handholding a 4x5 field camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by steff_., Oct 25, 2004.

  1. I keep hearing: 'sorry no tripod allowed!'.
    I'm sick of lugging the heavy gear around only to be told that i
    cannot take the shot i want. My camera has all accessories necessary
    for handheld shooting. Is there something like the 1/focal length rule
    in 35mm for LF?

    cheers, Steff
  2. Try A.) Checking ahead

    B.) Using a monopod. It has worked for me -very occaisionally- when using a camera like a
    Linhof Technika.
  3. Rangefinders on graflex type cameras work very well when calibrated correctly.

    Alternately you can use a wide lens to give you max depth-of-field and a strong flash.
  4. I recently went to Paris, and didn't want to be slowed down by a tripod.
    I took my 4x5, got a viewfinder that was close to the width of my lens (stick with wide angle- the DoF can carry your guesstimation focussing), and hand-held everything. Even the indoor shots were taken by putting the 4x5 on a table or column, and shooting that way. If you go to my folders, you'll see some of the results.

  5. Thank you for your suggestions - what shutter speed did you use with your wideangle lens and is there something like the 1/focal length rule in 35mm for LF?
  6. Dear Steff,

    For my Crown Graphic, I "translate" the lens to 35mm then use my rule. In my case, the 135mm Xenar becomes ~ 38mm in the 35mm film world. My minimum speed rule is 1/(2 x focal length) so it becomes 1/75. You might be able to go to the traditional 1/fl if you are steadier than I am (probable) and because the larger camera is heavier combined with no mirror slap (certain). In practice, I seldom go below 1/100.

    Neal Wydra
  7. A focal length is the same focal length no matter what the format is. The size of the format only really affects the cropping of the image that gets onto the film depending on the size of that film in relation to the focal length. It does not affect the handholding characteristics of the lens. For example, a 135mm "standard lens" on a 4x5 camera should have the same handholding characteristics as a 135mm lens on a 35 mm camera (1/125, but probably best results at 1/250). Therefore, you would ideally need the same shutter speed to handhold on the 4x5 as on the 35mm camera, assuming you can keep both steady to the same degree.
  8. The limit for handholding has more to do with the permissable circle of confusion than the focal length. The shutter speed limit for a normal lens is the same regrardless of the format. Hand holding 4x5 cameras is not that more difficult than hand holding any type of camera - except for the weight and ergonomics. 4x5 used to be the standard for press photography 60 years ago or so. And the emulsions at that time were certainly slower. You should be able to hand hold the camera quite well. If you like the 35mm rule, think in equivalent focal lengths.
  9. Roger Hicks in one of his books talks about handholding the 4x5's (there's
    even a photograph of him holding the camera on his shoulder.) and how
    because of the larger format it is easier to get better results then with 35mm.
    What it comes down to is the smaller degree of enlargement size for the
    bigger neg and the bulk of the camera nulling your movements. Essentially
    the rule is, try it out and see what you get. Everyone is different and whereas
    you might have success, others won't.
  10. Steff,

    IMHO, The biggest difference between hand held and tripod mounted LF is that movements simply are not an option when working handheld(maybe someone more dexterous than I can use movements, but I sure can't)which is why I think speed and crown graphics are still so popular.
  11. Practice with YOUR equipment; shooting images handholding and different speeds with your LF equipment. Result will vary with camera; person; and are will have more scatter as the shutter speed is reduced. The mass of a speed graphic helps with a 1/30 sec shot by leaf of focal plane; here I have had decent luck with a 127mm lens and slow speeds. If you hold the heavy camera for awhile the scatter/bluring may increase; as the tired arms move more. A monopod will radically reduce motion; and tripod vastly better. How one pulls the shutter matters alot; like firing a gun.
  12. Steff,

    I use my Linhof Technika III a lot for hand held shooting, either with 4x5 film holders or with a Horseman 6x12 roll film holder.

    As lens I am using a Linhof 90 mm Angulon which I can leave, with sunshade, in the closed camera.

    The 90 mm approximates a wide wide angle in 35 mm and I routinely shoot at 1/25 secon. The outcome is jolly good. The reason is that the cameral viewfinder is placed rather high up. With my eye on the viewfinder, the camera rests smugly on my breast and is extremely stable.

    I even use the camera handheld with moderate lens rises to get everything in parallel when shooting buildings. For this I use the framfinder accessory which is put above the lensboard. Since the framefinder rises with the lens, it is possible to assess the approximate effect of the rise.

    All in all, I am very satsified with this outfit, which actually is more stable, when rested on my breast than if I woul put it on a monopod.
  13. Cheers y'all , you saved me a lot of time and film.


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