Large Format Photography - Where do I Start?

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by urufan56, Feb 13, 2010.

  1. urufan56

    urufan56 TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm looking into Large Format photography and I was wondering if you guys could give some good starters. I have a budget of about $700.00 (but this also includes the bag and a few accessories). I think I want to do 4x5, but if maybe it's better for me to do another size, would you guys please tell me. Thanks!

    Sorry, you guys probably get a lot of these posts so sorry.
     
  2. epatsellis

    epatsellis TPF Noob!

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    The best start you could do would be to start with a book, here's a few to consider:
    [ame="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0817463534/alargeformatphot"] [/ame]Using the View Camera, by Steve Simmons; View Camera Technique, by Leslie Stroebel as well as Ansel Adam's The Camera (as well as the entire three book series).

    For more info, see A large format photography home page

    Take your time, figure out what you want, and go slow. It's easy to get caught up in the excitement and end up with alot of stuff you'll never use. Start with one lens ( a 135 or 150) and use it for several months to a year before even considering another.
     
  3. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    4x5 is a good start. There are plenty of good,solid used 4x5 cameras on the market. Do not pay too much money for the camera! The Fujinon-W 150mm f/5.6 lens is a pretty decent,affordable lens. There are a zillion lenses available though, from many manufacturers. There are 50 years' worth of 4x5 cameras available on the used market,and I have seen prices on the same basic Toyos from $150 to $400. there are cheap-o 4x5's like old Kodaks, and old Calumet models, to very expensive Linhof and Sinar cameras.

    A month or two of research would really help you out. Some looking might easily uncover a nice 3 x 2 foot trunk case that holds a monorail view in 4x5, 10 film holders, one or two lenses on lensboards, and a focusing cloth....all for under $700.
     
  4. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I use the fujinon-W 150mm on an old 4x5 speed graphic, it's a great combination.

    The question the TS should ask himself, is he looking for tripod only work or would enjoy a press camera that he could shoot handheld? The only knock on the press camera is the lack of a great range of movements.
     
  5. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I disagree that 4x5 is a good start.

    I have recently bought an 8x10 for the simple reason that I can make contact prints and therefore forget half of the darkroom equipment. 4x5s are viewable as contact prints but an 8x10 is a much nicer size and I'll bet that a 4x5 enlarger is harder to find than a 35mm one. I don't remember a single school/public/workshop darkroom I ever used that had an enlarger able to handle anything bigger than MF.
     
  6. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    8x10 contact prints are amazing, the downside being very cumbersome gear and expensive film. Developing 8x10 isn't quite as easy as 4x5 either--typically sheet by sheet tray development is all you can do. Then there are lenses: quality lenses that cover 8x10 are $$. Of course you can always use a 4x5 back on an 8x10 camera along with 4x5 coverage lenses.

    As for enlarging, there's always digital scanning; and 4x5 enlargers are not that hard to come by these days as everybody is gutting out their darkrooms. And there's always the graflarger attachment that will turn any graflock back 4x5 camera into a decent enlarger--I use one of these with pleasing results.

    It all depends on the style of photography. I'm currently looking for an 8x10 camera so I can make those amazing contact prints, but it would in no way replace my 4x5, which I can walk around the city and shoot handheld.
     
  7. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    With a limited budget, some very serious thought needs to go into the whole system before any purchases are made (other than a good book or two).

    - Are you going to shoot B&W
    - Are you going to shoot color
    - If B&W, do you plan to do your own film processing
    - If B&W, do you plan to do your own wet darkroom printing
    - Do you plan on scanning and printing digitally

    You need to consider all of these with an eye to how much of the budget needs to be reserved for equipment other than camera, lens, film holders, light meter, and tripod.
     
  8. JC1220

    JC1220 TPF Noob!

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    borrow, rent or find a local who might mentor you and introduce you to the equipment. $700 can find you a decent 4x5 setup, but not a practical 8x10 setup. 4x5 development is the same as 8x10, no difference other than size. Its going to come down to what works for you, I skipped MF went to 4x5 for about a year then 8x10 and up and have not touched anything smaller in quite some time, it will be a matter of workflow, budget and desire.
     
  9. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Yes indeed, 8x10 contacts can be amazing. It is definitely a bit more costly to start with but I believe it is well worth the extra expense. I don't agree with 8x10 being less a walk around camera than a 4x5 but it may just be my age which makes 4x5 no easier to be a walk around format :lmao:

    The developing one sheet of film at a time is not really a problem imho. Part of the fun of LF is to work slow. Also, 4x5 contacts are not impossible. I have known plenty of photogs shooting and framing smaller Polaroids but they don't seem to appeal as much to the average buyer which is why I went to 8x10 with the possibility of shooting 4x5 and enlarge those... and tbh I have just bought a 4x5 enlarger.

    I would love to find an 8x10 enlarger but I was never successful the last time so I'm not getting my hopes up.

    However, I totally disagree with digital scanning. I feel that if you are going to shoot film, you should PP your image the traditional way. In the darkroom. I love the smell of developer in the morning :D
     
  10. SoonerBJJ

    SoonerBJJ TPF Noob!

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    Can you recommend a good "walk around" 10x8?
     
  11. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    No.

    I meant that 4x5 is no easier to walk around with for me at this time of my life. ;)
     
  12. SoonerBJJ

    SoonerBJJ TPF Noob!

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    Gotcha. I'm in the very early stages of looking at LF. I like the idea of doing 8x10 contact prints so I'm considering that for my entry into LF.
     

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