View Full Version : New to LF photography

Randy Gay
12-Oct-2005, 10:41
I'm new to LF photography but I went and purchased a used Omega view 450 Toyo view 4x5 LF camera with a Rodenstock Sironar-N Copal f5.6 150mm Lens (T~500 shutter speed; f5.6~64). I am looking for some help on using it. I briefly used a 4x5 many years ago in a classroom setting but not since. I would really like to get started with a polaroid system for this but am not sure what I need to do at this point to get this set up. How interchangable are the parts for 4x5 systems? I am currently a Canon 35mm Dslr shooter so I need help. Also I do not have a shutter release for this, do I need to buy one specific to the lens or are these pretty interchangeable? Is this system a pretty decent one for a beginer?

Are there some good books that can me? I know I'm at a very basic level but I hope someone from this group would be willing to spend some time helping out.

Randy Gay

Nick Morris
12-Oct-2005, 10:59
Welcome Randy,
Steve Simmons, who often contributes to this forum, publishes View Camera magazine, which is available through book stores. He also wrote a good introductory guide to using Large Format film cameras. I forget the exact title, but it should be available through View Camera magazine, or your local bookstore. It explains just about everything you need to get started.

12-Oct-2005, 11:09
Look at the front page of this site and scroll down - there are links to a number of articles that will get you started. I have an Omega 4x5 - it should be similar to yours. It's what I started with - I'd think you will like it just fine. You'll get a lot of advice about lenses, but I'd shoot a lot with the one you have and get a sense of the camera and format before you decide whether you want something different - either longer or shorter.

I'm supposing the camera has a Graflock back - I think most of the Omegas did. If it does, things like Polaroid backs are interchangable. There are different holders for 4x5 film, pack film and some are for obsolete roll film - do some research and be sure you are buying what you need.

A modern shutter release cable from the local camera store will fit this shutter.

Read the articles on this site, then feel free to ask more questions. Good luck

Ron Marshall
12-Oct-2005, 11:14
Welcome to large format. I began about 6 months ago. This site is a virtual gold mine of information. Take the time to explore it fully. The opening page of this site has links to answer all of your questions.

Your 150mm is a good place to start, equivalent to a 43mm on a 35mm camera. Get a feel for large format before you add another lens. 90mm, 150mm 240mm is a good spread for a three lens kit, but lens selection is definately a personal preference.

A standard shutter release cable fits all lenses. You will need lensboards specific to your camera as there are many different sizes.

Malcolm Stewart
12-Oct-2005, 12:31
You're starting with a good lens, and it does matter.

I made a start about a year ago, but didn't get any really good results until two months ago. I'd started with a 50 year old 150mm f4.5 Xenar and 240mm f5.5 Tele-Xenar which came with my equally old camera, an MPP MicroTechnical MK VI. These lenses may have been adequate for their period, but quite outclassed by more recent designs.

I couldn't understand why people praised LF so much until I saw my first results, on Provia 100F, from my 150 mm Sironar-N MC. I've since added a 90 f8 Super Angulon, and that too is good, but mounting it properly caused me some slight problems (now solved).

Good luck - I've felt more involved since starting along the LF path.

12-Oct-2005, 13:11
The standard cable release may fit all shutters but they won't trip most Ilex and Acme shutters. For those shutters you need a cable release with a longer plunger. If you give out your geographic location someone might be able to offer more personalized help.

Bruce Watson
12-Oct-2005, 13:36
Large Format Information page (http://largeformatphotography.info/)

You're so close... The link above is just one page up from here. Most of your questions have already been answered, and you'll find the write-ups there.

ronald moravec
12-Oct-2005, 14:08
When adding additional lenses, stay away from the old stuff. Old Leica lenses have character and I use mine along with the newer ones, but old LF is just plain disapointing. Mine are all gone.

F32 is another good LF site. Your local library should have some books. Check out Amazon .Com

John Berry ( Roadkill )
12-Oct-2005, 16:33
Ron, I don't know if I can totally agree with you on staying away from the old stuff. For the most part I agree with you, then I look at a neg done with my 24" red dot and say well... I don't know. Beaters though usually look like beaters and I back you 100% on letting those pass. I know that my education on what to get and what to avoid thru this board has been indispensible.

Brian Ellis
12-Oct-2005, 16:37
If you live in a town with a decent public or university library, go there and see what they have. I live in a town not known for its library or culture in general and there are three books in the main branch of the public library on large format photography. The large public university library in town has all of them I think. If it's a university library and you're not a student you probably can't check anything out but you should be able to sit there and read.

If you don't have access to a respecatable library then go to Amazon, type the words "large format" and "view camera" or something similar into the search space and you should be able to find all the relevant books there, most of them used for a good bit less than new.

FWIW the book that to me is the "bible" of large format photography books is "View Camera Technique" by Leslie Stroebel. I've read all the readily available books and own most of them. Stroebel's is the only one I still occasionally refer to though the ones by Steve Simmons, Jim Stone, Harvey Shaman, and the large format portions of Ansel Adams' book "The Camera" are all useful introductions. The one book I bought and was disappointed in is Jack Dykinga's "Large Format Nature Photography." I know many people like it but to me for an instruction book it had far too much space devoted to Dykinga's photographs and not enough instructional material. Just my opinion of course.

steve simmons
12-Oct-2005, 19:28
There are several free articles on the View Camera web site that might be helpful


Here are some books I usually recommend

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

Using the View Camera that I wrote

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga (although this book was criticized in an earlier post)

The Strobel book might be better as a long term reference

good luck

steve simmons

Scott Davis
13-Oct-2005, 10:01
referring to the cable release issue above, one cable release that I can recommend for the older Acme and Ilex shutters is the Minolta cable release. They're a bit tricky to find, but they're absolutely worth it. They have a very long throw which will trip an Ilex #5 with ease. I now have them on every lens I own.