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Thread: Wildlife and underwater with LF

  1. #1

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    I'm interested in using a large-format camera to photograph wildlife and also th ings underwater. Yes, I know that many people may consider these difficult/impo ssible to photograph with LF, but I would really like to see a huge, sharp print of, say, a coral reef.

    I know that a big problem in either type of photography would be focusing, but s ome animals don't move a lot and it would be possible to use a tripod underwater .

    Underwater, the camera probably would need a separate tank to regulate the air i n the bellows. Also, waterproofing everything would help.

    Has anybody ever used a large-format camera for either of these purposes? Have you heard of anybody who has?


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2000

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    Never heard of it being done - or even attempted. A tripod wouldn't be much good - and movement of the water at all would put undue strain on it, even if it was well weighted down. Bellows is an even bigger problem. Why not a hard sliding case of some kind? Would be more rigid, and easier to waterproof. Me 'tinks this would be much more trouble than it's worth. Especially when you can accomplish nearly the same quality with a good medium format designed specifically for the task.

  3. #3

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    On the pin-hole forum someone talked about using a paint can full of water, under water -- the theory being that it's OK for the film to get wet. A big sheet of film in a paint can. Maybe not what you want to do, but maybe a starting point. I was toying with the idea of putting a junk lens on a paint can to hyper focal -- fill the botom with cement and sit it on the floor. I'm afraid of water myself and have to hand it to you to be willing to dive. Dean
    Dean Lastoria

  4. #4

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    What about something like the fixed focus Hobo style camera, no bellows movement needed.

  5. #5

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    The masters of underwater photography seem to be National Geographic. Their collector's edition 100 Best Photos has an underwater section where some of the photographers discuss the challenges of photographing underwater. They don't say anything about LF, but talk about the normal challenges of particles in the water, color shift, lack of light, and water pressure. I bet if anyone has done it, they have. If you're serious it might be worth trying to contact them.

  6. #6

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    A fix wide-angle camera such as the Silvestry or Horseman or Sinar Handy, with a n helicoidal mounted lens placed on the hyperfocal and a frame viewer in a custom waterproof case should w ork. The biggest problem is were to pull the dark slide, and also that you can take only *one* shot at a tim e!

  7. #7

    Join Date
    May 2001

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    This looks remarkably like a troll to me, ("would need a separate tank to regulate the air in the bellows" & "waterproofing everything would help"), but if the poster is serious which I doubt, it is at best a rather naive question.

    As a professional wildlife photographer for many years, I can say that using a 4x5 for this is virtually out of the question, unless you drug the animals or ge t them to move very, very slowly. An RZ 67 or Pentax 67 is possible, but not easy.

    As a professional divemaster and underwater photographer I can say that I have NEVER heard of anyone doing UW photography with a LF camera. This would be almost impossible and sounds idiotic to me. Even using MF with a good compact housing is difficult unless conditions are favourable.

    As Paul says above, you could only take one image at a time if it were possible, so what do you do, dive down, shoot once and then surface, wait the appropriate surface time, then dive again and take another shot? I'd stick to using the LF on the surface if I were you.

    -- Never test the depth of water with both feet.


  8. #8

    Join Date
    May 1999

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    Matthew, Humm, it's a happy idea... I made some calculations; a 4x5 light camera emboxed, with lens etc. will fit in a custom made 10liters volume box, with a weight in surface about 3kg. the camera, plus 4kg. a box, total weigth 7kgs. You will need to add a minimum of 3kg. of extra weight to give negative floating to the system. If you want estability in depht, add another 5kg. (minimum) to the kit including the built in tripod, etc. At this time we have min. 15kgs. at surface. Without flash (just add another 2kg.) Lenses available: up to 75mm. with a real problem with DOF. Focusing is not a problem, just a bigger box (more weight). This if you work at a maximun depht of 10meters, more depht more weigth in a reinforced box or more in a system to give pressure to the box (problems with film) (You can use your tank for this). At last you would have a 20kg. system to make one shot each time!! I think this is not impossible, just too expensive!! I think the biggest format available with the highest quality/easy of use are the Hasselblad system... Have you tried underwater 35mm photography with tripod? (without flash)(I have obtained beautiful results... ) Good luck!

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Oct 2001

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    it should work just fine if you have a submarine...

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Wildlife and underwater with LF

    Anyone know what Brett Weston used for his underwater nudes? It sure wasn't 35mm.

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