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  1. #11
    David William White's Avatar
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    So, buddyboy, you've probably discovered quite a bit since you first posted, but maybe I can pique your interest a bit on making the plunge:

    1. Kodak and Fuji make b&w and colour 4x5 and 8x10 film. Ilford makes b&w sheet film in a variety of formats -- and will probably continue to for the foreseeable future. There are also a few Eastern European companies and Chinese companies that make b&w sheet film. Black and white film lasts decades in the fridge, too.

    2. There are half a dozen companies that make large format view cameras and accessories, so new kits are definitely available. Sheet film holders were standardized a long, long time ago, so there are many view cameras still in service that are quite old, BUT NOT OBSOLETE.

    3. A 4x5" sheet of film is 20 square inches of film. Has unbeatable resolution. Hundreds of megapixels. Quite a lot of commercial work is still being done with them.

    4. This is cool: The lens plane doesn't have to be parallel to the film plane. We can correct perspective or adjust our plane of focus to suite the situation. And when you are examining the ground glass (under the dark cloth), you SEE the perspective, plane of focus, and depth of field (as you stop down). Can't do that with any other kind of camera. Great for architectural or macro work. This makes a view camera the most advanced and versatile photographic instrument available.

    5. Many gorgeous printing processes are 'contact' processes, for which you need a large negative. Many of them can be done in the kitchen sink. Also, once you've developed your negatives, you can just contact print them on photo paper -- without an enlarger, even -- and frame (or give away) your 4x5, 5x7, or 8x10 prints. All you need is the camera, some film, paper, and simple chemistry.

    6. If you are drooling over LARGE prints in galleries, they were probably made on a view camera.

    7. Labs will process sheet film for you, but you can do your own b&w really cheaply with no special equipment. The chemisty will be available for a long, long time.

    David.

    P.S.

    Why 'view' camera? The lens images the world (upside down) directly on the ground glass on the back of the camera. As opposed to 'reflex' cameras that use a mirror or prism to flip the image. There are 'twin lens reflex' cameras and 'single lens reflex' cameras, as well as 'range-finder' cameras. View cameras are the simplest, but require you to compose upside down.

    Quote Originally Posted by buddyboy101 View Post
    keith, that's exactly what i meant! is that the same type of camera that david was referring to? what type of film is used? do i have to process it myself in my own dark room?

    thanks!

  2. #12

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    And yes, you can get them relatively cheep.

    A good place to start is a used B&J orbit or grover or Watson. Slap a old Ektar lens on it, get a few type V (wood) film holders, get a meter (or use your 35mm) and snap some photos. Or go the press camera route but you won't learn as much about camera movements that way.

    Lots to learn though. Shooting is just the first step as you can see.

    tim in san jose
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by buddyboy101 View Post
    keith, that's exactly what i meant! is that the same type of camera that david was referring to? what type of film is used? do i have to process it myself in my own dark room?

    thanks!
    Generally speaking the term is "View Camera". There are many different styles though, for different needs. Most generally, they fall into the following classes:

    Monorails for more flexibility (but less portability - they can be quite heavy and cumbersome):
    ===========================================





    Field cameras which fold for portability:
    =============================







    And press cameras for handheld photography and ruggedness (similar to field cameras in some respects):
    ===============================================



    Finally I guess there are a lot of interesting old 19th century and early 20th century wooden studio cameras, and box cameras, and things like that:



    Plus a few weird things like the gowlandflex 4x5" TLR and the graflex RB SLRs, and hybrid monorail/field cameras, home built hacks, etc.

    While there are a few medium format view cameras (6x7, 6x9, etc, and shoot on 120 roll film or small sheet film), most of them are large format, and take images on sheets of film in the following common sizes (and other less common ones):

    Large format sizes:
    ------------------
    4x5"
    5x7"
    8x10"

    Ultra large format sizes:
    -----------------------
    11x14"
    7x17"
    8x20"
    12x20"
    16x20"


    There are large format and ultra large format (ULF) forums on APUG here, and also a great large format only forum: largeformatphotography.info (click the "Forum" link for the active forum, or you can look at that main front page for a lot of interesting articles).

    LF photography is great fun; I hope you jump into it.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
    .

