If you have used small and medium format exclusively up to now, you may be put off by the number of knobs and adjustments on a view camera. Take some time to practice setting up, which you can do indoors and/or at night even if there isn't anything good to photograph. Between "pictures", return each of the adjustments to their "neutral" positions, so that you start from the same arrangement each time; this will greatly reduce the stress associated with recognizing that something isn't right in the image, but not knowing what swing, tilt or shift was left over from the previous setup.
When you start to work with film, remember to treat the groundglass much like a proof print--look at it from well back so you can see the whole thing at once. Focusing with a loupe may be necessary, but won't help you see the composition, which is where big cameras really earn their keep.
Have fun, and don't worry too much about processing---you're setting out make pictures, not take them, and that happens mostly in the camera, not the darkroom.
One thing to remember or understand is that a view camera is not so easy to discover the image in. With an SLR you can put the camera to your eye and look around at things to find interesting framing and composing, you can easily make focus and framing decisions with your finger on the button. A view camera will drive you nuts if you try to use it like that. You will be bent over trying to see right side up and straining and stressing your eyes to see focus and alignments. With a view camera you need to do as much seeing and thinking and deciding as you can without even looking through the camera. It is perhaps helpful to have a card with a 4x5 inch hole cut out in the middle to look at the picture through. You might spend a minute to figure out how far to hold the card away from your face to match the view of the lens. When you find a picture you want to try to make then decide where the tripod should be and how high the camera should be and put it there. Then level it up and put it to zero settings. Then try to methodically find the edges you want in your picture with the rise and fall.
Most of the stress of LF is with the head under the cloth trying to make decisions. IMO.
And pack a small measuring tape to figure bellows extension on close-ups.
Don't try too many movements at first. Save swing and tilt for later when you feel more comfortable working with the camera and settle for some rise/fall to begin with until you feel comfortable working with the ground glass image.
Start of with stationary objects so you don't feel stressed about time (if you want to have people in the picture you can set up everything except the final focusing before you place them in the picture).
Speaking of which, is bellows factor something to consider when working at normal distance (up to 3 feet) ?
Originally Posted by pgomena
Three feet with an 8x10 puts you well into bellows-extension range.
A twelve-inch lens at 12" bellows is at infinity focus. No bellows extension factor needed.
A twelve-inch lens at 24" extension will cut your light transmission by two stops. Likewise, 6" of extension will cost you 1 stop, 3" of extension will cost you 1/2 stop, etc. Think inverse square law - the intensity of the light decreases by the square of the inverse of the distance between the film plane and the lens aperture diaphragm. Double the bellows, quarter the light. Just guessing, but an object at 3' will probably require at least a stop of exposure compensation. The rule of thumb I learned in school is that you do not need to compensate for bellows extension at distances greater than 8 times the focal length of your lens. You're safe at 8' and beyond with a 12" lens.
We can choose the minimum number of stops of light falloff that triggers the need to compensate.
The bellows compensation formulas require us to define subject distance = film-to-subject distance.
At subject distance = 8f, the light falloff is 0.46f.
That’s close enough for some purposes, but too crude for others.
We get the following subject distance as a multiple of f and the accompanying falloffs:
Originally Posted by caseymcnamara
Yep, worry about the picture:)
The gear you chose is fine.
A heavy black t-shirt makes a fine darkcloth, torso hole fits over an 8x10, stretched a bit the neck hole works well for 4x5. I've used worse real darkcloths and most are also much heavier.
I didn't see mention of tripod and head. Its nice to have a good solid tripod and a heavy duty pan tilt head. The camera will seem ridiculously large. Afterwards even a 4x5 will seem small.
Consider "shooting" for a few hours without film to practice, get a feel for movements, working the shutter, etc.
Remember bellows factor.
I received the film today, so there's at least one part of the equation I'm wedded with now.
Concerning bellows factor, I've seen all sorts of formulas hither and thither on the internet. What I think I'd like to have is a table calculated for a specific focal length at various focusing sizes. Anybody know of a good one?
Thanks to all for the kind words too, I'm really eager to play with the brute!