[Video] How To Take A Photograph On A 4x5 Camera

10 years ago shooting on a 4x5 camera was pretty common among professional photographers. Today, many young photographers not only haven't seen a 4x5 camera but they have probably have never even heard of one. In this video Simon Roberts takes us through the steps of using the camera, editing the images, and the printing the final file. How do you guys feel about shooting on film and then processing the images digitally? Does that defeat the whole purpose?

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I use a view camera very frequently. And though I shoot on kodak portra, I do scan and the process digitally. I have found that when done right the resolution and dynamic range of 4x5 print film is equal or greater to that of most digital medium format cameras. However I think it mostly has to do with the process. Using a view camera slows you down, and makes you really think about the basics and weather or not the shot you have framed is worth it. At roughly 5-6 bucks a picture (after developing) you don't take pictures lightly. I probably wont shoot a wedding on one anytime soon though.

Just realized that I nearly regurgitated info from the video... Sorry about that....

He pointed out the cost of the film but he failed to point out the higher cost of the large print and custom framing which I venture to guess far exceeds the cost of the film.

That is true George but that cost to print and frame would be inherent in either digital or film.

He should have mentioned how much it costs for a hi res drum scan of the negative... I'm sure that would have scared people off. :)

I work with film from time to time and then transfer into a digital workflow. I feel that it is a fine way to work. You still retain the greater tonal range of the film along with it's naturally granular quality with the flexibility of a digital workflow.

I shoot just about as much film as I do digital, but I love both formats. I process my film digitally and I don't feel it defeats the purpose at all. Digital and film each have their positives and negatives. I think they can both coexist.

If anyone is curious to learn more about LF photography, check out this forum. http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum

Davide Zerilli's picture

The amazing thing u can do with those cameras is that u can rotate in two axes the front and back so u can shift the focal plane to use the lowest aperture possible. With 240 mm lens u have to stop down to 32 to have a whole twining tea box in focus (short side) so it's absolutely important to tilt ur focal plane to follow the line of the box. U can for example put in focus all the objects laying on a 5 meter table :)

tilting the back allows u also to straight lines and clear the prospective, or decrease it's convergence. That's the ultimate evolution of control in photography.
The only problem is that every picture cost u 10€ just to have the diapo here in Italy and a digital back (would be incredible quality) will cost u a lot...
The still life photographers (high level ones) use those a lot of times... have a look to those to see the pictures: Riccardo Abbondanza http://www.picxselstudio.it/ and www.varianti.it    

I'm very grateful for taking on digital late in the game, because I believe shooting film made me a better digital photographer. I still feel like every frame cost me, and that helps to not get reckless. Unfortunately I am more grateful for digital, despite my belief that it still doesn't look as good as film (particularly in motion pictures), because of the convenience to shoot whenever I want and be creative till the batteries go out.

I remember shooting slide film then using a slide scanner to digitize them.  This was about 10 years ago when digital SLRs were first coming out.  It wasn't that I didn't want to shoot digital to begin with, it was just that the technology wasn't there.  My scanner was giving me 19mp images while the best camera was the Nikon D1x that was 5.47mp and cost $5,000.  

Maybe today shooting large format and scanning is more cost effective than a $50,000 hasselblad depending on how much you shoot?   

Actually i am going back to use film more often, the last shoots (non commercial) were done half half or a third digtal, rest analog on a Nikon F5 and a RZ67, both wit Tmax100/400 or kodak portra... i have the feeling that analog film renders light differently, especially highlights... skin retouching is even easier then on my leaf aptus22 coz of the grain and the gradients... from what i have encountered the last year i get better results with analog, more pleasing to my eye and on my sinar p2 getting a really nice big negative with awesome lenses you get for a bargain online is just a holiday from taking 150k Photos digitally a year...

Enjoy film as long as its available ( i do hope long!)

I spent 2 years working with 8x10 and acra swiss 6x9 view cameras with digital backs love them to death. Long live schiemflug!! The moves you can do with theses cameras offer so many capabilities.

haha! i love Pippy's long stockings! But for serious, I was seriously considering buying these a while back, but they are SOOOOOOO expensive. Just for a decent one. Crazy isnt it. Its cheaper to walk around with a handheld rapid fire high resolution computer in your hand that is weatherproof. But a broken accordian you throw film into? Crazy stuff

I'm 23 and use a 4x5 from time to time, does that make me old? haha, I mostly don't because scanning the film for digital use is a very expensive and non practical use. But still you can't get the same results with digital, especially shooting product.

I'm a 20 old students at The School of the Photographic Arts: Otttawa.
In our first year we only shoot on medium and large format films. It's been a great breakthrought in my personnal practice. These type of camera make you learn to slow down the whole process, to think and compose wisely your images. Yes i do prefer to scan my negatives. The advantage is the cost of the paper and takes less time. Darkroom paper and chemicals are way more expensive than photo paper for a printer. But I got to say, the whole dark room process is what make photography a craft, an art form like we know it today. I hope every profesionnal around the world had the chance to explore the darkroom at least once in their lives.

I shoot with a 4x5 currently for landscapes. TMax 100 film and then scan the images. Great results!

Last year (19 years old) and also this year, I shoot with the 4x5" Sinar camera for product shoots at college. Amazing feeling when you develop the colour transparency and see it on the lightbox! When our Mamiya/PhaseOne Cameras breakdown (for unknown reasons), I go straight for the 4x5", which is a fraction of the cost. haha