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Snapper

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Can anyone give any recommendations & tips for buying a s/h 5x4? I'm looking for something relatively inexpensive for people new to LF to try out that does the basics well. What brands are the best value that should I look out for and which ones should I avoid, what features should I be looking for? What kind of prices should I be paying?

For example, I saw an Arca Swiss 5x4 go on ebay this morning for £125 ($225 USD). Is this a good camera/price?
 

steve simmons

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Before you buy a camera may I suggest reading

ome of the free artcles on the View Camera web ste http://www.viewcamera.com/archives.html

then go to the free articles secton, there are several that will be helpful

also one or more of these books

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

or
Using the View Camera that I wrote

or

Large Format Nature Photograhy by Jack Dykinga


steve simmons
 
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John Koehrer

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Use of the camera really determines the style. Field vs Studio.
Field cameras generally have more limited movements than Studio/monorail types.
Generally, Field camera are also lighter and less rigid.
Many people have begun LF with Speed Graphics for not a lot of money & when they learn more about what they want or need in terms of greater sophistication or features, move on.
Prices are all over the board, but when a bargain is struck both parties have to feel satisfied. You need to determine your needs & set a value that you would be happy with. Do some research on ebay to see what price ranges are around for items you may be interested in & don't be impatient. Let the market provide you the information.
Check out the view camera articles, knowlege is power.
Good luck
 
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Dave Parker

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I have always found the articles on Steve's website to be informative and very helpful, as well as the magazine.

There are a great many things to take into account and any information you can gather will help you find the right camera for you.

I really wished there had been some of the information resources when I was looking for my first LF camera, I found out the hard way that a studio camera makes a lousy backpacking setup!

Good luck and have fun doing your research.

Dave Parker
Ground Glass Specialties
Satin Snow(TM) Ground Glass
www.satinsnowglass.com
 

John Kasaian

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Snapper,

If you haven't lost interest in view cameras yet, here are my thoughts:

I've heard nothing but good things about arca swiss cameras. Other monorails you might consider are the Graphic View 1 or (preferrable) 2, and the metal Calumets. These are practically bullet proof monorails if you don't mind the bulk and wieght. You might also find Calumet Cadets on the used market. Another monorail you might find used is a Gowland. The main advantage of the Cadets and the Gowland are that they are very light and portable. You can even back pack a Gowland quite easily.

For a wooden camera on a budget, take a look at the Agfa Ansco and Burk & James. They offer lots of movements and bellows that seem to extend for miles. IMHO they are far more portable than most of the monos and offer the option of accepting a 5x7 back if you'd like a try at alternative contact processes. Quite nice if they are found in good condition and are usually quite cheap. They do need a heavier tripod though, especially with the bellows way out there! If they were used hard, you might also find them a bit wobbly but that can usually be fixed.

If you want to backpack look at the Tachihara and Ikeda field cameras. They are very compact and don't wiegh much. The limitations are the bellows length(I think 240mm worth is about all you'll usually get) and they seem to command higher prices when used(Ikedas seem to run a bit less than the Tachis though) They may also appear a bit more wobbly with age, but again, that might be fixable. The advantages are that you'll be able to use a lighter duty tripod which will further decrease the overall wieght of your kit.

If you want a technical camera I think most will be out of your budget. Some people think highly of the MPP which you might find affordable. I'd be hesitant about getting a Linhof Technica older than the MK3 and if you do find the MK3 in your price its likely to be close to if not DOA. That leaves the Super Graphic but again one in good shape will more than likely come with a premium price tag.

Press cameras like the Speed and Crown are certainly fun to play with and useable for a variety of different types of photography (and handholdable too!) but if your objective is to really learn about view camera movements and other neat stuff you'll soon become aware or their limitations.

For a lens on a budget....well thats another post that will no doubt get hijacked!

Don't dispair!
 

roteague

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Snapper said:
What brands are the best value that should I look out for and which ones should I avoid, what features should I be looking for? What kind of prices should I be paying?

Toyo has a really nice little camera, the 45CF is priced right. It has a carbon fiber body, so it is lightweight. The price is under $700 (US). I can't really tell you much about it though. I have a Toyo 45 AII which I like a lot, there is also a Toyo 45A, a lot like the AII, minus the rotating back (a big minus). I'm very happy with my Toyo; I even managed to drop it into the surf a few months ago, and it is still holding up just fine.
 

Aggie

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If you have a shop near you, rent one for the weekend, and play with it. If you have a firend near, go with them one day and see how it all works. Reading a article or a book is one thing, but having it in your hands is entirely different. What i found befuddling was yes the books showed the movements, but they didn't show me the actual knobs and such on my camera for me to get it all right. Once I had a pretzel like bellows for one shot, that for some dumb luck turned out ok. The best suggestion I got was to always take your camera after the shot back to its squared up position. I also learned quite a it about cameras and their purchase from the LF forum. Tuan's site is marvelous for the really in depth coverage of all those little bits you didn't know you needed to know. Also if you have the money and the time, I strongly suggest you take a workshop where you will be given the opportunity to play with a camera, or different cameras. You can then discuss with the teacher the various aspects of what you want to do and have them show you how to use the camera so that you can make a better decision.


spell check is not working again so sorry if there are typos
 
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Jorge

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Snapper said:
Can anyone give any recommendations & tips for buying a s/h 5x4? I'm looking for something relatively inexpensive for people new to LF to try out that does the basics well. What brands are the best value that should I look out for and which ones should I avoid, what features should I be looking for? What kind of prices should I be paying?

