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Thread: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

  1. #1

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    Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Hi all, happy holidays.

    Disclaimer: this question may be in the wrong forum section and also, I don't have a LF camera, so there's a super good chance you are about to read a super stupid question about what's involved in this hobby. Just saying....


    I'm thinking more seriously about getting into LF. I understand the equipment fairly well but it's the back end I'm a little fuzzy on. Maybe you can help.

    First off, I'm going to be totally honest here, at least for now, I don't have an interest in doing any developing. I've actually done this many years ago and totally love it, but I just don't want to get into that realhm of the hobby. Again, at least for now. tell me I'm crazy and wrong and you'll be doing we an honest favor.

    I just want to buy some film and shoot some landscaping photos of this and that and see where it all goes. Then, I want to ship off my film for processing and see what happens. Polaroid is a great option for me to start. Instant results to learn by and no development processing.

    Is it even reasonable to shoot non-Polariod and just ship it off for development? Then, does that cost an arm and a leg? What is the cost of that? I'm still not even clear on what type of film to shoot with today on 4x5 format for color and b&w. What should I look for today on Amazon for instance? Being that I want to ship off the film, is there any benefit to b&w other that for it's artist merrit? Could I "jump" to color then?

    What I'm really trying to do is understand the post-shoot workflow and cost involved in 4x5 format.

    Many thanks for guidance.

    P.S. I don't at all mind the post processing part that involves the computer. That part I'm ok with.

  2. #2
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    https://bluemooncamera.com/robot

    Just the first place that popped up

    and welcome to the forum!
    sin eater

  3. #3
    Les
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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Happy holidays and welcome to LF forum. It would help if you give us your location or a county, so we can steer you to a place that does developing (b&w and color) near you. Only you know how taxing this could be on you. Where I am, a 5x7 film sheet costs around 6.50 to develop. You can also ask for a contact print or you can do this with minimal equipment (trays) even in your bathroom or a dedicated darkroom. One can develop film in trays, as well.

    Prior to getting film, I'd concentrate on obtaining a camera and a lens or several lenses. Would you be doing landscapes, portraiture, etc ? If you will hike with it, you likely will need something lighter like a folder (?). Also, you'll need film holders, trigger release, a loupe, light meter and other accessories.

    Under most circumstances one has to be patient and very few exposures take place on an outing (there are always exceptions)....just saying.

    Once you have the image developed, you can also scan the negative on a scanner and then do some pp, or use a digital camera to copy the negative on a "light table" of choice....so you'll have a digital copy to work with or as reference.

    That's it from me for a start....

    Les

  4. #4

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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Leszek Vogt View Post
    Happy holidays and welcome to LF forum. It would help if you give us your location or a county, .
    Les
    Hi. I live in the Phoenix area. Here's what I can see myself doing with LF....

    Pretty much landscape work. I would like to be able to pack everything into my back and hike into the nearby parks. Even better, get everything into my bike and ride into position. That might be a challenge...

    Anyway, I'm not familiar with the development process you spoke of, but it sounds reasonable. I'm not totally against post shutter development its just that I know what b&w developing means and looks like. That's a huge undertaking in and of itself!!

    Hope you can all add some more color to this part of the workflow.

  5. #5
    Foamer
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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    I suggest starting with 4x5. a lightweight folding camera such as a Chamonix 045n2 or Shen Hao, among others. You can often find something that will work used. Several film holders, a lens or two. For landscape I'll suggest either a 135mm or a 150mm. For color film you might look at Ektar--it's relatively inexpensive and gives good results. You'll need a magnifying loupe to focus with, a dark cloth (I just use a black t-shirt or jacket,) and a tripod. This would all be light enough to bike or hike with--I do both with mine.

