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Monday, 08 August 2016


Got my first "view" camera, a speed graphic, in 1951-owned a succession of real view cameras, ebony, deardorff, canham, zone VI and finally arca Swiss , my favorite. 5x7 was my favorite format, but I did have several 8x10's, and a monster Durst 8x10 enlarger with the powerful light system that required a powerful blower to cool the light system.
Now, at 80, shooting Sony A7xx. I do miss LF, but not enough to crank up the old darkroom, which is now a print shop/studio.

Yes. I sold my 4x5 last year but still regularly use my 8x10 and 11x14.

I do not use a view camera very often now, but only because my 8X10 Deardorff has a big hole in the bellows, and I cannot find a trustable source to repair it, and don't know if the Chinese made bellows I see on e-Bay will fit. Any body that can swear under penalty of law that they know a trust-worthy very professional repair person with quick turn-around time and bullet-proof modern bellows, who will work on Deardorffs, speak up now!

I did make virtually all my career money, as little as it was, shooting mostly 4X5 and 8X10, and that was 1974 until 1999, after that, it was all downhill (digital). I did plan to fix this camera, and spend my whole retirement just shooting 8X10, and getting rid of the darkroom as well, just a printing frame and some trays (oh, yeah, and getting rid of all my digital).

I did kick myself because I did NOThave enough money to buy a Walker Tital 4X5 when they quit making it. The only self casing view camera that seemed to have a long bellows for doing those portraits (17-18 inches!), and the bellows can be replaced for wide angle. Well, no money now...

I use my Chamonix 4x5 and 8x10 regularly for both film and tintypes. I love shooting portraits on large format film. The process is so slow that often a subject lets their "camera face" go before the exposure happens and you get a more realistic and personal portrait.

(Here are some of my large format portraits. Both projects are ongoing.)

Orchestral Musicians - http://josephbrunjes.photoshelter.com/portfolio/G0000QAPHiJXyXnk

Volunteer Firemen -

I discovered a photographer on YouTube who has some very good videos shooting with a view camera. He includes the logistics and thought process of setting up and using one. The videos are very well made and give a real look/feel and sense of place.

I have a Speed Graphic that I still use occasionally with a Polaroid back and my stash of the much-lamented discontinued Fuji 3000 speed instant film. When that film is gone it may be the end of my use of that camera. I like the Speed Graphic because of the focal plane shutter. Using that shutter I can hang just about anything on the front of it and take photos. I once bet a friend that I could buy a $3 magnifying glass at a drug store and make photos with it as the lens. Some of those photos are still in my portfolio.

I laughed (and am still laughing) when I read "Horses Standing in Field".
It's exactly the sort of thing I would have written.

I regularly use a view camera with modern digital bodies high-resolution results with old lenses:

I think your well-documented dislike of tripods has cemented your reputation as a view-camera hater, because you generally can't use one without the other.

Not very well, anyway...

[Well, it probably is related. I'm a note-taker...a lot of my pictures are saying "hmm, look at this." I'm not generally very deliberate or perfectionist. Come to think, this probably extends to writing as well--blogging is my form, for better or worse, rather than books. --Mike]

I remember the Horses Standing in a Field! I also recall that the standard reply was that a proper view camera guy would just wait. If you were meant to take that picture, the horses world come back!

Nice to see someone working to improve a 120-year-old concept. I hope the maker has the business skills and backing to keep his company going; many modern large-format camera makers have gone under for reasons not related to their camera designs. Best of luck to him!
I still shoot with a 4x5 camera; it has suited my style and subject matter for over thirty years. In fact i'm just coming off a two-week trip along the Atlantic coast that has yielded a large amount (for me) of exposed film.
Working with large-format film was standard professional practice when I started, and since I like the pictures I create this way, I see no reason to change. Professionally I went digital long ago, for all the well-known reasons, but I expect to work with a view camera for a long time to come.

"Just curious, does anyone within the sound of my voice still use a view camera on a regular basis?"

Not since Polaroid went balls up.

The state is big enough that having a term for "everything other than the city and Long Island" seems a little pointless to me. I remember being "down" in Wappingers Falls and hearing a guy on his cell phone telling someone "yeah, yeah, I'm upstate right now". To me, that says nothing, because he could be anywhere from Westchester to Niagara, but I guess to a city rat, you're either in the city ... or you're not ! I tend to think "upstate" starts much higher than that. Westchester, Putnam and Orange are all more like the city and NJ than northern NY and Dutchess is questionable. Really, you can look at where metro north reaches. I just draw an imaginary line connecting the northern edges of PA and CT and think of that big piece of NY above that as upstate. Either way, but the standard definition or mine, you're safe :)

I did a Google search for "View Camera” to find a definition. From my perspective, ALL cameras are view cameras. I see them as nostalgic antique objects meant for the use but the same sort of people who collect antiques and classic cars. Nothing wrong with. It's just no my cup of tea. I don't use antique computers either.

