In at the deep end?


So, now I’ve done the deed – a new large-format life is just beginning. I fully expect the learning-curve to be long and steep, but it’s surely going to be fun.


I’ve taken delivery of a Linhof Technikardan S45, with bag bellows and a spare standard bellows, and also a 6×7 Super Rollex Roll-film back. I’ve also acquired a few extra goodies to make it work:


4 cable releases in various colours (Silvestri)

1 new original Linhof groundglass (to go with the 6×12 version which came with the camera)

1 Linhof fresnel lens

2 Linhof Technika copal 0 lens-boards

1 Linhof Technika copal 1 lens-board

1 Paramo dark-cloth

1 x4 Silvestri lupe

6x Toyo 4×5 double dark slides

1 Wimberley P50 lens plate (with 2 screws and an extra reducing bush) to mount the camera

1 Harrison Pup changing tent


In addition, 3 lenses second-hand:

Nikkor SW75

Schneider Apo-Symmar 150mm MC

Nikkor W-210


Then, there’s film: I’ve ordered a couple of boxes of Velvia 50 from Japan; I’ve also picked up a couple of boxes of Ektar and one box of Delta 100, and plan to put some Veliva 50 120 film through the 6×7 back also.


I don’t yet have a film scanner. This, in fact, can wait – and, paradoxically, the longer I wait the more likely something better will come along than what is currently available (Epson V850, for example). For the meantime I’ll be happy to scan 120 film using the macro lens and the light panel. It won’t be great, of course, but I’ll just be practising.


A new bag:

I also had to buy a new rucksack, of course. The UK stocking of F-Stop bags is pretty poor, but luckily Lowepro have upped their game with the Whistler line – very obviously modelled on the larger F-Stop offerings – so I picked up one of these in the larger size.


I did of course have to lose a few things to get this gear. So farewell to my Zeiss 21 and a few other small items of DSLR gear (though I still have my D800E and all my macro/tilt-shift gear). Those nice people at Aperture in London were happy to take some gear off my hands(!). While I was there I greatly admired their second-hand Fuji GX617 panorama camera (which I was seriously considering as one possibility), but somewhat balked at the idea of trying to pack it in a case in any useful or ergonomic fashion – a handsome beast, but still a bit of a beast.


Here are a couple of pics of the new gear. First the camera with the Schneider 150 lens.




Second, the Whistler backpack with the rest of the gear:




the camera, loupe, lightmeter, Super Rollex rollfilm back (bottom left, in a freezer bag), extra bellows (in the large Silvestri wrap at the bottom of the shot), and the other lenses, stacked on top of one another, with Lee filter rings and caps. The gear is a tight fit in the bag – the Linhof is a bit of an awkward shape – might be an idea to try to transport it on longer journeys with the bag bellows on – but there is still room in the camera section for two or three boxes of film and/or some filters in addition. The top pocket on the bag fits the 6 film holders snuggly. The Paramo dark cloth, when rolled up, fits in the long shallow side pocket down one side of the bag, though equally the main pocket on the back of the pack is very big and would easily swallow it up along with a bunch of other gear (for instance, it will easily fit my 15” Macbook Pro).

[Update: I’ve upgraded my kit with a Lee Filters field pouch, which will also fit in the main compartment on top of the 5×4, and Lee Filters universal bellows hood, which fits in its pouch in the large zip pocket on the inside of lid of the main camera compartment.]

Overall, the bag is pretty heavy (just over 3kg, actually not very much more at all than a fully configured equivalent F-stop bag with ICU installed), but the camera insert is nicely configurable, and the harness is very comfortable – far far better than e.g. my long-suffering Mini Trekker which has been an ever-present since 2007 or the other Lowepro bags of that era. The number of attachment loops on the outside is amazing, so plenty of potential to add a pouch or two if extra gear comes along later.  In the picture above you can see that I’ve added a ThinkTank water bottle pouch to one side; I’ve also now added a ThinkTank Skin system pouch above that, to contain my D800E with 85PC-E attached.  With all that on my back at once it’s pretty weighty, but manageable.

Many thanks here to Ffordes and Secondhand Darkroom Supplies for the second-hand camera and lenses – great service well recommended; as also to Linhof Studio for the other bits of large-format kit.  A visit to Aperture in London was also nice; another recommendation for a dealer in London that I’ve used in the past is Teamwork. Top marks go to Calumet on Drummond Street (just round the back of Euston station) for being the only shop I could find with the Lowepro bag in stock – always tricky to buy that sort of gear before trying it and checking measurements etc. first, which is ideally what you want to be doing.


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