My 4x5 View Camera Initial Experiences...

Written by Bruce Barrett (I can be reached at )
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Table of Contents

I've just finished my third weekend with working with a 4x5 view camera. This has been a fascinating learning experience for me and I thought I'd share my experiences with you.


The (View Camera) books tell you a lot about how to focus, tilt, swing, etc. They don't tell you what to expect the first time you actually go to take a picture. It's this that I intend to cover here. (I've since heard that the book by Steve Simmons covers this better than most.)

This may come across as a lot of complaining and hassles, and it certainly is not as easy as a point and shoot camera, but having tried it, and seen the results in prints and transparencies, I don't think I'll be able to go back to 35mm for my "serious" photographs. 4x5 is incredible.

My Background:

I've been doing 35mm amateur photography, for many years. I've seen 4x5 cameras in use before but never used one before. I do mostly landscape & close-up photography. I've recently started using a tri with my 35mm camera in earnest to try to get better, sharper pictures. I have not used medium format cameras. My reasoning is that I was having enough trouble getting the depth-of-field I wanted with 35mm, I believe that DOF for the same image (at the same f-stop) using medium format will be worse than 35mm due to the longer focal length being used (for the same angle of view). With the view camera's movements I'm back to having a fighting chance.

Another option would have been a MF camera with a lens that tilts. This seemed like a very expensive half measure.

Caveats & Disclaimers:

As I said above I've done very little of this. I'm just trying to help complete novices over the rough spots. (I'm no expert.) If others have better information about getting started I'd love to hear it. Furthermore I make some sweeping generalizations about what to expect based on my experience with 2 cameras. I realize some other cameras support different & more advanced features so when I say, for example "View cameras will not automatically stop down" I mean specifically the two I rented and quite possibly most medium-to-low priced cameras.

Here We Go!

I welcome feedback on this document and additional suggestions you may have.
(c) Copyright 1995 by Bruce Barrett, All rights reserved.
Last updated 10/26/95.
You may also want to check out My 4x5 View Camera Lessons learned... --------------------------
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