*sigh* I still harbor daydreams about starting a view camera company. The first camera would be a whole plate field camera somewhere between a phillips compact ii and a canham dlc, and the second would be a cheap, inelegant, sturdy as hell 20x24. I just need to take classes in drafting, mechanical design, machining, business, and all of that jazz.

I guess I don't qualify to post, having not used a view camera in about 15 years, but I can say my old Deardorff is the only film camera that ever tempts me anymore.

I love view cameras, love working on them, and used to love using them. There are at least a half dozen in the house. From where I'm sitting I can see the Deardorff (a 5x7 with 4x5 back), an 8x10 Burke and James, a Crown Graphic, and a 4x5 Seroco (The name, I understand, is a contraction of Sears, Roebuck & Co.) The Deardorff and the B&J were both basket case rebuild projects. The B&J is lovely -- I spent months of spare time finishing the wood. The Deardorff looks every minute of it's age. After many afternoons of gluing split and broken wood and fixing stripped screw holes I put it together to be sure everything fit. The plan was to disassemble it and do the finish work, but I like it so well I never stopped using it -- until Polaroid film disappeared. For near 30 years it was my go-to camera for personal photography.

Polaroid was the last film I used for any serious purpose, in the Deardorff and an SX-70 back in the 1990s after I had to give up my darkroom. Somewhere around 2000 life got a little too interesting and I had to take a break from photography. When I was ready to come back Polaroid was gone and digital was getting really interesting. End of my film career.

I still think about it. JG's Frankencamera post moved me to check out B&H to see what film they carry, and it wouldn't be hard to set up to process film and do contact prints. Maybe some day ...

I love view cameras, have had many, still do actually, several crown graphics, and three Graphic Views. My favorites though were, I have sold them all, Horseman. What I actually used in the 80's and 90's were Toyo. I had several of these too. Very basic functional cameras. Then, like you say, digital happened, and nobody would pay for big film, $5.00 a pop.
I have modified a Crown for field use, but find I have gotten lazy, to lazy even to carry about a striped down Graphlex.

I think I will spend today setting up my View Camera Collection. Thanks Mike.

Had a Speed Graphic, then a Calumet 4x5 field. Forget what I sold the Speed to get, maybe the Calumet which would make some sense. I loved using both, and sometimes even got a good photograph----especially fine arts repro. A little dodger out in the field. Don't miss focusing under a dark cloth out in the sun, though...

Traded in the Calumet (and a whole lot else...) to help finance my 645Z. Held on to one last lens, though, a Fuji 150, just in case I get a Cambo Actus for my A7R. I already have a Rhinocam for it, which is a sort of a view camera (no movements, but it does have a ground glass screen...) to do stitched images.

Mike, generally you and I are located in Western New York, not to be confused with Central NY, the Southern Tier, etc.

For most New-York-City New Yorkers, Upstate is someplace vaguely located near Yonkers.

I still own two view cameras, a Linhof Technica 4X5 and a Sinar P2 in 5X7 or 8X10 depending on how I configure it. I occasionally use the Linhof as a modified press camera with viewfinder and rangefinder coupled lens, sometimes on a tripod to use a slow shutter speed for smaller aperture. Other than an occasional front rise, I don't think of it as a real view camera. I find the ground-glass too small and the movements too corse.
The Sinar is the real deal however. With a bit of practice it's probably the fastest view camera around, thanks to its asymmetrical tilts and shifts and depth of field scale. I might be one of the few people in the world who uses it as a field camera. Lately, I've been using it with a 150mm lens (about 22mm in 35mm equivalent in 8x10 and 35mm equivalent in 5x7).
The P2 was frightfully expensive, as you know. I bought mine in 1997 when Sinar had a big "sale" for $6,400. I'm glad I committed to the purchase, though to be honest, my day-to-day finds me much more likely to be carrying a Canon digital with a tilt/shift lens.

I really enjoy taking out my 4x5 and spending an afternoon immersed in the whole process. Technical attributes aside I find the images I make with the 4x5 seem to have more soul than my digi images. I think it's due to the extra time I take to think about what I am doing and what I want out of the image. With my digi cam I tend to take lots of stuff and then try to find something worth processing after the fact. Each process yields images I am happy with, but coincidently, or maybe not, the photos hanging on my walls are predominately enlargements from LF negs.

Yes, with a not particularly beautiful Cambo 4x5 I picked up for cheap on eBay. I agree with what a previous commenter said about portrait subjects dropping their "camera faces." The whole process is such a different experience from what most people are used to, it usually has some interesting effect on how they sit/pose.

Oh yes. And moreover, I can see that now I shall definitely have to bring the Sinar Norma on my trip to Harbor Springs and Petoskey next month, and shoot some images just for you. Mission accepted.

View cameras are beautiful sculptures. I would love to have something like an 8x10 Deardorff but it would just be for the sake of the art, not for any practical photography I would do.

