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Thread: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

  1. #91

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    Thanks for the ideas.

    Any suggestions as to where on the west coast (Los Angeles) I could get the shutters/lenses checked and serviced?

    I'll look into the Adapt-a-roll, the clip is really tightly springed and a pita to get off the back of the camera, although it clicks nicely into place.

    The bigger problem is the GG, it's horribly dim. I have a loupe, a Rollei 6x6 magnifier designed to also fit onto my 6008i. Alas, it's slightly too big to fit inside the pop-up hood :-(. Typical. I don't want to have to buy another one. I'm nearsighted, and the GG is so dim it's essentially unusable as is. Are there fresnels available? If not, I might just sell it and go back to my search for another camera. There's no way I can focus it as it is.

    Also, do the infinity stops need to be moved when changing from the 101mm to 65mm lens?
    The shutters can be serviced by Carol Miller at Flutot in Whittier, or Steve Choi in Culver City...

    When you use the 65mm lens, it will usually be using the short track inside the camera body... You can leave the 101mm blocks in place if you just use those lenses... The older smaller cameras have blocks that screw down to the focusing rail slide, and these can get in the way if you start getting different lenses for it... Those two lenses are fun and useful... If you get a longer lens, you can sometimes just open the camera, leave the front standard inside camera, but roll the focus track out a little so you can carefully pull out the standard and put it back on the track in front to allow that new longer lens to focus..

    As suggested, cleaning the GG on the back makes a big difference... On mine, I cut down a sheet page magnifier and put it on the back of the GG and that made it much brighter to focus...

    If you are used to medium format cameras, this camera might seem a little backward at first, but has the same shooting procedure as a larger LF camera, so very good training... Getting some sheet film holders + film is good experience for you..

    Have fun with it, and you will learn something new!!!

    Steve K

  2. #92

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    I love the Crown Graphic Special I've been using until I can get something with full movements. I didn't realize how badly I needed something with full movements until I got it. You have to change cams and set it up for using the rangefinder with each lens. If you're not going to shoot handheld, it's obviously not important. I had to download the manual just to open the thing. I like to take the metal hood off (little catch middle left side where it attaches to the back) and use a cheap loupe and DIY darkcloth (AKA black t-shirt) for critical focus. I had to push down pretty hard to get the bed on mine to drop. You'll learn a lot from it and whether LF is something you should seriously pursue. They aren't very user friendly machines so don't hesitate to ask lots of questions.

  3. #93
    greg thomason's Avatar
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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Another tool for the job. This one more unique than many, especially as an art form.
    https://www.gregthomason.com

  4. #94

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    I took two test rolls and just got the films back. The camera appears to work fine, shutter speeds are close enough for B&W work. I also took a roll of velvia while I was at it (too bad I didn't have any cheap positive film lying around instead), but it came out blank. I did notice when I wound the film on the Singer back that the B&W roll wound with some reluctance and resistance, while the velvia roll went through almost as if it wasn't there. It probably wasn't, I think there was a problem either with the back/advance, or with the way I loaded it (which I thought was identical the the B&W roll I took right beforehand).

    Lens is sharp, the camera in use is fine, much easier once it's on a tripod.

    I also had a look at a used Arca Swiss 4x5 camera for sale. It's not excessively heavy, but the 171mm frames are incredibly bulky and large. I also noticed that without the geared adjustments it ends up being a lot more fiddly to adjust. The geared knobs do make everything go quicker and smoother.

    It seems I can pay less to carry more (bulk and weight), or pay more to carry less (for a new/modern A/S camera). There's always Toyo, Wista, Sinar and others, which I plan on investigating.

    Are there any known issues with the Singer Graflex backs? It may well simply be my loading was off somehow, although the first roll worked fine.

  5. #95

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Quote Originally Posted by 6x6TLL View Post
    Are there any known issues with the Singer Graflex backs?
    "In 1968, the Singer Corporation (famous for their sewing machines) bought Graflex Inc. Singer rebranded Graflex’s roll film backs with their own name".

    Here you have plenty information: http://mercurycamera.com/backs/compl...n-and-mercury/

    (https://web.archive.org/web/20180821...n-and-mercury/)


    Regarding your first 4x5 camera, a choice is first buying a cheap monorail camera, like cambo sc, or a toyo. There you may experiment/learn with movements and lenses. A monorail has no pratical limitations and you also will learn what limitations would you allow in a field camera.

    After a few months you can replace that monorail for the camera you want. If you sell it you may loss some $70, because shipping etc, but having a solid criterion to purchase the proper gear it's worth beyond $70. Or perhaps you will want to keep it anyway, this would allow covering field usage with a more limited camera while having the full power of a monorail when a situation requires it.

    Hauling a 8x10 monorail in the field cannot be adviced, but a 4x5 monorail can be better fielded because we are talking about some 1kg or 2kg excess compared to a field camera.

