Large-format camera

The large-format camera, taking sheet film, is a direct successor of the early plate cameras and remain in use for high quality photography and for technical, architectural and industrial photography. There are three common types, the view camera with its monorail and field camera variants, and the press camera. They have an extensible bellows with the lens and shutter mounted on a lens plate at the front. Backs taking rollfilm, and digital backs are available in addition to the standard dark slideback. These cameras have a wide range of movements allowing very close control of focus and perspective. Composition and focussing is done on view cameras by viewing a ground-glass screen which is replaced by the film to make the exposure; they are suitable for static subjects only, and are slow to use. Sheet film is large format and medium format photographic film supplied on individual sheets of acetate or polyester film base rather than rolls. Sheet film was initially supplied as an alternative to glass plates. The most popular size measures 4?5 inches; smaller and larger sizes including the gigantic 20?24 inches have been made and many are still available today. Monorail cameras are view cameras with lens mount, bellows, and interchangeable viewing and film backs all fitted along a rigid rail along which they can slide until locked into position. They can take sheet film in large sizes, and since the advent of digital photography can take a digital back. They are used to take very high-quality photographs of static subjects on large film, or at high digital image resolution, and capable of much enlargement with good quality. They have many camera movements for image control. The image is usually viewed on a ground-glass screen in the film plane; after the scene has been composed, the ground glass is replaced by the film, and the exposure made. Monorail cameras rarely have any other viewfinder than the ground glass. Virtually any lens can be fitted, and backs for sheet film, rollfilm, digital back and Polaroid backs (for which the film is no longer manufactured). For s me uses with long exposures, or flash lighting; a shutter is unnecessary; removing a lens cap to expose the film is sufficient. Extremely small apertures such as f/64 can be used without issues of diffraction on the lenses, of much larger focal length than those used for smaller images (a small relative aperture is still a fairly large hole, reducing diffraction). The trade-off for their versatility is their large weight and bulk, and use limited to slow photographs of static subjects. Some models, such as the ARCA Swiss F-Line,[1] are more compact and designed for field use, still retaining generous movements; however the F-Line cameras still weigh about 3 kg.. Monorail cameras have capabilities that most other cameras do not. Both the lens and the film planes are separate and can be moved independently. By moving the front of the camera, the lens plane, independently of the rear which houses the film, the photographer can alter the depth-of-field (actually, the plane of sharp focus) without changing the perspective of the image. The converse is also true. The rear of the camera, which holds the film, can be moved to alter or improve the perspective of the image without changing the depth-of-field. Film is typically loaded one sheet at a time into a special holder. Each film holder can hold two sheets of film - one on each side of the holder. Different holders can be loaded with different film; the type of film can be changed from one photograph to the next. Typical film sizes are 4 inch by 5 inch (4"?5") and 8 inch by 10 inch (8"?10"). There are other formats, including 5?7 inch and 11?14 inch. Monorail cameras are among the simplest cameras possible according to their operating principles, consisting of the front standard (holding the lens) and rear standard (holding the ground glass viewing and focussing screen, then replaced by the film) sliding on a single rail, with a light-tight bellows stretched between. They are built to a high standard of precision and smoothness of operation, and sell in low volume, which makes prices higher than most smaller cameras.