My experience with large format cameras is limited. I've owned two view cameras in the past and used another, company-owned camera, at work a couple of times. The two I owned were both Wistas. Maybe the 45SP, I forget. They were metal, folding model field cameras. Very well designed and well built cameras. The first one was stolen and the second was the replacement, paid for mainly with the insurance money. Honestly, I only used them on a few occasions over a period of several years. Trips to the Southwest and such. I eventually lost interest in doing the types of pictures I was shooting with those cameras. I'm lazy and impatient and too impulsive. The tripod thing is also a factor.

I was an active view camera user until a few years ago. I had always admired Ansel Adam's landscape prints since I was a teenager and read his books and viewed as many original prints as possible.

For about 6 months back in the mid-90's I was traveling to Silicon Valley on business every month and I made a point to take a long weekend and set up my Speed Graphic in Yosemite and make images standing in the footsteps of Ansel. I wasn't the only one with this idea since I was one of many lined up with tripods to photograph El Capitan, or Half-Moon Dome. I learned that Ansel's images were better than mine due to his persistence, hard-work and lifelong dedication and I left with a greater admiration for his work.

Back at home I made many tabletop images of common things around my home including fruits, flowers and vegetables. I used a Sinar Norma and long exposures. The negatives were contact printed on Palladium coated paper. I made many images that I found satisfying.

I stopped using my view camera just a few years ago, since demands on my time both at home and at work didn't leave enough time to give these tools and processes justice. You need to be using this equipment and processes on a regular and sustained basis to get good results. No surprise here: the harder you work the better you get.

When I learned photography and began work at a NY studio, generally color meant 8x10 (Deardorff & Commercial Ektars or long Goerz Red dot Artars),
ANd B&W meant 4x5 on a curtain rod Calumet & similar quality lenses to the 8x10 we used Hasselblad's occasionally
But I was hooked, I don't use them very much but still have a large collection including an 11x14 Deardorff Commercial View on a 12 foot bi- post stand , with a 24" app Artar with a Packard shutter with X synch!!!, it has up to 65" of bellows by adding 2 additional sections ,....an immaculate Deardorff 8x10 with 5x 7 & 4x5 backs , a Zone VI 4x5 in Pennsylvania Cherry with regular and bag bellows , a Sinar F1 with a sliding back adapter for Canon Ff, crown graphic and perhaps 5 Burke& James commercial views in all formats.
Vintage lenses as well as modern ones like the Super Symmars.
I haven't been able to part with them even though beyond the occasional Polaroid they are not getting used . I still have my darkroom just in case.......
Shame on me

I'm from Michigan, and spending many summers going "Up North", I would like to see some of your work from the "Tip-o-the-Mitt" area.

I frequently shoot MF; but my go-to cameras are: 4X5 Shen-Hao, 8X10 Kodak Master View, 8X10 Burke & James, and a restored 7X17 Korona Panorama. At my age[73], they can be a struggle; but the negs are a pleasure to print.

Tom Kwas,
Turner Bellows, Rochester, New York, replaced worn bellows my Korona 8x10 camera (also Rochester, New York!) four or five years ago.

The view camera is the one film camera I've retained—but from buying it in the early 1980s until now, I've hardly used it. I can think of four specific sessions, and only one of those was of any significance.

I'm apparently not a view camera person either, but that's no big surprise. My real drive in photography was always documentary, and even my landscapes tend that way, and portraits have always been partly a matter of documenting how people look. During my life, view cameras haven't been a particularly good choice for documenting a range of things.

In your post, you noted that craftspeople are often drawn to using view cameras.

Although I am quite meticulous and methodical in my approach to photography, I won't lay claim to being a craftsperson -- among other things, I lack the necessary patience.

But as a photography hobbyist whose work has often been cited as "a triumph of technique over content" and a view camera user once again, thanks to my Frankencamera, I certainly do understand the appeal of using a camera that can be bent and twisted to reflect one's will in the service of the photos they take.

Contrary to popular belief, a view camera can do some things that cannot be done any other way. And where there exist ways to mimic with software, post-exposure, what a view camera can do in-camera, pre-exposure (such as perspective correction), the view camera way will almost always yield superior results.

Personally, I like to have as much control over my images as possible. I'm not a spray-and-pray photographer, who takes tens if not hundreds of images, only to sift through them later, stitch several of them together into one or crop them tightly, then post-process them to within a pixel of their existence before finally posting them online somewhere.

Instead, I like to see my images precisely composed, crisply focused, and perspective corrected on a large piece of ground glass (and now, with my Frankencamera, right-reading and right side-up on an LCD) in roughly the same form as they will appear when I ultimately print them on paper. (Yes, I still do that, too!)

While many purists will scoff, for me, being able to combine the best of both technologies -- modern digital and traditional analog -- is the realization of a decade-old goal, as well as the beginning of my pursuit of a new one, which is to use my current hybrid camera as often as I can and to continue to improve upon its performance as technology and my budget limits permit.