    Another choice to start is an Intrepid camera.

    Of course with an Arca Swiss you would buy top notch gear, but at this stage you still may not know what you would prefer in six months.

    When engaging LF there are a lot of things to acquire, from glass to darkroom gear, so IMHO best way is starting cheap and building a solid criterion, and then calculating a budget for each "section" in order to have an optimal balance. This is avoiding G.A.S.

  6. #96

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Hi Pere,

    thank you for your reply, I'll check out those websites.

    Yes, I'm trying to avoid G.A.S. as much as possible. I've spent a day shooting with an Arca 4x5 with all the bells and whistles (thanks to Rod Klunkas for coming out to meet with me) and it was a great experience. While some things were fiddly, most of it was how I envisioned working with LF in the first place. I also spent a few hours with an older all-manual Arca 4x5, it was less exciting to be honest, and the camera was huge, bulky, and very fiddly.

    One thing I've recognized in general (not only photography) is that ergonomics and good design are important for me, and things I'm willing to pay more for.

    I've spent some time with the Century Graphic and will have the shutters and film magazine serviced (dropping them off today).

    Your advice is sound, and mostly congruent with my experience in many fields I have an interest. One thing I have noticed through the years, is that cheap/poor quality tools can tend to put people off of the process in question. I also know that I tend to pick up new things pretty quickly, and like to have ample room to grow. Still, as pointed out elsewhere, putting more money into great quality glass and then trying out a few cheaper/used cameras until I find the one I want to use makes a lot of sense.

    I do know I want something light, portable, flexible, and suitable for all-around work. I don't have a studio, so it will have to be portable, simple to set up and operate in the field, be that a meadow in the mountains, the middle of a busy street in Manhattan or a back alley in downtown LA.

    My medium format bag currently weighs 8.1kg (just weighed it now), and that's without one of my lenses and several filters, or tripod (currently at 2.5kg, I plan on getting a carbon fiber one soon to reduce 0.5kg or more). I wouldn't want a LF setup to be any heavier.

    Since a tripod is obligatory when working with LF, I would use LF for many of the same things I use MF for today, but not all. I carry one of several 6x6 cameras with me pretty much everywhere, usually either a Rollei TLR (for snapshots, street photography, informal portraits, travel, just wandering around finding things to shoot, always handheld) or a Rollei 6000 setup (landscapes, cityscapes, seascapes, portraits, etc. Usually about half handheld and half on a tripod).

    So from my current POV, large format would augment/replace MF for landscapes especially, cityscapes, seascapes, possibly portraits, and force me to work slower/think more about the composition, lighting and shot before releasing the shutter, allow movements to manipulate the plane of sharpness and focus creatively as well as correct converging lines when photographing buildings, and provide me with even larger negatives (although I'm not sure that part is all that necessary).

    Maybe I should concentrate on finding a few great lenses, and then look here and at eBay for a bargain camera to play around with and learn.

    I sold my darkroom when I moved to the US, including a lovely DeVere 504 with color head and all the options. I don't plan on building a new one. While I can and will do my own developing, I'll either find a community darkroom I can use as needed, or find a lab/printer that can do that for me when making high quality prints. I've already found a place that makes very good lightjet prints and had a few large ones made from some 6x6 shots I made this summer. I still have my Jobo.

    As far as the other bits and bobs, I think most of what I need, I have. Light meter, changing bag, developing gear, loupe, tripod, etc. I do need a focusing hood, and am thinking more and more of writing an app to log my settings and notes on my phone in the field. Post it notes and regular notes on my phone work fine normally, but not at night, or when I need to focus on the subject at hand and don't want to be interrupted.

  7. #97

    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Hello,

    perhaps you already have G.A.S. You own two Rolleiflexes. You service an old Century Graphic and its film magazines.

    You think of buying a greater, immovible camera as a "light, portable, flexible, and suitable for all-around work"-tool, that forces you "to work slower/think more about the composition, lighting and shot before releasing the shutter, allow movements to manipulate the plane of sharpness and focus creatively as well as correct converging lines when photographing buildings, and" provides you "with even larger negatives (although I'm not sure that part is all that necessary)."

    Why don't you sell your Rolleiflex 6000 and buy a Rolleiflex SL66? With this tools you can manipulate sharpness and converging lines. Your workflow doen't change, and you are able to continue wandering around. OK, it's heavy.

    If you want to have a greater negative size, why don't you try the Horseman VH or VHR? The VHR is lighter than the Rolleiflex 6000, the lenses are more modern and really excellent (e.g. Apo-Sironar, Apo-Symmar, Super-Angulon MC, Apo-Ronar) and definitely lighter than the Rollei lenses, and less expensive, too, you can use Mamiya RB67 film holders as well as Horseman 6x9 backs ... The rangefinder of the VHR offers spontaneity in handheld shots. And the camera is quite compact when folded. It's cheap, too. 250 USD, not comparable with an Arca Swiss or a Linhof Technika Press or another Rolleiflex. You can service it yourself.

