New to LF - dumb questions? but I don't know : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I just recieved a gift of a beautiful Omega 45D 4X5 camera with a 210 Rodenstock lens, case, dark cloth, 9 dual film holders, a poloroid back ... all the goodies. (All appear to be vitually new. I don't see them listed in the discussions, is it a good solid camera?

I know 35mm photography very well from the last 20 years, this is really intimidating. I have loaded the film holders, where do you go to process them in the midwest? I have no darkroom, was going to buy a tank to process, but articles here tend to indicate not to go that way. No one around here talks LF! Can anyone help me?

-- Michael Lyon (, November 12, 1999


talk to the folks at Darkroom Innovation ( I think) or if you have money go Jobo. where in the midwest are you? And yes your camera is good.

-- Ellis Vener (, November 12, 1999.

For processing your own film, which is what I recommend, don't overlook tupperware. I still use it occasionally for small runs of special films like two exposures of HEI or techpan. Very convenient. Jobo is nice but expensive. For normal runs of ten sheets or more I have become a convert to a Unicolor drum and motorized base. They are inexpensive on the net or used camera stores. I like it better than what I've seen of the Jobo because with the Jobos I've seen you have to take the end off every time you change chemicals. With the Uni drum you don't have to. Don't be afraid to process your own film. Let me know if you need help. James

-- james (, November 13, 1999.

Tray process your b&w film in a darkened bathroom or kitchen. Contact print using some "alternative process" that does not require a darkroom. 4x5 gets you back to basics. Classical music instead of pop.

-- Peter Hughes (, November 13, 1999.

Tupperware is a good answer. You can shuffle films through a tray, or for really low volume -- like 2 sheets at a time, get sandwich size trays and jiggle them in the dark. I use the short wave station WWV as my total-darkness timer.

Depending on where you are in the midwest, you might find a nearby lab that can develop film for you. Look for "professional" or "full service" labs under "photofinishing" in the yellow pages.

Another excellent way to work if you're just learning and have no darkroom is Polaroid. Instant feedback is a wonderful thing while learning large format. With type 55 you can get either an instant print, or a negative that requires clearing in sodium sulfite then washing. I say "either" because the film really has different speeds depending on your desired result.

Lots of good LF toys are available from Calumet (1-800-calumet)

-- mike rosenlof (, November 13, 1999.

LF can be simplified significantly, if you just start out with Fuji Quickloads ... If you don't have a darkroom, how have you been loading your film holders? in a portable tent?

-- Carlos Co (, November 13, 1999.

You should also have a look at the following web page:

You may find it helpful.

-- Lanier Benkard (, November 13, 1999.

You should probably start by shooting a few boxes of Polaroids. Type 52 can give you beautiful black and white prints and instant gratification. For color, Fuji Quickload is a good option. It will work with your Polaroid back but the dedicated holder is preferable.

You could read Steve Simmons book and the Kodak book on large format photography. View camera magazine is good for general information and inspiration.

Finally, when you get the blues lugging all this stuff around in full view of the public (someone recently asked me if I was dressed for Halloween when he saw me shrouded in a black cloth) you want to look at some of the photographs of Weston, Adams, Strand, Cunningham, etc.

-- V. Nair (, November 14, 1999.

I've put a description of processing in trays in the first article on thi s page. It looks complicated, because I've put in a load of detail, but it's no harder than 35mm in spirals.

-- Alan Gibson (, November 14, 1999.

Just a correction on the JOBO drums. You pour in the chemicals from the top and drain them from the top, just like other drums. The only system I know of where you open the top to change chemistry is the BTZS tube system.

-- John O'Connell (, November 15, 1999.

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