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h2oman
27-Dec-2007, 16:34
...to making the purchase of my first LF setup. :) My photographic passion is color landscapes (may try B&W in the future), with some hiking for shots. I'll get a wooden 4x5 field camera with 135 or 150mm lens to begin with.

So what? Well, here's where you come in. I want to make sure I have enough stuff to enjoy what I'm doing and be prepared in the event that a good image presents itself and I manage to do everything close to right! I'll have the appropriate lensboard and cable release, and I plan on making my own dark cloth. I'll get a loupe, perhaps referring to a recent discussion here for ideas on that. Now the real questions:

I plan on loading my own film, rather than using quickloads. Is that a bad idea for a newbie? :D I'm a bit mystified about how that works, even after reading the blurb on the LF site. I'll post more questions once I receive film that will hopefully have directions with it. (I'll snoop around a bit more online on this as well.) If I just get a few film holders, can I load some film and somehow reseal the package or put it in a light tight box, or something like that, until I am ready to use more?

And how does one get exposed film out of the holder and to the processor?

Light meter. I'm thinking I'll just use my DSLR and stick with very even lighting conditions at first. :rolleyes: Is this idea too crazy? Let me know what you think.

I want to get one or two filters to begin, and be set up properly for more in the future. The filters I'll eventually want are

warming filters
polarizers/warming polarizers
split neutral density

I understand that I'll want to get some sort of step-up ring that adapts any future lenses to the same size filters. Any recommended size for filters? I will probably also get some Lee split NDs eventually, and something I saw online indicated that perhaps the holder for them attaches to the outside of the lens ring? What if I were using a polarizer and split ND at the same time, how does that work?

I've got a pretty solid tripod.

Anything I'm missing? Any help is vastly appreciated. I've been reading as much as I can, but it is hard without having any sort of live resource.:(

Darren Kruger
27-Dec-2007, 17:30
If I just get a few film holders, can I load some film and somehow reseal the package or put it in a light tight box, or something like that, until I am ready to use more?

And how does one get exposed film out of the holder and to the processor?

film boxes are three halves in one, to keep the light out. Once you open the package you can close the box again and it should be light tight. Use a second box to store exposed film until you are ready to process it or take it to a lab.

You will need to load and unload the film holders in complete darkness.



I understand that I'll want to get some sort of step-up ring that adapts any future lenses to the same size filters. Any recommended size for filters? I will probably also get some Lee split NDs eventually, and something I saw online indicated that perhaps the holder for them attaches to the outside of the lens ring?


You might want to just look at the Lee filters (or similar) to start and just hold them in front of the lens. I'm not sure how useful split neutral density filters in a ring are as you can't change the horizon line from the center.

The Lee filter holders are a two part system. One part holds the filter(s) and another screws on to the lens like a big step up ring. You can get multiple lens adapters and just use the one filter holder.

-Darren

Matt Blaze
27-Dec-2007, 17:33
Well, you can certainly use the built-in light meter from another camera if you can live with the extra bulk and weight as long as you understand the limitations of doing so. Remember that camera meters measure reflected light, and so assume the subject its pointed at is to be rendered as a mid-grey tone.

Also, some cameras have a fancy "matrix" mode that calculates exposure from multiple points on the frame in using heuristics that may not give you the results you'd actually expect. If your camera has a spot meter mode, you will get more predictable results with that.

Many photographers prefer incident light meters (which are held in front of the subject toward the camera) that measure the light falling on the subject. This requires that you be able to measure at your subject, which may not always be practical when shooting a landscape. Still, a cheap incident meter is a really, really good investment, and frees you from having to carry two cameras (or guess exposure).

The other thing you'll probably want is a polaroid back and lots and lots of polaroid film, especially as you're learning. Being able to see your mistakes immediately is a big help.

I use Lee 4inch filters (plus the Lee hood) They make a rotating holder that lets you use a square polarizer reasonably easily, and can stack 2 or three filters along with the hood. These filters are not cheap (especially the ND grads and the polarizer), but the system works well and at least you don't have to have different filters for every size lens. The Lee ND grads are especially nice, since you can slide them and reoriented them to wherever you want the transition to occur.

h2oman
27-Dec-2007, 19:03
I can see from reading my post about filters that my question is not clear.

