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Thursday, 02 May 2013


I wouldn't be shocked if that pool of 1026 backers includes a majority of everyone in the world still interested in 4x5.

Good for them!

"So who said film is dead, again?"

Me. The vast majority of these clever little cameras will, for all statistical purposes, spend their lives in closets.

But it was still a cool idea.

I knew I forgot to send money for something!

I still want to know how these photographers will get their sheet-film developed. Should we buy up all of these that we can, too (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/908261-REG/Paterson_4X5_Sheet_Film_6.html)?

I see this as a likely flash in the pan; once the first couple of rounds roll off the assembly-line, buyers will realize how difficult it is getting their film processed, and word will get around.

I hate that, because I love film photography, and I love 4x5s. But I can’t see how it goes any other way.

[It's pretty easy to develop sheet film. You can do it in an open tray. All you need is a room where no light gets in, which can be a bathroom with the window well covered. It's harder to print without a darkroom, because the equipment takes up more space that can usually be improvised.

I never recommended any sort of tank for 4x5. If you want to get fancy, get some BTZS tubes:



So the question is do I sell my lens to somebody who bought the camera, or do I wait to buy a second hand (price reduced) Travelwide to mate to my lens?

Procrastination will likely rule, and thus my lens will stay where it is for now.

There's always the pinhole option. 4x5 is big enough that pinhole isn't as hopeless as it is in 35mm, say.

I'm glad they got this going, though I wasn't terribly tempted to get one (I've got an old monorail 4x5; a very different beast, but one I remember how to use).

ED, there are a few places in the USA that people can use for sheet film by mail. The Dark Room, for instance, develops 4x5 and 8x10. At $4 a sheet for 4x5 though I think you'd soon be figuring out how to do it at home.


Following up to Nicholas Condon's comment: I don't think that's right. The numbers are not large, but simply based on the number of people I've met, this year, in one fairly small country they can't be that small.

And it's not as hard as people make out once you get away from the whole take-a-billion-pictures-in-two-minutes-and-then-waste-away-in-front-of-a-computer-for-fifty-hours thing which has consumed photography: 5x4 is trivial to process (I do it with a mod54 in my normal tank), and ought to scan really well on a flatbed scanner (I haven't tried, but there is a lot of resolution to play with). Darkroom enlargements are harder, of course, but not really much harder than any other kind of darkroom enlargements.

Greg, sell your lens to me! I helped fund the project and I dont want to be limited to using the included pinhole, but the prices for the lenses have already gone up in the last month. Mike, thanks for the link to the tubes. I just purchased ten Fidelity Elite 4x5 film holders that once belonged to Jon Davis from Calumet in NYC for 12.99USD each. Does the rest of the world shoot xXxcm or is all large format film Imperial? Mike, please start a large format film choice and developing process thread because I have no clue where to begin and I bet your readers have some great experience and wisdom to share with us newbs.

This type of news always brings out the skeptics. The "film is dead crowd". I believe they think a bunch of no nothing hipsters are getting these. From the comments in the Large Format Forum however, it appears at least most supporters have a background in silver halide based photography and will get along just fine. I've not shot 4X5 film yet, I'm using paper negatives, but I have no fear of starting having had a long history of home developing roll film from 16mm to 120 size.


You make it sound like it is so difficult to get large format film processed. I use two places here in the Midwest that process all my E-6 large format film, and that includes 4x5, 5x7, 4x10, and 8x10. Granted both of these labs do my color slide films, but b&w films are fairly easy to process at home. In case you are wondering, Burne Imaging in Madison and AgX in Sault Ste. Marie, MI still provide excellent e-6 service and there are more labs still doing E-6 around the country. I would think many of these places still process C-41, I know that Burne still does. Oh, and yes, I was one of the supporters of the Wanderlust.

"It's harder to print without a darkroom, because the equipment takes up more space that can usually be improvised."

Absolutely true if you want to enlarge the negatives. On the other hand if you do an alternative process like Platinum, Ziatype or Palladium you don't even really need a very dark room. These processes can be done under a bug light.

