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megapickle1
19-Jul-2011, 10:46
Hallo largefomat experts. I need your help and advice to assemble a large format system for me, an absolutely newbie.
I`m lurking for several month at this forum because, not at least infected by the great Josef Sudek, it is my dream to do large format photography. Spoiled by the amenities of MF-Systems I am not able to decide what would be the right large format system for me.
In large format I want to photograph still lives, people, landscapes and interiors. I think, the camera should have 5x7 format, a revolving back and the possibility to use 4x5 backs for polaroids. As I have some monetary limits the gear must not be the very best but it should be tough and should work precisely.
I ask you for your kind suggestions regarding camera system and lenses and some hints regarding the film to use.
Thank you and excuse for this long post.
George

Ari
19-Jul-2011, 10:58
Hi George,
There's a wealth of information on the forum, just do a search.
In buying a camera outfit, you may go through several cameras or methods of working before finding the equipment and approach that suit you best.
It's a process, and there is no perfect camera for everything and everyone.
Start simply: basic camera, lens for about $200-$300 and go from there.
Only by actually working with the tools will you see their pros and cons.
But do more research as well.
Good luck!

rdenney
19-Jul-2011, 11:51
I think, the camera should have 5x7 format, a revolving back and the possibility to use 4x5 backs for polaroids. As I have some monetary limits the gear must not be the very best but it should be tough and should work precisely.

There is an old saying among telescope makers who grind their own mirrors: "If you want to grind a 12" mirror, grind a 6" mirror first." The idea is that what you learn with the smaller mirror will allow you to save more time than it cost to grind it when grinding the 12" mirror.

Thus, I would recommend starting with 4x5, and seeing if large format is for you before attempting 5x7. 5x7 is a middle format, and probably the least well supported with available good cheap stuff compared with either 4x5 or 8x10. Thus, it tends to be pricier than either.

But it is quite easy to fulfill all your requirements in 4x5.

The rotating back is not as useful as you might think. I have cameras with it, and cameras without it, and find that while I use it if it's there, I never miss it when it's not.

I believe that the best first 4x5 camera for one who wants to work on a tripod is a metal monorail view camera. It is more flexible than any others, often better made, cheaper in the market because of excess supply and utilitarian image, and, most importantly for beginners, easy to understand.

Cameras that fulfill your requirements include such as a Cambo SCII (which has a rotating back), which was also sold as a Calumet 45n, a Sinar F (no rotating back but as I said you won't miss it), and a Calumet CC-400. These range in price from $100-200 for the Calumets to $300-400 for the Sinar, not including needed accessories and lenses (though one lens may be included). The Sinar and Cambo (including the Cambo-made Calumet 45n) are the most modular and flexible, and both are strongly supported with a range of parts and accessories on ebay. The Sinar lacks the rotating back (though you won't miss it) but it is part of a better made system overall. If you then buy a Sinar 5x7, all your lens boards and most other accessories wills still work.

Buy one of these and use it. Then, if you decide to go a different direction or to make the jump to a larger format, you'll be able to sell it for what you paid for it and it will have been like free rent. Most of what you buy to go along with it, including lenses, if selected carefully, will work with other cameras and even the 5x7 format. For example, you might have a choice between a 120-ish mm plasmat or a Super Angulon for a lens of that focal length. The Super Angulon will also serve as an excellent strong wide for 5x7, because it has sufficient image circle to cover the larger format. That's an example of choosing carefully to support a later switch to 5x7.

Rick "thinking an all-metal quality monorail is a better beginner choice than most others" Denney

Leigh
19-Jul-2011, 12:12
Hello, George, and welcome aboard. :D

Permit me to make a couple of observations...

One major consideration when looking at different formats/sizes is the availability of lenses. You'll find a much greater range and selection available for 4"X5" than for larger formats.

For example, I have twelve lenses for my 4x5, from 65mm to 360mm, almost a 6:1 range. In contrast, I only have four lenses for my 8"x10" camera, from 240mm to 450mm, less than a 2:1 range. As the format gets larger, the selection of lenses that will cover the film decreases dramatically.

In selecting lenses, there are two parameters of interest: 1) image circle diameter, and 2) flange focal length (FFL).

The image circle (IC) is the area that's illuminated by the lens. It's usually specified at f/22, although for some lenses it's at f/16. Also it's typically spec'd for subjects at infinity, although for macro lenses it's normally given for images at actual size (1:1 ratio), which is about twice the size for a subject at infinity.

