5x7 Argentum arrives!

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Jerevan, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    I fetched the camera at the post office late this afternoon. Here are a few pictures, nothing to write home about. I'll get some better ones during daytime and post them tomorrow. Initial impressions are favourable: a sturdy, no-frills camera which is very light (weighing in at 1.3 kg). As this particular camera is the basic Excursor (and that's basic - only rise/fall and tilts on both standards) configuration, I think the more advanced models will be very nice to work with. Controls (only sliding variety; no gearing at all) are nice and tight, with well-sized washers.

    The Excursor is aimed towards wide-to-normal lenses, with a maximum extension of 270 mm for this particular camera. If one needs more than this extension or more movements, it would be better to get the Explorator. Overall, the building techniques are basic, there are no finger joints and the aluminium is either profiles or flat parts. The rear standard is basically a mitered box with reinforced corners. Nothing fancy, just well excuted work.

    The leftmost photo is the front, with the wooden lensboard (metal ones are also made) and my Conley attached to it. The lensboards are straight squares, with no bevels. The middle picture shows the removable, horisontal back. The groundglass is bright, it looks like it is etched. In the rightmost picture you can see the bottom part, with the tripod bushing. As compared to the photos on the Argentum website, this is a different approach. Earlier models seems to have had more wooden parts in the bottom.

    I will post more detailed shots, but feel free to ask questions.
     

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  2. Justin Cormack

    Justin Cormack Member

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    Please give more impressions as you use it...

    Surprised by extension of only 270mm - its listed on the website as 400mm for the standard 5x7 excusor - is yours a different design? Is it landscape only as it looks from the pictures?

    I have ordered one, slightly different design, but its not due for 6 months.
     
  3. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Justin,

    the extension of 270 mm applies only to this camera, which is, as you have already noted, a horisontal camera. The "normal" Excursor (the one where you can use the back in both vertical and horisontal mode) has an extension of 400 mm. In general, I think it is wise to give the exact parameters you need for the camera you want - it gives the builder (István) a better view of which model suits you best.

    The camera itself is lightweight enough to be used vertically, if I wish to. My Manfrotto 141RC works in a pinch, but a Manfrotto 029 head would easily handle it. A few photos follows here.

    In photo 1 you can see the underside, with the sliding parts.

    Photo 2 shows the camera fully extended. As you can see the tripod bushing is rather at the front of the camera, with this extension. It would be possible to make the milled part shown in photo 1 longer, but this would tax the design too much, possibly gaining a few centimeters of extension but making the camera less steady. At this extreme extension, the camera still doesn't move when inserting a filmholder. The camera has back focussing as can be seen in this photo. Anything longer than a 240 mm lens wouldn't be useful, I think. With my Conley 210, I am able to focus to 90 cm at the closest.

    Photo 3 shows the shortest extension, where a 120 mm lens (provided it isn't too heavy or big) would be the limit. At the shorter end, it would be possible to get near to 1:1 macro, and a G-Claron 150 would work in the close range, as it would cover with room to spare. The downside to this, would be the limited movements.
     

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  4. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Continuing with the photos and descriptions...

    Photo 4 shows the groundglass. There is no marking on the groundglass, but it would be easy to fix that with a pencil on the ground side. Note that it is only possible to insert the film holder from the righthand side. Unscrew the knobs top and bottom, move out the groundglass...

    ...and it looks like in photo 5. There's always a risk with things you can remove from the camera, but I hope I can get down some routine to put the groundglass somewhere safe. Time will tell if I will go crazy with all this removing and replacing the groundglass... :smile:

    Photo 6 shows how the bellows is secured to the front standard, with the lens (provisionally) in place. The interior of the bellows is some kind of plastic/synthetic material.
     

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  5. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    And finally, the last four photos:

    Photo 7 is a detail of one of the knobs and the various washers. It varies from position to position whether the the washers are metal or plastic, or as in this example, both. The knobs themselves gives good grip with bare hands, but may be problematic with gloves on. The knobs fastening the sliders are a bit on the small side, but none of the knobs are placed in hard to reach positions.

