What is Large Format?
Large format is generally
defined as a film size (or digital sensor size for that matter) of 4X5
inches or more. This is the size that I typically use. Other
common large format sizes are 5X7, 8X10 and even 11X14. For
comparison, a 35mm film camera, or a "full-frame" digital camera, has a
film/sensor size of 24X36mm (about 1 X 1 1/2 inches). Most digital
cameras actually have sensors somewhat smaller than "full frame". I like
large format because I have a passion to make the photos VERY large with a
LOT of detail.
What is a View Camera?
I use a view camera.
Basically it is a large format camera that has a number of shifts and tilts
of the film and lens planes that allows for great control over focus, depth
of field and perspective; much more than those of the typical camera. There
is a very good definition and description on wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/View camera. I prefer a view camera
over a field camera in that it is a bit more versatile for architectural
photography and perspective control. A field camera is generally smaller and
lighter but still with most of the functions of a view camera. When I
acquired my Linhof Technikardan 45 view camera I wasn't sure what I was
going to be shooting with it, but I had done some architectural work (which
needs perspective control), and I did know that I would be trudging it
through the Sierras. Therefore my decision was based on the fact that
the Technikardan weighs no more than most field cameras, folds up to about
the same size, and can do more
things more easily. The wikipedia page on field cameras:
I LOVE all the control I have
over the creation and exposure of the image in a view camera. The
drawbacks (which aren't drawbacks to me really) are, when compared to
typical cameras of today, focus and exposure are totally manual. There
is no autofocus, no auto exposure, no aperture/speed presets, no built in
flash, and a narrow depth of field. The image is projected onto a ground
glass (similar to "live view" in a digital camera) at the back of the camera,
but to see it in daylight a dark cloth is
required over the head and camera. The image is upside down, but most of us
get accustomed to it.
Pictured below are: the type of
camera I use, a field camera, and a typical dark cloth set-up. I
generally use shifts and tilts in my landscape work to keep the perspective
accurate and to increase depth of field. I used the shift feature
extensively on the "Casino
Mermaid" photo on a mural of the Casino in Avalon.