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Sunday, 11 October 2020


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Good looking camera.

Like many other foods, as a kid I hated Brussels sprouts but these days it’s one of my favorites.

The bellows wrinkles are the result of careless folding the camera up. Does this one have leather or paper bellows. Mine has leather. A friend bought one and was annoyed to find that it had paper bellows. Until then I didn't even know there were paper bellows.

[The mystery is how one side got crinkled while the other stayed pristine. Everybody forces them shut without loosening everything, but that usually damages the bellows on both sides. --Mike]

Brussels sprouts - halve them and flash fry them in soy sauce, with a little sugar. Enjoy with something decadent ;-)

Hi Mike: I don’t have a darkroom either, but I shoot film about half the time. I have an Intrepid Mk4, and I use a changing bag to load the exposed film into a Stearman Press SP445 tank. I use caffenol to develop, then scan the negatives. You could also send the negs out for scanning. Process in Photoshop. Best of both worlds. I have to admit though, I would like to do a real silver print again...

You thought about not having a darkroom.

October 7th... “ I still don't have a darkroom (I actually don't have a single room in my house that can be darkened, not even a closet), and that's a problem, but I'm thinking about ways to make negatives and at least get the results up on the blog so you can see what I'm doing. I might have to be creative.“

A number of folks addressed the issue in the comments section. I personally gave up all film, 35mm to 4x5, when I decided not to build another (5th) darkroom. That’s where the magic happens for me.

Daylight tanks and a scanner, no darkroom needed.

Changing bag and tanks don't require a darkroom. You need the bag to even get started by loading the film. But if you were looking forward to dodging and burning in a REAL darkroom, that is a problem. EBay should solve the tanks and tongs questions. For sources of chemicals that will arrive at your doorstep, consult the experts. Here in Israel I've used whatever the one local store has this month for the art students.

Does anyone make a variant of 55P/N these days.....

[No, pretty sure not.... --Mike]

Try Polaroid P/N film. Backs are about $50.00. All you need is film and a bucket. I used to love the negatives.

Yeah, less likely you're processing 4x5 in a light-tight tank! I did fine without enough dark to load 35mm and 120/220 into the tanks (I used changing bags), but while I think they exist for 4x5, mine were tray process.

Then scan and print digitally, of course. But I don't expect that's what you really want.

You can have my Omega D5, including 4x5 neg carrier and 135mm lens (I think that one is a Nikkor) if you want. (Haven't seen the lens in 30 years or some such, not in doubt about finding it but that could mean it has fungus I don't know about.) And I used the standard condenser head, not one of the soft-light devices. But can't help with a place to set it up I'm afraid.

Love the LF talk, Mike. Glad to see your score, it's a beauty! The one thing I find about the Wista is the film holder slides in easily without fighting the tension spring and jostling the camera, unlike the Zone VI and Ebony SW45 that I've used. It's just a beautiful small lightweight magical device for stopping time. Looking forward to seeing your work.

And thanks to the folks who complimented my work a few posts back, including you, Mike.

I've just bought a Crown Graphic (pretty exotic this side if the pond) and a 135mm Symmar. One camera, one lens, one film (Tri-x). Planning to use it exclusively hand held.
Going to develope in a tank, scan, and print digitally.
40 years since I shot 5x4, 10 years since I shot film.
Coincidence that I did it the same time, but we are the same age.

I haven't been in a darkroom since the 1900s, but shouldn't developing sheet film be pretty simple to adapt from your 35mm/medium format setup I would have thought? And for printing, you could just do a Weston and dangle a lightbulb, and contact print.


Well, if the Wista gets you back into the darkroom, then it will have been a great purchase. I've never shot LF but it's hard for me to imagine a practical way of doing it without a darkroom. Do you still have your darkroom gear stored or did you get rid of it during one of your moves?

A changing bag and daylight tank makes developing easy.
You can contact print on silver chloride papers in a closet,
Or scan and print, or contact print to Printing Out Paper in the sunshine. Where there is a will there is a way..... can't stop now.....
Good Luck

I always liked the idea of medium format or larger and had a Mamiya C330 TLR and a Fuji GSW690 at one stage. What made it possible was the advent of flat bed scanning. I knew I could never afford an enlarger for bigger than 120 film but scanning was the answer. Does that not appeal to you, Mike? For me, it unlocked all my old negs and those inherited from my father and uncle. And once in digital form, I can remove all the dust and scratches and marvellously enhance the negs.

Without a lens, it is not a camera yet. Report forthwith.

Give your exposed film to Edgar Praus in Rochester. His B/W processing is as good as his color... and that's saying a lot.
A flatbed scanner and an inkjet printer (you must have these?) and you're in business. That is, IF you've found your subject matter for 4x5... but I suspect you will.

Nice camera. That tripod is probably worth even more than the camera itself. I have four Gitzos, the first two are some 40 years old and still working well. Lost some of that mottled paint over the years but that is all.

