4x5 Entry....

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Pfiltz, May 24, 2012.

  1. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    I'm currently still cutting my teeth with my RB67, but now have an itch to move into 4x5.

    Can anyone provide suggestions on a decent 4x5 I should consider, along with what size lenses, and possible sources to buy?

    TIA
     
  2. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    Hi Pflitz,

    The Monorail cameras are the most versatile, and affordable options available.
    I love the OmegaView 45 Cameras, I bought a 45F for $105.00, and a 45D for $60.00 ! Transporting the monorail camera can be a bit of a hassle due to the size, and weight. Lenses are a personal choice based on your preferred subject matter, or what might be affordable at the moment. Remember to get a copy of, Using The View Camera, by Steve Simmons.

    Enjoy The Weekend !

    Ron
    .
     
  3. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Appreciate the insight...
     
  4. TheFrenchResolution

    TheFrenchResolution Member

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    I wholeheartedly agree with Ron.

    Unless portability is crucial (in which case a field camera will serve you well), a monorail camera is the way to go. Hands down the most versatile camera system, and many pros (especially in landscape/architecture/product photography) still use them, whether with film, or with a digital back. My personal favourite is the Sinar P that I use in school, but the Omegaview 45s are damn decent, and usually dirt cheap.

    90mm, 150mm, and 210 mm are probably the best focal lengths to start with.

    EDIT: and, as the book is a recommended text in my program, I would also suggest picking up a copy.
     
  5. LJH

    LJH Member

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    IMO, monorails are a true pain.

    Too heavy, too bulky and overly complex for landscape use.

    Disregard those eBay photos showing cameras with pretzel-like movements. In truth, you need very limited swings and tilts for most landscape "stuff".

    For me, front rise is of primary importance, with rear tilt/swing coming second. In 4x5, image circle is not as limited as the ULF I shoot, so front tilt will be useful given a fairly modern lens.

    Remember: the camera is just a box. A new, $600 Shen Hao will take photos as well as a $5000 Linhof if you put the same lens on it. Glass is so much more important than the camera. I'd suggest buying the cheapest camera that you can live with and put more research effort into your lens choices.
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    And a $100 Calumet cc-400 does this just as well. Yes, they are bulky and a bit harder to pack into the field, but super adaptable to many more situations. They are super for architectureal photos, and right at home with still life shots. I pack a cc-401(long bellows) out for nearly all my 4x5 shots. I also have a cc-400 for sale for $100.
     
  7. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    I agree that monorails are bulky (sticking out in all directions from your backpack), but they aren't all that heavy.
    The main thing I dislike about most sensibly priced flat-bed (field) cameras is lack of rear shift. I find that motion very useful for landscapes. I have two good Toyo field cameras when I need to backpack, but they do restrict me, especially for cityscapes. He is right that the essential motion is front rise--otherwise, use a MF rangefinder.
    Of course, the most important thing with landscapes is to "be there", so one can make a point for fields.
    Although Cambo is not evolving their line of monorails, there is a ton of used cameras and accessories (Cambo had a very wide arsenal of bellows, monorail sections, etc.) readily available.
    Especially if you use a flat-bed camera, remember to bring a 9-inch "torpedo" level with you--don't trust the levels on the camera or tripod.
     
  8. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    If at all possible buy something you can examine before you purchase it. I bought my Toyo 45G on eBay for a very good price after asking the seller to verify the condition was as listed. Turned out that most of the controls on the rear standard were stripped or otherwise damaged. He did say the bellows were no good, which turned out to be true, and I replaced it with a cheap one from a Chinese seller on eBay (see "$69 eBay Bellows" thread). I have another rear standard coming from another eBay seller, if it is as represented and verified by the seller, I will have a fully operational camera for about what I could have bought one for in the first place. In other words, I saved nothing by buying what seemed like a bargain from eBay.

    I would go with the monorail suggestion, for best price and versatility. I would only suggest a field camera if portability is the most important thing on your agenda. Even then, I would suggest getting a "freighter" backpacking frame and carry your monorail in a hard case with that. You can save a lot of weight by going with compact light weight lens instead of the heavy studio type lenses; the trade off is usually the maximum f/stop and a bit of coverage.

    And speaking of coverage, don't buy into the your need an insane amount of it. I have found that my 135 Optar from my Crown Graphic, a lens that is reputed to have no coverage at all, will at f/16 cover the maximum standard bellows movement on my 45G. I doubt that it would cover the movements I would have with a bag bellows. In other words, the movements are limited by the bellows, not the lens. And that lens weighs something like 6-8oz.

    As to set up time: I carry my 45G knocked down in a pelican type hard case, the tripod in a bag, and a shoulder bag with film holders, lightmeter, etc. Setup goes like this: set up tripod, mount rail to tripod (I leave the rail base on the tripod as it acts as a quick release that way), mount front standard to rail, mount rear standard to rail, install bellows. That takes like 2 minutes. Since you are going to take at least 10 minutes to set the shot, that is not a problem at all. At home, I just leave the camera set up with a plastic bag over it as a dust cover, so ther is no set up time for the camera.

