Newbie Questions : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am new to large format, and have some questions (actually have a ton of them, but I will keep it minimal) 1) Any suggestions on which type of polaroid film to use with my 545 back? 2) Is it worth it to develope your own film? I have never developed anything before, but hear black & white is fairly easy, and what exactly is a "contact Print"? 3) From what I can tell, my lens is off of an old press camera (Graflex) and it has 2 pins sticking out of the bottom, are these to fire the flash? Is a cord available for it?

Sorry so many questions, but have to learn somehow Thanks, Paul

-- Paul Moseley (, June 19, 2001



Have you discovered yet? Should answer most of your Graflex questions.

-- Alec (, June 19, 2001.

The bi-post contacts are for triggering the old bulbs, you might contact Bill Cameta and see if he has the old flash guns and reflectors. If you want negs get Polaroid P/N 55, if not get 52, but film is cheaper (Arista 125/400) from Freestyle Sales in L.A., about $40 per hundred and look around for another lens with a pc flash sync.It might be a good idea for you to find someone who is willing to teach you film developement basics, it will save you a lot of time and trouble. There is nothing easy about film developement, if it was there would not be so many posts here about how to do it. Pat

-- pat krentz (, June 20, 2001.

Just to expand a bit on Pat's excellent answer, the bipost flash connector can be made from an electric shaver cord spliced onto a flas cord. You do want to do your own processing of black and white negs and prints. It is not very difficult, but there is a learning curve. You can learn how to do it in 10 minutes and it will take a year to get good at it and really understand all the fine control that can be obtained. A contact print is just that...the paper is laid down face up, the neg face down on the paper and a glass plate or contact frame is used to bring the neg in close contact with the paper. An ordinary light bulb (not too bright) can be used for exposure. Your lens off the press camera will be fine for learning about LF. You will want to add others later, such as a wide angle and a normal with more coverage for camera movements. Many LF shooters use a 210mm for a "long normal" lens. Welcome to the world of LF.


-- Doug Paramore (, June 20, 2001.

You're probably not going to be really wowed by the capabilities of large format until you develop your own film. Even a 4x5" contact print will look fabulous. The Polaroids will be relatively disappointing. (It will look like a Polaroid from a consumer Polaroid camera!)

B&W film processing is easy, so don't be discouraged. Getting really good at it and characterizing your processes so that the image you visualize when you take the pictures is what you get out of the developer with a minimum of fuss takes time. When starting out, use variable contrast papers and you can compensate for less-than-ideal exposure and film developing.

The cheapest and quickest way to start developing 4x5 film is in trays like those used to develop prints.

-- John H. Henderson (, June 20, 2001.

I would go with the new B/W's... the 100 or the 400. The 100 is especially true to 100asa rating. The 55 is nice because of the negative. You can check your focus with it and clear it in a Sodium Sulfite solution and have a permanent negative for your collection.

-- Scott Walton (, June 20, 2001.


I agree with the posts suggesting Type 55 Positive/Negative film. The process is fairly easy and a contact print from the negative has that interesting edge effect that you often see in magazines. Keep in mind that the exposure to make a negative is different from the positive. I usually rate Type 55 at about 25 for the negative and 50 for the positive. You can also try Type 56 which gives a sepia toned image. Again, the resolution is not that great but at least it looks different. Finally, I would suggest experimenting with some polaroid transfers using Polacolor Type 69 (?) or the tungsten equivalent. Good luck!


-- Dave Willison (, June 20, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