Best Medium Format Cameras to Modify

Discussion in 'Pinhole Photography' started by dgamm, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. dgamm

    dgamm Member

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    I've been trying to figure out which medium format camera to buy used to modify for pinhole photography. Not knowing much about these cameras, I thought I'd ask for some advice.

    Here's my wish list: 120 roll film, possibly 6x9 or multiple size options. An interchangeable lens would be nice, which could easily be removed and replaced with a pinhole body cap. A viewfinder that's separate from the lens - twin lens or other system; some of the folding cameras have a metal viewfinder mounted on top. A "bulb" setting or other means of holding the shutter open longer. Also nice might be an interchangeable film back that accepts Polaroid (like the Mamiya 67RB), but it looks like that option starts adding $$.

    Cheap would be good of course! I ran across an interesting old medium format, folding Russian camera, the Moskva 2, on eBay for about $30. It has a separate viewfinder, but I can't tell if the lens is removeable.

    Any recommendations or experiences you've had appreciated!
     
  2. Mongo

    Mongo Member

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    I've not run into any folders with removeable lenses that would be useful for pinhole work. I suppose the lens could be removed from just about any folder, but the ones I've run into weren't meant to be used that way.

    I personally use my old Bronica S2a body for pinhole work. It's a 6x6 SLR, but it has a focal plane shutter and is fully mechanical.
     
  3. tomtom

    tomtom Member

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  4. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Dgamm:
    Look at Graflex XL's, Interchangable lenses, at least three different roll film backs(6x6/6x7/6x9) Polaroid back. Range finder, CHEAP!
    If you get tired of the pinhole the lenses are top quality too.
     
  5. hither

    hither Member

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    Find one of these 6 x 9 120 film beauties (and then modify it)
     
  6. modafoto

    modafoto Subscriber

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    I did that (The MODAPIN). Quite nice.

    I found this, too.:

    "I also remember reading in the new issue of Practical
    Photography that someone made a "Pinblad." It was a
    custom body with a pinhole that accepted a regular A12
    back. Pretty cool. ;-)"
     
  7. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    i would second shaggy's advice. graflex xl's are pretty cool, cheep, and plentiful.
     
  8. grahamp

    grahamp Subscriber

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    An early Mamiya C series TLR body would do. Only 6x6 without Polaroid (there are some drastic modifications along that line, though), but you do have a sports finder which can take masks. The bellows would give you a pinhole to film range of about 80mm to 135mm (a 'zoom' pinhole!). The film change baffle inside the camera will allow safe film advance. The pinhole mount is a simple plate to fit over the lens opening.

    The shutter needn't be anything more elaborate than a piece of black tape. At around f256 or so the exposure is not going to be less than 1 second.

    Any Press camera or a 5x4 with roll-film back will work, too. It does pay to have the larger format since the unsharp images suffer if over-enlarged.
     
  9. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

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    Why not build one from scratch?
     

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  10. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Another option would be to rip the electronic shutter off an old folding polaroid & replace it w/pinhole. Cheap as chips(~$5) as the British like to say. Just make sure it uses the 600 pack films.
     
  11. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    My first choice would be a Crown/Speed graphic 2x3. You can have multiple sized pinholes for different focal lengths, different backs for 6x6 and 6x9 roll film, separate viewfinder, find a bad lens off a MF or LF camera and mount it on the lensboard for your "bulb' setting and you can still use sheet film holders for whatever film or paper you wish to use. Usually under fifty bucks on EBay if you are patient.

    My second choice is my crappy Ilford 'Sportsman' 6x6 with a single speed plus bulb shutter and the lens removed. It takes great pinhole shots.

    tim in san jose
     
  12. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    errata: I took tha puppy out today and no it's not the Ilford, I probably through that POC away. It's a baldixnetta or some other german made poorly lens outrfitted camera. Wandered around with some 100 spped B&W film and I'll process it tonight. I was amazed at the fuji chromes I took last spring with this setup.

    tim in san jose
     
  13. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    errata: I took that puppy out today and no it's not the Ilford, I probably through that POC away. It's a baldixnetta or some other german made poorly lens outfitted camera. Wandered around with some 100 spped B&W film and I'll process it tonight. I was amazed at the fuji chromes I took last spring with this setup.

    tim in san jose
     
  14. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Most of my personal work these days is with pinhole...and I shoot mainly with my 501cm and a variety of size pinhole and zoneplate body caps. The hassey is nice because I can use a couple of different film backs for different film types...I compose with a large viewing pinhole cap on (bright enough to see an image cleary...especially with a prism finder) and then I just pop on the pinhole cap with zone plate its bright enough to compose easy enough.