Apologies if it's been mentioned already, but you could always make some solargraphs, no developing needed, and daylight handling of the paper when loading will give it a nice bit of preflash to help the overall tonality. With a lens, especially wide open, you can get a good exposure in just one bright day, though a few extra can't hurt. Most people use pinholes for solargraphs but I've spent quarantine experimenting with using an old Crown Graphic with a variety of lenses (including some homemade) for solargraphy.

Mike, for processing 5x4 (Brit speak) film, BTZS tubes are excellent. Even development, with no concerns about scratching. With a little care and a changing bag, you don't even need a darkroom.

Two slight issues. Getting the knack of extracting the wet film from their tube. Then completing fixing outside the tube to clear the anti-halation backing from where the film has been pressing against the tube. (I just use an old Combi holder for both that and washing.)

In a recent move my set of tubes were misplaced, but rather than waiting for them to re-surface, it was a no brainer to immediately order another.

Shoot, develop (Paterson 4 x 5 Sheet Film Developing Tank with Reel from B&H Photo), scan (Epson 750 scanner) & print (Canon or Epson printer).

You can process 5x4 without a darkroom. Some 25 years ago I modified a 3 roll 35mm film tank so sheet film can be loaded in a changing bag. Develop in room light & scan to print. It worked for me. I still have it so can email pics or even post the tank if it would help.

Looks great! I have an identical camera (with a few bumps and bruises) that has a different sticker on the front. Mine is labeled a "Toko" camera. I bought it years ago at Lens and Repro in NYC and was told that it was a knockoff. If so, they went to an awful lot of trouble to make it look like a Wista. Was it a really "second"? Twenty or so years later it's still working, so who cares.

What's that gray thing that's attached to the bottom of the camera? (Yes, tongue-in-cheek).

You could load the film into a tank in a changing bag and then process in any low-light area. Not perfect, but better than sending it out I would think. Now I think that tank processed sheet film is generally not as evenly processed, but maybe someone will chime in with a view of the best system, perhaps BTZS tubes.

I was raised on Brussels Sprouts and I particularly love them roasted. However, almost no one I know likes them. I can't figure this out.

There is still 4x5 polaroid P/N film. It is called New 55 P/N. Not made by polaroid. There is the classic ISO 100 and a new ISO 400.

[I used a lot of P/N in the '80s but $15 per exposure wouldn't work for me, although I wish them very well. --Mike]

I will second Dan's recommendation for a Stearman Press SP445 for film processing. I purchased a Toyo 45AII Field Camera last year as my first 4x5. It may be not as pretty as your camera but it's rugged and solid and I'm comfortable caring it in my backpack. Though I recommend the Domke Protective Wraps for wrapping camera and lenses. The Toyo is also a little heavier that the medium format cameras I had been using over the past number of years. But just looking at the image on the ground glass makes it all worth it. The SP445 is working out very well and I am getting good negatives. For now, it's quite satisfying just making contact prints. I hope you able to get out and shoot your Wista.

@Richard Man

That shadow flare is just beautiful.
Is that the new(ish) Gold Dot Dagor or the A.O. uncoated?

What developer if I may ask? If I took that the needles would be textbook examples of adjacency effect and super harsh.

Beautiful. And a cat chop too!

I have some Ektars that sort of approach that look, but the only film that is available for that camera they go with is HP5 by special order and HP5 is a different look entirely.

The BTZS tube system is undoubtedly one of the best ways to develop 4x5 film if you don't have a darkroom, but there are other solutions.

I started drum developing 4x5 film in tubes in the 70's; I don't think BTZS were available yet. I used tubes intended for colour paper developing and had a drum roller that had a fair bit of erratic wobble to do agitation properly. The drums were modified by dabs of inert glue spots on the inside to keep the sheets from sticking and allow solution to access the back of the film. There was no water bath as with the BTZS system, but I just developed at current room temperature. Whenever individual tray development wasn't necessary, I used this system for 4x5 and 8x10 film. Consistent, repeatable development was easy.

I tried some daylight tanks, but unfortunately they worked best with a dip and dunk system, which meant they weren't 'daylight' anymore, and I had more trouble getting even development. Tray development is of course somewhat scratch prone until you get better at it.

Ed asks: "Does anyone make a variant of 55 P/N these days....."

No, I wish they do. The New55 is not there yet. I just saw some large prints of 55 P/N portraits from Bey Dawoud. They are spectacular.

re: Hugh Crawford
Yes, this is one of the last MC Schneider branded Dagor recommended by Mike.

As for developer, I have standardized on "double-Pyro" with a Jobo rotary processor. Pyro is normally not recommended for rotary processing, but doubling it works really well. The best thing is that you develop all films at around 75 degrees, 7 min + 7 min, then stop and fix. I learned it from Bob Carnie who has been doing it for a couple decades. Just give it an extra stop or two exposure and the negs come out beautifully.

I am not convinced that the needles looking that way is the result of the developer. For example, here's another image taken the same day, but on 4x5 Acros, developed the same way

And look, a ghost! (St. Adams?)

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