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mani
13-Jan-2020, 08:28
Apologies for beginning my first post with some very newbie questions and mistakes - I hope I can learn something useful and return the favor in the future. I should also add that I've googled and searched the forum, but I haven't found any definitive answer to my question - I hope you can excuse my ignorance, if I've missed some obvious search-terms.

I've been interested in large format for a while, and decided to try my hand at (what I thought) was an 'easy' introduction by getting a camera with helicoid focussing, very few movements, and fitting a 6x9 film-back to the 4x5 back: a Cambo Wide 750.

My assumption with the helicoid focussing, was that it would allow for hyperfocal focussing for landscapes in a similar way to 35mm - that is, by aligning the infinity marker with the correct f-stop marker (ie: if shooting at /22, aligning infinity with 22 on the lens, and stopping down to shoot without trying to check focus for the stopped-down, and obviously very dark, ground-glass image).

Luckily I only exposed a few rolls of 120 film, because when I scanned these I could see that my assumption was completely wrong - the images are only really sharp for the first 3 or 4 meters in front of the camera, and then successively more blurred to the horizon.

Now I guess a few experienced photographers are rolling their eyes - but I'd love to learn how to do this with large-format. Have I simply made totally wrong assumptions? How should one use the scales on a large-format camera? Or is it possible (unlikely I guess) that there's some fault with the lens calibration?

With large-format, do I need front tilt to get everything in focus (from say 5 meters to the horizon)? Is such an aim even possible when working with negatives of this size?

As an additional question, I think my ground glass is very dim and unsharp compared to examples I've seen on youtube videos. Where should I look for the brightest possible GG, especially recommendations from Europe?

Many thanks for help!

Richard Wasserman
13-Jan-2020, 08:37
I think the helicoid in your camera simply needs to be adjusted to focus correctly. It sounds as if when you set the camera at infinity it is focusing closer than that. I use a CamboWide 750 and often use hyperfocal focus with it and it works well. I'm sorry that I can't help you with resources in Europe, but I would think that any competent repair service could take care of this for you.

Oslolens
13-Jan-2020, 08:50
f22 for hyperfocal equals 4mm extension in focus difference. Is that how much you focus? Google the Linhof DOF scale chart for 4x5". The 1:○○ is for hyperfocal work.

Jim Noel
13-Jan-2020, 09:06
The lens on your camera is most likely a longer focal length than the one on your smaller camera. Therefore the depth of field at any given aperture is less.

mani
13-Jan-2020, 09:12
I think the helicoid in your camera simply needs to be adjusted to focus correctly. It sounds as if when you set the camera at infinity it is focusing closer than that. I use a CamboWide 750 and often use hyperfocal focus with it and it works well. I'm sorry that I can't help you with resources in Europe, but I would think that any competent repair service could take care of this for you.

Thanks Richard - this feels like a good news/bad news situation: apparently Im not a complete idiot, but on the other hand I now need to find someone who can fix the lens.
I really appreciate your input - thanks again

Bob Salomon
13-Jan-2020, 10:10
Each focal length lens has its own helical focusing mount. In fact, each 35mm lens from Rodenstock uses different helical mounts. The proper helical for your lens will have the same flange focal length as the lens without the helical.
It sounds that the lens you are using is in the wrong focusing mount.
Note, helical mounts for enlarging lenses are all the same. Unlike taking lenses.

ic-racer
13-Jan-2020, 11:35
the images are only really sharp for the first 3 or 4 meters in front of the camera

Large format cameras have higher levels of magnification than small hand-held cameras. This makes perceived depth of field smaller; due to the magnification. Focusing the view camera is the subject of whole books.

Corran
13-Jan-2020, 11:46
What lens and what aperture did you shoot at and what was your focus distance set to?

Does the Cambo have a ground glass back you can check focus/calibration with?

