What are the best 4x5 camera's to buy for portraits?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by moodlover, Sep 9, 2017.

  1. moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    I am interested potentially diving into 4x5 as I've used medium format for a while but need a dreamier look for some projects. Will of course be buying the Kodak Aero Ektar 178mm f/2.5 lens with the body unless anyone has any suggestions for a similar dreamy look.

    I have to travel by public transportation an hour to my studio at the moment so I am wondering are there any great 4x5 bodies that are really portable, affordable, easy to use, set-up quickly? Recommendations and advice welcome, thanks!
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  2. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    The 7"/2.5 Aero-Ektar doesn't have a shutter and can't easily/inexpensively be put in shutter. Speed Graphics have focal plane shutters. Problem solved.

    If you really know nothing, you should buy one of the several books that are usually recommended to LF beginners. They're much more informative than the random answers you'll get here.

    This link https://1drv.ms/b/s!AggQfcczvHGNkGG_P2z8Qiyc8Qo- will take you to a page that lists them and that has links to useful sources of information.
     
  3. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    moodlover

    a graphic view II is a monorail camera. while it is portable ( like a casket ),
    it doesn't have an internal/focal plane shutter ( unless you have a packard shutter / something similar )
    and it isn't really very small.
    it has a long triangular rail and when put away the camera is usually inverted and upside down in a fiber box
    that is about 2feet long 1foot high and 9" wide. it can be carted around ... its heavy bulky ...
    the speed graphic ( or maybe a graflex slr ? ) might be more useful since there is a shutter inside the camera,
    barrel lenses can easily be used.
    not sure what the person you linked to is doing process wise---cross processed tungsten film is all it says ..
    maybe over exposing it like mad, or ND filters ?
    so he doesn't need more than a lens cap as a shutter, he's also shooting wet plate
    which is seconds, not fractions of a second for exposures ...
    if you go to graflex.org poke around and you will see what speed graphics, graflex slrs, and graphic view IIs are.
    i saw the other post about the MF camera ... if something is custom made, it ALWAYS costs a lot of $$
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  5. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    For someone who's not familiar with them, the CROWN does not have the internal shutter referred to above. The SPEED Graphic is what you're looking for.
     
  6. Richard Man

    Richard Man Member

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    "Dreamier look" can be done with old lens, bad lens, good portrait lens, soft focus lens, 8x10,... photoshop etc. Note that most old-school Hollywood look is in fact done by lighting and lots of retouching (photoshop) So it's kind of depends on which dreamy look you are after. If you like the look of the AeroEktar, you should keep around. There were a couple for sale recently with bodies. Just be forewarned, the DoF is really razor thin and the things weighs about 80 lbs (might be exaggerating slightly)
     
  7. Richard Man

    Richard Man Member

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    Personally I shoot ~300 4x5 portraits a year for my projects and I use two field cameras. Chamonix if light weight is important, and Gibellini if not. The Gibellini is more sturdy so I feel more confident with it with the big Cooke PS945 lens.
     
  8. ransel

    ransel Subscriber

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    A Speed Graphic in decent usable condition can be had for $200 give or take. A modern version of a 190mm Wollaston Meniscus lens made by Reinhold Schable costs less than $100 US and is very well made and much lighter and much less costly than a 178mm Areo and yields a nice dreamy look depending on the aperture. Personally, that 190mm lens on my Graflex Series D 4X5 is my favorite combination.
     
  9. Jerevan

    Jerevan Member

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    If you want to skip the hassle of 4x5", keep on looking for something like an Imagon (or a Wollaston previously mentioned) that is adapted to medium format (Pentax 67, Mamiya RB/RZ or the Hasselblad 200 series). They come up regularly on Ebay.
     
  10. Ko.Fe.

    Ko.Fe. Subscriber

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    For portraits and at small 4x5 you need as better ground glass as possible. Lens is not what important, IMO. Good light, good film and correct developing will contribute much more than lens, IMO.
     
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Thanks for all the input guys, I've decided to go with a Graflex Speed Graphic for portability, the internal shutter and compatibility with the Kodak Aero 178mm f/2.5 lens! This seems to be the most popular option. Does anyone know if I should be looking for a certain year/model (Pacemaker, Anniversary, etc) or does it not matter much?
     
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Well of course I'd like to skip the hassle but I haven't found much about replicating that Aero Ektar f/2.5 look on medium format. I like your suggestion but I have no idea which imagon to look for or how to mount it to my RZ67.
     
