Large Format Q&A

4/30/2012 2 Comments A+ a-

We have had an abundance of questions coming in recently about different aspects of large format photography and equipment. Naturally, we thought it would be best to compile some of these questions and answer them for all of you interested in the format. Keep in mind that in many cases, these are basic answers and could have a lot more details to the answer if you want to get into the nitty gritty of it. Answers are also based on the opinion and knowledge of one LF shooter and camera technician. If you're a LF fanatic and have other suggestions to add, feel free to leave them in the comments.

a Horseman 2x3

Q: How can I ease into large format as affordably as possible?

A: Make sure that you want to venture into it first. Taking a class with some instruction and hands-on experience is always a good idea to make sure that you like the process before spending a lot of money on equipment just to find out that you don't like it. Or, if you have a friend that does it, ask if you can tag along during their process. As far as buying gear goes, start simple with the basics (one camera, one lens, etc.) and buy used! Check out our article: Introduction to Large Format Cameras for a list of accessories you will need, a good starter camera suggestion, and lots more info.

Q: How do I find compatible parts?

A: First and for the most part, stay within the same brand as your camera. If you have a Horseman camera, you will want to search for Horseman accessories. Unless you have extensive knowledge about what exact parts you need, then purchasing from a seller who lists exactly what type of camera the parts go with is also essential. For example, we will list what camera brand and model a part will fit. This is one of our descriptions- ARCA SWISS COMPENDIUM SHADE (F-M LINE) #111001 SHADE. That tells you that this shade is for an Arca Swiss camera, and any camera that falls into either the F or M line of Arca Swiss. It also tells you what the part number is, which some people may want to do further research or helps to find a specific part that they may be looking for. 

Q: What kind of bag or case would you recommend for a large format camera?

A: Depends on what type of LF camera you have. If you have a monorail for example, your options are limited and you will most likely need a large hard sided case that will specifically hold a monorail. If you have a field camera however, you have a lot more options. Our recommendation for one of these cameras since they fold up but can still be heavy is a backpack. Almost any type of Tamrac, Lowepro, or Tenba large backpack will work, since they have the moveable sections in them that you can configure for your gear.

Q: What are your recommendations for tripods?

A: It depends on the size of the camera. The larger the camera, the larger and heavier the tripod must be. You want a substantial tripod for stability. Metal tripods in common brands like Bogen or Gitzo that are heavier work fine. The important thing is to pay attention to the tripods weight ratings. Wood tripods are also good options because the wood absorbs vibrations and is more forgiving and stable.

Q: I have a Schnieder 90mm 6.8 lens for my 4x5. Can I just screw another lens into that shutter?

A: Sort of. Another lens may physically fit into your shutter, but you will run into multiple problems. 1- If the other lens is not a 6.8, then the aperture scale will be off, so you would also need to swap out the aperture scale. 2- If you are going for a longer lens, then a Copal 0 (which is what you might have now?) is going to be too small to support the large lens. A Copal 1 shutter is needed for larger lenses.

Also worth noting, we don't sell the lens elements without a shutter- it all comes together, sometimes with and sometimes without a lens board (although we do sell some shutters by themselves).

Q: Can I mount any lens to my current lens board?

A: No, the lens mount size needs to match the lens board hole or it won't fit properly. So for example, a “42 mount” needs a “42 hole”.

Q: Are the light meters in our digital cameras accurate enough to use for light meter readings in large format?

A: Yes. You can either do an average reading, or set your camera on spot meter mode for more detailed readings. As long as the ISO is set in camera to that of the film you're using, it should be fine. You will want to set your view camera up where you want to take the shot, and then meter in the areas that will be captured. The best way to ensure that you don't loose detail in your highlights and shadows is to measure the scene in different areas with the spot meter. It's important to note that digital is more forgiving with exposure than film is, so metering accurately is very important so you don't loose any detail.

Q: What is the shooting work-flow like?

A: It's a much slower process then digital or 35mm. The basics are: Previsualization and planning come first. Be sure to load your film holders in complete darkness before you head out to shoot, or have a way to do so out in the field. Then set up your camera, meter, focus (Check under a dark cloth with a loupe. The shutter must be open to do this), close the shutter and insert your film holder, pull the dark slide, take your shot, and then put the dark slide back in the holder (often turned around so that you know that you shot that piece of film). 


Interested in more Large Format information for beginners? Start with an Introduction to Large Format Cameras.

