Getting started in LF : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm committed to moving up to 4 x 5 after shooting 35mm color landscapes for some time. I've done a fair amount of reading about LF photography, but most of the books I've read deal more with camera movements and such, and I can't find any information on simple everyday issues. I appreciate your input on what are probably fairly stupid questions. 1. How do I know which lenses are compatible with the lensboard on my camera? I understand there are different shutter sizes, but in the end, how do I know which lens I can buy to fit my camera? 2. I don't have any darkroom equipment and plan to shoot almost exclusively color transparencies such as Fuji Velvia. Once the sheet of film is exposed, how do I store it before delivering it for processing? I can't imagine I have to leave it in the film holder or deliver it to the lab in the film holder. Along the same lines, what about Fuji Quickloads? Can I store the exposed transparencies outside of the film holder and is there any mail in processing options such as Fuji's 35mm slide processing mailers? Can I or do I need to buy a film holder for Quickloads to fit my camera? If it means anything, I'm seriously looking at a Linhof Tech IV. It has all the movements I need and is rugged enough to put into a pack for two or three day backpacking expeditions. Thanks in advance for any help.

-- Andy (, May 29, 2000


1. All modern lenses will be compatible with your lensboard. With classic lenses, you need to be sure that the shutter is not bigger than the lensboard. 2. You put the sheets of film into the box it came in (or one like it). You can (and should) store quickloads outside the film holder. There is no mail in processing that I know of. You will need a quickload holder and it will fit all modern 4x5 cameras.

-- William Marderness (, May 29, 2000.


Perhaps a little clarification would help on the issue of 'mailers' for processing.

While there aren't convenient pre-paid envelopes available, many labs can accommodate your need by receiving your exposed film, in a three part -light tight- box for processing. A clear letter noting the number of sheets, type of film, and any special handling/processing requirements (push/pull processing) along with your name/ address/ phone/ etc should be attached - to the outside of the box, in the padded envelope, or whatever. I usually use a large black marker to write on the taped box - EXPOSED FILM, OPEN IN DARK ONLY. (Don't over- tape it, you're just keeping it from falling open by accident, the lab guys will appreciate not having to deal with tons of tape.)

Billing can be arranged ahead of time by phone to see how they'd like to handle it. Processed film is returned the same way. The only trick to this that I've encountered is getting started - that is, your first box of film may still be in use when you want to have the first couple of sheets processed. Quick Loads solve some of these mechanics.

Oh, and if you're in a rush...there's always Federal Express and similar services.

Good Luck


-- Fred Leif (, May 29, 2000.

Andy: LF is different from 35mm, so there is not a problem of what lens fits your camera unless you get one too big. As William said, most lenses will fit most lens boards. The lens boards are not like the mounts on a 35mm lens. You can either get the boards pre-drilled to fit the shutter on the lens or can do the job yourself if you are the least bit handy with tools. I have cut the hole with a pocket knife when pressed (I cracked a wooden lens board and had to make one of Masonite in a pinch). Bring your holders back to a dark closet and unload them into a light tight box, or on a field trip, under a blanket at night. The Linhof Tech IV is a good camera. Good shooting.

-- Doug Paramore (, May 29, 2000.

1.) This one is pretty well answered already.

2.) I use Fuji Quickload for a couple of very important reasons: A.) Bulk: I can carry a lot more film (at least twice as much) in the same amount of space as a given number of holders and with a lot less weight. B.) Time: I don't have the entire clean/load/unload/reclean ritual to go through. C.) I don't have to carry a portable darktent and cleaning supplies necessary for the clean/load/unload/reclean ritual. D.) I can easily keep track of what the subject is and what the exposure information is for each sheet on the individual jackets. E.) Speed of use. F.) Reliability.

3.) Yes you need the Fuji Quickload holder. It is slightly longer than and about the samedepth of a standard two sided film holder, maybe slightly deeper. You can also use the Polaroid 545i holder for the Fuji Quickloads but alignment of the focus plane for Quickloads is less than ideal. 4.) With your camera you might want to check the width of the rear lens cell. Certain lenses like the 90mm f/5.6XL Super Angulon may have rear cells that are too wide for the throat of your camera.

-- Ellis Vener (, May 30, 2000.

Thanks to all for the helpful responses. It's great to find such a helpful forum, and I appreciate the time spent answering my questions.

-- Andy (, May 30, 2000.

Andy, you made no inquiry about lens coverage. This is quite an important issue when selecting lenses for LF. Will a prospective lens actually cover the 4x5 film area with room to spare for movements? Unlike hand cameras, where if a lens attaches to the camera, you are pretty safe, in LF you could wind up with a lens that physically fits the lensboard, but is only designed to cover a 6x7 cm film frame. When purchasing used lenses, particularly at camera shows, this get a bit dicey. If a seller doesn't know the coverage of the lens and will not take it back if incorrect, you could get stuck. Be careful!

-- Robert A. Zeichner (, May 31, 2000.

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