5 frames with... Guest Photos

5 frames with… #45: Intrepid 5×4 Field Camera and Schneider APO-Symmar 5.6/150 lens – By Richard Pickup

I am primarily a rangefinder photographer, of street scenes, people and other moments of opportunity. It has, however, been a long-standing ambition of mine to take up large format photography. I finally bit the bullet earlier this year, when a new, affordable 5×4 camera came onto the market. That camera is the lightweight Intrepid field camera. I now have the forthcoming 10×8 version on order too.

My experience of large format photography has not been all plain sailing, as I expected. There is a lot to learn, and the format is very demanding, both of the photographer’s time and wits. Many elements need to converge for a special frame to come together, and it sometimes feels like the moon needs to be in alignment too.

My relationship with the little wooden Intrepid took no time to develop. It is hard not to like this simple camera: the controls are minimal, it is light, folds up neatly (such that it can be carried in a backpack with ease), and it is robust and well made. Large format lenses are plentiful on the secondhand market, and of course one has a good choice of film stocks from Kodak’s richly coloured Ektar to my favourite black and white films, Ilford Delta 100 and HP5 plus.

It is hard to put into words exactly what it is about a well-exposed sheet of large format film that makes it so magical. I often find myself looking at a potential subject and wondering whether my an exposure on my full-frame mirrorless digital camera won’t do. I’m sure the difference is a product of a number of things: aspect ratio, depth of field, lens characteristics, the grain of the film, and so on. These things conspire, along with the need for timing and the photographer’s disciplined attention, and a magic takes place. For this instalment of 5 frames with … I offer some favourite exposures from my journey so far. I hope you enjoy them.

You can find more of my photography and writing at richardpickup.com

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9 Comments

  • Reply
    Pichot Pierre
    November 21, 2017 at 3:56 pm

    Nice set! Could you comment what film was used for each photo? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Richard Pickup
      November 21, 2017 at 7:54 pm

      Now, let’s see. Top to bottom we have: Ilford Delta 100 Professional, Kodak Ektar 100, Kodak Ektar again, Delta 100, and Ilford HP5+. Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    DMR
    November 21, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Wow. Awesome set of 5! The first and seconds shots (B&W flowers & color portrait) are just awesome. I too have had the bug for 4×5, but haven’t jumped in the deep end just yet. Your description of the difficulties is the ‘why’ for me having not done so to date. But, if you’re getting results like this, I’d say keep shooting!

    Best Regards,
    DMR

    • Reply
      Richard Pickup
      November 21, 2017 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks DMR. Yes, there are the challenges, but as you say 5×4 is really rewarding. I’m keeping at it!

  • Reply
    Malcolm Myers
    November 21, 2017 at 7:00 pm

    A lovely set of photos, thanks for sharing them! I’m off to checkout your website 🙂

  • Reply
    Richard
    November 22, 2017 at 8:54 am

    Great pictures! And nice description of using the camera!

  • Reply
    Ed Worthington
    November 22, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    I’ve been toying with the idea of large format for at least 6 months now…..thinking about jumping in as a new year resolution and an Intrepid was what I was considering getting after reading and article on them. These images look great by the way.

  • Reply
    Trevor Stoddart
    November 28, 2017 at 11:44 pm

    Hello Richard quick question for you regarding your color portrait. How much light did you need? I have a 4×5 and want to get more into portraits but heard the quantity of light needed (500+ watts) puts me off a bit. I sold my 400W rangers awhile back (stupidly, lol) and now only have speed lights (maybe 150 watts?). My lens is only f4.7 wide open which is not really what I want to shoot at.

    • Reply
      Richard Pickup
      December 2, 2017 at 10:42 am

      Hi Trevor, In truth, I struggled with exactly the same issue. I did have a large Elinchrom flash head to use, but even then the negative was a tad underexposed. Digital processing really helped with this one!

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