View cameras

These sheet film cameras (Figure L.3) look large and professional but are basically of simple construction. They are designed always to be used on a tripod. The front panel carries a lens with a diaphragm and a shutter; the back has a full size 4 x 5 in ground-glass focusing screen. Focusing controls allow the two panels to be moved towards or away from each other along a rail, and flexible square-shaped bellows between the panels keep out the light. Other knobs allow sliding or swinging of the front and back panels. These are known as 'camera movements' and are used to help control depth of field or shape distortion.

The large focusing screen is especially helpful for carefully composing still-life subjects in the studio, although you must get used to checking an image which is seen upside down. The long bellows make it possible to focus very close subjects. However, these cameras are large, slow and cumbersome to use. The step-by-step sequence in Figure L.4 shows how you

Figure L.3 Monorail 4 x 5 in camera. V, viewing and focusing screen; S, shutter speed dial; A, aperture setting control; R, shutter release; F, focus controls.
Figure L.4 How a picture is exposed with a 4 x 5 in camera, using a sheet film holder.

start off in the darkroom, where each sheet of film is loaded into a special holder. When the film holder is slipped into the camera it replaces the focusing screen, taking up the same position. A panel or 'darkslide' in the holder is then removed to reveal the emulsion side of the film to the (light-tight) inside of the camera. Then, after the exposure has been made using the shutter on the lens, the darkslide must be replaced. The entire film holder is then withdrawn from the camera and taken to the darkroom, where the film is removed and processed.

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