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