Richard with ViewCam

Five Years with View Cameras

Yesterday, Facebook asked me to share an old memory from five years ago, which happens to me with my first view camera:

The handsome Shenhao PTB617

It was quite a change from using rangefinders and SLRs. I am used to manual focus and not relying too much on automation, but still, there is no auto-exposure, no autofocus, no auto-anything  with a view camera. Not only do you need to use a dark cloth (which is sort of cool in its ways), the biggest block is to remember removing and inserting the dark slide from the back between exposures (a dark slide prevents the film from being exposed if the lens aperture is opened). Fortunately, after a few “ah ffff*ck” and wasted films, you do learn the routines quickly enough.

This particular camera is the Shenhao PTB617, a panoramic camera that shoots four 6×17 cm (approximate, actual dimensions are smaller) images on a 120 roll, normally used by medium format camera. If you think a Hasselblad 6×6 frame is large, well, 617 is about 3 times as large. The details and tonal range are exceptional.

Palo Alto Bayland

Currently in addition to the 617 camera, I have two 4×5 cameras, and an 8×10 camera. One of the 4×5 is the Gibellini ACN45, which I wrote about here. The Gibellini is rock solid and is my “portrait” camera as it has no problem handling the incomparable but large Cooke PS945 portrait lens.

Carolyn, for my project Cosplay Transformations

It amuses me that once in a while, someone will blog about how they use “100 years old lens on a Sony A7RIII!”. Of course these large format lens have very large image circle and frankly whatever characters they might have are wasted on a “full frame” camera. This is an image from an 120+ years old lens, used properly on a 4×5 camera.

Take that, Sony A7RIII

So much more to write. Mo’ Later then!