The Part Where I Remember the Good Old Days..
I used a view camera, more or less exclusively, for over 20 years. I can wallow in nostalgia, but my much reduced Large Format kit sits in a drawer. it sits in a drawer almost all the time.
I do miss the accurate, loupe-up-in-each-corner, precision of a a good View Camera. I also, and this has been said by others, really miss the upside down and reversed left to right world of an image projected on a ground glass. Having a landscape image arrive upside down and reversed side to side made it an abstraction. With practice, it is easy to “fix” the projected image and imagine the final shot (or as an alternative, just look at the scene without using the camera) but the abstraction of the image was always part of the process.
The Part Where I forget the good old days – Canon TS-E Lenses
The Canon 17mm TS-E lens along with the TS-E 24mm II are best in class Tilt Shift Lenses. While Nikon may be close to the 24mm in sharpness (they don’t make anything wider so the 17mm stands alone), the Canon handely beats the Nikon mechanically with it’s ability to rotate the shift and tilt aspects of the lens independently. The 45mm TS-E and the 90mm TS-E are very good lenses as well but have not gone to “Mark II” design status and lack the independent tilt and shift feature.
If you have questions or are unfamiliar with a TS-E type lens click here for a nice review and tutorial that features the original Canon TS-E 24.
However good a tilt and shift lens is on a 35mm camera, it simply isn’t the equal of a view camera. A well made view camera had (at least) 4×5 inches of ground glass to wonder around and check for focus. A real view camera has more movements that just front tilt and shift. But I already wrote about the good old days, anyway… Shift on a TS-E lens is basically as good as a view camera, but tilt is course compared to a view camera, I use it carefully and not often. I will say that it has become better with live view. It is useful but lacking precision.
Building the New View Camera – EyeFi X2 SD Card with Direct Mode and an iPad
In early January, EyeFi announced that they would make available (When? I’ll speculate late spring…) a firmware upgrade that would turn their any EyeFi X2 card into a WiFi hotspot. Your camera can now interact with any WiFi device – well any WiFi device that runs their free App. Or to quote the quick YouTube Video. “With Direct Mode full resolution Photo’s and Videos from your camera fly directly from your camera to your phone or tablet.” I would have used “transferred” rather than “fly” but I’ll give the presenter a pass – this time.
So, with an EyeFi card in direct mode and an iPod nearby I can preview my composition, including the imprecise tilt, on a nine inch screen. Since I use a Canon 1DsIII which has two card slots, I can send over a medium sized JPEG while recording the full size RAW. Nine inches of high resolution iPad screen compared to a 3 inch camera back is hardly a fair fight. Pinch to zoom should allow me to retire my well worn loop.
Problems. There Are Always Problems
I’m no fan of juggling thousands or even hundreds of dollars worth of tech so the iPad need a good, safe home. I’d mount it on a tripod leg and make it easy to mount and remove. I can do that using a Vogel iPad Holder and a bit of imagination. The Vogel holder also acts as a cover for the quarter acre of glass that is the front of an iPad. And, although I don’t shoot at noon, a hood might be handy. Here is one (on eBay so the link will die.) There may be others – pretty much any netbook shade should work.
Yep, it sounds a little cumbersome and fussy. But I spent 20 years under a dark cloth, 8x loop in hand, staring at the back of a view camera. I do fussy and cumbersome if the results are worth it.
Now, if the EyeFi folks would allow the app to mimic a real view camera and make it possible to reverse and flip the image…