The IC determines how much movement you can use with the lens mounted on the camera. You can move the lens up and down (rise and fall) or side to side (shift) until the edge of the image circle hits a corner of the film. Any further movement will cause vignetting of the image.

The FFL determines whether or not you can focus a lens at infinity on a particular camera. The FFL is the distance from the front of the lensboard to the film, and is usually not equal to the optical focal length of the lens. In fact it can be quite a bit different, usually longer than the optical FL for short lenses, and shorter than the FL for long lenses.

The longest FFL that a camera can support is achieved with the bellows at its maximum extension. However, to focus on subjects closer than infinity, the lens must move away from the film, so you need more bellows extension for practical use. To focus at life size (1:1), the lens must extend forward from its infinity position by a distance equal to its optical focal length.

Both the IC and FFL parameters are found on the data sheets for all modern lenses. Those values for vintage lenses can usually be found on the internet.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm suggesting a 4x5 format rather than 5x7, mainly due to the availability of a large selection of inexpensive equipment. If you really want a 1.4:1 aspect ratio (5x7) rather than 1.2:1 (4x5), you can always crop the image when you print it.

Regarding film...
I only shoot black & white in LF, and always slow films, so I use Fuji Acros (100 speed) or Ilford FP4+ (125). Both films yield superb definition and gray scale. If you're shooting in low light with long exposure times, use Acros. It requires no reciprocity correction up to 120 seconds, and only 1/2 stop from there to 1000 seconds.

Anyhow, just some suggestions. Welcome, and let us know how we can help.

- Leigh

megapickle1
19-Jul-2011, 12:31
Thank you all for your kind answers.
Why 5x7? Simply because Im 64 and my eyes are not the best anymore. So it would be easier for me to look on an 5x7 screen an get the focus right I think. I know, that 5x7" is no more supplied sufficiently. Certainly an 8x10 system would be my favorit but these cameras are really pricey, huge and heavy and not the most comfortable to walk around with them. As I lurked around for long time in this forum I know about the lens restictions in larger formats eg. 5x7 or 8x10. I know so well, that my first attempts will be very dolorous and Im prepared to get some fillips. The first photographs will be very disappointing for tend to perfectionism. You`ll heare me cursing around. But my
asking you all was about what camera system would cover my wishes. Is it Toyo or Canham or Wista, Wiesner, Linhof etc.
Thank you again for your patience with an old jerk.
George

megapickle1
19-Jul-2011, 12:44
And I have to mention that I`ll have to learn all the process, loading film (I have no darkroom) avoiding dust, set the camera, look and compose with a reversed picture on the groundglass, find the focus, think about adding exposure time for closeups and, and, and...... But I`m a bullheaded guy, I want to learn it and instantaneously please. The photographs I have seen from the masters are itching my soul. It makes me impatient and nervous not to be able to do like them.
Sorry, that kind of man I am. Born in April you know.... not very easy to deal with.
Cheers
George

cjbroadbent
19-Jul-2011, 12:55
George,
Start at the other end. Are you going to print contacts without an enlarger - are you going to enlarge - are you going to just scan your negatives and make ink-jet prints?
Any old 5x7 or even 8x10 for contact prints, a 4x5 with a 3-way front for enlarging, an un-fussy 4x5 for scanning.
One lens (only one) as near in focal length to the length of your film format. For real fun, an old iris lens holder on an extra board, for trying out brass lenses.
No rotating back, no reducing back. Use a digiroid. Polaroids cost more than film and supply is uncertain.
The less gear you have, the more you'll get done.

Ivan J. Eberle
19-Jul-2011, 13:03
5x7 might be a nice size to work with if contact printing portraits or alternative process prints. It's handy for scanning with a cheap flatbed scanner. Likely too is that if B+W is still going to being done optically with an enlarger there a quality advantage over 4x5 that might be noticed printing outsized prints.

For most folks, these attributes are going to be greatly offset nowadays by a couple of other practical considerations. First, are you going to shoot color? I ask because 5x7 and larger color film has very poor to non-existent availability. Second is that scanning-to-hybrid printing is good for a resolution gain approximately equal to a format jump. Outrageously large prints can be made from 4x5, and from panoramic 120 film cameras. Third, all these will have a great many more choices in optics at the extremes. Too, as commercial photographers abandon 4x5, common wide angle and and normal lenses (and studio monorail cameras) are practically being given away typically at 1/5 to 1/10 of what they originally cost new.

