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93.owl
28-Feb-2017, 12:52
Hello,
I'm interested in learning to use film for photography and would like to get into using something larger than 35mm film. I however am not sure where to start as this is seeming to be a bit different from 35mm film photography. My question is what are all the parts involved in putting together a film camera, so I know what to start buying? also what is the choice of 4x5 cameras to use and is easy to find?
sorry if this is a ignorant question but I'm a noob.
Thank you

Huub
28-Feb-2017, 13:33
Th homepage of this website contains a set of very good articles on almost any subject involved with large format photography. This is the link to the one on equipment: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/matos-begin.html

Pere Casals
28-Feb-2017, 14:18
First of all, thanks for your interest about film. I think that all people that love film are happy to see new people engaging this adventure.

Film photography evolved during more than a century long, and there is an incredibly amazing vault of imaging culture (and powerful resources) to explore.

You can start with 4x5 if you want, but a good advice is starting by knowing what kind of films are there and how you can use each to enjoy and to get the creative results you want, and for this you will need a 35mm camera to learn to expose and develop film, and what particularities has each type.

Film nature is not the single thing to learn, of course, there is a lot about lenses and cameras, but to get results you first need to know, control and love a set of individual films.

Later you'll be prepared to start gathering your gear: Money can be important, you can make great Large Format fotographs from a low budget, but it is very important you learn how to spend the money you are to invest.



> Clarify what kind of photography/subjetcs you are to portray, as ideal film, camera and lenses are not the same for portraiture than landscape, for example

> See what film photographers are doing to get ideas, I'd suggest searching different brands of film in Flicker (tri-x , provia , T-MAX, velvia ) these are my personal favourites:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/125592977@N05/favorites

> Start testing film with 35mm, a rool is $5, you must learn what film you want before buying sheet boxes, and you must learn how to expose and develop it. You can get (ebay) a cheap Nikon F-80 for that. Also it will work as a good photometer for your first Large Format camera. You can star with Provia (for people) of Velvia (not for people) slides (do not overexpose slides, never underexpose negative film) and use a cheap viewer, you'll see direct results without the need of a scanner.

If it likes you, you can also try Medium Format cameras, an ideal device is Pentax 67II cameras, the 105mm /2.4 is a jewel, there are cheaper options. I suggest the 67II because its (ebay) price is increasing, so still a good investment.

> Once you control film exposure, development and scanning you are ready to engage Large Format, but I'd suggest you don't delay too much a first contact with a LF supercamera. I'd suggest, to start, a CAMBO 4x5, it is not very light, but it is powerful and cheap, and it will allow you to learn the amazing tilt/shift effects


To get some motivation you can explore classic work from Yousuf Karsh and Ansel Adams, or even Jose Villa fashion.

I'd add that film is not technically obsolete at all as an imaging technology, beyond film beauty there is a technically powerful medium. Star Wars 7, 8 and (it looks) also Episode IX (2019) are shot in film. Here (minute 1:09) you can see Dan Mindel cinematographer with a film movie camera, and this is a big money deal, 2Bn at box office plus perhaps 2Bn more in derivate products raised by each movie. And this is not by chance. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-8N4CQzdGM&t=62s Also minute 2:37 shows the powerful IMAX film cameras, those devices are not a joke :)

93.owl
28-Feb-2017, 14:54
Thank you for all of this information!

I will do research on 35mm film more and use it to get experience. I have an old Minolta that was handed down to me so I will get it serviced and get started.

Thanks again!

Alan Gales
28-Feb-2017, 15:24
Do not be discouraged. There is a lot to learn coming from digital to film. Of course there is also a lot to learn coming from film to digital. I started with 35mm film back in 1982. I now shoot large, medium, and small format (a 35mm Stereo Realist) film and digital. If I can learn digital then you can learn film! ;)

I will tell you that large format film is the most fun of all to shoot.

