Large Format

large format

After a long time, I took my large format camera for a few shots. I managed to make about 10 images during the past two weeks. Now, 10 images on a digital DSLR maybe a couple of seconds in burst mode, but with large format is a whole project !

My Sinar Norma 4×5 is a wonderful monorail camera, built like a tank and quite small and lightweight for a monorail camera. The problems with a monorail like this on the field, is not size and weight, it’s the awkward shape which prevents you from packing it with lenses and holders on a large camera bag, unless you dismantle it, which is something I enjoy. So, I have it set up in my car and will carry it on the tripod for a very short distance. It has all the movements you may ever need, but for someone who does not do architecture, macro or anything else sophisticated, I believe a field view camera is a better choice. The good thing about monorails is that they are dirt cheap to find, much cheaper than a field camera.

SinarNorma_No80_NDSoft06_150mm_f22_s1-30
(Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6, Ilford Delta 100 film
aperture: f/22, speed: 1/30)

SinarNorma_No77_NDSoft06_150mm_F22_s1-8
(Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6, Ilford Delta 100 film,
LEE ND Grad Soft 0.6 filter, aperture: f/22, speed: 1/8)

I mostly shot Kodak TMAX 100 and Ilford Delta 100 for landscape work, but I would not hesitate using the Ilford HP5 for landscapes, in cases when the light needs a faster film to keep a decent shutter speed (f/22 and f/32 are the apertures I use more, so there are times when I need a faster film to prevent blur from moving leafs, for example.)


(Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6, Ilford Delta 100 film,
LEE ND Grad Soft 0.3 filter, Lee 23A light red filter aperture: f/22, speed: 1/15)

Working with a large format really slows down your pace. There are so many parameters to deal with, and even the slightest mistake could ruin the image. So, you are practically making an image, and the whole process from loading the holder, operating the camera, developing and scanning the sheets is what makes large format so exciting. And of course, the huge negative gives you plenty of resolution for huge prints and a wonderful tonality.

SinarNorma_No81_NDHard09_150mm_f32_s1-15
(Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6, Ilford Delta 100 film,
aperture: f/32, speed: 1/15)

Being able to use movements gives you many choices when shooting large format. You can tilt, swing, shift, use rise and fall, all these movements give you full control of things like Depth of Field, focus, perspective etc. I don’t usually use many of those, since my primary subject is landscapes, but for those times I needed them , they were very useful.

One thing that is very difficult to appreciate on a monitor is the look of large format.The tonality and sharpness, and the ability to print at very large sizes. I believe you can’t really appreciate a 4×5″ photo until you see it printed, this is where this format shines.

Overall, it was a very pleasant experience to shoot large format after a long time, and I am planning on making some images with Fuji Velvia this month, you can’t beat the look of a 4×5 slide sheet on a lightbox !

All images below are shot with Sinar Norma, Schneider Symmar-S 150mm f/5.6 and Ilford HP5 film.

SinarNorma_No85_003_s1-8_20110104

SinarNorma_No86_f32_s1-8_20110104

SinarNorma_No87

SinarNorma_No88

©2014 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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7 Responses to Large Format

  1. frank says:

    These small jpeg pics look very dull and uninspiring, the original prints can look very good and fantastic, but I can only imagine … this is not a good way to show them.

    • kbesios says:

      I completely agree with you, large format is not for small screens. I have just printed the last image on this post at 1 meter wide size and it looks amazing, no comparison with the screen view.

      • frank says:

        Ok, I wished I could see it. That is why I love to go a photo exhibitions … A real photo is a printed paper photo.

  2. George says:

    Wonderful images there, Konstantinos.

    You are certainly achieving very fine pictures with the Norma.

  3. Tommy says:

    I just came across your YouTube video, Early Morning with Norma, and I was surprised (and really kind of delighted) to see you applying a monorail camera in a field setting. So I followed the link to this blog post. I wondered if you enjoyed the longer and more in-depth setup process that comes with a monorail, and it seems from your blog post that you do. I really enjoy when I find examples like this where people break away from the accepted norm and create beautiful images their own way.

    • kbesios says:

      Thank you. Working with a monorail outside is not easy, especially when you have to walk long distances. Nevertheless, I have enjoyed making images with the Sinar.

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