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  1. #1

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    Start to use Large Format

    Hi all,

    I would like to know how to start to shoot with large format? Not sure if i have the necessary accessories now to start using it or still something missing. I have Sp/Cr Graphic 4x5, i have film holders, one lens on board which i can use on both, film sheets, GG on both of them, that's all, can i start with those or i need something else to start shooting?

  2. #2

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    I'm not terribly experienced in LF, but you will need some type of darkroom or a dark bag/box to load and unload your film holders.

    Also, I find a focusing aid useful, I just use a magnifying glass right now. Some type of dark cloth to eliminate glare while you are composing and focusing - many use a dark sweatshirt or jacket that is large enough to pull up over your head and camera.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by LyleB View Post
    I'm not terribly experienced in LF, but you will need some type of darkroom or a dark bag/box to load and unload your film holders.

    Also, I find a focusing aid useful, I just use a magnifying glass right now. Some type of dark cloth to eliminate glare while you are composing and focusing - many use a dark sweatshirt or jacket that is large enough to pull up over your head and camera.
    Oh i forgot to say that i have a changing bag which i use to load my 120 films for developing, i think i will use it for large format sheets, but just if i unload the film to send it for developing [as i don't have a tank for 4x5] how can i save it or store it without damaging it until i can send it to the lab?

    I really don't know where or how to use that focusing screen or loupe, i heard others told me about it but i still don't understand where on my LF to use it and how, and i have one loupe i bought came with a cleaning kit Visible Dust, is it fine to be used or i should get different one?

    About the dark cloth, well, i thought about it but i thought i don't need it as must to start to shoot one sheet even, but if i need it to make it right then i will see what i have [blanket, head cover,...] until i can buy something else for it.

    The problem is that i don't have a good tripod for it yet [i have Gitzo tripods which are overkill but without any plate for the camera], so i am not sure the Manfrotto tripod i have will be sturdy enough for something [i have 190XProB with 804RC2 head].

  4. #4

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    You can make a functional darkcloth out of an old black sweatshirt or something like that. The neck goes around the camera, you stick your head from the bottom as if you were going to wear it. I presume your cameras have focusing hoods, that might be sufficient for your first few shots. Try your loupe and see if it works. You just use iit against the ground glass and check your focus with it. Its easier with a darkcloth. Cable releases are really necessary. I use a stopwatch for long exposures but you can use whatever you have. Know about bellows extension correction factors before doing work closer than 10x the focal length. That should get you going.

  5. #5

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    I would try it on whatever tripod you have to start out with. If your results are unsatisfactory then you can invest in a new camera plate. In some time you'll end up with about a billion little film boxes in which to store exposed but unprocessed negatives but for now just store those under the bag containing unexposed film. You might want to keep the box taped shut just to avoid a bit of light leak since the film isn't in the bags.

    To expose film you focus and compose on the groundglass (a darkcloth/loupe helps for this...any kind will do). then CLOSE THE LENS!, stop the aperture down and set the shutter speed. insert your film holder in the back, remove the darkslide, fire the shutter, and re-insert the darkslide. Be sure to flip the darkslide so you know which negative you've exposed.

    If I've missed something I'm sure someone will let you know; you do this so often it becomes a routine.

  6. #6
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    I urge you to buy one of the several books on large format photography. Graphic Graflex Photography by Morgan and Lester (or Morgan and Morgan, depending on the edition) is a great reference on SG cameras. If your lens board fits both cameras, you probably have an Anniversary model SG. Any edition of that book covers this model. The book sometimes appears on ebay, and is available from many online booksellers.

  7. #7
    Whiteymorange's Avatar
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    Try to find somebody local who shoots large format and go out with them or get together somewhere. A few minutes of show and tell are worth a week of reading, though the books are a good idea. The whole process is fairly simple, like playing chess, or wheel throwing pottery - you can learn in a session or two and then spend the rest of your life getting good at it. You can develop 4x5 film in the canister you use for two rolls of 120 film. One sheet at a time is easiest- just put it in with the emulsion facing inward. Two sheets can be done by folding them over a bit and holding them in a "U" shape with an elastic band, again with the picture side inward. Place them in the canister with the open ends of the U shapes facing in opposite directions so they nest in the space. You might want to shoot paper negatives at first to get used to the process if you have a darkroom and do any printing. Paper is cheap, you can load the holders with a safelight on and you shoot, put the paper in the developer and see right away of you have any problems. I do it to test new or odd lenses I get- and then scan the negatives, invert the image and get a chance to look at the positive in minutes. Not as fast as a Polaroid, but cheaper. One warning: 4x5 film is not 4 inche4s by 5 inches, it's smaller by about an eight of an inch in each direction. Cut your paper accordingly or you will never fit it into the holder.
    Above all, have fun!

  8. #8

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    hmmmmm, it sounds that the process of loading, shooting, unloading sheets not that difficult, but as beginning i may see it difficult, i watched a short vid. clip on youtube about how to load/unload film, and i understand that process but i just want to be so careful i don't miss things up, i don't have much sheets to waste as 120 rolls, and i will just use 1 holder for both sides as test, if it worked then i will shoot normal forever, if there is something wrong then i have to check everything to see where i did the mistake.

    I am going to order a new large format this time, i was going to test my Speed Graphic or Crown Graphic first, but i think i have to wait and order that new large format as it will come as a kit and including most necessary things [lens on board, cloth, cable release, holders,...], my Speed and Crown Graphic are old so i am not sure if i need to lubricate something or clean something or calibrate something, so i better use a new large format then when i know how it works i can try that old Graphic bodies.

    So from the comments first i have to compose the shot, then set the settings [Av, TV,..] and then put the holder then shoot?!!! about the movements i really would like to learn about it, i want to buy books but buying books is not easy for me as i live in this country in middle east and i have to order those books online as i did before and this process will take long time maybe over 2-3 weeks, and it is expensive to buy one or 2 book as the shipping maybe more than the price of 1-2 books, but can't i try it without any movements or say slightly movements as a test [such as one front tilt and swing]?

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2002
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    Your cameras can be shot handheld.
    You need a dark place to load & unload your film holders. If there isn't a room you can make dark(bathrooms are usually good for this) a changing bag works nicely.
    If you don't have a light meter, using "sunny 16" works.
    With the pop up shade on the back of your cameras, you may not need a dark cloth, but a sweat shirt or heavy jacket can be used in its place in case you do.
    You may or may not need a cable release to fire the shutter.
    A loupe or magnifier of some type would be nice for fine focusing on the ground glass.

    Useful resources:
    A copy of Steve Simmons Using the View Camera is worth having.
    A copy of Morgan and Lester's Graphic Graflex Photography book will help you get all the performance that was built into these cameras.
    Also check out the articles & forum at: www.graflex.org

    Have fun!

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Your cameras can be shot handheld.
    You need a dark place to load & unload your film holders. If there isn't a room you can make dark(bathrooms are usually good for this) a changing bag works nicely.
    If you don't have a light meter, using "sunny 16" works.
    With the pop up shade on the back of your cameras, you may not need a dark cloth, but a sweat shirt or heavy jacket can be used in its place in case you do.
    You may or may not need a cable release to fire the shutter.
    A loupe or magnifier of some type would be nice for fine focusing on the ground glass.

    Useful resources:
    A copy of Steve Simmons Using the View Camera is worth having.
    A copy of Morgan and Lester's Graphic Graflex Photography book will help you get all the performance that was built into these cameras.
    Also check out the articles & forum at: www.graflex.org

    Have fun!
    Thank you very much!

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