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Snapper

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The MPP seems to crop up a lot on Ebay at reasonable prices - is this a good camera for someone starting new to LF who wants a field camera? Pro's and con's?
 

Tom Stanworth

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I have a Mk VII.

Good range of movements, heavy, erm heavy, could be melted down to produce several tanks in times of war. Rigid and easy to use - the design of the back for movements is great. Not great for short lenses (less than 90mm) - perfect for up to 300ish. Plenty of panels about....can chuck it in the boot of a car without it getting damaged, tho you might wreck the boot. Don't drop it on your foot. If only MPP had built the Titanic. Great indoors, great outdoors if you happy to carry the weight (noty sure what it actually weighs). Basically a less posh Technica.

My advice; get something cheap like an MPP to get you on the road, then save up for an Ebony. After an Ebony, there is no going back. The problem is they hold their value rather too well. I would love to upgrade my RSW45 to a 45SU or similar, but have not yet won the lottery.

If you can get an MPP cheap enough, it would be a great way to start- -its what I started on. Mine is for sale I s'pose - decent working condition. PM if you have any more specific questions.

Tom
 

Les McLean

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I've been using a Mark VII for nearly 25 years and wouldn't change it for anything. As Tom says, it's built like a battleship and is an ideal starter for you. I understand that there are many out there going quite cheap. Have fun when you get it.
 
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The heyday of the MPP was the few years after WWII when the British market was protected from foreign competition by heavy import duties. As soon as this protection went, the brand died! The Mark VII is generally agreed to be the best of the bunch, great for lenses of 150 to 210 mm, designed for wide-angles no shorter than 90 mm but will accept down to 65mm, wide-angle track becomes wobbly when extended fully in conjunction with drop bed, camera has triple-extension bellows but the triple-extension rack is so wobbly as to be unusable out of doors. To fit a lens you have to introduce it into the camera throat at an angle and then push it back, because of this many lenses with a bulky rear projection will not fit. The front tilt adjustment is a lulu, when it wears the tiny lever moves so far back that you need a screwdriver to loosen it. In general, the considerable weight does not equal precision and stability. I had a Mark VII for a while but then went over to a Speed Graphic - lighter but more stable. By the time MPP built the Mark VIII (best spec on paper), things were going downhill - I had one that had metallurgical problems with embrittlement leading to thread stripping. etc. A Linhof Technika makes any MPP look silly!

Regards,

David
 

Seele

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David,

Sorry for coming in late.

When I was living in the old country (the UK) I used both MPP and Linhof and generally prefer the MPP. Now I use a Mk VII mainly but also have a Mk III with focal plane shutter in need of some replacement parts (I might commit the sacrilege of removing the FPS to return it to its basic trim).

A year or so ago a friend was looking into making a start in large format and I recommended an MPP Mk VII, and he acquired one from a dealer, he never looked back and produced effective, saleable and prize-winning pictures. Regarding wide-angle compatibility, I have no problem with using lenses like Super Dagor or Angulon 90mm, and even my 65mm Grandagon-N, all on flat lensboards which I can make very inexpensively.

As long as all the bits are complete and working correctly, I do not think a Mk VII MPP would be less than an effect tool for photography. Just don't expect to use the rangefinder though!
 

roy

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Seele said:
David,
As long as all the bits are complete and working correctly, I do not think a Mk VII MPP would be less than an effect tool for photography. Just don't expect to use the rangefinder though!

I have an ex military (WD) mark VI / VII (the exact model is not discernable - it seems like a hybrid) cross. It weighs the proverbial ton and, although I have never possessed a 5x4 enlarger, I intend to use it for contact printing if I can build up the strength to master it !![
 
