Analogue, Large format, Spotlight

Red Leather, Rangefinder and some Chrome – Polaroid 110A/B 4×5 Conversion

13. March 2015

I know another post about film photography, but it’s so exciting! This is my new true love camera… A  custom-made piece which I got earlier this year and at the first view I can say Wohoooo…. but let’s start from the beginning.

At the end of 2013 I started taking pictures or better I should say using a 4×5 large format camera for a fair amount of my landscape and urban shots. Unfortunately I don’t have all the time to develop and scan my negatives – I wish I had! Anyway, my current large format camera (Chamonix 45N2) is made out of wood, aluminium and composite material and is therefore one of the lightest 4×5 cameras money can buy and I am really happy with this piece of chinese craftsman ship. I have to say I was quite impressed when I got mine. Even though it’s small, foldable and light I was always looking for something easierer to use.

We all know setting up a 4×5 camera needs some time. You definitely need a tripod, a black jacket, lenses, filmholder and some other stuff. Let’s says it is quite an amount of stuff. Despite this I was looking… as I said before and found it somewhere in the internet. Well, not really this camera here but a guy in Chicago who is specialized to customize one. What do you need is an “old” Polaroid, a welder and some 4×5 large format parts and here we go – A Polaroid 110A/B Conversion – called by experts. A good friend of my and an awesome german wedding photographer Steffen (aka Stilpirat) ordered one two years ago. Actually not from this guy but from another source. You can find some details on his blog.

I know I am probably super stupid to buy another 4×5 large format camera. Some people even don’t waste their time to buy one of them – but as I said before that one here is different. If I would miss my hammer for woodworking the Polaroid will do it without any problems. Not that I want to, but let’s say you could. Maybe in an emergency… Well, anyway! The camera is not that heavy but if feels like somebody used cast iron to customize it. From my german point of view I would say it’s quality. It looks like it stored in an air tight container for the last 50 years. Well, I have to say it’s custom made and not only the exterior is refurbished all the mechanical parts are cleaned and re-adjusted. I can’t verify it but it seems that all the shutter times are working properly.

I wanted my camera in red leather because my website logo is also red. Hmm, no that’s not true. I wanted red instead of the boring greys, blacks and blues for purpose. For me it’s a marketing tool. When I am on tour with my 4×5 wooden camera a lot of people ask me what type of camera that is and when I am explaining that thing shoots film, they reply “Really, I thought you can’t get film anymore”.. Nope, you actually can buy it in camera stores and of course online. We all know that, but not the guys who have never seen such a camera before. There it is, my marketing tool for the offline world.

Besides this, the main purpose of having and using that Polaroid camera is the rangefinder which is connected to the manual focus knob. A sort of hologram inside the rangefinder tells you where you current focus is and if you have it, great – take the shot. There is no need for magnifying glass to find the right spot in the pictures. No upside down stuff… Just hold this freaking think in front of you face and press the shutter – Here we go Handheld 4×5 Streetphotography! Can you imaging the dept of field, Craaazyyy!

So far I didn’t have time to test the camera (there is no lack of film – fridge is full of it). I just don’t have time for it and don’t really waste some slides just to prove that it’s working. No, when I am taking this camera out there must be a good reason for it to do so…. Actually what about you guys. What kind of 4x5s are you using… I am just curious and also fill my english version of this blog with some comments, hey….

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