This article of C & D, is it not about issue to photograph a horse in a field? (I must have - somewhere - this review). I was so displeased with your "bad faith" that I asked my wife to buy a 4x5 Ikeda in the US for me...

I have had two view cameras over the years. One was a 1963 vintage Crown Graphic with a 147mm Xenar, 80mm 2.8 Xenotar and a 90mm 6.8 Angulon. I gave that rig to my son when he was in college and he used it to shoot much of his senior project which was a collection of Ziatypes which called for LF negatives.
There is still a nice old Toyo 45 Deluxe with a 240mm 4.5 Xenar sitting in my basement. I keep threatening to use it but that seems more and more unlikely as time passes.
The Gibellini cameras are spectacularly beautiful. I want a blue 8x10. It probably wouldn't get used but people buy Ferrari's and don't drive them so I guess I'm not entirely out of line here.

Back in my grad school days I spent the summer of 1978 wandering around downtown Rochester, NY, with my Leica 3C overdeveloping the film and making 16x20 prints. When I showed the prints to John Pfhal, who was on the RIT faculty then, he suggested I needed a larger negative. I borrowed a Graflex 6x9 wedding camera from the RIT cage and loved it so when Xerox held a photo swap meet off I went. I found a Graflex but it was all of $200, a huge sum for me in those days. But I also found a pre-war Speed Graphic with a 150mm Ilex Paragon lens for $80.00 and promptly wrote a check. I ran around all weekend shooting 4x5, nearly 30 shots, "almost a whole roll" as a friend put it. I was smitten. And the 16x20 prints from those negatives were terrific, way better than those from my Leica.
I added a 90mm Super Angulon to my lens kit and decided I needed a view camera with movements. I found a Deardorff knockoff in Shutterbug, called a Prinzdorf. It was a 5x7 convertable, just like the original, and I made a 5x7 back for it. And, a big bonus, I discovered the 90mm would cover the frame!
For several years I shot with the 90, taking a number of pictures of my cable release among other things. I added to my lens repertoire when I acquired an 11x14 that had been converted to a copy camera, and fell in love with black and white contact prints.
And then I got a Rolliflex and shot with that for a long time, the Prinzdorf sitting in its case.
Enter the digital age. I was scanning 6x6 film to make contact sheets and, because the scanner was slow, spent the time looking at boxes of contact sheets from the 5x7. They were for the most part static; just awful. And I'd run across the occasional roll of Leica-shot film and find frames that made me wonder why I'd never printed them. I sold all of the view camera equipment save for a lens. I still have the Speed Graphic and that Ilex, and the hulk of the 11x14, now lens-less, is still in what used to be the darkroom. I still love view cameras as objects, and oddly I frequently crop my digital captures to 4x5 proportions. But I'm not a view camera guy no matter how much I like the results.

"The fallout has died down now, but I'm sure with my luck there are still LF people out there with elephant memories who still think I'm anti-LF." LF, Elephant...I like what you did there, Mike.

Ron Wisner. Now that's a name I haven't heard in a long time. I bought two view cameras from him - an 8 x 10 and a 5 x 7 - and getting them made and delivered was like pulling teeth. Unbelievable. But they were good cameras.

One thing about a view cameras: it may be a pain to set up and shoot, but it's such a pleasure to scan the film compared to smaller formats. An Epson V750 can do a great job on all that surface area. I bought a 4x5 Speed Graphic, mainly because of the Weegee mystique and the coolness factor. It's lots of fun. I was blown away by the detail even the modest Wollensak lens yields. This is from my first time shooting colou film in it.
Pink Cadillac

I do still use a view camera because nothing beats the quality perspective correction for architecture and landscapes. I use a Sinar X, which was a top-of-the-line studio camera that is an engineering marvel. I bought it several years ago like new in box for $500. It is a heavy beast, but every movement it geared and self-locking. Among many others I use a 120mm Schneider lens that covers 8x10, so I can correct to my heart's content, and if I take five exposures on a full day of shooting during my yearly photo trip, the expense for film and processing is negligible compared to the steep depreciation of digital equipment.

I also know Richard Man, he is a wonderful fellow, who is very passionate about photography and equipment. I met him many years ago in Los Angeles when he was shooting mainly black and white landscapes with a Hasselblad X Pan.

I have a Chamonix 4x5 with an old French petzval lens that I intended to shoot wet plate with but haven't got there yet. Lately I've been shooting (now discontinued) Fuji color instant peel-apart, scanning the negatives as positives. It's quite similar to the idea of a tintype since the Fuji neg has a black backing.

(sorta NSFWish)

In a word, yes.

In a longer explanation, not as much as I did but I just replaced a much used and abused Linhof Tech 4 with an almost new Wista 45VX. I also have a Kodak Master View 10x8. I use them mainly for portrait work, something that has been on the back burner for a while now, but is starting to call me back. There is something about a contact print from a large format negative that I don't find myself able to repeat with a digital image. I feel the randomness of the grain pattern in film adds something to the image.