Tobias Key
28-Feb-2017, 16:01
The best place to start if you already have a Nikon or Canon full-frame DSLR is to buy a late model autofocus film camera from your chosen brand. I would get an EOS 3 or 5 if you are a Canon user or an F90X or F100 if you use Nikon. These cameras are unloved and go for less money than their chrome and black counterparts, but don't be fooled, they are formidable photographic tools. All of your DSLR lenses will work on those cameras and you will have most of the mod cons of a digital camera, the only thing you won't get is an LCD on the back. You can just work as you did before and get great photos, only now they will be on film. Don't scrimp on cheap film. Use a mainstream colour or black and white film and use it consistently, don't chop and change from one film to another. Tri-X is probably the film you should choose. Develop film yourself and use your DSLR as your scanner, and you can see your images for pennies per roll. Move up in format once you are comfortable shooting 35mm. Every time you move up in format you have to be a bit more meticulous. So start easy and work your way up.

Ted R
28-Feb-2017, 16:19
The original poster's question about the parts of the camera depends on the camera, you mentioned 4x5 so here are the parts of a 4x5 camera set up to make an exposure

camera body incl focusing screen
lens incl shutter on a removable panel to fit the camera body
lens hood
shutter release cable
film holder loaded with film (usually double sided holds two sheets)
dark cloth to cover your head while viewing the focusing screen
tripod
loupe (magnifying lens) to assist sharp focus
light exposure meter

that covers the basics

I find it easy to learn from books and plenty of books have been written about large format photography.

Pere Casals
1-Mar-2017, 03:16
Thank you for all of this information!

I will do research on 35mm film more and use it to get experience. I have an old Minolta that was handed down to me so I will get it serviced and get started.

Thanks again!


Minolta are very good devices... and Rokkor lenses are highly apreciated !!!

Feel free to ask what you want in the future. Just post in the right section, there are sections that are specific for Large Format gear and technique, and others were you can post on any topic. You can contact moderators on any doubt.

Here you'll find people that can help with usual concepts, like me, and also very proficient people that can help with the most advanced topics on film and Large Format gear.

Also you can ask particular users by private message.

Just a final advice, bracket your starting film shots, select testing scenes and over and underexpose same scene to see the effect. Get used to spot metering, once you select the exposure just spot meter the highlights and the shadows, to know how many stops are over/under exposed locally. Remember that with slides you should not overexpose as overexposed areas will be lost, with negative film underexposed areas can be lost (this is not necesary bad, see how Yousuf Karsh used that), but higlights can be recovered from negatives. Slides have to be exposed a bit like with digital, with negative film it's different, just the counter.

John Kasaian
1-Mar-2017, 06:47
I'd suggest looking for a completely manual 35mm, or better yet a manual 120 if you're looking for practice.
A LF camera doesn't focus for you, or set f stops or shutter speeds, or meters light.

Better yet, find a cheap but working 4x5 (old monorails are a good bet) three film holders, a lens mounted on the proper lens board (anywhere from 135-215mm is where most students start) a dark cloth, a box of film, a changing bag if you don't have a dark room, a tripod and cable release and then go outside and play!
Let Steve Simmon's book Using The View Camera be your guide. Actually, buy the book before buying anything else. It's out of print, but used copies are available.

seezee
1-Mar-2017, 09:33
This is all good advice, including Pere Casals' admonition to start with 35mm. But as someone with almost no film experience who jumped right into large format, I can tell you it's possible to skip small and medium and go straight to LF but only after doing your homework. Read the forums. Watch the tutorials on YouTube. Read the how-to section of this website. If you want some cheap film to play with, buy a box of x-ray film (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?48099-Use-of-X-ray-film-technical-discussion-with-example-images) and cut it to fit your holders. Since it's safe to use under a red light, you'll get some practice loading before you have to do it in darkness for modern panchromatic films.

Even if you eventually decide that LF is not for you, you'll recoup a decent amount of the cost when you sell off the equipment back on the big auction site or here on the classified ads.

