Site Sponsors
Results 1 to 14 of 14

Thread: At the edge of the cliff

  1. #1
    Member popum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    76
    Post Thanks / Like

    At the edge of the cliff

    There have been a few threads over the last month or so dealing with a return to film. It seems that a few folks are going to variations on the 6x6 and 6x7 world. As I thought about this I felt that 120 film cameras weren't sufficiently different from digital cameras to warrant the cost/time/learning curve involved in the switch. As I've thought more about it, it seems to me that if I'm going to try something totally different, I should be looking at 4x5. By going this way I get the adjustments necessary for architectural, etc. I also get a significant step-up in image detail.

    Once having made this preliminary conclusion, there is the decision about what camera to get. I've looked at many options, new and used, and have tentatively come down on the Chamonix 4x5. While I don't expect to take it backpacking, I do like the light weight and want to use this outdoors.

    As a total newbie in LF, I have several questions of those who have been most helpful (Jack, Lars, Ray, et al) on this site re: LF.

    Jack - You gave this a very positive review when it first came out. Are you still as impressed with it. Learned anything about the camera that you would include in the review if you were doing it today?

    Ray - Your thread showing the back of the camera was wonderful. Again, as a newbie what kind of film back will I need? Also, will any linhof lens board (with appropriate lens) work on this camera?

    Any of you who have this camera, are their any accessories that you would buy from the manufacturer?

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks

    Mike

  2. #2
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Mike,

    I agree with your conclusion, you might as well step up to 4x5.

    I would go one step further and recommend 5x7 for that matter: decent size contact prints, you can use an Epson flatbed to scan negs, the camera isn't hopelessly large, and there are options for 6x17 rollfilm backs as well. 8x10 is too large, the equipment becomes difficult to move. If I started with LF from scratch again I would go 5x7. Or possibly 4x10 panoramic, Ebony makes a lovely 4x10 field camera in ebony and titanium that is to die for. Just in case you are independently wealthy, that is.

    And now back to the real world... Regular 4x5 film holders should work fine. There are also variations:

    - Kodak Readyload, a holder that takes a Readyload film pack with 2 sheets of film.

    - Fuji Quickload, similar to Readyload and more or less compatible AFAIK.

    - GrafMatic is an older type of film holder that takes six sheets of 4x5 film. you load the holder in darkness, then in the field the holder has a mechanism for circling the film sheets.

    - Fuji QuickChange is a more modern version of GrafMatic. A QuickChange cassette takes 8 sheets. It was originally intended as disposable or recyclable by the lab, but it can be reloaded. QuickChange is not manufactured anymore. I have a QuickChange holder and three cassettes that I load with different kinds of film, it was a great weight-saver when I was backpacking in Chile for three months (compared to bringing 12 two-sheet film holders).

    I think you can see a trend here - several systems for more quickly loading film at shooting time have appeared on the market, then disappeared. Only the standard 4x5 film holders remain constant, so that's where you should start, get 2 or 4 new holders so you are certain they are in good condition without light leaks.

    You might want to ask Jack about suitable lenses for the Chamonix on the wide side.

    Once you get into longer lenses (240+ mm), camera support becomes important. 3-D heads work well for large format use - no real need for ball heads unless you are used to that. A wood field camera will never be as rigid as a metal MF, and you are using longer lenses, so stability is paramount to getting full use of the resolution advantage.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  3. #3
    Workshop Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    4,043
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1253

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    for several years i shot 4x5 using a toyo monorail, almost exclusively out of doors (not too far from the car!) and loved it. i could only afford two lenses, schneider 90 SA and a 210. realize you will be composing upside down (actually an aid to concentration) and using a dark cloth. the taking method is unique: open the shutter and the aperture, focus and compose, close the shutter and stop down, insert the film carrier, pull the slide and trigger the shutter, replace the slide. it is not a point and shoot. on a good day, i might take only six or seven shots.
    in the darkroom, and it is fully dark for film, I would tray develop, interleaving with my fingers. that takes some learning to avoid scratching the negs.
    a totally satisfying experience.
    eventually i moved to a Sinar P which makes tilts and swings a breeze compared to most view cameras, since the focus and composition don't change drastically as you swing and tilt.