Having also just completed a Daguerreotype workshop with Jerry Spagnoli I'm looking at diving further down that rabbit hole ...

While researching the first person to go 100mph I came upon this film from 1905. It's auto races at Ormond Beach, FL, and where the first car broke 100mph:


Relevant to the topic at hand, fast-forward to 3:00 and watch the seated gentleman in left side of the frame. He's also photographing from 2:00 onward. I'd love to see the photos that he took!

The driver, Arthur MacDonald, may not have been the first human to 100mph though, as an electric train in Germany may have topped "the tonne" in 1901. Our man Glenn Curtiss did not break 100mph until 1907, but he did so in spectacular fashion, running over 136mph with his V-8 powered motorcycle!

I got into photography in a serious way in 2005 using a 5x7 camera and contact printing. I love the pace, results and it fits my temperament.

Occasionally I still use a view camera, but they used to be a mainstay of my architectural and commercial photography business. In the 60's and 70's I had many different (cheap) ones, but bought a Sinar-p in the late 70's and lived happily ever after (until digital, changing markets and other work took over). I had 4x5 and 8x10, but few people were willing to pay for 8x10 so sold that and the 150/8 SW Nikkor that sort of went with it.

Over time I got other Sinar pieces until I could make 3 separate cameras at once if I wanted to (including a Sinar-f which was more fun to carry than a -p), a Sinar shutter so I could put any glass on the front, and a gadzillion doodads that expanded the possibilities endlessly. Sinar is probably the most thoroughly 'system' of any System Camera. Every piece is synergistic. I still have most of that, and the dozen or so lenses that went with the setup.

If even the -f got too heavy for long mountain hikes, I have an Ikeda, a 1kg Japanese cherry folder that I use with some graphmatic holders and lightweight lenses; 58/5.6 Super Angulon XL, 90/8 SW Nikkor, 135/5.6 Fujinon and 240/9 Apo-Ronar. This all fits in a small fanny pack with all the little required accessories, and because the camera is so light, a very light tripod is all that's necessary to go along. Setup is speedy, although if the horses are fast enough they can still get away.

The one film camera I still own is a Seneca 5x7 (19-aughs? teens?) with Bausch and Lomb lens (1920s; really nice medium-contrast for great B/W shadows, and corner-to-corner sharp, but big -- they were proud of their partnership with Zeiss, and it showed). Unfortunately the bed rails deteriorated and I can’t use it anymore. I liked the 5x7 aspect ratio, and contact prints were big enough to display. I also had a 4x5 Sinar that I used mostly for commercial work but loved with Type 55. Most people think of large format being used for landscapes out in nature, but I’ll tell you, the best way to start an impromptu photo workshop is to set up a view camera on a city street.

I feel that my Chamonix 4X5 is my true camera. It keeps me living with the absolute basics and yet stretches my compositional skills and demands the skill of control. No AV mode.

Tom Kwas: Yes, Turner Bellows. I am going to have them make me a new bellows for my Kodak 4x5 enlarger. Yes, I have one.

Although it's quickly evaporating, has there ever been a stronger meme for role-playing "serious, skilled photographer" than standing behind a view camera? I suspect that Ansel Adams's publicity, probably more than any other photographer, burned this image deeply into the minds of nearly everyone born around the middle of the last century. I wonder what, if any, meme will symbolize "photographer" in the coming decades.

I have been shooting fairly regularly over the last few years on a 4x5 with B&W film for reasons that many consider strange.

For one, I am not a careful shooter - I frame carelessly on my Ebony 45S (the viewfinder being dim) and often go by "gut" when setting exposures. Worse, my process to develop is largely under-controlled with temperature control being my worst enemies. I regularly end up with over developed, high contrast negatives.

But yet I enjoy the process of setting up a shoot, often at the same location (Cubbon Park, Bangalore). Once my anchor with a tripod is set, I scout for images a within few feet and a couple of hours pass in a blink. The odd Sunday morning passerby will sometimes enquire whether they make such cameras anymore!

Developing usually happens several weeks later in bulk and by then I'm often pleasantly surprised at the results from the Epson V700 scanner (http://justtones.blogspot.in/)

Oh - I must mention that the desire to stick to a lens and camera combination was partly inspired by your OC/OL/OY posts a few years ago!

My dad gave me his Graphic View and a 135mm Optar over a year ago, with the single instruction to "do something with it."

So far, I've exposed 4 sheets of FP4+ and 4 sheets of HP5+ (23 sheets of FP4 came with the camera and I picked up a box of HP5+): 2 "expensive snapshots" taken around the house; 2 of houseplants; 2 of roses in the front yard; and 2 of my dad.

