Artist needs advice : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am an artist and want to make 4x5 transparencies of my representational paintings (landscapes, figures, avg size 20x24 to 40x48, rarely 60x72 inches). Faithful color rendition is critical. I need equipment advice. Low cost is a strong consideration due to the limited nature of the application.

I have considerable experience making 35mm transparencies of paintings, and am competent with the basics. About 15 years ago, I aquired a used Calumet 8x10 w/ 300mm Caltar Pro/Copal 3 and a heavy Gitzo tripod (it seemed like a good deal at the time) which I used for a brief time making some B&W copies of larger paintings (6ftx8ft). The camera seems to perform satisfactorily (i.e. no leaks in the bellows), though I never tried any color work. As I see it my options are:

1. Buy a 4x5 reducer back for my 8x10. Probably the easiest and cheapest route, but: The 8x10 is a beast to set up and take down. Will this lens/shutter give me good color rendition? Are there other possible problems using the reducer back & the 300 mm lense?

2. Buy a used 4x5 body & use my current lense & shutter. Will this work?

3. Sell the 8x10 & start over? Where could I sell it? In ballpark figures how much would I sell it for? (it is at least a 9) What would be a good 4x5 camera for this type of work -- obviously little if any movement would be necessary? What focal length lens would I need to give me the equivalent of 50 mm in 35 mm format?

4. Other?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated, and I thank you in advance.

-- Ted Byrom (, April 22, 1999


The camera and lens you have now should give good color rendition. Film will have a greater effect. For accurate colors, go with Kodak EPN, designed for the fashion industry where color fidelity is critical. A 300mm lens is the equivalent of 50 mm in 35 mm format for 8x10. A 150mm lens is the equivalent of 50 mm in 35 mm format for 4x5. You can use your 300mm on a 4x5 if the bellows gives you enough extension (300mm at infinity, 600mm for 1:1). Not many 4x5 cameras give you that much extension. A cheap 4x5 for this would be a Speed or Crown Graphic, since movements are minimal, however, you would need to aquire a 150mm or so lens, as they will not give you the extension required for your 300mm lens.

-- Ron Shaw (, April 22, 1999.

Keep the camera, get the reducing back (should be easy to find used) and a 180 or 210mm lens instead of the 150mm. When copying paintings I find it better to use a slightly longer than normal lens.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 22, 1999.

Also, since color rendition is important, you need to consider your light source, and use the proper filters as required.

-- Ron Shaw (, April 23, 1999.

Ted, I'm a commerical photog and one of my specialties is shooting visual art, both 2D and 3D for artisits that need that service. I use a 4x5 Sinar P (model P is overkill for 2D copywork) with a Nikkor-M 300mm F9 lens. This lens is designed for doing color seps and barely covers 8x10, which means I get killer 4x5s with no fall off (corners going dark). This lens was relatively cheap because of the slow speed and I can put on a reasonably priced polarizer over the lens too. Do you need to polarize your shots to cut glare? If you do and the currrent 300 has a huge front diameter (i.e. 100mm) then you may want to replace the lens, rather than spend a boat-load of money for a 100mm polarizing filter. If you don't need to polarize, then the 300 you have would fit on most 4x5 monorail cameras. As previously mentioned, use a longer than normal lens whenever possible (although with 72" long art that may be a problem if your space is small). The longer lens will give you less distortion and reduce glare a little too. If you want to sell the 8x10 try KEH in Atlanta or Ken Hansen in NY. I have many other dealers in my database that deal in large format used gear. E-mail me directly for further names.

-- Richard Stum (, May 04, 1999.

Sell the camera/lens and go to medium format. Medium format will give an extensive choice of films, high resolution flat field lenses, the ability to bracket at a lower cost, and will be more cost effective overall.

-- Pat Raymore (, May 04, 1999.

Don't listen to that simpleton above. Listen if all you do is copy why not buy a used MP-4?

-- Trib (, May 06, 1999.

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