  8. #98

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for the excellent suggestions.

    G.A.S. comes and goes, lol. I'm currently selling the Contax IIa I bought, thinking it would be great to use a rangefinder and do street photography. Except it wasn't. The Century I inherited, and tried out just to get a feel for what LF would/could be like.

    I previously owned one Rolleiflex (the 6008) with a few lenses as my only camera, but after a trip to Paris with the family I realized it was simply too much to carry around, so I picked up a TLR as a travel/snapshot camera (still standardized on 120 roll film and the 6x6 frame I enjoy composing in). It didn't help that my SO at the time wasn't at all supportive of my photographic hobby, but she's no longer in the picture. The TLR is the camera I have with me pretty much everywhere. Those two are pretty much the only cameras I use, almost the only ones I have.

    Other than that I have a few Nikons, also inherited, that I loan to friends and family or use when I'm teaching someone the basics of photography.

    I looked at the SL66, it's simply too heavy and bulky. Really heavy. The Horseman is still roll film, 6x9 instead of 6x6. And having played around a bit with the Graflex, I'm not a huge fan of the press camera design in general.

    One advantage pointed out here with LF is the fact that you're forced to work in a different way. With 35mm and MF, I can wander around and shoot whatever catches my eye, and the results are often about as random as the approach (which says more about me than the gear, ha ha ha). With LF you kind of have to think more about what it is you want to capture, how you want to convey it, what the ideal way to do so is. Yes, that's how anyone should work in any format (IMHO), but with LF you have to, with MF or 35mm it's an option, and the improvement in gear and automation makes it less and less likely to use that approach. What I'm trying to say is that I want to try moving away from the spontaneous approach, or at least use LF in a more methodical and mindful manner than I do MF. I can always bring out the Rollei if I want to be spontaneous.

    I think too sometimes it's just nice to try something different. Sometimes after playing electric guitar for a while, it's nice to try an acoustic :-).

    Another thing I've been reminded of, is that there is no one-right tool for all jobs. I tried for a long time to settle on one and only one camera system to cover everything (the 6008), and it doesn't make much sense (unless you only shoot one specific kind of thing). As many people pointed out, sometimes you need something small, light and fast, other times a LF rig makes more sense. Sometimes I use my phone camera! I'll be keeping both my Rolleis and using them as I always have, but will be trying out LF now, first for landscape, then around the city and ocean, and perhaps try out some portraits later on.

    Lastly, I've spent a little bit of time with several of these types of cameras (press camera, folding field, monorail), and am drawn primarily to the monorail. I figure if that's what interests me and makes me want to try LF, I might as well follow it and see where it leads. Sometimes you have to go with your intuition.

  9. #99

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Two quite unrelated thoughts.

    Daniel, I'm all for solidarity among Daniels but I have to disagree a little with you. Topcor lenses for the 2x3 Horseman cameras are quite competitive with equivalent lenses from the big four.

    6x6TLL, there's no reason why you can't work slowly and thoughtfully with any image capture device. And, although taking a long series of snapshots with a camera that uses sheet film and whose shutter has to be cocked manually isn't very practical (but think press shutter and Grafmatic), it is easy to shoot thoughtlessly with any camera that has a coupled rangefinder.

    Internalize shooting discipline, don't rely on gear to enforce it.

    However, if you want to buy gear "I wanna" is a good enough reason.

  10. #100

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    Re: One more question while I'm here - why Large Format?

    Hi Dan,

    I'm pretty sure I said as much (twice) in this thread.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Two quite unrelated thoughts.

    6x6TLL, there's no reason why you can't work slowly and thoughtfully with any image capture device. And, although taking a long series of snapshots with a camera that uses sheet film and whose shutter has to be cocked manually isn't very practical (but think press shutter and Grafmatic), it is easy to shoot thoughtlessly with any camera that has a coupled rangefinder.
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Fromm View Post
    Internalize shooting discipline, don't rely on gear to enforce it.

    However, if you want to buy gear "I wanna" is a good enough reason.
    Agree on both counts. Not quite sure why people are telling me not to follow what I'm interested in and do someting else instead. But I asked, and am thankful for the opinions and perspectives that people have offered. Knowing myself and my purchasing habits, I'm one of the last people who would be swayed by G.A.S. I don't even own a digital camera (phone aside).

    But yes, discipline comes from within. There are structural and systemic things we can do to encourage it, however. Slowing down and putting the controls on manual is one of them.

    Great discussion, I really enjoy and value hearing other peoples suggestions, opinions and experiences.

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