Steve Barber
1-Mar-2017, 15:13
The best place to start if you already have a Nikon or Canon full-frame DSLR is to buy a late model autofocus film camera from your chosen brand. I would get an EOS 3 or 5 if you are a Canon user or an F90X or F100 if you use Nikon. These cameras are unloved and go for less money than their chrome and black counterparts, but don't be fooled, they are formidable photographic tools. All of your DSLR lenses will work on those cameras and you will have most of the mod cons of a digital camera, the only thing you won't get is an LCD on the back. You can just work as you did before and get great photos, only now they will be on film. Don't scrimp on cheap film. Use a mainstream colour or black and white film and use it consistently, don't chop and change from one film to another. Tri-X is probably the film you should choose. Develop film yourself and use your DSLR as your scanner, and you can see your images for pennies per roll. Move up in format once you are comfortable shooting 35mm. wEvery time you move up in format you have to be a bit more meticulous. So start easy and work your way up.


What he said!

chassis
1-Mar-2017, 17:09
Welcome! Jump in with both feet and have fun.

Pere Casals
2-Mar-2017, 01:07
Welcome! Jump in with both feet and have fun.

+1

Robert Bowring
2-Mar-2017, 07:45
I think that 35mm is a good place to start. My advice would be to get a copy of David Vestal's book "The Craft of Photography". I am sure you could find a copy on Amazon or eBay. If there is a school in your area that still has classes on film photography take a class. As long as your Minolta camera works ok, it will be all the camera you will need to learn on. Once you get a feel for film the move to a larger format will be much easier.

Qamaro
4-Mar-2017, 21:01
I second Roberts comment about taking a class at a local Community College. Since you know digital an Intro to Photography class (typical taught with film only) should be a breeze as you pass through the basics of photography BUT, it will give you access to their lab chemicals, equipment, darkrooms and even camera equipment check-out privileges (35mm, at some schools MF or LF). It basically gives you some great opportunity to practice. In most states its pretty cost effective to boot at $30-50 per unit range (4 unit class = $120 - 200 for a semester = 15 weeks of use)....

I did this as a refresher about 10 years back as I learned to shoot film from my dad but never paid attention :( and came back to photography in the digital age but, took an Intro class just to practice the film processing aspect.

macmaster77
16-Mar-2017, 20:16
It's great that you are going to wade into the pool. I'm a photo instructor for a couple of community colleges. I teach in the "Lifelong Learning" area. I'm like the original poster, the majority of my background is digital. I photographed for magazines for 10 years and it was all digital with off camera flash. This really helped me understand the relationship of ISO, aperture and shutter speed mixed with different light powers. About a year ago, I had this idea that I wanted to print really big photos. I found the only way to get the size with the detail that I wanted was going to be 4x5 or bigger. I read and watched everything I could get my hands on to understand what the whole picture was going to be from loading film to the end of the developing process. After six months of research I took the plunge on an Zone VI 8x10. Some said I had really lost it. Going from digital to 8x10? I have to say, the time I took to research and make lists, made it much easier to understand the workflow.

I had two big issues that many folks here helped me with when I was getting started. First, was that I was trying to "average" and do zones with the light meter. After some trial and error, I now spot meter the darkest areas and expose for those. I didn't realize that how you expose for film was the reverse for film! The second issue was that I was using Ilfosol 3 developer. The short story is that I have found it to be very aggressive and it was building contrast too quickly for my taste. I switched to Kodak D76 and voila, much better. After many months of trying things, I have settled on Ilford FP4+ with D76. Many of the scenes that I photograph are high contrast. The FP4+ tone curve really allows me to captures scenes of dynamic ranges of 8-10 stops.

I have no idea if this helps or not. I realize most sane folks won't go from digital to 8x10. For my purpose, I'm now making prints that are 40x50 and bigger and I love them. I have a friend who bought a Mamiya 7II (120) and he shoots jazz bands with it. Very portable and he can make a large print from those negatives. I hope the OP finds what tool will work best for his application. Enjoy the journey, the folks here are great!

seezee
17-Mar-2017, 18:22
I didn't realize that how you expose for film was the reverse for film!I imagine you meant to write "I didn't realize that how you expose for film was the reverse for digital!"

macmaster77
17-Mar-2017, 18:29
I imagine you meant to write "I didn't realize that how you expose for film was the reverse for digital!"

Ah, you are correct, it was late when I wrote this. I should know better! Thanks for catching it!

Spencer