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Thread: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

  1. #1

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    Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Hello,

    I have been shooting 35mm and MF for a few years now and am excited to jump into LF photography. I'm a huge fan of color LF photography in the style of Soth and Shore.

    I've been reading many articles and learning about the process, but still haven't had a chance to use one. I've even read previous threads on "What camera should I buy?"
    I've seen various options for used kits on Craigslist, Blue Moon Camera, et al, but want to be careful not to bite off more than I can chew. I've considered a Toyo 45a, a Toyo 45cf and even a Linhof Master Classic.

    Do you think a Linhof (used) would be a good way to jump in, or is that overkill? Any suggestions for a good first lense (or two)? I can't figure out what Soth uses with his 8x10.

    I want to make beautiful environmental portraits inspired by Soth, if that gives you an idea. Do I need many movements in order to make portraits like that?

    Thanks for reading and excited to be here!

  2. #2
    Christopher Barrett's Avatar
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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Nice, I dig Soth's work too. His images appear to be a fairly normal perspective. I'd guess he mostly uses a 300 on 8x10. So for 4x5, I'd get maybe a 135 and 150.

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Christopher is correct. Alec Soth used a 300mm lens on 8x10 for his early work such as "Sleeping by the Mississippi".

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Don't feel like you'll be locking yourself into a "system" with your first camera. Start with something simple to get the main procedure down and see if you like it. Then think about what camera characteristics you'd need to do more or if you're fine with whatever you get. These days, if you buy something used, you've got a decent chance of not losing money by reselling it later. Lenses aren't like the smaller formats where you need certain mounts (Nikon to Nikon, Pentax to Pentax, etc..). You'll just need lens boards that fit the camera you get and most lenses will fit it.
    Just jump on in! Find something you can afford and go for it.
    Bethe King
    www.ewfisher.com

  5. #5

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Quote Originally Posted by v.kapoor View Post

    Do you think a Linhof (used) would be a good way to jump in, or is that overkill? Any suggestions for a good first lense (or two)? I can't figure out what Soth uses with his 8x10.

    I want to make beautiful environmental portraits inspired by Soth, if that gives you an idea. Do I need many movements in order to make portraits like that?

    Thanks for reading and excited to be here!
    Overkill!!!!!!! I doubt you'd use any movements in order to make portraits, or 90 % of general photography. I'd get either an inexpensive monorail (think Sinar F2, Toyo or Calumet) or a flatbed (think Wista, Zone VI, Nagaoka etc) and a 210 (Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikkor or Caltar) lens. Later on you can get a 120-135 or so. I doubt you'll see any difference in the major brands, just get it in a modern working shutter (think Copal!). Whatever you buy, you'll probably change in a year or two, so keep it cheap!

    L

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Since you mention Alec Soth, just for fun, here is a link to a short article on his view cameras: https://alecsothblog.wordpress.com/2...view-question/.
    His Philips and Canham's are modern takes on wooden folding field cameras, so clearly any wooden field camera would put you in the same ballpark. (Philips no longer makes cameras, Keith Canham makes a 5x7 wooden camera with a 4x5 reducing back, or his metal field camera, the DLC^2, but they are costly and hard to find used.) You will be using a 4x5 rather than Soth's 8x10, but then the 4x5 is much less cumbersome to work with, and everything is less expensive. As was pointed out earlier, around a 150mm lens is the 4x5 equivalent of a 300mm on 8x10. When you work out your budget, remember that you need to allow for a tripod, tripod head, holders, and a light meter in addition to your camera and lens.
    Last edited by Peter Lewin; 3-Mar-2017 at 06:18.

  7. #7

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Peter,

    I saw that post on Alec's site! Thanks for reminding me of it.
    Do you think a Canham would be overkill at a beginning user? Would you have any recommendations for more affordable models- I only see one Canham for sale on eBay for > $2k

    Thanks again!

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    The two Toyo's you are looking at will do the job. Also a used wooden Shen Hao will work. I've seen used Shen Hao's on Ebay sell for as low as $700.00.

    Like mentioned earlier, a 150mm lens on a 4x5 camera will equal a 300mm lens on 8x10. These focal lengths are considered "normal" focal lengths just like an 80mm on a Hasselblad or a 50mm on a 35mm Nikon camera.

    Look for a lens as mentioned earlier in a modern Copal shutter. Most modern Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikon or Fuji lenses are real close in performance. Let price and condition be your guide as to which to buy. Don't get bogged down by brand name.

    Buy something inexpensive and spend your money on film. Eventually you will form your own opinions about cameras and lenses and may decide you prefer a different camera. Most of us didn't keep our first large format camera.

    Have fun and welcome to the forum!

  9. #9

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    I think most would tell you not to get a linhof master technika first as they are expensive. However I jumped straight into LF with one and have been very happy with it. They are beautifully made and a joy to use. You can even do handheld lf with it if you get your lenses rangefinder calibrated.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro

  10. #10

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    Re: Beginning LF in the tradition of Alec Soth, Stephen Shore

    Quote Originally Posted by v.kapoor View Post
    Peter,

    ...
    Do you think a Canham would be overkill at a beginning user? Would you have any recommendations for more affordable models- I only see one Canham for sale on eBay for > $2k

    Thanks again!
    I wouldn't use the word "overkill." While there is always some enjoyment from owning an absolute top-of-the-line camera, ultimately a view camera is a flexible box with a lens at one end and a film holder at the other. I would instead approach it from a budget angle, where the amount of money you are comfortable spending has the largest impact on what you buy. There is nothing "wrong" with a beginner owning a Linhof or a Canham, but you certainly don't need one. My second view camera was a Wista Field, and it was a pleasure to work with. Really, most of the wooden field cameras are very similar, so it comes down to what you can find in good condition and a price you are happy with. They all have sufficient movements. The biggest difference comes at the extremes, meaning their ability to handle very wide angle lenses (say something wider than 90mm) or longer than 300mm; the vast majority handle lenses in between well, and any camera will be fine with a 135-150mm which is what several of us have recommended as your starting point.

    A couple of personal facts. My second camera, after a Rollei 35mm, was a Leica M4. I loved it, but I could afford it, and it was much more camera than I needed. But I loved both the quality of the camera and its "feel." So that would have been overkill to some. My first view camera was a Sinar F, the second was a Wista Field, and my current is a Canham DLC upgraded by Keith to the current DLC^2 model. Could I have done 95% of what I do with the Wista? Certainly, but I also enjoy the workmanship of the machined aluminum Canham (and it handles my 80mm wide angle with a bag bellows, which is the 5% extra capability over the Wista, and would handle a lens longer than my 300mm, if I ever needed one). My point is that ultimately there is no such thing as "overkill" because a lot depends on how much you feel like spending on the camera as an "object" as opposed to as an image-making device.

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