What are the best 4x5 camera's to buy for portraits?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by moodlover, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. monst

    monst Member

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    If you want a speed graphic then check out the Jo Lommen site. He has off the shelf lens boards but think they only fit the one version of the speed graphic and not sure which one it is. It has a whole lot of info if you go that route. https://lommen9.home.xs4all.nl/
     
  2. Lachlan Young

    Lachlan Young Member

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    As Soeren said, those look like swings & tilts rather than an extremely fast lens. The guy in that link also looks like he is using (at least in part) Fuji or Polaroid peel-apart film - which given that the final result is effectively a 4x5-ish contact print is going to have a different effective circle-of-confusion than the 4-5x enlargement you wish to produce & thus an apparently greater depth of field than a 20x24 enlargement. Here's something to consider: at the enlargement you propose, a 180/5.6 wide open, focused at 4-5ft will give an apparent depth of field of about an inch, depending on your acceptable definition criteria. Realistically, that's pushing the limits of the ability of a human to keep still long enough for you to focus & expose a sheet of film. I think you need to try a 4x5 camera and see what the movements can do before chasing fetish-object ultra speed lenses (which generally are nowhere near as optically competent as their promoters like to claim).
     
  3. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i like using a graflex slr because you can SEE the person being photographed/if they moved/if they are in focus
    as you depress the shutter. with a regular non/slr you have to hope they didn't move ..
    a bright light helps with focusing, so does pre-focusing and having a string with "the egg" on it
    that is the focus distance to the subject. i think dave goldfarb has done this, i know i've seen this done...
    makes things easier, so the photographer just fine tunes and composes.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  4. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    f/2.5. Monster, very hard to put to use, and too long for portraiture with a Speed Graphic. My USAF data sheets say it weighs 12 pounds.
     
  5. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    After a closer look on more of the portraits id say those are definitely results of tilting the lens forward (those ive seen) so it is as much, if not more the tilted plane of focus as the shallow dof that makes the "look"
     
  6. ransel

    ransel Subscriber

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    Focusing will probably not be the problem, but staying in focus from the moment you attempt to insert the film holder, your subject swats at a gnat, you pull the dark-slide, cock the shutter, your subject checks her phone for a txt, you trip the shutter... from my experience with a f/4.5 lens at wide open, f/2.? will be problematic. Just something to consider. Sure would be nice if you could get access to a lens to test...
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    yeah, mark tucker's work comes to mind too ...
     
  8. jim10219

    jim10219 Member

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    I'm gonna recommend you rent a camera first. I'm getting the impression that you may not like what you find.

    First off, those Aero Ektar's are pretty expensive. So before you jump head first into this, it might be a good idea to do a bunch of research, and some of that should include some hands on experience. And I wouldn't worry too much about the ground glass being too dim with an Aero Ektar. If it is, you could buy a Fresnel lens to put over it. But I doubt that would be an issue. I have an Anniversary Speed Graphic and the ground glass isn't that much dimmer than any other large format camera I've used. They'll all pretty dim, which is why we use dark cloths. Knowing how to use a dark cloth (like wrapping it all the way around and giving your eyes a moment to adjust) will make a bigger difference than how bright or dim your ground glass is. So will a good loupe. In any case, you're going to find that getting a person to sit perfectly still between the moment you focus to the moment you take the picture will be really, really, really difficult. This is one reason why people usually don't shoot portraits with lenses with such wide apertures in large format. For most people 4.5-5.6 is about as wide as they'll shoot. It's not like the smaller formats where you can quickly go from setting up the shot to taking it, unless you want to have a rangefinder adapted to your camera that is calibrated to that lens. That can be done with a Speed Graphic and certain rangefinders however. But then you'll have to compose through a viewfinder and deal with parallax issues. Not only that, but at depths of field that shallow, I'd be afraid to rely on a rangefinder or distance scale alone. Or you could use an older Graflex SLR (RB Series D). But those are less portable and older. Any of those Graflex cameras will have reliability concerns. They're all pretty old at this point.

    But the problem with a Speed Graphic and Graflex RB is camera shake. If you're not working with a lot of light and can't see the ground glass to well, then you're probably not working with a fast enough shutter speed to compensate for camera shake. Those focal plane shutters are heavy, and they will move a camera when you trip them. You might consider going for a Sinar with the Auto Aperture shutter accessory. It's basically a built in shutter that allows you to use barrel lenses. The downside is the Sinars are not light or easily portable. But they are more steady, and you won't have to worry about camera shake with a good tripod. They also allow for much more movements, which you might find you actually want if you're looking for such shallow "depth of field".