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Would not disagree with above opinions. As I said, though, the way the lens is inserted means that there are surprises in terms of what will and will not fit. MPP intended those needing a 90 mm to use an f6.8 Angulon on a domed panel. This fits easily and gives a good focusing range on the wide-angle track before this reaches the wobbly stage. Downside is that the front standard is fully back at infinity, bellows are fully compressed - no shift movements possible! An "egg-timer" 90 mm like my f8 Nikor SW will not fit on a flat panel - others may, it's a matter of a millimetre or two! Another lens I could not fit was a 240 mm Tele-Arton, although a 360 mm Tele-Xenar was fine (less rear projection).
My reason for going to a Speed Graphic was that I am doing a project using a 500 mm telephoto with a back focus of about 295 mm and need this to be as rigid as possible - the MPP did not inspire confidence here. With shorter lenses, the MPP is excellent - I know John Blakemore uses only an MPP with a 150 mm Symmar - his tulip pictures with all those multiple exposures definitely prove that the camera will stay locked up and solid with a lens of this length.
My comparison of Linhof and MPP was based on numerous Linhofs I have handled over the years - I currently have a Linhof Standard Press (9 x 12 cm, converted to 4x5") which is about 55 years old and which I feel still operates more smoothly than a younger MPP. I am not suggesting that MPP cameras are not usable, but I think it's important to be aware of their limitations - after all, the #1 requirement with an LF camera is not the choice of movements but adequate rigidity, lack of which will ruin every shot!

Regards,

David

PS: The rangefinder. Although most MPP owners today do not bother with the rangefinder, it is not difficult to make a cam template by trial and error out of cardboard and then replicate this in flat aluminum.The only specialist tool you need is the right screw tap to cut a thread in the cam.
 

Seele

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Roy,

If you fancy the idea of doing some enlargement I don't think it will break your bank to procure a 4X5 enlarger nowadays. About fifteen years ago I acquired a 1949 model Wasp through "Trading Post" (the Australian equivalence of "Exchange & Mart") for the equivalence of 20 pounds, I had an adapter made so as to make it take a later Schneider Componon 150mm enlarging lens, took it apart and had it refitted to the highest possible accuracy, and of course built a custom negative carrier for it too. I remember during my short period working for Kentish Times as a photographer in the mid eighties, there was another one of those Wasp enlargers which had been the workhorse for eons, and I feel sure that there would be plenty of large format enlargers in the UK languishing away somewhere, waiting to be put back into service.

David, you have good points too. For me, the MPP suits my purpose: I do not really use heavy lenses with it, in fact I haven't used my 210mm Symmar-S for some time as I favour the 203mm Ektar, so the heaviest I am likely to use with it is pretty much the 250mm Tele-Tessar which dies not require much extension anyway. As usual, horses for courses, and for me the MPP serves me better.

At the MPP Users website there are plenty of information and tips, worth a look.
 

roy

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Seele said:
Roy,
If you fancy the idea of doing some enlargement I don't think it will break your bank to procure a 4X5 enlarger nowadays.

I agree. My problem is that my darkroom is in my loft and most 5x4 enlargers have a higher column than would fit within the joists etc. Believe me, I have passed over many an enlarger because of column height or light box size, factors which when combined will often not fit between rafters etc.
 

Tom Stanworth

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An Ahel 5x4 is no larger than a MF enlarger. I have one which was on sale on ebay (did not sell). It is a condesnser and is very simple in construction. It also has such a design that bodging a diffussion panel inside would be easy should you desire. I have decided to keep mine as it is great for flashing paper and produces bitingly sharp prints off grainy films which work wonderfully in Lith (as I just discovered). They are small, Light, reasonably stable for a table top enlarger and have nothing that could go wrong (apart from a light bulb!).

Tom
 

Ole

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Same with the Rajah that's cluttering up my basement. It needs new wiring, since the previous owner dismantled it for shipping by cutting all the connecting wires... Then when I had just started cleaning it, I got an offer of a Durst 138S, which is an entirely different beast. But the Rajah 4x5" is no larger than my Opemus 6 MF enlarger.

I might yet fix it up for enlarging 6x9 negatives...
 

roy

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I am fairly certain to stick with what I have got and will use my current Durst for any silver printing I do and for making enlarged negatives. Fired up by the inspirational Francesco and Jorge, I am going to try to concentrate more on contact printing although I have to say that I am drawn to the warmth of the palladium process. It is all academic at the moment as I have just had a hip replaced and cannot go anywhere that is going to involve climbing or bending !
 

sabes

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MPP MK VII 5x4

Hi,

Is £640 too much to pay for an MPP MK VII 5X4 camera and a 135 mm schenider 5.6 reversible lens? When reversed the lens is 235 mm 12f?

