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Author Topic: Moving up to LF from MF & 35mm. Which would best suit the brief?  (Read 2810 times)
Ti29er
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« on: July 28, 2011, 06:01:47 AM »
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Back in the good'ole days, I was weened on 35mm (Nikon FA, FM, the last film body being the F90), shooting Kodachrome 64 then b&w then colour neg. 15yrs ago I had a couple of fully manual 'Blads and a Leica M6 set up. Lovely!
Now I have D700's and a Mamiya 7.

The thing is, I have just spent 7 months in Antarctica and Patagonia and came across several LF photographers and deep down, I too wanted to adopt a slower, more methodical, considered approach to my picture taking.

Now, back in the UK, I feel I owe it to myself to explore this LF way of life myself.
I envisage landscapes, both urban and mountain but also people being the subject of this project. I really don't care for too many filters (if at all beyond ND's) which seems to be very much in vogue in the typical British landscape photographer's backpack (yes, the kit needs to be as portable as possible).

Not one to start off at the proverbial bottom of the ladder and then sell & upgrade as I become more familiar with the format, yet not wishing to splash out on brand new kit or even the top-of-the line gear, there must be a middle ground where I can cut my teeth without being restricted too much in what lenses I can add.

I would appreciate any comments you might have.
Thanks
T
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2011, 08:03:29 AM »
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Hi,

You should speak to the folks over here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/ and info here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/

For lenses I recommend reading here http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/

Do buy used lenses, cheaper. That is what I did Smiley.  Ebay is good  Grin, but one came from Teamwork.

I purchased a Shen-Hao (new), they are reasonably cheap but I am also in Asia with frequent trips to Shanghai (family). I have the TFC-IIB and which is a pleasure to use. Actually have been reorganizing gear and selling off. Nearly all gone, even my last five boxes of Quickloads, but... love the Shen-Hao... not sure if I can bear to sell it! I like it because it is a non folder, thus simple to set up. Some folks argue the Ebony is higher quality. To me the camera is a box with the film and for adjust of lens. My Shen-Hao has worked great and is a pleasure to use (besides if break I can replace it and have spent less than an Ebony). Albeit, same as most such cameras, and I believe also Ebony and the groundglass is not the best as stock and I upgraded the grounglass to one from Bill Maxwell, the Hi-Lux. Please do a search, his are likely the very brightest in the business. it is BRIGHT. The important with a camera is to see. That is one of the key experiences with the 4x5 to me, to see well and to slow down.  Grin

I hope above helps!

Regards
Anders
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #2 on: July 28, 2011, 01:28:00 PM »
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Any of the technical field type cameras from Horseman, Toyo, Linhof, etc. will do. These are not monorail cameras but have most of the essential movements: rise and fall of the lens, tilt of the front and rear standards, horizontal shift of the lens, and swing movements (at least o nthe front standard. You want a camera that incorporates a fresnel lens with the groundglass and the camera should accomodate lenses from 72mm to  300mm (at infinity) without needing  to change bellows.

as for compact monorails suitable for backpacking , my preferences are the 4x5 Arca-Swiss and the Canham DLC, if you have the money. The Arca-Swiss will need a bag bellows for wide angle work, the Canham can accomodate lenses down to 58mm or up to a 720mm telephoto without needing extension rails or changing bellows and with controls locked is rigid and keeps lens and film plane parallel when bot hare i nthe zero position, at all extentions. Tha advantage of the Arca-Swiss FC  is that it is a yaw free design.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2011, 11:31:12 AM by Ellis Vener » Logged

Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
Anders_HK
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« Reply #3 on: July 29, 2011, 01:06:36 AM »
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You want a camera that incorporates a fresnel lens with the groundglass and the camera should accomodate lenses from 72mm to  300mm (at infinity) quthout need to change bellows.

That depends on what we shoot. Wink Had three on mine, 58, 72, 150mm, the last two were most used.

I would suggest start with one lens.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #4 on: July 29, 2011, 11:35:35 AM »
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As you say it depends on what you shoot. the  most used lenses in my LF kit , whether for 4x5 or 6x17cm rollfilm (I owned a V-pan Mark III - a 6x17cm format view camera with interchangable bellows and different length rails but no rear movements) were a 90mm f/4.5 Rodenstock Grandagon N and a 210mm f/5.6 Nikkor-W
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Ellis Vener
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Creating photographs for advertising, corporate and industrial clients since 1984.
joneil
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« Reply #5 on: August 01, 2011, 07:32:14 AM »
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  Stay away form mono-rails if you can, as I find I rarely use mine, but a good field camera - like the Shen-Hao - sees use all the time.  As for lenses, no more than two. The suggestion of just oen lens is very good advice.  I suggest a used 135mm, or because they are inexpensive and plentiful, a good used 210mm.  I don't like 210mm much myself, but it was the "Standard" lens in many photography schools for a long time and they seem to be all over the place at decent prices.   But personally I think a plain old 135mm lens will do you fine.   

           90mmm wide angle lenses sound good, and if you are up close taking a picture of a church and steeple or a tall building, they are great, but for "everyday" work, get a 135mm.  You will use it more than a 90mm in the long run.

 One other thing - because I backpack with my 4x5, I use small, F9 lenses to save weight,  but they are dark and can be harder to focus with.  Whatever focal length you buy, try to buy a lens that is F5.6 or F6.3.  Even an F8 lens will appear dark on your ground glass. 

joe
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k bennett
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« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2011, 07:44:26 AM »
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Although I've not had my 4x5 out for several years (sigh), I'll second the recommendation of a good field camera, preferably one that folds up into a nice box. If you want style points, look for a cherry or mahogany camera.

My 150 was my most used lens, followed by the 90. You can save considerable money buying slower lenses, which are lighter, and since you'll be shooting at very small apertures anyway, it doesn't much matter. A 150/5.6 and a 90/8 are a fine start, and will provide years of use. When deciding which lenses to buy, think about your most used lenses on your 35mm and MF kits, and work from there. If you like really wide, look for a 65 or 75. If your favorite lens is a 28mm, then the 90 is good. If you like the sort of "wide normal" lens preferred by a lot of rangefinder shooters, the 150 is an excellent choice. Etc., etc.

I think Fuji still makes instant sheet film in 4x5 to fit the old Polaroid holder. It's not cheap, but it does provide instant feedback when learning how to set movements on the camera.

Have fun! It's a whole new world...
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Equipment: a camera and some lenses.
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