  4. #14

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    Just for the hell of it, I'll also describe the three cameras I'm currently shooting LF film with.

    #1, a modern Shen Hao 4x5, bought for $650, it was constructed in 2006 and is designed somewhat similarly to almost any wood field camera from the last 50 to 100 years, but with modern components. The lens is a Rodenstock, multicoated, lens, which is getting close to as sharp as you can get, constructed around 1986 or so, but in mint condition (a lot of these lenses were used sparingly or in careful studio environments). I got it on ebay for $200, though brand new it would have cost $1500 or $2000, and even now the same lens often sells for $400 - $500.



    An 8x10 Conley camera from 1916 or so, with an early 1900s Turner Reich Triple Convertible lens on it:



    ... still needs bellows repair, I'll get to it one day ...

    The turner reich lens:


    And a home built (and currently taken apart for reconstruction) pinhole camera with a 1920s or '30s Graflex 12-shot 4x5" film magazine:






    This is what I love about this kind of photography: the possibilities are endless. You can pretty much mate up any lens with any style of camera body and any method you can find to hold film and you've got a unique camera.
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
    .

  5. #15
    Neanderman's Avatar
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    Hey, I'm a Luddite and proud of it! And, yes, I do shoot large format.

    Ed
    "I only wanted Uncle Vern standing by his new car (a Hudson) on a clear day. I got him and the car. I also got a bit of Aunt Mary's laundry, and Beau Jack, the dog, peeing on a fence, and a row of potted tuberous begonias on the porch and 78 trees and a million pebbles in the driveway and more. It's a generous medium, photography." -- Lee Friedlander

  6. #16

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    how about something with no " up side down"
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails bi pic 065.jpg  

  7. #17
    David William White's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alannguyen View Post
    how about something with no " up side down"
    Okay, but technically, you've made a straight view camera into a reflex camera!

  8. #18

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    You are in the right place for LF questions, well the largeformatphotography.info site is also wonderful, and has a lot of good articles, as does photo.net

    Using a LF camera is a very different thing than a smaller one. It is slow and 100% manual. You have total control over what ends up on the film, which means that you can do all sorts of cool things, of course it also means that there are a million ways to mess up .

    You can develop LF film at home (as with any other film) or take it to a good lab, both options have good and bad points.

    The main ideas behind LF cameras have not changed in 100+ years. While some of the newer cameras may be lighter or made with more modern elements the camera itself is just a light tight box. You can buy a new LF camera for thousands of dollars or a used one for a lot less, both will work fine. Though the used one may take some tinkering to get to work right.

    If you have skill with wood you can also build your own and there are people who do. In addition if you like building things there are at least 2 companies that make kits (Bulldog and Bender) which you can build yourself. Big plus there is if it breaks you can fix it yourself.

    If you want to try out LF without dropping a lot of money there are also places that will rent cameras, Adorama in NY for one. They can rent you everything you need for a few days so you can try it out. Also useful if you need one for a specific project.

  9. #19
    CBG
    CBG is offline

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    Quote Originally Posted by David William White View Post
    .....There are half a dozen companies that make large format view cameras...

    I believe there are a few more than that. I think most of these and probably a couple more are in production.

    Toho
    Lotus
    Canham
    Tachihara
    Horseman
    Arca Swiss
    Ebony
    Sinar
    Shen Hao
    Toyo
    Linhof
    Cambo
    Hobo (Kits)
    Silvestri
    Walker
    Wista
    Bender (DIY kits)

    Best,

    C

  10. #20
    Jim Fitzgerald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by buddyboy101 View Post
    keith, that's exactly what i meant! is that the same type of camera that david was referring to? what type of film is used? do i have to process it myself in my own dark room?

    thanks!
    I think that if you read the posts on this forum and the others mentioned you can learn a lot. Yes, you want to develop you B&W film yourself. About 5 years ago I took the plunge with a 4x5. Once you find your vision you will want total control over the process, at least that is the way it is for me.

    Once you become obsessed with LF photography you can build your own camera and get into ULF! With no prior camera building experience I built a tripod and 8x20 camera in my one bedroom apartment with nothing but hand tools. The 11x14 is about half way done and the obsession continues.

    Welcome to the forum! Ask the questions, ask them again and learn. We are all here to learn and help each other.

    Jim

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