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Thread: Beginner to 4X5

  1. #11
    bobwysiwyg's Avatar
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    2F,

    Thanks for the explanation. I have been focusing () on the 150mm I have. I will do more, as you suggest with the 210mm and see how it goes, doing the things you suggest.

    Ektagraphic,

    I'm currently going down the road you are considering, with an old Cambo monorail. It's fun. My images are not yet the greatest, but I'm having a good time trying. They are a heavy cam, I don't 'hike' and have found a large tackle box into which I can get the camera and quite a bit of other 'stuff.' The camera is completely set-up when stored in there so it's just a matter of popping onto a tripod. The tripod is one I have been getting by with, definitely not suited for this size/weight, but as long as it is not windy, it works.

    Having said all that, I'm about to get a bit more portability in the form of a field camera and a better, more stable tripod. I think you too will have fun.
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

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  2. #12
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Now you guys are saying they are heavy...So are they solidly built too? I read on one site that they are flimsy...
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  3. #13
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ektagraphic View Post
    I am not going hiking...would it be too much to put on one of the older Tiltall Tripods?
    I have put a 4x5 on one of those cheap plastic giveaway tripods.....so, technically, yes...

    However, a better tripod will give better results. They are cheap on the used market (usually no more than 1/4 of other new price in excellent condition with a head), and it is probably the most important piece of equipment you can purchase short of the camera itself, so I would invest in a high-quality one. I like the Bogen 3033, 3036, and 3051 as far as used tripods go. They are great deals.

    The cameras are not heavy, IMO...at least not heavy enough to call "heavy".

    Bob, you don't even have to shoot film to learn movements. Everything is right there on the glass. However, Polaroids are a nice luxury that allow one to compare two pictures side by side. A packfilm back for a Graflok back is a great tool. You can shoot instant prints for about a dollar a piece instead of four dollars a piece for the 4x5 version.

    Be sure to learn about bellows extension factor before you start shooting still lifes.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-03-2009 at 04:16 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

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  4. #14
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Is there a good online resource where I can read about the use of the bellows?
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  5. #15
    bobwysiwyg's Avatar
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    I think you make a good point about my 'heavy' statement. It's probably more a case of bulk when set up.

    Ekta,

    I'm sure there is an on-line resource on this somewhere, but I have been using and referring to Steve Simmons "Using The View Camera." It's available quite cheaply in the secondary market. If interested, try;

    http://www.alibris.com/
    WYSIWYG - At least that's my goal.

    Portfolio-http://apug.org/forums/portfolios.php?u=25518

  6. #16

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    As you'll soon discover, LF is an entirely different thing than the smaller formats. At least for me, it was like I could play trumpet, and I was moving to saxophone. What I knew about music helped, what I knew about trumpet was meaningless.

    That said, I found it well worth pursuing. So worth it in fact that I no longer do any small format photography. Sold the equipment. My 5x4 is my only camera now.

    People are harping on the weight of the old Calumets because they are really heavy. Weight means more in LF, because as the film size scales upward, so does everything else. And in LF there are no zoom lenses. You'll be using a handful of "primes" each of which takes up space and contributes weight. Similarly, just about all LF photography uses a tripod. And just about all tripod work uses a tripod head. More weight and more weight. I'm just sayin' that the weight issue is a serious one.

    The old Calumet monorail cameras were meant for the studio. You mount it on a studio stand and roll it where you needed it. Fine in a studio, but hideous beyond the studio.

    So... it all comes down to what kind of photography you are thinking of doing with LF. If you want to photograph sports, current events, or do portraiture, you might be better off with an old press camera like a Speed Graphic. These are designed to be used hand held, but it's not as easy as using a 35mm SLR. But they can also be used as a conventional "field camera" also -- mounted on a tripod and focused through the ground glass. This level of versatility is why many people start out with press cameras.

    If you are going to do landscape work, you'll probably want a field camera. These are lighter, and fold up for easier packing. Just about all require a tripod to use.

    If you are going to be working inside doing table top work like still lifes or product photography you may be happy with a monorail. Maximum flexibility and precision if you want it.

    Few LF cameras come with lenses. The exceptions are often press cameras and many times people are selling whole kits which include camera and lenses. But any lens from any lens maker will work with any camera (once you fit it in an lens board appropriate to the camera). LF lenses often include shutters. You may OTOH want a barrel lens without a shutter. You'd want this if you were using a press camera that has a focal plane shutter, or an 10x8 or larger camera where shutter speed is usually in the multiple seconds (and you just pull the lens cap off and replace it to expose the film).

    Clearly there is much to learn and much to consider. Pick up a good book on using a view camera (there are a bunch), and look at the LF photography forum pages (there are a bunch of useful articles). Then come back and ask more specific questions as you need more information. LFP.info and APUG are extraordinarily good resources with a lot of really nice and helpful people willing to help.
    Bruce Watson
    AchromaticArts.com

  7. #17

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    Before you do anything, read Steve Simmons Using the View Camera. It will clarify a lot for you. A lens in the 150 to 240 range is a good starter lens. Don't worry about picking a certain brand. All modern lenses are very good, and you will undoubtedly end up with several lenses anyway. Just get one with a decent image circle so you can learn some movements. You will want quite a sturdy tripod as the cameras are heavy, especially if you have them leaning at an angle. I personally use and would recommend a geared head, because it makes leveling the camera very simple. Loading film using Fuji Quickloads will make learning easier, but there is an added cost to the film, you are limited to Fuji, and you need a Quickload holder. The more traditional approach is to use sheet film holders, and you will need to learn about dust control, but it will save you money in the end and you can use any type of sheet film you like. You will need a light meter, preferably a 1-degree spot meter. You will need a focusing loupe. You will need a darkcloth. You will need the right lensboard to mount your lens, and a spanner wrench to do so. You will need a shutter release cable. And, I think that is all ;-) It is a lot of fun - good luck.

  8. #18
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    That is good info, but the type of light meter you "preferably" want is totally independent of format, and totally dependent on how you would like to meter for the given situation. I have used flash meters, incident ambient meters, reflected ambient meters, and spot meters (which are also reflected ambient meters, BTW) for all formats, depending on the situation.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-03-2009 at 05:17 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #19
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    Being relatively new to LF, (just going on six months... definitely still in the honeymoon period) I can attest to the enjoyment of shooting 4x5. I have an old Calumet CC400, and find very little to complain about. (except the bulk/weight, as others have mentioned) The Calumet has virtually all the movements I need except for rear rise and fall, but that can easily be achieved through rail movements. I am more than happy with this camera for now. (thanks, Jeff )

    As regards switching from trumpet to saxophone, I did so when a 1953 Conn 6M sorta fell in my lap. They are definitely not the same instrument, but 35 years of trumpet playing made the learning curve much more manageable, and gave me great appreciation for the new experience. I'd say the analogy still holds.

    Cheers,
    Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada

    Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...

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  10. #20

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    Did anyone answer the why get a Graflok back question?

    Get a camera with a Graflok back. The Graflok (or International) back will accept many more cool toys than a plan back. Like Grafmatic holders, Fujiroid holders, roll film holders, etc.

    GOOGLE knows. Large Format Photography Forum and the home page. Hours of good reading.

    In this time of falling prices, one thing seems to be stable: Nice Speed Graphic cameras with 127mm or 135mm lenses, a few holders and a working rangefinder for $250 (plus or minus). Graflok back. Focal plane shutter for old exotic barrel lenses. Use it. Learn on it. Keep it. Sell it and get your $250 back.

    Enjoy!
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

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