Large Format photography group - From "zero to hero!"

Woodsy

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#1
Woodsy submitted a new resource:

Large Format photography group - From "zero to hero!" - Large Format photography group - From "zero to hero!"

Hi All,

So I figured in light of everyone else having their specific owners group, us LF shooters could have one as well! I didn't have in mind a group for specific camera makes, as that would be ridiculous. Instead, I imagined this to be a place for ALL makes and sizes of LF camera, including their adaptation down to roll film formats, and general discussion surrounding LF cameras and their uses.

Crucially also, I had in mind this thread being a good resource and place to ask questions...
Read more about this resource...
 
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#2
i wouldn't mind knowing that too :)

Im using a Wista field camera at the moment and while its lovely the front tilt is blooming annoying in that there are two screws and a clip hole that the front stands clip into when its vertical. Fine in principal but when you just need to adjust the front by very small amounts the stand wont move far enough out of the clip holes so it snaps back in once you lift a hand off one side to screw it back up tight!

It would be nice to find a camera that has a "smooth" tilt to it. A carbon fibre one would also be nice to cut down on the weight. Wood and brass dont make for as easy bit of kit to lump around the hills!
 
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Woodsy

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#3
Indeed. Although my camera is about 2.4 KG, I've found that the lighter field cameras are not folders? Would very much appreciate being proven wrong here! I appreciate that Ebony make frankly beautiful cameras, but at those prices?!
 

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#4
Great idea for a thread. I'm relatively new to LF and still struggling to get to grips with things.


i wouldn't mind knowing that too :)

Im using a Wista field camera at the moment and while its lovely the front tilt is blooming annoying in that there are two screws and a clip hole that the front stands clip into when its vertical. Fine in principal but when you just need to adjust the front by very small amounts the stand wont move far enough out of the clip holes so it snaps back in once you lift a hand off one side to screw it back up tight!

It would be nice to find a camera that has a "smooth" tilt to it. A carbon fibre one would also be nice to cut down on the weight. Wood and brass dont make for as easy bit of kit to lump around the hills!
Is that the rosewood and brass one? I'm so jealous...think that is one of the most beautiful cameras I have ever seen. I can imagine it would be difficult to lug about, but wow....what a thing of beauty.
 
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#5
yeah its beautiful at sea level. But ive sent some very rude words its way after coughing up my lungs after 2000 feet of lake district hillside.

Its not just the camera , people forget you need a tripod, film cartriges, light meters etc. it makes for a flippin heavy bag. Im thinking of cobbling together some sort of "off road" pull trolly for it all :D

tbh at the moment im in two minds to sell it, the cost of 5x4 film is a crippler. Im off to the lakes in a couple of weeks again and brought 2 boxes of colour (20 shots) and 1 of B&W (25) and didnt get much change from £100!

On a side discussion, do people send their negatives off for printing? I sent one off to ilford to get a 20x16 done and tbh wasnt that impressed with the print compared to the 20x16 print of a scan of the negative that i sent off too. You just get more control over the image when scanning. The printers would of just printed an un adjutsted negative and consequently it just looked a bit "flat"
 
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Woodsy

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#6
Can't say I have sent negatives off before. I suppose that I would rather do it myself, and also the scans are of acceptable quality for me personally
 
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Steve

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#8
I really do have the utmost respect for LF landscape photogrpahers.

I'm really struggling with mine and it's never been outside. Everything I've done has been in the studio or at home.

The thought of lugging all that stuff over the countryside sends a shiver down my spine.
 
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Woodsy

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#10
^^ Heh, LF has basically become my only camera. I use digital for the really awkward scenes and for "just in case". LF for landscape it what gets my juices flowing :D

Speaking of shudders down the spine... I really would consider selling a body part for one of these:

http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/cameras/ebony-sv45te-5x4-large-format-camera.html

That said, I'd have to just to be able to afford it! :(

Would you want this thread linking into the "all the camera owners threads" master thread ?
Yes please Mark, that'd be dandy! Thanks :)
 
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#11
I'd love to have a go at LF but as I rarely take the opportunity to go out with my MF gear, it's something that needs to stay on a back burner for now.

Question for you guys though; what makes a good LF camera? The lenses all seem to be separate and are fitted on specific boards and the back appear to be interchangeable so is it down to the movements and build quality?