If you are trying to compose an image with a close foreground element, getting full DOF will be tough without movements. But as already said, sounds like you might simply have a calibration issue.

mani
14-Jan-2020, 01:19
Thanks for all the replies. I think I may have a go at calibrating the lens myself, based on this blog-post that I found:
https://jakehornphotography.com/blog/2016/2/19/fotoman-helical-calibration

mani
14-Jan-2020, 01:25
The lens on your camera is most likely a longer focal length than the one on your smaller camera. Therefore the depth of field at any given aperture is less.


Indeed - that's what I thought was my mistake, as described in my first post.
But if my initial assumption about how focussing works with a helicoid on large-format was actually correct, then the depth-of-field scales on each lens should obviously be correct for that lens. In other words, I wasn't reading the distance and infinity setting from a 35mm lens and transferring it directly to the LF lens, I was using the scale markings on the LF lens itself. But that didn't work as expected.

Jeroen
14-Jan-2020, 03:45
Supposedly *the* best ground glass available http://www.stabitech.nl/Bosscreen.htm, made in The Netherlands.

Cor
14-Jan-2020, 04:33
Supposedly *the* best ground glass available http://www.stabitech.nl/Bosscreen.htm, made in The Netherlands.

Unfortunately maybe already 16 years out of buisness ("Last update Jan. 11 2004"), I have tried to contact them 3 years ago, never heard back. You wonder why their webside is still up.

Best,

Cor

mani
14-Jan-2020, 07:14
Yes, unfortunately every time I see a ground-glass recommendation, it seems to be for a manufacturer that's been out of business for a while.

There are a lot of new ground-glass sellers on eBay, but it's difficult to know whether any of them are any good? Other than that, someone had recommended Canham gg - but the shipping cost to Europe doubled the price, so I reluctantly had to rule it out.

The only other option I see in Europe for a reputable and known manufacturer is Linhof - so I'll probably choose one of those.
I've watched probably hundreds of LF camera and equipment reviews on youtube now, and read at least as many, but items like the ground glass or recommendations for loupes don't really ever get a mention.

Oren Grad
14-Jan-2020, 08:16
But if my initial assumption about how focussing works with a helicoid on large-format was actually correct, then the depth-of-field scales on each lens should obviously be correct for that lens.

To use a depth of field scale, table or calculator effectively, it helps to learn about how depth-of-field is calculated. There is no one set of depth of field numbers that is "correct" for a given focal length and format. The numbers on a given lens or lens mount are based on the manufacturer's assumption about what circle of confusion (CoC) is appropriate. But depending on how much you intend to enlarge your pictures and how close and how critical a viewer you are, your CoC may be smaller or larger (more or less stringent), and your effective depth of field at a given aperture smaller or larger than the markings would imply.

mani
14-Jan-2020, 08:36
To use a depth of field scale, table or calculator effectively, it helps to learn about how depth-of-field is calculated. There is no one set of depth of field numbers that is "correct" for a given focal length and format. The numbers on a given lens or lens mount are based on the manufacturer's assumption about what circle of confusion (CoC) is appropriate. But depending on how much you intend to enlarge your pictures and how close and how critical a viewer you are, your CoC may be smaller or larger (more or less stringent), and your effective depth of field at a given aperture smaller or larger than the markings would imply.

Hi Oren - I know about circle-of-confusion and how depth-of-field should be calculated on that basis. My point in the section you quoted was that for a larger format, and a lens made for that larger format, the scales marked on that lens would be appropriate for that format, and not for some other arbitrary format. I think I was pretty clear.

The reason I'm asking about how this should work, was because in the landscape images that I'd photographed the background was not slightly out-of-focus consistent with 'stringent' viewing (nose pressed up against a large print), they were completely blurred - consistent with something totally wrong.

Richard Wasserman
14-Jan-2020, 08:39
To use a depth of field scale, table or calculator effectively, it helps to learn about how depth-of-field is calculated. There is no one set of depth of field numbers that is "correct" for a given focal length and format. The numbers on a given lens or lens mount are based on the manufacturer's assumption about what circle of confusion (CoC) is appropriate. But depending on how much you intend to enlarge your pictures and how close and how critical a viewer you are, your CoC may be smaller or larger (more or less stringent), and your effective depth of field at a given aperture smaller or larger than the markings would imply.

