Prices and availability of new LF gear (ridiculous)

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Michael R 1974, Jul 21, 2014.

  1. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    For a few years now I've been agonizing over a LF monorail (I started out way back with a monorail, recently went to a field folder, now want to go back to a monorail). I had an APUG thread going a while back on this. Anyhow.

    People always say to buy used, but frankly I don't really see a lot of good used gear around the web, and who knows what you're buying etc.

    I keep flopping between Sinar (my first camera was a Sinar), Linhof (TK45s or Kardan), Arca F-line, and Toyo VX125.

    I haven't had an opportunity to even see any of these cameras "live". I've asked some of my favourite working photographers who use (or have used) these cameras for opinions etc., but there's still nothing quite like seeing something for yourself.

    Suppose you want to buy one of these things. The prices of accessories are frankly insane. For example it is nearly $1,000 for a Linhof wide angle belows. Are you serious? WTF? Anyone look at the price of a lens board from one of these companies? A compendium shade maybe? Jebus H. it's ridiculous.

    And availability? Where the hell can you get a Toyo VX besides B&H with a 6 month wait, no exchanges etc.? Can you even buy a Sinar P2? And could the websites be any less clear? There are cryptic indications on
    Sinar's site the F2 might still be available. But I'm pretty sure it is not.

    Anyhow if anyone out there is in the same boat give me a shout.
     
  2. jp498

    jp498 Member

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    In a small market, you only need a little bit of used oversupply to really screw up new sales. Photographers are dying or converting to digital faster than new LF cameras are wearing out. The high prices are fine if they are only to replace stolen insured gear.

    I'd buy a new Canham if I were in the market; it's not much more than a used one. But I don't think they do monorails for you.

    I don't see a need for new production of monorails at the moment with so many good used ones out there. Many are well cared for and I don't think it's financially wise to ignore the used options.
     
  3. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Perhaps it has to do with the fact that the transition over to that other technology is now mostly complete. Now the pendulum has (as was inevitable) begun to swing back a little bit. But not nearly enough to justify restarting production of either discontinued or still marginally continued equipment.

    Thus, the prices for the good used stuff and the little bit of still available new stuff have skyrocketed. New demand is causing it, but not enough overall demand to ramp up production for stuff that originally required half the world's population as a market to be economically feasible in the first place.

    I took a look at KEH for the first time in years the other night. Holy cow. Compared to 4-5 years ago, the cupboards are bare. Nothing like it used to be. And everything remaining in BGN condition. Somebody has bought up all the good stuff.

    I settled on an antique Calumet C1 8x10 largely to stay away from the ridiculous LF prices. Fully restored and gleaming, old-school quaint, it still does the job with style. And is a wonderful conversation piece for the curious.

    Ken
     
  4. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    used prices are insanely ridiculous, even for people trying to sell ...
    there is a massive glut in the used large format marketplace with people
    ( like me ) trying to recoop at least half of what they paid new...
    10-12 years ago new was expensive ( it still is ) and half of expensive is still expensive.
    not to mention LF accessories cost a fortune new back then, and used they were often rare and never cheap.
     
  5. miha

    miha Member

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    Linhof in much more expensive in the States (& Canada) than here in Europe. Their price list is available via Linhof.de.
     
  6. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Another vote for not skipping used gear. Prices for used gear are, I think, at or near historic lows when it comes to LF stuff. I bought a Sinar F to use as a teaching tool for my Intro to LF class for under $200. Toss in two extension rails and the bag bellows and an adapter lensboard to let me mount my Technica lensboards on the Sinar and I was still under $400. Shop around and you can get a P for under $1K, a P2 for under $1500, or if you want to go old-school, a Norma for under $1K.
     
  7. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    If you are not a member then join Large Format Photography Forum. After you are a member on there for 30 days you can view the for sale section. Used monorails come up on there periodically so it's somewhere else to watch.

    I bought my 4x5 Sinar P off Ebay for $600.00. It included a nice Schneider Symmar 210 f/5.6 lens. Later I bought a Sinar F cheap for the front standard, lens board, extra bellows, bag bellows and extension rail. I parted out the rest of the F camera and sold it. Sinar items are much cheaper in the U.S. than Arca or Linhof due to the larger supply available.

    Good luck to you!
     
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  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Buy used, budget for repair/extra purchases as necessary (because you can buy several used systems for the price of a new one), spend the savings on film, and go out and make photographs. Much more enjoyable than agonizing over equipment.
     
  9. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    The Cambo Legend that I got for $320 used is currently listed in the Calumet catalog for BP 2,946.