For example, I saw an Arca Swiss 5x4 go on ebay this morning for £125 ($225 USD). Is this a good camera/price?

Ok, it depends on the model of the AS and on the mood of the e bay gods, sometimes I have seen incredible steals, sometimes I have seen people loose their mind and get in a bidding war.

I would first determine what kind of photography you like to do. If you like architecture, then the requirements, even for an entry level camera are greater than for lets say landscape. If lanscape is your thing I would look for a well kept crown graphic, I had one and I loved the gizmo, and even got to use it at the renassaince festival hand held. You dont need much movements for landscape and these little cameras are great for starters.

If it is architecture, then you are going to need a camera that offers more movements, these obviously are not as cheap as the graphics or the commonly called "field" cameras that you can fold up. A good little camera for a good price new is the Badger brand. check out the site

http://www.badgergraphic.com/

And look under View cameras for the badger brand.

So, bottom line, tell us what you like to photograph and get back to us and we will be able to give you better options.
 
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jd callow

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This may be off topic but...
The Arca Swiss (I am told) is a good Camera and the price sounds very good.

Sinar F1's can be had for a very reasonable price and are very good. The Sinar has a ton of easily found accessories and, when the time comes, it can be upgraded to the F2 relatively cheaply.
 
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mark

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mrcallow said:
This may be off topic but...
The Arca Swiss (I am told) is a good Camera and the price sounds very good.

Sinar F1's can be had for a very reasonable price and are very good. The Sinar has a ton of easily found accessories and, when the time comes, it can be upgraded to the F2 relatively cheaply.

Back to the topic...
Jorge you are relentless...
and correct.

I LOVE MY SINAR, and the butt load of accessories on Ebay makes it even more economical.
 

jd callow

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Sinar Norma's are arguably a better camera than any of the F's and can be purchased very cheaply. They are built very well and can take most if not all of the modern sinar asseccories.
 
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Dave Parker

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I would love to attend an apug conferance, that would be a blast, and I would get to meet many of the people who have been using my glass, tell me when and where and I will be there!

Dave Parker
Ground Glass Specialties
Satin Snow(TM) Ground Glass
www.satinsnowglass.com

P.S. I would love to go to New Zealand!
 
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My suggestion, an inexpensive cambo monorail. Or see if you can borrow one for a while from a friend... LF is a bit of an acquired taste as far as shooting goes. Not everyone enjoys the slower pace. Before you dive in, is there another way to test the water?

joe :smile:
 
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glbeas

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Actually the cheapest way I know is how I was intro'd, an old Crown Graphic. Portable, enough movements to make some use of and they usually come with a fairly decent lens. A working rangefinder is a real plus too. I've seen complete kits go fairly reasonable on Ebay.
 

jd callow

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Be careful with some of the cheaper monorails. They are often very heavy with Inaccurate or worn zero dents, and overly tightened lock downs. A cumbersome, worn out Calumet Cadet or Combo might be the fastest way to scare someone away from LF. This is not to say these are bad cameras, when properly maintained.
 

photomc

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glbeas said:
Actually the cheapest way I know is how I was intro'd, an old Crown Graphic. Portable, enough movements to make some use of and they usually come with a fairly decent lens. A working rangefinder is a real plus too. I've seen complete kits go fairly reasonable on Ebay.


I agree, though still a beginner with LF I went with a Crown Graphic and must say that I enjoy using it. It does have limited movement, but some of the stuff I have in my personal gallery was done with it . For less than $200 USD and maybe $50 USD for the film holders, some out of date TriX, plus a couple of 25 sheet boxes of Ilfrod FP4+. Still working on development, use a Polaris light meter with a 5 deg. spot attachment - it works for me. At least it has made me decide to start looking for an older 5x7 for contact work, like the large negative. Just my mileage, yours will of course be different - but beware, before long 4x5 may start looking a little small. :wink:
 

jd callow

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Steve that is one in your column...

Meanwhile I had the chance to use a Bush Pressman a couple months ago it has some weak points:
  1. Lens Length (nothing longer than ~240mm or shrter than ~75mm
  2. Rear element size restriction (it wouldn't accept a rear element that exceeds about 58mm)
  3. No rear movements.
  4. non universal back
But it is really cheap (under 200USD) on ebay, very sturdy, hand holdable and has a very good quality feel and smooth operation. There are others here who could offer more input.
 

Dave Parker

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Awe come on Snapper, the large format experiance is one of the best you will ever have, I would probably suggest picking up a Crown Graphic, with a graflok back, it allows some movement and good exposure to the large format field, which is great, it is awe inspiring to throw a 4 x 5 chrome down on the light table, it will take your breath away and inspire you to go bigger, I have now made my way up to 16 x 20 with an ever present desire to go bigger.. Today was just a small side track to what we all do. Jump on board, there are a great many of us willing to help.

