The Unique and Powerful Capabilities of a Large Format Camera

Large format photography is probably the most technical and methodical process of all methods of shooting, but you're rewarded with prints that have mind-blowing renderings and resolution. Along with that technical process come some pretty unique powers, however. This video shows off one such capability and how it helped the photographer realize his creative vision.

Coming to you from Ben Horne, this video highlights how the technical capabilities of an advanced large format camera afford the shooter the ability to solve some very practical problems. In this video, Ben talks about rear tilt, in which the back of the camera is angled. By doing this, the image projected from the lens is stretched at one end (the end farther from the front of the camera) and compressed at the other (the end closer). This means that one can make the background appear larger and the foreground smaller or vice versa, allowing one to emphasize different elements of the composition as desired. The same trick can be done to the sides of the composition via rear swing, which is a horizontal tilt. While large format photography is highly involved, the complete control it offers the photographer is pretty tantalizing. 

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8 Comments

I saw his video last night with others on tilt shift lenses. I thought after viewing a ton of videos on tilt shift lenses, you can achieve some of the same images that Ben was doing with his large format camera with a tilt shift lens.

Yeah, and in an easier to carry package. Those large format cameras are heavy and big.

Alex Cooke's picture

You can't achieve all of the same movements in tandem with a t/s as you can with a large format camera, and the range of movements is far, far bigger. Whereas a tilt-shift lens is mechanically limited, you can go as far as your image circle will allow with a large format camera. There's also the insane resolution and DOF effects.

Hans Rosemond's picture

A lot of the flexibility of large format isnt necessarily that it can do movements, but that it can do many movements at once. Tilt, shift, rise, fall, swing can all be combined to pull off some pretty slick effects.

That said, of course the trade-off is an unweildy beast of a camera that takes a long time to use. It all depends on your aesthetic and preferences s to if it's worth the trouble.

Elan Govan's picture

Fascinating subject, but I still prefer the freedom that comes with modern day pro DSLR cameras, ie travelling on a back of a motor bike.

Yet Lois Connor photographed across China with a 7x17 inch View camera on a bicycle.
If you want the images you do what it takes.

Elan Govan's picture

Well I am sure there are individuals who have walked bare feet to get the job done. I can speak from personal experience, bicycle is the only form of transport in some part of the world. Does not mean we have to be rooted to it forever to get the job done.

The word is tilt. You have it in the title but seem to go out of your way NOT to say it in the video. Why?
It is a normal and common movement with the view camera.
As for higher than normal viewpoint - add in a longer than normal lens for more foreground emphasis. Ansel Adams used this often.