    Or you could adapt a Packard shutter to just about any camera. Some people actually adapt them to the outside, in front of the lens (but that would take some machining skills). In any case, you're going to have to figure out what comprises you can live with, and what you actually need. And the only good way to do that is to get some first hand experience.
     
  9. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

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    Moodlover, I'd like to point out something that I think was not raised as yet. If it's true that the Aero Ektar doesn't come in a shutter, and you're going to rely on a focal plane shutter, you have to realize that it's going to be very difficult, maybe impractical, to use electronic flash. The reason is that the Speed Graphic's focal plane shutter has no speed at which the entire focal plane is exposed to the lens at the same time; all the slits are smaller than the entire frame. This means the only way to use electronic flash is on the T setting; you would have to turn off ambient light in the studio, open shutter, flash the flash, then close the shutter. If that's not what you had in mind, you will have to resign yourself to shooting portraits with continuous lights. This might be possible indoors at reasonable shutter speeds if you want to shoot nearly wide open.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi jim

    there are lots of people these days shooting with
    lenses that are faster than f5.6 or 4.5. there is a
    craze right now for the fastest lenses possible and
    shooting wide open ( been going on for maybe 15 years )
    ===
    moodlover, another couple of suggestions ...
    look into fast projection/projector lenses
    they often times inexpensive also look into fast teasers ( some are f3.5 )
    there isn't the same amount of glass as the AE but they offer nice OOF areas
    and have shallow DOF.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Buy a Graflex with a 7 1/2" lens. Then if you want get a Rodenstock Imagon lens.
     
  12. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    One of the nice things about using a Speed Graphic's focal plane shutter is that the camera can be focused with the RF with the focal plane shutter cocked, the film holder in and the dark slide pulled. The shot can be composed, more or less, with the wire frame finder. And then press the body release and BANG! goes the shutter when it reaches the end of its travel.

    As Packard used to say in its advertising, Ask the man who owns one.
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2017
  13. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    Yes it's very obvious you got your "knowledge"on the web. Attitude, too. Good luck, you'll need it.
     
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  15. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    No attitude, my preferred way of learning is just simply different than yours. Don't be so emotionally butthurt about it.
     
  16. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Hi John, thanks for the advice I'll look into this!
     
  17. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Thanks for pointing this out, very interesting to hear this. How is it that other photographer's use the Speed Graphic for strobes then?
     
  18. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Thanks for the great input here. I apologize for not being clear previously. I am not working with a lot of light initially because the modeling lights of my flash are relatively dim once modified through double-diffused softboxes. But once the flash fires, there is a lot of light, often so much that I am usually using them at their lowest power. Does that change your thought?
     
  19. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    John, can you recommend any model of Graflex SLR to look into? I really love the idea of using a bigger version of the RZ67 where I can see if my subject is in focus as I'm depressing the shutter. Would any of these models be able to work with the Aero Ektar 178mm easily? Ive seen one of my favorite photographers Ryan Muirhead use a Graflex SLR I believe it was called the Aero Ektar Liberator 4x5 SLR Camera though none are available on eBay so I'm out of luck there
     
  20. faberryman

    faberryman Subscriber

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    Tail wagging the dog.
     
  21. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    You're an ill informed immature snot, and now on "ignore".
    By the bye, plurals are not apostrophised by literate folk.
     
  22. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    I like what you're saying, but let's ignore the enlargement parts for a while. I am also scanning my film for publishing online so it's going to be picking up exactly what's on the negative. I am open to completely dropping the Kodak Aero idea if I can find a similar lens that's better for me. However, the issue is I never see shallow depth-of-field portraits taken with those lenses so I can't risk it unless I see real photos
     
  23. OP
    OP
    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    So butthurt because someone uses videos to learn? Grow up old man, the world doesn't owe you anything.

    P.S. "by the bye" is a good try at being literate!
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2017
  24. hsandler

    hsandler Subscriber

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    Most lenses hqve a leaf shutter, so no issue if the shutter has x sync. In the old press days, there were long burning FP flash bulbs specially made for the focal plane shutter. They burned long enough to last for the entire travel of the focal plane shutter slit across the frame.
     
  25. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    And how do you pull that of using front tilt as the photographer the OP linked to does.
     
  26. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    You do realise what the front tilt does?
     
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