    'Nuff said.
     
  10. Bruce Osgood

    Bruce Osgood Membership Council Council

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    MICHAEL,

    Would you be interested in a 8x10 Sinar P?
     
  11. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Is that opportunity I hear knocking???

    :w00t:

    Ken
     
  12. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    Also, be aware that the only LF analog lenses now made and available new if not old new stock are the following as per Bob at HP Marketing a couple of days ago:

    Rodenstock Apo Sironar 135mm 5.6 S, 150mm 5.6 S, 210mm 5.6 S and the macro lenses, the rest are very expensive and purpose built digital.

    All Schneider analog LF lenses are history as of this year and are disappearing from store listings fast, in the past few weeks they have been dropping like flies from B&H. For example, the amazingly sharp and small Schneider 350mm F/11 Apo-Tele-Xenar Compact that officially hit the shelves in early 2009 that I bought new from B&H in 2012 is totally gone, not to be found anywhere, not even at Badger Graphics. It's quite possible that lens only had one production run.

    Add to this that Copal is no longer making shutters and that means the LF-scape is changing very fast, used is really the only way to go unless you work with field cameras like I do in which case there are several still made new.

    I'll be curious to see what this all looks like in 10 year's time, prices and all....
     
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  13. momus

    momus Member

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    You can buy a very nice used 4x5 Graflex camera for peanuts. It will make pictures just as pretty as a Linhof for a fraction of the cost. If you need bigger than that, then the prices tend to go up quite a bit. No one NEEDS a Linhof or a Sinar camera. You can make beautiful photos w/ something much, much cheaper. Absolutely buy used. It's a great way to go. LF cameras are about as simple as you can get. No electronics, none of that stuff. Which is why a lot of people build their own, or refurbish old cameras. It's fun and you learn a lot. If that's not your thing, hang out on craigslist, KEH, ebay, etc.

    Why would anyone buy a new LF lens anyway? The very best lenses are Heliars that were made eons ago, and will still blow modern lenses away. Look at the prices they get for these old pieces of glass. There's a reason. Newer does not mean better.
     
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  15. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    Interesting takes on this.

    I think what Ken has noticed on KEH kind of echoes what I've experienced looking for used gear. Even on eBay there doesn't seem to be all that much out there. And a lot of it looks like "beater" stuff. Sure, you can fix things up, but my guess (not being a tinkerer myself) is it would cost a lot to do that also, even if you are cobbling together a Franken-Sinar from parts or something. A lot of the ads have this really sketchy feeling about them also.

    Distribution seems to be nebulous when it comes to these companies. There are a few good places still selling things (like Badger), but even then, look at the price difference between Badger and B&H for a TK45. People used to say Toyo prices were a rip in the U.S. Etc. Needless to say in Canada there is zero.

    I didn't know Schneider was exiting the analog LF game. I thought it was only Rodenstock. Phew - at least I don't need any lenses.

    I guess this is just par for the course but I felt like complaining anyway.

    Thanks for the Sinar offer but I'm looking for 4x5. Also the more I think about it I'm not sure if I should get a camera like that (more of a studio camera) or something slightly more portable (although hopefully still solid). My first LF camera was a Sinar A1 (which was sort of an F1 but with a different rail). I keep flip flopping on various aspects. A TK might be a good camera for my needs. But although I can half understand the price of the camera, $1,000 for a bellows? What are these guys on?
     
  16. AgX

    AgX Member

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    To be fair, at last but one Photokina Arca-Swiss showed even a new model. Whereas Cambo not even took their analogue monorail with them.



    I did not know. No hint at that at the Schneider site.
     
  17. jamespierce

    jamespierce Subscriber

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    Sinar is the bargain monorail system for sure. Heaps out there, good system, lots and lots of parts available. Very modular. The only negative is it's quite heavy. Arca Swiss if you want an all rounder for field use - much harder to find second hand.
     
  18. PKM-25

    PKM-25 Member

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    It's been talked about for a good 9 months but this is pretty much confirmation. When I ordered my 350/11 from B&H, they had to order it from Schneider in New Jersey who only had one in the U.S. and then it went to special order on B&H's site. That was in 2012, 1-3 of them pop up used per year at most.

    Even though the new digital lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider are sharp as it gets, they will not even cover 4x5 as they are not designed to, Bob goes into that in detail in the thread linked above...
     
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  19. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    There's a Sinar P w/10" & 4" rails, Includes a bag bellows and says bellows are light tight.. One Copal 1 board for about $500.
    On Chicago CL, search for Sinar.

    Not mine. No relation etc. etc..........
     
