28 February 2012

Fuji FP-100C45 - Graflex Crown Graphic 4x5

Months ago I decided that I wanted to get into large format photography. I did a ton of research, read up on all the different formats and types of cameras, looked into the accessories for each and all the different costs. I decided right off the bat that I was probably better off starting with the 4x5 format over the 8x10. Cost obviously played a factor in that decision, but, I also thought that something like a folding press camera would be a better way to become familiar with large format, film loading, composition, etc., without jumping directly into a large monorail camera that would require learning a lot more than the basic camera movements of large format (rise, fall, tilt, shift, swing) and the results of all of those combined movements on the photo. 

The camera I decided to go with is one of the most tried and true of the press cameras - the Graflex Crown Graphic. Here's a photo of the one I just purchased -

This particular model (there are many variations within the Graphic series) comes with the f/4.7 135mm Graflex Optar lens paired with a synchronized Kalart rangefinder. With it I also got some sheet film holders, a Graflex 23 roll film adapter to shoot 120 on this camera, and a Polaroid 545 back (which at this point is nearly obsolete.) To compensate, I also went out an got the Polaroid 550 back which holds the Fuji 4x5 packfilms - FP-100C45 and the discontinued but still available FP-3000B45. The seller also threw in a few extras like an original case, changing bag, two flashes and some sync cables.

This all arrived yesterday in the mail and to this point I've really only gotten to take two photos. The ones you see here in this post are the first two out of this camera and were both shot on the Fuji FP-100C45 pack film. I didn't have a lot of time, so I pretty much just took a walk around the block with the camera and a tripod till I found something I could shoot. I also didn't have my light meter on hand, so, both of these were metered with my iPhone's free light meter app that I had previously calibrated with a real meter. The image at top, my first photo, is of the Crittenden building downtown and I used a front rise and tilt on this image to get the tilt-shift look that you see. The one below, shot in the same area, is a more straight forward photo.

These two photos were pretty much all it took to fall in love with this camera, and, with large format photography. There's nothing that compares to viewing, framing and focusing an image onto a large ground glass like you get in large format. I am really looking forward to getting out to shoot more with this camera soon, as well as the opportunity to load up a few different sheet films. The only downside... I know this camera is just a gateway drug. The 8x10 monorail camera that looked so frightening during my research seems to have become an inevitable future investment at this point.

Stay tuned, I hope to have some more interesting images to share from this camera soon...

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