Thanks

Sabes
 
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sabes said:
Hi,

Is £640 too much to pay for an MPP MK VII 5X4 camera and a 135 mm schenider 5.6 reversible lens? When reversed the lens is 235 mm 12f?

Thanks

Sabes
I just sold my Mark VII in Exc++ condition (signs of light use) plus an Exc+ 150 mm Xenar (signs of use, glass 100% clean, 100% working) to a friend for £270. E-bay price for the outift you mention in Exc++ condition (there are plenty around like this) should be around £400. For more money than this, I think you should be getting at least a newer lens (Symmar S instead of convertible Symmar) or a bunch of accessories such as an extra lens, film holders, case, tripod, etc.
 

Bob F.

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sabes said:
Hi,

Is £640 too much to pay for an MPP MK VII 5X4 camera and a 135 mm schenider 5.6 reversible lens? When reversed the lens is 235 mm 12f?

Thanks

Sabes

I assume you are referring to this one? Then, yes, it looks very high given that one with 3 lenses went for much the same price 3 days earlier, although this one does seem to be in very good condition. Frankly, the auction description is full of so much (inaccurate) hyperbole I would think twice about buying from that seller at any price... As a general tip, always use the "Completed listings" on the advanced search page on ebay to see what similar items have gone for in the previous 3 months - or better still, see if any online user groups have a for-sale section on their web site.

BTW, the lens is not "reversible" as it says in the auction - it is "convertible": you unscrew the front element of the lens (i.e. everything in front of the shutter) to get the longer focal length (but stop-down and/or use a yellow filter to improve quality).

Sorry if this is bad news.... Bob.
 
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I agree with every word you say Bob, but what about the power of hyperbole? It took this camera up from an opening price of £100 to a shattering £641, driven by 18 bidders.This guy could sell sand to the Arabs!

Regards,

David
 

Bob F.

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David H. Bebbington said:
I agree with every word you say Bob, but what about the power of hyperbole? It took this camera up from an opening price of £100 to a shattering £641, driven by 18 bidders.This guy could sell sand to the Arabs!

Regards,

David

Yup, full marks for selling ability!

Caveat emptor, as always...


Bob.
 
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David H. Bebbington said:
Would not disagree with above opinions. As I said, though, the way the lens is inserted means that there are surprises in terms of what will and will not fit. MPP intended those needing a 90 mm to use an f6.8 Angulon on a domed panel. This fits easily and gives a good focusing range on the wide-angle track before this reaches the wobbly stage. Downside is that the front standard is fully back at infinity, bellows are fully compressed - no shift movements possible! An "egg-timer" 90 mm like my f8 Nikor SW will not fit on a flat panel - others may, it's a matter of a millimetre or two! Another lens I could not fit was a 240 mm Tele-Arton, although a 360 mm Tele-Xenar was fine (less rear projection).
My reason for going to a Speed Graphic was that I am doing a project using a 500 mm telephoto with a back focus of about 295 mm and need this to be as rigid as possible - the MPP did not inspire confidence here. With shorter lenses, the MPP is excellent - I know John Blakemore uses only an MPP with a 150 mm Symmar - his tulip pictures with all those multiple exposures definitely prove that the camera will stay locked up and solid with a lens of this length.
My comparison of Linhof and MPP was based on numerous Linhofs I have handled over the years - I currently have a Linhof Standard Press (9 x 12 cm, converted to 4x5") which is about 55 years old and which I feel still operates more smoothly than a younger MPP. I am not suggesting that MPP cameras are not usable, but I think it's important to be aware of their limitations - after all, the #1 requirement with an LF camera is not the choice of movements but adequate rigidity, lack of which will ruin every shot!

Regards,

David

PS: The rangefinder. Although most MPP owners today do not bother with the rangefinder, it is not difficult to make a cam template by trial and error out of cardboard and then replicate this in flat aluminum.The only specialist tool you need is the right screw tap to cut a thread in the cam.

In John Blakemore`s book: `John Blakemore`s Black & White Photography Workshop` it mentions on page 36 that he uses a 180mm Symmar-S although it doesn`t say if it is the APO or non-APO version or which version of the MPP he uses. Out of curiosity, does any one know?
 
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