Begginers question

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by haris, Apr 18, 2003.

  1. haris

    haris Guest

    I am new on this forum, and thinking about getting into LF. I have expirience with 35mm and some with MF. I have enlarger for up to 6x6cm format. My question is: What is better for begginer to get, 4x5 inch and enlarger or 8x10 inch and make contact copies? What equipment? Well, as cost is issue, is it cheaper 8x10inch and contact prints(avoiding cost of 4x5 inch enlarger)? Main interests are: b/w photography and: Different type of portraits(including full figure, nudes, models books...), architecture, different types of still life photography, urban landscapers... "Real"(nature) landscapes are out because of lots of land mines in my country, and getting visas for traveling abroad is really hard. I live in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Thanks, Haris
     
  2. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Check largeformatphotography.info for lots of information about getting into LF, camera reviews, and such.

    My first LF camera was an 8x10", because I like contact prints, and I preferred working on the larger groundglass with the idea that the final print would be exactly the same size as I saw it when I composed it. Now I shoot 4x5, 8x10, and 11x14, and each has its place. I still prefer 8x10" to 4x5", but sometimes the ease of use and quick setup of the 4x5" makes it a more practical option. If I'm out in nature, I'm more likely to be under the darkcloth with the 8x10", but if I'm in a city where cops are suspicious of tripods and you have to keep an eye on your equipment all the time, I'll use the 4x5" with a folding viewer.
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I just want to mention 5x7", a brilliant compromise between the size of 8x10 and the portability of 4x5. In much of Europe the size is known as 13x18 - film and holders are almost but not quite interchangeable.

    5x7" is large enough to contact print, small enough to enlarge.

    Best of all, it is about the largest film it's possible to change in a changing bag, so like 4x5 you're not dependent on a mule to carry 50 extra holders - or returning to the darkroom every 6 shots or so...
     
  4. Robert

    Robert Member

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    In a different question you asked about upgrading your MF enlarger. If you're looking to do that then just get a 4x5 enlarger. The price difference won't be much. The extra money you spend on the bigger enlarger will be saved on the cheaper 4x5 camera , lenses and film holders.
     
  5. haris

    haris Guest

    Thanks. Ole, less than 8x10 is to small for me for contact prints...
    Oh, to mention, any equipment and dealers advice, please only in Europe. USA or Japan or else I think would have too much shipping costs...
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Well, there's always Lotus Viewcameras - http://www.lotusviewcamera.at/ - they make really nice cameras.

    Robert Wite in the UK is probably the best place to buy new LF gear, http://www.robertwhite.co.uk/ . Used stuff I find on www.ebay.de, where the prices are a lot nicer (for the buyers) than in USA, and both prices and selection are better than UK (see how nice it is to be able to read several languages [​IMG] ).

    Lots of links to producers and resources on www.f32.net

    I have no plans to move to anything bigger than 13x18 myself, the only change I want is something lighter than a Technika 13x18. An Ebony 5x7, for instance...
     
  7. fparnold

    fparnold Member

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    I've contacted printed a fair amount of 4x5, and while not optimal, for certain subjects it works pretty well. Strong graphics in cyanotype, nicely matted, can be quite striking and intimate; kind of like peering through a keyhole.

    Still, with ~ 20 sq inches of film, it seems a shame not to at least enalrge to 11x14, a size which separates the Svens from the Goats if you're packing a camera big enough to make negs for contact prints.
     
  8. haris

    haris Guest

    Thanks. I will look everywhere you said, except ebay, I don't have credit card, and no way to get one(sallary to small for bank to give me cc).
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    haris, a credit card isn't of much help on ebay.de anyway.
    Most Germans don't seem to have them. I mostly buy by sending cash (small sums) or direct bank transfer (when the price is higher than the transaction fee).
     
  10. haris

    haris Guest

    Didin't knew that Ole, thanks.
     
  11. David Hall

    David Hall Member

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    Haris,

    You should check out michaelandpaula.com for more thinking on contact printing.

    I also want to suggest that you consider 5x7. I use 4x5, 5x7, and 8x10 and I find the 5x7 the most visually pleasing because of the longer rectangle, and considerably more negatives can be contacted than 4x5, and it's no harder to carry around and set up than 4x5. A truly good compromise between 4x5 and 8x10.

    dgh
     
  12. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    How much do you want to spend? 4x5 is a lot cheaper for a camera, film, chemicals, lenses, film holders, tripod, etc... an enlarger can cost you as little(say $100 for a beat up Omega D-II) to as much as you want to spend, and add to that the cost of a good enlarging lens. An 8x10 costs more, but those negatives are awesum! With careful shopping you can cut your costs down quite a bit, but nowhere near a 4x5. The alternative 5x7 as others have mentioned, is a very viable option. Some cameras, like the Agfa, allow the use of both a 4x5 and 5x7 back and are light enought to use a heavier duty medium format tripod. They are not uncommon to be found with a lens for about $200. A few used film holders, dark cloth, and loupe and you're in business. For 5x7 film try Freestyle---100 sheets of APHS-ortho-for $21 or Arista Pro--if its not Ilford, I don't know what it is--25 sheets-panchromatic- for $21. Good luck!
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    A look at ebay.de today shows a Wista wood field 4x5, several Plaubel Peco in all sizes up to 8x10 (German size 18x24), Linhof Technikas in 4x5 and 5x7, a Sinar f2, a Sinar Norma 5x7, a Cambo SC, another Cambo,an absolutely beautiful wood field camera of unknown origin, parts enought for several Sinars, lots of lenses, and a complete Beseler 45MXT with Zone VI Coldlight head.

