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Calumet Large Format Film Cameras

An Introduction to Calumet Large-Format Cameras

Many photographers throughout history have used large-format cameras. Instead of a roll of film placed into these cameras, photographers insert individual sheets of film. Some photographers have been using Calumet large-format cameras ever since the first ones were introduced in the 1960s.

What types of large-format cameras are there?

Generally, there are two types of large-format cameras. Field cameras fold into a box to protect their bellows, and they are generally lightweight. Some experts divide field cameras into two classes. View cameras are often used by people who work professionally in photography, such as when covering newsworthy events. The second type of large-format camera is the monorail camera, which attaches to a single rail at their bottoms.

What are some key parts of large-format cameras?
  • Tripod head and rail clamp: When present, these parts allow the photographer to attach the camera to a tripod or a stabilizing rail.
  • Camera rail: This is a horizontal pole used to hold the camera in place on monorail cameras.
  • Front standard: Located on the front of the camera, it is used to hold the lens board.
  • Lens board: This board attaches to the front standard and holds the cameras lens.
  • Rise and fall: When present, knobs on the camera rail can be used to adjust the cameras position.
  • Fine focus: Knobs on the front and back of the camera allowing the photographer to adjust the cameras focus.
  • Focal plane adjustments: These options located on the front and rear standards allow the photographer to move the cameras lens.
  • Bellows: This accordion-like part can be used to enlarge an image, and they may help get an image into sharper focus.
  • Ground glass: This is the part that the photographer views to capture the image.
  • Film holder: This part of the camera holds the film sheets.
What are some types of lenses available for large-format film cameras?
  • Normal: These lenses range from 135mm to 210mm for a 4 by 5 camera, and they range from 270mm to 420mm for an 8 by 10 camera.
  • Long: These lenses have a large focal length, allowing images that are far away to seem closer.
  • Telephoto: These lenses have a smaller image circle, so they need fewer bellows to focus on a faraway object.
  • Wide angle: These lenses offer smaller maximum aperture, and they are usually lighter in weight.
  • Convertible: These lenses come apart, allowing photographers to choose different focal lengths.
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