    As to brand, none of these cameras were junk (previous owners could have changed that) and they were intended for professional use and abuse, so pick the one that has the features you like. I picked the Toyo 45G, because I hope someday to get a 5x7 rear standard and bellows for it, so the modular format feature was important, and the 45G was the cheapest (used) camera with that feature. Note however that no camera with that feature is going to win the light weight and compactness contest.

    The above is written from the viewpoint of someone new to monorail cameras; but not to 4x5 as I have had a Super Technika, and currently a Crown Graphic http://www.graywolfphoto.com/presscameras/index.html.
     
  9. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Tia, you have to decide whether you want to use the camera hand held and on a tripod, or only on a tripod. That will tell you to look for a press camera, view camera or a monorail camera. Then look at the appropriate equipment.

    Steve
     
  10. LJH

    LJH Member

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    How is a monorail "more versatile" than a field camera?

    My 4x5 has over 400mm draw. It has more rise than the image circle of my 72mm can cover. It can focus said lens at infinity without a recessed board. It uses Sinar boards and bellows. As such, it can also use have a Sinar shutter system mounted on it. I have had a 3.5kg lens, iris diaphragm and Sinar shutter on it with no issue. And it packs down into a small backpack.

    So, please state why this is less versatile than a monorail?
     
  11. Old-N-Feeble

    Old-N-Feeble Subscriber

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    Versatility of any camera depends on needs. I'm not going to do architectural photography nor portraits... mostly just landscapes. A Chamonix 45N will do just fine for a lot of what I intend to do. If I want rear shift to stitch two or three 4x5 sheets then I'll carry a Canham Traditional. If I get the urge to shoot some still life pics then I'll repair an old 45G I bought on the cheap.
     
  12. graywolf

    graywolf Member

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    Can it use a 1000mm lens? Does it have identical movements on the front and back? Can it be converted to 5x7 & 8x10? Can it use a second tripod to help support that 1000mm lens? Did it cost you less than $300? Does the replacement $2 bubble level cost $42? Oh? Wait, I am just upset about that last bit there.
     
  13. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Thanks for all this great info... Some of it is over my head, but that's OK.

    I did find this one for 600.00 and it's 2 hours from me. I'm kind of nervous buying something like this over Ebay to be honest.

    http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?f...68680413.36143.159054147451012&type=1&theater

    Looks pretty clean from this image as well. I did talk with them this a.m. about it as well.

    I'm pretty sure I don't want to hand hold it. I hate hand holding my RB67, and slap it on a tripod as well.
     
  14. LJH

    LJH Member

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    Take you're time and do the research on these. Read others' opinions in other threads here and on Large Format Forum.

    There are always monorails for sale here, on other forums and on eBay.

    However, as I wrote in my first post, the lenses are far more important than the box they're strapped to. They're not electric, they don't have motor drives, they don't have meters etc.

    Pardon the pun, but focus on lenses, not the camera.
     
  15. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Thanks everyone. Been quite helpful.



    LJH....

    I completely agree about the lens concept... I give classes from time, to time, and I'll shoot with some of their cameras, and yep, a cheap glass can really be a problem, at least in portraiture, from what I've seen. Good metering techniques, composition, etc... is one thing. Poor glass get's you no where.

    I'll try my best to do my homework. The lens and lens boards are a bit over my head on this subject of 4x5's...
     
  16. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    More movement, front and rear, including compound movements, in the (admittedly unlikely) event that you need that much movement, e.g. with a 121/8 Super Angulon.

    I have several 4x5 inch cameras (2x Gandolfi, Linhof, 2x Toyo, reducing backs on bigger Linhofs and MPP) , but I've pretty much given up using small formats, and as you say, I don't miss the movement on my bigger, non-monorail 5x7 inch cameras. Or in my 12x15 inch Gandolfi Universal, where movements are minimal.

    Cheers,

    R.
     
  17. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    All the movements in the world and the finest lens aren't much use unless the camera movements can be locked down so they're immovable and the shutter works reliably.
    It also helps if the tripod socket threads aren't stripped:whistling:
     
  18. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    What is the OP's intended use? How much moolah does he want to spend? I think I'd need to know that first before I can give a good answer.
    That said, remember Deardorffs are chick magnets:smile:
     
  19. Pfiltz

    Pfiltz Member

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    Looking to spend around 300 to 500 if I need to. Intentions? Landscapes if I get lucky enough. Maybe some cityscapes. Of course, Portraits which I really enjoy shooting.
     
  20. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    Its not likely you'll find a clamshell style woody for under $600 these days but a monorail or a Speeder for sure! You can take monorails and Speeders afield and most will behave well on a heavy MF sized tripod. Speeders will also permit handheld photography and are also fine for portraits (john nanian, who posts here, does incredibly beautiful portraits with a Speeder) A monorail OTOH will give you all the movements you could ever want and I think would be a great tool for learning.