Considering making the dive in to the realm of LF

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Existing Light, Jan 1, 2011.

  1. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    For the last year, I've been wanting to start out with a 5x7 camera because the format was close to the 35mm ratio (If only they made 6x9inch film and cameras, or better yet 8x12 :D). Also, I dont have a 4x5 enlarger, nor do I have the space for one as my my darkroom for the time being is an old, small storage shed from the 70's that I aquired from my grandparents after they died, so contact printing is pretty much the only option for me.

    Since I'm pretty much limited to contact printing, I've felt 5x7 is pretty much the smallest I was willing to go until recently. I've been considering 4x5 contact prints lately; I am not sure if that's the best route for me to take, however, because I'm also at the point where I think I'm good enough to start selling my photographs. How would I sell 4x5 contact prints? Postcards? I'm not sure if I could do that; digital pretty much has the cheap, mass produced photography market, and I dont think I could compete with $0.35 - $0.50 digital inkjet postcards and make enough money to keep me satisfied (and it doesnt take much money to keep me satisfied :D).

    I do have a Beseler 23CII enlarger, but I've been so turned off on enlarging ever since I graduated from my local community college that I've pretty much only used it as a light source for pinhole 5x7's for the year I've been at UAH getting my bachellor's degree. That's a long story in which I dont want to go in to detail here.

    Now saying all that, I have found a 4x5 camera I have an interest in. If anyone can give me wisdom on my concerns, that would be greatly appreciated. Should I wait for the right 5x7 to come along or should I go ahead with the 4x5 route? This is the 4x5 I've been considering http://cgi.ebay.com/Calumet-20-inch...490285299?pt=Film_Cameras&hash=item20b5dfa0f3

    I noticed that the ground glass is set inside a round section on the back (the second picture). Is that a rotating back or just a convenient way to attach the ground glass ans film holders? Also that black plastic thing on the monorail, is that how the camera attaches to the tripod?
     
  2. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    4x5 contact prints are pretty small, but they can really draw you in. I did quite a few 4x5 cyanotypes this year and I am surprised how effective they are.

    That camera is pretty much exactly what I started with. It has pretty much every movement you are likely to need, though some have complained about lack of precision in setting those movements. At least it has "zero detents" on the front and back standards to set your starting points for adjustments. Yes, it is a rotating back, and it works quite well. For the price, they are very good... great in the studio, though not so good in the field. My biggest complaint about my Calumet is a little bit of lateral wobbliness that I just cannot elimintate. I'm not quite sure what you mean about the "black plastic thing"... There is a black plastic cap on either end of the rail, which are the attachment points for your standards. For me ensure that I don't crank the standards off the end of the rail while fumbling under the darkcloth. The grey metal block underneath is your tripod block.

    If you really want a 5x7, though, I would recommend getting an 8x10 with a reducing back. From my own experience and what I've read on the forums, you will most likely find yourself lusting for bigger contact prints sooner than you think.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 1, 2011
  3. Dave Ludwig

    Dave Ludwig Member

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    I used one of these many years ago and remember it as being very heavy, well made but heavy. Price is appropriate, but the your biggest question is format size. As you have already been doing 5x7 pin hole I think you will find 4x5 contacts difficult to view. I would hold out for
    the 5x7, or even an 8x10 but film gets a little pricey, I picked up a kodak no. 2 for $125 with an old 300mm lens. Good luck in whatever you decide.
     
  4. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

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    You will love 4x5 but you have valid reasons for using 5x7. And for that alone I would wait.
     
  5. wy2l

    wy2l Member

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  6. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    You can get an old wooden flatbed 4x5 for not too much moolah that will accept a 5x7 back(agfa ansco, burke & james come readily to mind)
    Shoot whichever format works best! I like 5x7:smile:
     
  7. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    You have to admit that it's hard not to be seduced by red bellows. I use the analogy that if you knew a girl with a red leather dress in high school, you would have dated her.

    I have the same camera in 8x10 with two reducing backs, which gives the flexibility of multiple formats.

    Here is a similar camera in 8x10. (sadly, black bellows... I am so shallow. :D )The price is ridiculous, but there are lots of pictures that show its configuration and movements. Good enough to study to see if that kind of camera is suited to your needs.
     
  8. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Well, I'll caution you not to try to decide anything based on theoretical arguments about format size. You have to try them out! Get together with some local apuggers and try 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 etc. Plenty of folks here who have gear they can show you.

    For me a sensible format is 5x8. I had shen-hao make me a back for that. One slice through a sheet of 8x10 film and you have to 5x8 frames.... but you can use 5x7 in it as well... and there is still some 5" roll film available....

    P.S. A good friend of mine makes really beautiful coffee-toned cyano contact prints of medium format negs, and they are very effective. If you compose for the format and print well, you can make effective prints in any size.
     
  9. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    What Keith just said!!! :D
     
  10. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    There are 6x9cm view cameras out there. You can enlarge that on your Beseler.
     
  11. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    "If you do not do it this year, you will be a year older when you do." Warren Miller.
     
