Using the View Camera

Learning means adjusting to what you don’t know. Changing questions into your answers. I am going to start you off with a set of reference materials, along with some cautions.

Google isn’t always your best friend. A goog search will take you to a forum dedicated to “large format,” seemingly full of knowledgeable, capable photographers. Beware: you probably don’t know enough to be able to pick between and among their suggestions.

My suggested references for your self-study:

The best general reference is the original Kodak Publication, or the updated. Get them both, if you can.

  • Camera technique for Professional Photographers, Kodak Publication No. O-18
  • Large-Format Photography, Eastman Kodak Compan Publication O-18e. ISBN 0-87985-771-4

The other texts provide a general vantage point, which assumes you are a student in trade school intending to become a commercial photographer… Or, specifics about the two main camera systems that ruled the commercial studio of 1965-1995. Linhof, and Sinar.

  • The Large Format: Handbook of the Sinar System Koch, Carl
  • Linhof Practice Linhof Precision Camera Works

View Camera Technique, Leslie Stroebel is a standard text from RIT and similar colleges. It powered many courses during the explosion of photography at colleges. Not the fine art schools that smelled of paint and plaster, but almost everywhere else. The contents provide a topic guide, even if you don’t get the book. As said before, I don’t recommend it for this century’s photographer. (I also avoid any Ansel Adams book.)

  • — Characteristics
  • — focusing and movements
  • — lenses
  • — bellows
  • — films & filters
  • — exposure & meters
  • — control of density
  • — view camera types
  • — evolution of the view camera
  • — applications of view camera

My course outline went something like this:

  • the Lens
  • — covering power
  • — image distortions/alterations
  • lens for
  • — wide angle effect
  • — small object/ close focus 
  • — portraiture
  • — compression/ seperation
  • the Location
  • the Procedure
  • — camera adjustments
  • — swing back
  • — tilt lens
  • — rise and falling front
  • Vertical lines
  • Horizontal lines
  • Depth of field
  • — all about shape rather than texture… focus over feature

View Cameras / new 2016