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Thread: 4x5 for portraits

  1. #1
    Member MJMoore's Avatar
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    4x5 for portraits

    I am a portrait photographer that wants to try 4x5 - I have done some research and looked at lots of setups online (ie. vintage graflex, Cambo,etc).

    Can anyone with experience give me some guidance please -
    I want to shoot color and black and white - Will be processed at a pro lab - a Polaroid back would be nice
    What system could I shoot 4x5film and my Phase IQ140 back?


    Thanks
    Michael

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    The only 4x5 instant film that's left is the Fuji 3000 B&W. But you can get a holder that will allow you to use the 3.25x4.25 Fuji instant film in a 4x5 camera.

    A general point: the specifications for optimal use of 4x5 vs an IQ140 are so different that it's usually an awkward compromise at best to try to serve both purposes with one camera. And perfectly good used 4x5 cameras can be had for so little these days, that it wouldn't save much anyway.

    If you're going to be working in a studio, or at least going to particular locations, unpacking there and working for a while, it's reasonable and economical to start with a basic 4x5 monorail camera. My monorail kit is Sinar, but Toyo and Cambo/Calumet also have extensive systems and entry-level models that are very affordable used. There are excellent cameras from other brands too.

    Lots of info here...

    A large format photography home page

    ...and here:

    Large Format Photography Forum

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Michael....

    Have you considered shooting with a Fuji GX680?

    I used to shoot 4x5 and Fuji GX680 and in the end ended up dropping 4x5 in favor of the Fuji GX680 and 8x10.

    The Fuji GX 680 gives you tilt and shift and a reflex view finder. The lens being tilt shift lenses have a very similar look to 4x5 lenses.

    I also found that with the Fuji thanks to the reflex viewfinder I could compose nice an tight in camera and found that with the 4x5 I had to leave some breathing room due to having no reflex viewfinder and ended up with crops not that much larger than 6x8cm.

    You can also use your IQ140 on the Fuji GX680 with a kapture group adapter kit (I have one for sale). Lenses are far more suited to the IQ140 than 4x5 lenses.

    Here are a couple of examples of what I shoot with the Fuji gx680:











    And here is a polaroid shot with the GX680



    The system has lenses from 50mm to 500mm including a 100-200mm zoom lens and they all have tilt shift.



    Here is one of my Fuji GX680 cameras:



    IF you are interested in the Fuji system send me a PM with your email and I can send you a couple of PDF files that cover the system in detail.

    Prices on these cameras are really good. I can refer you to a great dealer from Japan that sells on ebay.
    Great gear and ships really fast despite the distance. (5 days to the USA)

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Fred, Wonderful portraits!
    Michael,
    You are going to get a lot of good 'common practice' advice to your question. Here's some 'non-common practice' advice from an old hack.
    Avoid monorail, you don't need the movements. Any field or folding camera will do as long as the front end can bear a heavy lens without wobble. That is, if you really want to do head-shots with a long lens. But I would humbly suggest avoiding head-shots with long lenses anyway. You need shoulders, elbows and hands for attitude. You get attitude from body perspective which implies having the camera at conversation distance and using a normal or slightly shorter lens (sorry, I shouldn't be telling you this).
    You need a Prontor press shutter on your lens so the only fuss is loading the film. If you don't have an assistant to load, Readyloads or similar make your relationship with the sitter a lot smoother. Before Readyloads, I used three Grafmatic six-shot film holders. They often turn up on eBay but make sure the innards are in good order.
    My favourite is an Ebony SW45 and a 135mm lens - the camera with least fuss ever.
    For many years I used the Cambo TW54 which comes with a 150 and a 250 lens - a sort of Gowlandflex. If you can find one, you will never regret it.
    Here's the twin-lens Cambo on someone else's site.
    Here are some of my portraits done on 4x5 with Cambo and Ebony .

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Downstairs...

    This is really beautiful!



    Unconventional pose and composition, yet not gimmiky in the slightest... so natural and rich.
    Likes 1 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    All I can say is BEAUTIFUL work guys!

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by FredBGG View Post
    ....

    IF you are interested in the Fuji system send me a PM with your email and I can send you a couple of PDF files that cover the system in detail....

    Hi Fred,

    Beautiful work. For some reason PM is not enabled under your account. Can you please PM with your email and I will email you back. I would be interested to learn more about the Fuji system.

    Thank you,
    Valentin

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Well basically any system with graflok back will support back adapter to your digital. From crappy fotodiox one for 399$ to freakishly priced but nice ones by K group.

    Depending on what you want to spend and what your final goals are - you choices are seriously vast in 4x5.
    Cheap Graflex, pricey Alpas, Folding cameras, rail cameras & etc.

    If you looking for light, flexible (movement wise) and one that won't need special bellows for wide angles - Chamonix is solid choice. But if you need precision movements - can't beat Technika (version V and up.. late IV may be). In rails - same Technikardan Linhof, Sinars..

    Then it depends if you want to spend money on shutters. If not - Sinar has interesting mount-in shutter, and Speed Graphic, while lacking movements , may offer blazing 1/1000s speeds with in-camera shutter , so you save a lot on lenses, but .. it depends if you really need to save, b/c new sharp ones aren't in barrels anyway

  9. #9
    Member MJMoore's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Thanks everyone for the comments and suggestions - still on the hunt....

    Michael

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Michael,
    Digital backs require 4 times more precision than film. This due to many things not least that the digital capture device is a bout 1 micron thick and film emulsions are several thousandths thick. Also many 4x5 cameras are not nearly precise enough to accomodate the precision required. Arca Swiss has some advantages as to an excellent screen and precision. So you might look at our offerings.
    We also have technical cameras that can accomodate 4x5 and digital with the highest precision available. As you are speaking of portraits, I might add the speed of working with an RL3d or RM3di is also a worth while feature and the fact that wide angles are easily focused on these cameras verses trying to groundglass or screen focus is an added bonus.
    see the video: An introduction to Arca Swiss R cameras by Rod Klukas on Vimeo
    It is the lillte brother but there is a 4x5 model that operates the same.
    Hope this helps.
    US Representative, Arca-Swiss International
    R-Line Technical Cameras, Large Format View Cameras, Ballheads D4, D4m, P1, P0, Z1, Z2, C1 Cube.
    http://www.rodklukas.com/arca-swiss 480-755-3364

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Dunno.. I keep hearing about tolerances and such.. but I used my Leaf (+ fotodiox back adapter) on back of Technika V and on back of SpeedGraphic.. Havent got around to check it on back of Chamonix. And i used old lenses, new lenses.. Never had a problem with tolerance. Whenever i was focused right - everything worked like a charm. Rodenstock 150mm was softer than wee 150mm Xenar , but thats just my usual luck.. Even had some shots done with funky petzvals, when was feeling mean

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    almost every portrait I ever did that I still like was done with a speed graphic that I got at a camera flea market for $300 when I was a student and couldn't afford anything else.

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits



    I went with an 8x10.....the journey begins!
    www.michaeljmoorephotography.com
    Likes 2 Member(s) liked this post

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Back when I was with an ad agency, the photographer who did the head shots for everyone shot them on a 4x5 with B&W polaroid. They were all great.

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    Senior Member malmac's Avatar
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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Michael

    had a browse through your web site - some really sensitive portraits - really felt inspired by the boot maker guy - thanks.


    Mal

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    Re: 4x5 for portraits

    Quote Originally Posted by malmac View Post
    Michael

    had a browse through your web site - some really sensitive portraits - really felt inspired by the boot maker guy - thanks.


    Mal
    Thanks Mal!

    M

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