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Author Topic: Thinking of stepping into large format - couple of questions  (Read 12804 times)
alexgard
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« on: October 11, 2013, 04:26:14 AM »
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Hi
I'm relatively new to film photography. I've been shooting medium format for a few months now and really enjoying it.
I have been ogling over photos and testimonials by many large format photographers and feel that soon it is something I would like to step into.

Primarily I shoot landscapes so like to be able to wander around a bit with my camera. So weight is a bit of a factor. My hasselblad bag seems to weigh a tonne with all my gear and tripod etc so I am no stranger to heavyish bags. (I would say well over 6-7kgs)

A forum I frequent a lot of the guys over there strongly recommend the Chamonix 045n-2. They say it is a great light weight LF field camera. This looks like an attractive option but can I be a bit bratty in that I am not a fan of the wooden finish... is there  anything similar that comes in a metal or similar finish?

Sorry if it's a really bratty question.

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BernardLanguillier
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« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2013, 06:50:07 AM »
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You may find this thread useful.

http://www.luminous-landscape.com/forum/index.php?topic=82731.0


Cheers,
Bernard
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biedron1
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« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2013, 01:13:23 AM »
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While you don't want an absolute brick of a camera for landscape photography, the weight of the camera is only a part of the total weight you will be lugging around - lenses, film holders, light meter, filters...

If you want a folding metal camera suitable for landscape photography, a Toyo 45 AX is a great first choice in the 4x5 format. Not too heavy, folds up compactly, has all the movements you need for landscape, and is readily available on the used market - you can probably find on in good shape in the $600-$900 range. It'll take wide angle lenses down to about 55mm and up to a Nikkor 360 telephoto.

Good luck. I started shooting LF a few years ago, and I find it very rewarding.

Bob
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joneil
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« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2013, 07:36:57 AM »
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  The Toyo is a great camera, but I do not see too many used ones come up for sale.    The Chinese made 4x5s are actually quite good, at least the ones I have seen, so don't be too fast to discount either a Shen-Hao or a Chamonix.  I have used wood field cameras for years (Tachihara, Zone VI) in all sorts of weather and climate conditions, and they are more robust than you might think.

   A few other things, off the top of my head:
- don't buy a monorail.  They work great, but a total pain to transport.  I almost never use mine;
- 210mm lenses seem to be the easiest ones to find used for sale, but I think a decent 135mm is the best lens to start with;
- for hiking, F9 lenses are great, but they are much harder to focus on the ground glass than brighter F4.5 lenses.   To that point,  point, a F4.5 - 135mm lens is nice and small, but there is a BIG difference in size between a F9 and a F4.5 lenses in the 210mm and larger range;
- the older you get and the worse your back gets,  carbon fibre tripods start looking better and better;   Smiley
- if you do any black and white shooting, get a spot meter;
- get some kind of loupe for focusing on the ground glass.   Cheap loupes are not all that bad, and while more expensive loupes are yes better, any loupe, IMO, is better than no loupe;
- depends on your style, but I only shoot B&W on my 4x5 myself.  To that end, all my lenses have standard yellow filter filters on the front of them.  I almost never use orange or red filters for my B&W shooting;
- Kodak Tri-X is my all time favourite B&W film in 4x5, but if you are new, I find Ilford HP5+ is one of the most "forgiving" films out there in any format for somebody just starting;
- any brand of black and white film, always, always, always meter and shoot at half the rated ISO, or close to that.  I always treat Tri-X and HP5+ as ASA/ISO 200 films.

good luck

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MrSmith
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« Reply #4 on: October 17, 2013, 04:54:38 AM »
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"- don't buy a monorail.  They work great, but a total pain to transport.  I almost never use mine;"

Unless it's a linhof technikardan. Collapsible monorail with axis tilts front and rear plus shift/rise/swing.
Quicker and easier to use than a field camera with limited rear movements and easy to transport.
You can pick them up secondhand for a reasonable price.
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Ellis Vener
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« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2013, 10:24:17 PM »
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Look at a Canham DLC, Arca-Swiss 45FC,OR Linhofs Technika.

