I'm officially addicted.
Yesterday my Shen Hao 4x5 arrived in the mail and all I have to say is wow! I don't see how the price reflects the quality at all. I'm absolutly blown away by it in virtually all respects. The only gripe is how dim the ground glass is, but that's to be expected from someone who's been used to looking at viewfinders his whole life.
Being my first large format camera, and the first time I've ever spent any time with one, I can see myself being very at home with this style of photography. I took a bit of a punt ordering it (no where around here rents them, and LF stuff is hard to find used) but I'm glad I did. I took a couple of shots in the back yard this afternoon and developed them, and apart from some fogging on the film (still to determine the cause) things are looking very good.
Also if anyone has any useful links or tips for me the first time I go out, I'd greatly appreciate it. It's definatly a big step away from where my comfort zone lies.
So basically I want to say a big thanks to everyone here for your discussions about LF, your photos and some of the questions I have posted over the last couple of months in various places around here. It's been a huge help in deciding what to throw my money at.
I'm only new to it too, and my advice would be to not rush thru your available sheets. When you 'see' your image, work though the process, make sure your shutter is shut when you pull the darkside, etc. Check all the ground glass, not just the main CoI. Simple things but easy to miss something which will mean disappointment after developing. Take your time and enjoy!
Congrats! Welcome to the Shen Hao club. I bought the same camera and it is just beautiful!
Are the edges of the image fogged or the whole neg? Did you clise the shutter before you pulled you dark slide to take the shot?
There is a awesome book called;
Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga that is just awesome. IT helped me a ton.
Also another called;
View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel that helped me a lot also. I am also new to LF and these two books really helped me get ahead of the game as well as all the great help from all the awesome APUG members!
Again welcome to the LF world and you will now never turn back to the other, you have been cursed LOL
More information on what exactly you mean by "fogging of the film" (where it's fogged, what the fogging looks like, etc.), along with information on how you loaded the film holders and how you did the development, would help us help you determine where the fogging might have come from. (When I bought my first 4x5, I got a Polaroid 545 film holder and some Fuji film in Quickloads so that I could learn to use the camera without worrying about learning how to handle film right away. It worked for me, but it is an expensive solution.)
Regardless, welcome to the world of LF. I think we should start taking bets now on how soon you'll talk about moving to 8x10. :-)
The factory GG on the Shen-Hao is a bit dim, but it's quite workable. Make sure you have your lens opened all of the way up when you're focusing, that you're using something to block out stray light, and that you have something to magnify the image for focusing, and you should be just fine with a little practice. For a number of years I used an old black t-shirt as my dark cloth (just put the neck of the shirt over the back of the camera and climb in through the waist), and today I still use a magnifying device known as a "linen tester" for my focusing loupe (they cost under $10 at a fabric stores so you can buy a couple, they fold up into almost nothing, and they do a good job).
As far as hints, I can highly recommend the following:
1. Waste a sheet of film by removing it from the box (in the dark!) and then practicing with it to make sure your film holder loading technique is good, first with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed, and finally in the dark.
2. Whenever you first open the camera, or when you're getting ready to set up for a new shot, "zero out" all of the movements before you start. Move everything back to the neutral position and start focusing from there.
3. Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.
4. Pull the dark slide slowly; pulling it fast generates static electricity which attracts dust to your film.
5. Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.
6. Once you've focused and stopped the lens down, always check the corners for vignetting. Look through the cut-outs in the corners of the ground glass to make sure you can see the entire circle of the iris of the lens. If you can't, then you're vignetting (cutting off the light from the corners of the film).
7. Did I mention: Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.
8. Buy some cheap film and use the camera. Use it a lot. The more you use it, the easier it becomes to avoid mistakes like, for example, pulling the dark slide while the shutter is open.
9. You will make a few mistakes in the beginning. It's part of the learning process. Don't worry about it too much. My third most common mistake (it's happened twice) is removing the dark slide from the wrong side of the film holder. This ruins the film on that side of the folder (because it's exposed to the light on the GG). Make this mistake a few times and you won't make it again. My 2nd most common mistake is forgetting to remove the dark slide before taking the shot. This habit's harder to break, because it doesn't cost you anything but time so you don't feel quite so bad about it. My most common mistake has been...well, I'll bet you can guess.
10. Play with the camera a little. Sit in a chair and un-fold and fold it. Get good at this in the comfort of your home and it'll be easier in the field.
11. More than anything: Enjoy! LF photography isn't like 35mm or even MF photography. It's slower, more directed, and more purposeful. It won't take you long until you're not making any of the mistaked mentioned any more, and then you'll be turning out negatives on a regular basis with more detail, better tonality, and easier enlargeability than anything you've done before. It's addictive for a reason: It's very, very satisfying.
Congratulations on your new camera and all of the best for a bright photographic future.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
Congratulations! I'm still fresh enough into my LF experience that I still get a buzz setting up the camera. You'll love it...<p>
One question for you about the dim GG. How fast a lens are you using, make sure it's not stopped down, and a dark cloth is mandatory (or a reflex viewer).
Other ways to screw up film I seem to be adept at include not flipping the darkslide after the exposure and losing track of what's been exposed and what hasn't. Leads to prolonged development of blank film (good for measuring fog + base density) and some creative but unintentional double exposures.
A question for Mongo as well
Your point # 6: viewing through the corner cutouts. What do you mean by seeing the iris from all four corners? You mean the full circle of the stopped down aperture blades, right? Just checking something I've always been sketchy on.
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Your description is better than mine. You want to see the full circle of the stopped-down aperture blades from all four corners. If any part of the circle isn't visible to you, then you're vignetting.
Originally Posted by NikoSperi
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.
Jack's book is quite good, one of my favorites (I have several of his books). I would also recomment "Photographing the Landscape" by John Fielder (Colorado based LF landscape photographer) and "Light and the Art of Landscape Photography" by Joe Cornish (UK based LF landscape photographer). I have a list of books on my website that you might consider (although I need to update the list): http://www.visionlandscapes.com/Reso...mended%20Books
Originally Posted by kjsphoto
I think it took me 18 months before I made the jump from 4x5 to 8x10.
Originally Posted by Mongo
Number 3 above: Been there and done that too. It hurts more when you do it with 8x10 though. Ouch! I have the one slide I did that with still in my folder so I don't forget that I did that.
Number 10: Try and experiment with the movements while your fiddling around with the camera, learn how moving certain parts of the camera affects the image on the ground glass.
Number 11: Definitely agree on this one! And it's fun too!
I just want to add one thing to what Mongo has already said...
Always check to make sure the shutter is closed before you remove the dark slide.
Have fun. I am sure it will give you a completely new perspective on the craft. I also recommend Jack Dykinga's book.
There are three books I recommend
The Dykinga book
User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone
Using the View Camera that I wrote.
There is another book that is not a friendly intro book but a good longterm reference
View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel
Last edited by steve simmons; 01-27-2005 at 11:06 AM. Click to view previous post history.