Specialists in medium and large format photographic equipment

Types of Large Format Camera

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[fusion_text]A large format camera is anything that uses film larger than 120 roll film. This means that the camera will use either sheet film, or glass plates.

Early cameras used glass plates, and later sheet film, so large format cameras have many similarities with early cameras, and many large format cameras are quite old.[/fusion_text][one_half last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][/one_half][one_half last=”yes” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][imageframe lightbox=”no” lightbox_image=”” style_type=”none” hover_type=”none” bordercolor=”” bordersize=”0px” borderradius=”0″ stylecolor=”” align=”center” link=”” linktarget=”_self” animation_type=”0″ animation_direction=”down” animation_speed=”0.1″ hide_on_mobile=”no” class=”” id=””] [/imageframe][/one_half][one_half last=”no” spacing=”yes” center_content=”no” hide_on_mobile=”no” background_color=”” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” background_position=”left top” border_position=”all” border_size=”0px” border_color=”” border_style=”” padding=”” margin_top=”” margin_bottom=”” animation_type=”” animation_direction=”” animation_speed=”0.1″ class=”” id=””][fusion_text]

Typical 4×5 Sheet Film

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Typical Glass Plates

[/fusion_text][/one_half][fusion_text]Film

The most common (and easiest to get hold of) film format for modern large format cameras is 4X5. It also comes in a number of different sizes including 5X7 and 8X10.

Older Field Cameras tend to use glass negatives of varying sizes. However, modern reproduction Field Cameras, such as Wista, take 4X5 film.


Why Use Large Format?

There are three principle reasons why you would use a large format camera (This topic is also discussed in our blog ‘The Relationship Between the Artist/Photographer and Their Tools’):

  • Image quality – The huge film area will capture the most information. A 4×5 film is equivalent to well in excess of a 300 million pixel sensor. Photographers still use large format today when a high resolution is needed, or a huge print is going to be made, such as Andres Gursky.
  • Movements – changes the perspective and focal plane of the image.
  • Slowness – The slowed methodical nature is desired by many photographers.


Types of large format camera:

1 – Field Camera

Made from around the 1920s onwards, they are collapsible, intended for use in the field and are portable.

  • Offer limited movements
  • Made of wood, typically made from mahogany and brass
  • ‘Tropical’ cameras were made from teak to resist high temperatures and humidity

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Wista 45DX Field Camera. Made from 1972 to present day.

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Thornton Pickard Ruby Field Camera. Made between 1890 and 1907.

[/fusion_text][/one_half][fusion_text]2 – Press camera

In the 1950s and earlier, before 35mm SLR cameras, press photographers used large format cameras. Offering limited movements, these cameras are basic and simple:

  • They offer limited movement at the front only. The back is fixed
  • They may have an integrated range finder to aid focusing
  • Can be hand held with a large magnesium flash unit
  • Some have focal plane shutters, in addition to the shutter in the lens

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Graflex Century Graphic

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Weegee (Ascher Felling) with a Graflex- 1899-1968

[/fusion_text][/one_half][fusion_text]3 – Technical Camera

Similar to a press camera, a technical camera is portable and can be hand held. First made in the late 1950s and 1960s, they offer the flexibility of a monorail camera and the portability of a press camera.

  • Movements front and rear
  • Front lens bed that can be lowered
  • Can be hand held
  • Some have integrated rangefinders
  • Do not have focal plane shutters
  • Movements are not extensive
  • Limited size means that lenses with long focal lengths, or macro photography is not possible

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MPP Technical Camera

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Linhof Super Technika

[/fusion_text][/one_half][fusion_text]4 – Monorail camera (also known as a View camera)

The most complex and flexible type of large format camera. Named because of the single rail at the base of the camera that both standards (the uprights) are fixed to. In addition to the front and rear standard, lens shades and additional standards maybe fitted to the rail.

  • Must be mounted on a large and steady tripod -cannot be hand held
  • Extensive and large movements
  • A full camera system. Different components can be used to build cameras for different purposes. For example, by increasing the length of the monorail by adding extension pieces, you can have a camera suitable for macro photography. Adding a wide angle lens and bag bellows allows you to have a camera suitable for architectural interiors.
  • No range finder. You must compose the image and focus by using a rear ground glass at the rear. A dark cloth over your head will be necessary too.

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Sinar Norma 4×5 Camera

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