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View Full Version : Newbie. 4x5 body and lenses for fine art copy work?



petermichaux
11-Dec-2014, 17:43
I'm investigating cameras to photograph fine art paintings from about 30 x 30 cm to 2 x 2 m.

First, I investigated medium format cameras. It seems a Hasselblad 500 C/M would be an ok choice. The Zeiss 100 mm Planar lens is designed to be very low distortion and specifically recommended for copy work of paintings over 1 m^2. The Zeiss 120 mm Makro-Planar lens is recommended for smaller work. My understanding is that 100 mm and 120 mm lenses on a 6 x 6 cm camera are slightly telephoto which makes them good for 2D copy work thanks to a minor flattening effect.

Now, I'm investigating 4 x 5 in cameras and too my surprise they are not way more expensive! I'm told by several folks that a 4 x 5 would be better for what I want to do. More light on the film.

I haven't found any specific camera body or lens recommendations like I did for the Hasselblad. Is it possible to make specific recommendations for an appropriate camera body and low distortion lens?

Thanks.

Peter De Smidt
11-Dec-2014, 19:09
A Sinar P or P2, along with a 150mm lens, possibly a G-claron, although there are a lot of great choices.

But before going into this too far, what is your goal? Do you just want film copies, or are you going to make prints?

High-end copy people often use scan backs. Lighting is going to be very important.

mdarnton
11-Dec-2014, 19:57
It probably more depends on what the ultimate consumer wants, and why you're doing it, unless you are doing this for fun. If it's just inventory for a collector or gallery, that would perhaps require something different than if you are wanting to make full size posters for a museum gift shop. For instance, I used to shoot violins for a big violin shop. Things that were for internal record keeping were adequately covered by a Mamiya RB67/140mm Macro (which I would rather use for this than a Hasselblad, by the way), but shots for publication and calendars were done on 4x5.

petermichaux
11-Dec-2014, 20:00
Thanks for your response. I'll investigate the equipment you mentioned.



But before going into this too far, what is your goal? Do you just want film copies, or are you going to make prints?

The goal is to make prints so the artists can show galleries in a portfolio of past work and so that prints can be sold at exhibitions.

Bernice Loui
11-Dec-2014, 20:24
The best lens in the Hasselblad system for this work is the 135mm f5.6 Planar with bellows (been there done this). This allows focusing from infinity down to 1:1.

The other essential Hasselblad item for this work is the Linear mirror. If one can be found, it will make alignment from camera to copy item much easier with far greater accuracy to keeping camera to copy item parallel. This is essential to limit distortion and getting center to corners in focus.

That said, a view camera is a far more capable tool for copy work due to camera movement and optics available specifically designed for this work. A view camera (Sinar Por P2 or X) coupled with a Hasselblad linear mirror, solid and stable camera support, polarized lighting and polarizer for the camera optics (if needed) and copy support makes a proper copy set up that will get very high quality results.

Overall, view camera optics are a better value than the Hasselblad or similar medium format optics. Beyond that roll film backs can be used on a 4x5 giving much the same results as any medium format camera except with the flexibility and capability of camera movement and large choice of optics.



Bernice




I'm investigating cameras to photograph fine art paintings from about 30 x 30 cm to 2 x 2 m.

First, I investigated medium format cameras. It seems a Hasselblad 500 C/M would be an ok choice. The Zeiss 100 mm Planar lens is designed to be very low distortion and specifically recommended for copy work of paintings over 1 m^2. The Zeiss 120 mm Makro-Planar lens is recommended for smaller work. My understanding is that 100 mm and 120 mm lenses on a 6 x 6 cm camera are slightly telephoto which makes them good for 2D copy work thanks to a minor flattening effect.

Now, I'm investigating 4 x 5 in cameras and too my surprise they are not way more expensive! I'm told by several folks that a 4 x 5 would be better for what I want to do. More light on the film.

I haven't found any specific camera body or lens recommendations like I did for the Hasselblad. Is it possible to make specific recommendations for an appropriate camera body and low distortion lens?

