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Marcia
1-Feb-2017, 02:03
Hello there.

As I already wrote in my introductory post (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?136771-Hands-on-LF), I've met a guy how got me interested in LF photography. I already read some information provided here and now I would like to get started.

This guy told me I should start with a small size like a 4x5 because it is easier to operate. So I found a manufacturer called Intrepid Camera (https://intrepidcamera.co.uk/) making fancy wooden ones and selling them at a reasonable price. Are these cameras advisable for a LF-beginner like me or should I get a used one online (http://www.cheap.forsale/large-format-camera)?

What else do I need to start besides the LF-camera itself, a lens board, a lens, some 4x5 film and an appropriate film holder? Is it better to use an instant film? And can I use some of my DLSR equipment like my tripod or do I need to buy a special one as well?

Sorry for all these questions but I'm a totally new to that. So any feedback is highly appreciated.

Marcia.

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 03:59
Before buying an LF camera I'd suggest you find an LF user bear you who can show and talk you through various options, A lot depends on what budget you have available. It'll depend on what tripod you have for your DSLR and whether it's sturdy enough for an LF camera.

Here in the UK it's possible to pick up a reasonable second-hand LF camera and lens for less than the Intrepid but you need to know what your looking for.

Ian

Doremus Scudder
1-Feb-2017, 04:32
I'll second Ian's suggestion and add a bit from my personal experience.

First, although there is a jump in quality from medium-format to 4x5, that shouldn't be the reason you choose for moving up to a 4x5 view camera. View cameras, by their nature, offer many more possibilities for processing control (single sheets instead of roll film) and image control (camera movements). Having a real desire to take advantage of one or both of these advantages should be your real motivation to move up to a view camera. Keep in mind that there are trade-offs for these capabilities. The first is time; more time for just about every aspect of shooting. Therefore, you'll pay a price in spontaneity. Close-ups are more difficult the larger-format you choose and depth-of-field gets proportionally shallower as well.

If you find yourself, as I did years ago, cursing at your present camera because it doesn't have movements and you can't develop single shots individually, then, by all means, take the plunge. However, before you do, take a look at the different types of cameras available in 4x5. There are monorails with more bellows draw and movements that you'll likely ever need, but are primarily more at home in a studio setting. There are press cameras with viewfinder focusing (originally designed to be used hand-held) that are much more portable and easy to focus, but have limited movements and won't do really well for architectural work or other styles that require lots of movements/image control. There are also compromises between these two extremes; notably full-featured folding cameras in both metal and wood that are more portable, but still provide a decent range of movements and bellows draw for many styles of photography.

If I were you, I'd spend some time reading up on the various types of LF cameras and see what type of camera fits your photographic style(s). In-studio portraiture and interior architectural work on-location where you can transport equipment by car might need a full-featured monorail and studio flash equipment. Field work such as wilderness landscape would want a lightweight, portable kit, etc., etc.

There are a trove of wonderful articles on the home page of this site that will more than get you started in this regard, check it out if you haven't already http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ .

And don't give up just because things might seem complicated. It isn't really; there's just a lot of information. A few hours of research will yield immediate results in this regard.

Best,

Doremus

David Hedley
1-Feb-2017, 04:54
Hello Marcia - you can certainly start with what you've already mentioned, and you can probably use your existing tripod (as the weight of a 4x5 camera is similar to a DSLR with a fast lense), and your DSLR for metering. The only things I would mention in addition are a piece of cloth to use as a focussing hood (to screen out light from the ground glass, so that it is easier to focus - you can use a t-shirt or shirt to begin with), a cable release, and possibly a loupe (to magnify the image on the ground glass, so that focus can be precise).

On film, I avoid instant film as I have always found the results inconsistent and requiring a lot of trial and error, and hence much more expensive and frustrating than the marketing blurb suggests. I'd start with either colour slide film, or black and white. But this is a personal choice.

For a lens, something in the 90mm - 210mm range would be a good place to start, and you can make your own choice depending on whether you tend to use shorter or longer focal lengths already. The most common lenses are in this range, and they can be found second hand easily and cheaply. Some cameras struggle to accommodate lenses shorter than 90mm, because the bellows won't compress sufficiently to support a short focal length, or lenses longer than 250mm, because the bellows won't extend enough.

