5x7 and 8x10 inexpensive recommendations and questions

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by msbarnes, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    I'm looking into getting into LF with one of these two formats most likeley.

    What are some relatively easy to find, not too expensive, and somewhat robust cameras? My budget is roughly 1k, maybe 1.5k but I'd prefer to spend less (need to save money for film and processing equipment).

    I honestly don't know where to start..pricing cameras/lenses in 35mm/120 is easy but I'm totally lost with LF.

    Requirements and preferences:
    -I don't care about a viewfinder/rangefinder
    -Movements are not that important to me
    -I value portability and sturdiness
    -All I want is a normal (~210mm for 5x7, ~300mm for 8x10)

    Well with 8x10 it seems that one budget option is the Kodak 2D is that a good starter? I've also read that Deardorff cameras without front movements can be held more cheaply.

    I'm a bit cautious because these cameras are old. My 35mm/120 cameras are old too but I feel that these LF cameras are more fragile (esp. because of bellows)...are wooden folders fragile? I feel that one good knock and my camera is innoperative. I don't abuse my cameras but I do value robustness as I want to take it with me on the field. People obviously spend good money on wooden Deardorffs so part of me thinks this isn't THAT big of a concern.
     
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  2. johnielvis

    johnielvis Member

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    the most robust camera is also the cheapest--it was made from a corrugated cardboard box. That's what you want. Get an 8x10 back (or not--build one or tape film to the insides--no speding money on filmholders for sharpcookie hipsters, right?)....get a meniscus lens from cheater eyeglasses make a shutter/lenscap arrangement and you're in business. And how you'll laugh at those that spend money on cameras built by others, you sharp cookie you. You'll get chix by the thousands. but you cant buy film--unless it's xray film...and only on ebay for an expired box.
     
  3. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    A Kodak 2D would be a great start if you're looking for a portable portrait camera. There's nothing fragile about classic wood field cameras. I have some that were in use for a century and I figure they're good for another century or two of use if I don't drop them too often. A Deardorff is a step up in terms of overall design and movements. They're well worth the $1200-$1400 cost for a good specimen.
     
  4. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    Good thing. View finders/range finders are so not real LF. Even on my speed graphic I never used the range finder. A good loupe is all you need.

    While a Deardorff is a great camera, it is probably out of your price range unless you get really lucky. I spent a lot of time and energy getting my 8x10 for 1500 dollars about 6 years ago. Granted it was a complete setup with two lens, two backs and a carrying case but still. It is a nice camera.

    If you choose 5x7 I can give you a field camera (B&J) for pretty much the cost of shipping. You'll need to invest in a lens after that. Not the greatest camera in the world but a start into larger LF.

    tim in san jose
     
  5. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    Your budget might be a little low to do what you want. If you don't already have a good light meter, you will need one, along with film holders (not cheap, if you get good ones), a solid tripod (one that will hold the much larger camera), and other smaller items, which all add up.

    If you really want to jump into the larger formats, skipping 4x5, then my advice would be to start with a decent 8x10. You can always get a 5x7 back somewhere down the road, but it you start with 5x7, you will need another camera to jump to 8x10. The good thing about either format, as you probably know, is that you can contact print and thus do not need an enlarger. You can get away with some pretty basic darkroom equipment.

    You say you don't care about movements but if you plan to do any landscape work, you will need at least front tilt. If you are only going to do portraits, you can get away with few movements. As for view cameras being flimsy, this is just not true. I would much rather drop a well-built 8x10 than a modern, expensive digital camera. At least you can repair the 8x10 with glue and screwdriver.

    A Deardorff may be out of your league unless you top up your budget a little. Another great 8x10 is the Kodak Master 8x10 which can sell for as little $1200, with a 5x7 back (although you have to look hard and be patient). Whatever you find, make SURE the bellows is light-tight. Get it in writing before you buy. A lot of cheaper view cameras are cheap because the bellows is more like a screen door.

    Keep researching. Spend time on fleabay but make sure you check sold items to see what things REALLY sell for. Check the for sale part of this newsgroup and ask a lot of questions.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    Kodak 2D, I have both 8x10 and 5x7. Pretty much a couple of wooden tanks.
     
  7. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    Oh and for further clarification I have good meters and a sturdy tripod.


    It seem so to me that most LF shooters have more than one camera or have iterated between a few.


    Well to be honest I'm not sure where to start. Sometimes I want 8x10, sometimes 4x5 and othertimes 5x7. Ofcourse it depends on your applications and intended use.... I'm more familiar with the 4x5 options but not so much the 5x7 or 8x10..well, until now. I wanted to see my camera options and then weigh the pros and cons myself.
     
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  8. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    There's always the old stand-by. It meets every one of your criteria, except maybe easy portability. There's a reason they call it a Beast. I have one with all three backs (8x10, 5x7, 4x5). It has reasonably inexpensive, relatively available accessories. It's so ugly the thing is endearing. And in case a nuclear weapon detonates in the same parking lot you can always crawl inside and be perfectly safe. (Yeah, it's robust...)

    Calumet C1 8x10

    As far as cost, I originally got mine along with two mounted G-Claron lenses (210 & 305), four working 8x10 film holders, Lee Filters foundation/compendium/filters, a brand new oversized Calumet blue/white dark cloth, and a large, very high quality cable release. Nothing was missing. Nothing was broken. Everything worked perfectly, but everything also needed cleaning. Total was $1,100 a few years back.

