New here. Where to start with field cameras & lenses?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by withfilm, Apr 10, 2014.

  1. withfilm

    withfilm Member

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    Hi everyone!

    New here and my first post. Looking to take a swing at 4x5. I haven't shot large format since college some 10 years ago. Loved it at the time but didn't appreciate the zen like approach to working slowly and deliberately with a larger camera. Currently, I'm shooting with a Mamiya 7 which I love.

    So, where should I start with the field cameras & lenses? I'm not a huge gear person. I tend to find something I like (Mamiya 7) and stick with it. Although, I am attracted to the field camera due to portability. What are some field cameras with rotating backs? I'll primarily be shooting portraits as well as landscapes.

    Also, could someone point me in the direction for some info on lenses? I've been checking out KEH but, kind overwhelming. I know I want a 35mm and 55mm/85mm equivalent.

    If you want a feel of what my aesthetic, please check out my work here: www.johncranford.com

    Glad to find a community of film shooters!
    John
     
  2. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    APUG, I'm sorry to say, isn't the best place to look for the information you want. Go here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ and read the FAQs. If you have questions, ask them on that site's Q&A board.

    That you brought up the Mamiya 7 puzzles me. Fine camera with outstanding optics but not what one usually thinks of as a field camera.
     
  3. withfilm

    withfilm Member

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    Thanks for the link. That's just what I was looking for!

    I bought the Mamiya 7 because because it was a medium format rangefinder. Just to clarify, I never mentioned that the Mamiya 7 was a field camera. I only mentioned that to let you know I was a medium format shooter. My wording might have implied otherwise.
     
  4. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council

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    Most field cameras don't have "rotating" backs because they're a big weight gainer for the camera. It's much simpler and cheaper and lighter to have a reversible back. There was a Busch Pressman press camera that had a rotating back, but you'll probably find it somewhat limiting as far as lens choice and movements are concerned. As a starting point for a field camera, I'd point you to a Shen-Hao for something that is light but fully capable - if you are so inclined, you can just about tie the bellows in knots with movements (not terribly useful in the real world, where most of the time you don't need more than a few degrees of swing or tilt and a few millimeters of rise/fall/shift, but it's nice to know the capability is there). They also accept an accessory wide-angle bag bellows and use Linhof-style lensboards which are the closest thing to a "universal" lensboard out there.

    For focal lengths, the equivalent of a 35mm field of view is probably something like a 120/135mm. The "50" equivalent is say a 180-210. A 240-300 would take care of your 85mm, but I think you'll find that those options are a lot closer together on 4x5 than they would seem in 35mm. 90mm on the wide-angle end is a very common focal length, easy to find, and there are lots of options at all price ranges. I'd look for a 90/210/300 set to get a nice starter trio.
     
  5. Shawn Dougherty

    Shawn Dougherty Subscriber

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    I have a Toyo 45AII field camera with a rotating back. I love it... it has it's pluses and minuses like anything else, though.

    If you have an opportunity to check out a couple models in person somewhere before buying that would be ideal.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!
     
  6. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hello John and welcome to APUG.
     
  7. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    John, just take your time. BTW welcome to APUG!

    Jeff
     
  8. dismalhiker

    dismalhiker Member

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    Your website has some very interesting images. Significant irony going on in some of them. I haven't been on APUG long, but find it to be extremely interesting and useful. I also succumbed to the large format urge and have a 4x5 camera on the way (don't have it yet, just some film holders and lots of anticipation).
     
  9. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Subscriber

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    4 x 5 is a gateway drug, John. Soon you'll be schlepping the 8 x 10 around and drooling over an 11 x 14 or 10 x 17. :tongue:

    A 150mm is the traditional standard for "normal" lenses on 4 x 5, though many, many people use 135mm (my choice for standard) and even 127mm, which was the common choice for photo journalists because of the "point and shoot" capability in capturing scenes for newspapers. The Ektar 127 covers the format very well, as does the Tominon found on old Polaroid 110a pathfinder cameras, as long as you don't need movements. I would equate that focal length with a with a 35 on a 35mm camera. 210mm is a common length for the film size, but is not a 55mm equivalent- it's more like shooting a portrait lens, 100-105 on 35mm.
     
  10. StoneNYC

    StoneNYC Inactive

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    As mentioned a Toyo45a is a good starter, hearty, and decent movements.
     
