Here are some observations concerning my quest to rediscover the ancient art and technique of hand held large format photography. It would be very interesting to hear from those who are experienced in this dying craft...
In June 2000 I took delivery of a Linhof Master Technika with cammed 90/135/210 lenses (Grandagon N and Sironar S). The lenses were also bought through Linhof a nd the camming was done at the Linhof factory in Munich. The system is therefor e optimized (without compromise) for hand held photography with coupled rangefin der focussing.
The system is expensive, but built to last a life time. The cost, when amortized over several decades, is actually quite low compared to trying to keep-up with rapidly obsolete auto-everything technology. In buying new, one is also helping to prolong the survival of a threatened industry.
There is nothing obsolete about the superlative mechanical quality and highly re fined design of the Technika. A pinnacle of acheivement from the opto-mechanical era, equally suited to either groung glass focusing on a tripod as well as for rangefinder focusing.
The result is that rangefinder focusing is extremely accurate and hand held shoo ting is actually quite versatile once one masters many now forgotten tips and tr icks. The results far exceed the image quality that one can obtain with 6X6 nega tives. Candid portraits are not impossible, and the resultant 16X20 B&W prints a re wonderfully life-like.
The secret to hand held 4X5 photography is to pretend to use the Technika l ike a large 35mm or MF rangefinder camera, and to similarly shoot alot of film, relative to what one does with the camera on a tripod. It's a whole different mi nd-set from the zone-system style of large format photography. It's amazing how quickly one can change cut film holders with one hand when shooting hand held a nd working fast from two side pouches on your belt...
There must be many 'tips and tricks' to this style of photography, and it would be very interesting to hear about the experiences of others.
Long live the great tradition of hand-held large format photography!