I haven't heard of the Intrepid before, but it looks like a decent field camera that is reasonable value for money. It's important to know how it packs down to a size that can be put into a back pack, because some cameras look great when set up, but are difficult to get into a backpack. Equally important is how easy the controls are to use in practice, both to set the camera up, and to effect movements. With a field camera, I'd suggest that the most important movements are front and rear tilt, and front rise, and being able to use these movements quickly and easily, while looking at the ground glass under a focussing hood, is probably the most important thing in practice. Cameras like Toyo or Walker have good reputations because they are easy to set up and use, without a lot of fuss, and would probably be worth comparing to the Intrepid. But finding a place where you can do the comparison can be difficult, and sometimes you just need to dive in.

Good luck - LF is immensely rewarding and has taught me much, not just about photography, but about the landscape, the figure, and aesthetics.

B.S.Kumar
1-Feb-2017, 04:55
Buy a cheap 4x5 monorail, a 150mm or 135mm lens, a couple of film holders and film. You can probably get all this for less than the cost of the Intrepid. Once you get used to LF, learn a bit and start enjoying it, you can begin to spend money.

Ian - "LF user bear" nice Freudian slip! I like it.

Kumar

GG12
1-Feb-2017, 06:44
All the advise is solid, just a few high points to add:

LF is a slower operation, and yet immensely rewarding. Some things are slightly odd about it and worth thinking through upfront.

First - film. I'm assuming you are OK with 4x5 sheet film and film holders. There are options for 120 film and backs, but best if you can start with the larger film. Its a bit fussy, but not too bad. Larger yet is harder.

Size and weight - in studio or traveling around? How important is quick set up? Weight is also important consideration.

Metal vs wood - they operate the same, but feel different.

Overall configuration - an older metal monorail 4x5 is not so pricey. A folding metal camera in good shape (like a Technica) is more pricey and heavier. Wood cameras are charming and work well, if you get a good one. There are lots of cameras in-between these.

Lenses - probably not so critical- just get a decent one. Likely tastes and interest will evolve.

Movements - recommended. I'd recommend rise/fall, shift and tilt at least on one standard. That will give you a good amount of flexibility as you find what is important. It takes time.

I had a heck of a time getting into LF, several efforts to find something comfortable to use. But the joy of movements is special enough.

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 06:55
Overall configuration - an older metal monorail 4x5 is not so pricey. A folding metal camera in good shape (like a Technica) is more pricey and heavier. Wood cameras are charming and work well, if you get a good one. There are lots of cameras in-between these.

Here in the UK it's possible to find a MPP MicroTechnical at a good price essentially these are British made cameras derived from Linhof technikas. I picked one up a MkIII in early September for 75 with most of a second just missing a a back - I've since found a back. I only paid a little more for a nice MkVII with a 150mm Xenar.

Ian

Tobias Key
1-Feb-2017, 07:57
Hi Marcia

Remember that if you buy used and buy carefully, you can sell whatever you buy for what you paid for it, so the equipment can be effectively free, or close to it. Don't skimp unnecessarily, stick with mainstream brands in good condition and do your homework, and you should be fine.

Jim Jones
1-Feb-2017, 08:12
I second Ian's recommendation of a later model MPP Micro-Technical camera. It may be slightly less versatile than a full-feature view camera and heavier than some press cameras, but is a well engineered and built camera. As Tobias suggests, experience with your first LF camera will enable you to choose your ultimate LF camera based on your own preferences, not on what others like. Feel free to ask questions here about any camera you become interested in.

Randy Moe
1-Feb-2017, 08:31
Whatever you buy for your first camera make sure it has light tight bellows. Replacing a bellows is sometimes not the first thing a buyer wants to do and it increases the cost of the camera.

Correction, I read your introduction post and see you are in UK.

The Intrepid is also fine if you buy this latest model. I just got one.

I will provide more on it in the Intrepid thread I started shortly.

Oren Grad
1-Feb-2017, 09:36
First, although there is a jump in quality from medium-format to 4x5, that shouldn't be the reason you choose for moving up to a 4x5 view camera. View cameras, by their nature, offer many more possibilities for processing control (single sheets instead of roll film) and image control (camera movements). Having a real desire to take advantage of one or both of these advantages should be your real motivation to move up to a view camera.

I disagree, strongly. I mostly use a standardized development time and I use movements sparingly and could happily live without them. (Some of my LF cameras - Graflexes, Gowlandflex, wide-angle and pinhole box cameras - have no movements at all.) For me the magic of big negatives is in the contact prints they allow me to make. Each film format and corresponding print size has its charms. The large format shooting experience can be distinctive, too, and sometimes I'm especially in the mood for that.

We can't know what, if anything, Marcia might enjoy about LF; she's entitled to decide that for herself. Best for Marcia just to get started with equipment she can reasonably afford, try different ways of using the camera and making prints, and discover what resonates for her and what additional features or capabilities, if any, she needs to add to pursue that further.

