Large Format Adventures

I realised that the original post ‘Large Format Adventures 3’ didn’t make sense as where were posts 1 and 2? The answer is that they were originally posted on another of my blogs. I’ve consolidated them into one new post.

Sinar F 5×4 Camera

Large Format Adventures 1

On my recent sojourn to London, I bit the bullet and bought some large format kit. It is due to be shipped to me next week. I have ordered a Sinar F 5×4 plate camera with a 180mm lens. That means it takes sheet film that measures 5×4 inches.

Compared with standard 35mm film format, the ‘crop’ factor for 5×4 is ‘1/3 times’ i.e. a 150mm focal length on a 5×4 is comparable to a 50mm for a 35mm format camera.

So, how big are we talking?

Well, you have a ‘rail’ on which everything is attached – this is about a one-inch diameter pole. You have the front and rear standards, between which is the bellows. The rear standard has a ground glass screen used for focusing. The lens is attached to a lens board, which is attached to the front standard.

What makes this kind of camera so versatile is the ability to play around with the film and focal planes. You can compensate for converging verticals by ‘tilting and shifting’ as well as being able to play around with the plane of focus. These are achieved by raising/lowering the front or rear standards and by swinging, shifting, or tilting the standards.

Film is held in a film holder which has a dark slide. The film holder is dropped into the rear standard in front of the focusing screen once focus has been achieved. You then remove the dark slide and take a picture.

Of course, to provide the ultimate fin-de-siècle look, you have a focusing cloth which is draped over the back of the camera and over your head to aid focusing. Wearing a top hat and a cloak with a scarlet lining is optional… 

Large Format Adventures 2

Time for a bit of an update. 

The Sinar F 5×4 arrived safely a week or so ago now. I’ve not had a chance to try it out though as I currently lack a portable darkroom tent to load the film holders. I do have a trip to the Lake District lined up in a couple of weeks’ time and it may go with me on that trip.

However, film processing is time-consuming, and the sheet film is moderately expensive, although not outrageous. However, it is possible to get a board to attach to the Sinar in place of the ground glass screen. This board has a lens adaptor on it so that you can attach a Nikon camera body to the board. There is a mechanism to enable you to alter the position of the camera. This is so that you can take multiple exposures, which can then be stitched together in Photoshop.

This means I can use my Nikon Z6 as a digital film back for the Sinar F.

This will help me to get to grips much quicker with the Sinar and using large format cameras. There are several makes of adaptor available, Sinar make one, there’s an American one, and Chinese. The Sinar adaptors are very rare and very expensive. The Fotodiox one is currently unavailable. That seems to be the best of the alternative ones, but no indication of when it will be available. So, I’ve ordered the Chinese one via Amazon. It will take a couple of weeks to get here.

I hope it makes it in time for my planned trip to the Lake District, but it will probably arrive after I get back. 

If I can shoot with digital camera, it will open up a lot of possibilities.      

Large Format Adventures 3

Just a quick note. 

One of my intentions with a large format camera is to be able to use it in conjunction with a modern digital camera. Compared to the 36mm x 24mm illuminated field of a conventional full-frame 35mm camera, the 5” x 4” field of a large format camera (125mm x 100mm) is huge. This is why digital backs for large format cameras are so expensive.

As I discussed in my previous post, there is a way around this.

It is possible to remove the focusing screen and attach a plate to the rear standard which takes an adaptor to attach a DSLR. It has a slide which enables the attached camera to take images in different positions. This means that you can take a series of images which you can then stitch together in software, such as Affinity or Photoshop.

Sinar do make such a thing but they’re hard to find. There is an American one (Fotodiox) which allows movement in two dimensions, but they are currently unavailable. The only one available at the moment is available via Ebay from China. I ordered one a couple of weeks ago and it has now arrived. 

So, this post is really to just advise that it’s arrived. I will be spending a few days in the Lake District shortly and I will now take the Sinar with me and try it out with the adaptor. Hopefully, I will be able to post some images shortly.  

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