On a recent visit to the folk’s house, I went fishing through the garage and discovered an old, but pristine camera case. Inside was a 4×5 camera, a Linhof Technika from the fifties. There were German lenses, film holders, and various unfamiliar accesories. There was also 4×5 film that had to be 50 years old. I brought the camera case into the house, and was about to open it up when I heard, ” do not touch that camera.” Turns out this was “Murray’s Linfhoff” and I was not worthy of holding it. I guess the fact that I walk around without lens caps, or a proper camera case does not bode well for me touching my dad’s 4×5.
I was however, permitted to borrow the camera manual which is in itself a piece of art. I’ve been reading and researching these amazing instruments, and yes, you just don’t grab a 4×5 like you do your point and shoot. It turns out that some of the oldest cameras around are still the best cameras around, and all the digital technology in the world cannot touch the image quality of this 50 year old 4×5 camera. Here’s something from the manual:
“Photography’s function is to record the world we live in, accurately, clearly, in all its true color, as our eyes see it. A photograph should omit nothing, add nothing; a concise definition of its real function, which at times would seem to have been forgotten. This absolute truth to nature is a matter for photographic technique. True perspective, such as one is accustomed to in ordinary vision, critical sharpness, giving clear rendering of the most minute detail, and the full scale of tones and colors one would like to recognize in one’s pictures. ” (from Linhof manual 1957)
A far cry from photoshop! No surprize that with this type of schooling Murray does not “do digital.” And I’ve been missing the old preparation when composing a photograph. The age of motordrives and fast firing lenses has really ruined the calmness of carefully setting up a photograph, and I’m thinking I’m ready for a return to a camera that”s older than I am, so next time I visit Murray, I’m going to ask for a lesson on the Linhof.
Maybe he’ll let me hold the camera this time.