P.S. a pair of strong diopter reading glasses made a huge difference for me using a 4x5... First ones I ever bought at age 48 were specifically for under the darkcloth and it's made 4x5 use much more enjoyable.

Jeff Keller
19-Jul-2011, 13:20
"I want to photograph still lives, people, landscapes and interiors." ... with the exception of landscapes, it sounds like weight is not a big issue and that a monorail would be a good match. Sinar is a good one to consider. It would be easy to get 4x5 then add 5x7 parts to what you previously got. They can handle very short or very long focal lengths by adding the appropriate pieces.

"Is it Toyo or Canham or Wista, Wiesner, Linhof etc." sounds like you are leaning towards lighter more portable cameras than the typical monorail.

The box cameras (Linhof Technika, Wista, Horseman HD) are the easiest to carry arround but generally don't have the range of movements of a monorail.

The Canham (for me) is a great choice. It and many cameras don't have a rotating back but the back is easily removed, rotated, and clipped back in place to change between landscape and portrait formats. The Canham MQC (5x7) has great bellows range and movements. It is light and small enough to easily carry. 4x5 adapters are readily available although not inexpensive allowing you to shoot 4x5 or 5x7 with the same camera.

With LF vs 35mm you would probably find yourself shooting the equivalent of shorter focal lengths. With your background in MF your most used equivalent focal lengths probably wouldn't change but long focal lengths are more challenging for a LF setup. The extremes are the most difficult or impossible for the box cameras.

Welcome and good luck,
Jeff Keller

megapickle1
19-Jul-2011, 14:05
Thank you again for your kindness! Really, you all are very patient and kind with me.

I think I have to clear up the screens. Look, Im 64, so (I think) I have no time for experiments. I have no darkroom, Im not doing any developing work or printing at home. I use to hand over all this to my lab. I want to make the last investment of my life in photographic gear and buy a large format camera system (camera and lenses). This, for me totally new field, will occupy all my remaining time beside my job and this is a very short period in my case. I have made only 32 photographs (MF) this year, its a shame and I am very disappointed about it. And angry about me too.

I dont think about contact prints or similar things, not about developers and developing times or the paper for printing. I know, this behavoir is not appropriate to a large format photographer. All I want to do is to find the right locations (a work of several weeks) and make some satisfying (me) photographs. I am only interested in results and they have to be excellent. A crazy man, isn`t me?

From all your hints I have learned, that a monorail system will supposably the right gear for my appraoch to large format photography. I think, a "normal" lens (250mm) and a wideangle (120mm) will be sufficient. I have a sturdy tripod for my RB67 and I believe it will work well with large format too.

Oh my God, you all are so kind and I am impatient like a child. Sorry!

Thank you and good night (its 11 p.m. in Germany).
George

ashlee52
19-Jul-2011, 16:49
Whatever screen size you use... 4x5 or 5x7 you will want to use a magnifier to focus anyway. I would be very surprised to find many labs which can process 5x7... certainly 4x5 is a more commercial standard. In 4x5 a 210 mm lens is remarkably versatile. The other "standard" lens size is 150mm. I often prefer the coverage of a 135but know that these have much less movement possible. 120mm is an odd size but an old 120mm Angulon would give you quite a bit of movement. The lenses used by most of the great large format photographers throughout history would often be considered pretty crappy these days... which is to say that you can make exceptional pictures with very old and inexpensive lenses. Compared with your RB67 which is a wonderful camera, everything will be harder at every step, especially since Polariods and Quick Loads are no longer available. Unless money is no issue, then home developing and scanning negatives to print digitally is often the cheapest, easiest, most practical path. There are not too many pictures you can take with a large format camera that you can not take well with an RB67, particularly if you scan negatives and can adjust perspective in photoshop... to me it is more about the effect that the slow bulky gear has on the photographer and the subject.

rdenney
19-Jul-2011, 19:28
...I have no darkroom, Im not doing any developing work or printing at home. I use to hand over all this to my lab.

...I dont think about contact prints or similar things, not about developers and developing times or the paper for printing.

You have limited time and I fully sympathize with that position. You have no intention of doing your own processing at all. So, before even contemplating what camera you might use, you MUST identify where you will get your film processed. This is a requirement. If you can't find a lab that can do 5x7 (and few do), then it is not the appropriate choice for your intentions. Once you have identified a stable lab service, then buy accordingly. I still think you will end up with 4x5--it is the most compatible with a person of limited time without giving up superior image quality.

