Tim Layton Fine Art | 5x7 Large Format Gear

5x7 large format is increasingly becoming my favorite format for landscapes.  I think the aspect ratio is more pleasing to my eye than 8x10, although I probably use my 8x10 camera the most because of my floral still life work. 

I consistently reach for my 5x7 large format Chamonix view camera when I know I will be photographing landscapes as my primary objective.  Because of this format, it is inferred that one will be using black and white film because color films are no longer available in 5x7 unless you want to try and cut down 8x10 film in total darkness.  That is too much trouble and risk for me, I would rather just use my 8x10. 

Since the vast majority of my work is black and white, other than the occasional fall color projects, the 5x7 format is a good choice for me.  

The quality of 5x7 is virtually indistinguishable between it and 8x10 in my silver gelatin fine art gallery prints.  I print very large in the darkroom and if I didn't know the size of the source negative, I doubt I could tell the difference between a print made from a 5x7 negative and one from 8x10.  

One of the benefits of my 5x7 camera is the size and weight when compared to 8x10.  My fully loaded backpack with all my 5x7 gear for landscapes is about 25 pounds compared to over 40 pounds for my 8x10 pack.  That is a huge difference when hiking for several miles in a day. 

MY 5x7 LARGE FORMAT LENSES & FILTERS

  • 120mm Nikkor SW F8-F64 (~24mm)
  • 210mm (42) Nikkor-W F5.6-F64 (~42mm)
  • 300mm Fujinon-C F8.5-F64 (~60mm)
  • 450mm Fujinon-C F12.5-F128 (~90mm)
  • 600mm Fujinon-C F11.5-F64 (~120mm)

I use the Lee Filter hood system for my filter holder and sun shade.  My Nikkor 120mm has the largest front element of 77mm, so I use step-up rings on all the other lenses to standardize for the Lee Filter Hood.

I use my yellow and orange filters the most, and on occasion, I will use a red filter when there are extreme clouds that I want to make very dramatic.  I also carry a non-linear polarizer for water scenes or forest scenes after a fresh rain shower. 

Since you are probably a large format photographer, you may be interested in my Large Format Quick Reference Cards, Split-Grade Darkroom Printing eBook, Color Film Quick Reference Cards, B&W Floral Still Life Fine Art Photography with Large Format Video Workshop, and the Darkroom Underground Magazine.  

MISCELLANEOUS GEAR & EQUIPMENT

I use a Gitzo 5541-LS carbon fiber tripod with a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head most of the time.  If I am doing floral still life in a controlled environment, then I like to use my Manfrotto geared head.   

For metering, I use a Sekonic 758-DR and I have an older Sekonic 508 that I keep as my backup.  I have been using the 758 since 2010 and really rely on it with a high degree of accuracy.  I still have my Pentax spot meter that was modified by Zone VI Studios and I use it as well.  

For a loupe, I use a Wista 5x (the black one) the most.  I also keep a pair of +3 reader glasses in my kit to set up the composition and get the focus fairly close, before moving to the loupe.  

For miscellaneous items, I use a manual stop watch for long exposures, a lens brush and micro fiber clothes, an extra battery for my Sekonic 758 meter, extra rubber bands (needed many times in the field), a spanner wrench in case I need to work on lenses in the field, a flexible measuring tape to calculate bellows factor for exposure comp in case I do any close-up work in the field, and a couple cable releases, with one serving as a backup.  

I use a dark cloth that has an elastic band around the front side and velcro along the seam.  It also stays in my case to help protect the ground glass too.

For film holders, I store them in black neoprene cases that are intended to be used with tablets or thin laptop computers.  I typically only take 2 holders (4 exposures with me for a hike), but I keep 10 holders fully loaded in the refrigerator in my Sprinter van while traveling on the road.  

If you have any questions, send me an email or post a comment below for others to see too.

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