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Thread: Buying a Large format camera?

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    Buying a Large format camera?

    Hi. After using medium-format for the better part of a month now, I really want to upgrade to large-format. I want a field-camera. Preferably wooden. I see so much things on Ebay, and I'm not able to get my head around it. Will a 90mm Nikkor fit a Shen-hao? When working with medium-format I really enjoy the 90mm focal-lenght. What will give the same field of view on a large format? Are there any brands that I should stay away from? (Of course, I will stay away from Ebony, for economic reasons). My budget is in the range of 1550 usd. Thanks!

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Hi,

    I have Shen-Hao TFC45-IIB myself and cannot bear to sell it off after I "gave up on film" last year. It is a non folder. Shen-Haos are lovely to work with and economic. Like seems with most large format cameras it helps you to upgrade to a Maxwell groundglass or similar.

    Any large format lens will work on a Shen-Hao provided it has suffice image circle, and you may or may not need to put it in a Shen-Hao lens board which is similar to Linhof lens boards. Copal 0 shutters are are the common modern shutters.

    With 90mm what film or sensor size do you refer to? I am current down to only my 150mm Rodenstock Sironar-N lens and am thinking about shooting some film again in between digital.

    Here is a good resource on large format;
    A large format photography home page

    and their forum;
    Large Format Photography Forum

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    90mm on which medium-format format?

    So here is a simple way to find equivalent focal lengths. Find the diagonal of the format--150mm for 4x5 and 90mm for 6x7.

    Imagine you like 50mm on the 6x7. Divide the focal length by the format diagonal--50/90 = 0.55

    Now take the new format diagonal and multiply it by the result, 150 X 0.55 = 82.5. Then you need a focal length around 82.5mm for a similar look. That would either be a 75mm or a 90mm--I don't know of an 80mm in 4x5.

    Now if you are using 90mm in 6x7, then you are looking for 150mm in 4x5. Those are plentiful as that is the normal lens.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Check the Digital Transitions Visualizer: Phase One & Mamiya/Leaf Digital Solutions - Visualizer

    It gives a good idea of the coverage of lenses for different formats, including MF and LF.

    For example, a 90mm lens on a 645 film camera equals a 200mm lens on a 4x5.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    A 90mm lens on a 6x6 medium format camera is just a bit over 'standard', so in 35mm format it would be a 55mm or near. A 90mm lens on a 4x5 camera would be a wide angle lens equivalent to around 26mm focal length on a 35mm camera. So a 90mm for 4x5 is way out if you want a 'standard' lens. It would a be 180mm to 200mm lens that is the equivalent (again around a 55mm in 35mm format). But many people use a 150mm as the 'standard' 4x5 lens, which is around 44mm in 35mm format or around 75mm in 6x6.

    Steve

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    43mm is normal on 35mm and 50mm is a little long. 35mm was always a was weird using the 50mm as "normal."

    I would not get too used to simple equivalents for formats. While an 80mm is normal on 6x6 and a 125mm is normal on 6x12, the images do not really have the same "feel." So sometimes you want to calculate "equivalency" on a horizontal, vertical, or even a 45 degree diagonal of the format to get something you can visualize.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Hi, thank you all for the answers. I have bought a Calumet XM 4x5. This is appearently a rebranded tachi. Which really doesn't bother me. I am thinking of getting the Nikon 150mm W.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    normal is the diagonal of the frame.
    43 mm is normal on 35mm camera (24x36mm).
    80 mm for 6x6 / 90 mm for 6x7 / 100 mm for 6x9.
    about 160 mm is normal on 4x5 inch camera.
    now u can find the ratio/equivalents for these.

    another important factor is that formats have different proportions, one is square, other is rectangular (from 3:4 to 2:3). this leads to slightly different attitude in composition.

    also, because the large format lenses extend a lot when focusing down, the actual focal length changes more dramatically than with medium or small cameras. for example, a close-up with 150mm lens on large format doesnt feel like close-up with a normal lens on smaller cameras. the large lens becomes a bit like a long lens the closer u focus it. the bigger the format (8x10, 11x14 inch), the more pronounced this effect becomes.

    generally, 150 mm is a good starting point, and a great single lens for 4x5. 180 too, but then u loose some room should u want a wider view.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fredrick View Post
    Hi, thank you all for the answers. I have bought a Calumet XM 4x5. This is appearently a rebranded tachi. Which really doesn't bother me. I am thinking of getting the Nikon 150mm W.
    150mm is my favorite focal on 4x5

    Perhaps take a look at the Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-N which is nearly as good as the Sironar-S.

    Selling off 2 of 3 of my 4x5 lenses my 150mm Sironar-N was the one I kept. It was even sharp when I tried it on 28MP Leaf digital back! I will bet that it is sharper than the Nikon. Actually I found it about as sharp as 72 XL on my 28MP Leaf back, and the 72 XL was one I upgraded from a Nikon 75mm SW due that the Nikon was not suffice sharp on my digital back...

    Rodenstock and Schneider lenses are usually the best large format lenses, and feels more cool than a lens made in Japan.

    It is also mere around 400 usd on ebay last I looked, and very low weight.