On my DSLR I use either a circular polarizer that screws onto my lens, then rotates, or a split ND that is reactangular and slides into a holder that screws into my lens. I never use a polarizer together with a ND because I don't know how! The holder for the ND is a Cokin style, or something like that, and I can rotate the filters and slide them in the holder as well, to align the gradation at any angle and move it up/down (or other if rotated.)

I'm just wondering what sort of arrangement I'll need for LF.

Justin Cormack
27-Dec-2007, 19:07
loading film just takes practise - waste a sheet and keept practising with your eyes shut

Filters are no different from small formats (except the filter sizes may be bigger).

Your tripod is ok, but is the head?

Matt Blaze
27-Dec-2007, 19:14
I can see from reading my post about filters that my question is not clear.

On my DSLR I use either a circular polarizer that screws onto my lens, then rotates, or a split ND that is reactangular and slides into a holder that screws into my lens. I never use a polarizer together with a ND because I don't know how! The holder for the ND is a Cokin style, or something like that, and I can rotate the filters and slide them in the holder as well, to align the gradation at any angle and move it up/down (or other if rotated.)

I'm just wondering what sort of arrangement I'll need for LF.

Lee makes an adapter that lets put two filter holders together and rotate one with respect to the other (and either with respect to the lens. So you can use an ND grad and a polarizer in whatever orientation you want, rotated independently.

Doug Dolde
27-Dec-2007, 19:16
Get the Lee foundation kit for holding your grads. They have a 105mm ring that mounts on the front to take the Lee 105mm polarizer. I'd recommend SIng Ray grads though. A hard edge 3 stop is a good one to start with.

I'd also forget about the warming polarizer and warming filters if you are going to scan the transparencies. You can do this in Photoshop with more control.

Get a spot meter. They are cheap.

Brian Ellis
27-Dec-2007, 20:07
Instructions that come with the film aren't going to help you with loading the film. I think Paul Butzi's web site has illustrated instructions, probably other places do as well. The best thing to do is to sacrifice a sheet and practice loading it in daylight. Loading in the dark may seem cumbersome at first but it gets very easy very quickly. It's almost a zen kind of thing, if I don't think about it much the film just kind of finds its own way into the holder but if I start thinking about what I'm doing it gets more difficult.

Personally I'd use the Sunny 16 method rather than carrying a digital camera around with me, at least if you're using negative film. But a digital camera should work o.k. with negative film. Slide film is less forgiving and if you're using it then I think you should buy and learn to use a spot meter.

Blueberrydesk
27-Dec-2007, 21:17
Ironically, I'm heading down past Klamath Falls on Sat. Morning, and have been thinking of selling my 4x5 Osaka (basically like a Tachihara) field camera. I could meet you somewhere and hand it to you, and at the same time give you some pointers. I'd do the camera, lensboard with a Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-N in a copal-0 in great shape, and 5 loaded film holders with FP4+ for $700.

I apologize if this isn't the right place to post this; but the co-incidence of my leaving Portland tomorrow and driving back down to Sacramento is just too odd to pass up.

I can't help you with a light meter, but I'll throw in a cable release and loupe, as well as a really old and stinky towel as a dark cloth. :)

I can take Paypal as payment, or meet you at your bank's parking lot if you want to do this. Otherwise, I apologize again for jumping into your thread here. I'm moving up to 8x10 and trying to raise funds for a Canham.

Paul

Frank Petronio
27-Dec-2007, 23:03
Paul is legit, I'll vouch for him

At least as far as cameras go! :-)

That is a fair deal too.

Don't worry about filters and other distractions until later. Keep it simple. More good shots have been made without freaking filters than with...

Just get five holders so you can use a ten-sheet box. Buy at least two ten-sheet boxes of film. Load your holders. You now have an empty box to offload your exposed film into. Soon enough you will be tossing film boxes away because you'll have so many.

Paul camera is very lightweight so it will probably be fine unless you have a really crappy tripod.

venchka
28-Dec-2007, 00:16
I saw no mention of a changing bag. Dark cloth? Loupe? Backpack to carry everything? I'm not too far ahead of h2oman and kinda need the same advice on minimum kit.

