Newbie rant, LF is too obscure

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Randy Moe, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. Randy Moe

    Randy Moe Member

    Messages:
    247
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I am new to MF and LF and a retired mechanic who shot Sunny 16 Pentax for decades. I have become smitten with LF. I am sad I did not find it much earlier. But the lack of information on not ancient cameras, accessories and less so lenses is astounding. I know how to use the LF camera, develop the film and enlarge it, but finding hardware information and cameras parts is very difficult. It is like restoring motorcycles before the Internet. Futile.

    Yes, many of you provide great advice on many topics, but trying to find out camera history is tough. Deardorff has a nice site. I wish is was deeper and included an encyclopedia of Deardorff minutia. Yes, I am an insane collector. It is suggested to search APUG and there is much to learn here, but much is not here. The forums are full of short replies with a link to long lost websites. It may seem redundant to spell out in each post explicitly what we are discussing, but these lost websites are absolutely no help.

    I am no better, but I have just begun. I collect Horseman and Mamiya. I am starting on B&H. I am fond of Chicago made anything. I find eBay listings have more history than anywhere and one can learn some expensive lessons only by buying them. Fair enough.

    I know many of you learned the hard way. I also know most LF users decry the abandonment of the oeuvre. It is an Art form and the process is just as important as the product or image. I know each of us must love the process or we would no longer do it.

    Where do we go from here?
     
  2. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  3. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

    Messages:
    5,301
    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2006
    Location:
    Humboldt Co.
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I have never taken a photograph with camera company information, collections, charts, history, forums, etc. I have always used a camera, tripod, lens and film...that is the 'here' I go from. Why and where I go are the important things. How I go does influence the destination, but if I worry too much about the how (or even the why), I will never get anywhere. Sometimes one just needs to stop stressing over the how and just do...and let the how take care of itself.

    Vaughn
     
  4. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    When I get a nice bit of older equipment which I really like, I want to know the history of who designed it, who made it, and so on. Hence my screen name.:wink:
     
  5. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

    Messages:
    20,588
    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2007
    Location:
    Southern California
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
  6. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Hi Randy, It sounds like you are in Chicago. We have a group called the Midwest Large Format Asylum and have been meeting once a month for LF outings for about ten years. Our center is Chicago and here's a link to our forum. http://www.deepthought.com/smf/index.php
    We have no rules or organized junk except our annual print show, the outings are 100% informal..
     
  7. wy2l

    wy2l Member

    Messages:
    149
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2006
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    LF seems to me like my experience with ham radio: At first contact it seems too complex... so I joined a club. Lotsa great people, eager to help. After a while the complexity drops off, and you will be offering help to others.
     
  8. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,508
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    How obscure!
     
  9. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format

    Geez, way less complex than electric and digital cameras!!
     
  10. DREW WILEY

    DREW WILEY Member

    Messages:
    4,758
    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2011
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    Why would it be harder than any other equipment niche. People refurbish old boats, cars, and motorcyles and have fun doing it. There's an entire glossy magazine devoted to view cameras, more
    than one web forum, a number of manufacturers still in the business, and plenty of living practitioners. It is less complicated than with smaller cameras because you can fix most things in
    either a decent woodshop of machine shop. No redundant electronic fooishness to worry about either. Simple and elegant. Plenty of info out there for a patient collector too - used bookstores,
    web info sites, simply asking for old catalogs etc to be copied ... I don't understand the frustration.
     
  11. Benoît99

    Benoît99 Member

    Messages:
    45
    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2012
    Location:
    Québec, Cana
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    E. Von Hoegh was a lens inventor who worked for the Goerz Optical Co. Around the turn of the 20th century.
     
  12. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,508
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    Beaverton, OR
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Yeah, I got that, I mean I googled it. :D

    Fun choice.
     
  13. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

    Messages:
    6,657
    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2005
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    ... and in the world within my mind I'm a (former) basketball player/coach.
     
  14. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

    Messages:
    4,133
    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2005
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It is interesting that the words book and public library haven't been used, up to now, in this thread.

    Randy, there are books about LF photography. Two highly recommended ones are Stroebel, View Camera Technique, and Simmons, Using the View Camera. Stop ranting, buy the books, read them, start using your camera.
     
  15. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

    Messages:
    3,925
    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    Location:
    Adirondacks
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Almost. He worked for C.P. Goerz at Berlin/Freidenau before Goerz Optical Co.(US branch of CPG Berlin) existed, and was the mathematician(not inventor) who designed the Dagor lens in 1892.
     