Dave Parker
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Satin Snow(TM) Ground Glass
www.satinsnowglass.com
 

raucousimages

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#1
Contact a local camera club, introduce yourself and tell them you need info on LF cameras offer to purchase a couple boxes of film and dinner to go with some of the LF shooters and spend time learning the pros and cons of there cameras.
#2
My choice would be a toyo rail camera as a first LF.
A. Cheap
B. Toyo is good with parts /service.
C. Easy to resell if you move up to beter rail or field camera.
D. Great in studio.
E. Good in field, remove rail and wrap camera in darkcloth. easy to
backpack.
#3
I have several LF cameras but my favorite is a toyo 45 AII.
 
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jd callow

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raucousimages said:
#1
Contact a local camera club, introduce yourself and tell them you need info on LF cameras offer to purchase a couple boxes of film and dinner to go with some of the LF shooters and spend time learning the pros and cons of there cameras.
#2
My choice would be a toyo rail camera as a first LF.
A. Cheap
B. Toyo is good with parts /service.
C. Easy to resell if you move up to beter rail or field camera.
D. Great in studio.
E. Good in field, remove rail and wrap camera in darkcloth. easy to
backpack.
#3
I have several LF cameras but my favorite is a toyo 45 AII.
#4
The rest of you grow up or take it outside. What the hell does this have to do with choosing a first LF camera? I love traditional photography and LF. I want to help more poeple git into it not let them see what asses we can be.
Snapper,
If you are still out there #1 is an excellent suggestion. Not too many photographers would refuse a dinner or a couple beers in reward for showing and talking about their favourite subject. I doubt you would even need to buy the film.
 

Shmoo

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IMHO, if you can rent an LF camera of ANY flavor (field or view camera) and a couple of lenses, do so. It is money well spent. It will give you an idea of the pros and cons of each type. Keep in mind the type of photography you'll be doing, and I'm sure the decision will come to you.

Another way is to take a class where the equipment is provided. Some colleges, universities, local community organizations have them. More often than not, the colleges will have the view camera for studio purposes.

I have used Toyo, Calumet, and Sinar monorail cameras, and all are fine and HEAVY. I ended up buying a Sinar F2 and will probably keep this one. On the other hand, I see the value of a field camera and as my aging aching back complains more and more, will probably end up with a field camera as well.

Oh yeah, keep in mind that the price for most LF cameras does not include a lens. Watch the fine print on those Ebay auctions....

Hope this helps.
 
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Sean

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This thread has been moderated to keep on track.. thanks..
 
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OP
OP
Snapper

Snapper

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Thanks for all your words of wisdom.

I've read some of the articles and I've narrowed it down a bit now - the camera would be used for landscape, interiors and portraiture, but not architecture. What does this mean for the range of movements - just what is Rear Rise and Back Shift - these tend to be the ones left out by a lot of cameras.

I quite like the idea of the folding cameras if it's going to be used for landscape - but what do you sacrifice for the weight and portability in terms of functionality?

I also need something that it is quite easy to get bits and peices for cheap s/h on ebay, such as film holders.
 
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I've read some of the articles and I've narrowed it down a bit now - the camera would be used for landscape, interiors and portraiture, but not architecture. What does this mean for the range of movements - just what is Rear Rise and Back Shift - these tend to be the ones left out by a lot of cameras.
On folding cameras, the rear/back movements add a lot more hardware to the mix... Rather than a hinge that the rear standard attaches to the bed, it becomes a different system. To keep weight and costs lower, so models have less movements for the rear standard.

I quite like the idea of the folding cameras if it's going to be used for landscape - but what do you sacrifice for the weight and portability in terms of functionality?
For landscape, portraiture and interiors you won't need what the other cameras can do... You'll be fine. The biggest consideration you may want to look into are a bag bellows and how short of a lens can you use. If you're doing interiors, you're likely to want wide angle capabilities... Recessed lensboards, being able to put a bag bellows on, minimum extention... These are all things that will be affected.


I also need something that it is quite easy to get bits and peices for cheap s/h on ebay, such as film holders.
Film holders for 4x5 and 8x10 at least are universal... Standard film holders will all work.

joe :smile:
 

RAP

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Personally, my first 4x5 was a Wista Field 45, flat bed, basic movements and easy to fold up and backpack. The movement most used is the rising front for framing and at the outset, all you really need. Mono rails have front and back shifts and rises and can get confusing and distracting. Your initial efforts should be on learning to work with a large ground glass, composing, making photographs and not playing with swings and shifts.

Your biggest concern should be what lenses to buy. That is what really takes the picture, not the camera. Get the best you can afford. Schneider is pretty much the standard. A 180mm Symmar (slight telephoto) and a 110mm (wide angle) Super Symmar are what I recommend.

Also, a good spotmeter, Pentax is the standard. Other accessories are film holders, filters, camera bag, cable releases, books on the Zone System. Think package, system and how the components will interact with each other. Keep it as simple as possible and then go out and get used to what you have, work with it to the point where everything becomes automatic.
 
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