    I also shoot with a modified linhof technika III field camera with an apogee pinhole/zoneplate shutter assembly and a variety of interchangable pinhole and zoneplate aperatures plus a viewing aperature...a real zoom pinhole...the linhof has a cambo rotatable reflex back and also accepts my 545i polarid back...I will likely be selling the linhof setup after I finish a current project with it... as I shoot mainly with the hassey setup, much lighter...

    I suggest a cheap used hassey 500c...and the body caps from pinhole resource...and if you strike it rich one day, you can even buy an Imacon 528c digiback for it and shoot 22megapixel digital pinhole...(whoops)...and theres something inherently wicked about using a hassey system but no zeiss glass.

    The Mamiya TLR is also an excellent choice, especially if you want the option to work with something other than an optimal pinhole....plus you should be able to compose with the viewing lens.
     
  15. zenrhino

    zenrhino Member

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    Ive got to second the Holga.

    For $15 USD, and maybe a couple hours to turn it into a "b" Holga, it can't be beat. Add another umpteen bucks for the Polaroid back and you have the hippest camera this side of the dreadfully overpriced Lomo LC-A.
     
  16. ldh

    ldh Member

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    Lots of great ideas here...gotta love lensless photographers...the crown graphic idea is a good one too....pretty much the same as my linhoff setup...I really like the apogee interchangeable plates...any lightwieght field camera will do as long as it has a flexible international back that accepts polaroid backs. rollfilm backs etc....another good bet would be a Busch Pressman...you can find these dirt cheap and they are great.
     
  17. rjr

    rjr Member

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    The Moskva may be modified - the lens/Shutter assembly is held in place with a screw-on ring on the inside of the bellows. But usually people try to get a slight wide-angle effect with pinhole cameras, and here the bellows will interfere.

    And IMHO it would be a shame to salvaga a SuperIkonta-cousin for something like this - the Moskvas are up to good results with their Tessar-derived Industar lenses.

    If you were in Europe, I´d recommend a Agfa Clack (sold as "Weekender" in the US by Ansco, but probably quite rare over there!). The Clack is cheap in Germany - 1 to 5Euro on Ebay and flea markets.

    It is simple to modify her, just pry off the cover, remove a single screw and the lens comes off and you still could use the shutter to time the exposure.

    See http://www.kosara.net/photo/lochlomo.html for details.

    I made a insert mask to allow usage of 35mm film with the curved back - quite cute effect. :smile:
     
  18. dgamm

    dgamm Member

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    Thanks

     
  19. erikryberg

    erikryberg Member

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    Hi dqamm,

    I use an old Agfa Isolette folder. It is only 6x6, but I think it makes an ideal pinhole camera. One reason is that the lenses tend to seize up, rendering the camera next to valueless for its intended purpose. You can easily remove the lens, though, and tape a pinhole on. The camera is of inexpensive construction so it is quite light, and it folds to fit in a shirt pocket. It has a tripod mount and a flash sync. The only thing is, no "t" setting, so you have to use "b" and a locking shutter release -- but that isn't so hard.

    Best,
    Erik Ryberg
     
  20. SamG

    SamG Member

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    Zeroimage cameras sells handmade pinhole camera utilizing roll film (6x6 format or 645 format) as well as 35 mm and 4x5. I have one of their 6x6 cameras which I love. Well engineered and easy to use. Check out their very informative and user-friendly website.
    Sam
     
  21. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    I have a Moscva 4 and I agree, it would be a shame to modify it.

    But, for $28 you could get a Moskva 2 from Fedka.com that has a bad rangefinder. You don't need a rangefinder for a pinhole camera!

    http://www.fedka.com/catalog/product_info.php?cPath=35&products_id=269

    Matt