A carbon fibre one would also be nice to cut down on the weight. Wood and brass dont make for as easy bit of kit to lump around the hills!
Now there's a thought. I know people who make carbon-fibre parts for bikes, both vacuum bagged and autoclaved, and can probably source some laser-cut alloy parts for the movements ... :thinking:
 
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Woodsy

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#12
Question for you guys though; what makes a good LF camera? The lenses all seem to be separate and are fitted on specific boards and the back appear to be interchangeable so is it down to the movements and build quality?
Essentially that, yes. Because there are so many degrees of freedom, you want it to stay set once set. This requirement is exaggerated when it's windy. With any other camera without movements, the whole system moves, whereas with LF, parts of the camera might move independently with respect to others.

It's also down to the quality and precision of the movements. Making fine adjustments, especially with things like tilts, is critical to getting the images tack sharp. I'm finding that with my shen hao, the front tilt especially is very hard to get right in a hurry and usually takes many resets and retries to get right. Hence I'd love an Ebony :(
 
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#15
Thanks, Jonathan (y)


This requirement is exaggerated when it's windy. With any other camera without movements, the whole system moves, whereas with LF, parts of the camera might move independently with respect to others.
Which could be one reason why a lightweight LF camera could be a non-starter. The lighter it is, the more prone to movements. Food for thought. :)
 
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#16
Not necessarily... For example, my Shen Hao weighs in at about 2.4 KG. Quite a few of the Ebony's come in at less than that, some even below 2 KG iirc. Weight doesn't always define quality, the Ebony SW45, although a non-folding camera, weighs only 1.5 KG... or the same weight as the Nikon 70-200 VRII!
 
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#21
It would look awesome thought*

















*except when it blows over a cliff in a slight breeze!
 

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Your craftmanship that has created that is jaw dropping for me, and the sense of achievement must have been immense.
I do cheat a bit. All of the wood was cut at work on our CNC router. Actually, so was the brass.

All I did was screw it together!

It's not quite finished yet. I posted the picture because it had started to look like a camera.

Another of my creations is here: http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/pano612.html A 6x12 format wide angle camera made from oak.


Steve.
 
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#26
This is a brilliant idea for a thread. I have 2 LF cameras, an MPP folder (no front forward tilt but I tend not to use front tilt anyway, just rear back tilt) and a Sinar 4x5 which I now tend to take (but never use when) I am out and about. They are awesome!

Film is expensive, but I am still working through a box I bought 12 months ago, so I tend to take less photos and am generally happier with the ones that I do take.

I am tempted with a roll film back so would be interested in hearing from anyone with experience of those.
 
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#27
Potentially looking to upgrade in months/years to come as there is one tiny issue which is that the front tilt is not a discrete movement from the focusing, I.E. the front tilt hinges at the bed, not the center of the lens. Anyone recommend a folding field camera that eliminates this issue?
Note the difference between http://www.shen-hao.com/PRODUCTSabout.aspx?i=951&id=n3 and http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/45.html. Not a big step up and a slightly different style -- the build is better but maybe just a different set of 'issues'.

For reference, see the Ebony models http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/shop-by-brand/ebony/ebony-45su-5x4-large-format-camera.html (Chamonix style) and http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/shop-by-brand/ebony/ebony-rw45-mahogany-5x4-large-format-camera.html (Shen style)

If you're upgrading, another thing to consider could be a 5x7 or 5x8 with a 5x4 reducing back as they're more suited to 6x17 roll backs :) and not significantly bigger. This is (or at least used to be) easier with a Shen as their 5x7 back has (had) International/ Graflok style clips, which wasn't the case with the larger Chamonix bodies but they'll do custom backs, etc. if you ask. [Remember to check the bellows range is ok.]
 

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#28
My first LF camera was a metal monorail with short bellows that weighed 4.2 kg. I currently have a Canham DLC 5x4 and a Wista DX 5x4. Despite not going into any sensible camera bag, I used the monorail outdoors (it did have a carry handle). Actually, I don't photograph indoors...

When I switched to the Wista, it would fit in my Loewpro backpack; and happily my RZ67 would fit in as well. I can show photos taken from the Glen Nevis north face path taken with both. From memory, the Wista weights 1.6 kg and the Canham 1.9 kg. I use a 1950's Scheider 150mm Symmar which will fold up inside both cameras.

The Canham comes with its own case, to which I attached a shoulder strap. The rest of my equipment (exposure meters, filters, etc.) go into my Billingham waistcoat and I just have to carry the tripod. I use a Paramo focussing cloth which can fasten round my neck by a press stud.

I've got a 6x7cm film back for the Wista, which can reduce the cost of colour photography. If you look around, and don't mind not using Ilford, you can get 5x4 black and white film at less than half the price of FP4.
 
