Large Format – Revisited


It’s been several years since I last posted something specifically on large format cameras. The motivation now is that I recently purchased an adapter allowing me to connect my [digital] medium format camera to my large format Tachihara field camera.

The rationale for this move includes process reliability and access to the capabilities of a large format camera.

I’m not put off by the length of time to take a single shot on a large format camera; 20-30 minutes is not uncommon, although it can be faster if working from the same location. The aspect I find most bothersome is dealing with the film and the multiple points of failure this process exposes, such as: improperly loading the film, wrong exposure, light leaks, and failure in the development process itself. Needless to say, after going through the set up time to take a single shot, and then the expense of the film and development, having it all come to naught is, at best, disappointing.

So while attaching a digital back overcomes the film problem, it is not a perfect match for film. First, to cover the entire 4×5 frame requires about 4 shots configured in a 2×2 square, which then need to be stitched together in post. Second, the plane of the digital sensor is further back than the film plane, as a result, using a lens short than 135mm seems not possible. Using a 150mm lens requires an almost fully compressed bellows, which makes it difficult to shift, swing and tilt.


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