Large Format Photography truisms discovered (so far)

In response to a post on Reddit's Analog forum about Large Format Photography, I came up with a list of truisms that I have discovered about shooting in this format (so far).  I seem to discover more and more each day as a I shoot and learn, shoot and learn (lather, rinse, repeat)...  


1. No matter how many film holders you own, you will still crave more and will have at least three or four "Lot of 5 Lisco Holders" or "Lot of six Fidelity Elite" deals in your eBay watch list at any one time. 

2. You thought other formats had you crazily seeking the perfect bag ?  Ha !  Welcome to a whole new level of quest with no end in sight.  

3. The search for cheaper film that you will really like to shoot will end a week before that particular emulsion is discontinued.  It happens.  Have a plan B.   Fuji FP100C45 instant pack film is never coming back no matter how long you stare and wish in the direction of that Fuji PA-45 film back you thought was a good deal on eBay when you bought it.  

4. Always have a plastic garbage bag in whatever camera bag you pick (see #2 above).  Bellows really don't enjoy rain all that much.  

5. Watch out for cross winds on the bellows if you are shooting in places like the beach or mountain tops.  Also make sure you have some way of securing the focusing cloth to the camera while you are focusing, especially if you are using a loupe.  Those things take off like Mary Poppins in the wind.  I prefer the BTZS brand ones from the View Camera Store but you can easily make your own out of fabric and some elastic or Velcro.  

6. Consistency is your savior.  Pick a routine and stick with it...always.  For instance, white tab on the end of the dark slide facing outward while loaded with film but unexposed.  Flipped so the dark tab facing outward once the loaded film sheet is exposed. I also put a rubber band around the holder when it is empty awaiting re-loading with my next trip into the darkroom.  A soft bristle 4" wide paint brush works wonders for brushing any dust off slides and the inside of film holders before placing fresh sheets of film into the holders.  Also give the holder a bang on your open palm to dislodge any dust wedged in the slots before using the brush.  Once loaded, I place each holder in it's own 1 gallon freezer baggie and zip it up, labeling with a sharpie on the bag what kind of film and rated ISO it is loaded with.  Dust is the archenemy of LF film.   

7. Carry a shooting checklist at least for the first few weeks/month.  List the order that things are done in so you don't accidentally leave the shutter open before loading the film holder and pulling the dark slide, etc.  

8. Arista EDU 200 Ultra is an excellent cheap B&W film to learn on until you get your settings dialed in for the more expensive stuff.  Available through Freestyle. It's actually re-branded FOMA film from the Czech Republic.  Available in 100, 200 and 400 ISO for LF as of this writing.  

9. A 6x7 roll film back like the Calumet C2 is a nice option for learning with while learning your camera's movements. Roll film is quite a bit cheaper and much cheaper way to get shooting in color.  It's obviously not a permanent solution but still a good set of training wheels.  

10. Steve Simmons book on the view camera is a great asset in the learning period.  You can sometimes score a copy from eBay if you are patient.  It has been out of print for quite a while but is now available for purchase as a downloadable PDF eBook here.

11. is a great resource.   Another good resource is the Large Format Forum on APUG.  Don't forget the 4x5 and Large Format Flickr groups too.  Lots of helpful people out there to bounce questions and ideas off of.