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View Full Version : Where do I begin? Canaham, Schneider, Training, etc.



timberline12k
4-Apr-2009, 15:17
I have debated whether I should take the plunge into large format photography, but realize I don't know enough about the subject to know where to begin. I took a stab at bidding on a used K.B. Canham DLC 4X5 metal field camera, but dropped out when it rose above $1,400. The camera is still listed and is only a year old and it looks like new ones sell for $2,300, but I don't have an idea what lens and other accessories would be required for a full set up.

I use a Nikon D700 with several lenses for most of my current photography needs, but would like to expand into large format. I would like to pair a DLS4/5 with the best Schneider landscape lens that can be used in the field. I would also like to estimate how much a full large format setup including camera, lens and accessories could cost. I can use my tripod and ball head that I use with my digital setup.

What can I do to become more familiar with what equipment is needed and where I could pick up a class or training on the subject?

Bob Salomon
4-Apr-2009, 15:19
Why not the best Rodenstock, Nikon or Fuji lens?

Richard Wasserman
4-Apr-2009, 15:23
Lots of information on the home page for this forum! Go to: http://www.largeformatphotography.info

BrianShaw
4-Apr-2009, 15:24
Why not the best Rodenstock, Nikon or Fuji lens?

Maybe because...

:D

BrianShaw
4-Apr-2009, 15:27
[QUOTE=timberline12k;455731]What can I do to become more familiar with what equipment is neededQUOTE]

How about doing some reading:

http://www.viewcamera.com/pdf/VC_Getting%20Started.pdf

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/

timberline12k
4-Apr-2009, 15:33
By the way, I have read both the suggested documents as well as others, but am interested in recommendations as to specific lens size, aperture, etc. I will probably research the heck out of this subject. - - - got to run, prom night and my daughter's date just rang the doorbell.

darr
4-Apr-2009, 15:52
Maybe for a starting point, look for a large format photo taken by another photographer that you would like to shoot. Find out which lens was used (or similar) and price it through a used dealer such as KEH.com (http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/CategoryTableOfContents.aspx?Mode=&item=0&ActivateTOC2=true&ID=59&BC=LF&BCC=7). As far as a folding camera box, I would start with a used and less expensive one, such as the Calumet, Speed Graphic, Toyo, Wista, and Zone VI field cameras. This way you get to try your hand at it and if you like LF, you can always upgrade later. My two cents. :)

h2oman
4-Apr-2009, 16:01
Here's an example of why you might look here for a while before buying on the auction site:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=41688

The impression I've had from the time I've spent here is that most members who are regular contributors and not just dropping in to sell stuff are pretty upright, and are fanatical about their equipment. I think that anything you bought from them would be pretty good. (For example the guy who was selling that camera seems to be a finicky machinist - I suspect it would have been in great shape.)

I've bought 3 lenses, all used, all in beautiful condition. One from a member here, one (I got lucky) on e-bay, one from Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo. I can't recommend him enough.

Whether you are going color or B&W, I'd say pick up a camera and a 135, 150 or 180mm lens and get rolling. Read somewhere about rise, fall, tilts and shifts. So far I have shot color transparencies just using my DSLR as a light meter with pretty good results - you could do the same, at least until you decide what light meter to get.

Michael_4514
4-Apr-2009, 16:01
David, your questions are impossibly broad. It's like asking "what kind of clothes should I wear?" There is no single answer to any of your questions. There are many good answers, but they represent the "right" answers that others have found for themselves. They may not be any good for you.

My suggestion would be to start simple. You should be able to find a 4x5 field camera and a decent lens for well under $1,000. The main thing is to start shooting some photos. See if you like the format. As you become more familiar with the format, you'll start to get a better sense of what will work best for you.

BrianShaw
4-Apr-2009, 16:15
but am interested in recommendations as to specific lens size, aperture, etc.

Schneider Symar S 135 or 150. Both are f/5.6. Either can be found in good shape at affordable prices. They are the best!

Ron Marshall
4-Apr-2009, 16:40
What subjects do you like to shoot with your D700? What focal lengths do you use with it? Are there other subjects you plan to shoot specifically with 4x5? What do you want to get from 4x5 that the D700 won't give you?

The answers to these questions will give us a better idea of what to recommend for you.

You can begin large format for a few hundred dollars, with an old monorail and one lens, or you can easily spend $10,000 for the latest and greatest. The extra money will give you some extra versatility and ease of use, but it won't necessarily give you better images.

Start with one used lens and a used camera. It is easy to re-sell LF gear.

Good luck.

Frank Petronio
4-Apr-2009, 16:47
After you're done burying the prom date out in your backyard, why not just purchase an outfit from some regular member here on the forum? Not only would you be helping them out by avoiding the hassles and risk of eBay, but you'll probably be overwhelmed with help. That's far better than most people ever got pre-internet.

Seriously, Steve G. has a nice Wista for $600 or maybe less, I see a bunch of high quality mid-range modern lenses, and if you ask around or post a "WTB" ad, there are plenty of people here happy to outfit you with holders, loupes, etc. Not only will you save money, but you'll know that the gear is tested and working. There are not many places online where you can buy something like that.

