Wista or Large Format Decision Help Needed
Background: I got my first SLR back in 1975, and am an amateur going Pro. My passion is photographing the outdoors. I intend to specialize in nature and landscape photography. And am your basic car-camper. I also am going to do portrait photography of children and, perhaps, pets.
My current equipment is an old Nikon FM, and last year I got a used Nikon N90s plus in 2001 a new Nikon 28-105 lens.
I inherited a small amount of money and plan on investing around $25,000 in equipment. So far, I just bought new: Minolta Auto Meter Vf, Nikon VR 80-400 F4.5-5.6 D ED lens, and Nikon Speedlight SB-800. I am on the waiting list for the new Nikon D2X.
At other forums, I will post my questions for the printer and scanner.
I was thinking about the Toyo large format camera. I went to Freestyle Photographic Supplies in Hollywood, CA. They suggested the Wista 45 DX kit. The kit is: Wista 45DX Camera with Rodenstock 210 f/5.6 APO Sironar N lens and Wista #1 lensboard. The price is $2,550.
Here is the website http://www.freestylephoto.biz/sc_search.php showing the kit.
So, the big question! Is this a good systems to buy? Or is there a better one for the money I intend to spend?
Thanks in advance to any and all help.
#1. "RE: Wista or Large Format Decision Help Needed" | In response to Reply # 0BJNicholls Charter MemberMon 08-Nov-04 03:42 PM
Frankly, with medium and large format equipment falling in resale value, I'd look for some good used 4x5 equipment. Do you have any experience with large format? It's not for everyone. If the camera has a light-tight bellows, it really contributes little to the end result, so you could buy an inexpensive used camera and try before you get into something you may not like all that much. With some experience you'll have a better sense of what you want - lots of flexibility and precise controls (bigger, heavier, studio style camera) or perhaps a lightweight folding field camera that's more practical for carrying in a backpack to a great vista, but that compromises on movements and control precision. You might find you want a couple of cameras to suit different needs.
I'd suggest you look at the photo.net classifieds for large format equipment and spend some time studying their large format forum archives. Not long ago I tried to get into large format. I got a great used Linhof folding view camera and a couple of nice lenses along with the many other items you discover you need. I just wasn't a good fit for my way of seeing and shooting. Instead, when I want really high resolution images to create large, detailed prints I tile digital images together. Large format may click with you, but I'd simply suggest trying it on for size before you invest in new equipment and take a bath selling it if you don't click. And don't overlook medium format since it's a very viable alternative and also with depressed prices on used equipment.
Here are some large format resources that I bookmarked when I was doing my hunt for cameras and lenses:
#2. "RE: Wista or? Large Format Decision Help Needed" | In response to Reply # 11LuckyLdy Registered since 11th Sep 2002Tue 09-Nov-04 01:07 AM
Thank you for answering, and all your bookmarks. I appreciate your sharing. No, I have not used large format. My only experience is with SLR. I guess I think to be the new 'Annie Adams', I need large format!! You mention the other items needed, how much does one have to invest in these? An approximated of the cost is okie-dokie. Does not the Wista I mentioned fall into the category of small field camera or are you just letting my know my options?
I also am under the impression medium format cameras are more costly. The more time I spend learning about photography the less I feel I know. I am in Los Angeles, and took a couple of continuing education photography classes at Otis College of Art & Design. They do offer a class in large format, seems like that is my best bet to investigate the field.
You mention tiling. This is done with scanning my current slides & film and with the D2X, right?? How large are the prints you make with this method? Or are you just referring to the subject?
#3. "RE: Wista or? Large Format Decision Help Needed" | In response to Reply # 2BJNicholls Charter MemberTue 09-Nov-04 04:18 PM
Other items include dark cloth or viewfinder attachements (neither of which you'll find to be very easy to use compared to an SLR), loupes for fine focusing (depth of field is very shallow on large format and critical focusing is difficult), a Fuji Quickload holder (unless you want the headaches and weight of carrying around sheet film holders - I found the Kodak rapid load system to have poor film flatness so I don't recommend it), camera pack/case, lens ring tool, lenses and lensboards. Aside from the lenses you're probably looking at $300 or so of basic gear. I also have a Polaroid insert, but that's not something you'll want in the field (use a small digital camera for exposure and composition proofing as some famous landscape photographers do).
The Wista is a wooden field folder. This gives you good front motion controls but no real motion for the rear plane. This type of camera is reasonably light, you could get a lighter camera cheaper; the Toyo CF. More expensive options would be the titanium Ebony camera. You can see good images of many cameras at Robert L. White http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/index.htm
Medium format on the used market is quite affordable these days. But with the digital revolution some of the best players are getting out of medium format, including Fuji with its line of rangefinders that are great for outdoor work. With medium format you would work much more like you're used to working now and there are medium format digital options that are practical for field work. You wouldn't want to deal with digital large format options in the field.
I'd suggest you do some reading at the Luminous Landscape site. Michael Reichman uses 35mm system-based digital and medium format digital for landscape work. His thoughts on suitability might give you second thoughts about the need for large format. But you really should try it (borrow, rent) before you buy a system. It's a different world.
I recently made an 80" long print of a 7 image panoramic tiled shot. You can't tile scenes with much that's moving (waves, fast-moving clouds, critters) but the technique can be used to create monster resolution files if that's what you need. Read about Max Lyon's gigapixel images: http://www.tawbaware.com/maxlyons/gigapixel.htm
Tiling requires time and technique - no more so than large format work however and if you're doing digital work you know the advantages compared to conventional darkroom or even digital from scans.
#4. "RE: Wista or? Large Format Decision Help Needed" | In response to Reply # 3FrankG Registered since 21st Apr 2006Wed 10-Nov-04 05:39 AM
A family member has a Mamiya 6 for portraits. It's a fantastic camera. Check it out. You can only buy them used since they have been replaced with newer models which aren't as good.