Need Advise: Stepping up to Fotoman
I am looking at stepping up to LF equipment. I have to confess that my knowledge of film and LF is somewhat limited, but I am quite comfortable with photography in general as I've been shooting Dslr for some time - Okay no boos:-)
I came across the Fotoman line of cameras and this looks like a good fit for me. So, I am going to embarrass myself and ask a few basic questions if I may:
1: I am waffling between the Fotoman 54 and the 612. I shoot a lot of panos, landscapes and seascapes which I print on my Epson 9600 on canvas up to 48 x 36 inches (so far). For large pieces I have stitched files together, and some of the smaller panos, I have cropped. Knowning this, which of the 54 or 612 would be the better choice for me?
2: To start off, I would lean towards a wide angle lens and preferably not too overly expensive. What would you suggest?
3: What other options would I need? A focus screen and loupe, a double-bubble level, and ????
4: I like the look of Velvia. Is it available in both formats?
5: As I will be eventually taking these into PS for pre-printing, do I use slide, or negative film?
6: For the time being I would want to scan my own files. What would be a reasonable scanner for this to create large format prints as described above? I currently have an Epson 3200 and a Microtek 9600XL 12 x 17 inch flatbed
7: What else might I need to get started?
8: Finally can anyone give me a ballpark figure for what this will cost me? Could it be done for less that $4000?
Any other thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome.
Sincere thanks in advance!
If you purchase the 4X5, as I did, you retain the advantage of cut film - being able to process one sheet or many to whatever contrast you wish (you lose being able to send roll film to the drugstore) and you retain the wide look if you want it as the 4X5 is the same width as the 6X12. And you still have more to play with on your negative. (Since this is APUG you doubtless shoot b&w). If you want really panoramic stuff you must go wider either on roll film or 8X10 would be possible. Practical? Another question. Fotoman comes with an excellent level. And a ground glass. A loupe (Schneider or Rodenstock are both excellent). For what you want to do a tripod would seem a must. I have 65mm Rodenstock for my Fotoman, also a 90mm Nikkor. It is possible to go a bit wider than 65 - check the 38 and 47mm focal lengths and their coverage. I have no experience with them. Also I think there is a 55mm which may be the widest that will cover adequately. People in APUG have and use all these and I am sure will come forth with excellent recommendations!
There are from Schneider the 58XL and the 47XL lenses that cover 4x5 inch.
I have the 58XL for interior shots aswell as a 72XL and a 75 Super Angulon. The 75 is somewhat less contrasty than the 72XL.
An other thing you might need is a center filter for each wide-angle lens.
The corners get a bit darker than the center of the picture and the center filter compensates that.
Use f:22 as much as you can and adjust your shutterspeeds as needed.
Velvia is a great film, I have used it a lot.
Cost: start slowly, if I had to buy my set new (Sinar P2 4x5/8x10 with 6 lenses lightmeters and so on) .......
A good, sturdy tripod (Gitzo or Manfrotto) is a must for 4x5 inch !!!
Good luck, and welcome to the club of 4x5 inch users
Thank you for the replies.
If I were to start with just one lens of the ones you have mentioned, which would you suggest for landscapes?
The Fotoman 54 is extremely limiting as a 5x4 camera as it lacks movements, however the 612 is a far more practical proposition. I shoot 6x6 & also 6x17 with 80mm/75mm lenses and there's sufficient DOF once stopped down to f8/f11 to cope. But with a 5x4 camera you really need movements on many occasions where DOF is insufficient to allow sufficient sharpness.
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Your lens selection is predicated by the helicals available for the camera you choose. The list is on the Fotoman website, going from there you can get an idea of what you can be looking for in a particular focal length and then figure out what they cost.
4x5 is more flexible in format and individual development than the 6x12, and you can easily crop to pan, however there are lighter 4x5 cameras that feature movements that the Fotoman can't match, at the expense of small convenience in set up and composing. The 6x12 is more convenient than the 4x5, as you get 6 shots on a roll, and don't have to carry and load holders. Chromes have a unique look and pop, but color neg has come a long way. No harm in shooting both and finding out what you prefer.
For suggestions regarding scanning and hybrid workflow, HybridPhoto.com is a terrific resource. APUG isn't the place to ask those questions