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Thread: The LOWDOWN on 4 x 5

  1. #1

    The LOWDOWN on 4 x 5

    Before I get started, if any of you are interested in 4 x 5 photography with a view camera, I suggest first getting a good book on beginning "View Camera" technique which will answer all your questions. One of the best publications is "Using the View Camera" by Steve Simmons Go to: http://www.viewcamera.com/store.html

    Now that we got that out of the way, I am first going to discourage you by telling you that View Cameras are heavy, don't pack very well and you need a strong back and a good sturdy tripod, if you have a monorail view. Also sheet film is not cheap, especially "ektachrome sheets" which run about 4.00 each for 10 sheets. So if you aren't discouraged at this point, lets continue.

    There are basically two kinds of 4 x 5's. The Monorail and the Field Camera.
    The Monorail is best suited for the studio and the field camera which is either wood or metal and will fold up and go in a good sized camera bag is probally better for the "newbie" just starting out. Some of the Major suppliers include Arca Swiss, Horseman, Linhoff, Toyo, Tachihara (Japanese) Wista (Japanese) Wisner (made by Ron Wisner in USA) Sinar and Cambo (sold by Calumet)

    Most of the latest designs will let you mount polaroid backs (used to check composition, exposure, lighting, etc) roll film backs which include 2 1/4 x 3 1/4, 6 x 4.5, 6 x 7 and 6 x 9. And you can even mount a Canon digital body on one brand and shoot with a "CFC". Gotcha interested now...lets go on.
    The advantages of View is the image on the viewing screen. What you see when you look through the back of the view is actually what will be on the negative. There will never be a parallax error. You can check your composition by using a magnifying glass or a cheap loupe to check your sharpness of focus in all corners of the frame. The camera itself is adjustable from front to rear permitting you to twist and turn and correct focus problems or distortion. One thing, you have to do is buy and use a black focusing cloth over your head so you can see the back screen which wil make the image appear upside down. But you soon get used to that.

    The 4 x 5 is usually made up of a front (standard) which is adustable, a back( standard) adjustable, a bellows of about 18-21 inches between the two standards. a front lens mounted in a separate shutter and set in a lens board and then mounted into the front..Still with me so far?

    The lens are made by different companies. Schneider, Fuji, Nikon, Rodenstock to name some. The shutters are usually 1 sec to 1 1/400 of a second. The fastest lens might be F 4.5 to F32 or 64. F 4.5 is considered fast on a big camera while F 5.6 is considered normal. But all this you are going to read in a good "View Camera" book first.

    The normal lens for a 4 x 5 is around 180mm, and some use a 210mm as a long normal, some use a 150mm as short normal. The practice varies.

    In order to get started you will always need at least 6-8 film holders. Each film holder holds 2 sheets. You will need a good reflective light meter and a focusing cloth made of black material to throw over you head so you can focus. a magnifying glass or 6x loupe. A sturdy tripod, a small set of jewelers screw drivers so you can change lens with different lens boards and a modicum of patience. Setting up takes time. Focusing takes time and this is not a camera that can really be used for action photography. These cameras are more suitable for landscape, architectural, still lifes and anything static and also commercial work. Other extras you might want to include might be a bag bellows for shorter than 150mm lens. Now you have to have a View Camera where you can undo the normal bellows and replace with a bag bellows (also called a wide angle bellows)
    They also make extension bellows to go on your 18-21 inches bellows to extend the front for macro work. It't also a good idea to carry a black changing bag with you in case you need to go into your film holder.

    I load my holders at night on the dining room table with the lights out and a changing bag (big one) after everyone has gone to bed. After loading the holders and putting in the slide one way to show unexposed film (This is for Zacker) I put the holders in an ammo box for safe keeping. Any extra film I don't use goes back into the original box and back into the refridgerator.

    I hope that I have gotten your interest and for you Orgoni1, if you are really interested, get the book, read it and if you pay the shipping, I will loan you my Wista wooden field and a lens to try out while I am in China.
    ProPhotoImages/ Ted Austin
    National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
    National Association PhotoShop Professionals (NAPP)
    Electronic Technicians Assn (ETA)

    See Infrared at: http://s66.photobucket.com/albums/h278/prophotoimages

    "A bad day in the Darkroom is better than a good day in the classroom".

    " Instead of 8 hours in the darkroom, It's now 8 hours at the computer".

  2. #2
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    Wow Ted... thats a nice offer which Im willing to bet Ross will take you up on.. As for them "Ammo" boxes, I dont know..... lol
    Canon EOS 30D With grip, various lenses and stuff...

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    LOL naw... not gonna worry about taking Ted up on it just yet... I am thinking I need some 1:1 guidance when I start (if I do) shooting LF...so I think I WILL take him up on a couple day visit to his studio for some hands on lessons and see if I want to venture into it....
    Ross Mealey
    Canon Professional Services Member

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    Quote Originally Posted by Orgnoi1
    LOL naw... not gonna worry about taking Ted up on it just yet... I am thinking I need some 1:1 guidance when I start (if I do) shooting LF...so I think I WILL take him up on a couple day visit to his studio for some hands on lessons and see if I want to venture into it....
    Now that sounds like a fun trip!

