Shooting large format cameras VS anything else?

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by Ricochetrider, Dec 4, 2020.

  1. Not sure that anything with wheels is the answer - apart from a 4x4 offroad vehicle.

    Grass and rough terrain render small wheels near useless, and you end up dragging the thing more than rolling it. I learned this from giving my daughter rides on her wheeled toys when she was a toddler.

    My 5x4 all-metal technical camera folds up and fits in a smallish canvas gadget bag. The bag will also take a couple of DDSs, a lightmeter, folded darkcloth and cable-release. Apart from weighing slightly more, it's no more inconvenient to carry than a DSLR kit.

    The real pain is the tripod, but it doesn't have to be monstrous. A Manfrotto 055 is adequate, and is about the minimum I'd consider for useful stability with any camera. No matter what size.

    I don't know what the total weight is, but it's not so excessive that a few miles walk isn't too taxing. I suspect the unseen TV cameraman accompanying any wildlife presenter lugs a lot more, and a lot further.
  2. So it also depends on what LF camera you have.
  3. Yup.
    My monorail is a LOT bigger and clumsy than a nice field camera.
    Some field cameras fold up and form their own case, my monorail has to go into another case.

    I've been thinking about getting a Crown Graphic or similar to use as a field camera.
    The monorail is nice, but a logistical pain.
  4. Yup there are limits to wheels.
    If it is too rough for wheels, I probably won't go there with my 4x5. As I dang well don't want to lug the gear by foot.
    I might take the 6x6 instead.
  5. A monorail wouldn't be my first (or 2nd or 3rd) choice for location shooting. It wouldn't even be on my radar for landscape use more than 50 metres from vehicular access.

    Apart from the weight and awkwardness, a mororail presents a big 'sail' area to the wind, and even a slight cross breeze can cause quite a lot of camera vibration.

    A folding metal technical camera at least shields the bellows quite well within its body, and has the heft to damp a lot of wind vibration. Same for a wooden field folder, but with less weight and inertia.
    Gary Naka likes this.
  6. YUP, it was a real pain to setup and use. Definitely an example of "jack of all trades, master of none."
    Which is why I was looking for a field camera, off and on.
  7. Films latitude is enough that it's not necessary to compensate if the shot is less than about 1:1, but moving into macro the effect is significant enough that it needs to be allowed for.
    The difference between formats is down to how big a subject is when shooting at macro distances. We're used to thinking of macro as small subjects no more than a couple of inches across. On medium format this isn't too far from the truth, the subjects are still quite small. But on large format this changes everyday objects are often lifesize - giving rise to enough extension to require exposure correction. My LF cameras are only 5x4 so adult portraits aren't quite macro (but a baby's face could fill the frame) Once you get up to 10x8 even an adults face is a true macro subject. :eek:

    As others have said LF also tends to include movements that significantly slow down the focusing/composition stages.
  8. Film lattitude is, um..., debatable. But correct exposure always trumps lattitude-will-take-care-of-everything-that's-not-quite-correct exposure.
    There is no reason, really, not to determine the exposure you need and set it.
  9. A monorail absolutely rules in the studio, but they're agoraphobic beasts that definitely don't like being taken outdoors!
    It's totally easy to calculate any bellows-extension exposure compensation. Just measure, or guesstimate, the fractional extension from infinity focus, and multiply the scale f-number by that.

    Say your bellows extension at infinity focus is 6" (~ 150mm) and the bellows are now extended to 8" (200mm). That's 8/6 (200/150) = 1.33x. So just multiply your marked f-number by 1.33 to get the effective f-number.

    Say you set f/11 on the scale, then your effective f-number is (11 x 1.33) = ~ f/15.

    It doesn't need to be a dead accurate calculation, since chances are that your mechanical shutter isn't any closer than 1/3rd of a stop to its marked speed. In the example above, taking the nearest shutter speed to f/16 on your meter readout would be close enough.
  10. It's rather the person having to carry the beast that doesn't like to take it out.
    A monorail is quite useful outdoors too. A field camera is that also, but has its restrictions in comparison. You're quite right that the large bellows are effective sails (i have personal experience of a heavy Sinar on a ditto Gitzo blown over as if they weigh not much in wind that couldn't blow me of my feet).
    But if the venue is right (i.e. accessible, mostly), there is enough time, i see no reason not to bring a monorail. Except, of course i would rather haul a camera that weighs next to nothing.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  11. There are two approaches to macrophotography (or photomacrography, as it would be called properly): scale driven and frame driven.

