Encouragement needed?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by srmcnamara, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    So, long story short, I've been given $800 to get myself a new camera. This was prompted by some expressions of how nice it was working with my school's fuji 690 and the negatives it produced.

    With cash in hand though, I've been considering a nice 4x5 camera as I've always always kind of lusted after one. I do have some major concerns though. Price and usage. My primary concern is that I can't find a setup on KEH that I can afford. I'd be starting from the bottom and need a camera, lens, film holders, meter etc. I have to go to ebay which I am pretty reticent of.

    Also, I've never used something like it so I'm not too sure what to look for and would really be starting from square one as far as taking it outside, using it, and developing the resulting negs, although I've certainly read everything I can get my hands on...I imagine it all makes more sense if I have an actual camera to look at when I read this stuff



    So, basically I'm asking if it's as worth it as I think it might be over the easy route (Fuji GSW690). I know there are probably a million topics like this and I appreciate any advice from those more experienced. my subject matter is landscape so I suppose weight is a pretty important consideration as well
     
  2. archphoto

    archphoto Member

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    Go for a Linhoff Master Technika type (flatbed, I lost the english word for it) and a 75mm Super Angulon or Grandagon.
    The 75 is a 25mm on 35mm, a 150 is a 50mm on 35mm. Use f:22 when ever posible for best sharpness.
    Try to get the range-finder version, in this way you can even take pic's from the hand/shoulder and you don't need a tripod unless you are
    planning to take sunsets or pic's that take longer exposures. (or use Velvia, 50 ASA)
    Try to get a rollfilm back later, on this type of camera you will love it, and you spend less on film.

    On the other hand if you buy the GSW690 you know what you are getting into.
    The basic question you have to ask yourself is if you want/need the possibilities of a 4x5 such as shifts and tilts.
    4x5 has 2x the surface of 6x9, do jou need/want that ?
    The GSW690 works faster than a 4x5 and so on.

    Years ago I had a Master Technika and traded it in for a Sinar P2 8x10, stupid me: I should have kept the Master.
    All together I have been photographing on 4x5 for about 29 years now and still love it.

    Questions: ask, you can send me a PM aswell.

    Good thinking,
    Peter
     
  3. ragc

    ragc Member

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    A good and less expensive alternative to the Linhoff would be a Wista SP, which I use and highly recommend. I found mine used, without a back, for $140.00. The new back cost me $300.00! Those two added is what you could expect to pay for the used camera with a back. Then come your lens(es). A 135mm Nikkor W is ideal, and can be carried in the Wista if reversed. Expect to pay $150-$200 for it. Some filmholders, loupe, darkcloth, and a spotmeter (or whatever meter you have now) complete what you need, and can be had for the $160-$210 remaining...

    A wood field camera is a cheaper alternative, used. I started out with a 5x7 Korona and enjoyed using it although it is large, heavier than modern fields, and lacks movements. Mine was $300.00 with a 7 1/2" Wollensak Raptar included, six filmholders, and 15 sheets of film. The only reason I don't recommend this is that it would not be your final camera... the temptation to modernize/reduce size would be great.

    A new Chamonix, Shen Hao, or Toyo can be had for the $800.00 if you want a new, modern camera. That leaves you without a lens, filmholders, etc., but gets you new equipment you will surely love. I can recommend, from experience, the Chamonix from owning and using one and the Shen Hao from having handled one extensively.

    All the cameras I mentioned have a very different "feel" and it is impossible to know what would suit your style and subject matter without more information. You can look them up and reach some conclusions, perhaps.

    Decisions, decisions! Good luck! You will enjoy whatever you get.
     
  4. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    thanks for that info. Can anyone tell me about a Graflex Graphic View? there's one in my area but the auction ends in an hour and a half. It looks very heavy.
     
  5. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    cI would stay away from a Graphic View. There are better alternatives if you want a monorail. Cambo, older Acra Swiss or Sinar F would be less than $400 (look at National Camera or Midwest Photo Exchange). Better to save for a little longer than get a camera you will be frustrated with A decent modern 150 or 135mm lens might cost about the same. That doesn't leave much for film holders, loupe, film, etc. Another popular alternative is a Crown Graphic. It doesn't give you all the movements, but it works, is a very fun camera, and it will leave you money for film (the most important part!). Another alternative to consider is a medium format SLR. You could get a 2-3 lens Bronica, Mamiya or Pentax kit for $800.

    I don't know where you are located, but Craigs List is a good alternative to ebay.
     
  6. ragc

    ragc Member

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    You mentioned "taking it outside", so I assume a field camera is what you want, not a monorail. Fields fold, are portable, lighter, and easier to use than monorails. Monorails can be very inexpensive, as mark said above. I would not rush and hold out for the field camera.
     
  7. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    Ok, so the graphic view is out. I think I want a wooden field camera. I'm looking at KEH and I'm seeing a zone vi in bgn condition for $484 and a nikkor 135 f/5.6 in ex condition for $299. This puts me at $783 and I have some extra money for filmholders and a meter already set aside.

    Does anyone have any info on the anba ikeda? it's significantly cheaper, from what I can tell it's quite lightweight and might lack some rigidity?

    would I be needing anything else? does the lens need a board? can I mount it on my tripod?
     
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The Ikeda Anba is considered a good choice for backpacking, because it's so light and has enough movements for landscape. If you look up Kerry Thalmann's website, he's written a bit about it.
     
