After reading part one in this series you should have the basics of what makes a large format view camera a special sort of camera. However, a few more things are needed to make the camera work. As mentioned earlier, the front standard is where the lens is mounted. View camera lenses are a little different than DSLR lenses because the shutter is built in, and timing is controlled mechanically right on (or in) the lens. The lenses are able to stay open during composition, letting the light pass through to the glass of the rear element. When ready, the lenses are closed, the timing is set (e.g. 1/60th of a second), and the photographer is ready to make an exposure.
A cable release attaches to the lens so that the photographer doesn’t accidentally cause any vibration to the camera during exposure. Pressing a button on one end of the cable “releases” a mechanical spring in the lens, opening it and letting light through for the specified time.
A focusing loupe is simply a small magnifying glass that the photographer place on the glass of the rear element for fine-tuning focus. Once focus is set, the photographer can lock down the front and rear elements so focus stays set during the rest of the process.
The value of a good tripod can’t be overstated. View cameras are heavy and expensive, and one of the worst feelings for a photographer is watching the whole contraption topple over in a stiff breeze because of a poor quality tripod. My preference is a Gitzo with one of their ball heads. Pricey but on a long hike the ultralight but sturdy carbon fiber and overall ease-of-use makes it worthwhile.
A light meter is required to measure the light reflecting from your subject. This is not built into the lenses or the camera. With experience most photographers can get pretty good at estimating exposure, however a more advanced photographer will also be thinking about what he or she will do back in the darkroom. Being able to precisely measure light and make notes for later film processing is essential.
Film backs hold the film, and each one carries two sheets. These backs are specific to the size of film you’re using I.e. 8”x10” sheets of film cannot hold a 5”x7” sheet of film. The film must be loaded in a darkroom, in total darkness. It can be a cumbersome process at first, as are most things when we can’t use our eyes, however it gets easier with a bit practice.
A dark-cloth is required to cover your camera and your head so you can see the image on the ground glass.
The last of the accessories will be color filters for the lens. Yes, color filters make a significant difference in black and white photography. So much difference that it deserves at least its own article (books have been written on this topic).
Part one in my series on the large format view camera can be found here.