Littman 45 arrived

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by blansky, Jun 9, 2004.

  1. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    My Littman arrived a few days ago and I've begun to play with it. It is a very cool camera.

    For those of you who aren't familiar with it, it is built by the rather controversial William Littman, who has converted a Polaroid 110, I believe from the 60s. His camera is a pretty expensive version of this conversion due to the fact that his rangefinder focusing is rather exact, whereas others doing the conversions aren't. It is a 4x5 handheld rangefinder camera.

    Anyway, it is a very well made camera and I've only shot about 18 shots with it as yet. For me, a portrait photographer is makes sense because it works much the same as medium format, in that you focus through the rangefinder, and shoot. You don't need to mess with focusing, placing the film in, etc. With a grafmatic back you can fire off 6 shots in relative short order.

    The part that I'm still trying to get used to is the rangefinder. Having recently just purchased a Mamiya 7II, with this being my first rangefinder, after having use SLR (Nikon, HAsselblad) for years, I find that with the Littman, I am having to get used to the little triangle in the rangefinder that you actually focus from.

    Unfortunately a couple of years ago, I had to get progressive lenses in my glasses. This I'm told is due to advancing age, whatever the hell that means. Or I could be due to too much masturbation as a kid. We'll never know.

    Anyway, progressive lenses are lineless trifocals and you have to place the correct part of the lens of your glasses on the viewfinder to get the correct focus. So essentially you have to focus your glasses as well as the camera at the same time. I'm working through it.

    If anyone has any questions about this camera please feel free to ask me.

    His site is also the following:http://www.littman45single.com/


    Later,

    Michael McBlane
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Congrats on the new camera. Did you get one with front tilts or just the standard standard? Which lens? Once you get comfortable with it, it would be interesting to see a few scans to see what you're doing with it.
     
  3. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    David, what I'm doing with it is kind of personal, isn't it?

    Actually I'll do that. I haven't had the chance to do too much yet. A few shots of the dog.

    It has a 150 lens and it has front tilt.

    Later,

    Michael
     
  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Blansky said:

    "Unfortunately a couple of years ago, I had to get progressive lenses in my glasses. This I'm told is due to advancing age, whatever the hell that means. Or I could be due to too much masturbation as a kid. We'll never know."

    Michael, If it were bifocals then I would say that the cause is advancing age ...but with trifocals, I am not entirely sure. I am at the bifocal stage...perhaps your libido is more attenuated then mine.
     
  5. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Michael,
    With my Leica, I began to have trouble with critical focussing closer than one meter and realized that I needed a corrective lens between me and the camera. Since closeup focussing is the most critical, I started using my midrange glasses, aka, monitor glasses when using the Leica for portraiture. I found I couldn't align the correct portion of my tri-focal quickly enough. Might help if you got a pair.
    Take care,
    tom
     
  6. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    We're not sure where Michael got all his money, it sure can't be from his photography LOL. The RCMP keep asking me if I know where he lives, can't imagine why ......
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The RCMP? Do you think we'll have to extradite him to Canada? Or is there just so little crime over there that the RCMP investigates Americans just to stay in shape?
     
  8. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    Maybe this is just me being a little too political for my own good (happens all the time), but something still would bother me about buying a Littman due to his rather assinine actions regarding the sale and modification of old Polaroid cameras. I guess that, no matter how cool I find the final product, it would just bug me to be contributing a rather large chunk of change to support that sort of behavior.
     
  9. matt miller

    matt miller Subscriber

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    I don't understand what you mean here. I kind of thick though. Would you mind elaborating?
     
  10. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Mr Littman is a rather emotional Argentinian/American (I believe) who started reworking these older Polaroid 110s and designed an enhancement to the rangefinder systems. For this enhanced design he submitted a patent. He also charges a lot for these cameras and on photonet he has caused a firestorm by writing incredibly long responses to attacks on him personally and his camera price in general.

    He went after a Mr Dean Jones in Australia for advertising on ebay that his conversions were the same as MR Littman's only a hell of a lot cheaper. Mr Jones was advertising that his camera was the same. This may not be all of the dispute but I really don't care that much.

    After wading through all this stuff, and deciding that I like Mr Littmans concept, I purchased his camera. I really couldn't care less about his personal conflicts with anybody, any more than I care if Ford has had litigation over any aspect of their cars. I still like my Ford Explorer and I think I'm going to like my Littman.


    Eric wrote:

    We're not sure where Michael got all his money, it sure can't be from his photography LOL. The RCMP keep asking me if I know where he lives, can't imagine why ......

    Lets just say investments. I have a rather large seal plantation in northern Canada that every years we harvest thousands of baby seal pelts. I also have a facility where we breed dogs and sell the puppies for medical research.

    Up until a few years ago I made "snuff films" and that was pretty lucrative but we got to thinking, why not come up with a concept that we can use the models/actresses more than once. Luckily the internet came along so we now have a large number of porno websites.