Rick "noting that the workflow is more demanding than the camera choice" Denney

falth j
19-Jul-2011, 19:36
George,


Just my opinion from the little knowledge I had of LF photography when I started out on my LF adventure.


I was in your shoes not too long ago.


I have changed my ideas over time, but the best experience was to start with a 4x5 monorail that was decently built and plentiful.


Get a popular, decent monorail.


A monorail that is widely used and accepted in the LF community will have an abundance of ‘parts’ or accessories available, to build up a ‘system’ of lenses, bellows, backs, etc.


From a basic 4x5 camera, you can experiment, and have more readily available the different ‘parts’ you may/will want to buy to adjust and expand as your interests multiply.


The knowledge you will gain with a cheap 4x5 camera will serve you well, and once you understand the processes of LF photography, you will clearly be able to make a more educated interpretation of your needs, wants, and desires in a different style of camera other than a monorail, or format change if that should be the case as you gain LF maturity.


With a monorail, your chances of being constrained by mechanicals, will be minimalized if you purchase a decent, popular camera.

megapickle1
20-Jul-2011, 11:27
Hello, Im back from work. And I have learned today that Fuji has discontinued FB100B 4x5 last year. What now? How to proof the shutter/exposure? It is easyer to win a lottery-jackpot than to get the right exposure with an unknown shutter. And every shutter is an unknown shutter for the first year in use. Bracketing is no way and expensive ($15 per shot=film, development, contactprint,scan).
In the afternoon I was up to throw away my plans regarding large format and buy some dope instead and watch as times go bye. GGGGG
So what, I have to find some Polaroid left over somewhere in the world.
Cheers
George

Leigh
20-Jul-2011, 12:09
And every shutter is an unknown shutter for the first year in use.
George,

You're making up problems that don't exist.

I started shooting, developing, and printing when I was 9 years old, and I'm older than you. I've never had an exposure error caused by the equipment. :eek:

Any modern shutter will hold speeds within 10% or so, except for the fastest speed, which is just there as a marketing gimmick. If you use a dial-set Compur or Ilex or other ancient shutter, you might have a problem. Stick with a modern Copal shutter, and it will still meet spec long after you've quit shooting. :rolleyes:

Unless you're doing technical photography in the lab for scientific research, exposure simply does not need to be that precise. Modern black & white films will tolerate an exposure error of a full stop with no degradation of image quality.

Just buy a good exposure meter, learn how to use it, and calibrate your system.

- Leigh

rdenney
20-Jul-2011, 12:30
Hello, Im back from work. And I have learned today that Fuji has discontinued FB100B 4x5 last year. What now? How to proof the shutter/exposure? It is easyer to win a lottery-jackpot than to get the right exposure with an unknown shutter. And every shutter is an unknown shutter for the first year in use. Bracketing is no way and expensive ($15 per shot=film, development, contactprint,scan).

You'll have to calibrate your system no matter what.

You can, however, still get the quarter-plate size Fuji instant film (FB100B without the 45 suffix). It is 3-1/4 by 4-1/4, but holders for it are made for 4x5. It's much cheaper than the 4x5, too.

The 4x5 Fujiroid is not cheap, either. In color, Fujiroid costs about $3 a picture.

You can also measure your shutter speeds well enough using a sound-card tester that is easy to build for a few dollars, or easier to by from ebay for a very few dollars more. For the speeds we use in large format, it's accurate enough for transparency film which is far more demanding than black and white.

A note on shutter speeds: Typical apertures for large format are f/22 and smaller. Using 100-speed film at f/22 in a view camera provides an exposure of 1/50 or thereabouts in bright sun. It is rare indeed that you will need shutter speeds faster than that. Most of my own shots seem to be in the 1/15 to 1-second range. A tester does not need to be very sophisticated to measure speeds in this range with sufficient accuracy.

