LF School: Sturdy older wooden 5x7 cameras.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Stephanie Brim, Nov 5, 2012.

  1. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    The Burke & James will be fine for now, but speaking to my husband and doing some thinking has brought me to think that I should probably look at other options before too long. However...I don't know enough *about* the other options. I have read through the documentation on LFF.info and I suppose I have a few questions.

    What I shoot most will be environmental portraiture, traditional portraiture, still life, and basic landscape. This leads me to think that an older wooden camera would be more to my liking. I don't need the lightest thing in the world because I won't be hiking with the thing anywhere. I would have about $5-600.

    What, in that price range, could I get? I know that a 2D, in 5x7 or 8x10, could be found with patience at that price. Also the older Agfa/Ansco wooden cameras, as well as the Koronas. But what's the sturdiest of them?
     
  2. MDR

    MDR Member

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    The Kodaks and Agfas should be equally sturdy don't discount mono rail cameras they are often cheaper and can be carried in a backpack.
    The Calumet C1 (8x10) can often be found for under $500 and is a great and very sturdy camera in my opinion.

    Dominik
     
  3. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    I have an early Kodak/Century that is a "full plate" camera, a little larger than the 5x7 at 6½" x 8½", It has a reducing back for 5x7. nice size, mine was little used apparently and was in immaculate condition. Only drawback is that it is not an 8x10 camera.

    Any of the Century or Kodak cameras will be built about the same, Ansco I would toss in with B&J. Look for cameras that come with extra lens boards, Extension rails, tripod blocks --make sure the rails will lock into position... no missing screws... no bent brass...no split or cracked wood... check that the back doesn't look like it has been modified or taken apart and that it will fit solid both horizontally and vertically.
     
  4. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Note that the Calumet C1 8x10 does have fine 5x7 and 4x5 reducing backs. And the camera is a tailboard design portrait camera. Meaning the back standard is used for focusing instead of the front. That way the lens, once composed, never shifts its position relative to the subject, and hence its perspective always remains unchanged.

    But they don't call it a Monster (magnesium) and a Beast (aluminum) for no reason. It's all metal, heavy and bulky. It needs a big-boy tripod and head. Preferably a Majestic head, if finances permit. And wider angle lenses can be tough to focus as one must lean over that obstructing rear tailboard to get eyes close enough to the ground glass.

    (But it does look very cool when set up out in public!)

    Ken
     
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  5. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

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    The old Bunk and Junk only has to hold still for 1/15th of a second. It can wobble the rest of the time. Just saying.......

    (with studio flash, maybe only 1/100,000th of a second)

    Actually, what's fun and not really very expensive for the type of work you described is the old Century Studio cameras on the 3 wheeled semi-centennial stand. Many have an 8X10 back but most were downsized to 5X7 reducing backs after film prices went high post WWII. Nice to have both. 8X10 paper negs are a lot of fun.
     
  6. mark

    mark Member

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    Big 2d fan here. Very sturdy if you have the extra mounting block (don't know what to call it. If I don't use it or forget it at home I worry about shake when I am focusing close up. I have 2ds in 5x7 and 8x10. The 5x7 is no problem hauling it around, I just wish the extension rail was attached to the camera. I have dropped it more than once which is a problem because replacing the extension would cost more than buying a new camera. The 8x10 is just plain big and awkward, but the negs are sooooooo cool.
     
  7. doughowk

    doughowk Subscriber

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    It might be easier to find a decent 8X10 with 5X7 reducing back. My KMV 8X10 + back cost me total about what you are willing to pay. Of course the lens will greatly increase that amount (though some barrel lenses can be had rather cheaply). Then there are film holders too.
    In the end, though, 5X7 is a very nice format especially for your interests.
     
  8. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I think, living in Iowa, the old portrait cameras are going to be harder to source. I know that there was one in the window of a store in Ames for years, but it went out of business and I don't know if he ever sold it. May be worth it to find out as I remember it having a huge brass lens attached to it. I also think that it was an 11x14, which is just about crazy.

    The only problem I have with the monorails is that I find them clunky in the event that I *do* have to transport the thing somewhere. A 4x5 I had no problem with, but an 8x10 would be monstrous.

    I'm watching an 8x10 2D slowly drop in price right now, along with the 5x7 Conley on Ebay. Oh, and I kind of wish that this one was 8x10 or 5x7 instead of whole plate. It has a pretty nice back from the looks of it.
     
  9. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Wow. That WP guy is a beauty...

    Ken
     
  10. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Steph... PM me about a Kodak 2D 5x7.
     
  11. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    Yeah. Putting that one out here is probably in my best interest. It's GORGEOUS. If sourcing film holders, not to mention film, wasn't so hard...

    Is that an early version of a bail back or what? It's...different, that's for sure.
     
  12. outwest

    outwest Subscriber

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    Stephanie, I used a Conley 5x7 for years and passed it on to a friend when I got my Rittreck. He is doing beautiful work with it.
     
  13. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Well, sourcing film isn't so bad. Simon and everyone at Ilford will cover you for that with their yearly ULF film extravaganza. But the holders might be a different story. I've never looked for WP accessories before, and I haven't seen too many offered anywhere either.

    That bail back is interesting. It looks like only half a top and bottom spring each. At least compared against what I'm used to with my C1. But it does look workable—and working—in the photos. There must be someone here who knows more about this particular camera than I do.

