Pitful Plea for entering Large Format Photography

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by menglert, Sep 21, 2006.

  1. menglert

    menglert Member

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    Greetings,

    I’m really enthusiastic about trying large format photography. Although, despite my enthusiasm for LF, there are some obstacles.

    I’d like to start with 4x5, as this seems like a fairly common size, and film costs will be a little less than larger formats. I’m fairly strapped for cash at the moment being a undergrad student, and would like to avoid anymore debt on top of that of my tuition.:confused:

    So here in lies the pitiful plea. Is there anyone out there who would be willing to donate, or sell at a lower cost, a 4x5 camera? I was searching around online auctions, and have found some Crown Graphics cameras, but often even those exceed my budget.

    So if there happens to be any saintly soul out there willing to donate or offer some advice on how to cheaply enter LF, please respond.:D

    Regards,
    Martin
     
  2. DBP

    DBP Member

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    It sort of depends on what you are trying to do in LF. You should be able to find a Anniversary Speed Graphic or earlier for under $100 if you are patient enough. You might also want to look at some of the other brands of the time, such as Busch and Burke & James. If you are more interested in the movements than the large negative, you can find some cheaper options in 2x3 or 3x4. 9x12 plate cameras can be really cheap, but the holders are hard to work with.

    Another really cheap option is a Polaroid pack film camera, like a Automatic 100If you use type 665 film you can get a negative. The pack film cameras tend to go for under $15.

    Personally, the only large format cameras I paid more than $100 for are my Horseman 980 and my 5x7 Century.
     
  3. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    If your very patient, you can find a full movement 4x5 monorail for a $100 bucks or less, with a rotating back, the calumet CC400 series is a good camera for the new person interested in LF photography as well as those who have been in it for a while, I have sold 2 of them this year for $100 bucks each and I know Jim Gali has them everyonce in a while as well.

    Dave
     
  4. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    I have a nice Graphic View I that I could be persuaded to sell....fairly reasonably too, and my wife will thank you (though she probably won't realize it's just one more step towards another 8x10 camera in the house, muhahahahah)

    erie
     
  5. Stephanie Brim

    Stephanie Brim Member

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    Heh. Yeah. That's always the problem I have. Everyone cheers when you sell something, but then they realize that you're selling stuff to buy more stuff. :wink:
     
  6. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    you should have seen her face when I came home with my quickly built 8x10 camera, it was priceless....outdone only by her look when I got my ebay orbit 8x10 in, bad bellows and all, spent the next 3 hours disassembling the bellows and regluing. I'm quite sure she now knows I'm insane for sure.


    erie
     
  7. mark

    mark Member

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    You might want to rethink this. Even if you get a cheap body you still need the accesories and those will run you. Large format photography adds up. You will not always be strapped for cash so maybe now is just not the right time. Step back and enjoy the camera you do have, and then, when the cash comes your way or you have saved a few hundered then do it.

    I went a long time wanting before scraping together enough for my first view camera. Life sometimes takes patience.
     
  8. Richard Wasserman

    Richard Wasserman Member

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    I have a Calumet 400 series camera with a 26 inch rail that I would be happy to give you if you pay for the shipping. It's missing one of the sliders to hold the lens board, and a couple knobs were replaced with screws. The bellows look good, it has a ground glass, and lensboards are easy to find. It would be pretty easy to get it working, and I think Calumet may even still have some parts for these cameras.

    Richard Wasserman
     
  9. Will S

    Will S Member

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    I have to agree with Mark. I bought a Meridian 45B and a lens, then some holders, and a loupe, and a darkcloth, and a tripod, and a tripod head, and some filters, and a meter, and some film, and more film, and lens board making stuff, and retaining rings, then some btzs tubes, then another lens, then another lens, then another lens....

    It is quite scary how much it adds up to. I sometimes feel like Neal Gaiman's Mr. Croup with his love for Tang Dynasty figurines everytime I see a lens. Mmmm. Tasty!

    Best,

    Will
     
  10. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    But it doesn't have to add up.

    I bought a Graphic View I with around 20 film holders for $70ish. Sure it was worn out. But the bellows didn't leak. It held a lens fine and if you didn't rush it worked.

    I bought a B&J press with a lens for even less money.

    Odds are most people wanting LF have a tripod. Have a camera they can use to meter. Have something they can use for a dark cloth.

    Is this ideal? No but you start with what you can. Later on you can get better.

    The only argument I can see about avoiding the low priced stuff is you might end up frustrated by any problems.
     
  11. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Go for the free Calumet CC400, Martin. It'll do whatever you want a view camera to do and it's quite portable. I cut the rail on mine down to 16" to make it more manageable. There's a coated 150mm f/6.3 Fujinon lens often seen on E-bay, usually less than $100. It's a darn good lens and if you keep looking sometimes you can find them for $50 or less. Older 4x5 film holders often go for $5 or so each for the wooden ones; I have quite a few of them and they work fine. I've also found newer (but still old) plastic holders for that price, plus shipping. Three will get you started; half a dozen is better. A focusing magnifier can be any old magnifying lens to start with; if you have a 35mm negative loupe it will work. A focusing cloth is anything which keeps the light out: you can make your own or an old dark t-shirt or sweatshirt works fine (stretch the neck opening over the camera back, stick your head through the bottom.)

    These days, large format (at least, in the 4x5 size,) is probably one of the least expensive forms of photography to get started in. Good luck!

    mjs
     
  12. Frank R

    Frank R Subscriber

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    Stop immediately. Get out now.

    It is too late for us; save yourself!

    Take up something like Japanese rock gardening instead to increase your patience level.

    Large format photography is tedious, frustrating, and aggravating. It is too bad that you learn so much about photography and developing, and all the equipment, in the process of making a few really cool photos.

    To paraphrase an old saying about sailing:

    Large format photograhy is about slowly going nowhere , at great expense.

    But it is fun too!
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    There are some similarities between Japanese rock gardening and LF photography - and "the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance".
    All require a certain amount of technical skill, and a lot of "peace of mind".
     
  14. menglert

    menglert Member

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    I wanted to thank everyone for the advice and suggestions. I took time to consider things, and will move forward with my decision. Although there are many costs and much time involved in LF, I think its still something I'd like to pursue.

    Regards,
    Martin
     
  15. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    The sickness grows...
     
  16. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    Ah, the old "the first one is free" route to addiction...very nice.

    Calumet 400 series--reasonable camera. I have the B&J Orbit. Near as I can tell, it's the same camera. Lensboards can be made from hobby plywood for next to nothing. Get some inexpensive film from JandC, a couple of holders...a lens would be nice. Old wood film holders can be had at camera shows for $1 each (at least, that's what I saw them for last time). I think I sold my 127mm Ektar for under $50. You could be in business for <$100.

    Matt
     
  17. menglert

    menglert Member

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    I decided to go with the Calumet 400. I think this will allow me the most room to grow and experience LF. Although I'm still on the lookout for a lens and a few replacement parts.