  12. Shadowtracker

    Shadowtracker Member

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    Well, I'm pretty much a newb with LF, but I do love my 4x5, though it's used inside or close to home. I'm in the process of getting a 4x5 field camera but then I do have a 4x5 enlarger. I do have a 5x7 field camera that I need to replace the bellows on for it to be a working tool; and I do look forward to that, but finding pre-cut film isn't the easiest so far. And though I have some 8x10 sheet film, I don't have an 8x10 camera - yet, I should add. I love the larger format though I still use my 6x6 too. If I had free reign of money, I would probably opt for an 8x10 with reducing backs. I have handled a few 4x5 field cameras before placing my order for one, and I would recommend that. I have not handled any 8x10's, so I'm not certain I would go the larger format with reducing backs - I hike a lot, and if I'm using smaller format, I just as soon save the weight/space for now.

    my 2 cents
     
  13. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    If you can find one, an 8"x10" camera with sliders and with 4"x5" & 5"x7" backs will give you 8"x10", 5"x7", 4"x5", 4"x10", and 5"x8" formats all in one camera. Wheee!:D If you've got sliders for the 5x7 back add 2-1/2"X7" and 5"X3-1/2"
     
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  15. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    My advice: Freestyle Arista.eduUltra:wink:
     
  16. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    Thanks for all the quick responses. I didnt expect so many replies so soon :D


    I did see that camera while searching the site. How does the Burke and James compare in build quality and range of movements to the Calumet 4x5 I posted? if they're comparable in those reguards, I might consider it.
     
  17. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I read you are turned off to enlarging, but that 23c can be easily modified to 4x5, or left as is for 6x9cm negatives. Either format will knock yer socks off with details you dont get with smaller formats. If you are going to make contact prints, 8x10 or larger is the way to go.
    Just my tuppance worth.
     
  18. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    In my brief experience with my 8x10 B&J, I would say that the range of movements is at least equal to a Calumet rail. With either camera I have yet to complain about lack of movements. Rail cameras typically have good range of movements. It is a very sturdy camera, and at least in the case of my cameras the B&J is less wobbly.

    A big plus is the easy switchability of backs. With one body, you have easy access to multiple film formats. Despite its size, my B&J is the lighter of the two cameras.

    On the negative side, the movements are a little more complex to achieve, and there are no detents or markings to help you zero your positions. (did I already write this?)

    Either of these cameras would be a good introduction to LF.

    Cheers,
     
  19. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    The 5x7 camera comes with an undrilled lensboard. The seller is offering to drill it to the specified size or to leave it undrilled. Assuming I decided to splurge and get the 5x7, is there any certain size I should request the lensboard to be drilled? Or would I be better off waiting until next paycheck when I can afford a lens and just buy the lensboard to meet the specs of the lens?
     
  20. erikg

    erikg Member

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    As mentioned 2x3 does exist, one of the most affordable options is the baby crown graphic. Film options are not so plentiful. OTH, enlargers are dirt cheap now, so you probably can upgrade to a 4x5. 4x5 has the most film options, but 5x7 is pretty sweet, and the aspect ratio is nice. 8x10 is amazing but the cost becomes an issue, at least it does for me. Do what I did and try them all! What's money for anyway?
     
  21. Toffle

    Toffle Member

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    If you go with the 5x7, you can always get the lensboard drilled later. Mine came with two boards... on drilled to some ungodly wrist-sized diameter, and the other adapted to take smaller Technica boards. I'm looking to make a copy that can handle the 4x4 Calumet boards as well. (I subscribe to the philosophy that you can't have too many lens boards. :D)

    Cheers,
     
  22. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    That's what I'll probably decide if I buy it. I know if I get it drilled to a certain size I'll be trying to find a lens that'll fit it instead of finding the lens to fit my needs.

    What would be a good lens for starting out with 5x7? If my math is accurate, a normal lens is in the 220mm range. I would like to try my hand at landscapes, so I'm guessing something in the normal to moderatly wide would be what I need to get. any suggestions on what kind of lens I shoud be looking for? BTW, Toffle, this isnt just directed at you; anyone with any insight is welcome to steer me in the right* direction


    *lol, as if there is one "right" direction :wink:
     
  23. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    180 is roughly the same as a 35mm in the small format. 240 = ~50mm
     
  24. erikg

    erikg Member

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    I was going say the 180 Nikkor is a great lens, but there are many, many choices out there.
     
  25. Existing Light

    Existing Light Member

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    I'm finding a good bit of 210mm lenses on the used market, so I might start with that since it's as close to a normal lens as I can find on the 'bay and craigslist. I can add lenses to suit my needs later (you cant have too many lenses :D). I might even try poking around in the local pawn shops to see if anyone decided to trade in their LF gear for cash.

    As soon as my latest paycheck deposit makes it into my checking account, I guess I'm gonna go for the 5x7, if someone hasnt bought it yet. Stupid holidays are making direct deposits and account transfers slower than my internet connection :D
     
  26. MrCoffee

    MrCoffee Member

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    This is my first post. Sorry for not making an introduction, but I was attracted to this thread because I used to have a Calumet view camera. It got the whole setup for less than $300.00, complete with a lense, tripod and Polaroid back. It also included all the film holders. I used it a couple times to make Fuji Velvia transparencies. Processing was expensive, because I didn't have any idea of how it is done with sheet film. The tanks, and total darkness required in addition to the exact formula temperatures for the E-6 process threw me off. I would still have that camera today, had I known someone who could walk me through the whole routine of processing my own film.

    Looking at some of the EBay prices, I may yet get back into large format. I have a cheap digital for routine stuff, but really prefer analog for real creativity. A Calumet like the ones described here are a bargain for someone just getting into the large format hobby. I wish the best to the OP.

    MrCoffee