I want to do something with it, but so far, I'm not sure what. I loaded 4 or 5 holders with film about 6 months ago and still have one or two waiting to be shot... any idea what the shelf-life of 4x5 film is, just sitting in a holder, in a plastic bag on the shelf? I keep telling myself that as soon as the SP-445 comes in, I'll get to shooting more, but God knows.

Between the cost of the film and the cumbersome operation of the camera, I'm very hesitant to get too deep into it.

A mirrorless Micro 4/3 is my view camera and a DSLR is my viewfinder camera. Both do their jobs well enough.
Ranjit Grover

If you consider the HASSELBLAD FLEXBODY to be a decent view camera, then I am in. I love it and the T-Max 100 (and Tri-X) 6x6 negs. processed in Pyrocat-HD are great for scanning! http://www.photoeil.be/processing.html
My trustworthy Linhof Kardan GT 4'x5" doesn't see much less light these days which maks mee feeling bad.

The Gibellini has carbon fibre in its construction (by the look of it).

It is the obverse of the steampunk aesthetic.

Not personally, but on the Film & Conventional section of the Talk Photography forum, there are quite a few LF photographers. We're having a meet in the Peak District next month, and I reckon there will be half a dozen there, maybe half the members present! Not sure it's for me; I hate tripods, can just barely tolerate a monopod...

We also have a member who has converted a Polaroid camera for 4*5 film, see build thread at:


and is currently "printing" his own alternative for a Horseman, whatever that is!

I really like to use one of my three large format cameras, two of them view cameras. A Tachihara 4x5 Field View is very compact and lightweight and I like the black and white film (in 4x5" or 6x7 cm rolls of 120 film). - I feel that there is (in b&w world) nothing to compare with a fine fiber print, selenium toned. Good Epson prints (quadtone on Canson Baryta) stay behind.
Because the Tachihara (with Schneider and Rodenstock modern lenses) is not very good in windy conditions and feels sometimes fragile... I could not resist (five or six years ago) to buy a Toyo 45A from Japan using ebay very cheap. I got the camera with a set of (not bad, but not as good as the German glass) Fuji lenses.
In the 90s I used a Plaubel Peco (optical bench) 4x5 camera regularly. As I switched from professional to hobby with my photography (being very happy with this decision) I have not used this very heavy to transport camera (in the heavy flight case) not for some years. But getting into the (wet) lab with six sheets of film is pure fun for me. Taking the prints from the washer is like Christmas!
You may see some large format photographs from the last years on my website (sorry, in German language).

I started my view camera experience (as an amateur) nearly 30 years ago with a used Arca Swiss, Arca then producing still here in Switzerland near Zurich where I live. The next was a Sinar f, then a Sinar p2, then a Linhof Technika III, then a Master Technika, then a Toyo. I sold the Arca, kept all the others. The biggest thing was when I got a Better Light back some years ago from a pro photographer at a reasonable prize. This really is the ultimate thing.
I use the Master Technika with Fuji Provia and the p2 or the Toyo with the BL. I love the slow working style these tools impose, the precision they request and the quality they deliver, even if the reasons against LF are legion: bulk, weight, cost, time – and the quality of my PENTAX 645z's sensor... But then, what this beauty lacks is the kind of enchantment the old fashioned instruments can give, and I think it's for this reason that view cameras will survive, hopefully.

I primarily used view cameras until I made the switch to digital. The only film cameras that I still have are my Zone VI 4x5, Burke and James 8x10 with 5x7 and 4x5 backs, and my favorite - the Folmer and Schwing 7x17 inch Banquet Camera. At one point, I also had a F&S 12x20, but it was just too big to deal with.

I used to really enjoy using them, but using digital cameras is just so much less hassle, that I only use the big cameras occasionally. When I do, I scan the negatives instead of printing them in the darkroom.

Now, I use mostly my Olympus m43 or Sony FF cameras.

I notice that many people tend to look through viewfinders on small cameras like using a rifle sight, with crosshairs on the subject, often missing everything around it. When you use a view camera, especially a big one, you learn to look over the entire frame, especially the edges, for problems. Also, you learn to see the non subject parts of the frame as equally important. Since each exposure is expensive, you also become a lot more selective before you press the shutter each time. For me, that way of working is a good thing, although I also like digital photography because it's free to take chances and experiment.

But I don't miss lugging around all the film holders and the big tripod! Once I was hiking at Stowe, VT with my stuff on my back, and the weight of it all nearly took me over a cliff, backwards.


Funny thing. All of my pics that involved much time, more often than not a tripod (or steady support of some sort), 'walking the scene' (c) Alain Briot, a long exposure time and so forth... well those are the pics that are noticeably commented on by friends and family. My quicker shots? Never get past basic culling when I copy the card into the laptop.

Regardless of the technology or format, my more 'considered' shots are the ones that work. Mea culpa.

I have long pined for a view camera using my digital bodies. At some point in time I will no doubt spend a week with my mate's mill and create such a thing :)

I should add; I am quite envious of those who take shots immediately, aka street or sports photographers. Despite my best efforts I have never had one 'keeper'.