    If you want to take a photo of, say, a bug a 2x life time size, all you need is a format large enough to contain that image. And the smaller the format, the easier it is to use. Using a 8x10" instead of a 35 mm format camera gives you lots of other subject matter inside the frame besides the bug, but not more detail.

    The frame approach tries to fill the frame with the subject matter. And that means that the larger formats need more magnification. Using longer lenses, in comparison to 35 mm format, already menas more extension for the same magnification. And if you need even more... It gets unpractical, not worth the bother, very fast.
    The upside is that you could get much more detail. Could, because you begin to lose DoF and start seeing diffraction limits rather soon.

    So in general, the smaller formats make more sense for macrophotography.

    What however is not really different is that you do need to apply exposure compensation using small formats too, even at scales that are not yet macro. Use a typical short tele for a head shot, and you already might (depends on the particular lens' design) need over half a stop in compensation. The thing is that small cameras usually meter through the lens, and then you do not notice.
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2021
  12. They make absolute sense!

    With 50 and 60 megapixel digital cameras, and focus-stacking software readily available; you'd have to be slightly eccentric (to put it politely) to use anything bigger than 'full frame' digital for macro photography these days.

    OTOH, if you're taking high quality architectural pictures, or anything else that needs extensive camera movements, then 5x4 sheet film or bigger still makes sense.

    It's just a case of choosing the right horse for the course, or the right tool for the job. And leaving behind any personal media-preference prejudice.
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2021
    Gary Naka likes this.
  13. Not really.
    It works out that the aperture needed for an equivalent depth-of-field causes the same diffraction softening in proportion to format size.

    It's a no-win situation no matter how big or small you make the format. Except that focus-stacking now makes choice of aperture a rather secondary consideration.

    But I still don't fancy going through an entire box of sheet film, and then scanning it, to have enough shots for a focus-stacking exercise.
  14. The thing is that you will not really end up with a more detailed image using larger formats and more magnification.

    Re stacking: you could use digital capture on a 4x5" camera (3x4" capture area approx.), and forget about film. Upto approx. 135 MP, depending on the back used.
    I never tried that though. I rather use smaller formats for macro.
  15. A monorail works great for architectural photography because they usually put buildings in places you can drive to. ;)
    peter_fowler and ajkocu like this.
  16. There are many buildings where you can drive by them but not park/unload...
    Monorails generally have much better movements so if the wind isn't going to be a problem I'd prefer them anyway.
  17. Yes, but movements you don't actually need unless shooting product or architecture.

    Most landscapes won't really benefit from large degrees of swing, rise, or tilt. Maybe a bit of forward tilt to help get front-to-back depth of field - as long as you don't mind the tops of trees going a bit fuzzy. Or some drop front to get more foreground in. And any decent technical camera will provide enough of those.

    Where a monorail excels is when fitted with a bag-bellows to accomodate an extreme wide-angle, but then the lens, and its proximity to the back, usually precludes using extensive movements.
  18. Ray from Adelaide, Australia, here. I started photography at about 10-12 year old on my parents farm, using Mum's Box Brownie. I moved to Sydney for work in 1964 at age 19 and soon purchased a 35mm SLR. I moved quickly to doing my own B&W processing and have done so ever since, also dabbling with Cibachrome colour prints from slides. I got a Zeiss Ikon Super Ikonta about 1974 (still have it - 120 roll film) and began my love with larger formats, and got a NikonD300 digital some years back. Then got 2 4x5's at an auction and began using LF, and a few years ago got an 8"x10" back after purchasing a SinarP2. I found that, although digital was ok, I got far more satisfaction and pleasure out of MF & LF, and still do. Regression to being a Luddite? I have now acquired an 8" x 10" enlarger, even though that size is good for contact prints, but yet to use this Durst enlarger. So what we use photographically is what gives us the most pleasure. My preference is B&W film using any of my several 35mm through to 8" x 10" cameras. 35mm and roll film cameras (I now mainly use my Mamiya RB67 with motor film transport backs) are more easily transported for sure. Go your own way!
  19. When I first started, I felt I had a good understanding of the basic mechanics of LF, namely loading the holders, dark slide procedures, exposure, etc. The biggest challenge for me was learning the movements and the effects of each and how to use them to your advantage that other formats may not necessarily accommodate. Steve Simmons' excellent book, Using the View Camera helped make it all make sense.
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
    Gary Naka likes this.
  20. ^ Ahhhhh, loading the film holders , how many times did I get that pit in the stomach when reinserting the dark slide only to
    hear the crunch of film being folded :( .Learning from errors is a painful teacher . Peter
    ajkocu likes this.

Share This Page