  20. EdSawyer

    EdSawyer Member

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    If I was up for a monorail, I would get a Horseman LX or LS. as good or better than any mentioned above, good availability, packability, weight and prices. There's even a guy in Canada who has several and would probably part with one... They are all in nice shape. Tim, are you out there?
     
  21. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    More a cost in time than anything else. At least in my case. Had I been retired I could have refurbished the C1 to the same degree of extreme anal-ness in a single summer month, including the three coats of epoxy paint. But alas I didn't have the luxury of time. So it took most of a year, mostly because I had to wait until summer did roll around. Can't spray paint anything outdoors at 25F.

    While it can be rewarding, I do realize that fixing things up is definitely not for everyone.

    As part of the refurbishment I contacted Turner Bellows in Rochester. A brand new replacement C1 bellows at the time was only in the neighborhood of $260-$280 as I recall, with a 2-3 week delivery. I ended up using the original bellows as it was still in fine shape. But I thought the quoted cost and schedule was very reasonable.

    By way of comparison, my entire used C1 kit cost me $1,500 total. For that I got the camera/bellows/mounting block, a G-Claron 210/9, a G-Claron 305/9 (both near-mint and in late-model black rim Copals), two standard lens boards, a recessed lens board, four usable 8x10 Fidelity Elite holders, a Lee triple-insert filter system with adapter rings for each lens, a Lee polarizing filter, a Lee compendium shade, one of those heavy-duty professional cable releases, a brand new oversized Calumet blue/white darkcloth in pristine condition, and a mess of out-of-date 8x10 color film (which I didn't use).

    I had the two lenses/shutters professionally CLA'ed. They didn't even require calibration. Speeds were already within factory tolerance. And not a single camera screw or lockdown knob was missing or broken. My C1 also has a threaded back-tilt fine adjustment mechanism that I've never seen on any other C1. And the seller, a Hollywood screenwriter of some note, turned out to be a hell of a nice guy, thrilled that it was going to an enthusiast.

    As a general principle, used equipment is not such a bad way to go...

    Ken
     
  22. Michael R 1974

    Michael R 1974 Subscriber

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    I have to say, this news about the lenses is really bothering me now. I'm not currently in the market for any lenses, but it is quite distressing nevertheless. It's pretty much the end if anyone ever needs a new LF lens.
     
  23. Two23

    Two23 Member

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    I don't understand the reluctance to buy used. It will have been owned either by a pro who made his living from it, or a hardcore enthusiast like most of us. As for KEH, I have to wonder if they are putting their best stuff on ebay and just selling the lower cost stuff in their store. Myself, my first camera was a Cambo 4x5 monorail. It's in very good shape but I wonder if I could even give it away. Here's what I think will happen down the road. If there is a demand for new monorails, a company like Chamonix, Shen Hao or Tachichara will start making them. They already are in the LF business and have the distribution. Their cameras are very good quality and yet low price. Lenses are another question though. I don't see why a good Rodenstock lens would be prefectly fine for another fifty years. Glass is pretty stable. The Copal shutter will start wearing out, but if there is a demand wouldn't Shen Hao, Samsung, or some similar company either license the shutter or build a new one? Today I just gave the OK for one of my shutters to be rebuilt and then returned to me. It's a Compound made around 1910. The repair guy said he will have to make a new part for it and then it will be ticking like new. I guess what I'm getting at here is the LF stuff I already have will no doubt still be working long after I'm not.

    Finally, nearly all the camera gear I purchase is used. The last new thing I bought new was a Nikon D7100, just over a year ago. Just can't justify spending big bucks when the same stuff is available on ebay.
     
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  24. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    I must also say that this news is distressing to me as well. I was completely oblivious to this! :confused:

    I bought a couple of new Rodenstock lenses [for 8x10] about 8 or 9 years ago and sold all my used Schneider and Rodenstock lenses (for hundreds of dollars each / not thousands of $$). I now wish I had kept my used lenses!
     
  25. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    Concern re: LF lenses

    I can only speak for myself . . . . lenses could be broken or stolen. It is reassuring to know that whatever you are using is amply available out there, whether new or used. The moment new items/equipment is no longer manufactured, people start buying the used stuff. One day, if one needs a lens (for example), one would then have to deal with a supply/demand ratio unfavorable to the buyer - not a very good situation for the buyer.
    Just my 2 cents.
     
  26. JackRosa

    JackRosa Member

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    P.S. If one can afford it . . . . there is nothing like YOUR own brand-new camera or brand-new lens, or brand-new meter, or brad-new motorcycle, or brand-new car! :laugh: