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Thread: How Did We Come To LF?

  1. #1

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    How Did We Come To LF?

    When I began this journey into photography, it began with a Hasselblad 500CM/80mm f2.8 Planar/A12 back that was given to my by my brother. There were a group of photographer friends my brother hung out with who kind took me in and taught me the basics... One of which was a chronic 8x10 view camera addict.

    Eventually, a 35mm Alpa system became a second camera. This later gave way to a Canon system.

    Then one day a 4x5 Sinar F system appeared in the want ads at a really good price, the 8x10 guy insisted that I purchase that system for it was such a bargain. Looking back, he must have known this could be good for me. But wow, that initial learning curve was STEEP...

    Images produced during these early years of my image making journey became a mix of 35mm film and sheet film in both B&W, color print (C41) and color transparency (E6 & K14). Eventually, the road that was chosen became mostly B&W sheet film.

    As the digital revolution pressed forward, the "point & shoot" digital cameras became the snapper of choice, yet in the back of my mind, the image quality of film reminded me of the difference between film -vs- digital.

    For a variety of reasons, the Hasselblad system went, the Canon manual focus system went and was replace with a Canon autofocus system.
    which sat for years until one day I decided to purchase a Canon 1DS body. This allowed me to use those Canon EOS lenses that have been sitting for years and reminded me of how much the craft of image making was part of me.

    For all the good things that the Canon digital offered, taking one look at the prints made from sheet film became a strident reminder of the difference between film & digital. It was not long before the Sinar system was dusted off, film holders loaded and film souped..

    It all came back with a roar...



    Bernice

  2. #2
    おせわに なります! Andrew O'Neill's Avatar
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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    Like most people I started with a 35mm camera (pentax K1000). Wanting better quality I moved to medium format. Wanting more control I moved to large format. 4x5, then 8x10, then 14x17.

  3. #3

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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I was introduced to LF in my first high school photography class. Everyone started with a 35mm because everyone had access to either their dad's or one of the school cameras. The school owned two Crown Graphics, which everyone used for one specific assignment. I was hooked. Over the next 8 years, I owned a Calumet, a Crown Graphic, and a Wista. I eventually went to a photography school where 4x5 was standard equipment, and on and on.

    I've owned a 35mm and a Rollei TLR for 30 years, bought a Hasselblad system I use with some regularity, but have a soft spot for 4x5. I own a Zone VI camera and several lenses and an old whole-plate camera. My photography slowed to a crawl when my wife and I had twins, but I've come back to LF because sometimes nothing else will do the job. My interest in LF really rekindled over the past 5 years, mostly because I've allowed myself to be happy with a few good images at the end of an outing instead of 300 mediocre ones that might have a couple of "keepers" among them. (Age and patience also have a lot to do with it.) And then there's the image quality.

    My 35mm gear sits in the closet, untouched for months on end. Once the kids are out of high school, I'll probably sell it. If I can find a buyer.

    Peter Gomena

  4. #4
    Indiana, USA chassis's Avatar
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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    My hardware journey went like this: Kodak Instamatic (126) > Canon FX (35mm) > Mamiya RB67 (120) > Toyo 45AII (4x5).

    The artistic aspect of things started with a summer photography course many years ago, and the art and science of photography for me has been a path of growth and exploration ever since.

  5. #5
    Drew Saunders drew.saunders's Avatar
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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I took several photo classes in college (class of '89), for which I used my Canon T70, and one of the classes was a large format photography class. "Alternate Printing Processes" was also offered, but I never took it, and I wish I had. I think there were only 6 or so students in the class for the quarter that I took it. We could borrow a Calumet Wood Field XM (I think? It was the one with the hole that let you fold it with a lens attached) or a monorail, likely also a Calumet, and a lens, and I borrowed the Wood Field and a 150/5.6. I had a lot of fun and one of the most important things I learned was that I never found the 150 to be "right" for me. With no darkroom consistently available, I wondered if I'd ever get back into LF, but with the option of scanning and printing with inkjet, I picked up a Tachihara in 2001 with an APO-Symmar (pre "L") 120/5.6 from Badger Graphic, and started with Polaroid Type 55, since I didn't want to deal with developing film. I later picked up some Jobo 2500 reels, but I'm eyeing the New55 Project, since I still hate the bother of developing film, but am too cheap and/or impatient to send it out, so if New55 gives good quality at $6/sheet, I'll likely start using it. I've added several lenses, 80, 165, 180, 200, 250x2 and 300mm, but still use the 120/5.6, and eventually will replace it with a Fuji 125/5.6 since I do run out of coverage often on that lens. I switched to an Ebony 45SU in 2008, shortly after one of the rear "arms" on my Tachi broke off at the pivot point (the camera still works fine as long as I don't need rear tilt in strong winds).