You could buy any popular camera and lens and "flip it" for near even money should you decide to get out of large-format or to continue on. Why spend $1400 on a camera when a $200 to $600 one will be more than suitable and probably withstand your beginner mistakes better too.

A lot of us still use the $269 cameras. (I do, and that was with the lens and six new holders.)

Nathan Potter
4-Apr-2009, 20:36
Large format is an adventure in uncertainty when starting out. Plunge in economically with a moderately good lens as has been said; a 150, 180, 210 is OK. You must have some idea of what you would like to shoot, so tell us. I started with an old Rochester (I think) wooden 5X7 with a rickerty lens, but at first it seemed wonderful. I learned a lot on that beastie. Then I borrowed a Linhoff Kardan 4X5 from the lab where I worked - learned a lot more - and so on. But the images that you get will have little to do with the camera, they will spring from your vision, your brain and your soul.

You can even start simply in LF and go for a pinhole.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Smart people live downwind from the cookie factory.

Kirk Fry
4-Apr-2009, 20:38
I started with a 210mm and a CC400 Calumet for ~$300. Don't forget all the other stuff unique to LF. Tripod, film holders, dark cloth, loupe, lens shade, film developing equipment (I use 5X7 pans). The import thing is to just do it. If after you shoot 50-100 pictures you will know if your really want to do it and upgrade, otherwise you can sell it again. Even though I love my Crown Graphic, I would not recommend it as a starter, the movements are too primitive as to be almost useless. Learn on a real view or field with movements. After you read the above books you gotta dive in. You also have to have a room you can make pitch black for loading holders and developing film.

Good luck.

timberline12k
4-Apr-2009, 22:45
Here's an example of why you might look here for a while before buying on the auction site:

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=41688

The impression I've had from the time I've spent here is that most members who are regular contributors and not just dropping in to sell stuff are pretty upright, and are fanatical about their equipment. I think that anything you bought from them would be pretty good. (For example the guy who was selling that camera seems to be a finicky machinist - I suspect it would have been in great shape.)

I've bought 3 lenses, all used, all in beautiful condition. One from a member here, one (I got lucky) on e-bay, one from Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo. I can't recommend him enough.

Whether you are going color or B&W, I'd say pick up a camera and a 135, 150 or 180mm lens and get rolling. Read somewhere about rise, fall, tilts and shifts. So far I have shot color transparencies just using my DSLR as a light meter with pretty good results - you could do the same, at least until you decide what light meter to get.
I am unable to access the for sale forum. I just set up my account and it may not have all the required settings in place. I receive the following message.

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timberline12k, you do not have permission to access this page. This could be due to one of several reasons:

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Steve Barber
5-Apr-2009, 00:10
Just my two cents worth, but I think this is a good place to start.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?p=455766#post455766

timberline12k
5-Apr-2009, 10:20
As a new member I have to wait 30 days to access the for sale/wanted forum.
That includes any links to that forum.

I will put this project on hold and revisit it next month.

timberline12k
5-Apr-2009, 17:38
Upon further research, I would like to learn more about the 5X7 / 6X17 format. What lenses would be used for landscape shots on the 5X7? What are the sharpest lenses? What lens would you use when you set up for a 6X17? Are there any sample photographs I could review to help me better understand what these formats can provide? Who makes a 6X17 LF camera?

Toyon
5-Apr-2009, 17:50
Sell the D700 while it still has some market value and buy a field camera from the "for sale" section. Buy a couple of lenses: Rodenstock, Fujinon, Schneider, Nikkor.... they will all give you outstanding performance - just read the description to be sure your getting a decent shutter and lens that is not fogged. Your not going to do very good work until you get a few hundred sheets of film under your belt, so invest your time, rather than your money. There will be plenty of opportunities to spend money down the line when you will have a better idea of how to direct it.

AJ Edmondson
5-Apr-2009, 18:39
While your questions are really general and I agree with others that it is very difficult to make specific recommendations I do agree that the best way (in your case) is probably to start off with a 4x5 monorail. The Calumet 400 Series (Short or Long Rail) can be picked up for around 100-150 dollars, afford you the opportunity to learn all of the camera functions and see if large format is really for you, and (at least for starters) allow you to contact print the negatives. Starting out with 5x7 is pretty expensive and 5x7 enlargers are (in my experience) really hard to find and pricey!
Good luck and I hope you do enjoy it if you "make the plunge." Also, study during the thirty day wait and if you don't see what you want in the classifieds, post your wishes. I don't think you'll find a better group of folks than those you'll encounter here.

Frank Petronio
5-Apr-2009, 18:48
You might want to visit a couple of local photo-orientated galleries or even the Hallmark Institute (isn't that in KC?) to see different kinds of work in actual prints, or befriend a real photographer who will spend some time showing you stuff, or somehow get to see things for real rather than just virtual.

We are all gear-heads here but still, the consensus is to start cheap and simple with basic, normal, classic equipment, i.e. 4x5 and learn how to achieve good results with that before investing a lot into exotica.