    These auctions all end within 48 hours from now, there's a lot more. A few pages back I found a Linhof Color - if I didn't already have one, I might have bid on this for myself [​IMG]
     
  14. haris

    haris Guest

    Thank you all for advices. First I must tell you that my financies are not good. my monthly income is about 450-500 EURO, and not allways. I am waiting for example my sallary for february now...

    Second, new or secondhand equipment is no option(or very hard) in my country(too small market, not too many photographers), and I am forced to buy 90% of my needs abroad. And that includes not possibility to try before buying, higher bank, custom and tax coosts, and of course shipping and handling costs. Thats why I must ask and get "right" answer before deciding to buy something. And if buy something I need to be as more as I can shure that I get good thing, I don't have enough money to make mistake, because I for example have no way to sell LF camera here, as no one is interested to have one. Only "fool" like me ar maybe one or two enthusiasists.

    In any case thank you all for replies
     
  15. haris

    haris Guest

    "new or secondhand equipment is no option(or very hard)"

    Sorry, my mistake, of course new equipment is option, secondhand is more difficult, especially by internet, because of my low sallary I can't have credit card...
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Are you able to shop or travel in other countries of the former Yugoslavia these days? Efke is producing sheet film, so I would think there must be some domestic market, however small. Maybe you could get some hints from Mirko at www.fotoimpex.de. They handle export and sales of various East European films and photo products (Efke, Forte, Meopta, Orwo, etc.), and I would guess that they might be able to point you to some local sources for used equipment.
     
  17. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    haris, This puts matters in a different light! Old gear is, well, old. Shutters gum up and bellows develop leaks, plus the costs you mentioned---shippping, duties, etc... You might be better off finding a reputable dealer in the EU and dealing with them directly. Tell them what you want and how much you want to spend and let them fix you up. Robert White in the UK comes to mind, but there must be others too. FWIW, See if you can find an Agfa Universal in either 5x7 or 8x10. Good LUck!
     
  18. David Vickery

    David Vickery Member

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    I think that you should go with 8x10. Despite what some people say you can get real cheap and simple with 8x10 and still produce world class results. (Edward Weston, Morley baer, Chamlee & Smith, etc. just to name a few). All you need is an old B&J or something similar and a cheap tessar type lens, a light builb, some Azo, film and chemicals, and you are in business.
     
  19. haris

    haris Guest

    Thanks. I will consider all options carefully, but it seems that 8x10, contact prints are in game. And will try secondhand market, but it seems like I will have to save money for new basic outfit [​IMG]
     
  20. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    haris, How much is 8x10 film going to cost you in your country? Film and chemicals are reoccuring expenses. Also, keep in mind that for8x10, you'll need film holders---at least 3---and a heavy duty tripod. How good are you at working with your hands? You can buy used 8x10 holders and rework them if neccesary. That will save you some money(get the Eastman Kodaks made by Graflex that unscrew) As far as a tripod goes, perhaps you can find a used one locally. For a camera, do you intend to do studio work or landscapes? If you can get by with a heavy camera, the old metal calumets are cheap and plentyful, but be sure the bellows are light tight. New bellows are budget busters, as are lenses with bad shutters however you might find an otherwise excellent lens in a shutter that is gummed up and only needs a CLA: clean, lube, and adjust. Such a service runs 60-80 US dollars here. I suggest finding a reliable shop locally that can do the work for you---you'll need it sooner if not later. If you intend to take your camera afield, you'll probably be happier with a wooden field camera. A used Kodak D2 or Ansco is about as cheap as they come, offer plenty of moves and are reasonably transportable. A Deardorff or Kodak Masterview will cost more, but are much easier to work with in the field, in my opinion. For a lens, again it depends on what you intend on shooting. If you're shooting black and white, you don't need the newest multicoated lenses( again, my opinion!) vintage glass will serve you well, but I would always give the nod to a single coated lens over an uncoated one if possible---the one exception would be the Dagor. A 12 or 14" Commercial Ektar is a good place to start, as well as any of the Dagors, Wollensaks and the older model Rodenstocks and Schneiders. For a sweet deal, you might find a f/9 G-Claron 240mm-270mm--or 305mm enlarging lens for around $100 which you can use as a barrel lens(no shutter) and mount it later in a Copal #1 when you have the money---they usually screw right in, all you'll need is an f/stop scale. Some polaroid MP-4 copy cameras had appropriate Copal and Prontor press shutters that you might be able to get cheaply. This won't work with the WA G-Clarons, though. Good LUck!
     
  21. Donald Miller

    Donald Miller Member

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    Hello Haris, I echo the previous post in using what you already have. What a wonderful opportunity that you have to document your country's and society's changes in the time ahead. Bigger is not always better. One can produce some wonderful work with medium format. The expense of using medium format is more manageable. I can see a day when your documentary of your country in transition would be applauded by the masses. Good luck to you, no matter what you choose to do.
     
  22. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I've had to do LF on a budget myself, so I know how it is.

    Personally, I went with 4x5. Mostly because in the U.S. there is a huge amount of used gear available. For just a couple of hundred dollars you can get a working Crown or Speed Graphic with an old Polaroid back and an old tripod. Or for a little more you can get something like an old Calumet 400 series for more movement.

    Lenses are also much cheaper for 4x5, although if you want cheap you end up buying older lenses. Which is a risk.