Ziatypes also benefit from being a printing out process so just get the paper and negative into a contact print frame and go find a bright light source, like outside.

Plus the alternative process thing adds yet another level of coolness to the whole enterprise.

Good for the Travelwide guys!

I agree with Harrison Cronbi. Personally I have so much fun with 4x5 that I bought a Gaoersi "P&S" to complement the Chamonix view camera, but I have experience with film development and film scanning. Once people realize they need ~$300-$500 for the camera and film holders, plus $5-$10 to buy and process one sheet of film, most of these cameras will be sitting on the shelves or flooding the Auction site.

You're killing Smalls. But then I have en Ebony 4X5SU sitting in my closet for the last 5 years seeing very little light of day.

"Could have been worse. They could have spent $2,500 on a gorgeous handmade whole-plate view camera and another thousand for a fine lens for it, shot twenty sheets with it, and put that in the closet. But what kind of idiot would do that?"

Thanks, Mike. Just when I was feeling bad about blowing £450 on a Pentax K5 that I'll probably shoot thousands of frames with, you remind me there are uncountably worse purchases I could have made in the camerasphere. :)

PS - ouch.

When I took a photography class in college one of the assignments was to take the loaner 8x10 view camera out. As a college student few could afford 8x10 film, so we loaded printing paper in the film holders. Exposure trial and error.
Development, easy. Made contact prints of the paper negatives. Still have them many years later. They look great!
So, use paper in those 4x5 film holders and shoot away. Easy to process and fun to play with.

"Could have been worse. They could have spent $2,500 on a gorgeous handmade whole-plate view camera and another thousand for a fine lens for it, shot twenty sheets with it, and put that in the closet. But what kind of idiot would do that?"

Probably me after I saw the Tokyo price of the film and likely processing costs---I have no darkroom and no room for one unless my wife throws away all of her "un-necessaries." Or, I would ignore that and use it anyway while living under a blue tarp on the Tamagawa to be able to afford it. I have been so tempted many times.

Don't waste time with angulons. They are already way overpriced. The time to corner the market on those was months ago. But even that would be pointless for anyone wanting the best image. For $400-500 you can have the nikon 90/8 which is easily the best 90 ever made for 4x5.


Just a plug for my buddy Edgar Praus, owner and operator of Praus Productions here in Rochester, New York... http://www.4photolab.com.

Twenty years ago there were a dozen professional quality photo labs in Rochester alone, plus many more consumer minilabs. Edgar is now the only viable lab and is doing predominately mail order - with film coming in from as far away as Saudi Arabia and New Zealand. Business is good, quality is better than ever, and I have no doubt I'll be bringing him my C41 for as long as they make C41 and then a few years after!

>Mike replies: Could have been worse. They >could have spent $2,500 on a gorgeous >handmade whole-plate view camera and another >thousand for a fine lens for it, shot twenty >sheets with it, and put that in the closet. >But what kind of idiot would do that?

Somebody who has LuLu for a pet?

Somebody who blogs under the heading "The
OnLine Photographer"????

Nah, Mike would never put such a device in the closet, he'd display it out where all the visitors to his house could ask "why is that camera up on the shelf???"

It really tempted me. But I decided that I would stick with 6x6 as my large film format and stuck by that decision. It was the sensible, economical thing to do.

Of course, I then went out and bought another Hasselblad...

pfft, I just finished making a 4x5 pinhole camera from some nice birch plywood with a beautiful "curly" veneer. no lens needed.

I really do want a travelwide, though, I assumed that the lens scarcity would be a consideration, so I saved my money for more film. I learned my lesson when people found out you could use old nikkor lenses on new digital bodies. my fm2 hasn't had a new lens in more than a decade.

It is nice to remember how things were back when we were young, but phooey I say to film. Darkrooms don't fence me in with your suffocating fumes and your fear of light, I paid the price, I served my time.
Give me digital, or give me paint!