  9. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    IMHO a Graphic View (especially the GVII) and Calumet CC-400 are very capable monorails and you can easily find them for less (often far less) than $150. Add an old Tilt-all tripod (less than $100 on ebay) and you're well on your way to building a kit. Some vintage glass---perhaps a 203mm Kodak Ektar, 162mm Wollensak or a Schneider Symmar Double convertable can be picked up for $200 or less. A very basic Sekonic lightmeter is $99 at Freestyle. 5 or 6 used film holders shouldn't cost you more than $50. 50 sheets of Arista.edu Ultra 100 iso will cost you $24. dd some filters, a cable release and a home made dark cloth and you'll be well under budget. If you'd prefer a wooden field camera call Jim at Midwest, tell him your budget and ask him put put a kit together for you.

    Another option would be to look at the FS section here. Good luck! :smile:
     
  10. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    You don't say what you want to use the camera for. One big difference with LF is some cameras are much better for some things then some others.

    A good condition Graphic view isn't a bad camera. Or the Calumet CC400. Neither is perfect. Neither is the best camera for long distance hiking. OTOH both are fairly cheap and the other bits can be used on your next camera when/if you decide to update.
     
  11. SamWeiss

    SamWeiss Member

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    I take it you already own a large, quality tripod?

    Film like Tri-x will run you a bit over $1 per sheet. Color film two to three times that. Sending out color film for development can easily run over $4 per sheet depending upon where you send it.

    Spotmeters? All over the place, but on eBay you can find decent ones for a couple of hundred dollars, a bit less if they are the older analog type. I have a Tenba branded spotmeter which is essentially identical to one of the older Pentax models... but these still go for over $100.

    Fortunately focusing loupes can be had for around $40.

    $800 doesn't go as far as it used to...
     
  12. Jarvman

    Jarvman Member

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    If you can spare a bit extra for a second hand lens get a chamonix, $800 will cover a new one. They're absolute beauts, I love using mine. They're so light too. Had a rusted up technika V for a day with some infected lenses and sent it back to the guy on ebay straight away. Way too heavy for my liking. Then you can always get a rollfilm back later. I've got a sinar zoom for it that does multiple formats. Depends whether you want it for reaction shots though which you probably do, then it's gotta be a linhof or graflex. I've never used a 4x5 with a rangefinder so can't comment. Would be interesting to though.
     
  13. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    I don't know why no-one has mentioned it yet, but I suggest buying a good solid speed graphic. You can get one for about $200 with a lens. With the focal plane shutter, you can use cheap barrel lenses. You can afford the camera, a few lenses, film holders, and a bunch of film, and still have money left over from your $800 budget.
     
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  15. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

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    If you haven't you might want to join up over at the Large Format Forum: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/index.php
    They have a good for sale section but I believe you have to be a member for 30 days to see it. Your best bet would be trying to find a package deal that includes some lenses and holders. Most of this stuff is a pretty good investment unless you break it. So if you find you don't like large format you can always sell and not lose too much. Start with a 150 or 210mm lens as they are common and cheap.
     
  16. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Call Jim at Midwest Photo Exchange 614.261.1264, tell him what you want and see what he has in stock. Jim's very helpful, very reasonable, and I've always been a happy customer. You never can tell what they've got laying around looking for a new home.

    Mike
     
  17. jp80874

    jp80874 Subscriber

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    Peter,

    If you can buy Linhoff Master Technikas for $800 please send us a boat load. Here is one at Midwest Photo.

    "Linhof 4x5 Master Technika body with Super Screen
    Item #: USDLIN1014
    Price: $2,650.00 "

    John Powers
     
  18. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    Thanks everyone for the advice. It's clear that there are as many different ways of starting a large format system as there are large format photographers!!

    I think I might be placing an order shortly at keh for:
    a zone vi mahogany camera
    a Symmar-S 210 F5.6 MC(that's multi-coated, right?)
    wisner/zone vi lensboard with the proper hole
    pack of 4 fidelity elite film holders
    and a sekonic 408 meter with a 5 degree spot


    I have a tripod that I'm pretty sure will be sturdy enough and a cable release

    anything I'm missing? anywhere I've gone horribly horribly wrong?
     
  19. Martin Aislabie

    Martin Aislabie Subscriber

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    Missing a Dark Cloth and a Cable Release

    For a Darkcloth you could improvise with a thick sweatshirt as an interim meassure

    A 210 lens for a 5x4 is a little longer than standard - is that what you want?

    A standard lens for 5x4 is a 150mm

    Have fun

    Martin
     
  20. Ria

    Ria Member

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    I agree.
     
  21. wogster

    wogster Member

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    That's gotta be one big honkin' focal plane shutter....
     
  22. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    Thank you. I ordered the camera. I think the longer than normal and/or shorter than normal is more preferable for me than straight up normal.

    am I wrong in assuming I can just use the cable release I already own?
     
  23. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    If you are thinking about getting a large format camera, and on the fence... Trust me, 4x5 is a way more versatile camera... If you liked medium format negatives, you will shit your pants over the quality of 4x5. I guarantee it.

    Don't worry, all the literature will make more sense with camera in hand.
     
  24. EASmithV

    EASmithV Member

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    5x4? What is that?

    He's right though. I don't see why you need a lens that long. I use a 152mm Ektar, and I have plenty of room swing.
     
  25. wogster

    wogster Member

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    5x4 is 4x5, different countries use different standards, some put the smaller dimension first, some put the larger dimension first.
     
  26. srmcnamara

    srmcnamara Member

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    well it came :D

    such a beautiful beautiful tool. It looks like it could be a piece of furniture it's so shiny.

    it seems I have everything I need but the film.


    One last really stupid question. I take the film out of the box, put it in the holder, shoot it, and then where do I put it??????




    (the lens looks like it's what I was expecting so no surprises there, I would like something a lot shorter but that's later)