Press / Field / View camera alternatives on a budget

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Anupam Basu, Aug 18, 2006.

  1. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    As far as I can tell the cheapest ways to get into 4x5 is to either buy one of the press cameras, in which case one loses most of the movements or to buy one of the heavy view cameras - calumet, graphic view, omega - in which case portability becomes the issue. Since the reason I currently want to do LF at all is not resolution but the movements and control, I am not keen on the press camera angle. So my question is, is there any practical compromise between these two extremes?

    I don't mind a little bit of weight if the camera easily disassembles into a compact package that can be carried a few miles or so. But I am not sure how practical this is with the view cameras. Or are there any other field cameras that are relatively cheap ($200 at the most) and yet are less restrictive about movements. A compact view camera would be ideal, but only if it is easy to set up and dismantle - I don't imagine a long setup procedure is going to be much fun in the Wisconsin winter.

    There is another option of course - keep practising BW shooting and printing on 35mm and 6x6 and in two years time when money is less of an issue, buy a proper field camera (long story, dissertation to complete etc). If that is the most feasible course of action do let me know, but I would like to hear of any possible alternatives if they exist.

    Thanks,
    Anupam
     
  2. Jim Noel

    Jim Noel Member

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    Keep your eyes open for a Graphic View, or Graphic View II.
    Althought they are monorails, they are small, lightweight and easily carried in the field. Movements are adequate, but not extreme. They are lighter than many press cameras. Be sure they have the tripod mount with them as they are unuseable without this special item.

    I often see these go for less tha $150, sometimes less than $100. Often they have a 203mm Ektar lens which was one of the lens choices when they were new. Excellent lens, lots of coverage, I use one on my 8x10 occasionally.

    As for press camers, the heaviest and least useable w/o modification are the Crown and Speed Graphics. Best choice is a Busch Pressman, next is a B&J Bress. Both have front tilts.

    Good luck
    Jim
     
  3. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    The big problem with the Calumets isn't the weight it's the bulk. I think somebody here took the rail off and packed it that way. Yes it's heavier then most field 4x5s but if it as an 8x10 you'd think it was light -) And you don't have to haul 8x10 film holders either.

    The B&J only really lacks rear movements. The front is fine for most things. The bellows aren't very long and no graflok back.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    You can find a Sinar F for around $250 or less these days. It's more portable than most people think, gives you plenty of options for expansion in the future, and it's a precise instrument with some handy features that does just about anything you need to do with a view camera.
     
  5. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    Check out a Toyo (Omega) 45 D or E. Not too heavy. Just pull the rail out and put it in a pack. I shoot a 45 AII but my kids use an E from a pack, not to bad to set up. I had 3 E's but a couple of days ago two of them fell off of a shelf, ugly. My kids use them at times and prices are so low right now I did not want to sell them, just wish I hadent knocked them over. Not a bad camera to start with.
     
  6. bart Nadeau

    bart Nadeau Member

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    Second the suggestion on the Graphic View I or II if you must have front and back movements. The difference is the I didn't come with a Graflok back (many were retrofitted) and doesn't have center neutral tilt and, of course, the I has 12 inch bellows extension vs. 16 for the II. If you are interested in macro work, recalling your suggestion to set up a macro section, I would think you would want the longer bellows - or do you intend to use the 45 for marco?
    bart
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Without knowing your budget, I'd suggest looking at a Shen-Hao as a really nice field camera with movements you'd be hard pressed to find on some monorails. Some folks have had QC issues with the camera; I cannot say that I have, however. I have had mine for five years and been extremely happy with it.
     
  8. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    In terms of inexpensive view either monorail or twin rail you can count in Orbit, Solar, NewView and Brand, all for under a $150. If you find a battered Speed or Crown you can strip them down, and with a few modifications they can be made more adjustable in terms of front movement, for a passable field camera.
     
  9. Frank R

    Frank R Subscriber

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    Another lightweight option is the Gowland Pocket View or the Calumet Gowland. Very lightweight and it folds up small. May be hard to find a used one though. They are pretty obscure so if you find one you may get it cheap. I paid $175 for one last year. Check this link for new ones: http://www.petergowland.com/camera/
     
  10. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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    I used one for years and never knew there was an "official" way to fold it up that made it more compact than I'd ever managed...
     
  11. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    What kind of work do you want to do with it ?

    Waiting is always a good option. Movements are seldom used correctly, let alone, creatively for quite some time. LF is all too often about playing with the toys.
     
  12. Frank R

    Frank R Subscriber

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    And what is wrong with that! :wink: :wink: :tongue:
     
  13. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Anupam,

    Seriously consider a Kodak Specialist half plate/5x7. Heavy, yes, but folds up reasonably small AND gives a decent sized neg instead of that miserable little 5x4.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
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  15. Anupam Basu

    Anupam Basu Member

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    Thanks for all the replys. I will take a long hard look at these cameras and decide. Maybe I'll decide to wait - I don't know, but I am sure these suggestions will help.

