View Full Version : Hello Large Format

Thomas Bertilsson
15-Dec-2007, 22:39
...or something resembling of that. 4x5 and 5x7 almost seems like small format these days when your hear about folks doing 16x20 collodions...
Anyway, I've been favoring my medium format cameras for a long time now, and I will of course continue to use them, but I have a brand new Osaka 4x5 rig with a couple of nice lenses, and just recently acquired an old Century No 2 with a wonderful Voigtlander Heliar 240mm lens that I plan on using for portrait/figure work.

The type of information I'm seeking is how to use the LF gear better and more efficiently, especially in processing film. I've tried a few methods with developing film and found I get my best results with a slosher tray and a dark green safelight to develop by inspection. It's just not very efficient. I think I have almost 100 sheets just lying around, waiting to be developed...

Anyway, I've been shooting 4x5 for about two years, and been serious about photography for about six years. I'd like to learn better ways with my sheet film cameras so that I'm drawn to them, as opposed to looking at them like they're a wonderful format but that's a pain in the neck when it comes to film processing, dust, time to set up, etc.

Hope to partake in some good discussions here.

- Thomas

Kirk Gittings
15-Dec-2007, 22:57
Welcome. The first thing to do is some searches around issues that you have. As an archive this site is amazing going back many years.

15-Dec-2007, 23:14
Welcome. You will find some people here with an unbelievable amount of knowledge and very generous with their time. Enjoy the journey!


Ralph Barker
15-Dec-2007, 23:23
Welcome, Thomas.

15-Dec-2007, 23:26
Well, hell.

I'll be the fourth New Mexican in a row to welcome you.

Hello and Happy Holidays.

David Karp
15-Dec-2007, 23:43
Well, sorry to break up the N.M. streak! Welcome from California. This is a nice virtual place to visit regularly.

Brian Bullen
15-Dec-2007, 23:44
Welcome Thomas, enjoy the forum.
I can't really help you with processing film because I like to stand in the dark with my fingers in the chemicals, but a search will yield numerous different methods. If you are thinking you might like drum processing,ie Jobo, unicolor, a number of people like that method and are happy to answer questions. Just ask and ye shall receive.

Jim Galli
16-Dec-2007, 00:00
Welcome! A 5X7 with 240mm Heliar is an irresistable combination. For me a Jobo processor makes all the difference. I have the opposite problem. I shoot with the Autocord and the film lays in a drawer waiting.

John Kasaian
16-Dec-2007, 00:32
Welcome aboard!

Joakim Ahnfelt
16-Dec-2007, 05:51
Welcome Thomas.
From Sweden I presume?

Ted Harris
16-Dec-2007, 07:00
Welcome Thomas,

If you click on "LF Home Page" on the menu at the top of the page it will take you to the Forum's Home Page and all manner of articles on everything Large Format.

Thomas Bertilsson
16-Dec-2007, 07:20
So far - thank you for your heart felt welcome! Especially from NM!
Jim, I'll probably mount that other lens I bought from you on the 5x7 eventually, although it's on my 4x5 sometimes with wonderful results. I attached an image that I made with that lens last October.
Joakim, I am originally from Sweden but moved to the US in -01. Bodde i Helsingborg innan jag flyttade. Var ar du ifron?
Ted, I'll study those articles for sure.

To clarify, I am aware of the various methods of deep tank, gas burst, daylight tank, drum, and tray development. I've tried it all except gas burst but like to develop by inspection best. All I need is the trays, green light, and a metronome. It's pretty fascinating really, but I can do six sheets at a time, and that's it. So I'm looking to refine that method since I'm very trigger happy. If I bring thirteen holders with me, I burn through it all usually.

Anyway, Happy Holidays to all. I shall dig into the forums now...

- Thomas

steve simmons
16-Dec-2007, 08:49
OK, back to New Mexico:)

I would suggest some reading. Here are the books I usually suggest

Jim Stone's User's Guide to the View Camera
Jack Dykinga's Large Format Nature Photography
Using the View Camera that I wrote.

any/all are very good books as an introduction.