Marcia: good luck and enjoy, wherever your explorations may lead!

Ivan J. Eberle
1-Feb-2017, 09:54
The subject matter you're interested in photographing will determine what the appropriate lens choices are, and then large format camera-type choice becomes secondary to that. For instance, if landscapes are what you shoot, and very wide-angle lenses are needed, there are a couple of specific camera types that work well with that, and several that don't. If portraiture is your thing, there are specific lens sets that might eliminate some cameras from consideration, etc.
The months-long learning curve to getting proficient with LF gear means that getting it right out of the starting blocks is probably wisest. But if you don't splash out on new gear, as mentioned above, you can probably get close to what was invested carefully in used gear back out of it should you find you want or need something else.

The best part of LF today (at least to me) is that there's a superabundance of used professional gear that got dumped in the marketplace a decade or more ago that is still often perfectly functional and that sells for dimes to the dollar/pennies to the pound. The bigger cost over time will almost certainly be the expense of film and developing, and your time.

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 10:01
I second Ian's recommendation of a later model MPP Micro-Technical camera. It may be slightly less versatile than a full-feature view camera and heavier than some press cameras, but is a well engineered and built camera. As Tobias suggests, experience with your first LF camera will enable you to choose your ultimate LF camera based on your own preferences, not on what others like. Feel free to ask questions here about any camera you become interested in.

I'm not specifically suggesting an MPP, my main 5x4 camera ia Wista 45DC (wood/brass field camera) which I've used for about 30 years more than enough movements. I had a couple of monorails but they are less practical for landscapes and as they weren't used I sold them.

A few years ago I picked up a bargain Super Graphic from a Forum member in London this has less movements compared to my Wista but still enough for my landscape work, and more importantly I can use it hand held.

If I had to criticise the Intrepid it doesn't fold up, I like a camera that folds with a lens into a backpack. In that respect the Wista is OK but the Super Graphic and MPPs are more robust.

Ian

R.K
1-Feb-2017, 10:28
Large format photography much different from Digital SLR. Before you start collecting staff and equipment get some understanding about the field of photography you are going to enter. Look for some books like How to use and operate large format camera or similar. Probably you can find them in libraries or on the internet used books market. By reading this you will get some fillings about the cameras their design and what can they do, a lot of reading available on the internet to, check YouTube for the videos. Also what is important you will understand better what camera you need, because you probably already know what kind of photographs you want to create. For example if you planning to do portraits in the studio the weight and size of the camera less important and it can be a wooden portrait camera with not many movements or monorail camera, if you will be doing field photography the weight of the camera is a big issue and you probably need some wooden folding camera with a lot of movements and enough of bellows draw, if you will photographing flowers in your backyard the monorail camera with long bellows will be the best. In the same time from the book you will find some information on lenses and understand what kind of lens you need for the beginning. Also very important to get some understanding in the film developing proses. How to do this and what equipment you will need. Today not so easy to find places where large format film can be developed, and if you wouldn’t find that kind of place it will be necessary for you to do developing by yourself. And the easiest way to start learn developing from B&W negative film. And about tripods. The main purpose of the tripod to be strong enough to support the weight of you camera. Each tripod and tripod head designed for some particular maximum camera weight. Depends on the camera you will finally purchase you will figure out if you tripod are strong enough to support that particular camera.

Randy Moe
1-Feb-2017, 10:45
The Intrepid DOES fold up and is the lightest well-made camera I have seen.

Fact


I'm not specifically suggesting an MPP, my main 5x4 camera ia Wista 45DC (wood/brass field camera) which I've used for about 30 years more than enough movements. I had a couple of monorails but they are less practical for landscapes and as they weren't used I sold them.

A few years ago I picked up a bargain Super Graphic from a Forum member in London this has less movements compared to my Wista but still enough for my landscape work, and more importantly I can use it hand held.

If I had to criticise the Intrepid it doesn't fold up, I like a camera that folds with a lens into a backpack. In that respect the Wista is OK but the Super Graphic and MPPs are more robust.

Ian

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 10:58
The Intrepid DOES fold up and is the lightest well-made camera I have seen.

Fact


If I had to criticise the Intrepid it doesn't fold up, I like a camera that folds with a lens into a backpack. In that respect the Wista is OK but the Super Graphic and MPPs are more robust.

I did qualify that by saying folding up with a lens fitted :D I also like the fact that the focus hood on the Super Graphic and my MPP's acts as a screen protector.