Contact prints. In 4x5, 5x7 or 8x10, there is little in modern photography like an old fashioned contact print.

Foma makes a couple of types of contact paper still, resin covered. Decent and reasonably priced - 100 5x7 sheets of grade 2 is $40.

Then there's Lodima which I need to find the money to buy a box of (that's a buck a sheet at my 5x7 size.Ouch!) And that will probably lead me off into the pyro/amidol rabbit hole laughing all the way... ;)

Linhoff Photo in Minneapolis still lists sheet-film processing on their website.

Photomfa.com is a crowd-sourced list of places that do film processing around the country. And they list additional places in Minneapolis, and are probably a good place to look for those unlucky ones of you who don't live here :-) .

The great thing about trying out film if you're only familiar with the digital world is that you get to break away from the damned computer - both the one on your desk and the one you use to take pictures. Developing? Cost me under $100 to start doing that myself, and I'm doing it on Sundays for an hour or so - not in front of a computer. Scans? Well, they're on the computer, but it's 'set it and forget it' while they're scanning. And instead of taking 300 images a week I take thirty. It'd be less if I shot 4x5. I'm really enjoying it and it's such a welcome change from the endless fiddling with camera settings, tons of "adobe time", and the never ending upgrade cycle.

"Just when I was feeling bad about blowing £450 on a Pentax K5 that I'll probably shoot thousands of frames with, you remind me there are uncountably worse purchases I could have made in the camerasphere."

I'm wondering if that Pentax is going to keep you awake with excitement thinking of your next weekend trip to a landscape you'd never otherwise have seen without the camera; whether it will open up new ways of seeing for you; whether you'll experience the concentration of spending hours in the countryside with the zen focus of finding the perfect image that will hang on your wall, instead of never printed on a hard disk.

Ah Mike,

A chap called Gursky developed 5x7 color slides (Velvia 100F) in a closet in a hotel in Pyongyang while an assistent used a matras to hold the door shut and stop the light coming in.

But seriously I would agree with Ken on this one. Much to limited to my needs, I rather buy a used 6x9 Linhof or even better a 6x8 GX680 with 4 lenses (50 till 135). Much more versatile and using Adox CMS 20 you can make blowups to 3 x 4 feet. And that is large enough in my book. The problem in LF isn't film though, if you wanna get everything out of the film you need a serious scanner (drum for instance) and a large printing facility. Or you only wind up with about 16.000 pixel sides on your computer that you can print on A3+ or A2, in order to achieve a painfully sharp picture that screams for a larger print which you simply cannot afford to make.

Therefore I (for once and only once Ken :-)) partially agree with you. Film is somewhat dead, for the enthousiast at which this camera is aimed. For the fine art photographer who can afford 5 x 7 feet of photographic extravaganza it is verry much alive though. But these lads and lasses use 5x7 and 8x10 inch camera's. And even those are slowling shifting to smaller printsize (easier for the collectors) and digital camera's.....

So yes Ken, this will be a closet cam for most. Some however will find their photographic haven, some in the proces will discover a new (more deliberate) way to take pictures that they will use on their digital camera's as well (as I did using a 6x9).

Greets, Ed.


Darkroom enlargements are harder, of course, but not really much harder than any other kind of darkroom enlargements.

I have always found that the larger the format, the easier it is.

The true test will come after the project's backers get their camera's and the retail sales begin.

I backed both the 65mm and 90mm versions, and think most people who achieved the initial investment were, like me, already using 4x5 on a regular basis. So I doubt it is the start of a big resurgence in large format, but photographers are still using it far more than is generally appreciated. Processing B&W at home is as easy as any other type of film, many labs still process colour, and scanning is in many ways even easier than 35mm or medium format. It is also much cheaper to do than many would think, the $2500 works of craftsmans art being the exception to the rule, not the inevitable cost. Hence the Travelwide, in which large format photographers appreciate that it is the lens and film combination that produce the results, the bit in the middle is just a more or less elaborate way of connecting the two together.


