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Thread: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

  1. #11
    Maris Rusis's Avatar
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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Quote Originally Posted by jlafferty View Post
    Hi,........
    Initial looking around has me interested in a Wista, with the intention to carry over some of my 35mm working style and FOV preferences to 4x5. I shoot most often with a 50mm and a 105, and I figure this puts me in the market for a 135-150mm, and a 300mm. I shoot a lot of work very tight, like half or quarter face, and am looking forward to what 4x5 offers in this regard - is that a pipe dream?
    ........Jim
    The 4x5 negative is very generous and it enables tight framing without necessitating hard-to-use long focal length lenses that stress the basic design of folding cameras. The secret is framing by cropping. Ok, cropping is a hard compromise on 35mm, maybe not so bad on roll film. But on 4x5 you can cut a negative in half and throw half away. Then take what left, cut it in half, and throw half away. You still have a negative bigger than what a Hasselblad delivers.
    Photography:first utterance. Sir John Herschel, 14 March 1839 at the Royal Society. "...Photography or the application of the Chemical rays of light to the purpose of pictorial representation,..".

  2. #12

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Hello all, thanks for the insightful replies and encouraging tone.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tobias Key View Post
    I use a 210mm 5.6 (Schneider APO Symmar) for portraits on my Wista coupled with a 125mm (Fuji NW) as my standard lens, and that works well for me. The 210mm focal length is probably the most commonly used LF portrait lens in 4x5 mainly because it offers decent trade offs between size and weight, the top shutter speed (1/400), and you don't need super long bellows for a portrait. They are easy to get hold of and relatively cheap compared to anything that can be used on a 8x10.
    OK, excellent, will look around at these. Thank you.

    Quote Originally Posted by paulbarden View Post
    Jim, the 203mm Kodak Ektar f7.7 lens is one of the best lenses ever made for large format work. Its inexpensive and its a superior performer. It can often be had in a fully functional shutter for under $200. Most people who have used one recognize it as one of the best lenses they've used. It covers 5x7 well, but on 4x5 it allows plenty of camera movements.
    Awesome, thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    .

    If you haven't already, you might check out fellow NY fashion/portrait photographer Andres Hernandez. He's been shooting with Chamonix and Sinar 4x5s recently and has posted some videos to YouTube about his experiences with them. He's shooting expired film until he learns the ropes.

    Website: https://www.andreshernandez.net
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/andreshernandez/
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCth...doxHwsnZIb2l2w

    I'm an Arca-Swiss fanboy and no help on field cameras. If you're interested, there are a good number of threads here about Arca-Swiss cameras, which are modular monorails. I can convert mine between 4x5 and 8x10 in a few minutes, and can have up to 700mm of bellows depending on how I set it up.

    I'd suggest that you consider an Arca-Swiss Discovery if you didn't want a 300mm lens...
    Funny enough: I've worked with one of the models he shot here, Daphne, she's fantastic. The BTS and end results were really informative, thanks for sharing. And also, I've asked around elsewhere and a woman I know told me she has a 4x5 for sale, and when I asked for details, it's Arca Swiss Discovery :O I've had multiple people suggest the Arca Swiss, so I'm looking into it now. Thanks again.


    Quote Originally Posted by r.e. View Post
    I'd like to suggest that you look at the lens tables linked on the forum home page. Those tables show an approach to 35mm equivalency that is not based on a simple 3x multiplication. They also provide field of view info.

    I have no experience with large format telephoto lenses, which some people are suggesting to make a 300mm lens "fit" a Wista. In your place, I'd want to know what the difference is between using a standard lens and a telephoto lens for the kinds of photographs that you say you want to make. It seems to me that choices on focal length should come first, and that choice of camera should follow, not the other way around.
    All fair points. TBH I'm just roughing in guesses on FL here, but from what I've learned in this thread, I'm backing off the idea of the 300mm a bit. I assume this is the kind of thing I'll only know for sure after a bit of shooting. Thanks for your help.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bernice Loui View Post
    Like this, previously mentioned.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8kJvBtCE5g&t=360s

    and:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tvzawzszo7A&t=236s

    If yes, why consider a light weight field folder given the image goals?

    Lens focal length and types and image goals dictate and decides suitable camera types, not the other way around where the incorrect camera choice is made only to discover the struggles and difficulties of trying to use a camera that was never designed to intended to work properly with the lens required to meet the image goals.

    World of view camera is not like 35mm, digital or 120 roll film like Hasselblad. It is a world where the camera is essentially a light tight box that is flexi in the center with lens and a long list of other elements and factors driving what that light tight box that is flexi in the center must do.

    Bernice
    Yeah, I'm seeing it now. Thanks for your help. The videos were really instructive.


    Quote Originally Posted by Maris Rusis View Post
    The 4x5 negative is very generous and it enables tight framing without necessitating hard-to-use long focal length lenses that stress the basic design of folding cameras. The secret is framing by cropping. Ok, cropping is a hard compromise on 35mm, maybe not so bad on roll film. But on 4x5 you can cut a negative in half and throw half away. Then take what left, cut it in half, and throw half away. You still have a negative bigger than what a Hasselblad delivers.
    Yeah! I'd assumed this after sitting back and thinking about it for a bit. Given the peculiarities, the relative slowness of the work, I think it's foolhardy to hope that my current working style translates well to LF. Shooting wider and cropping seemed inevitable. Thank you for your reply.
    Evocative over academic

  3. #13

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Quote Originally Posted by jlafferty View Post
    a woman I know told me she has a 4x5 for sale, and when I asked for details, it's Arca Swiss Discovery :O I've had multiple people suggest the Arca Swiss, so I'm looking into it now.
    That camera is hard to find. If the price is reasonable and the camera's in good shape (especially the bellows, the rest is pretty much indestructible), I'd suggest that you grab it. As I mentioned, Arca-Swiss cameras are completely modular. You can easily add additional bits and pieces, although I'll be the first to acknowledge that Arca-Swiss parts, including used, are not inexpensive. A few years ago, Arca-Swiss changed from 171mm square lens boards, which the Discovery has, to 141mm square. However, 171mm lens boards are readily available, and some people prefer them. I use 171mm lens boards myself. I would regard lens board size as a non-issue.

    There's one thing that you should be aware of in light of what you say about your photographs in your first post. You focus the Discovery by friction, moving the front standard back and forth on the rail with your hand/fingers. If you feel that you need geared precision, you can change out the friction focusing for geared focusing, but you'll have to buy an additional part to make the change.

    If you buy the camera and have questions, feel free to send me a message.

    About a week ago, I posted some detailed info about the Discovery in another thread. Might be worth reading: https://www.largeformatphotography.i...80#post1607280
    Last edited by r.e.; 26-Jul-2021 at 17:56.

  4. #14

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    If you like the idea of a 300mm lens look at a 5x7. Allows use of many longer lenses and a 4x5 back gives you that option for easy use as well.

    A ton of lenses cover 5x7 and and give you options for both 4x5 and 5x7 that make for creative choices. One nice factor of 5x7 is its close relationship to the 35mm frame. If you are used to framing in that aspect 5x7 is a nice way to move up.
    "My forumla for successful printing remains ordinary chemicals, an ordinary enlarger, music, a bottle of scotch - and stubbornness." W. Eugene Smith

  5. #15
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Quote Originally Posted by jlafferty View Post
    I'm a commercial fashion, beauty and portrait photographer working out of NYC. I recently got turned on to the idea of shooting 4x5, for its mix of process/results, accessibility and costs.
    One of the most striking (to me) differences between LF and smaller formats is that in smaller formats the lens plane and the film plane are rigidly connected and held parallel. This frees up a bunch of the photographer's time and effort -- no camera movements available means no camera movements to make. OTOH, if you don't need what the LF world offers (separation of the lens plane from the film plane), are you sure it's worth the trouble?

    Second is, with smaller formats you can move with the camera. LFers are largely tied to tripods (an exception being press cameras, see below). No more "frame with your feet" like you can do when hand holding an SLR. And in your subset of photography, loosing that ability might be a big liability. Or not. Just something to consider.

    Third is, LF is slow. Really, very slow and considered. Spontaneity in general is not us. Planing and careful setups are us.

    Quote Originally Posted by jlafferty View Post
    ...with the intention to carry over some of my 35mm working style and FOV preferences to 4x5. I shoot most often with a 50mm and a 105, and I figure this puts me in the market for a 135-150mm, and a 300mm. I shoot a lot of work very tight, like half or quarter face, and am looking forward to what 4x5 offers in this regard - is that a pipe dream?
    To me that would, in fact, be a pipe dream. But you are not me (be very thankful), and I'm always surprise to see how other people work and use almost the same tools but get very different results. So yeah, I'm pretty sure it can be done. If you're determined to do it, you'll find a way.

    Some of the most famous portaits we have were made with LF. Margaret Bourke-White made her famous picture of Ghandi and his spinning wheel with a press press camera. Might have been a Graflex but I don't remember. And Yousef Karsh's famous portrait of Winston Churchill was made with a 10x8 camera.

    But these are not close-in half-face images. I'm guessing because a) that wasn't the style at the time, and b) that level of focus wasn't possible without long setups and something like an old style portrait chair (with head brace), because moving a few millimeters will be the difference between an eye being in focus or not.