Keith
28-Dec-2007, 01:27
I also have recently jumped back into LF. I have a Shen Hao, a 90mm Rodenstock lens.
I use quickloads because I hike and find them so much easier to pack and hike with, although that said film holders are cheaper and I will get some soon for non hike photography. I feel it weighs less and it's easier to transport 50 quickload sheets that 25 holders. personal preference and me being a lazy bugger.
If your hiking I can't imagine carrying a changing tent also if you need to reload holders.

I use a Gossen meter. it's fantastic and is about 1/4 the size of any DSLR. I usually take a incident reading and go from there.

The filters is a hard one. You really want to go with a system like the Cokin P series if you can. You use rings for each lens and the holder slots over the len ring. It has a space for a polarizer although it has to be a ring mount like Singh-Ray and then the ND Grad fits on the front of the holder, The ring polarizer will turn independent to the ND Grad, hope you have a couple of hundred bucks hanging around. Expensive system but really is the best.

I don't use any filters at all, I shoot side lighting much more and if you shoot the right way in the right light you will not need filters at all.

I also have no loupe, and only recently pick up a custom made dark cloth, until then I used a t-shirt. So all I have is my camera, lens, light meter, cable release, dark cloth, and quickload holder and film and of course tripod.

timparkin
28-Dec-2007, 03:24
I've been moving to large format over the last few months and have kept a blog of the experience.. http://blog.timparkin.co.uk

Alan Rabe
28-Dec-2007, 05:17
On loading and unloading film. A lot of people use gloves to prevent finger prints from getting on the film. I find a product called "cots" is much simpler. They are little finger gloves that you get in the first aid section of drugstores. They just roll down over the finger. I use one on the forefinger and the thumb which is what I hold the film with. When finished just unroll them, they can be reused for almost forever.
Unloading film can be a bit of a pain, particularly if you have no finger nails like me. I have found that using a guitar pick to slip under the edge of the film in the holder lifts it up nicely. Just slide it in till it wedges the film between it and your finger, lift and pull it out.
But others are right, waste a sheet and just practice loading and unloading. Youll get the hang of it.

J_Tardiff
28-Dec-2007, 09:05
Another recent beginner-- I'll echo Frank's comments regarding Paul's gear (I don't know either of the gentlemen in question, but have found many of Frank's threads to be extremely helpful/informative).

The Osaka/Tachi + 150mm as a starter would be a great way to go and I couldn't agree more about keeping it simple to start. I have a nice Lee filter setup and a good collection of Heliopan B&W glass filters for my Hassleblad that I have been able to jury-rig for use on my Shen, but I really didn't start using them until I was pretty comfortable with my basic LF gear --- the less fiddling the better in the beginning!

I don't take a changing bag when hiking-- again, simplicity is key, there are a fair number of parts to keep track of as it is (sigh, I am really starting to feel old :( )

One more suggestion-- consider investing in a Polaroid 545 holder and some film to start. I found it invaluable as a teaching tool -- nice to get *some* instant feedback when you are trying to learn! Plus, you can eventually use it to proof in the field.

Good luck,

JT

mrladewig
28-Dec-2007, 09:38
I started into LF last spring when I bought a camera with two lenses and 12 film holders at a local flea market for $100.

Here is what I think you need.

The obvious - Camera, lens, lensboard and film holder, tripod and a way to mount the camera (maybe a ballhead and a quick release plate).

If you want to load your own film, then you need a film holder(s) for your format and most likely a changing tent or bag. I think there are instructions here on this site on how to load and unload film. This gives you the freedom of shooting any film available for 4X5. I agree that this isn't too hard and I agree that wasting one sheet to practice loading is and easy way to understand the process in the light.

If you don't want to load your own film, you can opt for the quickloads which are slightly more expensive and offer limited selections in film. But like someone previously mentioned, they are much lighter for backpacking. In this case, you need a quickload holder and the quickload film.

