View Full Version : new to me 4x5 camera

15-Aug-2009, 13:30
OK I have the new camera :) ... well at least new to me it came with some accessories that fit but were is the film for them. I have a polaroid film back 500 does any film available work in this it has one load in it:eek:. I have a calumet roll film holder that I loaded some 120 film in but were do or how do you know were the film is in relation to the item that you are shooting I sure I will figure that out but you could make that learning curve short ;) I also have a grafmatic film holder they call it 45 grafmatic can you put any type of 4x5 film in this and I am assuming that you have to load it in the dark or a bag to set up the film . Oh when you load the film there are little ridges if I remember correctly with it in the right side does that mean the emulsion is going to pointing out in the right direction . I also have the usual 4x5 sheet film holders I am going to have to get a few more pretty soon shooting 4 sheets will that be enough:rolleyes: I know that this a lot of questions but when you are new as you play with the thing thias is what comes to mind . I thank all responders in advance and look forward to more questions to post

15-Aug-2009, 14:37
OK, you got your self a camera and now we can solve the problem.......

For starters: which camera did you get ? Brand name and so on, talkes a bit easier.

Polaroid film-back: unusable for the near future as no films are made. Put it into a safe place just in case.

In the back you have a piece of matt/difuse glass, called a Ground Glass or GG.
This used to focus your camera.
Camera on a tripod and open the lens and look at the GG.
Now you can focus and adjust the camera untill you have the image you want.
Close the lens, set the aperture and shutterspeed and tension the shutter.
Insert the filmholder between the camera and the frame for the GG, take out the dark-slide, make the photo, re-insert the darkslide and mark as exposed.
Some holders have a white strip on top on one side and a black one on the other.
I use white for presine, fresh, and black for exposed.

Th rolfimholder: the GG should have lines on it to show what image you will get when using a rolfilm holder.
The rolfilmholder can be inserted between the camera and the GG holder, the same with the 45 grafmatic. Be a little bit carefull with the last one, I hope it fits this unknown camera.

This is for starters...... welcome to the LF club !


Gordon Moat
15-Aug-2009, 14:54
The workable Polaroid backs that can use Fuji Instant pack films are the Polaroid 405 and Polaroid 550. Those take the ten (10) shot pack films. Fuji does not make individual sheet Instant films.

When you use rollfilm holders on a 4x5, the usual framing choice would be line markings on your ground glass. If your ground glass does not have that, you can put some on it using a mechanical pencil. Either measure the opening on the rollfilm holder, or line them up by eye and place some starter marks on the ground glass. If you do this with pencil, and get it wrong, then you can erase and try some better alignment.

There are a few articles on-line that explain the various film holders. One by Paul Butzi is a good place to start. Just try this link, and follow the links within this article to find out more:


I would suggest starting off with the sheet film holders. Just try a few times loading those, and then try a few shots. Process, review, and practice. Take some good notes, and you will figure out where not to make errors. Good luck.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

15-Aug-2009, 15:25
Dam I did not put the name for the camera Its a Nagaoka Seisakusho its lighter than any camera I own I put this grafmatic in it and it fit nicely Its beautiful fairly simple to work but I am just playing now. Was I right about the film loading on the slides I am so excited .I need to take a shot. There are no marks on the glass for the roll film so I do what you suggested Thank you

Dave Jeffery
15-Aug-2009, 15:55
There is an article about loading film holders on the home page here


I use Fuji Quickloads.

I was in the same situation that you are and was still getting my camera gear together and had never used my camera when a once in a year sunset was about to happen. The following I wrote a while back but hopefully you can benefit from it.

I was still in the process of getting my gear together when a magical lighting was no doubt going to occur. There was a very even layer of clouds over the whole sky and the clouds were open to the west so I was fairly certain that the clouds would light up and be amazing. I had never set my camera up and practiced with it but I had made copies of the steps of how to use the view camera, which is on the LF home page here.


The sky was changing quickly and in a half panic I raced home, grabbed all the camera gear, which was spread around the house, and retrieved the film from the fridge. It was amazing to have actually been able made it to where I wanted to shoot and having never made one image before it seemed kind of hilarious to be using the list step by step to take the pictures – and it worked! The pictures are great! What you see on the ground glass is what you will get on film if you don’t miss a step on the list and do things in sequence.

I have since made my own additions to that list
13a. Test fire the shutter – this will let you know if you forgot to close the lens which may save you from ruining the film, and you can sometimes tell if your shutter speed is not set correctly, and the cable release may glitch or stick.
15 Look at the subject, moving objects will be blurry at slow shutter speeds ALSO look at the lens to make sure nothing has landed on it.
18a Look at the ground glass to double check the image you just recorded, is it still in focus or did something move?
19b. Reset all the movements back to zero if you have used them – rise, shift etc.
19c. Open the lens and the aperture so you have one less thing to do on the next shot.

I had also used Velcro to set a small 6” stainless steel ruler (in mm) in it’s sheath to the bed of the camera so I could focus on distant hills, slide the ruler in the sheath to set it to an easy number to remember, focus on a near object and then split the difference on the ruler and note the length in mm to pick the aperture from the chart below. You can just stick small pieces of masking tape on the rail to mark the focus points to get started. The difference in mm (D mm on the chart) will give you an idea of the optimal F-stop as listed on this chart. The F 45 numbers should be rounded off.

D mm---- F-stop
.17-------- F8
.13---------F 11
.7----------F 16
1-----------F 16.6
1.3---------F 22
2.7---------F 32
3-----------F 32.2
4-----------F 32.6
5-----------F 45
6-----------F 45.2
7-----------F 45.4
8---------- F 45.6
9-----------F 45.8
10----------F 64
11----------F 64

The chart above was created from this info

I eventually made a focusing knob out of PVC plumbing parts (a 1” coupler that is tightened by hand and some other bits) using a Dremel and it was well worth the effort.

Print up a list and get out and shoot! Have fun with it!

Dave Jeffery
15-Aug-2009, 16:27
The Kelty 3100 backpack is great for day trips with a 4x5 and this company makes light and strong cases which many photographers recommend.


For a cheap tripod bag I found an adjustable padded strap from a rucksack and sewed it onto a bag from a cheap folding chair. The Eddie Bauer folding chairs have great bags, they are cheap, and it doesn't look like there is an expensive tripod inside. The tripod bag gets slung over my shoulder so it can be removed easily to get through tight spots in the brush.
The tripod bag strap would chaffe my neck on long hikes so I made a 5" long quick release strap that wraps around the the backpack shoulder strap and the tripod bag strap, and cinches down, to keep the tripod bag strap from chaffing my neck.

Have Fun!

Santo Roman
16-Aug-2009, 00:46
I'll second the motion on any of the products from Photobackpacker!!! Bruce really knows the large format world and the guy has the best customer service in the industry.


16-Aug-2009, 17:03
thank you one and all for your help I have one more item coming and I will be out there amongst them