    A place to start learning about press cameras might be the Graflex.org website. There was even a thru-the-lens reflex version -- the Graflex RB Series D / Super D.

    Sounds like an interesting project you have planned. Good luck, and have fun with it!

    Bruce Watson

  6. #16

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Bruce Watson makes some good points. I'd just like to note that some people choose large format for reasons that have nothing to do with camera movements. They like what using a large format camera does to the way that they work with their subject and/or because they just want a big, high resolution image. Hey, it isn't a crime

    That's why Richard Avedon used an 8x10 for In The American West. It's why Bruce Davidson shot the whole of East 100th Street, over a period of two years, with a tripod-mounted 4x5. It's not like Davidson doesn't know what a Leica or a Hasselblad or a 4x5 handheld press camera is. He has said that he chose a 4x5, tripod and all, because it helped his working relationship with the people that he wanted to photograph. Indeed, he's talked about that in some detail.

    Todd Heisler, in a NY Times article last Friday, says something similar, although he was talking about his choice of a medium format film camera for a major NY Times shoot. He used the camera to make 115 portraits of workers who kept New York City going during the worst of the pandemic. Why? Because he liked the impact of the camera on how he worked and on his subjects. This is not a run of the mill staff photographer talking. Todd Heisler has won two Pulitzer Prizes and an Emmy. For those who are interested, the NY Times published the portraits, all 115 of them, in this past weekend's newspaper. I don't doubt that there's a book coming.

    For Ed Burtynsky, image size has always been a major consideration. He moved from 8x10 to digital because the logistics and wear and tear of international travel with 8x10, especially in some of the countries that he was working in, was becoming too much to handle. I know that because he told me so. In an interview in PetaPixel a couple of years ago, he says that the latest digital Hasselblad finally got him an original image size comparable to 8x10. I've checked the price of Burtynsky's Hasselblad. Thanks, I'll stick with large format film for the moment.

    Burtynsky's compatriot, Jeff Wall, is on the same page. If Wall has ever used camera movements, it's surely been a minor consideration compared to the size of image that he wanted to produce.

    I daresay that a lot of large format photographers rarely, if ever, use camera movements. Maybe even some here
    Last edited by r.e.; 27-Jul-2021 at 06:01.

  7. #17

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce Watson View Post
    One of the most striking (to me) differences between LF and smaller formats is that in smaller formats the lens plane and the film plane are rigidly connected and held parallel. This frees up a bunch of the photographer's time and effort -- no camera movements available means no camera movements to make. OTOH, if you don't need what the LF world offers (separation of the lens plane from the film plane), are you sure it's worth the trouble?
    Unless, of course, one used a Rollei SL66 type MF camera with Scheimpflug control.

  8. #18

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Found this video in my YT deep dives and found it insightful as a general intro video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGt9p3rTmT4

    Have been watching the Andres Hernandez stuff, too. It's good. Funny how in his second or third video someone gave him, for free, a full Sinar kit with film holders, case, etc., saying "I know you'll use this and take great care of it", and in the next video, he's bought and is using a Chamonix instead :O
    Evocative over academic

  9. #19

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Hi jlafferty,

    Glad you like Andres Hernandez's channel. If you're looking for a broader intro to large format, I think that Todd Korol has what is easily the best YouTube channel. Korol is Canadian and lives in Calgary, Alberta. He's a serious editorial photographer and videographer with decades of experience, and it's clear that he's on YouTube because he enjoys sharing his experience.

    His channel is fairly new. Except for a video that he made a couple of years ago with and about National Geographic photographer William Albert Allard, he started making videos for YouTube during the pandemic. My impression is that he was bored stiff because of the pandemic and hit on YouTube as something to do. His Twitter bio: "Canadian photographer. Lover of rangefinder cameras, old cameras with bellows, my wife and two boys."

    So far, his videos have tended to focus on large format, but he's also made four on medium format.

    Website: https://www.toddkorol.com/index
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/toddkorol
    Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/CO-1U6dnfWQ/
    YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCQ3...WqroqqjDFbrSuQ

    Given your interest in portraits...

    Korol's video on how to make 4x5 portraits (note my comments in the post three up about Bruce Davidson and Todd Heisler):

    Last edited by r.e.; 27-Jul-2021 at 13:10.

  10. #20

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    Re: New here, new to LF, strongly considering a Wista

    Korol's video on how to shoot portraits at the Calgary Stampede with an 8x10 Deardorff. He talks at 12:55 about working with The Globe & Mail (equivalent in status to The New York Times), which commissioned the shoot:

    Last edited by r.e.; 27-Jul-2021 at 14:02.

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