4x5 camera.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by kjsphoto, Jun 3, 2004.

  1. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    I have always shot with 35 or MF cameras and I now want to get into 4x5 but I do not know too much about it other than I love the quality. I have heard difference between 4x5 Field and 4x5 View. I am looking to backpack with the camera once I learn how to use it so I think I am wanting to get a field camera. I do however all the tilts and swings as well. I have printed many 4x5 negatives / chromes and up but never really get into it as it was expensive and I was happy with MF. But now as prices are much better than a few years ago it looks like it is time to step it up a notch.

    Do you know where I couple buy a nice package at a reasonable price. I really do not want to go the ebay route though.


    Thanks,

    Kev
     
  2. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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    i too have recently made the move to 4x5, and knowing very little, bought a dercent kit on ebay. i'm happy with it, but i've learned so much more since then. may i suggest you consider the camera in this review: http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/anba.htm since you've indicated you want to back pack and still have extensive view camera movements. in any case Badgergraphic.com seems to be a pretty good place to see what's available and/or perhaps shop. good luck.
     
  3. jovo

    jovo Membership Council Council

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  4. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    I have used 4X5 for about 20 years. If I were doing what you are contemplating all over again, I would begin with the decision on the lens focal lengths that I normally used in 35 mm or med format. The lens focal lengths on 4X5 are triple the equivalent focal lengths in 35 mm.

    From that decision, I would then choose the camera bellows extension and bellows configuration the best afforded the lens selection.

    For instance if you are more inclined to wide angle 28 mm in 35 mm then the equivalent 4X5 lens would be 90 mm. This lens will normally require a bag bellows if one uses movements. The use of rise and tilt, for instance, would be very limited with standard bellows. Does the camera that you are considering have the capability of interchangeable bellows?

    On the other hand if you have a telephoto preference. If, for instance, you use a 105 mm in 35 mm then the nearest equivalent lens on 4X5 would be a 305mm. Does the camera that you are considering have sufficient bellows extension to accomodate such a lens? Fifteen inches would be needed for usage other the infinity with that focal length and an 18 inch extension would be preferable.

    For landscape photography the single most important camera movement is tilt, both front and rear. Next would be rise/fall. Last would be swing with rear swing being more important the front swing. However swing on both standards is nice to have. The next question to be answered in regard to tilt movements is whether you want base or axis tilt. These are not the same and will have different effects. I prefer base tilt on the rear standard and both axis and base tilt on the front standard.

    If you don't want to use Ebay then I can highly recommend Midwest Photo in Columbus, Ohio. Good people, fair prices, and outstanding service. If you want a new camera the I would suggest Canham, Wisner, Zone VI.

    Good luck and have fun.
     
  5. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    I'll second Midwest Photo (www.mpex.com); talk to Jim Andracki. Also, there's Badger graphic (www.badgergraphic.com), talk to Jeff Taugner. And don't forget Quality Camera (www.qualitycamera.com), ask for Jeff Wheeler.

    None of these folks will steer you wrong.

    Steve
     
  6. wdemere

    wdemere Member

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    why a new camera?

    If you just want a starter field camera, then I'm not sure a new camera is the best thing to do, especially if you are on a budget. I suggest reading everything at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ and possibly getting a graflex or something similar. For example, I have a Meridian 45B with just about all of the movements that you would ever need (and more). It doesn't have a removable groundglass, but I haven't found a need for that yet.

    Once you really get comfortable with the 4x5 then you will be ready to buy a new 8x10 :smile:

    For lenses, see http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/kit.html for a good rundown of inexpensive (and some not so) lenses.

    I also have to mention that the best way to do large format for cheap is an old Polaroid 100 or 101 and a pack of 665. $15 on Ebay. See http://www.rwhirled.com/landlist/landhome.htm

    If you aren't concerned about the cost, then there are a lot of great cameras available new, but it adds up quick.


    Best,

    William
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    lfphoto.info is a great source for info about getting started in large format with lots of practical information and equipment reviews. Also check the _View Camera_ magazine website, which I think has an article about getting started in 4x5", and you might take a look at Steve Simmons' book, _Using the View Camera_ for some basic information in an easily understandable format.

    Fish around on Kerry Thalmann's site, mentioned above, since he's written quite a bit on backpacking with a 4x5" camera, lightweight cameras, and lightweight lenses. There are some backpacking threads as well at the Q&A forum at lfphoto.info.
     