    Best regards,
    Anders

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    I went with a Rodenstock 150mm. It's multi-coated, so I'm guessing it's somewhat new. I only paid 300 USD for it, but the seller was from Portugal - so I'm guessing that's why it was so cheap. It looked good in the images and the seller said it was in perfect state. I have also ordered 100 sheets of Ilford Delta and 3 film holders. I think 100 sheets will keep my going for a good while. Now I'm excited to get my new equipment and start making images!

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    I'd like to ask a silly question: are the large format lenses the same ones that are used in medium format or different?

    Thank you.
    Po
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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    I'd like to ask a silly question: are the large format lenses the same ones that are used in medium format or different?

    Thank you.
    Po
    Will you shoot medium format with 35mm lens?

    I.e - image circle is not big enough.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    You would have to check the image circle of the lens, but most medium format lenses will not cover the necessary image size for large format.

    e.g. Hasselblad format is 6cm x 6cm or 2-1/4 inch square.
    There are 2x3 inch large format cameras, but the most common LF camera would be 4x5 inch or 10cm x 12cm.

    Bottom line - medium format lenses cover medium format negative sizes, and large format lenses cover large format negatives, plus more for movements.

    ....Vick

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    That was what I thought, but I always wondered also about using a medium format digital back for large format, how does that translate?
    Thanks again!
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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    My camera arrived today, a Calumet woodfield XM. It is in unused condition and everything is in perfect order. Now I'm only waiting for the lensboard. I've already received the 150mm Rodenstock. I have 100 sheets of film, which should last for a long time. I'm looking forward to using my new equipment.

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    The beauty of shooting Large format be it 4x5, 8x10, or any other that qualifies as Large format, is that you can use the same lens on different large format cameras, but only if the image circle is large enough.

    For example I have a 300mm Nikor lens that has an image circle the will work on both 8x10s I own as well as both 4x5's I own. However, I also own other Large format lenses including several Nikors that do not have an image circle big enough to cover the 8x10 Film plane but cover the 4x5 Film plane just fine.

    Beware there are lenses with image circles that will just barely cover certain film planes so be careful that you get lenses with a large enough film plane to support your movements.

    Your 8x10 and 4x5 as well as other large format cameras give you the ability to swing, tilt, shift, and make an egg look round. So how an image comes out in the end has a lot to do with the photographer. Large Format just gives the photographer a lot more control over the final image than any other format I am aware of.

    Jason

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    Re: Buying a Large format camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    That was what I thought, but I always wondered also about using a medium format digital back for large format, how does that translate?
    Thanks again!
    Well there are several points about your query.
    First it works to use a DB on a LF camera if it is precise enough.
    To begin with Digital requires at least 4 times more precision in focus than film ever will. And with the higher mp digital backs, perhap 5 or 6 times more precision for really sharp images.
    So most Anologue(film designed) lenses need not apply. The ones that come closest are the Apo-SironarS from Rodenstock, especially the 135mm and 150mm, and the 55mm Apo-Grandagon, also from Rodenstock. The 72mm Schneider XL also has some traction. But the rest of the analogues need not apply. The digital designs will far out show the rest and even these lenses in all aspects except coverage. Even these analogue lenses require much more sharpening and or contrast adjustment than their digital focal length equivilants. So if purchasing a new lens for digital LF work buy the new digital design if at all possible.

    Before moving on to other points on lenses, let me say it is extremely difficult to focus on a ground glass precisely and, especially, wide angle lenses in the focal lengths required for a MF DB, ie 28mm, 35mm, 40mm, 43mm, etc. I have seen few people who could get 3 out of 5 tries accurate, with wide angles. With film lenses and 4x5 format much easier except they will note easiest with normal to long lenses being easiest to focus.
    The curvature of field being more severe, the shorter the focal length of the lens, and the fact that in digital for sharpest images, F11 is your best stop in MF to cover the focus shift, which all lenses exhibit more or less, are all factors in this focusing problem.

    Next camera bodies. Wood is OK but not nearly as precision as a metal body. Even these are not all created equal. Currently the best of the traditional view camera designs for use with digital are Arca-Swiss, Linhof and Sinar P/X models.
    Arca-Swiss and Alpa, and Cambo also produce 'Technical cameras', which incorporate extreme precision and the movements of a view camera into a bellowless body. They can all be focused without a groundglass for more precison, especially the Arca-Swiss which has the finest focus pitch currently produced.

    Lens wise for these backs, the rules outlined above for focal length choice still apply. For most of the backs available, 70-80mm is normal, and shorter are wider and longer focal lengths are telephoto.
    Hope this helps with some decisions. Schneider has a great article on their website or at rodklukas.com called 'Why shoot Digitar' which explains in great detail, but clearly, why the digital lenses are superior to analogue lenses when crossing over to digital.
    Hope this helps,
    Rod
    US Representative, Arca-Swiss International
    R-Line Technical Cameras, Large Format View Cameras, Tripod Heads D4, D4m, P1, P0, Z1, Z2, C1 Cube.
    http://www.rodklukas.com/arca-swiss 480-755-3364
    Instagram @arcaswissusa Facebook @arcaswissusa

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