My main camera now is a Cambo Wide DS, with rotating 4x5 back. It's a beautiful thing; essentially a CNC-machined metal plate with a geared mechanism on the front for lens rise and fall, and lateral shifts on the rear.

There's no bellows; rather, a rigid metal spacer of the correct depth is interchanged for each lens. The lenses are mounted on helical focus mounts, complete with focus scales and depth of field guides. This arrangement means you don't have to get under a dark cloth to focus, which is dangerous, ridiculous or impossible in the places I use mine. Instead, you use a lightweight plastic viewer, the Cambo T-20, which has a 2x magnifier and a mirror that renders the image the right way up.

My two most used lenses are the fantastic Schneider 72mm 5.6 Super-Angulon XL and 90mm 6.8 Super-Angulon (the new silver "Classic" lens of 2002). I also have the 47mm, 58mm and 150mm. But the 72mm and 90mm fit almost all my needs for 4x5.

I consider this camera is a marvel; a lean, very efficient, picture-making machine. It's compact, robust, rigid, fast to operate, and maintains perfect parallelism of front and back. It avoids the complexities of tilt and swings because you don't need those movements for 98% of architecture. And I am totally uninterested in rendering a rock or flower in the foreground of my Great Big Impressive Thing.

With it, I produce photographs that are distinctive and look like few others. I've used it to shoot ancient architecture in Turkey, Iran (twice), Paris, Spain (multiple times) and Morocco. My favourite films are Fuji Acros for B&W and Kodak Portra for colour. The Fuji X-Pro 1 and X-T1 hardly get used nowadays, except for some portraits.

Actually it's a little more nuanced than upstate/downstate. And the people that really are from upstate ny take it pretty seriously.

So I read this article in bed last night right before I fell asleep. I've take all of 2 shots with a view camera in my life. I had a dream that you and Brooks Jensen of Lenswork were teaching me how to shoot with a view camera. Things were going well and you guys were wrapping up and had to leave but never showed me how to load the film holders. I woke up with the same feeling you have when you dream you have to take a final exam and you never went to the class.

Cheboygan, is that a real place? That's where Tony Curtis' female character said she trained at the conservatory of music in Some Like It Hot.

[Yes, both county and town. According to Wikipedia "It may have come from an Ojibwe word 'zhaabonigan' meaning 'sewing needle.' Alternatively, the origin may have been 'chabwegan,' meaning 'a place of ore.'" The Ojibwe (a.k.a. Chippewa) contributed heavily to place-names in the Great Lakes region.

And there's also one in Wisconsin on the other side of the lake, but spelled "Sheboygan," also both a county and a city. Sheboygan WI was originally settled by Germans and Dutch, now has 10-20% Hmong from Laos. --Mike

I have a Deardorff 8x10 that I use on special projects. The last project I did, I used the 8x10 and a digital camera. After going to many portfolio reviews, everyone picked out the 8x10, without me saying anything, about it having something special or different about it. I also use a Crown Graphic 4x5 with the New55PN film.

Still using mine. More so now that I've learned to make my own gelatin dry plates, so even access to film is not entirely required, although access to a few necessary chemicals is.

I enjoy the process and I enjoy the results, and I have digital cameras for when I need those as well. Being able to switch keeps my interest fresh; there's always something new to try.

I have one of the 5x4 intrepid cameras (from a kick starter campaign), and a 5x4 Bessler (yeah i know it's a press camera :) ). Both are used for wet plate work.

@ Rod S.:

It's funny (coincidental, not haha) that you should mention the Cambo Wide DS, because it is the basis for my next hybrid camera project. In fact, I just started working on it this morning...

I regularly use a Chamonix 4x5 and a Canham 5x7. I also own a Conley 5x7 that I've exposed a few sheets with and keep planning to use more. I also have a 4x5 Crown Graphic that I occasionally drag out and shoot handheld, though it's been a few years since it's been used. And finally a pair of the 4x5 Travelwides, which I have never shot other than a few focus confirmation sheets.

I shoot more with the digital cameras, but at least half of the keepers over the last few years were still shot on sheet film for some reason.

What I enjoy the most about the 4x5 is that it hits the sweet spot of being (semi-)portable that still has the unmistakable "large format look". Also, as others mentioned, the process of using it and just the camera itself make the sitters realize that this is something different, even if they are used to being photographed (such as the subjects in my Transformation:Cosplay project of cosplayers in costumes and in "civilian attires"). Even though I usually only shoot 2 sheets of Portra per sitter to save on cost, I like to believe that I have captured something special most of the time. I have slideshows of all 3 project on my homepage and you can see for yourself.

I've used (borrowed) sheet film cameras so little that it is negligible. I was on a project several years ago with 4 other photographers, all using many and various sheet film formats while I rolled away with 120 film. I came to this conclusion:

Why large format?