  8. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    First of all I'd like to disagree with what's been said about focal lengths. I have found myself using wider and wider lenses as I go up in size. I prefer 100mm of TF (TinyFormat), 75mm in MF, 135mm in 4x5", 150mm in 5x7". So far I have only a 165mm for 8x10"(really 18x24cm), and I fear I could get used to it. I also wonder about an antique 135mm WA lens I came across...

    So if you like long lenses in TF, it doesn't necessarily follow that you'll want a 300mm lens for 4x5".

    Front tilt and rise are the most important movements. Rear tilt is very nice. Rear swing would be my next choise, even before front swing. But that's because my landscapes are almost vertical...
     
  9. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    In MF I use a 150 and 50 quite a bit in 35mm I use 17, 35, 50, 105 so really I am all over the place when it comes to lens use. Now I am confused.
     
  10. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi there

    if avoiding the ebay route - you might check out use dealers like keh camera brokers. some say they are rather expensive, but i have found their prices for large format lenses to be okay, and their descriptions to be accurate.

    you might also check out a place in oregon - equinoxphotographic.com -
    they usually have a bunch of large format camera gear, and their prices are really reasonable, not to mention they are really nice folks. they guy that runs it, is an avid photographer so he can also answer questions you might have if you are looking for lenses & stuff.

    good luck!

    - john
     
  11. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Hi Kevin,

    I find myself using mostly wide angles with 4x5 (APO-Grandagon 55mm/4.5) and 5x7 (Super Symmar XL 110mm/5.6).

    Time will tell which lenses I'll end up preferring on my new 8x10 - but I suspect they will mostly be 260mm and shorter focal lengths.

    With MF (6x12cm, 6x9, 6x7 and 6x6) I find myself using the APO-Grandagon 55mm/4.5 and Super Symmar XL 110mm/5.6 about 90% of the time. I also shoot some macro stuff with my 150mm Apo Rodagon.

    I rarely shoot 35mm any more, but when I do, about 80% of my pictures are with my 16mm, 18mm, 20mm and 28mm wide angles. The other 20% are taken with my 60mm and 100mm macro lenses and my 100mm - 300mm Zeiss zoom lens.
     
  12. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    I picked up a used Toko (yes Toko not Toyo) from a local camera store. It's a field camera, with front rise, front swing, rear tilt, rear shift and rear swing. Much like a Wista. In fact it even came with a Wista focusing screen (which leads me to believe many of these cameras come out of the same factory).

    My first lens was a 210mm. I quickly bought a 90mm because I use WA a lot in 35 and MF. My next lens was a 150 (near normal ie: 50mm in 35), then a 65mm. Just had to have that really wide look ya know. Then I finally got a 300mm (near 100mm in 35).

    At first I used the 90 the most followed by the 150. Then it was the 150 followed by the 90 (poor 210 was ignored). Then I started using the 210 and now use the 300 the most. Go figure!

    How I shoot in LF, or better yet how I see when shooting LF is different than when I haul out the TF or MF stuff.

    I picked the field camera up for about $400 and most of the lenses are from eBay. I've never had a problem todate (knock head).

    So I guess what I am saying is don't try and equate what you do in 35 to what you will end up doing in LF. My advise would be to start off with a 150mm lens and go from there. See if you can borrow some of your buddies LF lenses while you are out shooting together to see how you like them.

    Good luck.

    Eric

    BTW Kev, love your photography, you have an excellent eye.
     
  13. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Hello Eric,

    Thank you very much aout the photogrpahs and thank you for the advice. Unfortunately most of my friends that have LF no longer live near me as I moved :sad:

    I am thinking that probably a 90 and 250 would do for now. Now I just have to find a camera with all the movement and semi light weight so I can pack it around. I am ready to step it up a notch and really want to get into 4x5 even though I never used one.

    Another problem is that I have to buy on line as I live pretty far out and stores are not around or close to me so a lot of research and reading is what I have to do.

    Thank you again,

    Kev
     
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  15. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    Kev you should look at taking the Oregon workshop I mentioned under member organized activities. It's with Don Kirby. He's amazing! It will be mainly LF people at the workshop and I bet there will be some stuff for sale as well.

    I'm taking it. It would be great to see you there.
     
  16. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    I was actually planning on taking a trip up to Oregon. When is the workshop?

    This could be interesting.

    Thanks,

    Kev
     
  17. Graeme Hird

    Graeme Hird Member

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    Kev,

    I took a look at your site and the pictures you have online. It seems you favour the long lenses for most of your images, so if you want to make similar images with your new camera, I'd suggest starting with a 300mm lens and going longer from there.