    Ken
     
  9. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    The 2-D is a terrific camera in many respects, but it is HEAVY compared to many expensive modern cameras in the same formats. How "portable" it is depends on your standards for portability, but it's hard to beat on bang for the buck.

    I've just expanded from 5x7 to 8x10 (both 2-Ds as it happens), and the difference is pretty significant in terms of the logistics of handling the film and the scale of operations on the camera. In some arrangements with the 8x10 I can't reach the front standard from under the darkcloth, which is all right if I plan for it (it means using rear-standard focus for final adjustments, mostly) but was pretty distressing the first time it happened.

    Normal lenses for both formats are reasonably available without breaking the bank. A 210/4.5 Tessar type is a good-sized but manageable lens; in the 300mm length I expect they're more likely to be f/6.3.

    -NT
     
  10. mark

    mark Member

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    First sign of the addiction.

    "Needing" more than one camera makes perfect sense to those of us who use them. Not so much to photographically challenged spouses.
     
  11. ntenny

    ntenny Member

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    It helps if you go in for spiffy-looking wood-and-brass behemoths. It's much easier, in my experience, to sell a spouse on the aesthetics of a 2-D than of, say, a Technika or a Green Monster!

    -NT
     
  12. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    They are indeed butt-ugly.

    But on second thought... a fully restored aluminum Beast, gleaming black in the sunshine, with that polished Calumet red dot prominently displayed on the front standard, sort of reminds one of an overgrown Lei...

    :eek::eek::eek:

    :tongue:

    Ken
     
  13. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Yousef Karsh used a Calumet C1 with a Kodak 14" Commercial Ektar for his portrait work. He seemed to do alright with it. :smile:
     
  14. Barry S

    Barry S Subscriber

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    There's also the Burke and James Commercial View. Very solid and full movements--and usually <$500 for an 8x10. A 2D is a bit over 10 pounds without the extension rail--it may be bulky folded, but it's not heavy. Even with the rail, it probably weighs less than a Deardorff.
     
  15. xya

    xya Member

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    a 5x7 rittreck view might be an option. would be within your limits, folds nicely, comes often with a 4x5 back as well and there is an 8x10 extension (limited moves then of course) which is a bit hard to find but on sale from time to time.
     
  16. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    just get an 8x10 camera and find a 5x7 back for it
    you don't need more than one camera ..
    the camera is usually the least expensive part of LF photography.
     
  17. Doc W

    Doc W Subscriber

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    He sure did, but ... only in the studio! That camera probably weighed more than poor Yosuf. BTW, there was a fabulous Karsh exhibit a few years ago at the Museum of Science and Technology in Ottawa. It included a lot of his camera and darkroom equipment, including his enlarger and the (in)famous Calumet. I noticed he had the same lens as I do (the one you mentioned, Alan, the Commercial Ektar) and I thought, hey, why do his portraits look so much better than mine? Maybe it ISN'T just the lens....:laugh:

    In any case, I would caution any beginner to avoid this camera. Yes, they are pretty cheap, but unless you like carrying a ton of metal around, this is NOT the camera for you. Maybe the OP is young and spry and loves a good workout, but lugging that beast around on even a modest summer day? No thanks. Go with a more modest and beat-up Kodak or Ansco.
     
  18. redrockcoulee

    redrockcoulee Member

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    Seneca Improved is another brand of sturdy inexpensive wooden field cameras. Do not think wood=fragile.
     
  19. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Old view cameras aren't, for the most part, directly comparable to old 35mm or medium format cameras. View cameras are much simpler in construction, for one thing, and the parts are carpentry-precise, not machinist-precise. Just about the only part that decays over time is the bellows; you ideally want one without holes in it. New bellows can be bought and installed by anyone with rudimentary household skills. Think of it as buying old furniture instead of an old mechanical camera.

    Lenses are another story; glass can be chipped or scratched, mechanical shutters can be broken. Even a working shutter can be wildly inaccurate in time. Fortunately there are a lot of experienced repair folks who can fix that stuff for you at reasonable prices.

    Take the time to get informed about cameras and equipment and be a smart buyer; you'll find that large format is not as expensive or as intimidating as some may fear.

    Mike
     
  20. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    I envy you, Doc! I love Karsh and would have really enjoyed seeing that exhibit. I also own a 14" Commercial Ektar. I'll admit that my portraits are not as good as Karsh's either. :D

    In another thread the OP said that he was interested in doing portraits with an 8x10 camera. The C1 is great for that but as you said is very heavy out in the field. I imagine Karsh used an assistant to carry it when he used it on location.
     
  21. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    amen... I have a full plate 2d (slightly larger than 5x7) with a 5x7 back and a 4x5 back and a couple lenses. It has been backpacking with me, hiking in the rain, taken all over Texas, in the back seat, in the trunk, banged on doorways, had pinholes taped, and it just keeps on going. Possibly one of the most indestructible well built cameras ever. And just as an aside--- it was cheap enough that if I DO manage to drop it off a cliff or something, I can just go find another one.
     
  22. mark

    mark Member

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    You realize we both jinxed ourselves. Spontaneous combusting cameras might be in our future.
     
  23. premortho

    premortho Member

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    Except for architectural work, any 80-100 year old view camera will do the job. I use a Rochester Universal View, made by Rochester Optical Company division of Kodak, and it works fine for portraits and landscapes. That is the only 8X10 I've ever owned. In 5X7, which I use much more, I've used an Ansco, a Seneca, and a Burke & James. The B&J has full movements, which can be nice in the studio, but for landscapes I prefer the Ansco first, and the Seneca second.