Happy Toyo field owner

HenriLon

New Member
Registered User
Hi,

Born and raised into a digital world I started to discover the photography by reading non-digital books such as "Time Life La Photographie" :).
I did my class as a matelot with a Fuji, quickly used few bridges but really started to enjoy the beauty of a still image when I got my first Nikon DLSR.

Learning alongside my dad and helped me a lot to get the vocabulary & the technic. However, nothing will give you the eye-catcher, the right composition, the understanding of the light and its impact without running back and start again with an analogue camera.
Touching with the eyes my dad's Toyo 4x5 View last Christmas in Corsica ;), learning the difference phase and process, I couldn't resist to try myself and put my small experience all together into practice and burn my 25 films with my 150mm lens :p

Also because I'm a bit frustrated with the performance of my DSLR about the perspective, chromatic aberration, and sometimes the details.
I really enjoy taking landscape photography and I think the Toyo 4x5 Field will allow me to expand my knowledge and I'm sure will bring other frustration :p until the 8x10 inch :p

I've been looking to find the right tripod, light meter, focusing lens. Any advice, direction are more than welcome.

  • I sow a focusing light here, if still available and recommended why not:)
  • The light meter, I was actually ready to buy a Sekonic 718 but the one I found from Japan didn't have the additional Lumidisc & Lumigrid. Those accessories seem to be very difficult to find separately. I really like the 398 as well. Which one would you recommend 718 if I found a good opportunity or the 398 is enough.
  • Tripod, which one would you suggest?
Thanks
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Welcome to the forums and world of LF photography! Regarding your questions, a lot goes to personal preference, but here is what I use:

1) For focusing, I use a pair of magnifying eye glasses because I like both hands free to manipulate camera controls.
2) Opinions on light meters will probably be all over the map, but I use two different meters depending on what film I'm shooting. Yeah, I know it sounds a bit odd, but I have my reasons... For B&W, I use a Zone VI modified Pentax Digital Spot meter; simple to use and has a zone scale attached to easily place EV readouts into the desired zone(s). For color, I like using my Sekonic L-558 because it enables me to easily read shadow and highlight areas where I would like to hold detail, store those values and average them, then scan the entire scene to see the differences in stops of the light present.
3) Nowadays, I really enjoy carbon fiber tripods; light, strong, and easily transported. However, I still prefer a pan/tilt head for LF vs the more popular ballhead.

Hope this helps. Enjoy that new camera of yours!
 

James T

Member
Registered User
Welcome.

Just one extra thought on light meters. With secondhand meters do check the batteries needed as many of the older spot meters use the dreaded mercury cells. I found a Soligor that uses a 9V (PP9) battery that is readily available.
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Welcome.
All the advice above is good.
You might like to look at the Weston meter, too. Very reliable and needs no batteries – a useful spare to carry.
A ball head is difficult to use with LF because you can lose one setting while making another. Some people seem to manage very well.
A spot meter is very useful, but you will need to learn how to use it. There is plenty of advice on the web. The Pentax is excellent but not a current model, as far as I know.
I've tried to use reading glasses but they give me a crick in the neck, so I use a loupe on a lanyard. Everybody is different. Once you've used a carbon-fibre tripod, you won't want anything else, unless it's a wooden one. A wooden tripod (Berlebach, etc) is very pleasant to work with.
You will need some kind of dark cloth. This can take a surprising number of forms. Some cameras have a folding hood and some people find it useful. Some simply pull their coat over their head. There are many suggestions on the web for using a T-shirt or two T-shirts, one inside the other. There's the straightforward rectangular or square "horse-blanket, with or without weights and sometimes with Velcro. Finally there are more elaborate tailored versions, even ones with arm-holes and sleeves. One man apparently uses his wife's skirt. Probably best to begin with something simple. Remember, it can take up a surprising amount of space in the camera bag. They can be made at home to your exact requirements.
All best wishes on your LF journey.
 

Ian Grant

Active Member
Registered User
Finding a good Weston meter is becoming much harder. Many have Selenium cells that are failing, a good test is point at a very bright light and see if you get full needle movement. They are no longer serviceable, so can't be repaired, you'd need to test before buying one. I've looked at a lot over the pst few years at the camera fair I go to and most had issues, I did find a good one for someone last year.

I use a Russian Leningrad 4 as a backup meter, surprisingly accurate and cheap - just make sure it has the diffuser. You can easily find one for less than €10.

I'd agree with David don't go for a ball head, I have one on my small light weight Slik Sprint tripod, I do use if for 5x4 with my Super Graphic butit's not as easy to use as the heads on my other tripods. I prefer a tripod head with arms to control it, I'm currently using an old Gitzo head on a Manfrotto tripod and it allows me to balance and control my LF cameras easily. I shoot 7x5 and 10x8 as well as 5x4 and the cameras are much heavier but quick and easy to set up with the Gitzo head which was £5 at a camera fair.

