View Full Version : new to lf

16-Feb-2009, 20:14
Hello I am new to the large format camera, i have done 35, medium format, and do mostly digital now but my father and i have been inspired to do large format, 4x5 to be exact. I was wanting to know if there is any books to get to better comprehend all aspects of these cameras. Also any books that would have kit plans in them (my father and i would like to build one, we both have years of woodworking so im sure we can handle anything.)

thanks for any information

John Schneider
16-Feb-2009, 21:28
Have you looked at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/?

John Kasaian
16-Feb-2009, 22:01
Just click on the lf homeage on the blue banner above for a ton of info to get you started.

Glenn Thoreson
16-Feb-2009, 22:31
Welcome to the world of the big negative. My suggestion for a beginner is always the same - it's just a camera like any other camera. A lens on one end and film on the other end of a container that you keep your dark in. There are differences in how much you can control perspective and plane of focus. These are things you can pick up as you go. Most beginners get too caught up in technical aspects to actually enjoy the benefits of the format. Go out and shoot, enjoy and learn. Building a large format camera can be as difficult or as hard as you want to make it. I've built many, from box cameras to monorails. One suggestion for bellows you might want to consider is the Sinar bellows. They are square, so you can easily utilize a revolving back, and they are plentiful and cheap. On the auction gizmo, you can find them for 20 bucks and up. They mount easily on home builts, too. I hope you enjoy your new venture. You will be very impressed with your first 4X5 negative.

17-Feb-2009, 07:46
Welcome, there are a few others from OK here also. I'm not that far from the border myself.
check out this thread:

17-Feb-2009, 07:58
Welcome! Glenn's right. Buy an old but working camera and go make photos. Whole kits: camera, lens, holders, etc. are easy to find. Have fun with the camera while you figure out how to build your own. Project cameras come along in the For Sale listings here. Making an old camera work again may be the way to learn if you want to tackle building your own from scratch.

Drew Wiley
17-Feb-2009, 09:51
If you make your own camera just be certain to select the wood not only for its machineability, but for the best dimensional stability possible. Among camera types being made, you will notice cherry, walnut, and mahogany among the favorites. But
true pattern grade mahogany is hoarded and very difficult to obtain. Camera manufacturers also store their wood for a very long time to obtain the best cure.
Things like bellows and groundglass are easy to acquire, but a set of focus racking and
gears will take a little more hunting, unless you have the ability to make your own;
or you could cannibalize this from an older camera. Have fun!

17-Feb-2009, 10:59
If buidling yourself, don't even slow down until you get to something BIG. I mean, why waste all that time and energy on a 4x5? You can buy better 4x5 cameras for less than the cost of materials to build it yourself. At least 8x10 or 11x14.

17-Feb-2009, 12:22
I am also thinking of going large when I build mine. Doug Bardell does sell plans:


He does answer his email and I think it costs $10-15 for a set of plans. Does anyone have any other plans or know of plans for sale?


Jim Rhoades
20-Feb-2009, 05:23
Venchka has a good point. You can buy a good Calumet 400 series for well under $100 Same for a working Graphic. That gets you started in L/F and you will learn what you want.

Then buy a old 5x7 Ansco for the metal parts. You could use those woodworking skills for a nice 7x17. That's what I have in my basement shop waiting for it's transformation.

Joe O'Hara
21-Feb-2009, 15:14
All the advice above is good. Just reading through all of the articles on the home page of this site would be a good start. "Camera and Lens" by Ansel Adams provides a comprehensive treatment of how to make the tools work for you. It is oriented towards using the camera, not building one. Other good references can be found on this site.