    I'd also suggest you look at cameras with LOTS of bellows extension. Cameras like the Tachihara (which I use), Wista and Shen Hao will not be suitable for your photographic style. Unfortunately, you're looking at the more expensive field cameras like Ebony, or monorails.

    Of course, you might find the shorter lenses more to your liking once you start using the 5x4 ....

    Cheers,
    Graeme
     
  18. gma

    gma Member

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    I question how frequently the swings and tilts are really used in the field. Since you are planning to use for backpacking and since you have been using MF cameras, do you really need a view camera with all the movements? I think a rugged field camera with rise and fall and shift would be all you will need. Even for architectural photography usually the only function I use is the rising front to correct vertical perspective distortion. For nature photography I doubt you will use any of the movements.
     
  19. pierre

    pierre Member

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    I've wanted to try LF for decades - mainly for proper architectural photography. I haven't gotten quite there yet, and maybe I never will (cost being the main factor for me), however, from what I know about it, admittedly limited to observing and reading for many years, if I wanted a field camera and limited movements are enough, I would go for a Graflex Crown or Century Graphic or something like that, in good condition, with a Grafloc back. These were made until 1973, and so, some aren't that old, and even old ones can be in fine shape. Many are well under $300. If you get some film holders for it that are in good condition, like a Polaroid 4x5 and/or pack film holder, a roll film holder, and of course, regular film holders, these are all transferable to any future 4x5 camera you might decide you want or need, and, you haven't spent too much money on the camera itself. Later, even if you were to get a more modern, full-featured view camera, the Graflex would still be handy in some more casual shooting situations, and awfully nice just to look at.
    Pierre
     
  20. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    The Oregon workshop is the last week of Sept in Coos Bay. Contact Don for further info. You won't be disappointed.
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    For landscape the movements I use most are front tilt, rise/fall, and some shift. For architecture, I'm mostly using rise/fall and shift, rarely tilts or swing except to get more rise/fall and shift indirectly.

    For distant subjects, it doesn't matter too much whether you are using rise/fall and shift on the front or rear standard, so it's not much of a disadvantage to have a camera for landscapes with rise/fall and shift on only the front standard (pretty common on most field cameras), but for still life/macro/tabletop photography you want independent rise/fall and shift on front and rear standards, ideally.
     
  22. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

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    Hi: I thought I'd ad my 2 cents since I went thru what you're going thru about 25 years ago. Some of the things I say are what I'd do if I had it to do all over again....

    First, my biggest recommendation is, if you want to do LF, DON'T GO 4X5. Instead, go 5x7 or 8x10 directly. I started in 4x5 and when I went up to 8x10 I found it so easy to use and quality so much higher that I wished I hadn't spent all that time in 4x5. Yes, you can backpack 8x10 - I do it still including a heave Ries wooden tripod. I've climbed all over 600 foot sand dunes with this gear. Personally, I'd start out in 5x7 which I'm beginning to think is the perfect format. Here are a few reasons why:

    1) 35sq inches vs 20 in 4x5!
    2) Contact prints in 5x7 are actually viewable whereas a 4x5 contact is too tiny to really view let alone frame and see from 15' away.
    3) The physical size of a 5x7 isn't that much more than 4x5. In fact, K.B. Canham's 4x5 IS a 5x7 but with a reducing back. You could buy his 5x7 and later get a 4x5 back for it. These are showing up in the used marketplace more and more now. I just bought a near-mint one for $800 less than list - and I got it from a great guy on eBay.
    On www.mpex.com you can see they sell a Tachihara 5x7 for $1299 (in fact the Tachihara 8x10 is also $1299! )
    4) You can use this format and make contact prints only and avoid the entire hassle of enlargers and all the associated gear. If you go 8x10, your darkroom could be a lightbulb hung from the ceiling, a contact printing framd and some trays. Edward Weston did pretty well for himself this way. If you insist on enlarging, there are 5x7 and 8x10 enlargers out there (the Zone VI from Calumet does 5x7 and 8x10). You can make stunning 11x14 prints from a 5x7 negative.
    5)Like the 4x5, you can put the 5x7 on a tripod, put it over your shoulder and walk around and take pictures. Just as simple to use but you end up with a negative almost twice as big!