Larger negative, more detail, wider tonal scale, contact printing; and judging from watching several friends, a certain amount of masochism.

I spent a week last month in Braunwald in the Swiss Alps, stomping about with my trusty Wista 45DXIII and lots of HP5+ and FP100c (whilst it lasts). Who knows if the photos I made will be any good, but I did have an extreme amount of relaxing fun:
* Making the photographs
* Hiking and e-biking to find the photographs
* Chatting to lots and lots of very interested Swiss hikers (one group directed me to a very good exhibition down the mountain by Fridolin Walcher that I otherwise wouldn't have known about)!
* Stopping longer in each spot than most photographers sensibly would - making the effort of waiting for the clouds to be 'just so' seem entirely reasonable (as well as soaking up the views, air, and wonderfully relaxing vibe).
Long may I persist with this madness.

I've never used a view camera, but your query brought to mind an article I saw on PetaPixel about an L.A. Times photojournalist Jay L. Clendenin using an 8x10 view camera to do portraits of athletes at the Rio Olympics. An article well worth taking a look at:

Capturing Portraits of Olympians with an 8×10 Wood View Camera

If you ever need your bellows fixed, here is the place to go to


Can any of your readers recommend a lab that will process both
120 and 4x5 sheet film.....both C41 and E6 emulsions? Our "local" lab in Kalamazoo closed this past spring so I need to find a replacement.


Yes, the Cambo Wide DS body offers the slim profile, rigidity and dimensional accuracy you need for your adaptation to mirror-less digital. How interesting! I'd like to hear how you go with your project. I'll drop you a note through your website contact page.

I love using my view camera!, currently I use a Ebony RW45, and have three lenses, a 120mm, 180mm and 270mm. I have been using my view camera for nearly 30 years.

Tom Kwas
The Deardorff company was re-started in Tennessee some years ago. I don't know if they are still around but their website is still up.
Might be worth a call on your bellows issue.
Mike Plews

The photography I love to do takes time, and I love that it takes time. I don't mind spending 20 or 30 minutes setting up for a shot. Nor do I mind laying down on the ground next to my tripod and watching the stars whirl overhead for a couple hours. I work slow and I savor the process. A view camera is perfect for my temperament.

I occasionally daydream about buying a 617 view camera, a couple lenses, and shooting Delta 3200. The grain of Delta 3200 at modest enlargements is lovely, and I think a 2x or 3x enlarged print from 617 would be a thing of beauty. Sometimes I daydream about having a custom 10x16" view camera made for me (and a 10x25" to keep it company, so I could shoot both my favorite aspect ratios at 1:1 enlargment for my favorite print sizes) and having Kodak run off a zillion boxes of properly sized Portra 400 to shoot (pushed a stop or two for texture, of course). The thought of all that real estate devoted to image capture, coupled with the movements of a view camera, and the extreme patience required to use them really excites me.

Fortunately for me, I'm a realist and on a budget. The first disinclines me from following that dream, and the second kills it dead. Even if I had an unlimited budget, there's also a third thing that would stop me: I just don't like shooting film. Never have, never will. I don't like the look in general, I don't like the limitations, I don't like the delay between shutter release and image (ironic, given how long it can be before I turn my files into viewable images), and I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really don't like the time and money it costs to buy, process, and scan film.

I actually hated photography until digital came along. I even refused to buy a serious digital camera until camera companies stopped living in the past and started to shed the viewfinder-only/stills-only film-dinosaur mentality. So unless someone comes up with a proper digital view camera system (new central shutter lenses, easily and precisely paralleled standards, and true camera/lens integration), I will stick with the 24mm TS and keep hoping Canon pull their thumbs out and produce new 50 and 90mm lenses to keep it company.

The first time I viewed an image using the Linhof Kardan Color owned by the architecture school I was attending, I saw something no mere viewfinder or reflex mirror had revealed: The ability to see the image as if I was looking at a print. That's what makes a view camera a view camera--we view the image on the ground glass, exactly as the film will see it.

There are no microprisms, or flashing rectangles, or beeps, or vast displays of exposure data, or the necessity for magnifying lenses, to simply see what the camera sees. It should be called an "uninterrupted view camera."

And then there is the control. It's a steep learning curve, but what a view from the top!

I may only make a handful of images a year with my current Sinar F2, but when I do, I thank myself for not letting this obsolete skill depart from me completely.

The image below is from a couple of years ago. It represents an hour of swinging, tilting, and shifting, and still required a tiny aperture and a loooong exposure, all the while dripping sweat onto the ground glass. It may be a triumph of technique over art, but I'll take my victories any way I can get them. I may have made better images with smaller cameras during that time, but none that are more satisfying.

Thank you for your article.

Tom Kwas..... For a Bellows just call SandehaLynch.com He makes bellows. Not sure about what you are looking for...but I have ordered like 4 or 5 from him, they are great... good luck. Greg

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