Thursday, 18 March 2010

The new world of LF

I started writing this post several weeks ago now and was hoping to expand on it.  However, I've decided to start another post which I'll upload soon.

I found this article on this website extremely helpful.  Maybe because it is written in 'laymens' terms and was a gentle introduction as to the pros and cons of digital v film and different format cameras.  It was also refreshing to read from someone who went through the learning curve. This website was also a mine of information on large format photography.

However, I am still finding this whole new world incredibly daunting and I feel like a baby without the correct language or knowledge to even ask for what I am after.  I could do with speaking to a 'real non-cyber' person too. However, I know no-one who uses one and where I live, it is an hour's drive to a high-street photography shop. A shop that sells large format cameras I couldn't hazard a guess how far I would have to travel. 

In addition, I am also a little concerned about the cost of kitting myself up and whether it's worth the investment.  I have looked at various websites and am staggered how much some of the new ones go for. So I will definitely go for a second hand one or a beginners new one.  Renting seems out of the question as the rentals are around £70-£100 per week and I will need a minimum of several months of trialling and erroring for me to get to grips with such a camera.

One thing I think I have established is that I would prefer a 'field' camera as this is 'light-weight' and more portable in comparison to some others.  I am also likely to go for a 5x4, largely because it comparatively mainstream making it easier to get supplies etc.

Looking back to the purchase of my first dslr, that initial decision (nikon v canon) has had a bearing on many other decisions and purchases since.  The next decision was largely to do with my budget. Once you've adopted a system you become a staunch supporter of it.  Selecting the make and type of a large format camera will impact greatly on how I 'take' to using it and any further purchases afterwards.

I have also considered processing and whether I would process at home.  I have a good friend who is a bio-chemist who talked me through what is involved with processing, what chemicals you would use. In the first instance I think it is unlikely I would do my own processing. Too much faff  - although I may eat my words in time!! And if I am honest, I am also a little concerned about the carcinogens inherent in many of the chemicals used. I suspect there are some more environmental chemicals available these days but I know too little and don't want to make the additional outlay just yet. I would need to be much more experienced to consider it, particularly with regards colour processing. So starting out, I'll let a professional printing company do that side of things.

Since writing this post, I've spoken to Robert White who is one of the UK's most reputable suppliers.  And if you're ever in a similar position to me I would definitely have a chat with him.  I have made no purchase yet, however, he spoke openly and honestly with me for twenty minutes or more going through all the basics in language I could understand!! For the first time, I am starting to get it!!

In conclusion I still feel daunted but perversely compelled to pursue this further!!


  1. Just a couple of quick thoughts. Firstly to say that I have had dealings with Robert White, including both new and second hand items and found them very good.

    Secondly for training with large and medium format one name lept into my mind, Scottish based Richard Childs:

  2. Thanks Duncan for the tip, I shall check out his site. All help and guidance is appreciated!