  13. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    I agree with you there, I need a bright ground glass. How can I ensure my 4x5 body has a good ground glass?
     
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  15. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I don't see much of this lens available on eBay so while I've love to get a similar lens to the Aero Ektar and open to other suggestions, theyd have to be easily available.
     
  16. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    As a person coming from a smaller format world , when I first went to large format I thought the cool field cameras were the way to go, then I borrowed a simple Toyo and now Sinar and started working with them, to my
    surprise the more simple studio type of camera suited my needs .

    so my point is to the OP, rent a few of them , take them out and see which one works best in your hands.. then you will have found the best portrait camera.
     
  17. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    I bought my Speed in 1966, don't know how may shots I have taken with it (1000s), need to replace the rangefinder, keep in mind that the focal plan shutters are now 40+ years old, last models the Super Speed was made in the early 70s. The shutter may not be accurate, the cloth may be pin holes. At this point don't know who can CLA a Speed. If you can find another lens with a shutter that gives you the look you are after I would think about a Crown, just less to go wrong.
     
  18. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Paul, the Super Speed Graphic doesn't have a focal plane shutter. It won't work well with a lens that lacks a shutter.

    The SSG is a plain Super Graphic (metal-bodied press camera with no focal plane shutter) fitted with a lens in a Graflex-made shutter whose top speed is 1/1000.
     
  19. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Subscriber

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    So many years forgot that the SSG was really a Crown. So that takes the traditional Speeds with a focal plan shutter back 50 years. Who repairs speeds? I have both a Speed and a Crown, I like the Crown as it is lighter. Have never used a Kodak Areo, is there a leaf shutter that will fit?
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    No idea who repairs them now.

    AFAIK the 7"/2.5 Aero Ektar's cells aren't direct fits in any standard shutter. See http://www.skgrimes.com/whats-new/2007-2/aero-ektar-to-a-speed-graphic Discouraging, eh?

    There are other ways to put a behind-the-lens shutter on some view cameras. Packard shutters and a variety of Sinar-Copal shutters come to mind. Its also possible to hang a leaf shutter in front of the lens, but I suspect -- don't have a lens handy to measure -- that only shutters with slow fastest speeds will do.
     
  21. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    you might also look to see what lensbaby has to offer.
    they have meniscus and imageon type lenses in their line up
    and some of their lenses offer movements which will distort an image
    and give it the appearance of super shallow DOF.
    mark tucker had his plunger cam back in the day, it was a monocular viewer
    he mountd on his hassel blad which did similar things ..

    go with a pacemaker, its a newer camera and often times has a graflok back.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  22. ransel

    ransel Subscriber

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    He sells them ( 190mm Wollaston Meniscus lens ) from his website, new, made to order, like $75 plus shipping.
     
  23. Jerevan

    Jerevan Member

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    For the sake of completeness, I was thiniking of something like this: http://www.ebay.com/itm/Near-Mint-R...292017?hash=item466af72331:g:ouQAAOSwS8xZgKUN - basically a Rodenstock Imagon 200 mm lens set up to be used with a medium format camera.

    When it comes to the Mamiya RZ, what about the 110/2.8 or the soft focus 180/4 lens? Just adding some ideas and options to the mix.:smile:
     
  24. Theo Sulphate

    Theo Sulphate Subscriber

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    Main thing is that it has a Graflok back in order to use common film holders. Both Anniversary and Pacemaker have Graflok backs.

    I think Pacemaker is better because of easier to use focal-plane selections and also top-mounted rangefinder.
     
  25. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    The Graflok back was introduced in 1949. All Graphics made before then were delivered with spring backs (common) or Graflex backs (optional, rare). Retrofit Graflok backs were offered for Annies and Miniature Speed Graphics. Some, not all, of these cameras have been retrofitted.

    Pacemaker Graphics came to market in 1947, were originally delivered with spring backs (common) or Graflex backs (optional, rare). Graflok backs were an option from 1949 - 1951, after that were the default back for Graphics. The Graflex back became an option.

    The top-mounted rangefinder was introduced for 4x5 Pacemaker Crown and Speed Graphics in 1955.

    Another example of a person who doesn't know advising another of the same.
     
  26. OP
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    moodlover

    moodlover Member

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    Thanks, I checked out the photo gallery. Unfortunately a lot of the portraits don't really display a shallow DOF the way an Aero Ektar 178mm open wide does. Not to mention, many of the photos have this overwhelming glow that looks like a cheap Photoshop effect!
     
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