View Full Version : New film lover here

14-May-2015, 14:52
Hi all I wanted to introduce myself. My name is David and I am from Raleigh NC. I recently bought a medium format film camera a Mamiya 645 and fell in love with shooting film. I watched some videos on large format photography and now I really want to get one for myself. I really think I want to learn wet plate photography. The process to me is amazing. If anyone can suggest a good 4x5 camera to get started with I would love to hear your suggestions on what to buy.

14-May-2015, 15:00
Start with a cheaper one first. Busch Pressman D is highly recommended, if you are determined to shoot large format, Deardorff 8x10 is highly recommended.:)

14-May-2015, 15:14
Start with a cheaper one first. Busch Pressman D is highly recommended, if you are determined to shoot large format, Deardorff 8x10 is highly recommended.:)

Thanks I will look into it

John Kasaian
14-May-2015, 16:47
You can probably find an old Calumet CC or Graphic View in good shape for around $100. A good modern 150mm lens at Keh might run a bit more. Either camera can be supported by a Lietz or Marcchioni(sp?) Tilt-all which go for around $70-80 on Ebay. A stack of used holders should run you $30-$40.
Or wait thirty days and the For Sale section here will open up a wide variety of LF photo gear for your interest.
I suggest getting a book first---Using The View Camera by Steve Simmons. If it's not in print, used copies are around. It's probably the wisest purchase you can make at this point.

14-May-2015, 19:16
Read this Kodak guide to large format cameras: http://blogs.eciad.ca/photo/files/2009/07/kodaklargeformatcameras.pdf

I have a paper copy of this and I can say hands down this is the best intro to large format I've read - (although I haven't read Steve Simmons book.) I really wish I knew about it before I started; it would have saved me a lot of time and money. It will inform you about the types of cameras, the gear, pros and cons, and how to use them.

Edit: I just noticed flipping through that PDF that it is missing some pages. Perhaps I should scan them and make a merged file...

Victor Loverro
14-May-2015, 19:56
For sale here

John Kasaian
14-May-2015, 21:20
One of the cool things about Using The View Camera is that Steve Simmons discusses and names various older lenses and cameras you're likely to find on the used market in the US. When you're just building your kit this is some very useful information to have available.

15-May-2015, 02:28
Thanks everyone!. I dont have access to the for sale section yet but I am going to look at the PDF today and see about getting Steve's book

Alan Gales
16-May-2015, 14:36
The Steve Simmons book is excellent. I own a copy myself.

Do it cheap starting out. I'd pick up a used monorail to start. You may find one with a lens, dark cloth, bag bellows, film holders, etc. included. Most monorails if they come with a lens will probably have a 210mm f/5.6 lens included. A 150mm or 180mm is considered a "normal" focal length but a 210 is just slightly longer and very versatile.

John is giving you good solid monorail advice. Sometimes the later Cambo, Calumet and Toyo monorails can be found pretty cheap too. I also agree with his advice on the Tiltall tripod. I own a Leitz copy myself.

16-May-2015, 17:48
Thanks Alan. I am looking on ebay to see what I can find. I am ordering Steve's book.

16-May-2015, 18:11
If you want some tables on lens equivalents from 35mm to 4x5 here they are ... the problem is that the aspect ratio of 4x5 is different from 3x2 of 35mm, so there are different ways to determine the focal length multiplier to get the same angle of view.

A popular lens set is a 90/150/210mm because they are relatively inexpensive, and will work within the limits of the bellows on just about any camera. Much wider than 90mm, the bellows may not compress enough, and much longer than 210, the bellow may not expand enough. So what camera you buy will influence what focal lengths you can use. There are always bag bellows and recessed lens boards (for short lenses) or extended bellows and extended or "top hat" lens boards (for longer lenses). But one important specification to pay attention to when buying a camera is what the maximum and minimum bellows draw is. If it's 70-300mm for example, you could get away with a 75mm lens (with very limited movements) out to about a 250mm lens or so.

The length of the bellows needs to be equal to the focal length to focus the lens to infinity. If you want to focus closer, the bellows need to be longer. At 1:1 macro, the bellows needs to be 2x the focal length. So if your bellows stretches from 70-300mm, a 210mm lens would be useable from infinity (bellows at 210mm) to about 1:2 magnification (bellows at 300mm).

Anyway, here are the tables. The "3x" rule from 35mm is actually a little wide, but leaves room on the film to crop the edges and crop off any development marks. So a 50mm is a 150mm on 4x5. A 90/150/210 on 4x5 would be a 30/50/70 on 35mm.




Alan Gales
16-May-2015, 19:27
Using the 3x rule I bought a 75mm lens for my 4x5 thinking it would look like my 25mm lens on my 35mm camera. It felt too wide for me so I sold it and bought a 90mm which looked right. Of course this is my opinion and some photographers agree and some don't. The aspect ratio difference can play a big part in how you see.

Fortunately, if you buy a used lens today at a fair price and for some reason end up selling it, you will get most or all your money back.

22-May-2015, 03:49
I ordered Steve Simmons book and it should be arriving tomorrow and I am bidding on a 4x5 camera on Ebay. I am so excited to learn large format.

John Kasaian
22-May-2015, 06:57
Prepare to s-l-o-w down. Simmons book will be a great resource. Your in for a lot of fun!

22-May-2015, 08:19
Prepare to s-l-o-w down. Simmons book will be a great resource. Your in for a lot of fun!

I can tell.