The Free Articles section on the view camera web site has several articles that might be helpful to you.

Search the archives here.

I am a fan of tray development. I've done it for almost 30 years with great success. I can do 6-8 sheets simultaneously but each one for a different development time. I taught myself development by inspection but time and temp with consistent agitation works so well I gave up the safelight.

steve simmons

Wayne Crider
16-Dec-2007, 09:17
I think the real commitment to photography is not in the shooting but in the work that follows. Having tried multiple developing regimes including dbi, I've settled on shooting less, but hopefully better. This after burning thru 20 film holders in an afternoon once. If I do find myself in a situation where I may shoot many pictures I now take my mf or 35mm camera individually or in addition and soon my repaired 6x9 Graphic.

Brian Ellis
16-Dec-2007, 12:38
With respect to your question about development, there are at least two possibly faster ways than what you're doing. One is a Jobo system. I've only used that system briefly but I understand that their drums will allow you to develop 10 sheets at a time. The other is the BTZS tubes. Much less expensive than Jobo and depending on how quick and agile you are and how big your sink is, you probably could do as many as about 12 sheets at a time if you bought 12 tubes. In general, though, speed and volume aren't advantages of LF photography.

Don Boyd
16-Dec-2007, 14:19
Another New Mexico welcome (Las Cruces). (Apparently every other person in this state is a large format . . . . a-h-h-h person.) When I shot medium format I exposed more film, but in truth I wanted to shoot more slowly and deliberately yet. Large format has forced me to slow down to the speed of my seeing-processing, which is to say s-l-o-o-o-w, so the frustration is self-prescribed and much deserved. My deepest desire is to catch up to my slowness. I "digitally" print my film after it's been developed so can't speak to the joys or pain of processing your own film.

I have learned much from the knowledge and generosity of others here and am still amazed at the patience of those who have forgotten more than I will ever know. So, consider no question too basic nor any musing on the art too beyond the pale as not to catch someone's interest and response. Best of luck on your journey.

17-Dec-2007, 07:54
Welcome Thomas.
Take good care of that Century No.2 and when you outgrow it pass it along like I did :)
I'm finding that I shoot a lot more 8x10 than anything else, even now that I have all three available.

I can't really help you with developing. I started with Jobo drums/rollo pyro and 4 years later that's still all I've used. Per Volquarts told me to stick to one thing and learn it really well and here I am.

Good luck.


17-Dec-2007, 08:19
And yet one more New Mexican bids you welcome- and Happy Holidays.

Ditto Don Boyd's well considered comments.

Photography is heavily constrained by equipment- and you have an excellent combination to use- so there will be no excuses- we expect to see marvelous images! Many people try to many combinations, searching for a magic bullet- some of photography's finest image makers possessed only one lens and camera and perhaps because of that simplicity and directness, created superb art. Better to learn 99% of what there is to know about a single set of equipment than 40% of a huge set of permutations and combinations.


Thomas Bertilsson
18-Dec-2007, 16:33
I thank you all for your insightful comments. I too find simplicity refreshing. The best work I've ever done is with either a Rolleiflex TLR, or a Holga. Know the shortcomings and use them to your advantage.
Less is more, I think, and it really helps you see to keep it simple.

I think what I need to practice is to constrain myself and learn when NOT to pull the trigger on something. The most fun I've ever had with a camera is roll film on my 4x5. I'm more and more viewing that as a viable option, because it does slow me down and helps me think more about each scene and capture. I find that it takes me much longer to use up a roll of 120 with the 6x7 roll back than a similar roll of 6x6 in either the Rolleiflex or the other MF cameras I have.

Thanks again for taking time to reply. Very helpful comments.

- Thomas

Jan Pedersen
18-Dec-2007, 20:19
Hello and welcome to the large side Thomas, that was about time but glad you finally found it.

Diane Maher
19-Dec-2007, 08:34
Welcome from St. Louis, MO.