    There are only a few basic reasons to go to LF:
    1) Each picture is it's own negative and can be individually processed.
    2) Bigger negatives = higher quality prints. In fact they offer the ultimate in quality, the contact print.
    3) Camera movements that allow you to have more control over a)composition and b)depth of field via the Scheimflug (sp?) principle.

    4x5, 5x7, 8x10 all offer these advantages. It's just a tradeoff between negative size, equipment investment and 'luggability'. I think 5x7 is a good trade off in these areas. I found in time that 4x5 is just too small of a format - contacts were too small and I didn't like to enlarge much above 8x10.

    A word about movements. In spite of what has been written, ALL the camera movents are important, and I do mostly landscape b&w work. In virtually every picture, I am controlling depth of field with swings and tilts. I often have multiple planes of focus in a scene such as foreground receeding into background so I tilt forward a little to increase dof. Then, I have have another plane like a fence running from my left away into the distance on the right, so I swing the lens to the left. Then I can use rise\fall and shifts to tune the composition. As for rear movements, I use them to control some image perspective - if there is a rock in the foreground that I think is too big, I tilt the rear standard forward and the rock will decrease in size becaue the groundglass is now intersecting the image closer to the lens. Don't buy a view camera with front rise\fall, front swing and front tilt and shift. It should also have rear swing and tilt. Shift would be nice but isn't necessary if there is shift on the front. Some have rear rise\fall but this would drive up the price a lot and isn't necessary. Doing some of these compositional movements from the rear are more convenient if the bellows are extended way out and you have to stretch our arms way out there to use the front movements.

    You'll also have to consider base vs axis tilts. I started out with base tilts and really loved axis tilts when I chnged cameras. The problem with base tilts is that when you tilt forward the image goes drastically out of focus. So, you have to have your eye on the groundglass, one hand on the tilt and the other on the focusing knob. As you tilt forward you rack the focus knob to keep the image in focus. With your 3rd hand, you keep the darkcloth from blowing in front of your face<g>. It can get to be a jumble. With axis tilts, when you tilt forward the image may go slightly out of focus, but not much. I would not rule a camera out if it didn't have axis tilts for my first camera. Now, I would not buy anything else.

    So, do you want to buy 4x5 and all the enlargiing gear or just go right to 5x7 or 8x10 and contact print for a while until\if you decide you'd like to enlarge them?
    (BTW, I have an 8x10 enlarger and you haven't seen anything until you see an 8x10 negative enlarged!).

    Good luck.

    -Mike
     
  23. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I also recommend going straight to 8x10". That's what I did, and I find it much more intuitive to work with than 4x5", and nothing has quite the depth of a large contact print.

    Only after working with 8x10" for a few years did I begin to appreciate 4x5" for very specific reasons, more associated with the particular 4x5" cameras I have than with the format itself. I love being able to shoot with my Tech V handheld as a rangefinder camera without losing the flexibility of a view camera when I need it, usually for travel. It's more dynamic for certain kinds of portraits, though I also do portraits with the bigger cameras. I have a 4x5" Gowland as well that I slip into a pocket of my ScopePak that holds my birding outfit--a 35mm camera with a 600/4.5--so that I can take some impromptu landscapes and macros in large format between bird setups, and I can't manage that so easily with the 8x10" camera.

    Start with 8x10" and you'll think of your 4x5" camera as the "light and flexible snapshot camera."
     
  24. pierre

    pierre Member

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    I think it's hard to argue against any of the points made above about going straight to 8x10, except one: cost. The cost of 8x10 and related paraphernalia seems astronomical. Fine if you can afford it, but perhaps not practical for the average amateur photographer, at least as far as I can tell. 4x5 is much more affordable.
     
  25. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    It's not necessarily more expensive to start with 8x10" than 4x5". I paid around $550 for my 8x10" Gowland used. I processed in trays that I already had. I tend to shoot less film in 8x10" than 4x5". I contact print, so there are plenty of excellent classic lenses suitable for contact printing out there for not too much money, and I didn't have to acquire a new enlarger or anything else to go along with it. I already had a big tripod for telephoto work with 35mm, but I did upgrade the head for 8x10". 5 filmholders were enough in the beginning, but one can get started with 3. I've definitely spent less on my 8x10" kit than I have on my Linhof Tech V.
     
  26. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    I would love to go 8x10 but due to the restriction that I have no where to tray processes I would not be able to process the film. At elast with 4x5 I can use a changing a bag and process in something.

    When I move I will get an 8x10 down teh road but for now a 4x5 is goign to make me very happy.

    Thanks,

    Kev