All three are physically beautiful, delightful to work with, and designed for field work.

And all three are expressions of very different design philosophies.

But if you are just casually looking into large format a good condition Speed or Crown Graphic will fill the bill as well.

Look for a Graflok type back, a fresnel+ ground glass combination and which one feels right to you.
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Ellis Vener
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markmullen
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« Reply #6 on: November 13, 2013, 05:13:53 PM »
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Another vote for the Technikardan. I bought the 6x9 version as I use it with a digital back but the 45 is nearly as portable and beautifully made.
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NancyP
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« Reply #7 on: November 15, 2013, 11:35:39 AM »
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I was the originator of the other "wants to try LF" thread quoted above. I can recommend going through Leslie Stroebel's textbook on view camera technique, 7th ed, 1999, Focal Press. After reading a bunch of information at the largeformatphotography.info site and starting a "wants to try LF" thread at largeformatphotography.info forum, it occurred to me that I might be well advised to try to mentally sketch out some potential photograph geometries to figure out what sorts of movements I might need. I realized that one of my local landscape photography types, views of the limestone bluffs along the Mississippi and Missouri and Meramec Rivers and of nearby limestone slot canyons, might be more analogous to photography of a skyscraper than to usual landscape photography. Now I am assembling a list of cameras to compare not only weight, but all the pertinent movement lengths/degrees.
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rpsphoto
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« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2013, 11:45:33 AM »
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And invest in a good pack if you plan on doing any hiking with the gear. I am just getting comfortable with my 4x5 gear and find that shooting b&w 4x5 is the most satisfying and rewarding photography I have done. Best luck on your new adventures.
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NancyP
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« Reply #9 on: November 18, 2013, 01:10:29 PM »
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f/Stop pack ought to be adaptable enough.
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Eric Brody
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« Reply #10 on: December 18, 2013, 09:27:59 PM »
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I'll second the recommendation of the Toyo field camera. They are probably not widely available because people hang onto them. I had one for many years and loved it. I probably would have been happy with it for the rest of my large format career. I did move up to an Arca Swiss Field camera, the finest I've ever used, a true work of mechanical art. The bellows is superb and obviate the need for a bag bellows, every movement is as smooth as butter. Metal cameras are a bit more sturdy and rigid than wooden ones but one of my favorite photographers EVER, Ray McSavanay,  has used a wooden camera for years and his work is nothing short of superb. In a phrase, "it's not the camera." Some cameras do make it easier than others. If you're at all serious, I'd avoid Graphics, you'll just be frustrated. Some places rent LF cameras, not usually a big selection, but one can play and learn a lot in a relatively short time. Good luck whatever you do.
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HSakols
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« Reply #11 on: December 19, 2013, 09:39:43 AM »
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Are you going to work in the darkroom or scan?  If scanning what are you going to use?  I have a Minolta Multi Pro scanner that can handle up to 6x9.  Thus, I opted for using a view camera with a 6x9 back.  The downside is I have limited movements (enough for me) and the image on the ground glass isn't as bright with my small lenses.  I have a Horseman VHR setup that I would like to sell.
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andaremos
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« Reply #12 on: December 21, 2013, 10:11:22 PM »
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I would take a look at the Toyo 45 CF. It has a lot of plastic but it is very light. If you are careful you will not destroy it. It may be a good way to step into LF.
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- Eduardo
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NancyP
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« Reply #13 on: March 05, 2014, 11:04:10 AM »
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I bought a used ToHo (not ToYo) all-aluminium mini-monorail, 3# for the whole thing, breaks down into an expandable-rail-plus-blocks piece and a "standard frame"-plus-bellows-plus-ground-glass piece, so it packs small. This tiny camera has no resemblance to the usual fits-in-a-large-trunk studio monorail, weight 8# plus another 8# for the trunk. Toho has a full set of rear movements as well as front movements, as expected for a monorail. Rear geared focus, nothing else geared. No click stops, you square it up by feel. I am still getting used to it. No, it isn't related to "Toho Studios", parent studio of Godzilla and lord knows how many other B grade and actual A grade Japanese movies (Akira Kurosawa, etc).
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