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  1. #1

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    Newbie - what's that old camera with a cloth hood?

    Hey, i'm new here and getting into old-school photography. I was wondering how do you refer to that real old type of camera you see in the movies where hte photographer is underneath a cloth hood that is connected to the camera.

    Do they still sell those any where?

    Also, if what's the cheapest and most practical way to take some photos with a real retro feel to them (i.e. type of film/camera)?

    Thanks so much!

  2. #2
    David William White's Avatar
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    View camera. You're definitely in the right place -- this board is full of them. Common film sizes are 4x5 inches, 5x7 inches, 8x10 inches. These view cameras are referred to as 'large format' cameras. Ultra large format (ULF) could be 11x17 inches and even bigger. 4x5" people generally do enlargement printing, but 8X10 and bigger often do contact printing.

    There are many used view cameras on eBay in all the common sizes and there are a few manufacturers still making them. Common lenses are still being manufactured, and film as well.

    See some of the links to sponsors & vendors for sources.

  3. #3
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Do you mean one of these crazy gizmos?


    (photo by HCB)

    Indeed there are plenty of nutjobs here who use 'em happily! You can buy them for next to nothing. The main expense is the large format film. Spending anywhere from ~$1 -20 per shot is not unusual, depending on what kind of film you use and how you process.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  4. #4

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    Funny I was using one of those 'real old type' cameras the other day. Guess that makes me a 'real old type' photographer. But I ain't been in no movie. Grin.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  5. #5

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    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!

  6. #6

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    It uses film which comes in sheets - and yep it's the same as David referred to. Many prefer to process their own black and white film (in any format) but professional labs are certainly able to process the film.

  7. #7
    Monophoto'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?!
    Let me dispell one myth in a previous answer - those who practice this form of photography do so because they are very serious about photography, and not because "You can buy them for next to nothing." In fact, modern view cameras represent both advanced technology and exacting craftsmanship, and can be very expensive to purchase.

    The reason people use view cameras has to do with the kind of images that they make, and the process involved in making them. View cameras require the photographer to slow down dramatically, and think through every aspect of creation of an image. Exposures themselves tend to be longer, but the fact that view cameras have no automation at all means that the photographer has to methodically compose the image on the ground glass, focus, determine the exposure, close down the shutter, insert a holder and pull the darkslide, etc. A single exposure can take anywhere from five minutes to several hours to make.

    And the result is a negative that has far more detail than can be achieved with any other form of photography. A skilled large format photographer controls every aspect of making the image - and for that reason, may large format photographers insist on doing their own darkroom work rather than surrender control over that portion of the process. Many take advantage of the larger negatives to make prints using alternative processes - including platinum/palladium, an expensive and craft-intensive form of printing that can produce some of the most beautiful prints imaginable.

    Large format photographers certainly aren't Luddites, and many use GPS receivers to identify exactly the location of the images they make, and use PDAs to calculate exposures taking into account filter factors, bellows extension adjustments and film reciprocity.
    Louie

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  9. #9
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Why Louie, I don't think I contributed in any way to the myth that LF is backwards or that LFers are luddites! What did I say, what did I say! N.b. I will admit that I have no tolerance for pretense, and perhaps that is all too evident in some of my posts.

    When I became interested in LF, I followed the same path that got me into rangefinders and fast Nikons etc.: I had a list of people whose work I deeply admired and I took the time to research what gear they had used. In my case, the LF standouts were Edward Weston, Minor White, and of course, Ansel Adams. To my shock and amusement, I discovered that these three LF legends all used quite spartan gear, particularly Weston. The most expensive thing you'd find in any of their closets would be White's Sinar and maybe Adams triple convertible lenses... but comparable items are a relative bargain on today's market (remember: the high-end digital stuff is currently running $40k, batteries and computer lab not included). It was a thrill for me to discover that the LF camera is a relatively simple and wide open piece with no electronica and no intricacies beyond the straightforward way you use it. I would call it "transparent" in its usage. So, in spite of being a certified technogeek, I fell in love with LF right away.

    What LF gear do I use? Well, for travel I recently used a $250 5x7" King Poco wooden field camera which was built in 1903. I patched the bellows and replaced the ground glass, and found that I loved the old double-convertible lens that came with it but usually opt for a modern lens because I need accurate shutter speeds when shooting transparencies. With that very light rig I went on one of Per Volquartz's outings in the Yosemite area and had a ball shooting 5x7" velvia 100. You can peruse some results on my site, if it interests you to see what a relative newbie does.

    Fancier LF gear I use includes an 8x10" cambo and a 5x7" rittreck.. No LF gear I have purchased cost me more than a few hundred bucks; the priciest LF item I possess is a spanking new 65mm f/4 Nikkor lens which cost, I don't know $500 or so.

    So, indeed, LF shooters are neither backwards nor reclusive nor technologically challenged. They simply enjoy photography in its most "transparent" form. You can dress up the exposure technique in a number of ways... follow a technical path like Adams and White, or dare to rely on well-developed intuition like Weston. In any case, it's a whole lot of fun to find your own photography.

    You may well get into LF because you think it looks cool; what will keep you in LF is the transparent way it connects your subject and your thinking.
    Last edited by keithwms; 03-02-2008 at 08:57 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  10. #10

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    There is a group of large format photographers in the Midwest (Chicago, Milwaukee, Iowa, Indiania & Michigan) that religiously go out once a month and shoot. We have visited such locations as the light houses on Lake Michigan, the historic Pullman District in Chicago, Iowa towns on the Mississippi River, the railroad museum in Monticello, IL, the south shore of Lake Superior in the UP, etc., etc. In January this group had their first portfolio review at Starved Rock State Park when 17 portfolios were reviewed. You can read & learn more about this group at www.midwestlargeformat.com. If you are a LF shooter, you are more than welcome to join us every third Saturday of the month.

    Rick Tapio

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