Michael Collins Workshop

After having the talk from Michael Collins we was given a workshop by him on how to use the 5 x 4 film camera. Here we were split into a group of 6 people.

How To Use the Camera

To use the camera you have to first choose the place where you are setting up, also taking into account the amount of distance that you need. When this is decided then you are able to set up the tripod and camera so that they are level. To be certain you can measure this out using a spirit level, on the different parts/ the camera, the sides and the base underneath the lens.

From this you then attach the lens and open the camera to full aperture. Followed by using the knob at the side of the camera to focus the image along with making adjustments by considering the ground glass. If you then need to alter anything you then use the tilts to do so and to make the composition correct for your image.

Next using the exposure meter works out what is most important in the image and what are the best settings given by the meter.

Afterwards you can close the lens, cock the shutter and place the film holder (already loaded) in between the two groves – locking it in tightly.

From this you make your final checks that everything is correct before removing the dark slide. Once the dark slide is removed you can see the subject clearly, however they will also appear upside down too. Finally press the cable release to fire the shutter. Then put the dark slide back in and remove the film holder.


With each canister you can have two images per slide otherwise for best chances of the image. You can shoot the same image twice so that you have the best possible outcome from them.


This camera I found interesting to use, as it was something that was new to me. However, through looking at the size of it I was quite nervous to use it. I did feel more reassured after being talked through it though as it reminded me of the Mamiya RB and 6 x 7. Although I still didn’t feel confident with it much I think though that if I have practice and get use to using it then I will be fine afterwards but until then it may take some practice. It is something that I would like to get to grips with using though.


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