Rick "warning of seeking precision greater than needed accuracy" Denney

megapickle1
20-Jul-2011, 13:17
@leigh @rdenny
My dear teachers (and I mean this sincerely). I am sure, you are doing all darkroom work by yourself including printing.
Working with my RB67 my experiance is that my well maintained lenses (leaf shutters) all have different speeds. Now I know them and I rareley need a polaroid proofing. I`m working with a 1 Pentax spot-meter all the time. Im not afraid of exposure times of 1/2 second or longer. But I know that my 180mm lens will give me 1/4 sec. at 1/8 sec. or the 250mm lens is off 1/2 f-stop.
My plan is to contract models and take some photographs in the nature (no! no nudes). There I have to be absolutely sure about the right exposure because light is changing and the mood is changing too. A re-shoot will be very expensive for an amateur. Sometimes, so my experience, a 1/3 f-stop changes the whole picture. That are my fears. Sorry to be so anxious and want to do it perfect from the very first shot.
George

rdenney
20-Jul-2011, 13:44
My plan is to contract models and take some photographs in the nature (no! no nudes). There I have to be absolutely sure about the right exposure because light is changing and the mood is changing too. A re-shoot will be very expensive for an amateur. Sometimes, so my experience, a 1/3 f-stop changes the whole picture. That are my fears. Sorry to be so anxious and want to do it perfect from the very first shot.
George

I usually shoot transparency film with a dynamic range of about five stops. My shutters are all over the place. I measured them with a tester for which I paid $30, which is plenty adequate for the shutter speeds I'm likely to use.

Do not expect perfection if you do not intend to rehearse. The situation you describe cannot be resolved using instant film--the changing light won't give you time.

Instead, you may to trade some dollars in if you are going to be that sort of perfectionist. Send your new shutters to a shop for an overhaul, and they will come back accurate at least within a quarter stop, or will have a report showing what the actual speeds are. This is NOT difficult to do. Few do this, however, because it's so easy to test your shutters for yourself. Large format shutters have no integration with a camera body and are easy to test. You are making this much harder than it needs to be.

If you depend on others to do your black and white, then you have to test them as much as you test yourself. Color is more consistent and predictable with a good lab. It has been a long time since I processed my own black and white, though I intend to get back into it at some level. With scanning and digital manipulation, it's easier now than it ever was. But I've depended on lab service for the last 18 years.

I fear you are trying to start at the end instead of at the beginning. Give yourself some time to practice before hiring the models--it will really reduce your stress levels.

Rick "wondering if you really want to do this, given the roadblocks you keep throwing up" Denney

Joseph Dickerson
20-Jul-2011, 14:03
No silly question are possible until you've ask the same one more than 6 times!:confused:

I second what RD has to say...and will add that you should query your local community colleges or universities and see if you can't perhaps find one that teaches large format photography. Where I am (California) they are scarce but they do exist.

Also check for any Photo/Camera clubs or guilds with members who shoot large format.

After all, you are in the homeland of Der Linhof!

Film processing (4x5 or 5x7) can easily be done in a temporarily darkened bath room (loo?) and film loading in a changing tent or bag. I converted a small (really small) half bath for film processing using a JOBO processor. You can load your film into the processing tanks using the changing bag and do the actual developing in room light if need be. Look into JOBO or HP Combi tanks. Stay away from the Yankee daylight tanks. My experience with them is that it's impossible to get even agitation with them.

Good luck and keep checking in...you'll find that there is/are no shortage of opinions or helpful folks around here. We all started exactly where you are...step 1!

JD

Leigh
20-Jul-2011, 14:06
Working with my RB67 my experiance is that my well maintained lenses (leaf shutters) all have different speeds.
But I know that my 180mm lens will give me 1/4 sec. at 1/8 sec. or the 250mm lens is off 1/2 f-stop.
There's something seriously wrong with your equipment. If you're getting those results after a shutter has been serviced, find a different shop.

I repair LF shutters/lenses, and have for many decades. I would never let a shutter out of the shop with any error approaching the values you give.

- Leigh

Valdecus
20-Jul-2011, 22:49
George, where in Germany are you located?
There are still a few large format photographers over here, many of them willing to answer your questions and help you find the right equipment. A good starting point would be a German large format photography forum here:
http://forum.grossformatfotografie.de/

Cheers,
Andreas

neil poulsen
21-Jul-2011, 07:07
I think that it's important for us to understand what kind of photography you prefer.

Do you like landscapes, portraiture, architecture, interior architecture, etc? Do you prefer black and white over color, or vice versa? What sized prints to you want to create?

BetterSense
21-Jul-2011, 07:56
And I have learned today that Fuji has discontinued FB100B 4x5 last year. What now? How to proof the shutter/exposure? It is easyer to win a lottery-jackpot than to get the right exposure with an unknown shutter.

