Macro Shots Using a Canon 5D Mark II with a 4×5 Large Format Camera

London-based photographer David Wilman recently did some experiments in which he used a Canon 5D Mark II as a digital back for his MPP 4×5 large format camera. He placed his lens-less 5D at the back of the camera at the film plane and then placed a black cloth over the two cameras to prevent any light from spilling onto the sensor. Light from the Schneider Kreuznach Xenar 4.5/150mm lens entered straight into the open mirror box of the DSLR without any physical link between the two cameras. Wilman was surprised to discovered that this pairing produced quite a respectable macro setup.

Here are some macro shots created from the experiment:

Flowers Test [David Wilman Photography]

Image credits: Photographs by David Wilman and used with permission

  • Christopher Wilocki

    This is the stupidest thing I have ever seen? What in the world is this supposed tp produce? This has NOTHING to do with “4×5″ nor does it produce 4×5 type images. SHOOT 4×5 film is you want something real. Stop hooking digital cameras up to film cameras! It has never and will never produce the same thing.


    I think this great! A marriage of the old and new technologies for the sake of an art form. It was experimentation like this that led to the new technologies!

  • Spider- Man



    did he run these photo through instagram right after?

  • Fotoagraf

    Si sa s koňom zrazil? Keď niečomu nerozumieš, tak sa opýtaj múdrejších a nepíš že je to blbosť. 4×5 inch je maximálny formát, môžeš tam dať okrem toho 6x12cm, 6x9cm, 6x7cm, 6x6cm, 6×4,5cm, kinofilm a digitálny FF Canon. Ako sa ti zachce.

  • Gary B

    You seem to be forgetting one thing with all your irate ranting. There are occasions where this setup could offer a digi camera the advantage of tilt and swing to increase depth of field which a digi macro lens cannot. Sorry, make that two things, if you don’t happen to own a macro lens BUT you do have an old 5×4 camera lying around why not use it if it works for you ? Oh sod it, make it three things… They are his cameras to do what the H$£& he likes with them, I didn’t read anywhere that he said it would replace 5×4, I take it you never digitise your film images ? Give the guy a break…

  • Ranger9

    I “invented” this type of setup years ago when I worked at a really cheap newspaper. We needed a way to make copy negatives of snapshots people would bring in, but the paper wouldn’t spring for a macro lens. However, we did have a couple of old Crown Graphic 4×5 press cameras with their standard 127mm lenses, so I adapted a Pentax MX (film) SLR body to one of them, using the highly sophisticated technology of a piece of cardboard with a hole cut in it!

    In effect, the press camera simply became a rather clunky bellows extension, just as in Wilman’s setup, and it worked fine for copying snapshots with good enough quality to use small on newsprint. I believe someone (Horseman?) makes, or used to make, a more formal adapter for this type of hybridization.

  • Daniel Yu Suzuki

    It’s been done already.
    Also, I think this make it like a 5x crop factor.

  • Les Baldwin

    Yup, it’s been done by several of the LF cameras. The Horseman above if really the best of that movement. The issue? Cost. The Horseman with the digital conversion kit is north of $4k USD

  • Scott Mains

    To be honest, it is exactly as it stated on the title. Shot on a 5D2 with a 5×4 camera. Your rant is at best spouting a bit of resentment that someone has managed to merge two distinct technologies and get pretty good results from it. 

    It produces fantastic resolution macro photography using lenses like schnider, the optics will surpass L series easily. If you want to shoot colour 5×4, then by all means pay £60 for 25 exposures, and a further £5-7 per sheet for developing and a further fist full of dolla’ for high res drum scans. To further add, rather than using destructive methods to retrofit vintage analogue with modern digital technologies, the 5×4 can still shoot film. So, using a digital back to experiment or even proof for fine focus will take the place of instant backs. 

  • DW

    You seem to have missed the entire point of the article, it is just an experiment using a 4×5 camera and a digital sensor giving rise to an interesting macro setup. It is not supposed to replace the quality of the 4×5 or the ease and simplicity of a DSLR but it does take elements of both technologies and combines them into an unusual imaging system.

    I shoot a lot of 4×5 film, i also shoot a lot of digital. Sometimes I combine the two to give results that neither system can do on its own.

  • Eyedig

    Good for him, I enjoyed the shots. No bitching and complaining here…oh wait…

  • Tintinartboy

    hey there, did you make the back for your canon to attach or did you buy it? just wondering as i am in the process of trying to use a nikon as a proofing back for my mpp? cheers.

  • DW

    Hi there, that setup simply has the 5Dmk2 held behind the 5×4 using a magic arm with a black velvet cloth used to minimise any stray light from leaking in. Im in the process of taking an EOS mount from a broken lens and fitting it to a plate so the whole system is a little more robust and mechanically stable (the magic arm setup was a little wobbly and the focal plane was a little off ange).

    I’ed say you might run into trouble using a DSLR as a proofing back as the bulk of the camera body meant that the sensor was quite far behind from where the film plane would be. All depends on what you are need from the setup!

    Best of luck – let me know how you get on!

  • Tiktian C

    the vast majority of large format lenses whether they be made by schneider, rodenstock, zeiss, nikon, or fuji don’t resolve nearly as much as higher end 35mm and other small format lenses, they don’t need to to out resolve the small formats