The geared Manfrotto head Joanna has linked to has some benefits but would be a lot slower to use, I tend to work fast as a couple of members here have seen :D

Ian
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
The Gitzo low-profile head is excellent. (£16 in my case.) It has a small disadvantage, that the handle sticks out rather a long way when carrying it and it can catch on branches. The Manfrotto 410 is excellent for still-life and suchlike but as Ian says, a little slow in the field. Some people prefer to work slowly, of course.
And yes, Weston meters are a dying breed. A battery-free meter is a useful thing to carry.
We haven't discussed quick-release plates yet.
 

Ian Grant

Active Member
Registered User
My Gitzo head pre-dates the low-profile type by quite a few years, the tilt arm is 26cm long but angle down more than most others so it doesn't get in the way. It also has a large platform which is great with my 7x5 and 10x8 cameras. There's also a secondary lock on the tilt so one can increase the friction

One issue to watch ot for is if a camera has a rotating back will the platform foul the rotation. I had this problem a few weeks ago when on Dartmoor where the rotating back couldn't be turned on my larger Slik tripod's head. Must remember not to use that combination of camera and tripod again. Some Toyo's have rotating backs so it's something the OP needs to think about.

I no longer use quick release plates after one decided to part and my Wista 45DX hit the ground and split on one corner, once I begin shooting I keep my camera on the tripod, again it's so I can work fast.

Ian
 

HenriLon

New Member
Registered User
Oh! Thanks for all your support and suggestions :)
Today I found a great deal, a Manfrotto tripod serie 055X Pro B solid like a rock and with a pan/tilt 804rc2 head and its bag.

Thank you Joanna for your links the Toyo came with a dark cloth :)

  • The tent, I have this one, or here (what do you think about this one?)
  • The focusing lens on the same platform for £80
  • About the light meter, I think I'll give a trial with an app compatible with mobile phone for now
  • and next month I'll check for a proper one.
Can't wait to test everything!

Thanks
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Although it's more expensive and bulkier, a tent is very much easier for loading dark slides.

So far, no mention of processing.
 

Joanna Carter

Active Member
Registered User
.The geared Manfrotto head Joanna has linked to has some benefits but would be a lot slower to use, I tend to work fast as a couple of members here have seen :D
Fortunately, that head has a quick release on all axes, as well as the gearing, so can be pretty quick to get almost right before fine tuning.
Today I found a great deal, a Manfrotto tripod serie 055X Pro B solid like a rock and with a pan/tilt 804rc2 head and its bag.
I found the RC2 plate to be too small to be stable enough for an LF camera, which is why I chose the 410 head with the larger RC4 plate.
About the light meter, I think I'll give a trial with an app compatible with mobile phone for now
As you progress, you should consider a spot meter to benefit from using the zone system. Mobile phone apps rely on the phone camera and can give inconsistent results.
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Yes, you need the bigger plate for LF.
I've found that my iPhone exposure app works quite well. A white cat in a coal-cellar might be a challenge.
There's one thing that's never mentioned in advice on metering, but does appear in advice on zoom lenses. You can just walk up the the subject to take a reading. Even if you can't get to a distant rock or wall, you can often find an equivalent close by and measure that. It may need a little arithmetic in the form of "Five, four, three..." and Five, six, seven..." I wouldn't care to bet on Apple being outsmarted by Pentax.
But in the end, we all covet a spot meter.
 

Joanna Carter

Active Member
Registered User
But in the end, we all covet a spot meter.
Of course, you could always use the spot metering on your DSLR ;)

We live in an area of France that we have fairly much photographed out, LF wise, whilst over here on holidays for the nearly 20 years before moving here. Due to the distances we need to travel to get to many locations, we find we have "reverted" for the while to using a Nikon D810 which, with 36 Mpx, gives us prints of around 30" x 24" without any interpolation.

It has taken us a while to get used to not thinking of a DSLR as a "point and shoot" camera, now using it in manual mode, with prime lenses, a tripod and the separate spot meter, as we would for LF work. If you get the focal lengths right, using the 5x4 image mode when framing shots and having to use hyperfocal distance instead of movements, the only other problem is getting used to being able to see the results, in colour, deleting the duff shots at no extra cost or having to wait to develop the sheet of film.

However, it's not a 5" x 4" sheet of film and it doesn't equate to the 300 Mpx image you get when you scan the film. Folks in our camera club are blown away by the quality and detail of our LF prints but, unfortunately, in this digital age, making large, or even small, prints is not something they are much interested in, unless it's for our annual exhibition.

We are hoping to set up photography workshops in our area this summer, both digital and LF. We miss doing LF regularly but we don't miss lugging around a couple of 15kg backpacks :cool:
 

Ian Grant

Active Member
Registered User
Joanna, it is possible to put together a light weight LF kit based around a 5x4 camera. There are times when a full LF kit is heavy and impractical, and in the areas I often shoot wouldn't be permitted either.