If you've got a tank that can process a couple of reels at a time, you can develop your 4x5 sheets "taco" style. Bend the sheet, emulsion side in, stick an elastic band over it and drop it in the tank. You can develop 3 or 4 sheets like this in a daylight tank. Just remember, that depending on the type of tank you have, you'll probably need the central column (without the reels, obviously).

This is how I developed my 4x5" film until I got a Paterson Orbital.

This reminds me that I have an entire "soup to nuts" 8x10 & 4x5 darkroom set-up and don't use it ever. Anybody interested?

I'm always amused by those who re-iterate the "Film is dead" mantra. By definition almost, they don't appear to use film, so why are they so bothered about it?

I have one more comment to the naysayers, then I'll pipe down.

Ilford introduced the Harman Titan 4X5 pinhole camera in Nov./2011 and by March/2012 they had sold their 1000th kit. This was for $220 each and included about $30 worth of film and paper. Looking at that success I knew this project would fly at $99 a copy, and that includes a pin hole with lens cap.

Besides film, a lot of paper negatives will be shot in these things. That requires minimal investment in equipment, time, and space.

I predict that Facebook and Flickr will experience a small flurry of banal 4x5 photographs that are notable only in that they were developed in coffee (http://content.photojojo.com/tutorials/coffee-caffenol-film-developing/) or orange juice (http://macgyverbook.blogspot.ca/2005/03/macgyver-book-sample-1-develop-film.html). They will never be printed (or if so, only contact printed and scanned). After a while it will fizzle out.

I am one of those guys who bought a pretty nice Charmonix 4x5 with a 150mm Nikkor lens, shot 20 sheets of film and ended up storing it in the back of my closet. I jumped at being a Kickstarter investor and immediately found and bought an f/8 Super Angulon on ebay - could not find the f/6.3 anywhere.

The Travelwide 90 could have been made 30 (even 40) years ago and would have sold like hotcakes then. This camera seems like a 4x5 point and shoot with minimal adjustments. I can hardly wait.

Ed - 6x9, 6x12 MF backs for a 4x5 rig will give you the best of both worlds. Panorama possibiilties with easy rollfilm development + native 4x5 when you need "slow photography"

An idea for all those who don't intend to use the lens with a "real" 4x5: the Geronar Rodenstock 90mm F/8 should be very sufficient. But it's rare. Or the Congo?

Eh, yes and how about the Cambo Wide Rick....said he, spoken like a true Dutchman, which I ain't.

Greets, Ed.

True, Richard....thought about that after I bought the GX680.....yeps, now it's time to call me stupid. But for my panorama needs I use a micro 4/3 and a Panosaurus (all American marvel). The ad a tele and up to 200 frames + some computer wizardry by a Frenco Russian team (Kolor Autopano Pro)....and yes sometimes I shoot 3 frames on a GX680....works also verry well. Having said that a 6x17 on an old (thouroughly obsolete since almost no film available except on pre-order) 5x7 also kicks ass.

Greets, Ed.

Maybe one of these days someone will make 3D printer CAD plans for making a simple camera such as the Travelwide -- just add lens. There are free plans to make a gun already:



We could post 3D CAD files for a simple camera! That would be cool. The full Travelwide 90 wouldn't work because the tolerances on the helical are a little too tight to do with an inexpensive 3D printer. The resolution isn't quite there yet. But a simplified fixed focus version of the 90 or 65 could work. You would probably need to sand down the area where the back meets the film holder, to make it light tight. Possibly the front where the lens mounts, too.

Justin and I are both longtime camera tinkerers, so it would be nice to give something back to the camera hacking community.

I recently bought a graflex graflarger back that will allow me to use my 4x5 camera on a tripod as an enlarger. I think it might fit the travelwide (held on with rubber bands). I think the project will be a success and it seems more practical than the ilford pinhole 4x5. The ilford harman direct plastics paper sounds like it will be worth a try. Just a suggestion to the makers, make a back that will permit the use of the poleroid 4x5 back so that when the new 55 project film comes out it can be used in this camera.

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