Thanks.

Jim Jones
11-Dec-2014, 21:21
View cameras have more capabilities than needed for your copy work. The adjustments of a view camera essential for some other photography have to be carefully checked when doing precision copy work. A basic press camera with a decent lens like the Kodak Ektar 203mm f/7.7 might do well enough. The older Speed Graphic Anniversary model has few adjustments. If properly aligned, it stays that way.

Peter De Smidt
11-Dec-2014, 21:57
How big of prints?

I love film. I just got a new-to-me film camera system, a Fuji GX680III. But I would be very tempted to use digital for this work. The ability to fairly easily be very accurate with color would be the draw. With film, you'll have to adjust for the characteristic of the film, you'll have to have very consistent development, and you'll need high end optical prints or scans from the film. With digital you can keep that all in-house. You can with film, too, but you need a very good darkroom for high quality film developing and optical prints, or a drum scanner if you need to digitalize the chromes... If you live close to a good film lab...that might change the equation.

petermichaux
11-Dec-2014, 22:33
How big of prints?

I think larger than 40 inches would be unlikely.

Thanks for all the responses. I appreciate them and will investigate all the equipment mentioned.

Randy Moe
11-Dec-2014, 22:36
I copy fine art 20 X 22" pencil drawing for one artist. My sole client. I have shot 100 of his work using Nikon D700, D800 and now D750. He doesn't want to reproduce his art to sell multiples, as his sales are in unique single drawings. He is now getting $1000 a drawing. I think that's too low. He needs digital images for his website, and to submit to galleries. I made two 5X7" sample books for him to carry with him. He sells directly from the books or exhibitions.

We are very careful to supply low resolution sample images on the website and for gallery submission. We do not want anyone else reproducing his art.

He will bring me 20 more shortly, he handles the art himself and places it on my copy table. I shoot only with him present and he leaves with the art and 1 of 3 digital files. He keeps that file. I keep one and I PS the last one for actual usage. He's very high energy and always in a huge hurry.

Just a story on how everything can be different.

petermichaux
13-Dec-2014, 02:55
I've had suggestions here and from others for everything from old press cameras to wooden field cameras to monorail cameras. I've had suggestions for lenses from 150 mm up to 300 mm. I'm left thinking that a lot of combinations could work for me. Would the following combination be a reasonable place to start?

* Cambo SC 4x5 (http://www.cambo.com/Html/products_photo/set01/english/internet/Item284.html)
* Rodenstock Apo Sironar N somewhere in the range of 150 - 300 mm
* Gitzo GT3542XLS (http://www.gitzo.ca/product/71837.1078814.0.0.0/GT3542XLS/_/Systematic_Series_3_Carbon_Tripod%2C_XLong_Overhead_4-Section) (I'm 6'5" tall)
* Arca Swiss Z1 Single Pan ball head (http://www.arca-shop.de/en/Monoball/Monoball-Z-Series/Z1)

The camera and lenses appear to be affordable on Ebay. The Cambo system seems extensive so I could expand and experiment without breaking the bank.

The lenses, tripod, and ball head would be the larger expenses but I'd be happy buying them if I knew they would remain useful if I decided to move on to a more professional camera.

I still need to investigate studio lighting.

Thanks.

mdarnton
13-Dec-2014, 06:01
That was essentially what I used for the violin work I mentioned above, with a 150 for the work at close to 1:1, and a 210mm for everything else. Something like an 180mm or would be the most comfortable if you have the space. 300mm is probably too long, and would limit your ability to copy small things if that was needed.

Choose a tripod for its stability, not size, and you will probably never use it with the center post extended more than about five inches, but it's nice (absolutely necessary?) to have one for fine tuning the camera position. Copy work is particularly demanding in this regard.

Michael E
13-Dec-2014, 06:36
I know this is a LF forum, and I sure love to shoot LF film. But for art reproduction, it doesn't make any sense whatsoever. My opinion.

First, the camera is not the crucial part here. The light is. Get a good studio strobe outfit plus a good digital flash meter (1/10 stop accuracy) and learn how to use it properly.