If you're interested in wood LF cameras, follow up with Identifying Wood Types for Large Format Cameras

Looking to purchase LF cameras and accessories? Find the entire category HERE on

Featured Items of the Week

4/27/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

Over the next month, we will be posting a "Product of The Day" on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. These may just be great used items that we love, or items that have been recently marked down. On Fridays, we'll be posting a roundup of the items we've posted that week in a "Featured Items of The Week" post right here on the blog for those who may have missed them daily.

Monday- Mamiya RZ 110 F2.8 W Lens with Hood, Caps (LN)

Tuesday- Sunpak Pro 423PX Carbon Tripod with 3-Way Head (New)

Wednesday- Sunpak PZ 500 AF Flash (Nikon shoe mount) (New)

Thursday- Canon 20D camera body with battery and charger (EX)

Friday- Canon 18-55 F3.5-5.6 EF-S IS II Lens (LN-)

Free Shipping This Weekend

4/27/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

We have been lowering prices and added over $400,000 worth of inventory over the past week. With so much new stuff and the best values of the season, we thought it was a perfect time to bring back a Free Shipping Weekend! 

Place an order of $100 or more of used photo gear and get free shipping via FedEx Ground to anywhere in the contiguous United States between Friday, April 27th and Sunday, April 29th. Want to upgrade to expedited shipping or are you placing an international order? No problem! We will credit you $9.95 towards your shipping costs. 

Visit our website and browse the latest arrivals, or view our entire inventory selection. If you prefer, you can also give us a call at 770-333-4200 to place an order during operating hours Monday - Friday 8:30 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. Eastern Time, and Saturday 10:00 a.m. - 4 p.m.

Experimenting With Film Processing

4/26/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

Photographers have always been experimenting with ways to make their images unique through various shooting, processing, and darkroom techniques. In the early days before color photography was successfully invented, there was hand-coloring, as well as many pigment based techniques (alternative processes) of the time, such as gum bicromate for example, to give prints color. Once color photography had been standardized, cross processing quickly became a very popular method for producing a unique appearance for color images. In this day and age though, photographic images can be manipulated through various photo editing software programs and even done with the push of a button on their mobile phones.

Polaroid transfer
Cell phone photo (with filter effects)
Photographers and darkroom enthusiasts of today are still practicing cross processing, alternative processes, and doing experimental photography. Methods of this type of work are different from one photographer to another. It is subjected to what a photographer wants to achieve for his or her images. Usually though, something that conventional darkroom work can't produce.


To get into experimental techniques, you need to start with a few things- a little research, some extra time, creativity, an adventurous attitude, and patience. The following describes how I created the following images, a recent experimental series.

Starting out, I knew I wanted multi-colored images for this series. Color ranges that are beyond black and white materials capabilities. So, I've settled for color materials as the basis of this experiment. I wanted chaotic colors, not color photographs, so color accuracy wasn't important. But I also wanted to still concentrate on the silver part of the image. I visualized chaotic colors and appearances on stabilized subjects. I chose to use a negative type of duplicating film, which is tungsten light balanced. Initially, I thought my planned experiment would throw the color components of the film out of whack, which is exactly what I had hoped to create. I exposed the images at the manufacturer's ASA rating + compensation for a red filter that I used in front of the lens, and for reciprocity failure. I treated this part of the experiment as if I was shooting with black and white film.

I wanted the images to be solarized also, somehow, and I knew that I was going to have a lab process my film, and that meddling with them at the lab in this situation was impossible. So, I took a different approach and first processed the film as if it was black and white film with black and white film developer at home. Then, I solarized them with a green gel light, while they were still developing. I did this thinking about the reddish-yellow film base. You know, green is the complimentary color of red. Well, in the light spectrum anyway. What this green light would do to the images, I really had no idea. But hey, this is an experimental process, and I was prepared to just have fun with the ideas and the process of experimenting.

I then put the film in a stop bath for the required time, after they were finished with the developing. Then, I rinsed the film thoroughly for a few minutes with running tap water. And, I remembered not to fix the films just yet because I still wanted the dyes to couple with the silver during the bleach/fix process of the color film developing. I put each sheet of film in its own plastic baggie, and into a dark box and ran it to a commercial lab to have them color processed. Since the film was color film, everything that I had done so far, except for the solarization part, was done in total darkness. When I got to the lab, I asked for the film to be cross-processed.

When I got it back, the result was a pleasant surprise. I was totally happy with the way the images had turned out.

This particular experiment is just an example of one way to make experimental images. Each different approach will yield different and unique results. And not all will turn out the way you've visualized or would expect or hoped. My approach to this type of work is usually from a mix of my understanding of the materials that I choose to work with, as well as proper planning and preparation. Some say darkroom work can be compared to cooking, and I simply try to manipulate the ingredients of the materials to crate a new visual palate.

Resources and Inspriation:

+ Flickr Groups (There's a bunch with great discussions, recipes, and photo sharing on related topics in these groups)-
* Experimental Photography Techniques
* Experimental Techniques 
* Film Recipes 
* The Colour Twelve
* Film damaged by radiation, heat, water, time, in processing...

- Kris Phimsoutham

GoPro Giveaway Winner

4/23/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

And the winner is... Cathy B. Congrats Cathy! (Be on the lookout for our email.)
Thanks to everyone who entered. Be sure to stick around for more giveaways in the future and more great articles and KEH news!


4/19/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

What is a Diopter? The technical definition is “A unit of measurement of the refractive power of lenses equal to the reciprocal of the focal length measured in meters”. The term diopter is used mainly in optometry, as a term for a corrective lens. It is also sometimes used as a measurement of curvature, and in the relation to magnifying power. But what is a diopter when we talk about them in photography? The term can refer to two different things, but for either application, it is essentially a piece of glass used in focusing. The most common diopter on a camera is part of the eyepiece on a viewfinder of a camera that adjusts the focus based on the users eyesight. The other type of a diopter in photography is also sometimes referred to as a close up lens, which is something that allows you to focus at a closer distance, almost like a macro lens. For the purposes of this article, we will be talking about the diopters used in conjunction with viewfinders.

Variable diopter adjustment by wheel

Variable diopter adjustment by slider

On a D-SLR, the diopter is typically built in to the viewfinder and can be changed by rotating the little wheel (or slider switch) next to the viewfinder (variable diopter adjustment). While this adjustment doesn't actually affect the focus of a camera, it will affect the focus if the diopter is not adjusted properly and you are manually focusing because it changes what you think is in focus. On a film camera, there could be a similar piece in the viewfinder like the D-SLR wheel or slider, or it could be an attachment that screws or slides on to the viewfinder eyepiece.

Eyepiece that requires a screw-on diopter (circular)

Eyepiece that requires a slide-on diopter (rectangular)

The diopter allows for fine focusing on the viewfinder, allowing the photographer a more accurate image before exposure. It can also allow the shooter to compensate for their need to wear glasses. For cameras with interchangeable diopter viewfinders, it is recommended to first determine if you will be shooting with or without your glasses, and which eye you put up to the viewfinder. Then, check with your optometrist or ophthalmologist for what the correct diopter is based on your eyesight. Ask them to determine your diopter from your corrective prescription when viewing an object at a distance of approximately one meter.
L- A threaded screw-on diopter, R- a slide-on diopter

Eyepiece diopters are specifically designed for different camera models (so one will not fit all) and are identified by a plus (farsighted), a minus (nearsighted), or a neutral numeric diopter value. The starting point, or base diopter value for most cameras is -1, which is the correct diopter for someone with normal vision. Other cameras, like many Bronica models for example, a -1.5 is the standard starting point. For Hasselblad cameras, it changes depending on which prism you are using, so double check on which starting diopter your camera has. If you need a +2 diopter, then you should just remove the standard or supplied (like the -1), and attach a +2.

A -1.5 (standard) diopter on a Mamiya RZ waistlevel

Neutral correction eyepieces do not replace the supplied standard eyepiece. The use of a neutral correction eyepiece will change the diopter value of the camera from -1 to a zero. Other common diopters that are available are: -5, -4, -3, -2, +0.5, +1, +2, +3.

There are a few other eyepiece accessories that you may want to consider using also. If you will be wearing your glasses while shooting, you may want to choose an eyepiece with a rubber coating, which is best because they are designed to lessen scratches to a photographer's eyeglasses. Another optional diopter accessory is for “anti-fog”, which prevents the viewfinder from fogging up and can also be useful.

To find diopters on, look under the category and brand of camera you have, then “Camera Accessories”, then “Prism and Viewfinder Accessories”.

An Adventurous Giveaway!

4/16/2012 153 Comments A+ a-

Are you ready for summer? We are! Regardless of what your plans are for the summer, we've got a way to make it a little more fun. We're giving away a brand new GoPro HD HERO Camera to one lucky reader!

The Original HD HERO is a wearable and gear-mountable HD camera. It features the original 1080p HD HERO camera plus two adhesive mounts to get you started. Wearable and gear mountable, waterproof to 197’ (60m), capturing professional 170º wide angle 720p video and 127º semi-wide angle 1080p video plus 5 megapixel photos, the HD HERO Naked has earned a place in history as the camera that started the GoPro Movement.

