getting started in 4x5

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by gary bridges, Jul 21, 2004.

  1. gary bridges

    gary bridges Member

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    I am new to LF and would like to buy a 4x5 but I don't know which brand would be best to start with-any suggestions?
     
  2. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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  3. kjsphoto

    kjsphoto Subscriber

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    Hello Gary,

    I just entered the 4x5 world and I went with a Shen-Hao from badgergraphic.com. I bought it about a month ago and it is just a new way of seeing.

    You can get a compelte kit for a good price and the camera is really nice! I have no regrets with the camera at all!

    http://www.badgergraphic.com/search_product2.asp?x=2594

    Again, great camera.

    Kev
     
  4. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    Best source for info is Q Tuang Luong's Large Format Website 4X5 is an in-between size - generally considered too small for contact printing but of size negative that requires a step-up in enlargers.
    Also check out past issues of View Camera magazine - Sept 2002, January 2003 articles on 4X5 cameras.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Also read the articles on the _View Camera_ magazine website on getting started. I agree with the advice here and over on the LF forum to start with an inexpensive used camera to see what you really want. The Shen-Hao does offer lots of value and flexibility for the money, if you want to start with a new camera and are leaning toward a folding field camera.
     
  6. Jim Chinn

    Jim Chinn Member

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    The most important variable in deciding on equipment is your budget. Decide what you are willing to pay for a camera, minimum 6 film holders, one lens to start, tripod, dark cloth, and a meter (unless you have a 35mm slr which can sub for a meter). Why is this most important? Because your options range from buying cameras as David suggested with a lens for as little as $250 on Ebay to buying newer and more versatile equipment. Graphics are wonderful cameras (I own 2) but have limitations. Older Calumet 4x5s ("C" series from the 50s and 60s) have full movements, rotating back but are monorails and heavy. However they are built like a tank are inexpensive and plentiful. This is the camera I started out with for LF.

    Second variable is the kind of shooting you will be doing. This also will determine the type of camera. If it is for outdoors and you will be hiking, then the calumet is not a good choice. You may want to look into less expensive field cameras such as Shen-Hao. You also need to consider subject with regards to the lenses the camera can use. Bellows extension becomes a factor. If you are not sure then you need a compromise that will cover a variety of subjects.

    Think these through and post. You will get a wealth of more specific suggestions and options.
     
  7. gma

    gma Member

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    I have offered the same advice a number of times. Rent a view or field camera for a weekend from a local camera retailer before you buy anything. Large format is not for everyone. You can get a good deal on used equipment if you decide that LF is right for you. Rushing to buy equipment can be expensive and disappointing. Better to learn a little before you leap in.
     
  8. David Ruby

    David Ruby Member

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    A family friend gave me an old Super Graphic that he had used twenty years earlier. Luckily it came with everything so I had an easy start. It is not easy to adjust to the slower, more methodical pace of using LF cameras if you're used to firing off shots with an AF 35mm, but once you see those HUGE negatives you'll see why we love them. I like my Supergraphic and would recommend once for starters, especially since you can find them complete on Ebay. You can still buy the film holders etc. If you need more.
     
  9. Robert Jaques

    Robert Jaques Member

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    Hi Gary

    I brought my first large format 4x5 outfit earlier this year. The camera I purchased is the Shen Hao wooden field camera. This is one of the most inexpensive new 4x5 cameras available. I have been very pleased with this camera. It is well built and finished, reasonably sturdy and has the most comprehensive camera movements of any of the budget price 4x5 models. The photographs of the Shen Hao on the net do not do it justice, it really is a nicely finished camera.
     
  10. ElrodCod

    ElrodCod Member

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    revolving back?

    Robert,
    Can the format be changed from landscape to portrait & vice versa or is it fixed? Thanks.

    ElrodCod
     
  11. Robert Kennedy

    Robert Kennedy Member

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    I did a quick search and it looks like the back rotates.

    The Calumet C series, the cheap E-Bay one I showed you, does have one also.

    Like I said, I am a big fan of those cameras....
     
  12. Robert Jaques

    Robert Jaques Member

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    The Shen Hao can be changed from landscape to Portrait format easily. It has a removable rotating groundglass Film holder slot.

    Robert
     
  13. photomc

    photomc Member

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    Jim, after searching through previous post I think your comment best covers the question I have regarding LF camera choices. I currently have a Crown Graphic, but it is some what limited on movements and from many of my recents work (done with 645 I must note) was wondering what is consider a good compromise camera that does not break the bank? One that will function for landscape and some urban landscapes as well (old buildings, etc.). I consider $500-$600 upper limit ... I plan to hang on to the Crown for now to get the basics of LF down, but was wondering what others considered a compromise camera.

    On seperate note, currently the Crown has a 135mm lens on it and would be open to suggestions for additional modern (or vintage) lens to add to the camera. Since I do not use the rangefinder on it, but the GG, not worried about cams. Any thoughts?

    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  14. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    There are several articles on our web sit that might be helpful

    www.viewcamera.com

    Go to the Free Articles section.

    Another helpful forum is also on our web site. The links for the forum and the free articles are on the home page

    steve simmons
     
  15. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    So now you are going to advertize your magazine and your web site forum which just started and has nothing useful in it?...you are really crass...
     
  16. mark

    mark Member

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    Wow. No one advised going straight to 8x10.

    If you want more movements than the graphics go with a busch pressman. More movements and tough as a tank. Parts are a bitch to find though, cuz they just don't break. Though I have been seriously lusting after my dad's newer calumet monorail these days. he got it for a real good price on ebay.
     
  17. steve simmons

    steve simmons Inactive

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    Here ar some more references

    Books

    Using the View Camera that I wrote for Amphoto

    Using the View Camera by Jim Stone

    Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga


    Decide what features you need from the article called Getting Started in Large Format on our web site and then look foir a camera body that has what you need.


    www.viewcamera.com


    steve simmons
     
  18. cjarvis

    cjarvis Member

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    Go straight to 8x10!

    But if you like 4x5, I recently picked up a B&J Press with a Wollensak 135mm Raptar for $85. Tough to beat with revolving back, front tilt and front shift. All metal.
     
  19. SteveGangi

    SteveGangi Member

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    I started with a Calumet C ($100) and a Wollensak Raptar lens ($35). That and a few used holders got me started for a very small amount of money.