Back at the start of 2016, I posted about some things I’d like to achieve photographically throughout that year, and one of those things was to shoot and develop large format film. At the time, I had my sights set on an Intrepid 4×5 camera, but I had a bunch of other stuff going on so it never happened. Earlier this year, I started posting stuff on Twitter about wanting to purchase a 4×5 camera and Shaun Nelson from Utah Film Photography reached out to me saying a friend of his was selling a Crown Graphic 4×5 camera if I was interested. He connected me with a his friend in Salt Lake City and after a couple back and forth emails, the camera began it’s cross-continent journey to my house.
The Pacemaker Crown Graphic camera takes 4×5 inch sheet film… which is huge when compared to the surface area of 35mm film. My specific camera was built in 1959 and when I took it out for the first time the shutter completely seized up. I sent the lens to Camera Repair Canada in Mississauga, and after about 3 weeks, I got it back in perfect working order. I was finally able to take it out for a real test last week and love it! The process of setting up and viewing the image through the ground glass is what I’ve been longing for. Prior to the camera even arriving, I had ordered 50 sheets of Fomapan 200 from Argentix simply because it was the cheapest per sheet film out there. I plan to pick up some Ilford FP4 in the near future.
One thing I didn’t really think about when purchasing the camera, was how am I going to develop and scan the photos after I shoot them? My current developing tank could only do roll film and my Epson V600 film scanner could only do up to 120 film. After developing 4 sheets using the “taco method” in my Paterson tank, I bought a MOD 54 insert and a larger developing tank, and while a little finicky trying to load seemed to do the job just fine. I am also borrowing an Epson V850 for the time being, so I’m good to go.
I’ve had the camera out a couple times now shooting from both a tripod and handheld using the rangefinder and each has it’s pros and cons. Having the camera on the tripod allows me to experiment with tilt and shift movements to correct perspective and adjust depth of field. The photo of Hope Mill below had some back tilt to ensure that everything was in focus from front to back. Below are a couple of my favourites taken with the camera the couple of times I’ve actually had it out. If you want to check out the full resolution scans, (and I suggest you do), check out my Flickr album.