  4. #4
    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Central Maine, U.S.A.
    Posts
    2,406
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    9

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    My own experience is very similar to jlm's. It's a very thoughtful and methodical process. JLM mentioned a dark- or focussing cloth, one of the things you'll need. Add a loupe for careful focusing on the ground glass. A good cable release, and of course a good handheld meter. I preferred the hanger and tank method of development precisely for the reason JLM mentions (scratches in a tray). A changing bag might be a good item to allow for daylight loading of film holders. And to repeat what others have said, a sturdy tripod.

    Unless you're planning some extreme "art" effects, I wouldn't get too hung up on a potential camera's swings and tilts. They are there and can help in certain situations, but you don't have to go too far with them to make a visible difference.

    The Ebony cameras are beautiful, I lust for one. But the Chamonix sounds like a fantastic camera for any level of LF expertise. Whichever one you choose, when you get a look at the qualities of a 4x5 negative, it might be hard to go back to anything else. That's assuming your subject matter is a good match for the deliberate approach required.

    Best of luck and please post some examples when you have them to show.

    Tim

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Ottawa, Canada
    Posts
    147
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    1

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Quote Originally Posted by popum View Post

    Any of you who have this camera, are their any accessories that you would buy from the manufacturer?

    Any other thoughts?

    Thanks

    Mike
    Hi Mike,

    Regarding accessories for the Chamonix, I would recommend the bag bellow; very useful for architecture with wide angles.

    For lenses, I have a 210 and a 110. Both take 67mm filters. The great advantage of the Chamonix is that it is tiny when folded. I can fit the Chamonix, two lenses, 6 double sheet holders, dark cloth, focusing loupe and spot meter in a Lowepro Micro Trekker.

    On the other hand, if portability is less important, and your main focus of interest is architecture (especially interior) or studio, then I would recommend a monorail. I use a Sinar F2 for those situations.

    As Lars mentioned, a Chamonix 5x7 could be an interesting alternative with only a slight increase in weight but almost twice the image area with a more rectangular proportion.

  6. #6
    Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    130
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    24

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Francois, as a LF shooter, here are my thoughts. Film selection for 57 is poor, resale value (equipment) is really bad and if you are after LARGE prints, why waste your time with 57? If quality is key, get the absolute most robust (HEAVY DUTY) gear available.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Helen,

    I'd say MF is more of a daring endeavor than 4x5 wood cameras. With 4x5 you have so much film surface that tolerances and precision don't matter so much anymore. As long as you tighten things up before you shoot. The investment (at least in second hand) is smaller, and lenses are often sharper relvative to image circle.

    Another thing with LF - because everything is so big, mods and field repairs are quite feasible. No need to pamper your gear. I more or less totalled my Gandolfi Variant walnut 8x10 in a storm in Australia, but was able to repair it well enough to make some of my best work over the next few months. I did some woodworking and metalworking, and even invented a new method to make a focusing glass. I've also made some mods to cameras, including wider range of front tilt from 20 to 30 degrees on the Ebony SW23. This helps with extreme closeups with wideangle lenses to keep the focusing plane horizontal.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  8. #8
    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    NYC
    Posts
    1,895
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    16

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Thanx Lars for the MF/LF .....Pros & Cons

    I was actually posting this pix and deleted it
    to do over /more Contrast
    moi looking and falling in LOVE w/a hassy
    falling over another Cliff ... and Yes Mike/POPUM I'm near YOU Falling (again)
    but I think You are the more Courageous one ...what a Beauty a Chamonix is

    shot of me by my friend behind the Counter /M2-50 Lux
    Last edited by helenhill; 28th March 2009 at 16:49.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Quote Originally Posted by Tex View Post
    Francois, as a LF shooter, here are my thoughts. Film selection for 57 is poor, resale value (equipment) is really bad and if you are after LARGE prints, why waste your time with 57? If quality is key, get the absolute most robust (HEAVY DUTY) gear available.
    Well if you look at photographic gear as an investment you might as well stick to Leicas. Most LF shooters that I know use their cameras as work tools.

    There is plenty of 5x7 film, it's called 8x10 + rotatrim.