Ian

Alan Gales
1-Feb-2017, 11:17
The Intrepid is new. I'm not familiar with it but I trust Randy's judgement. He knows his stuff. The price is right and it will be small and lightweight for backpacking. It will be great for general photography if you want to get out in the world. If you do serious architecture or are always in a studio, I would buy a monorail instead.

Whatever you buy for your first camera you may end up selling and buying something else later after you learn what you like. I didn't keep my first camera and a lot of us don't. It is important that you do buy something and start shooting film and not fret too much over which camera to buy.

For a lens it's a good idea to get a "normal" focal length for your first lens. Normal is considered 135mm to 180mm. Some add 210mm to the mix because it was such a popular focal length for monorails. Get something from Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikon or Fuji in a modern Copal shutter. Don't worry about brand but let price and condition be your guide.

A nice two lens kit could be a 135mm and a 210mm. A nice three lens kit could be a 90mm, 150mm, and a 210mm. Of course this is a general opinion. Lens choice is a very personal choice.

Have fun and don't get overwhelmed. There is a lot of information out there and a lot of good people on this forum who are willing to help you.

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 11:27
You seem anti-Intrepid...

:)

Not really, they are a slight improvement on the Bulldog cameras, I just think you can buy a far better second hand camera with a lens for the same price (here in the UK).

Ian

Luis-F-S
1-Feb-2017, 12:31
Whatever you buy don't spend much because you'll want something different within a year!

IanG
1-Feb-2017, 12:48
Whatever you buy don't spend much because you'll want something different within a year!

I'm not sure that's true. In my own case I used my first LF camera a very heavy De Vere monorail for quite a few years, supplementing it with a Wista 45DX a decade later. Everyone I know used their original LF cameras for years only a few upgrading after heavy use.

That might well be true though if you start with a Speed/Crown Graphic because their movements are so poor and limiting, I do use them so that's from experience. Luckily they are expensive in the UK now and exchange rates aren't in our favour plus import taxes on a camera and shipping will add at least a third more in costs.

It's why I always suggest trying before buying, finding loacl LF users.

Ian

Luis-F-S
1-Feb-2017, 13:29
I'm not sure that's true.

It's why I always suggest trying before buying, finding loacl LF users.
Ian

Funny, we gave our kids the same advice.............Unfortunately most don't, so often replace within the first year. I bought 3 wooden cameras before I settled on Deardorff & Sinar. Now own several of each! L

DKirk
1-Feb-2017, 13:33
No disrespect to B.S.Kumar, but if you intend on using the 5x4 for Landscape, I would try to avoid a monorail - fantastic in the studio, but can over complicate (not to mention the extra weight to lug about). Though where are you here - there's a few shops who do range large format cameras in store - perhaps out of the way a little but www.ffordes.co.uk often do have a decent selection.
I'd agree with Ian that the MPP is a good option as a field camera - though do look for a late model e.g MK VII to MK VIII

B.S.Kumar
1-Feb-2017, 17:00
Kirk, the only reason I always suggest a monorail as a first camera is to learn about movements properly, which is half the fun of LF. Starting with a field camera means that many techniques are simply not learned. After some time, as one gets familiar with the camera, and notes the movements used most of the time, one can buy a different camera if necessary.

Kumar

Marcia
1-Feb-2017, 21:09
Puh. I finally managed to read all of the posts. First and foremost thank you so much for all that information and advice. To start with LF is quite challenging. So I'll take this weekend, wrap my head around it and do some more research.

Luis-F-S
1-Feb-2017, 21:26
Puh. . . . and do some more research.
Too much research will only further confuse you.........L

Marcia
1-Feb-2017, 21:42
Too much research will only further confuse you.........L

I already am. A bit. ;)

But I guess it's alright. It's not an easy matter.

John Kasaian
1-Feb-2017, 21:55
Too much research will only further confuse you.........L

This is true!

What's important: get stuff that works!
light tight bellows
movements that lock down
a ground glass that registers with the film plane
a lens that hasn't been taken apart and reassembled wrong
light tight film holders (at least 3)
a lens that at least covers your format, with some wiggle room (the more the better)
bellows long enough to accommodate your lens
a lens that fits your lens board that's not so heavy it taxes the front standard
a solid tripod that can take the weight
a focusing cloth that does the job of cutting light
a cable release that has a long enough throw to fire your shutter
a shutter that, at the very least functions

AND
start shooting film :)

Alan Gales
1-Feb-2017, 22:05
I highly recommend the Steve Simmons book Using the View Camera.

https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0817463534/kenrockwellcom

There are several good books out there but I found this one to be very straight forward and easy to understand. It's got great pictures to demonstrate what Mr. Simmons is telling you.



You are going to be confused at first until you actually get a camera in your hands and start using it. Trying to figure out everything now is impossible. It's best to buy an inexpensive camera and just jump right in. The best place to spend your money is on film.

Leszek Vogt
2-Feb-2017, 00:00
Agree with Alan about the book....it will give you an excellent overview. Choosing "proper" equipment is a process!!! Lots of nuances to consider.

Here are some items to get you started:

Camera - something that folds and it's relatively light (good bellows are essential)
Lens/es - 2-3 lenses in shutter w/ lens boards (90, 180, 250)....mostly relative to your preference
Film holders - these are often for sale and they need to be light-proof
Light meter - incident or reflective type....some folks even use a digital camera to determine the lens settings
Cable release - size is not that important (12" or longer)....I prefer longer one
Dark cloth - to view the ground glass....minimizing reflections and emphasis on proper framing (upside down :>)
Lupe - most of us use 3-6X type, tho sometimes (in a pinch) stronger eye glasses will do the trick
Tripod - appropriate head (gear or ball) that's sturdy
Black bag - to load film into film holders

While you are peeking at photos here (on the forum), most photographers will annotate whether it was taken with Acros, Ilford, etc., and these accumulative examples will likely steer you to make your own film choice/es. For the sake of consistency, it would be better if you develope your own film, tho you can always choose to have that done, at least temporarily, by a nearby lab (if one exists).

Anyway, follow your bliss. If you purchase items relatively smart, they will either last you a long time or you could sell them for only a minor loss....especially if you decide to progress to larger film format/s.

Les

Luis-F-S
2-Feb-2017, 06:59
My first lens was a 210. My second a 120 SA. Never regretted starting with this combination. I'd start with one lens! A Caltar 210 is good and reasonable, and in a modern shutter. You should easily find one for under $200!

Wayne
2-Feb-2017, 07:03
Puh. I finally managed to read all of the posts. First and foremost thank you so much for all that information and advice. To start with LF is quite challenging. So I'll take this weekend, wrap my head around it and do some more research.

If you feel like there's too much information to absorb it all, and plenty of helpful-minded people here are making it seem that way, just get something cheap and start learning that way. A press camera, an older wood view camera, or one of the entry level Cambo/Calumet monorails that can be had for a couple hundred bucks. Some research is good, but some shooting is even better.

You can approach large format photography as a complex, orderly, highly technical "science" where you must know everything in advance, or you can get some gear and learn most everything you need to know by the seat of your pants method.

John Kasaian
2-Feb-2017, 07:10
I'll recommend yet another book: Ansel Adams Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs It looks at 40 iconic AA photos and describes how they were taken, why Ansel used the gear he used, location, dark room and printing.

Jim Jones
2-Feb-2017, 07:47
I'll recommend yet another book: Ansel Adams Examples: The Making of 40 Photographs It looks at 40 iconic AA photos and describes how they were taken, why Ansel used the gear he used, location, dark room and printing.

It's another fine book on AA. However, he eventually had plenty of equipment to choose from. A 1958 movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-BhJQqHXfQ shows him cramming his vehicle with cameras in 6 formats, maybe 20 lenses, and lots of other equipment.

jnanian
2-Feb-2017, 08:22
hi marcia

large format can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.
don't forget the 2nd part of the equation which is processing the film ..
and with that, it can also be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it.

good luck sifting through all the info !
john

John Kasaian
2-Feb-2017, 10:48
It's another fine book on AA. However, he eventually had plenty of equipment to choose from. A 1958 movie https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M-BhJQqHXfQ shows him cramming his vehicle with cameras in 6 formats, maybe 20 lenses, and lots of other equipment.
Jim, just like in Steve Simmons Using The View Camera the book demonstrates that excellence can be accomplished with a variety of older lenses, and gives visual examples of what has been done with them.
Not everyone can afford a Cooke triple convertible (I cannot) and I'm certainly not advocating being an Ansel-oid copycat, but I found that Ansel's attitude about his gear quite helpful when I was starting my journey with one camera, one lens, and three film holders. A lot can be learned, and accomplished, using the most basic tools. Too often it seems, newbies feel the need to buy more stuff without first taking the time to really learn what they have to work with, when they'd learn more and have a more rewarding experience by picking up any camera (in good condition) learning to load film and just going shooting and spending time in the dark room.
My 2-cents anyway.

Jim Jones
2-Feb-2017, 20:48
I agree. Not one photographer has all of the equipment to photograph all subjects under all circumstances. We are all limited to some extent by our equipment. However, we can all try to do the best with whatever we have whenever we have the opportunity. At least one Pulitzer Prize photo was taken with an ordinary box camera.