Second, the chain of film, processing, and scanning is a nightmare. As well as from time, color control or financial perspectives. Nobody will pay you for the additional time and materials. A digital camera gives you a lot of control over white balance, contrast, saturation (for individual colors), etc.. Any good DSLR has enough resolution for portfolio sized prints. Use a good lens, work with precision, and you're fine.

Third, the post production work (Photoshop) is very important. Don't underestimate that part.

I used to do art reproduction with slide film (Hasselblad and 4x5"), went digital years ago and would never go back. For reproductions, that is. For my own artwork I use mainly 4x5" and bigger film...

Best,

Michael

mdarnton
13-Dec-2014, 07:12
That's true--my comments were definitely living in in the past, and I shouldn't have let the OP's film enthusiasm carry me away. The firm that I did the violin work for switched to Hasselblad digital quite a while ago, and I'm using digital for it, too. One nice thing about digital is that with film the problem of precise color reproduction was . . . impossible. With digital it's a snap.

In fact, this work is currently the ONLY thing I do digitally. My D300 easily replicates what we used to do with the Mamiya RB67, and at some point I'll upgrade that and be totally satisfied, but for now, even that is OK.

petermichaux
13-Dec-2014, 11:28
There are so many conflicting opinions on this. As far as I know, every 35 mm DSLR image I've seen printed at 30" looks quite poor. I imagine improvements could be made but the would need to be dramatic to start getting. Close to acceptable.

Two photographers I've spoken with in person who do copy work both swear by film. One runs a photo lab and says all the digital work (scanning, color correcting) and test proofs are part of the price of making a print. He said just bring in a 4x5 on Provia and let him do the rest.

> Any good DSLR has enough resolution for portfolio sized prints.

How big do you consider "portfolio sized"?

Randy Moe
13-Dec-2014, 11:44
Well can we argue format all day, but everything will get pushed through Photoshop and that is where the work is.

I would not use any tripod for this. I used to use a converted Polaroid MP3, see Glennview.com, I copied his mounting solution.

Now I use an Arkay Studio Stand as it can handle any camera I put on it and can shoot from 9' down onto floor or table. Way easier than any tripod and cheap on the secondary market.

Gettings things square in camera is a great idea, but some lenses balloon and PS will be needed. I also shoot 'white' paper drawings against black matted board with a grid for alignment. I include a black border for PS purposes, but eliminate it for final product.

Lighting is a big challenge and my latest method actually seems best, but I need to check it against my upcoming copy work. Now I am bouncing 2 strobes in small softboxes off my white ceiling. Surround lighting is looking good.

I like my wireless tether with D750, gets wires out of the way.

Since you are new to this, the advice is overwhelming, each needs to find their own way, there is no correct answer.

Good luck!

petermichaux
13-Dec-2014, 15:03
Thanks, Randy.

I think I'm getting an idea of what I want to at least try to see if it works. (The Toyo GII is looking like a better option than the Cambo SC.)

This is hobby time so some lost time is not the end of the world. The cost of entry doesn't seem enormous. If I don't get it right with the first combination of equipment, I can take a loss and try a different camera (e.g. digital.) If the strobes, light meter, tripod purchased for the first try can all be used with another camera that is a lot of expense spent in the right direction for the second try.

Peter De Smidt
13-Dec-2014, 15:36
Toyo stuff is very good. (My field camera is a Toyo.) But make sure to check prices versus a Sinar P. These are incredibly easy to use, and they aren't all that expensive.

Rod Klukas
14-Dec-2014, 00:20
Any decent camera will work.
However, I must interject taht a lens such as the Rodenstock Apo-Ronar or the Schneider G Claron would be your best choice for this type of work.
The reason is that these optics have a flatter field. The standard type lenses have curvature of filed and the corners are never quite as sharp as the center due the curved projection of the image.
The G Claron or Apo-Ronar, are process lenses originally designed to shoot copy for printing such as maps, news papers etc.
So the image had to be extremely even across the entire field and so they were deigned to project a flat image.