  11. Regular Rod

    Regular Rod Member

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    Micro Precision Products! http://www.mppusers.com/microtec.htm

    MPP Mk VII

    4x5
    Portable with lens safely inside when folded
    Rear glass protected also
    Rotating Back as standard
    Low Cost
    Metal construction makes it tough enough to take anywhere

    [​IMG] [​IMG]


    Lenses
    Angulon 90mm (35)
    Symmar 150/265 (55/85 as near as "Dammit!" is to swearing anyway) The plain Symmar is a great lens, very sharp and convertible. You take off the front element to use it as a 265 mm lens. You carry one lens but get two focal lengths. There are two f stop scales. White for 150 mm and Green for 265mm.

    RR
     
  12. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    For any normal field camera, you can shoot a lot of pictures with the following common lens focal lengths:
    90 mm
    135 mm or 150 mm
    210 mm or 240 mm
     
  13. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    My wista sp is great! It's all metal and has a rotating back too. I just love how my lenses can fold in :smile: which makes it even better for travel.
     
  14. Axle

    Axle Member

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    Figure out the type of shooting you want to do, working mostly in studio, look at monorail cameras, spending most time outside, Field or Press Camera. Film holders, get five, that's 10 sheets at a time, a nice place to start. Lenses, start with just one, a 'normal' lens on 4x5 is anything from about 135mm to 150mm, check out KEH for good deals on glass, both my 90mm and 125mm came from there and both cost me less than 200$. Lightmeter, if you don't have one, get one! Even a simple reflective meter will do, or use one for your smartphone. Buy a box of film, buy new, buy fresh. Something like Ilford HP5+ is a good place to start, a box of 25 sheets. If you can find some dead sheets of 4x5 practice first in the light and eyes open loading and unloading the holders with the dead film, then close your eyes, then practice in complete darkness. Once you get the hang of it, load up your holders with the unexposed film.

    Developing: Get a Bessler/Unicolour print drum and roataing base as a start, or try hangers and tanks, or simple tray developing.

    Jump in feet first and go shooting.

    Also three videos put together by the lovely folks at the Film Photography Project that really helped me.
    Part 1: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MNafRnLLytA
    Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZfzEptWngo
    Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Ns_hSglnJ0

    And my first experience with 4x5: http://www.alexluyckx.com/blog/2013/03/jumping-in/
     
  15. CatLABS

    CatLABS Subscriber

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    I thought super speeds also have rotating backs (and a real coupled rangefinder..)?
     
  16. Tom Taylor

    Tom Taylor Member

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    John,

    Like you I moved up from 6x7 MF to 4x5 and also like yourself most favored 6x7 lens was a 75mm FL. Luckily when I ordered the 4x5 from B&H new, I also ordered this lens for it: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/43853-USA/Rodenstock_160702_150mm_f_5_6_Apo_Sironar_S_Lens.html. As it turned out it has practically the same field of view as the 75mm MF lens and as an added benefit will fold-up on the front standard of the Toyo-45cf which was my first LF camera and one which I still use for lightweight hiking and exploring with 4x5. At the time this lens cost more than the camera ($550 vs $795) but have always been happy with the purchase.

    For longer lens I can recommend the 210mm Schneider Symmar-S and 300mm Nikkor-M as I own and use them both. The 210 is a great portrait lens if super sharp and the 300 is also a super sharp lens and very portable. You might also consider a soft focus lens like the 250mm Rodenstock Imagon for portraits and pictorial type photography.

    Thomas
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I like the White Line Riders series. What is the bike in the last picture?


    Steve.
     
  18. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Super Graphics have rotating backs, the Super Speed Graphic just has a faster (1/1000) leaf shuttered lens. They are nice cameras to use.

    In practice the fixed rotating backs are no faster than the "reversible backs" mentioned earlier.

    Ian
     
  19. withfilm

    withfilm Member

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    Hi Steve, the bike in the last picture was a heavily modified J.C. Penny Pinto moped. Super fast for a moped - 58mph!
     
  20. withfilm

    withfilm Member

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    Just want to say thanks for all the replies! I'll be posting up once I make a purchase and run some test shots.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Thanks. In the 1980s I had a 50cc Malaguti which I got to 64 and my brother managed to get up to 68!


    Steve.