    I pretty much only shoot b&w with large format, and now wet plate (a totally different conversation!) I don't shoot hardly any color film--I do that with my Nikon digital. It's moderately difficult to process color film at home (I have not tried it anyway.) Processing b&w film is very easy. A year ago I was getting started doing that and now wish I had been doing it for the past decade. I use a Sterman SP-445 tank which is small and easy to load. I do it in my interior bathroom at night. I use HC-110 developer--easy to mix and use, and Photographers Formulary PF-4 fixer. Also use some distilled water. I do everything but load the film in my kitchen. It's about as easy as making pancakes. I scan the negs on an Epson v700 scanner but lately have been looking at "scanning" them using my Nikon D850 and a 60mm macro lens. (I do that now with the tin types I shoot.) I process the scanned negs in PS. When I do color film be it 4x5 or 120 etc. I send them to Blue Moon or Citizens Camera. Turn around is the hard part for me--it takes about a week & half. With b&w I just go home and process the film that night.


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  6. #6

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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    Is it even reasonable to shoot non-Polariod and just ship it off for development?
    Yes. Absolutely!

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    What is the cost of that?
    It costs about $3~$5 per sheet to send out a sheet of 4x5 for processing. That's just to get the film developed and possibly a scan.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    What should I look for today on Amazon for instance?
    I don't think Amazon is a good place to buy film. Their prices for film are not competetive from what I've seen. Look on the websites of the big New York Retailers, Adorama and B&H, also freestyle photo in Los Angeles, and Badger Graphic in Wisconsin...there are others these are just the places that come to mind (because they are the places where I buy film).

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    ...is there any benefit to b&w other that for it's artist merit?
    Mmmmm....big hairy question...interesting but...too big.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    Could I "jump" to color then?
    Yeah sure shy not? Especially if you are sending your film out for processing. The cost is usually the same (for processing) 4x5 color or B&W...and color slide film tends to scan better than B&W.

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    P.S. I don't at all mind the post processing part that involves the computer. That part I'm ok with.
    I think you'll have a lot of fun. Get yer self a crown graphic, a light meter, a couple of film holders and a box of Fuji Provia or Kodak Ektar or Kodak Ektachrome and have some fun!

    I'd also recommend the book, "View Camera Technique" by Leslie Stroebel

  7. #7

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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    If you have no interest in processing, I think you will be wasting time and money even to rent a camera for a period of time.

  8. #8
    Foamer
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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    You need to analyze what specifically interest you. Is the it the process of using large format? Is it simply curiosity? For me it's the way to get something totally different from what I get with my Nikon digital. With my large format cameras (Chamonix 4x5, Gundlach Korona 5x7) I can use lenses from any age. I have lenses made between 1844 and 2002. Instead of shooting color, which I can do with the Nikon equipment, I shoot b&w film, dry plate (circa 1900), and wet plate (circa 1850-1882.) Using lens movements I can do things with the view camera I can't with my Nikon. Finally, it's a very slow way to take a photo, and that makes me carefully previsualize the image before I take it. It takes me 15-20 minutes to take a shot with film, and at least half an hour doing wet plate/tin type. I don't take a lot of photos but my keeper rate approaches 100%.


    Ken tin SD
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    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
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  9. #9

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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Noel View Post
    If you have no interest in processing, I think you will be wasting time and money even to rent a camera for a period of time.
    jeez, that's really harsh...and, I disagree.

    I think that using color slide film and sending your film out to be processed is a very good way to get started with large format. The color slide film is easy to interpret - just hold the processed sheet of film up to a light source and you see your results directly. Color slides are easier to scan than B&W negatives too. And, having your film processed by a lab removes one of the sources of variability - which helps one learn how to interact with a view camera, how to handle sheet film and, for many of us, the basics of photography: composition, light and exposure.

    I think that working with sheet film and a view camera offers so many new and exquisite opportunities to screw up that one invariably must learn a whole lot of basic photography to be successful, to even get a presentable result. I think that this learning alone is well worth the time, expense and effort - and, one certainly does not need to do their own processing to gain this benefit.

  10. #10
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    Re: Thinking hard about taking the LF plunge.....

    Quote Originally Posted by AdamD View Post
    I'm thinking more seriously about getting into LF.
    Why?

    What do you hope will be different about your experience of the process, compared to the way you make pictures now?

    What do you hope will be different about the results, compared to the way you make pictures now?

    Your answers will help us come up with advice that speaks to where you are now and will be useful for you, rather than just belaboring our own varied preferences.

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