I have acquired a 4×5 back for my Horseman VH view camera to be able to shoot instant photos on expired FP100c and FP3200b. What do you think about that? Here I write my informal experience report from this exercise.
Horseman VH is a 6×9 view camera that allows you to experiment with most of the normal camera movements documented in Ansel Adam’s excellent book “The Camera.” At the same time, the camera allows you to do all this without getting into 4×5 or other large-format film processing workflows. 6×9 is a very large negative, and at the same time it is still 120!
Anyhow, I bought the camera for a year ago but only recently have started using it properly. It is a very fun camera to use. The camera also comes with a 4×5 back! This is of course not a real 4×5 back since the camera view itself is limited to the 6×9 format (Note to self: Write a proper review of the camera for 35mmc!). However, the back is useful to experiment with instant peel-apart films!
I bought a PA-145 Fuji film holder, which is a holder for Fujifilm FP100c and other compatible Fujifilm and Polaroid films. The 4×5 back and the PA-145 holder turns the already clumsy camera into a monster! But it has been fun –and extremely slow –to shoot with this setup. I love Fujifilm FP100c. It has wonderful colors and is at a different league than Polaroid and other instant films –in my opinion at least. It is a pity that Fuji does not produce them anymore. I have around 20 packs though stored away, which made the acquisition of a PA-145 for around 100 Euro not a hard decision.
This is how it works, around 10 minutes for a shot!:
- Remove the ground glass from the back of the Horseman.
- Mount the 4×5 back and adjust the lens to focus.
- Do the exposure calculations –I shut the pack at ASA 50, see below.
- Close the lens aperture.
- Mount the PA-145 with the film pack in it.
- Take out the dark slide.
- Expose, put the dark slide back. Pull the film out and wait. Peel apart!
This is what to remember:
- You really need a good tripod and a lot of patience! I use my Manfrotto with Benro gear head. The gear head helps a lot.
- The film is ASA 100, is expired, and the light travels through a looong tunnel –through the lens, the bellows, and the 4×5 back –before hitting the film. I exposed the pack at ASA 50 and sometimes a bit lower.
- If you shoot inside you need a lot of light. The view becomes quite dim with the 4×5 back. I used my LED light at full power and very close to the scene.
- The film area on FP100c is smaller than a 4×5 film sheet. This means that you need to be careful when composing. On top of that, the photo you take is not centered. PA-145 film opening is a bit to the left. What I did was that I cut a black frame that I taped on top of my ground glass so I know which part of the view will be within the film frame.
Here are some example photos from this shoot:
Film roll: 2020-037