Are you shooting transparency film or something? I find that for B&W film, I can get good exposures with shutters based solely on how fast the shutter SOUNDS to my ears. You can usually tell within a stop or two just by listening...

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 10:25
George, where in Germany are you located?
There are still a few large format photographers over here, many of them willing to answer your questions and help you find the right equipment. A good starting point would be a German large format photography forum here:
http://forum.grossformatfotografie.de/

Cheers,
Andreas

Hello Andreas, Im located in Munich!
George

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 10:29
I think that it's important for us to understand what kind of photography you prefer.

Do you like landscapes, portraiture, architecture, interior architecture, etc? Do you prefer black and white over color, or vice versa? What sized prints to you want to create?

Hello Neil! I like landscapes, portraiture, interiors and still live. I prefer b/w for portraiture and still live and colour for landscapes and interiors. Print size depends to the people who want to buy some of my photographs.

George

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 10:34
Are you shooting transparency film or something? I find that for B&W film, I can get good exposures with shutters based solely on how fast the shutter SOUNDS to my ears. You can usually tell within a stop or two just by listening...

Hello BetterSense. Actually I shoot nothing in large format because I have no gear for.
Next week I get a 4x5 Technika lent to test my skills and to learn the procedure. But it is my intention to do large format photography.

George

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 10:37
There's something seriously wrong with your equipment. If you're getting those results after a shutter has been serviced, find a different shop.

I repair LF shutters/lenses, and have for many decades. I would never let a shutter out of the shop with any error approaching the values you give.

- Leigh

Dear Leigh, the wrong shutter speeds only occure at the long end, at 1/4 or at 1/8 sec.
To eliminate these failors would cost more than a new lens. Because I know the misbehaviors of my lenses I dont care too much.

George

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 10:46
Horray! Ive got 3 packages of Fuji FB100B in 4x5 in the bay. My anxious soul is calming down now. Yes, I know, I immagine too much problems in advance. Im too analytic and I`m thinking too far. Unfortunately it is my character and it is enforced by my job.
George

jp
21-Jul-2011, 11:58
You may end up spending more time telling someone at a lab how you want your photos than the time it takes to do it yourself.

Developing is very easy and rewards consistency. It's like cooking or doing laundry. You go through the steps as instructed and you get good results. That will save you a large amount of money and make you consistent and confident in your output. If you have no hand in this process, and you have a problem, you really wouldn't be able to point a finger at a shutter problem when it's a developing problem or vice versa.

I'd suggest you accompany someone in the processing/printing/scanning to see how it goes before you swear it off. Sounds like the old people who say they want stuff online but shun computers when they are perfectly capable and able of using them well.

TheDeardorffGuy
21-Jul-2011, 12:14
It's funny, I never ever thought of turning my holders or film to someone else to process and print. Many of my customers do this but their work flow is hundreds of sheets a week and the relationship between them and their lab is very tight. I know We do this with our 35mm color and I would not do it another way. Strange that we give a stranger our 35 but we protect our LF!!
I wish you luck George. I've processed and contact printed in Hotel rooms. It is not hard and the full satisfaction is tremendous.

megapickle1
21-Jul-2011, 23:52
@jp498 + @The DeardorffGuy
Hello friends, I envy you for the plenty of time you have to your free disposal. I have not. Therefore I do not build up a darkroom or similar facility and I commit frankly that I hate souping film in the bathroom, as I have done in the seventies. Spoiled laundry and splotched carpet were the result. Look, Im living alone, working 12hours a day 5/7 how and when should I do my lab work. Theres only the sunday to shoot and to relax. So I trust in my lab and hope they will do a good job with my films every time.
George

jp
22-Jul-2011, 06:25
I don't really have much free time either. I run two businesses, have a young family to attend to, and do a little volunteer work too.

However, photography is important to me, so I make a little time to shoot some evenings or weekends, often involving one or more children. I develop once in a while after the kids go to bed and my wife is watching some television in peace and quiet. Not as often as I'd like because I'm sometimes too tired to get into the darkroom. When I do process, time efficiency is important; I'm often developing two batches of film at once with multiple combiplan tanks and/or patterson reels.

