Friday, 14 June 2013

Large Format Camera

Large Format Camera

Large format means film that is generally at least 4x5 inches (or 9x12 cm). Film this size is generally used as individual sheets, rather than rolls as in smaller formats. (There are large rolls of film, though, used for such things as aerial photography.) Exposures on a large-format camera are made one at a time, using film loaded into film holders.

While there are many varied designs of large format cameras, there are two basic varieties: the monorail camera, and the field camera. A monorail camera uses a single round or square tube/rail as the base of the camera on which the front and rear sections slide back and forth to accommodate lenses of different focal length. A field camera design allows the camera to fold into itself to facilitate ease of storage and transport. The monorail camera design allows for greater versatility in camera movements, such as swing and tilt, but is typically large and heavy. The field design is usually smaller and lighter, sacrificing range of motion and rigidity.

Most, but not all, large-format cameras are view cameras, with fronts and backs called "standards" that allow the photographer to better control rendering of perspective and increase apparent depth of field. Architectural and close-up photographers in particular benefit greatly from this ability. These allow the front and back of the camera to be shifted up/down and left/right (useful for architectural images where the scene is higher than the camera, and product images where the scene is lower than the camera), and tilted out of parallel with each other left/right, up/down, or both; based on the Scheimpflug principle. The shift and tilt movements make it possible to solve otherwise impossible depth-of-field problems, and to change perspective rendering, and create special effects that would be impossible with a conventional fixed-plane fixed-lens camera.

The main advantage of large format, film or digital, is higher resolution. A 4×5 inch image has about 16 times the area, and thus 16× the total resolution, of a 35 mm frame.

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