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#29
Many thanks for the reply, Andrew, it's much appreciated. I have to be honest, I like the Shen style, but the thing about the Ebony's that do it for me is the ability to tilt the lens independently of the focus. If/when I do upgrade, I'll certainly consider 5x7, but for me, 617 is a format I would love to try but honestly think I'd seldom use it. 612 for me would be far more manageable I think. Best get saving for that Ebony! :LOL:
 

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#30
I do cheat a bit. All of the wood was cut at work on our CNC router. Actually, so was the brass.

All I did was screw it together!

It's not quite finished yet. I posted the picture because it had started to look like a camera.

Another of my creations is here: http://stevesmithphoto.webs.com/pano612.html A 6x12 format wide angle camera made from oak.


Steve.
wow....seriously impressed with those Steve.

The results from the panoramic camera are beautiful and I love your ingenuity in utilising parts from different cameras to create it. Lovely stuff.
 
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#31
I've got the Chamonix 45n-2, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a way into LF photography. It has enough wiggles and twists to keep me entertained, plus some of the carbon fibre stuff to keep the weight down (just under 1.4kg, I think) - although all the gear together still adds up.
 
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#32
I've got the Chamonix F1 and agree that they are brilliant machines. The asymmetric tilt is a bit of a gimmick but useful in some circumstances, but they are still beautifully engineered things, and really rigid when in use
 
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#33
So how do the chamonix cameras stack up against the rest in terms of build quality and rigidity? I kinda have my heart set on an ebony, but a cheaper option would be logical.
 

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#34
So how do the chamonix cameras stack up against the rest in terms of build quality and rigidity? I kinda have my heart set on an ebony, but a cheaper option would be logical.
Bloody hell, he's turned into Spock...:LOL:
 

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#35
Without a doubt LF does require dedication and passion.

My hat goes off to anyone who dabbles in it and even more so to those who do it as their main stay form of photography.

Like others on here, I have LF kit and struggle to find the "energies" to get the use out of it that it desrves tbh.

In some ways I've possibly made it more dificult for myself as the gear is old stuff ranging from quarter plate through 9x12cm to half and whole plate along with the equipment naturally having age related faults such as light leaks etc.

The amount of gear to carry, along with the time to obtain maybe just one or two negs is massively outweighed by having other "much more convenient" gear to shoot with.

Perhaps in all honesty LF isn't for me although I yearn to get out there and do more...the film is there along with everything else....I truly believe the "ease" of taking something smaller/lighter/more "auotomated" causes a huge obstacle.

Tbh I don't know if I was to exchange the LF stuff I have for something more "modern" would help.
 
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#36
That is an interesting perspective Asha. The reasons that sort of deter you are the reasons that it appeals to me. I love going out and coming back with 1 or 2 negs I like as if I take my digital I will end up with 20 or 30 out of which I might like 1 or 2. It is also a bit of exercise lugging around all of the kit.
 
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#37
That is an interesting perspective Asha. The reasons that sort of deter you are the reasons that it appeals to me. I love going out and coming back with 1 or 2 negs I like as if I take my digital I will end up with 20 or 30 out of which I might like 1 or 2. It is also a bit of exercise lugging around all of the kit.
Exactly that. Like others also, I love the whole process of setting up, thinking about movements, everything. Having only a few frames from a day/weekend is fantastic, especially when they winners when coming out the dev tank!

Bloody hell, he's turned into Spock...:LOL:
Haha! Science has ruined me!
 
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#38
Haha! Science has ruined me!
What have I got to look forward to?!

In all seriousness I am following this thread intently as LF is not going to be an if for me, more of a when. All of the info received from Woodsy et al is much appreciated and I look forward to absorbing more :)
 
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#39
Oops forgot to mention, as Woodsy did, just how brilliant it is to successfully dev your own 4x5's at home and see the lovely big negatives drying out! Yum.

Mr Hooley, you should deffo get into LF. Anyone who has a thread devoted to them and coined the phrase 'Hooley'd' owes it to themselves to try applying this on the larger negative. It is simply a larger canvas for your work.
 
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#40
well as far as lugging all the gear about ive just literally weighed up my options....


D800 + 2 lenses = 2609g

Bronica 6x6 + 2 lenses + 3 film backs = 3049g

Wista 5x4 , 7 film cartriges, 2 lenses, light meter = 3597g

There are filters and various odds and sods that would be common across them all but i was suprised to see the nikon the lightest of the lot!
 
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