Just bought a 4x5 and could use some help.

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Let me start off by saying that I have about 20 yrs of 35mm work and 6 yrs of medium format experience behind me. About 4 yrs with a b&w darkroom. Now I get the bug for a larger negative and buy a 4x5 Tachihara field camera. It has a Caltar 11-E 150mm F6.3 lens. Any opinions and insights into this camera? Now for the question. What would be a good resourse to gain some knowledge of LF camera use. I do my own b&w developing and printing and should be ok there. I have to buy a new enlarger though. I am going to pick up a Beseler 45M model in the next week. Any suggestions on lens for printing 4x5 negatives. I plan to continue shooting 35mm and 6x7 but needed the 45m for the 4x5. I already have a scanner with 4x5 neg/pos capabilities so I'm ok there. I also wanted to know what your opinions on D-76 were also. I've been using Tmax developer almost excusively but read so much on here about 110 and D-76 I was thinking of trying it out. That should give me enough to think about. It should be fun (and frustrating) working in a new format. Thanks for your comments in this new year. Doug

-- Douglas P. Theall (rooster_two@yahoo.com), January 01, 2001



You have an excellent camera and lens. It's a great choice to get started in LF.

Both Leslie Stroebel's and Steve Simmons' large format books are great. Simmons is a bit easier to understand and a bit less pedantic than Stroebel, but either one will answer just about any question you may have about LF work.

The Beseler 45 is a very good 4x5 enlarger. Try to get a 150mm focal length enlarging lens for 4x5. Any of the top three brands will work great. I like the Componon S and El-Nikkor lenses.

D-76 and HC110 are both good with most traditional B&W sheet films, like Kodak Tri-X and Plus-X, Ilford's FP4+ and HP5.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (s.ortega@worldnet.att.net), January 01, 2001.

Douglas, I bought the same camera & lens from Calumet about 6 years ago and have been very pleased with it. I don't think you can go wrong with a Beseler 45M enlarger, it is a workhorse. Printing with a 4x5 neg is no different than other formats but you will be amazed at the quality of the enlargements compared to the smaller negatives. Look at the threads in the b&w technique section for developing LF negatives, lots of good information. There are alot of good photographers that contribute answers to this webpage. If you have any questions just ask. Good luck & happy shooting. Pat.

-- pat kearns (pat.kearns@coopertsmith.com), January 01, 2001.

I think the Steve Simmon's book, "Using the View Camera", as well as Ansel Adam's book, "Camera and Lens", would be of great help to you. Both books are readily available and do a fine job of explaining the basic movements, lens choice, exposure, and other facts essential to view camera use.

All you need after that is a little help from the great group on this forum and some practice. You'll be lookin' like a pro in no time, and you won't regret the effort...

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), January 01, 2001.

Hello Douglas,

Over the past year I have also plunged into LF photography and have found it quite enjoyable. Like yourself, I have now purchased a Beseler 45MX and have been very satisfied with the results. I bought mine used and it came with a Rodenstock 135mm for 4x5 negs. I do not have a 150mm to compare to, but if I am not mistaken the 135mm permits me to make larger images on the baseboard with out having the head as high as a 150mm would. I do not have any help to offer on D- 76 as I use ID-11 (similar to D-76) and Rodinal for my negs. As a hobbyist I am quite pleased with the flexibility that Rodinal offers and the results have been well beyond satisfactory. One additional suggestion I can offer is to do your processing using a 8x10 Unidrum. I tried tray processing but had uneven development and occasional scratches. With the drum and a pre-wet I no longer have any problems and doing 4 sheets at a time is about the right amount for me. In regards to books I assume like most of us you have knowledge about the "Zone System" and now that you have the possibility of single negative development you may wish to try your hand. For this reason I recommend Adam's "The Negative" which has a wealth of useful information. I have quite a few other books but to date I have found the web to contain the best information on LF movements and the answers to the most common questions. Reading through the old posts on this site can offer you many insights and save you costly mistakes. With LF gurus like Doug Paramore, Ellis Vener, James Mickelson, Q.-Tuan Luong and the others educating you, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. This site alone has some of the best information available for newcomers. I can highly recommend the "what are the common mistakes, and how to avoid them" on the main page. For myself when I started I read and understood the content but still commited most of the mistakes in the field. :>)

Hope you enjoy your first year in LF!

-- GreyWolf (grey_wolf@telusplanet.net), January 01, 2001.

Don`t be afraid of it, get out there and use it...

-- Steve Clark (Poophappens@aol.com), January 01, 2001.

Welcome to the club.

-- Altaf Shaikh (al@nyc.rr.com), January 02, 2001.

Congrats and welcome to our neck of the woods! Don't (as Steve states) be afraid of it... get it a little wet on rainy days (great soft light) or in the snow! It's a nice tool so get out and have fun like all of us do! Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), January 02, 2001.

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