    Thanks for sharing Ted. Do you think that most large format photographers develop their own film, or do they use a lab. I would think that it would get quite expensive using a lab for this stuff.

    "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter..."
    Ansel Adams


    "... So don't choke and screw it up!" Me

    Mike Collins



    Canon 5DMk3 (gripped), 17-40L f/4, 24-70L f/2.8 II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II, 100 f/2.8 Macro, 135L f/2, 200L f/1.8, TC1.4 II, TC2 III, 600EX-RT (2), ST-E3-RT
    Sigma 15 f/2.8 Fisheye

  5. #5

    Processing Film

    just about all large format photographers process their own B/W film and they usually take their color negative or transparency film to a pro lab for 4 hr. processing. Here in Washington, D.C. most pro labs charge about $2.50 per film holder which has 2 sheets. You take the holders in, leave them and pick up with your processed film later. If you get b/w processed, it's usually $2.00 per holder. This is for all normal processing at normal "iso's". The charge is usually a buck extra for a 1 or 2 stop push per sheet with color neg or transparency. But if you push or pull 1 or 2 stops, it's best to waste one holder for a type of "clip" test where they will take your test holder and take one sheet and run it to see what the results look like and make adjustments from the test for good results from your other holders. Of course the "clip test" is extra. If you are working for a client, you just bill your film processing costs in.

    But processing b/w yourself is fun if and when you have time and are not doing it for a client. Cause now you load the sheets in a 4 x 5 daylite tank or you can process it in a tray in the dark using the interleave method. With this "interleaving method" you need 4 trays. A pre-water bath tray, a dev tray, short stop tray (acetic acid) and fixer tray. after the 4 trays, you get to turn the lights on and look at your results. Then put the film in 4 x 5 hangers for washing. After that a quick dry wash aid and hang in a drying cabinet.

    You can also load your holders with "IR" 4 x 5 film, but you must have absolute darkness and after loading holders, wrap them in a black bag for safekeeping traveling to your shooting site and after shooting put them back in a black bag back to the darkroom.
    ProPhotoImages/ Ted Austin
    National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
    National Association PhotoShop Professionals (NAPP)
    Electronic Technicians Assn (ETA)

    See Infrared at: http://s66.photobucket.com/albums/h278/prophotoimages

    "A bad day in the Darkroom is better than a good day in the classroom".

    " Instead of 8 hours in the darkroom, It's now 8 hours at the computer".

  6. #6

    4 x 5

    Quote Originally Posted by Orgnoi1
    LOL naw... not gonna worry about taking Ted up on it just yet... I am thinking I need some 1:1 guidance when I start (if I do) shooting LF...so I think I WILL take him up on a couple day visit to his studio for some hands on lessons and see if I want to venture into it....
    Orgnoi1.... after you wrap your fingers around a 4 x 5 camera, I guarantee you will be hooked for life. And it adds another dimension to your arsenal. I think the field camera with a 180mm Nikkor or Schneider lens would be about right for you. he he he

    Convergent, What's your pleasure? Zacker, I want you to try those "ammo boxes". Anyone else?
    ProPhotoImages/ Ted Austin
    National Press Photographers Association (NPPA)
    National Association PhotoShop Professionals (NAPP)
    Electronic Technicians Assn (ETA)

    See Infrared at: http://s66.photobucket.com/albums/h278/prophotoimages

    "A bad day in the Darkroom is better than a good day in the classroom".

    " Instead of 8 hours in the darkroom, It's now 8 hours at the computer".

  7. The Toyo Field 45CF isn't any heavier than a digital body with a grip attached.



    I've been treking around the woods of NH with one, and I've never been tired with it - its really light, considering its a large format camera.

    I do agree that once you find the time, funds, and ability to make enlargements (or contact prints) with 4x5 film, or larger, it makes you want to put down all smaller based photographic capture.

    But its an expensive hobby.

  8. #8
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    "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter..."
    Ansel Adams


    "... So don't choke and screw it up!" Me

    Mike Collins



    Canon 5DMk3 (gripped), 17-40L f/4, 24-70L f/2.8 II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II, 100 f/2.8 Macro, 135L f/2, 200L f/1.8, TC1.4 II, TC2 III, 600EX-RT (2), ST-E3-RT
    Sigma 15 f/2.8 Fisheye

  9. decent price especially with all the film holders and the case.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sid_Ceaser
    decent price especially with all the film holders and the case.
    That's what I was thinking... and it looked like brand new. With this discussion going, I figured I'd see what was on there. I was buying a Mamiya lens and back that ended about the same time.

    "Sometimes I do get to places just when God's ready to have somebody click the shutter..."
    Ansel Adams


    "... So don't choke and screw it up!" Me

    Mike Collins



    Canon 5DMk3 (gripped), 17-40L f/4, 24-70L f/2.8 II, 70-200L f/2.8 IS II, 100 f/2.8 Macro, 135L f/2, 200L f/1.8, TC1.4 II, TC2 III, 600EX-RT (2), ST-E3-RT
    Sigma 15 f/2.8 Fisheye

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