    Honestly, even if I had access to a darkroom, I don't know if I'd go back to wet prints. I did pick up two 6x4.5 cameras, a Fuji GA645zi and Mamiya 645E (with 4 lenses in time), and just sold all that 645 stuff to KEH. I sold all the 35mm SLR stuff long ago for a 250/6.3 Fuji, and still shoot a Leica M6TTL, but that might get sold if I can convince myself that the Leica Monochrom is in my budget (and I just bought up a Lotto ticket...). I picked up a Fuji XE-1 and that's what displaced all the 6x4.5 stuff, it's that good!
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/drew_saunders/

  6. #6

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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    Lifetime of photography as a hobby, starting at age 7 years with Kodak Brownie and 620 hand development.
    "...with the grandeur of true simplicity", Patrick White, "The Tree of Man".

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I was using my Rolleiflex like a view camera without movements, so moving to a 4x5 was quite natural.

  8. #8

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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I grew up in a camera household and looked at many photography books and magazines. In university studying somethng unrelated, I spent hours in the library with the photobooks. I loved Paul Strands Luzara and Hebridies pictures and stories of Edward Weston making contact prints at night in dusty hotel rooms in Mexico. So when I made some pictures I liked, I suddenly wanted an 8x10 but settled for a 4x5. Making pictures is an escape for me and very little else, I have no pretentions.

  9. #9
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I did it backwards ... I had backpacked with my brothers for many years and always thought I should be taking some Ansel Adams photos of the places we hiked. So when I was getting ready to retire I bought a Crown Graphic and enrolled in our Junior College beginning photography class. Boy, was I out of place ... a bunch of 20 year olds with 35mm cams shooting 4 rolls of 36 exposure film each week and me with five or six 4x5 negatives to develop. It was great though ... they had fun watching me do it the hard way and I enjoyed being part of their enthusiasm.

    I then moved down to MF and 35mm and then up to whole plate and 8x10 ... and just recently a few halting steps into 11x14.

    If I could only have one format ... it would be 4x5 ... not even a hard choice ... all the movements, large film selection, light weight (I now use a Gowland Pocket Lite), plenty of "pixels" for big prints, reasonably priced lenses, and reasonably sized darkroom equipment. And, now, with scanned negs and printed enlarged negatives for alternative processes (I like Carbon) you can do it all.

    Funny thing is ... now I'm not a big Adams fan and shoot mostly abstract and smaller scenes.

  10. #10

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    Re: How Did We Come To LF?

    I started "serious" photography with a digital camera in 1999 although had owned a 35mm point and shoot when I was a kid that got irregular use, and occasional shots with my father's Minolta film SLR. I remember just before leaving to move to NZ about 3 years ago, I went on a photography holiday for a couple of weeks around Scotland, and a three of the guys I went with had large format cameras. I was shooting with a Nikon D700 but was fascinated by the large format cameras. Never forgot about them and always intended to eventually get into that kind of photography. Eventually, while living in NZ, I found myself getting irritated and fed up with having to deal with a memory card full of 100s of images (sure, I could have shot less but the temptation was a strong thing!) and decided to sell up and move to film. I did that and purchased a Mamiya RB67 (my walk around camera) and a Sinar F2 (everything else).

    I had a brief moment where I returned to digital and my Sinar was left on the shelf for a while but got back into it when I moved over here to Australia and now I'm completely set on large format and as far as digital goes, I have an iPhone that rarely gets used. Everything else is shot with my Toyo, my Cambo 8x10 or my Leica M6.

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