  16. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

    Messages:
    270
    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Location:
    Calgary, AB,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm with eclarke and wy2l. Operating an LF camera is no different from operating any other kind of manual mechanical camera except for the movements, about which there is much information on the Web. The key to learning about movements is experimenting. The results will demonstrate their effects. Not long ago I bought a simple point-and-shoot digital camera, the present-day equivalent of the old box camera and Kodak Instamatic. When I looked up the online manual for this simplest of digital cameras I was amazed to find it contained 127 pages! I hate to think of how complicated the instructions might be for a pro-quality digital model. The old manual-focus Nikon and Leica and Rolleiflex film cameras are so easy to use . . .
     
  17. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,468
    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2008
    Location:
    SF Bay area
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    OP did state, "trying to find out camera history is tough". The issue, to that point, is that there isn't necessarily a lot of history as there might be in other formats. The first to offer a way to meter at the film plane, or the first to offer a (whatever) is less filled with innovations than as one might find in medium or miniature (135) format world, as folks are not impressed with most of the technical innovations as in smaller format cameras. What LF marketing folks like to play up big time (like 'base tilt' and 'yaw free') don't necessarily get viewed as revolutionary must-have's.

    Go here for information on Komamura, maker of Horseman http://camerapedia.wikia.com/wiki/Komamura
    and here for additional information on Horseman products http://www.komamura.co.jp/e/L45.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 29, 2012
  18. mhcfires

    mhcfires Subscriber

    Messages:
    590
    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Location:
    El Cajon, CA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Hah! I still haven't read the manual for my D700! Yeah, I know, RTFM, but screw 'em! I either read the manual or I figure out the damned thing and use it. My GF was upset with me because I couldn't do something with the damned thing a few weeks ago, not even sure what she wanted me to di, but I couldn't make the camera do what she wanted. I treat it like any other camera. I put it on "M" manual mode and use it. Works fine for me. I have no idea if and when there was a manual for my old pre-WWII Rollei. :smile:
     
  19. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

    Messages:
    19,971
    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2003
    Location:
    local
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    hi randy

    if it is deardorff that you have, and are looking for all the info about
    there are a few places you can poke around ...

    first --- you might contact deardorff .. the family is still making cameras and may have
    historical information you are seeking ... http://www.deardorffcameras.com/

    second --- contact ken hough, he is a deardorff restorer and historian
    http://deardorffcameras.0catch.com/

    if it is learning and understanding how to use the camera ..
    go to the library, go on amazon &c find the books mentioned .. or ansel adam's trilogy camera - negative - print

    using a LF camera really isn't as hard as you think .. its just a box and a lensboard and film holders
    the hardest part of using a large format camera might be loading the film, or remembering to close the shutter
    before removing the darkslide .. using the camera really isn't that hard ...

    processing the film ... you might look for ansel adams' - the negative
    or read what people have written and questions asked here, and the large format page largeformatphotography.info

    there is a TON of information to read and help you along.

    don't get hung up on the small stuff and if you have trouble with one processing method
    try a different one, until you find one you are comfortable with.

    good luck !
    john


     
  20. Randy Moe

    Randy Moe Member

    Messages:
    247
    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2011
    Location:
    Midwest USA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Wiltw, I believe you came closest to understanding my frustration. Thanks for your links, I was aware of both. I have read nearly everything I can find on LF, including most books available with the Chicago Public Library. I spend plenty of time searching the Internet, when possible I find old catalogs and magazines. They are a great source.

    I am interested in photography history and collecting. Cameras are almost easy compared to enlargers, the forgotten child of photography. It seems people preserve most cameras, yet trash enlargers. I now have a nice working collection of tiny to large, enlargers. Too bad I did not start earlier, from the forums and old for sale ads, I gather most darkrooms were dismantled a decade ago. Late to the party, my mistake. From a recent conversation at the Calumet sales counter it seems younger people are picking up 4x5.

    I particularly admire this website, http://antiquecameras.net/blog.html I also appreciate View Camera magazine, great reading. I sure there are many other sources to discover. I enjoy casual research, after all nobody making money with this stuff. The owner of Central Camera gave me quite an education one night after closing, thank you Don Flesch. Spoken history is often the best, but it is fleeting in my aging memory.

    I do shoot and I am setting up a large darkroom to share with my "Pro Photographer" neighbors, they are very interested. We have 2 in our building, and 4 filmmakers. On the 13th I will be using a 8x10 studio Ansco to shoot Polaroids of visitors to our open house. Sure I could do it with a handheld camera, but the fun is drawing them in with a monster Fujiroid. Now, I need to paint the homemade Ansco reduction back, proper grey...