The other accessories are a focusing loupe and a darkcloth. If you will also be carrying a DSLR, you can meter with it, especially if you are doing reflective only stuff like landscapes. I take an exposure with it to determine if the metering results are going to meet my needs (review the histogram and the image) and if not, I apply some exposure compensation and take another shot. I know this is viewed as cheating by many, but I see a reason to carry both cameras right now, so I see no reason to not use the tools this way. I actually go a step farther in cheating in that I have almost duplicate sets of GND filters, so I can matrix meter with the GND in place to evaluate the setup.

If you don't want to carry the dSLR, then you'll need a light meter. The type depends on your needs. If you are going to be using strobes, then an incident meter will be better. If you are going to do reflective only, then a spot meter may be the best option. You can get a meter than will perform both functions like the Sekonic L-758.

You'll probably lose a few sheets along the way to problems like pulling the wrong darkslide. But it is really enjoyable when you get the hang of it.

Summarized in list form:
Camera
lens/shutter
lensboard for the shutter and camera
film holder, either standard or quickload flavor
changing bag for film if using standard film holder
loupe
dark cloth (I used a packable black golf rainjacket for a while, dumb looking but effective)
some way of metering
And FILM!

You might consider Fuji Provia or Astia if you want to start with slide film. These are a little more forgiving in exposure latitude and contrast than Velvia 50 or 100.

I think either the 135 or 150 focal length will suite you well to start.

mrladewig
28-Dec-2007, 09:59
I forgot about the filter questions.

You said you already have a Cokin set?

The P holder will work in most situations. I've even used my P-wide holder on my super angulon 65/8 with no blocking from the filter. I use the regular P holder on my 150/5.6 Symmar S with absolutely no problems. So there is not an immediate need to buy a 100mm series of filters (Lee or Cokin Z-pro) if you've already got stuff that works. If you can stick with the P size, its nice because they are less expensive and less bulky to carry. Many large format lenses have fairly small filter thread sizes compared to 35mm lenses. My 65mm has a 49mm front thread and my 150 has a 58mm front thread. Most of my 35mm lenses are either 58 or 77mm threaded (though I do have some 49mm threaded M42 lenses).

I personally use Hitech filters. They get the job done and no casual viewer is gonna know the difference between a shot taken with this filter and a Singh-Ray that costs 3 times more. There are some disadvantages with them which I'd be happy to discuss.

As far as stacking a polarizer and a GND, it sounds like you have one of the thin polarizers with no front filter rings on your current setup. Normally, the polarizer has threads on the front and the GND holder's thread adapter can screw into the polarizer same as the lens. With normal focal lengths (35mm and longer on 35mm format) this doesn't present any problems, but with wide angles it can become an issue. I tend not to use polarizers at wide angles anyways because they create an uneven effect on the sky.

Hope that helps.

Mel-

Blueberrydesk
28-Dec-2007, 17:54
Well, I'm in Yreka, CA tonight, so I've passed by Klamath Falls, but I'll leave the offer open for you for a day or two. Sunday my gear will go into the For Sale thread here, and if there's no takers, up to the auction block it goes.

I found Steve Simmons' book extremely helpful in teaching me what there was that was out there in terms of the basics, and Leslie Strobel's View Camera Technique was indispensable in learning a lot of the technicals. Simple is definitely better when it comes to starting out...

h2oman
28-Dec-2007, 20:17
Paul,

Please see the private message that I sent you.

Gregg Waterman (h2oman)

Blueberrydesk
28-Dec-2007, 20:31
Gregg, I've pm'd you back

Paul

Bill_1856
28-Dec-2007, 20:46
Frankly, I'd rethink the whole thing. You're not going to want to develop and print color yourself. Large Format is still viable for Black and White, but unless you're incredibly rich, or are already involved with it, I think starting out to do LF color landscapes is a poor choice.

mrladewig
28-Dec-2007, 21:06
Why?

The cost of film and lab development compared to the cost of gas to reach most landscape destinations is nothing. The only thing coming close to 4X5 for ultimate print size/quality is the 39MP MF backs and the investment in one of these would be a hurdle that would be difficult to recoup for most landscape photogs, just starting out or not. The investment in the back alone would be equivalent to roughly 4000 developed sheets of film. Plus the MF systems don't have the flexibility offered in a view camera.