This is a fun little camera that is ready to record your summer adventures. Optional accessories include a chest harness, wrist strap, suction cup, handlebar/seat post mount, surfboard mounts, and more. To read more specs about the camera, click here.

What's included: 1 HD HERO Camera, 1 adhesive helmet mount, rechargeable battery, waterproof quick-release housing, quick-release buckle, USB and Video cables. (Takes an SD memory card, not included).

This giveaway is a little different from our past ones, in that you can easily earn multiple points which goes towards extra entries. Giveaway runs Monday, April 16th through Sunday, April 22nd. The giveaway winner will be randomly chosen and announced/contacted within 48 hours after the close of the giveaway. In order to win, a correct email address must be provided (but the email address will not be shared). All entries will be verified, so please use the same name on the giveaway widget as when you leave a blog comment to qualify. If entries cannot be verified, they will be deleted (ie if you "enter" for leaving a blog comment and there is no comment, it will not count as an entry). Just follow the instructions in the box below to enter now! Good luck.

Photos of the Month

4/13/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

All images submitted to and chosen from the KEH Camera Flickr Group pool. To view a photographers profile, click on the image to be directed to their Flickr page.

Untitled, by Rachel Carrier
A view from above
A View From Above, by Patrick Kavanaugh
Log Stock
Log Stock, by Przemyslaw Maciolek
Untitled, by RV Henretty-Jornales
Foggy Oslo February 2012
Foggy Oslo February 2012, by berntln
8/52, by Heather Stockett
Perils of cooking (2)
Perils of cooking (2), by Rolf Schmolling
supply and quality not guaranteed.  :)
Supply and quality not guaranteed, by Kate Parker
Dawn, by Morgan Tyree
GOODnEVIL02, by William Harris

Nikon Instant Rebates

4/12/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

From April 1- April 28, 2012, Nikon and KEH Camera are offering Instant Rebates on a variety of 'NEW' Products.

That means when you're purchasing one of the qualifying items, the rebate amount is automatically (and instantly) taken off of your purchase amount. It makes it simple so that you don't have to send in a separate rebate form. Just look for the rebate symbol on the corresponding webpages for more details.

Eligible Cameras
* D3100 w/ 18-55 lens- $100 savings
* D5100 body- $150 savings
* D5100 w/ 18-55 lens- $150 savings
* 1 J1 w/10-30 lens- $100 savings
* 1 J1 w/10-30 and 30-110 lens- $200 savings
* 1 V1 1/10-30 lens- $100 savings

Eligible Lenses
* 1 Nikkor 10mm F2.8 (sold with Nikon 1 J1 or 1 V1)- $100 savings
* 55-200mm F4-5.6 G IF-ED AF-S DX VR Zoom lens (if purchased with a D3000, D3100, D5100, D90, or D7000)- $100 savings
* 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 G ED AF-S DX VR lens (if purchased with a D3000, D3100, D5100, D90, or D7000)- $150 savings

Top In-Stock Camera Finds: April Edition

4/09/2012 0 Comments A+ a-

A few items that have recently joined our inventory and are our "top picks" for this month. (Click on the grade of the item to be taken to it on
Fuji X100 Digital Point and Shoot, in LN-
(Yes, we finally have these used!)

Nikon 1 V1 (and J1) Digital Cameras w/ 10-30 F3.5-5.6 lens, NEW
(These have a huge rebate on them from April 1-28... get $200 instant savings!)

Pentax 645D (40 M/P) Medium Format Digital SLR, NEW 
(We are one of the few dealers of this camera in the U.S.!)

Roundshot 28-220 Panoramic Camera w/ Nikon 28 F2.8 AIS, EX+
(Takes 120 or 220 film and can be set to spin 45 degrees to 360 degrees.)
Lomography Colorsplash, EX+
(35mm point and shoot camera with built-in colored flash gel options)

Samsung TL210 Digital Point and Shoot, LN-
(And because it's Spring, and the perfect time for pink cameras, check out these other pink ones we have in stock!)

Cine Kodak Model K w/ 25 F1.9, EX and BGN
(Vintage 16mm film movie camera)

The Camera Bag Guide

4/05/2012 6 Comments A+ a-

Camera Bags- What to consider when purchasing a bag 

First, ask yourself these four questions:
1. What purpose do you need the bag or case to serve?
2. What will you need to fit in it?
3. Where will you be taking it?
4. What's your budget?