6x17cm on 120 roll-film is very nice, but most 6x17s are simple 120 cameras rather than full-fledged view cameras with movements. Just Google "6x17 camera". Basically you get a large pc of film with the simplicity of a primitive roll film camera (not a bad thing).

5x7 is also great but the film is more $ and harder to find, and the modern 5x7 cameras are more expensive than their 4x5 counterparts. Learn on a 4x5, you may want to jump to a different size later but nearly all the skills needed are identical between the camera sizes.

You maybe able to find an inexpensive deal on an 80- to 100-year-old 5x7 but that is almost a different hobby than photography itself. Stick to stuff from the 1950s onward for ease of use.

h2oman
5-Apr-2009, 18:57
The 30 day wait period before buying here will be a good idea! Spend that time thinking about the things people are telling you here.

bspeed
5-Apr-2009, 19:22
Welcome, dont forget to hang out with the film guys at nikoncafe, I see you are a member there, as I. :D

timberline12k
5-Apr-2009, 19:56
I have been really happy with my D700 and stable of 4 lenses, but would like to expand my capabilities with a LF camera. I think each have their place. The high ISO of the D700 combined with fast lenses allow me to take a lot of photos of my kids' sports and other events. I plan to move into HDR photography as well, but the LF offers benefits in other circumstances that are unavailable with digital.

I would like to use the LF equipment in areas of its greatest strength. I think that is in situations where you have time to set up the shot. In my mind that is nature, landscapes, and architecture. Thanks for your input; I will keep reading whatever is suggested to supplement my understanding. I may even go full circle and end up looking at a basic 4X5 LF camera and lens.

timberline12k
6-Apr-2009, 20:23
FYI
I am now able to view the For Sale / Wanted Forum. I probably had to wait a day.:)

Diane Maher
7-Apr-2009, 09:32
I would like to add that depending on what the weight capacity of your tripod and head is, you might need a new tripod. LF gear can be much heavier than your D700. My 4x5 weighs in at 6 lbs body only. It is a Toyo 45aII.

The other thing I would like to mention has been touched on briefly in this thread. Besides knowing what subjects you want to shoot with LF, you also need to consider what focal lengths you like to shoot. Not all cameras have the bellows length to use the longer focal length lenses.

timberline12k
7-Apr-2009, 09:43
I am interested in ultra wide, wide and normal perspective for landscape, nature and architecture.

I was hoping my current GITZO GT3541XLS tripod and Markins M20 w/QR-60 Quick Release Shoe would handle a LF camera, 4X5 up to 8X10.

I am clueless as to what is needed for post processing, darkroom equipment, etc. It would be great if I could start out by sending film to a lab for processing.

I think the equipment shown at this link is great, but I don't have any business entertaining something like this until I learn more about LF.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=47347&highlight=canham

timparkin
7-Apr-2009, 15:47
I am interested in ultra wide, wide and normal perspective for landscape, nature and architecture.

I was hoping my current GITZO GT3541XLS tripod and Markins M20 w/QR-60 Quick Release Shoe would handle a LF camera, 4X5 up to 8X10.

I am clueless as to what is needed for post processing, darkroom equipment, etc. It would be great if I could start out by sending film to a lab for processing.

I think the equipment shown at this link is great, but I don't have any business entertaining something like this until I learn more about LF.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=47347&highlight=canham

Get a cheap 90mm and 150mm. Although the conversion factors will say that to get the equivalent of ultra wide you need to have a 65mm large format lens, in actual fact lf lens seem to be naturally wider anyway - the widest you really want to go is 72 but even then the corners of the ground glass will end up dark and difficult to see the whole picture at the same time (thats hard enough once you are used to it - never mind starting!).

A 150 should give a nice bright image..

As far as film goes, get a quickload holder and use some Fuji Velvia or Provia (if colour is your bag) or Acros (if black and white). You can send these off to be developed without worrying about emptying darkslides etc and will get dust free transparencies back.

You need to get a spotmeter - I would highly recomend either the Kenko or Pentax (kenko are rebadged minoltas). Have a look at http://www.timparkin.co.uk for my (not cheap) entry into large format photography.

Your tripod will be more than good enough for a light 8x10 camera.

I would agree with the comments so far.. if you work out that you may lose 10% on a second hand purchase and calculate how much you would be willing to lose if you find out you didn't like LF then you have an idea of budget (e.g. I'd be OK with losing 200 if I didn't like LF so I could spend 2000 on a second hand outfit because I know I can sell it for 1800).

Hope that helps a little..

Tim Parkin

http://www.timparkin.co.uk

catshaver
8-Apr-2009, 15:48
As far as learning is concerned, visit the homepage (as was mentioned earlier) for information on the kind of things involved in using a view camera, and then get yourself into a workshop so you can see how it is done first hand. Do your reading first to understand the principles behind the movements.

I teach such a workshop in Wisconsin, but I'm sure that you can find one nearer to KC, or in other parts of the nation.

As far as a camera goes? I'm in agreement with the Calumet CC400 series as being a great camera for little money. I own three different versions of it and even carry it into the mountains with me.

Charlie Strack
8-Apr-2009, 16:22
Start by getting and reading Ansel Adams' Camera & Lens. He has much good advice to offer.