I'm glad you have a good lab; none exist in my rural area.

megapickle1
4-Aug-2011, 11:16
Hello, Im back again (from work).
This week Ive tested my skills with a Linhof Technika and it seems that I have understood the principles of LF-photography regarding rise, fall, tilt and shift.
Knowing well that it is a matter of personal preferences but I ask you for your opinions about two different camera systems. A) Horseman LX-C 4x5 and B) Shenhao TZ45 A.
Both are in the bay for little money and because I have a small budget for these things I would like to hear some opinions.
There is also a wonderful like new Sinar P2 but twice the money ($1500). So how would you decide?
Thanks for your kind advices!
George

rdenney
4-Aug-2011, 12:42
Hello, Im back again (from work).
This week Ive tested my skills with a Linhof Technika and it seems that I have understood the principles of LF-photography regarding rise, fall, tilt and shift.
Knowing well that it is a matter of personal preferences but I ask you for your opinions about two different camera systems. A) Horseman LX-C 4x5 and B) Shenhao TZ45 A.
Both are in the bay for little money and because I have a small budget for these things I would like to hear some opinions.
There is also a wonderful like new Sinar P2 but twice the money ($1500). So how would you decide?
Thanks for your kind advices!
George

The LX and the P2 are both all-metal, monorail-mounted, gear-driven, high-precision view cameras intended for exacting work. They are bulky and heavy for field work, and were primarily intended for studio work, particularly high-end product photography and other commercial work. The LX-C, with the C, is computer-controlled as I recall, with a depth-of-field computer built into it. The Sinar P is probably a bit better made, but both are high-end. Both the Horseman and the Sinar have similar features, and the differences are rather esoteric. They both accept the same basic parts, including bellows and lens boards.

The Shen-Hao is as different from either of these as is possible, just about. It is a folding field camera of wood-and-metal construction. It does not have any geared movements--all adjustments are made by loosening the locks, moving the loosened part with your fingers until it's right, and then locking it down. They are designed to be light and portable, unlike the Sinar and the Horseman. The Shen-Hao is a similar concept to the Technika, but the Technika is far more precise, being an all-metal camera that is much more expensive when new. The Technika also provides more movements than a field camera like the Shen-Hao.

Good work can be done with any, but evaluating them must be done in response to your requirements.

For field work, I like monorails, but not the gear-driven monsters shown hear. I would prefer a Sinar F (or F2) or a Linhof Technikardan. The Sinar will be cheaper than the above two cameras unless someone gets a great deal. It does not have gear-driven movements, but it's far lighter and also less bulky, and is reasonable for field work.

Take a look at www.keh.com before buying from ebay. No sense in taking the risk if KEH already has something on hand that might be cheaper in any case. Right now, they have a bevy of Sinar F's in the $300 range, a couple of F2's in the $600 range, and a couple of P's in the $800 range. They also have a return policy and stand behind their sales.

Rick "who loves the precision of a Sinar P but would not want to carry one over his shoulder" Denney

Two23
4-Aug-2011, 14:35
I'll jump in with some thoughts. I've been shooting 4x5 for about 10 years. I started with a Cambo NX-1 monorail, then went to a Shen Hao, now have a Chamonix 045N-1. I've been looking hard at the Seneca 5x7 cameras made around 1910. They are beauties! They are very reasonable in price. However, film is very limited and expensive. Also, neither of the places I send my 4x5 sheets to will do 5x7. While still tempted, I staying away from 5x7 for now.

I use a loupe to focus like pretty much everyone else. Doing that there is no advantage to shooting 5x7. An inexpensive monorail such as the Calumet/Cambo 45N will do what you want, although it is slower to set up and take down, and not a joy to hike very far with. Their attributes are they are cheap to buy, very solid, have lots of accessories, easy to work with, have lots of movements, and give great results. Since I like to backpack and do "adventure" photography, I went to a field camera. The Shen Hao is actually very nice, just not as "precise" as the monorail. The Chamonix is a bit more precise, but is more expensive and much harder to find used right now. My suggestion for you is to buy a Cambo etc. monorail camera and a couple of decent lenses. You will immediately see a difference in quality from your shots over what you get with the RB. You will also have an easier time finding film, someone to process it, and easier to scan & work with it in Photoshop. I'm thinking 5x7 would be more time consuming and have fewer economical choices. You might also have to upgrade your tripod & head, so take that into consideration. You would almost certainly do better using a more economical 4x5 and putting the money you saved into a lighting system for portraits, interiors, and still life. Good lighting makes a HUGE difference in photography. For interiors and portraits, I'd say it's about 75% of it. My camera cost me about $500; my lighting system cost me about $5,000.