    The front (photo 8) with the lensboard detached. The lensboards are a bit tight to fit. Note the black felt lining the outer "rim". Also, there is a zero position on the righthand side (looking from the front) but no detents.

    A smaller detail is the spring-loaded part of the back (see mid/bottom part of photo 9). At first I was expecting these profiles to be loose, but eventually I discovered the springs fastened to them, which makes the removal and insertion easier. In the long-term, it remains to be seen how this construction holds up over time.

    At last, photo 10, the level on the rear standard. I am not sure I like this position of the level, I would prefer a round one on the top instead, but that's no biggie. And it would be possible to retrofit one, if I want one in the future. This photo also shows a bit of the woodwork (top part). All cherry wood is waxed but not varnished with a gloss. Combined with the aluminium, it looks nice and understated. No pimp my ride stuff here! :tongue:

    Any questions, suggestions, ideas are always welcome.
     

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  6. talajmente

    talajmente Member

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    umm... just found a post here... Jerevan 09-05-2006, 06:38pm:
    "I don't dare think of it, either... a second 5x7... euaaargh. Must stop..."

    congratulations on your new camera! :D
    I'm sure that you'll love each other. So, happy argentuming!
     
  7. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Thanks - I think I'll enjoy this slippery slope much more now, with some nice argentuming to do! :smile:
     
  8. Justin Cormack

    Justin Cormack Member

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    So how are you finding it?
     
  9. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Just curious, how do you shoot a vertical? It looks like the camera is made without a square back which means you would have to turn the camera on its side to get a vertical? Is that correct?
     
  10. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Field report Field report!!!!!! :smile:
    So yes is it to shoot with?
    How would you rate the Excursor as a first LF? Compared to a monorail?
    Cheers
    Søren
     
  11. Jerevan

    Jerevan Subscriber

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    Short version: it works well. :D

    Longer version: It is by no means comparable to a monorail in terms of features. But it is possible to make very nice photos with it. The camera is so nimble and light that it easily can be turned on its side to provide verticals.

    I've had the normal issues when using a new camera. In LF, a good procedure is needed, and I am hitting the stride there, but in the beginning I found the removable groundglass a bit of bother, especially where to put it so I didn't damage it (or god forbid, step on it!). Another niggle I had was the folding/unfolding procedure. Everything locks down nice and tight. Controls are easy to feel/find under the darkcloth.

    The virgin outing (I'll see if I can find the digisnaps I took) was in subzero conditions and slight wind but even that worked out well. Gloves was not possible to use (controls too small, at least for the gloves I used).

    Film holders slide in easy and sits well. Nothing moves out of position. It is sturdy, given what the camera weighs and that is made out of a combination of aluminium and wood. Groundglass is nice and bright. I think a 3-4x magnification loupe is enough - I had problems using a 8x, grain got in the way.

    With my Conley lens (same kind that Apugger Jersey Vic has, look in the Gallery) I have already managed to get into the petzval-style swirliness using movements. Movements seem to be ample for any kind of landscape stuff. I have also done a few tabletop photos but the sliding movements makes this less easy to do than with, say, a geared monorail. But it is doable. Closeups (within a metre or so) works well too, even if the bellows draw is not enough for macro (unless you use a wide angle lens).

    I think it could work as an introduction to LF, if the main interest is in landscape stuff and the great outdoors. The bellows draw is the limiting factor here, from 120 to a maximum 300 mm. For other uses, doing environmental portraits with a normal (180-210) and closeups with a wide angle (a 150 G-Claron for example), it should do very well indeed. A 150 and a 210 G-Claron in shutters would be ideal companions for this camera. I am toying with the idea of getting rid of my other lenses and try to find this combo instead.

    It is above all a camera made for backpacking. The limit of the bellows also keeps lens choices to wide/normal lenses which also keeps weight down. I had no problems trudging about with my normal backpack. A day hike is no problem, even with long stretches of walking.

    All in all, a damn fine camera I am really happy with!