    Not initially, anyways - I can't imagine tracking a damselfly with that rig :smile:, but who can tell!

    As I said in my post, $200 for now - but I'll look up the Shen Hao anyway.

    Initially landscape and some architecture. But I do want to use it to learn the possibilities. Playing would be part of it, of course, but hopefully I will also learn to make good use of it. I find myself not using MF that much because it doesn't seem to add too much to meticulously shot and processed 35mm. I am expecting LF to be different in more ways than just film size.

    Thanks,
    Anupam
     
  16. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    Good to hear you're not thinking of chasing a damselfly with 4x5 - all the advantages of LF vanish when you start getting really close. 4x5 seems to be happy to shoot rocks, less so with living things.

    Over the next couple years, why not borrow a camera from time to time, and play with it ? See what you're happy with. Movements are used sparingly by a lot of LF nature shooters. The school of precise, contrived, and boring 'outdoor shooting' ( sorry guys ) needs lots of movements. See where you land.

    A Crown is one of the great cameras of all time. You may find that you only need a big negative.

    .
     
  17. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I often use press cameras for convenience. Mine have been modified to provide more versatility. It doesn't take a lot of mechanical skills to do this, although butchering a good camera might bother some photographers. Some Busch press cameras have a revolving back, which is an improvement over the Speed Graphic line. The older Busch and Speed Graphic lines use 4" lens boards which are easy to fabricate. The same boards fit on my view cameras. If you shop patiently and buy carefully from online auctions, you can get most of your money back by reselling when you want to upgrade.
     
  18. raucousimages

    raucousimages Member

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    He who dies with the most toys wins!
     
  19. MattCarey

    MattCarey Member

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    The Burke and James Orbit or the Calumet 400-series monorails can be had very cheaply. Mine was a gift, but I was told it was about $60. I remember Jim Galli selling a Calumet for <$100.

    My Burke and James press camera was about $175, as I recall. It came with a Kodak 152mm ektar (worth about $150) and a polaroid back (worth about $25), making the camera basically free.

    The B&J has a rotating back and a fair amount of front movements.

    Matt
     
  20. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    If I have to die to win, I won' play the game.
     
  21. Jim Jones

    Jim Jones Subscriber

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    I like the versatlity of LF for macro photography. Enlarger lenses or lenses from 35mm cameras reverse mounted on a 4x5 are a quick way to get 4X magnification on big film. A framing guide and electronic flash help in capturing moving subjects. Where DOF doesn't matter, reverse mounting movie camera lenses really boosts magnification.
     
  22. ineffablething

    ineffablething Member

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    Why not just get a tilt/shift lens for your 35mm? Or,Zorki makes cool adapters for MF. You would save a shitload of money/time/film/frustration.


     
  23. ineffablething

    ineffablething Member

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    Take my advice with the proverbial grain of salt however, coming as it is from someone with a 25 LF cameras and at last count 375 LF lenses.

    IT
     
  24. smieglitz

    smieglitz Subscriber

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    And just out of curiosity, which combination is your favorite?

    Joe
     
  25. ineffablething

    ineffablething Member

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    It really just depends. Most of the lenses were bought in bulk. One time, I bought a set of 8 brass lenses from a gentleman in England. We conversed a bit about lenses and life, and he ended up throwing in his entire lens collection (around 60 ,IIRC). Every time I open a box in my back room, I come across another dozen or so I'd forgotten. In LF, mostly I shoot with my 8x10 Masterview, and in the smaller formats I shoot almost entirely Graflex SLRs. Lenswise, I only have two modern lenses, a 250 f6.7 Fujinon, and a 360mm Nikkor-W. Everything else is brass. Each is unique and useful for certain situations or people.

    W.







     
  26. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    For the original questioner, I have a 4x5 Speed, the lack of movements don't affect me very much, but when I need movements, the B&J Watson 5x7 comes out. I have a 4x5 back for it also but that's irrelevent to this conversation. B&J also made a wooden 4x5 version of the Watson. It's not too heavy, the movements are a bit clunky but overall for a hundred bucks or less, a fine camera.

    Remember, movements mean time. It takes a while to set everything up. It's why they call it a "Speed" Graphic. Drop the front, pull out the standard, pop open the rear window focus and shoot. The Watson takes longer, you need to zero things, then focus, then adjust, then focus, then stop down, look at DOF, then focus, adjust... etc... etc... Same as any fully functional LF camera. Some just have easier controls.

    Anyhow, good luck in your search.

    tim in san jose