Digital is the future, so why did I buy a 4×5 view camera?

The future of photography is digital, there’s no question about that. And I have a digital SLR (and an iPhone). I’m on board with digital all the way. So, why did I buy a Toyo-View 45D 4×5 view camera?

Recently I mentioned some buyer’s remorse over purchasing the camera and all the additional purchases it required just to get going. I sort of got over that. But once I had the pieces, the question that remains is why I bothered to do all this in the first place. Part of it is my love of film and film cameras. I’ve always been fascinated with cameras, their intricate mechanisms are to me the very pinnacle of mechanical design. But in some ways a view camera is primitive, a look back and the camera obscura – nothing more than a lightproof box with a lens at one end. There’s no coupling between anything. It’s all manual and as such is ripe for making mistakes. Double exposures? Easy. No exposure? Easy. Wrong exposure? Easy. Fogging film? Easy. Out of focus? Easy. I could go on (and on), but I think you get the picture. It’s about as far away from a digital point&shoot as it gets. So maybe it’s the film part.

Maybe it is. A 4×5 negative or slide is enormous compared to a 35mm and about 2x a 120 image. That’s a lot of pixels. And nothing looks like film, even now. Yes, you can imitate film using a preset in Lightroom or Photoshop, but there’s nothing like the real thing. I’m going to keep shooting film, in all sizes, until it’s gone or so expensive I can’t afford to do so anymore. Call me a luddite, but some things are worth preserving in their original forms.

Since it’s been decades since I’ve had my own darkroom (and I never had 4×5 capability anyway), I bought a PA-45 back for Fuji instant film. Here’s my first shot, using Fuji FP-100c45. I used my Toyo-View with a Fujinon-W 150mm f/5.6 lens. I apologize for the JPEG artifacts, I had to compress it quite a bit for Flickr. In the future I will also try black&white and develop it myself. This should be fun.


Here’s a bonus photo of a Flamingo:


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