My light weight kit is based around a Graflex Suer Graphic, I either use a 135mm f5.6 Caltar S-II (Symmar S) or a 150mm f4,5 CZJ T (coated) Tessar, and a 90mm f6.8 Angulon plus a 203mm f7.7 Ektar, all small light lenses. Then a light meter either a Minolta Spotmeter or a LunaPro SBC 6 or maybe 8 DDS film holders, that all fits into a small sports back-pack, my Slick Sprint Pro will fit in as well if needed. I'm often using this kit hand-held with HP5 which is much easier than I'd first imagined.

Initially I'd put this together with a Crown Graphic to use when living most of the year in Turkey, but the Crown Graphic has few movements and a Super Graphic was listed at a bargain price on the forums, it needed a bit of TLC and I replaced some parts, it has enough movements and is so quick to set up and use. That's important as I'm often shooting in tourist sites so need to be fast as I don't want tourists in my images :D

While shooting LF is a contemplative past-time, once I've seen the image I like to be decisive and where possible get the shot quickly, of course there are always exceptions, but usually I'm set up and ready quickly, time for more thoughts after, particulary when you're sure you just shot a great image.

I like the sound of a geared tripod head, I hadn't read about them so didn't realise there was a quick release function. I'm starting to use a Kodak Specialist 2 Half Plate camera (with 7x5 holders0 and most of the functions are geared, rearswing and tilt, front rise obviously front and rear focus but unusually also the sliding tripod block. Only the front tilt has no gearing, I'm suprised how nice it is to have these geared movements so can appreciate it might be useful with a tripod. Now geared with a pan/tilt handle would be perfection.

Ian
 

Alan9940

Active Member
Registered User
Tagging on to Ian's post regarding lightweight 5x4 outfits... Mine is a Toho FC-45X with 90mm Angulon, 135mm Caltar, 200mm Nikkor-M and 300mm Nikkor-M. Very portable in a small pack for long hikes.
 

Ian Grant

Active Member
Registered User
The frightening part Joanna is some of those tripods heads now cost more than the whole of my light weight LF kit - OK to be fair all second-hand.

That head does look good but the one thing I really like is a long combined tilt and pan arm. I have a Manfrotto head, I have quite a few tripods and I hate the 3 controls, my favourite is a Slik - just Pan and Tilt,a Majestic is similar. I've actually put the Gitzo head on my Manfrotto, however to be fair that's often with much heavier and larger cameras tnan our 5x4 cameras.

Ian
 

Ian Grant

Active Member
Registered User
Tagging on to Ian's post regarding lightweight 5x4 outfits... Mine is a Toho FC-45X with 90mm Angulon, 135mm Caltar, 200mm Nikkor-M and 300mm Nikkor-M. Very portable in a small pack for long hikes.
I actually have a third kit, if I put it together, a 90mm f6.8 WA Raptar, 135mm or 150mm f4.5 Xenar, 200mm f6.3Osaka (Congo), and a choice of camera. There was a short spell a few years ago when LF equipment and particularly lenses was ridiculously cheap especially from the US.

It's only 18 months ago maybe 2 years that I bought an MPP MkIII, plus a second parts body (complete) for £70, and a MkVII with an excellent 150,, f4.5 Xenar for £100

Around 30 years ago I bought a Nikon M f9 300mm lens, I've used it maybe twice never printed a negative from it, at the time I bought it the Pound was very low compared to the Yen, I bought it from Robert white for around £800 who then ordered it from Japan. When I bought it I wqs planning to move to 10x8, that happened quite a few years later, but my Agfa Ansco Commercial View came with a useless junk 12" Dago trown in, in fact the lens was and still is an excellent performer. I found the 300mm Nikon M just too long a FL on my Wista 45DX, the camera was like a sail in the wind with that much extension. It wouldn't be any different on my Super Graphic however the MPP's wouldn't be an issue. it will get used finally (maybe on my 7x5 camera).

Ian
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
It's quite true that the 410 has individual quick-releases on all adjustments.
You simply turn the concentric inner wheel and that particular movement is free. After you've moved the camera and released the lock, the head clonks back into the nearest tooth on the gearing so you may still need to make final small adjustments with the gear knob.
So, it's faster to use than simple gearing but not quite as quick as a conventional pan-and-tilt head. You have to hold the camera to make free adjustments instead of a handle, with a danger of altering other settings. In practice, holding the base-board seems to work well.
I suppose that it will depend on how precisely we want to place the edges of the frame at the moment of shooting. Edwin Smith advised leaving a safe margin, so there is an excellent precedent for looseness. Anyone who cut their teeth on Kodachrome for projection will have other ideas.
[We'd need another thread to discuss the ethics and practice of cropping.]
If speed alone is important, then a ball-and-socket head is best, as it has only one control, but we've discussed the obvious disadvantage of that. No doubt they are useful for bird-watching and other flighty subjects.
In short, the 410 is perfectly practical in the field, if it suits the individual's way of working. The quick-release camera plate seems robust and needs two deliberate movements to release it. It's excellent for still-life. It might not be ideal for a lightweight outfit. There are now other geared heads that might be worth considering.
 
Top