    So I guess you could say that in the end, Ed paid for my new camera.

    Michael
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 11, 2004
  11. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    Just spent a few hours with Michael. He graciously shared his valuable time explaining portrait lighting to me. Of course being there I had to check out the Littman. I agree the center triangle thing to focus on is very light and at first i didn't see it. Didn't take long and I had it figured out. What surprised me was the weight of the thing. Michael handed it to me and I expected the thing to weigh quite a bit. I was pleasantly surprised by how light it was even with the ground glass back. I know a film holder will add weight, but for the ease of use that thing will afford you, the whole set up will not weigh more than my Mamiya. With the grafmatic backs that thing would work well for on the move portraiture where you want a really big negative. I could see it easily being used for shots of kids. It also has some possibilities for street photography. You won't be in the person's face to count their nose hairs, but you will surely get a very nice large negative to work with. I'm impressed and I know hubby will be resigned to a new camera. I will be nice and wait til next year.
     
  12. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    I finally got out the Littman and shot off a few rounds.

    This first shot was taken as I was walking across the street and almost got run down by some little old lady in her old beater. I was lucky to fire or a shot before she swerved, cut across somebody's lawn and headed off into the distance, cackling.

    Thinking that perhaps I better stick closer to home, I just wandered around my yard and fired away. The statue in the foreground was commissioned to honor my mother- in- law. People marvel at the likeness and the fact that, yes, they both drool a lot.

    The third shot is just the pool. Not much happening there. Just another day in paradise.

    The last is my two bitches. WHoooooops, I mean my beautiful wife and my beautiful dog.

    Later,

    Michael McBlane
     

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  13. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    nice shack.
     
  14. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    LOL@blansky's house
     
  15. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    Michael, I didn't realize that the littman had a self-timer. It sure was nice of your wife to allow you to snuggle into the photo with her.


    Just between us, though, I think it's time for another dye job.


    :D
     
  16. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Jeremy,

    She lets me snuggle with her all the time. No appointment necessary. And she just had her hair dyed, so what are you talking about.


    Michael
     
  17. Jeremy

    Jeremy Member

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    I was actually talking about you. You're looking quite white in the photo. I know all that time you spend drinking wine may keep you indoors and out of the sun but all of you hair seems to have gone stark white!
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Nice stuff with a nice 4x5" look.
     
  19. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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  20. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    Thanks Guys.

    David, what is a "4x5 look"?

    As someone who has shot so much 6x6 that I'm very used to it, I love the whole depth of field smooth skin look of 4x5. So far.

    But what is your opinion of a 4x5 look. What does 4x5 bring to the table that other formats don't?


    Michael
     
  21. David R Munson

    David R Munson Member

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    David can answer for himself, but I think that all the different formats give a different look to an image. Call it a matter of tonality, maybe. 35mm looks different from medium format, which looks different from 4x5, which looks different from 8x10.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I think different formats have different textures, particularly when you are using short DOF. The transition between the sharp and the out-of-focus seems very much affected by format. Part of it is grain, the amount of detail resolvable on a larger piece of film which changes the particular way the sharp area looks sharp, the effect of using a certain focal length lens which affects the choice of aperture and the size of the physical aperture which affects the amount of diffraction in the sharp area and the smoothness of the out-of-focus area.

    I suppose there are other factors that aren't inherent in the format, but may be affected by choice of format--contact printing vs. enlargment, print medium, classic lenses vs. modern lenses, etc.

    I think there are also other things related to camera design that are also connected with format, but aren't really inherent in the format either. A single window range/viewfinder like the Littman has (or an SLR) should let you shoot more dynamically than the Linhof's separate rangefinder and viewfinder, but the Linhof allows for more dynamic composition than a camera with only groundglass focusing.
     
  23. blansky

    blansky Subscriber

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    These shot were all handheld and I made the mistake of using FP4. I just bought a lot of HP5 and that should give me bit more latitude depth of field wise.

    I have 7 grafmatics now and will keep a couple with FP4 and the rest with HP5.

    Your are definitely right about the look being different. I have never played much with depth of field due to the nature of what I usually shoot, but I plan to do a lot more selective focus now.

    Also the skin tones are wonderful.

    Since I started using this camera, I have even started using my Linhof bi kardan a bit more as well. I have a heliar for it and it's a very interesting lens. The lack of contrast is very apparent so I have to light a little differently but the skin is amazing.

    Thanks for the comments.
     
  24. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    When I want to shoot 4x5" handheld, I usually use Tri-X in Acufine at EI 640. If you like HP5, you'll probably be able to get a little more speed with it than Tri-X in Acufine, Diafine, or Microphen.

    Grafmatics are great, especially for portraits. I've got 8 so I can always have a few loaded with different kinds of film (lately Tri-X, Efke PL100, and Astia) and a few empty and ready to load.