- Toyo View 45D 4x5 Monorail Large-Format View Camera in very good condition (or 80–89% of its original condition according to the UsedPhotoPro.com rating system) for $249.00.
- Horseman LX 4x5 Monorail View Camera in very good condition for just $599.00.
- Linhof Technikardan 45S 4x5 Large-Format View Camera in excellent condition (or 90–96% of its original condition) for $2,399.00.
Digital photography is extraordinary technology and you can learn most of the concepts and techniques of photography with a digital camera in your hands and be happy with the results. Many of the photography purists would say, however, that you haven't actually experienced the essence of photography until you have the opportunity to shoot with a medium- or large-format film camera. They also promote this idea because the challenge will help you develop your photographer’s eye to a much higher level than with a DSLR.
It might seem difficult to believe that there are 21st-century photographers who prefer to shoot with the 6cm x 6cm square format of 120-size film or 4x5- or 8x10-inch sheet film; carry the bulky, heavy cameras that use these sizes of film; and develop and print negatives before knowing their results – but there are.
No doubt, many of these photographers are the eccentrics of the photography world, but they’ve also learned that medium- and large-format shooting produces images that reveal something more about their subjects, much the same as black-and-white photos communicate a different message than a color photo of the same subject.
The obvious benefit of a medium- or large-format negative is that it is much bigger physically than a 35mm film negative or digital image capture. If your particular photographic passion is creating very large prints for display purposes, then starting with a large film negative is the best option. Of course, you could invest in a medium-format digital camera, but you better have very deep pockets.
The other major benefit of shooting in medium- or large-format is that these images have little or no perspective distortion. Unlike the 35mm format, photos in these larger formats will look more natural and reproduce a perspective that essentially matches what your eyes see.
For example, shooting with a 50mm lens on a medium- or large-format camera provides a wider field of view than a 50mm lens on a full-frame (35mm) digital camera. Essentially, as you increase the size of the film format with which you're shooting, the angle of view of the lens becomes wider than the 35mm equivalent. The interesting results is that the field of view is wider, but your image still has the “normal” look of a 50mm lens without the distortions of a wide-angle lens on a 35mm-equivalent DSLR.
This PhotographyTalk article can’t explain all the details of shooting in medium- or large-format, but you should be prepared for no light meter in the camera, a fixed ISO according to the sensitivity of the film, the use of only prime lenses, a tripod for most shots and making plenty of mistakes. Of course, that is the whole point of the medium- and large-format experience: THINKING – about exposure, camera position, composition, etc.
The great news is that the medium- and large-format photography challenge is very low cost, compared to digital equipment. For a few hundred dollars, you can find good to very good used cameras and accessories – and the best place to find them is UsedPhotoPro.com.
UsedPhotoPro.com is the online refurbished and used photo equipment emporium of Roberts Camera, a family-owned business founded by Robert and Rose Pallman in Indianapolis during August 1957. Today, their son, Bruce Pallman, owns and operates the store.
Because the Pallman family has been in the photography business for so many years, they know why medium- and large-format photography captures the imagination of so many photographers. This is why you’ll find an outstanding selection of this gear on UsedPhotoPro.com – and it’s changing all the time. Here are a few examples when this article was written:
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