Taking the plunge into 4x5 film / by Jana Uyeda

Bob Rigby 4x5 / Ilford HP5+ / Developed by Panda Labs A little while ago I borrowed a friend's Zero Image 4x5 camera to get a sense of whether or not 4x5 pinhole was something I would want to pursue.

You see many, many months ago I had purchased a Calumet 4x5 with a wide lens and long rails at a really good price from a gentleman photographer. He was preparing to visit India and wanted to unload some gear. I brought the camera home, had some difficulty finding a tripod that would fit the odd rail mount and eventually lost interest in it.

I've learned while buying and selling my gear, that if a camera isn't somewhat portable or easy to carry, I won't shoot it. If I have to lug a giant box with a heavy tripod around, I won't want to take it anywhere with me. As much as I loved the idea of experimenting with larger film formats, the 4x5 Calumet was just too much to handle. Then I got into pinhole photography which eventually lead me back to sheet film.

So I played around with my friend's Zero Image during a day trip to Olympic National Park but didn't particularly care for it. This was the single Zero Image 45B, their basic camera, with a 25mm focal length and no cable release adapter. Shooting the camera was easy enough, but when I got the sheets back from Panda Labs I didn't like the final image as much. The extreme distortion was a bit too strong for my taste and the heavy vignetting felt like I wasn't maximizing on the entire sheet of film. There are additional extension frames Zero Image sells to increase the focal length, but the deluxe 4x5 is a bit costly.

Regardless, I asked my friend Paul to inquire about the Zero Image 4x5 while he was visiting Blue Moon Camera in Portland. They confirmed they had the Zero Image 4x5 Deluxe, but I wasn't prepared to make that investment yet. Then Paul started sending me snapshots of a different 4x5 pinhole which wasn't listed on the Blue Moon site - the Robert Rigby 4x5 pinhole camera.

This Bob Rigby 4x5 has a 65mm focal length, an aperture of f/166, 2 tripod mounts for portrait or landscape orientation and is very simple in design. The film holder is secured in the back with two rotating wooden 'pins' which allow various 4x5 backs to be attached to the camera. Though I would love a cable release option, the pinhole cover moves smoothly enough so long as I'm careful not to jar the camera. There are also 'sighting' pins as described on the website and it helps me visualize the angle of view from the camera. More importantly, the severe distortion and heavy vignetting are gone.

The image above is one of my first shots from this camera taken at my friend's house while we sat around the dining table enjoying our Thanksgiving feast. There was something about the lighting that I liked. Thanks for your time today and mahalo!

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