    Most lenses that cover 4x5 also cover 5x7 so you can get more detail onto a 5x7 sheet than 4x5. Contact printing is of course also a more respectable size, and Epson flatbeds scan up to 5x7 film at full resolution so you get away with better scans.

    Going above 5x7, that's when you really have to start worrying about rigidity, wind, and dual tripods.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  10. #10
    Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    130
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    24

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Lars

    1) I mentioned NOTHING about "investment" - just try to unload a 57 system and you will have a hard time finding a buyer without losing $$

    2) I do not want to waste my time cutting film but it appears that you do

    3) Any serious photographer is worried about rigidity regardless of the sytem

  11. #11
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Quote Originally Posted by Tex View Post
    Lars

    1) I mentioned NOTHING about "investment" - just try to unload a 57 system and you will have a hard time finding a buyer without losing $$

    2) I do not want to waste my time cutting film but it appears that you do

    3) Any serious photographer is worried about rigidity regardless of the sytem
    Yep good points. Don't buy a new 5x7, look for a second hand.

    My experience is that rigidity is not so much of a problem with 4x5 as it is with either DSLR systems (I tend to use longer lenses on small formats, because I can) or larger formats (8x10 is about 5x the weight as 4x5 and center of gravity is much higher). So I don't worry so much about rigidity when shooting 4x5, I can setup and shoot in a minute or so. With 8x10 it takes me half an hour.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  12. #12
    Subscriber Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    130
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    24

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Lars, try a Ebony SW810 or a variation of. Rock solid and easy to square - the perfect landscape 810. Ebony will alter to accept longer lenses. I can literally be ready to shoot in minutes.

  13. #13
    Senior Member Lars's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sunnyvale, California
    Posts
    1,811
    Post Thanks / Like
    Images
    19

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Quote Originally Posted by Tex View Post
    Lars, try a Ebony SW810 or a variation of. Rock solid and easy to square - the perfect landscape 810. Ebony will alter to accept longer lenses. I can literally be ready to shoot in minutes.
    Ebony cameras are amazing, I have an SW23 and a 45S. Cost aside (which is a silly thing to say as cost always matters), the SW810 shares the same inherent problem that all field cameras have - the longer you extend, the less overlap there is between the bed and the extension. So once you get into really long (and heavy) lenses they get unstable. It's not so noticeable on an SW since the bed is short, but a custom longer bed would expose this weakness. A monorail does not have this weakness. My Gandolfi, which was arguably as well designed and built as an Ebony albeit not as beautiful, had serious problems keeping a 480/9 Apo-Ronar steady at infinity even with two tripods if there was any wind. With the Toyo 810G monorail I can with confidence shoot 1:2 closeups with the Cooke XVa as 646 mm, meaning a 900 mm rail even if there is some wind. On the downside, the 810G weighs in at 9 kgs so it requires strong legs for backpacking. I also had to step up in tripod and head size for the 810G, now I use the largest Gitzo mountaineer with a Burzynski ball head, this adds another 3 kgs over my Gandolfi setup. My entire 8x10 pack (Supertrekker) now weighs in at about 24-29 kgs.

    Weighing in cost, well, I got two 810G off ebay for $500 each - one as a spare. Resell value isn't much but that cost is OK as a writeoff. As counterweight, the Cooke XVa would probably fetch more today than the $3K I paid for it, as only 120 were made and you rarely see any for sale.
    Monochrome: http://mochro.com

  14. #14
    Member popum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    76
    Post Thanks / Like

    Re: At the edge of the cliff

    Thank you all for the amazing replies. The people on this site are terrific.

    One of the reasons for the Chamonix 4x5 is weight and size. While I don't expect to hike far with it, I live within an hour train ride from NYC and would like to experiment with urban photography. (Yes I'm aware of the increasing, and very unfortunate hassles with tripod use in NYC). If I end up getting hooked on 4x5 I could then add a monorail setup. On the other hand, if 4x5 doesn't take, I can more easily sell the Chamonix... it is scarce on the used market.

    Helen, it's great to see the way you've taken to film. I enjoyed our lunch with Guy, Terry, Tim, Bob, et al in NYC last summer.

    Tim, how are things progressing with the Rolleiflex?

    Please keep the comments and dialogue going, it is most valuable.

    Cheers

    Mike

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •