Small Product Photography or film? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm wanting to get into small product photography. I have an old view camera but understand that the market is now dominated by digital cameras. Is that true? Also, if view cameras and film are still in use, what lenses would I need? What do you recommend? I've read that 180, 210, and 240 is the standard. Any help will be appreciated.

-- Ron Stroope (, December 11, 2000


I'll let someone else answer the film vs. digital question, although the answer may be dependent on what you're doing with the product photography. I understand that catalog photography is a leading use of digital.

As for 4x5 cameras, a "normal" lens (focal length equal to the format diagonal) is abotu 160mm. 210mm and 240mm are normally recommended for portrait photography - probably full-length, and head-and-shoulders, respectively. These are not necessarily good choices for small product photography. If your products are truly small (object size about equal to image size), then you're in the realm of close-up, or macro-, photography. This requires a lot of bellows draw, so it's the camera that is often limiting. The longer the lens focal length, the more bellows draw you need to focus. (This is often counterintuitive, as we think, "If I want to get in closer, I need to use a long lens.") A better lens for macrophotography may be a shorter one, so that you're not restricted by limited bellows draw.

Don't throw out that view camera. View cameras are modular. Although there are dedicated large format digital cameras, I believe most large format digital photography is done on a conventional view camera with a scanning back.

-- John H. Henderson (, December 12, 2000.

I use a 4x5 every day and believe me, we're still using 4x5's as an industry standard. The lens that you mention are the "norms" and you can do most tabletop stuff with either. When I need to go digital (clients needs), I just scan and convert the neg to whatever format they need. For now, this is the better way of doing it unless you have $25,000+ for the digital camera, lights ect. Sure there are alot of "digital cameras" on the market but hardly the type necessary for technical product shooting.

-- Scott Walton (, December 13, 2000.

Ron- Why do you care if "the market is dominated by digital cameras?" Does that make your view camera unable to take a photograph? Like the above poster said, scan the negs if your client needs a digital format. You might be surprised to know that 4x5 film shooting is still capable of producing far more detailed results than most (silver naysayers take note- I said MOST) digital systems. For the amount of money it would take to get a scanning back up to the quality level of film (not to mention the loooooong exposures), digital seems an absurd proposition for anyone but a corporate catalog house.

-- Josh Slocum (, December 14, 2000.

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