Exactly the kind of thing that ends up sitting on the shelf. However what I disagree with is that youll always be able to sell them. They almost have no-resale value as no one wants to lug them about (my camera shop got rid of a heap for scrap metal value).

    Time for some LF pin-ups;

    original.jpg
     
  24. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    I'm sorry to hear that. They do still sell on the used market in the United States. Most of them sell cheap though unless it's a late model Arca Swiss, Linhof or Sinar.
     
  25. daleeman

    daleeman Subscriber

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    Maybe go out with some large format shooters on a field trip. They would love to let you lug some stuff for them.

    Maybe buy 2 or so holders and 25 sheets of film and see if they will teach you on your film. Dev and print, then you will have a taste for it. After that you can spend away your paycheck on more and more stuff.

    Lee
     
  26. Shootar401

    Shootar401 Member

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    My first 4x5 was a cambo monorail, its a great camera all around. But I got bitten by the bug, no I have 5 of them. 2 more 4x5's and 2 5x7's

    I don't use the Cambo anymore, been thinking of selling it.