As for Polaroids, I use a meter very carefully. I take test shots with my Nikon D300. They match up well with what I get on film. Keep in mind that b&w film has a lot of latitude and you don't need 1/10 stop precision here. I have never missed not having Polaroid, and I am a night photographer.


Kent in SD

megapickle1
4-Aug-2011, 15:13
Thank you both rdenny and Two23 for your explanations.
As Ill rarely take these monsters for shooting outdoors the weight of the system is not so important. Two souls are in my heart: the sinar p2 can easily convertred to 8x10 (please do not laught so loudly) but the horseman is a lot cheaper as the shenhao is too. The difference are two decent lenses. But on the other side shooting 8x10 reduces the costs for printing and I think it gives more fun. Well, I dont know how to decide.

Im also be a proud owner of a Nikon D300 but I would never trust the metering of that camera for using it in LF. The D300 is nearly new but I have always to correct my captures in Lightroom as Im a nightshooter too. And regarding the latitude of film my experiences are that MF-film is very critical (Delta 100, FP4 of F-Pan) in B/W not so extremely in color. So I presume, in LF this latitude will be smaller. I dont need polaroid for proofing composition but for the right exposure. And I dont trust in shutters and their engraved shutterspeeds if Im not familiar with them. With polaroids I can simply see what Ill get at 100 ISO with a particular shutter at a certain f-stop.

Sometimes I think to give up my idea of LF-photography and stuck with MF. Then I look at the photographs of Edward Steichen or Jan Scholz or Josef Sudek and Im sick again.

Thank you all and good night (it is 24:00 p.m. in Germany).
George

Two23
4-Aug-2011, 18:15
(1)Im also be a proud owner of a Nikon D300 but I would never trust the metering of that camera for using it in LF. The D300 is nearly new but I have always to correct my captures in Lightroom as Im a nightshooter too.

(2) And regarding the latitude of film my experiences are that MF-film is very critical (Delta 100, FP4 of F-Pan) in B/W not so extremely in color. So I presume, in LF this latitude will be smaller.

(3) And I dont trust in shutters and their engraved shutterspeeds if Im not familiar with them.


(4)Sometimes I think to give up my idea of LF-photography and stuck with MF. Then I look at the photographs of Edward Steichen or Jan Scholz or Josef Sudek and Im sick again.



1. I shoot almost daily and have often used the D300 as I would a Polaroid. I've had no issues doing that.

2. The emulsion will be the same and react the same no matter what format you are using. No Pan-F in LF. BTW.

3. Have a CLA done, and ask to calibrate, print out actual shutter speeds. I've found Compur and Copal to perform very consistently down to about +10F.

4. Those guys would still be getting amazing shots even if they were using a Brownie.


Kent in SD

gastonphoto
5-Aug-2011, 01:59
Hello from france!
Don't worry I am 61 and still working as photographer in Paris museum, since 30 years. Since 5 years I work for the Web sites of the museums. Before I was working with sinar camras. I think a good choice for begining is sinar f camera because you can change all the elements further and formats by the time. 4x5 is a very good format lightweight and not so expensive. 4x5 is the little format of the big format. 5x7 (13x18 ) is not very much used, and 8x10 is too much expensive for me. Folding cameras are good for the outside but don't have the same possibilities as view cameras. Lab work is very interesting too if you have the place and the time. I know a site on the bay where you can buy some material in munchen Germany it is photoclassics.

goodbye.

megapickle1
5-Aug-2011, 11:43
Hello Gastonphoto and bonsoir a Paris!
I know photoclassic in Munich and they have a Sinar P2 for a reasonable price. On the other hand for the requested amount (for the sinar) I can get a Shenhao and a decent lens and this camera is not so bulky as the sinar is. But the sinar has a lot more and geared movements and is a precise instrument. And I think later, whem Im really familiar with the LF-photography I would have the possibility to upgrade it with 8x10 back.
For me it is hard to decide in the moment what to buy because I dont know for sure if my present enthusiasm for LF will stay or not. Maybe I have to cast a coin.
George

megapickle1
15-Aug-2011, 13:39
Hello All!
Last weekend I`ve got an nice Sinar p2 and three decent lenses, a Super-Angulon 5,6/90 an APO Symmar 5,6/150 and a Symmar S 5,6/210. Some filmholders too. The only work I have to do is mounting the Symmars on lensboards and then I can start taking LF photographs. I thank you all for your kind advices and help to make a decision.

I am sure to be back here soon with other silly questions regarding film, exposure settings, focusing and so on.

Cheers
George