If you can build the cost of the 4X5 system into the sale of photos, then I don't see why you wouldn't choose to have this as an option.

And on top of that, some folks (myself included) really enjoy the large format photography process even if we don't develop our own film.

Bjorn Nilsson
29-Dec-2007, 01:54
Here's the link to Paul Butzi's page about loading filmholders:
http://www.butzi.net/articles/filmload.htm
which was mentioned earlier in this thread. That site contains lots of other useful information too. (I had one of his pages open when I read this thread.) Anyhow, good luck on your journey into Large Format Photography.
//Björn

Blueberrydesk
29-Dec-2007, 03:08
Also, here was a visually helpful video on how to load film holders:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=30027&highlight=video+load+film+holders

Nick_3536
29-Dec-2007, 03:09
Frankly, I'd rethink the whole thing. You're not going to want to develop and print color yourself. Large Format is still viable for Black and White, but unless you're incredibly rich, or are already involved with it, I think starting out to do LF color landscapes is a poor choice.


Why not? Developing colour is in some ways easier then B&W. Printing good negs is to.

h2oman
29-Dec-2007, 13:14
Well, it is done - I bought Paul's camera. I also went to the local camera shop and bought a few inexpensive step-up rings that will allow me to use the filters I have for my SLR.

Thanks everyone for the ideas/opinions, and I will likely solicit more in the future.

Wilhelm - Thanks for your view. I've been thinking and re-thinking the whole thing quite a bit. I just have to give this a try, and I'll bail if it doesn't work out. It is just that the photography that I most enjoy (Jack Dykinga, David Muench, Joe Cornish, ...) was done with a 4x5. In the past I wasted a lot of 35mm film (and digital storage) on bad shots, and I think I now have a pretty good sense of when a photo is going to work out. With the digital I often just took the shot even though I was pretty sure I wouldn't like it, but I won't be doing that with 4x5 film!

Blueberrydesk
29-Dec-2007, 15:01
I wish I had my 545i holder with me, I would have thrown it in as well, so you could start shooting the quickloads and readyloads I gave you. :) I'm going to miss that camera, but I hope you enjoy shooting it as much as I did. I forgot to mention that if after a month you start having buyer's remorse, or start thinking that this type of camera isn't for you, I'll buy it back from you at the same price.

For the record and for his $700, Gregg got:

an Osaka 4x5 wood field camera
a technika lensboard
a Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-N f5.6
3 boxes of (slightly) expired film in readyloads, 1 Astia100, 1Tmax100 and 1 Ektachrome100VS
7 or 8 film holders, both Riteway and Fidelity
and 2 cable releases, one of which even works!

He refused the towel/darkcloth. :)

Happy shooting, Gregg. If ypu have any questions at all, just give me a call.

Paul

BarryS
29-Dec-2007, 19:14
Very cool--it's nice to see this work out. I think it's a great deal and the Osaka/Tachi is just a great field camera. From putting my first real LF setup together, it takes some work and money to get all the pieces together and there's something to be said for buying a complete kit--especially with good components. I'm sure if Gregg had access to a Hazmat team, he would have taken that darkcloth as well. :)

J_Tardiff
31-Dec-2007, 12:38
Awesome --- have fun with your new gear, you got a swell deal on some super equipment.

I have to say this spirit of camaraderie and mutual support is a very nice aspect of LF photography in general.

JT

uniB
31-Dec-2007, 14:29
Frankly, I'd rethink the whole thing. You're not going to want to develop and print color yourself. Large Format is still viable for Black and White, but unless you're incredibly rich, or are already involved with it, I think starting out to do LF color landscapes is a poor choice.

What a very strange thing to say, how else would you get optimum quality colour landscape photos which are pin sharp from your feet to distant hills, glorious Velvia colour and exhibition size prints?? Not with a DSLR that's for sure.

It's unlikely that your going to get more than a handful of shots per scene, and the cost of film and processing certainly stops you from shooting doubtful scenes. I generally end up with about 4 to 5 shots per outing (admittedly I may use different film on the same scene as well) so that doesn't really add up to a great expense.

And there's also the fact that the 4x5 format is (I think) more pleasing to the eye than 35mm.