Second, consider your answers as related to the following items: Size, comfort, design or style, accessibility, material, and brand.

Size will be determined by how much gear you will need to be taking with you. If you need just one SLR body, one lens, and a few small accessories like extra batteries and cards, then a small size case will be fine.

If you want to take more than one lens, and more attachments like a flash, then a medium sized bag is minimum.

Carrying multiple camera bodies, a variety of lenses and accessories? Choose a large size bag.

As far as comfort goes, different bags will be more comfortable to some than others. This is more based on personal preference, but if you will be carrying a bag on your shoulder or back, it's probably a good idea to to pay attention to the straps, specifically the length and padding. A bags shape may also be a factor in comfort.

The thing to consider for accessibility is- will you be bringing a case and then sitting it down while you're shooting, or will the bag be on you the whole time? If the bag will be attached to you most of the time, then it needs to be a bag that you can easily get in and out of. For example, a press photographer covering a breaking story or event will most likely need their bag on them and be able to quickly get in and out of it to switch out lenses. A backpack is not the best case for this situation, but better options may be a shoulder bag or a large hip pack.

cases at KEH

Case Styles:
Single SLR case (small size)
Hip pack (small to medium)
Standard shoulder bag (medium)
Messenger style shoulder bag (medium)
Designer “purse” bags (medium)
Sling-style backpack (medium)
Backpack- Options may include wheels and/or being waterproof (small, medium, and large)
Multi-media cases (often a backpack, will also hold a laptop computer) (medium-large)
Hard cases- Suitcase or briefcase styles, waterproof options, with or without wheels (small, medium, and large size options)

Single SLR case (Tamrac)
Single SLR, hard sided leather (Pentax)

Single SLR case (Billingham. Fabric with leather trim)
Large hip pack (Lowepro)

Standard, medium size shoulder bag (Nikon)

Inside of a standard, medium size shoulder bag

Large size shoulder bag (Tamrac)

Material Types: Canvas or other fabric, plastic or vinyl, leather, and metal.

Brands: Tamrac, Lowepro, Pelican, Domke, Billingham, camera brands (ex. Canon, Nikon), Kata, Crumpler, and “designer” or “purse-type” brands (ex. Kelly Moore, Epiphanie). (There are many more brands that make cases, but these are some of the more common ones)

Medium size "purse style" bag (Epiphanie)

(Red and black bag) Large messenger style camera bag (Crumpler)

Multi-media backpack (Kata)

Medium size backpack (Lowepro)

Large backpack (Lowepro)

Large convertible roller backpack (with wheels) (Lowepro)

Interior of a large backpack (Lowepro)

Medium size hard case (Ikelite)

Large hard sided case, interior

Case Pros and Cons: (The following is pros and cons that I have personally experienced with the collection of cases that I own and use. If you have something different, or a different viewpoint, please share it in the comments.)

Canon shoulder bag- This bag was great for awhile but is now either too small or too large for most things. It does have nice padding and compartments. Has the brand on the outside which obviously says “camera bag”.

Hip pack- Small, convenient, great for shooting events. Usually it's a secondary bag on a shoot when I need to have an extra lens, cards, batteries, etc. close by for quick exchanges.

Epiphanie- Looks like a large purse. Too small for any involved shoot, but great for day trips where I need minimal equipment, can combine my purse and camera bag, and doesn't look like a camera bag.

Medium size rolling backpack- Great for air travel. It's small enough to carry on, has wheels which saves my back and shoulders during transport.

Large waterproof backpack- Tons of space, don't have to worry about the weather. Great for outdoor photo adventures when you need to bring a lot of stuff. Cons- When it's full, it's heavy!

Other Tips:
I recommend having a few different bags if you shoot a variety of things in a variety of places. For example, a large backpack or hard sided case with wheels for traveling, a small case for day trips where you can pack light, and a good "all around" medium sized bag. If you tend to only shoot one thing and always carry the same equipment with you however, then multiple cases may not be as helpful or necessary.

Don't forget to consider what else besides your camera(s) and camera accessories (lenses, flash units, etc.) you may need to be taking with you. If you use a tripod often, your best bet may be a backpack with a tripod holding feature. If you take your laptop with you, then a multi-media camera case may suit you better.

Find Bags and Cases:
* On
* In the KEH eBay shop
* If you come by our location to pick up or drop off equipment, we also have a few racks of discounted bags and cases in the lobby that are available for on the spot cash sales.

- JF