I generally stop down 2 stops from the settings I use on the scale. So if I put the infinity mark at f/8 I set the lens at f/16, and assume my depth of field is what it would be at f/8. This works well for me and I don't have to think too much. I print up to 16x20—if I were making larger prints I don't know if my method would still be ok as I have not tested it.

Oren Grad
14-Jan-2020, 09:16
Hi Oren - I know about circle-of-confusion and how depth-of-field should be calculated on that basis. My point in the section you quoted was that for a larger format, and a lens made for that larger format, the scales marked on that lens would be appropriate for that format, and not for some other arbitrary format. I think I was pretty clear.

The reason I'm asking about how this should work, was because in the landscape images that I'd photographed the background was not slightly out-of-focus consistent with 'stringent' viewing (nose pressed up against a large print), they were completely blurred - consistent with something totally wrong.

Understood, the issue that prompted your post is whether your helical is miscalibrated. How to use the scale effectively in practice once the calibration is correct is a separate question, but it sounds like you know what to look for in figuring that out.

FWIW, I have a Wide 750 as well. Very handy for fast working in the field, if a wide view is what you want. Good luck sorting out the helical, and enjoy!

Oren Grad
14-Jan-2020, 09:21
I generally stop down 2 stops from the settings I use on the scale. So if I put the infinity mark at f/8 I set the lens at f/16, and assume my depth of field is what it would be at f/8. This works well for me and I don't have to think too much. I print up to 16x20—if I were making larger prints I don't know if my method would still be ok as I have not tested it.

Yes, I think many of us figure out through experience some seat-of-the-pants approach that's "good enough" and lets us work quickly in the field.

mani
14-Jan-2020, 10:03
Understood, the issue that prompted your post is whether your helical is miscalibrated. How to use the scale effectively in practice once the calibration is correct is a separate question, but it sounds like you know what to look for in figuring that out.

FWIW, I have a Wide 750 as well. Very handy for fast working in the field, if a wide view is what you want. Good luck sorting out the helical, and enjoy!

Thanks Oren. I really enjoy using the Cambo - it’s given me a totally different and meditative experience shooting, and even these ‘failed’ images are lovely, if I can reconcile myself to looking at them at web dimensions (and that’s where c-o-c would be ‘acceptable’).

Emmanuel BIGLER
14-Jan-2020, 10:18
Hello from Good ol' Europe!

Coming back to the original question of a de-calibrated helical mount, it is easy to estimate the required helical travel that will properly focus to infinity.

Assume that when the helical is (erroneously) set-up for "infinity", the image is actually sharp at "D" = 3.5 metres.
The amount of required helical travel "T", shortening the lens-to-film distance, to properly focus a infinity, for a focal length "f", is given by:
T = f2/D
(Newton's formulae)
For example if your lens is a 150 mm, you have to shorten your lens-to-film distance by (150x150)/3500 = 6.4 mm
If your lens is a 90 mm, (90x90)/3500 = 2.3 mm.

If you have an infinity stop, unfortunately you cannot shorten the lens to film distance "beyond infinity", except if the helical as a whole can be moved by a few mm shortening the lens to film distance as indicated.

----

Regarding the supply of a simple ground glasses for a large format camera, there is somebody in France who is selling ground glasses at an affordable price; no web site, but he has communicated on the French LF forum and people seem to be satisfied.
He has an ad' on Le Bon Coin
https://www.leboncoin.fr/image_son/1597003390.htm/
See this discussion (in French ...) and as usual, "I am not affiliated, etc.."
http://www.galerie-photo.info/forumgp/read.php?6,181397

mani
14-Jan-2020, 12:13
That’s great - thanks for the information and the ground glass link, Emmanuel