Good 4x5 for an instructor

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by TheFlyingCamera, Jan 28, 2013.

  1. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'm going to be offering a class on shooting with large format cameras and for obvious reasons, 4x5 will be the preferred camera size for the class. I'm on the horns of a dilemma - I don't shoot 4x5 any more for myself, mostly working with bigger (sometimes MUCH bigger) cameras (5x7, 5x12, 6.5x8.5, and 14x17). I no longer have a 4x5 camera of either field or monorail variety, and so I'm thinking about getting one I can use for teaching with. I think for instructional purposes, a monorail would make sense especially if I want to demonstrate movements in a tabletop situation. My question is, do I go for something classic, like a Sinar Norma or an F/F2, or do I go with something a bit more high-spec like a Cambo Master or Horseman that has yaw-free axis tilts? What about a Cambo SF45? Anyone ever use one of those? I'm trying to keep this on a budget (under $500) or I'd just resolve my issue and get a Sinar P2. I know what I'd like for personal use, but I want something that will be easy to use for students (mostly adult learners, so nobody will be abusing the camera) and flexible enough to support most student interests. Any feedback is welcome, and cameras not on this list will be received with an open mind.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jan 28, 2013
  2. tessar

    tessar Subscriber

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    I think a good choice for under $500 would be the Calumet CC-400 monorail. They're common, and for that price you should be able to find one complete with lens & shutter.The CC-400, the standard model, has a 20-in. bellows; there is a long-bellows model, the CC-401, and a short-bellows model, the CC-402. These cameras were made between circa the mid-'60s and mid-'80s especially for beginners. They have all the movements (axis tilts) except for back rise & fall.
    The CC-400 was my first large-format camera. It allowed me to learn all about movements. They're sturdy, no-frills cameras. There's a previous thread on APUG about the 400 series:
    http://www.apug.org/forums/forum44/54650-whats-decent-4x5-view-camera-landscapes-beginner.html
    Lots of info about these cameras on the internet. They're probably the most common 4x5 monorails to be found secondhand.
     
  3. ParkerSmithPhoto

    ParkerSmithPhoto Subscriber

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    Cambo SC. Nice and sturdy. Dirt cheap.
     
  4. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

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    I'd second the idea of the CC-400, if only because it is a camera that many of your students will be able to find and afford. They are plentiful on the ground (along with their brethren, the Grover and the Graflex monorail, etc.) and they are basic... and cheap.
     
  5. henry finley

    henry finley Member

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    Calumet, I mean like the older long-rail gray ones that were heavy and VERY rugged.
     
  6. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    Actually, I think you'd be better off with one off with a larger camera to do demos with. The screen is much larger and it is easier to show what you are trying to demonstrate. A smaller camera is useful since it is more important and harder to focus especially into the corners, but the whole plate or 5x7 will be alot easier to show the students what you are doing.....the 14x17 is maybe a little too much like a big screen TV...:smile:
     
  7. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    Omega 45d is a nice and cheap monorail too.
     
  8. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    +1

    I shoot 8x10 for b&w and 4x5 for color. I much prefer looking at the ground glass of my 8x10. I just wish 8x10 color film was cheaper! :wink:
     
  9. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    I agree that for purposes of demonstration, an 8x10 is easier to see the affects of tilts, but I think it would be more valuable to keep it in the context of what your students will be likely to be using. For that, I agree with eveyone else, it's hard to beat the Calumet, and even if you do, it will still work afterward :smile:)).

    Stuff like yaw-free tilts and all the numbers on cameras like the Sinars will just confuse noob's, IMHO.
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    My concern about the old Calumet/Kodak/B&J is that after the class is over, I'M stuck with it taking up space around the house :D and it's not a camera I would want to use between classes. I'll definitely be trotting out the Canham 5x7 when it comes time to demo the differences between various camera types (monorail vs field, larger formats, etc) but I don't want to use it too much because I don't think the school where I teach has any enlargers that can handle bigger than 4x5 negs. The whole plate will make a showing on the camera types day as it's sort of a hybrid between studio and field cameras (an old Seneca "black beauty" with the screw-on bed extension) but I won't use it for class as it has very limited movements and I don't have the budget to go burning whole plate sheet film for students to learn on. The goal is for students to get a feel for an affordable way in to the medium. I might end up with getting two cameras so students can buddy up and work together in small groups.
     
  11. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    How about a reduction back for your 5X7?
    If the students are going to have their own cameras and yours will be for demonstration only then why get a 4X5? just go with your 5X7 and make contacts if prints are required.
    Best regards
     
  12. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Well for 150-200 dollars, an old (tax deductable) Cambo or two is simple cheap indestructable and replacable. A casepacks it away between classes.
     
  13. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hey, good luck with your class!
     
  14. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I'm looking for a camera I can let the students use, as well as use it myself if the need arises. Most of my students I expect will be adult learners, not teens, and they'll be using the camera with direct supervision, so I'm not too terribly worried about indestructibility. I do want enough functionality that they'll be able to use the camera for whatever subject they want, be it tabletop still-life, macro, portraiture or architecture/landscape without limitations of the camera getting in the way.
     
  15. mark

    mark Member

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    My vote would be for the Sinar. Pretty prevalent in the used market, lots of add ons. Bullet Proof.
     
  16. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    It is true, I regret starting out with Cambo for one reason only; the Sinar shutter and barrel lenses. But it took me quite a few years to progress to that stage of disease. With all my lenses on Cambo boards, I have adjusted by using an adaptor to put the shutter into the system. Before that I was happy with the less expensive Cambo.
    I agree, if you are going to use it yourself, go Sinar for the shutter you will want in the future.