View Full Version : Best choice for landscape photography???

Robert Baumann
22-May-2002, 15:22
Have done 35mm extensively and a little MF work with borrowed equipment. Always lured by the high resolution/control of LF view cameras. Recently saw panoramic shots of landscape/ruins done in 6x17cm (Fuji GX617) and was enthralled. Want LF that can do 6x17cm, + other formats, and that is portable in the field. I am leaning towards a metal Canham with 6x17 back when available but worried about lack of support for 5x7 film si ze when not shooting 6x17. Any comments about best way to go? I love 1:3 panor amics and my goal is to make 1:3 and LF poster sized works. Is 8x10 portable wi thout a mule??? Any opinion and especially first hand experiences appreciated. Also any opinions about lens types and quality would be appreciated.

Ted Harris
22-May-2002, 16:04
I'll answer the last part of your question ..is 8x10 portable without a mule? Absoluely! I can shave the weight of my 8x10 field kit down to around 11 pounds + tripod and that includes two lenses. The trick is a light camera body and in my case that is a Phillips Compact II that is ~8 lbs. I say + tripod because that can be the backbreaker. I don't have a carbn fiber pod (but am thinking seriously about same) and the additional weight of my Ries pod and head double the weight but still managable.

Bjorn Nilsson
22-May-2002, 16:16
There are lots of information about 5X7 cameras (and film) on the large photography home page written and maintained by Q. Tuan Luong who happens to be the moderator of this forum. (A large format photography home page (http://www.ai.sri.com/~luong/photography/lf/).) About film choice for the full size sheet film, there are indeed not too many options, but that also depends on if you want to shoot color or b/w. 5X7 film isn't as readily available as 4X5 film, but you can find it. There are enough choices for b/w, and you could always cut 8X10 film to get two sheets of 5X7 if you want to. (The "receipe" is somewhere in the above mentioned link.) Or, you could get a 4X5 reducing back for the Canham.

Per Volquartz
22-May-2002, 16:43
Bergger, Kodak and Ilford distribute BW 5X7 film. Badger Graphics in WI sells 5X7 Provia and Velvia...

chris jordan
22-May-2002, 17:16
i'd recommend chosing between panoramic format and view camera. get either (or both) a 4x5 view camera, or a fuji 6x17. i am fortunate to have both, and each is lightweight enough to carry wherever i want to. a view camera that could support a 6x17 back would be large and cumbersome with sheet film holders as well as the 6x17 back and roll film, especially for someone new to LF photography. just my $.02...

Matthew Runde
23-May-2002, 22:09

You could make 4x5/5x7/8x10 images and crop them depending on the subject matter. I saw prints by a man who uses this technique, and he said that it gives him flexibility with the aspect ratio because he has additional information in the negative.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
23-May-2002, 22:16

You may also want to consider 4x10, which is pretty easy with the (wooden) Canham... However, like 5x7, one has to be 'creative' in order to get all the film stocks you want . I have been on and off 5x7 for about 15 years. The availability of 5x7 film isn't really that bad--most B&W films are manufactured. Fujichromes, as mentioned, are availble via Badger (or a bit cheaper if you have a friend in Japan). I am currently using EPY (from B&H) which is much cheaper--if you don't mind popping an 85B onto your lens before exposure.

Clayton Tume
24-May-2002, 00:03

If you want true panoramics (as opposed to cropped images) the only way to go is a rotating camera. 6x17 is limited to about 100 degrees horizontal view, a rotating camera will give you 360 degrees +.

The advantage of a rotating camera is small size and edge to edge sharpness because you only use the centre strip of the lens. Also you don't need a lens with big image circle (just enough to cover neg height).

I use a MF camera with 50mm Nikon lens, 55 degrees vertical view, a typical 360 will be 330mm long, double the length of a 6x17 and double the impact. I also use LF rotating cameras and 4 to 5 foot long negs is normal.

No I'm not a rotating camera freak.....I use 4x5 and 8x10 as well but these formats and 6x17 don't cut it when put up next to a 1:6 panoramic.

Here's a 360 shot that I've cropped to about 340 degrees.


24-May-2002, 11:17
The problem with 360 or 340-degree shots is that they have no relationship to human vision. Those "panoramas", IMHO, may hold some brief interest for some folks, but I see them as a useless gimick that tells us nothing about the world. Better to have 100-180 degree shots that relate to human vision.

Kevin J. Kolosky
24-May-2002, 17:12
I agree with you Art.

Robert Baumann
24-May-2002, 17:29
Just wanted to say thank you to all those who submitted their experiences/opinions - this was very helpful for me. Thank you.

Clayton Tume
24-May-2002, 20:22
Art and Kevin

I respect your views, no problem there and I certainly don't want to start a flame war but this is my view of extended panoramas.

Like you, a few years ago before I started shooting these panoramas, I thought of them as nothing more than a gimmic....I just didn't see the point of it all. Then I came across a vintage print and was totally blown away by the concept.....prior to that I'd never seen a good one in the flesh.

If well executed, extended panoramas, at what ever degrees of rotation they happen to be, exercise the mind of both viewer and photographer....we all know we can't see that much in one view but we can build up (with experience) a mental image of the view and in fact the photographer has to do that....there are no view finders or ground glass that will show such a wide image. And should an image challenge the thinking of a viewer?....I think so.....

You will also find a surreal element in some of them....there is an interplay of time and motion that is rarely seen in conventional panormas....we don't physically see this (when shooting) but the camera records it and we view it in the print.....call it another gimmic if you want but I think it opens up an area of image making worth investigating. Below is an example of what I'm talking about. http://www.bigshotz.co.nz/images/lambton_quay5.jpg This is a tiny section from 180 degree panorama, as you can see camera and subject movement have synchronised to give this effect. I'm not saying it's good, bad or desireable......it's simply shows there is some depth to these images that you might not have seen with casual observation. In fact I didn't see it in this image until about a week after I'd printed it....there is so much detail that in may be 6 months before you see the whole image.

I frequently have people who have bought my images telling me they make new discoveries in them everyday.

Of course human vision is nothing like 100-180 degrees, much less in fact but why should we limit ourselves to what we see?

As I said earlier, I respect your view and am happy to discuss extended panoramas or conventional panoramas any time.

Julio Fernandez
26-May-2002, 17:42
Robert: I have an overdue book from the library, now I know why: it was waiting for your question. This book deals in some detail with the varieties of panoramic cameras and the results you can expect from them. it is "Panoramic Photography" by Joseph Meehan, 1990, ISBN 0-81745384-2. Peronally I prefer the distortion (almost) free images from cameras like the Linhof 617 to those from rotating cameras but that is a matter of personal preference. Good luck.

John Kasaian
26-May-2002, 19:47
FWIW, I wouldn't loose too much sleep over the issue of format size. I think the old Cirkut cameras are great. I wish I could afford one. I think the old Korona 12x20 and 8x20s are great. I wish I could afford one of those too. I like the Linhoffs and Noblex 617s as well. Gosh I wish I could afford one of those! Even if I sold my mule I probably couldn't afford any of those cameras( theres always the lottery of course. I don't have any elderly rich relatives!) So I'll muddle along with what I've got. If what YOU'VE got is a 8x10, 5x7 , a Speed Graphic or an old TLR or a Holga, you're still in the game. IMHO, Its what you DO with your camera that matters most. Cheers!

Wayne Crider
28-May-2002, 19:38
Robert I think a couple of the things that one has to do in a decision making process such as this, is to consider how much time one has available to dedicate to the format based on what one expects in return, and what one will put up with to use it and at what "cost". From a get your monies worth (or satisfaction) viewpoint, overall, it's always easier to pickup a smaller camera and go out with it if you have a family, than if you don't and have time on your hands to kill. Only you can answer that.

You apparently not having dabbled in LF photography before, would be much better off renting an outfit and going out with a rollfilm back, say a 6x12, before making ANY investment. In it's use you'll learn much about what it takes to get those beautiful panoramic images from a large format perspective, and then what it takes to get them printed and at what price. Being a newbie, you need input, so rent first. After that experince decide if you are willing to put up with shooting in a slower more methodical way involving more steps, or if you would be happier with a sportier smaller camera like a Fuji or Tech among others. Those panoramics are nice, everyone likes a good one, but they are harder to shoot as many times the landscape won't fit the format. (Oh yea, remember to add in travel cost.) From a cost perspective I'd figure spending at least $2 to $3K on decent 8x10 LF equipment for 1:3; Printing is another expensive matter involving either top computer equipment (if you have it) for edits and prints or expensive lab prints. From reading many photographic books, I find most shooting Fuji's and Tech's for their panoramics.

John Kasaian
29-May-2002, 14:17
Robert, I apologize for my previous post thatsounds like I trivializing your question. Eqiuiptment costs big bcks and the experienced opinions of those on this forum are invaluable. What I meant to convey was that equiptment should not be more important than your own creative style. All the cameras you and the others have mentioned have been successfully used for landscapes. Using the camera (s)you now have will best help you to determin what and if more specialized equiptment will help you to achieve your vision. If you wait for the "perfect" camera, you'll probably have a long,long wait! Good Luck!

Christopher Condit
17-Sep-2003, 16:47
I had the panoramic bug for a while. I bought a Widelux, a Brooks Veriwide, and a Voigtlander 12mm; I rented a Technorama, and once I got up to 4x5, I bought the widest lens my camera could accommodate (65mm).

Then I lost the panoramic bug. It's true that good panoramics are very special, but it is also true that subject matter for them is relatively limited. Furthermore, not everyone is a natural panoramist -- I found out that I am not. So I sold the Voigtlander, and the Widelux and Veriwide are gathering dust in the closet. I don't use the 65mm much. But I *do* use my LF cameras.

I think you would be well served by a Canham or similar field camera. Before spending an additional grand and carrying the extra weight, try cropping your panoramas out of the LF view. Heck, cut out a cardboard viewfinder and tape it to the ground glass, it'll help with your visualization. I'm doing the same thing, though, paradoxically, to go square, as I now have the square bug.

If you go 5x7, you can always by the 6x17 back later, though I've never understood the point of them. I'd opt for the chopped dark slide, that turns one 5x7 into two 2.25x7's.

Final word: as a beginner, consider going 4x5 first, to take advantage of Quick/ReadyLoads. Simplify film handling, concentrate on the other beginner's mistakes you will need to be making ;-)


John Kasaian
17-Sep-2003, 17:48
Wow! what a blast from the past this is...in case Robert is still in the market, he might try looking for an Agfa 5x7 Universal. I paid less than $100 for mine(with a lens!)---seems to be the going price--- but it has a back with sliders a la Deardorff, which will allow you to shoot two 2-1/2"x7" on a 5x7 sheet of film. This has got to be one of the cheapest entries into panoramas going.----cheers!