Almost daily, I wake up to an email, comment, or private message saying, "I want to start shooting large format, but I don't know where to start. What should I do and what should I buy?" Awesome! That's great news! After responding to each and every one of you (thank you for being so kind to ask me), I have decided to put together a list of recommended equipment for those of you who want to start shooting large format. Remember, the used market is your friend when trying to find equipment. There's a few good Facebook buy/sell/trade groups for film equipment, the Large Format Photography Forum can be a good source, but generally, I've had good luck on eBay.
*This is by no means a perfect solution and if you don't want to listen to me, by all means - don't. Everyone should has their own opinion and style and this is just what I have learned over the years. If I was starting fresh again, this is my guide.
**This is also guided towards 4x5 equipment, because of three reasons. 1) I guarantee you that you will make mistakes in this journey. A lot of them. You want those mistakes to be as inexpensive as possible. 4x5 is 4 times smaller by area than 8x10, thus making everything generally about 4 times less expensive. 2) Learning movements is a process and depth of field is always a challenge on large format. With 4x5, you have less of a challenge, which will lead to a more productive learning experience. 3) Everything is generally lighter and overall a less punishable experience than larger formats. Learning to compose on a ground glass can be tricky. 8x10 (and larger) is very rewarding, but I suggest you get your feet wet before diving in.Read More