Shooting 4×5 large format film

This was my last “class,” if you could call it that, shooting 4×5 film in a large format camera.  Actually an independent study that I took for only one credit hour, shared with three other students from Adv.Photo.  The photo department bought three large format camera setups and we had some large photo paper donated to us so there wasn’t as much to supply from the students’ end, thankfully.  Due to scheduling conflicts and weather, we didn’t really get that much done (well, I did but whatever).  Anyway we reconvened in January but that didn’t last long either!  These are a few of the snapshots I took with the Olympus Infinity Stylus that I kept around my neck all of Fall 2019, I kept it in my bag with the 4×5.

I’m using a Standard 4×5 which is aluminum and 3D-printed plastic, with a Schneider 210mm f/5.6 lens, on a Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod.  It’s an extremely light setup and I carry everything around in a gym bag taking pictures wherever I feel like, though they’re mostly portraits.  I don’t know exactly why our photo instructor chose Standard monorail cameras over Intrepid field cameras but for what I’m doing a field camera probably would be more practical.  Actually I’d probably be fine with a Speed Graphic for that matter, Bob Jackson tried to sell me one once; I keep thinking about looking him up and buying it.

I used this as an opportunity to try out as many different film stocks as I could, though one thing I stayed away from was slow films.  With a 4x5in negative there’s really no need to worry about grain, so it’s all been ASA400 film: Bergger Panchro 400, Kodak T-Max 400, Ilford HP5+, Rollei RPX400.  Perhaps I’ll shoot some Tri-X 320, but I have read that it’s very finicky stuff and there are so many calculations that need to be taken into account with bellows extension, reciprocity failure, things like that, so I’m not too keen yet.  Plus Kodak does not really price their large format film competitively at all, it’s nearly double what Ilford charges.  Kodak I love you, but just like your price on 100′ bulk rolls of Tri-X, I don’t see why this film should be so much more than Ilford’s.  I only bought 10 sheets of T-Max 400 and I bought it because I wanted a little lifeline, it being the only film out of the bunch with which I was familiar, and I got some of the best results with this film, probably because of that.

Bergger seemed to be nearly the best deal I’d seen for a 50 sheet box, and I’ve seen a lot of good scans of Panchro on 35mm and 120.  They make some of the best photo paper, too.  On 4×5 though, Panchro 400 is a mixed bag, and I agree with what I’ve read online in that it seems to be closer to a 200 speed film, which is disappointing because as much as possible I’ve been trying to pull the film one stop already.  I need to shoot more but I think I’ll have to shoot this at close to 100 if I want to do that.  I knew that Ilford HP5+ would be closest to my beloved Tri-X and it didn’t disappoint me at all.  I could shoot it just the same way and got great results.  It’s also the film I’ll return to first, once I run out of what I have.  The only scanner at UCCS that can handle 4×5 film is the Epson Expression 10000XL which is in the Visual Resource Center and I have to make an appointment to use it.

1 thought on “Shooting 4×5 large format film

  1. Pingback: What’s Up in the Neighborhood, July 4, 2020 – Chuck The Writer

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