Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The case for film in the 21st Century Part II

[This is the second installment by Guest Blogger and Large-Format Photgrapher George Goodroe]

The Case for Film in the 21st Century, or Why bother with film anymore? Part II

In my first installment of this series, I discussed why I was drawn to Large Format (LF) Photography.
Among the reasons were much greater detail and clarity, along with incomparable image control.Once you decide to take the plunge, there are a few pieces of equipment you'll need to plan to gather.

LF cameras are still available new through outlets like B&H Photovideo. Used cameras run the gamut and can be bought on eBay and KEH. It's probably best to attend one of our meetings and ask others about their cameras before you decide which way to go. There are many types of view cameras to choose from, including field cameras, press cameras, and monorail cameras.

A tripod is the next stop on your gathering tour. Whatever you get, it must be sturdy, and able to support the weight of the camera. Typically, light weight tripods don't work well with LF because of stability issues. A lot of LF work involves longer exposures and movement, including wind blowing the camera around will detract from the image. I've done very well by focusing on studio tripods or buying a surveyor's tripod  and modifying it for use with a camera which is very easy to do.

You will also need a good light meter. This is one area where I'd be careful buying used. A lot of used meters suffer from age, and/or conditions that reduce accuracy. There are several good meters I have experience with, including Sekonic L-208 and Polaris.

Other various and sundry items you will need include a shutter release, a focus loupe, several film holders and a dark cloth to assist in viewing and focusing. How you carry your camera into the field will depend on the type of camera you buy. If you buy a folding field camera, a back pack will work well to carry your gear. If you end up with a monorail view camera, a small wagon might be a better choice to pull behind you.

In my third installment, I'll discuss some of the steps you'll need to shoot LF successfully.

George Goodroe

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