The Online Photographer

Check out our new site at!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Four Slices of Pumpkin Pie, and Mirror Blackout Too

by Oren Grad

Thanks to all who responded to yesterday's little trivia quiz. An extra slice of virtual* pumpkin pie to readers Hank, Irv Williams, David Goldfarb and Paul who figured it out. It's true that there have been other large format technical cameras, SLRs and even TLRs. But I was thinking of an entirely different class of camera: the Polaroid conversion, and in particular those Polaroid conversions that result in a 4x5 camera with a combined, coupled range/viewfinder. All four of our pie-winners mentioned the Littman 45 Single, but Polaroid conversions are offered commercially by Dean Jones and by Eastcamtech as well, and it's also been a favorite hack for do-it-yourselfers.

I'm embarrassed to have forgotten these as I was writing the post, because I've actually been playing with a 110B conversion myself, and it's a memorably quirky critter. Then there's the, shall we say, fascinating history and culture of these things. Worth a full post sometime, perhaps.

I also wanted to pick up on David Goldfarb's point about mirror (or shutter) blackout. I didn't mean to imply that it's impossible to make good portraits with a Graflex. As implied by David's comment, as you gain experience with a particular SLR and its characteristic time lag, you learn to anticipate.

It is a different working "feel", though, and there's an element of personal preference in that. In my 35mm snapshooting, I've come to really dislike the mirror blackout of an SLR. For many years now I've gone pretty much all rangefinder, except for special purposes. But I don't know whether that will carry over to large format. Once I have the Gowlandflex tuned up, I'll dust off a quarter-plate Graflex that's been biding its time in the Asylum and set up a direct comparison. We'll see...

*Or real, should we ever meet in person.

Posted by: OREN GRAD


Blogger David A. Goldfarb said...

I think the real monster, or maybe monstrosity, of large format TLR-ish devices has to be the Linhof Technika-Flex attachment made in the 1960s, which converted a 4x5" Technika V into a TLR. I have only seen photographs of it, which appear in _The Linhof Camera Story_.

It has a viewing lens, which I'm guessing must couple with the taking lens via the sockets for the compendium shade on top of the front standard. There is a mechanism to focus the viewing lens independently, so it will be in sync with the taking lens. It looks like it has a reflex viewer with a mirror and groundglass and a magnifier that can be viewed from above. There's a photograph of a guy with a bad haircut using this thing on a strap around his neck, and it looks astoundingly cumbersome in comparison to a Gowlandflex.

6:07 PM  
Blogger eolake said...

I find that the mirror blackout in modern cameras like the Nikon D200 is for all practical purposes nil. It is too fast for me to notice.

6:17 PM  
Blogger roberts2424 said...

Not sure where the "Post" link is. But, does anyone know anything about Emulsion magazine? Can anyone tell me if it's any good? Thanks.

Emulsion Magazine for the Traditional Photographer
Filed under: NewsStream • — @ 8:56 am Edit This
Emulsion magazine has successfully launched their first issue. It’s geared for the craft of film-based products and chemical-based darkroom processes aka analog processes. Don’t look for digital discussions here. Each issue will emphasize four areas: Photographer/Photography Groups, Alternative Processes, Types of Photography, and Travel/Culture. Emulsion will be published quarterly (4 times a year). A one year subscription is available for $32."

8:44 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home