    Ken
     
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  15. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hey steph

    look for an old ansco 5x7 studio camera
    they are built like a tank and can be bought
    for not too much $$ ( on eboink ) .
    they are usually built like a tank.
    if you plan on using old large portrait lenses
    you might consider as others have suggested
    the next format up. the lensboards are BIGGER
    so they can handle the 14" lenses more easily.

    have fun with your project/s !

    how did the singer sewing machine factory
    project you did a while back go ?

    5x7 is a great format, have fun !
    john
     
  16. mosport72

    mosport72 Member

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    Stephanie,

    Not my listing and I know nothing about LF but Jeff Bannow has a Agfa Ansco 8X10 for sale in Classifieds.

    John
     
  17. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    I know. I can't buy now, but I wanted to do research and make sure that I can get what I want at the budget I'll have. Heh.

    I also batted the idea of a new camera around, but discounted that because the money I save can be used toward film. Film is more important to me at this point than a cosmetically perfect camera. Heh.
     
  18. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    Of the cameras you mentioned, the gundlach koronas are often the prettiest but also seem to be the least sturdy. The kodaks are remarkable things. Very sturdy for being as old as they are. If I were looking for that style camera, I'd think about a century (I think that's the one) because of the front tilt.
     
  19. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    I'd rather be shooting images with 4x5 than worrying about a camera I can't quite afford that uses film I can't easily find. Come to think of it, I'd rather be shooting 120...

    Just saying.
     
  20. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    For now, the Burke will work. I like it, really, accept for the flimsiness of the focus. Since the back moves to focus instead of the front, it's extremely easy to knock it out of focus by doing something as simple as putting a film holder in. While it is fixed with clamps to prevent the focus from moving while doing this, I look forward to the day when I won't have to do it.
     
  21. mattk

    mattk Subscriber

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    Stephanie,

    No sure where in IA but I have a Noba 5x7 with a 4x5 rotating reducing back and 5x7 back with a sliding attachment to take two portraits on a single sheet of film. It also has a full studio stand. I bought it for the lens attached and I already have a Century Studio--I got the look when it came in the house. The camera is actually a beauty. Every movement you could think of and the stand works wonderfully. The bellows is taped but fully functional. It also has (and this is a really nice feature) a packard shutter with both instantaneous and bulb settings flash synched! You could mount anything from a 4" diameter barrel lens to a pinhole on it with flash. Travel through IA is frequent and depending on where you are, delivery is possible.
     

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  22. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    Stephanie, consider supplementing the B&J flatbed with a 5x7 B&J monorail. That way you'll have interchangeable backs between them, and a sturdy monorail when portability isn't an issue. The 5x7 B&J monorails sometimes are cheap. Mine takes the common 4x5 lens board instead of the 5.25 boards of my flatbed, but an adaptor isn't too hard to make for using the smaller boards on the flatbed. For decades the B&J flatbed, usually with a 4x5 back, was my main LF camera. Other cameras look better and work smoother, but one can't tell the photos apart. I have an Inba Ikeda to look at, and the B&Js to look through.
     
  23. pgomena

    pgomena Member

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    Ditto the comment that the Koronas are not that sturdy. The metal rear standards are under-built and a bit shaky. The wood is beautiful, however, and they are quite capable cameras (I believe Weston used one.) Whole-plate is a wonderful format and Ilford film is available, but film holders are pretty scarce. If you find a WP kit that has holders, you're in business. I look for them on occasion, but they show up on the LF forum and evil bay very infrequently. Another problem is that there was no standard for WP holder dimensions, each camera manufacturer's specs being a little different.

    I see B&J's showing up around Portland on occasion (maybe it's the same camera being resold over and over, I don't know.) My impression is that they're awkward and bulky, but I'm sure they'd be fine in a studio setting. Nice 2Ds show up on occasion, they're probably your best bet. Be aware that at least the earlier ones do not have front tilts or swings.

    Old wooden flatbed cameras are great. You can fix almost any problem with a screwdriver and some glue.

    Peter Gomena
     
  24. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    "Stephanie, consider supplementing the B&J flatbed with a 5x7 B&J monorail. That way you'll have interchangeable backs between them, and a sturdy monorail when portability isn't an issue. The 5x7 B&J monorails sometimes are cheap."


    Ja, real cheap. I think I have offered to send her one for the cost of shipping sometime in the past. It just sits here at my house, the Deardorff V8 has supplanted all the other LF cameras around here.

    The offer still stands Steph.

    tim in san jose
     
  25. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    The cool thing is that, while I'm still not rich, I'm not really the broke photographer I was. I have been upgraded squarely to 'frugal'. :D

    Sticking to the equipment I have now will be okay because Jim has a point, but once I start looking around for something I wanted to have some idea of what I should look around *for*. :smile:

    Now, if any of you guys have empty 5x7 film boxes, we can talk.
     
  26. Mark Crabtree

    Mark Crabtree Member

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    Sticking with what you have is always a great idea. I'm trying hard to do that too, but with only moderate success.

    And in spite of offering you a 5x7 for sale, I was looking at what you said you want to do and kind of think your idea of an 8x10 camera makes sense. You can put a 5x7 or 4x5 reducing back on it, and generally, you'll end up with considerably more bellows draw, which you very well might need for portraits. Especially true if you've got some long lenses to mess with. Plus 8x10 is a wonderful format itself.

    Usually, it shouldn't be hard to make a reducing back if you already have a working back in that format. It is mostly a flat board with a hole in it. Then just screw your old back to that. That is basically what the lovely Deardorff reducing backs are. You've got a 5x7 back from you B&J that could be a donor if some fabulous deal of 8x10 2D comes along.