You should have a sturdy rigid body with a bellows draw at least equal to twice the focal length of the lens you get.
This means you could copy any flat art from a 4x5 miniature, to a life size copy, to something quite large.

Hope this helps you.
Rod

Larry Kellogg
14-Dec-2014, 20:19
I'm interested in doing copy work with my soon to arrive Durst 138S. I purchased the copy light cassette and the lights. I'm thinking to try with 4x5 TMAX 100 as 5x7 TMAX is unavailable. Can you give me any advice?

lfpf
15-Dec-2014, 16:15
I'm investigating cameras to photograph fine art paintings from about 30 x 30 cm to 2 x 2 m.

Thanks.

Process lenses are designed for copy work and feature low-low distortion and also keep chromatic aberrations at a minimum. Which one is hard to say. Focal length, film format and lighting method need consideration and you'll have many successful options from which to choose. Apo Ronars have been mentioned, Apo Nikkors and many others are also in the running. With all your options available, narrow-down by reading, pick a format, plan your workspace and lighting method, run trials with any format and adapt to an available format and process lens designed for the task . . . 4/5, 8/10 format, camera of your choosing (sturdy, long process lenses are heavy), look at process cameras, track-down a process camera operator.

Alan Gales
15-Dec-2014, 16:35
Lighting is going to be very important.

I just recently bought some 8x10 film holders locally from a retired professional photographer. He did live in New York and shot artwork for a living using an 8x10 camera and slide film.

He had a bunch of Speedotron equipment for sale also. He said what he did required a lot of light.

lfpf
15-Dec-2014, 17:25
Light? Yes. Small apertures (process lens), slowest film, bellows draw, polarization and color correction adds up to considerable attenuation. But no sweat, a well conceived plan will always be successful. Possibles are multiple and repeated strobes in a dark studio, timed daylight exposures, timed incandescent bulbs, multiple flashbulbs, meggaflash flashbulbs and it will be successful and fun.

Planning is a tool of the trade.

Adamphotoman
15-Dec-2014, 23:47
Hey I do this daily for a living. For the best repro system I use a Sinar with mirror alignment and a Super 6KHS Betterlight scanning back. The lighting is Northlight 900watt HID copy light complete with a filter slot for UV and Polarizers. The lens choice depends upon what I am doing. Apo Ronars are fine but they are not flat field. That is a myth. They behave flat field once they have been stopped down to f:22...Period...then they are in their sweet spot but stop it down further and now they are on the edge of being diffraction limited.
The Apo Ronar is my choice when I do not need cross polarization. It is also my choice when I need to stitch really large files...because they do not exhibit distortion. These were designed for map making and are a great process lens.
My choice is usually an Apo Sironar S. This lens is actually flatter field when compared to the Apo Ronar and can be used much wider IE F:8...

Then for a DSLR smaller res but more production

Nikon D810 or D800 has the resolution for 24 inch and smaller prints.It can do well for 30 inch with interpolation.

With this system you must still the use [Zigalign] mirror alignment system. It will pay for itself by saving time and producing better images.
Then use In Camera profiling with a Greytag-Mackbeth SG Chart and Pictocolor software. this is absolutely necessary when X Polarizing to tame contrast and colour rendition.
Tame light falloff with Equalight.

petermichaux
16-Dec-2014, 12:25
Thanks for your info, Adam.


Hey I do this daily for a living. For the best repro system I use a Sinar with mirror alignment and a Super 6KHS Betterlight scanning back.
...
My choice is usually an Apo Sironar S. This lens is actually flatter field when compared to the Apo Ronar and can be used much wider IE F:8

Is your Sinar a 4x5?

Does the scanning back scan the entire frame (e.g. 4x5 on a 4x5 camera)?

What focal length Apo Sironar S would you use to photograph a painting that is, say, 30x40 inches?

Something I don't know how to do is calculate how far away from the painting I would need to be to fill the frame for a given lens focal length on a 4x5 camera.