The Simmons book is quite helpful.
Originally Posted by Thingy
As for focus plane, you can get sharp foregrounds either by tilting the lens or the back. Some cameras, including my Technika III, have back tilt but only backwards lens tilt, which is the wrong way for sharpening the foreground. They include this for use with a dropped bed. Dropping the bed is something you can do with these cameras to prevent getting the bed in the image area with a very wide angle lens, but you then have to tilt the lens back to vertical. There is a work around if I need it, but I'll get to that in a minute.
The choice between tilting the back or the lens comes down to this: tilting the lens changes only the plane of focus and not the shape or relative size of objects. Tilting the back moves the film plane farther away in one area than another and thus changes both the apparent shape (much as tilting the camera up causes converging verticals) and relative size of foreground objects. For many landscape shots many of us prefer tilting the back for just this reason. By making things in the foreground appear slightly larger it can add a sense of depth to the image. This is sometimes called "looming" of foreground objects. That makes it sound more pronounced than it usually is. The effect isn't that radical, but it's sometimes helpful and more often at least harmless. But if you have geometric shapes in the foreground or things that you don't want to emphasize or distort (faces, parts of buildings, whatever), it's better to tilt the lens.
In that case, one thing to learn about large format is there's often more than one way to get the exact same subject-lens-film plane relationship. I can't tilt my lens forward, but I DO have front swing, and I can simply turn my camera up on its side on the tripod, as if shooting a vertical (not necessary with large format to actually shoot verticals since we generally have either revolving or reversible backs - mine is revolving) and then the front swing effectively becomes front tilt. Likewise, many field cameras lack front shift. I have it but rarely need it. But if you need it and don't have it you can re-aim the camera and swing the front one way and the back the other and end up with exactly the same lens-film relationship. This won't be clear form any amount of text description but is obvious with a couple of photo illustrations, a big reason for getting a book or two.
I shoot both LF and MF for exactly this reason.
Originally Posted by rince
I just had a few prints in a little show some friends did, sort of a thing to show of the various art of people in our loose knit community. Two of them were 11x14 prints from 4x5 negatives and tack sharp and apparently grainless even from a very close viewing distance. The third one is about 10.5x10.5 (very slight rectangular crop actually) from a 6x6 negative. That one could have been shot on 4x5 and would have been slightly better (it's on FP4+ and unlike the 4x5 from TMY, if you get very close and look very close you can barely detect some grain, for example) and considerably easier to print if I'd taken the time for a 4x5 shot. I'd have done more metering, given more shadow exposure and probably given N- development so I wouldn't have been printing the main image with a grade 3 1/2 filter and burning down the sunlit tree highlights with a softer filter. BUT - the shot was of a courtyard where we stayed on a trip to New Orleans. I took it while heading out to somewhere or other, with my Yashicamat. Taking that negative probably took 15-20 seconds including a meter reading with the Luna Pro. To shoot it on 4x5 I'd have dragged out the big camera, set it on a tripod, and probably taken 10-15 minutes to carefully compose, focus, spot meter etc. I had other things to do and places to go, which is why I shoot both.
Large format is great when I'm going out for the purpose of photographing and feel like spending some time at it. When I'm going out for other purposes too and might see something I want to photograph, medium format gives me quality closer to large format than to 35mm with speed and ease of shooting much closer to 35mm than to large format. It's a great compromise, but I'm glad I have all three (including 35mm.)
Do you need it? I dare say not. I don't really even need a film camera. But something I learned in other expensive hobbies, the relevant questions are: 1) can you afford it? and 2) do you enjoy it? If the answer to both is "yes" then get it and quit worrying about need or trying to justify it.
Last edited by Roger Cole; 10-05-2011 at 05:31 PM. Click to view previous post history.