Help me pick a view camera.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Halford, Aug 17, 2011.

  1. Halford

    Halford Member

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    Hi all,

    I'm busy trying to choose a LF camera (my first) and have at least narrowed the choice down to specifics -- with the decision moot until payday next week.

    Although I'd been favouring a field camera for some time, I'm currently leaning toward a monorail, since I think this will give me great versatility, there are lots on the market at reasonable prices, and I can always add a field camera to the collection later if I want to. (Besides, the only time I'm worried about portability is for long hikes -- when I'd probably be taking MF and smaller cameras anyway).

    So the big complication is that I live very far from the major markets. I currently have a choice between a Graflex Graphic View which a local seller is offering, and importing something -- I had thought about something like a Sinar F1 from KEH, since I've used them (the seller, not the camera) before and found them trustworthy -- a big concern on international orders.

    So I'm weighing up the convenience of the local seller's Graphic View (I think they're asking too much for the camera, though I can doubtless negotiate) against the relative newness and known quality of the Sinar.

    The cost would likely be higher for the Sinar because of the shipping cost, but either would probably be feasible.

    I'd love to hear opinions and suggestions -- including of other options I might not have thought of.

    Doubtless I'll get far more confused shortly :smile:

    Thanks,
    Hal
     
  2. olleorama

    olleorama Member

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    www.peterwalnes.com sometimes has great deals on view cameras, there is a sinar F there now, for £160. I don't know if shipping is cheaper from Europe, but it is closer. And Peter Walnes are good to do business with.

    www.ffordes.com are also nice to do business with, even though some people here have had problems.

    Smyrna, GA, US & A to Cape Town, SA: 13106.230 km
    Somerset, UK to Cape Town, SA: 9689.679 km
     
  3. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Morning, Hal,

    The LargeFormatPhotography.info site has excellent information on getting started in LF. In addition, use the APUG Search feature; there is also voluminous information here.

    Konical
     
  4. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Keep in mind also that a Graphic View is 50 years old and accessories (i.e. lens boards) will be hard to find. Sinars are system cameras that are readily available on the used market, including every accessory you will ever need. Cambo is another brand you might investigate.

    Peter Gomena
     
  5. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have a Calumet cc-400 4x5 mono rail I can get to you for $300 inc shipping, I will include a 150mm lens and a couple of film holders. Sorry for the blatant self promotion.
     
  6. Grainy

    Grainy Member

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    After a lot of reading and thinking my first LF camera became a Chamonix 4x5. It's just a few days since I ordered it, so I don't know yet if I like it. Bought it because it small, compact, easy to set up and it's brand new. So I consider it a lifetime investment.
     
  7. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Some monorails like the Sinar have removable bellows which can make them more compact for packing (but no lighter). I don't believe the Graphic does so it would be more awkward if you're taking it into the field.
     
  8. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    The Graphic View is a good camera, and one of the prettiest monorails ever. The Graphic View II has 4" more bellows extension and the usually preferred axial movements. Both use the 4" square lens boards that were common on many other cameras of their time. These boards are easy to make with basic woodworking tools from plywood, mdf, or other material.

    The lens is the most important consideration when buying a view camera. A Graphic View often comes with the same lens used on press cameras. These don't offer enough coverate to fully use the front movements of a view camera. Also, be sure the Graphic View includes the tripod mount. This mount serves well as the customary tripod head, so a less expensive tripod will be adequate.
     
  9. Halford

    Halford Member

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    Hi and thanks for all the constructive advice!

    In the end I got the Graphic View. It was being sold by someone who loved it and had taken good care of it, with two thoroughly decent lenses. I've just processed my first couple of sheets of HP5+ out of it, and am really excited about the adventures which lie ahead!