Took the plunge.

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by pbromaghin, Mar 26, 2013.

  1. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Well, I went and did it. I don't think it was just GAS. After 3 years of watching, I'm kind of stunned about the whole thing and wondering what I've gotten myself into. My wife thinks I'm crazy and wonders what's so damned special about it. But the first time the craigslist picture popped up, I was hooked.

    It's a Cambo Legend 4x5. I was looking more toward a Graflex View II, but this is several decades newer, a beautiful piece of engineering, precise, heavier, more sophisticated. Without the cachet for collectors, the price wasn't all that much more for a lot more functionality. Now the search starts for all the special things large format requires. Holders, heavy duty tripod and head, development tank or maybe a mod54? This will also have an influence on the darkroom plans. It's all pretty intimidating.

    First off, a lens and shutter. I'm thinking to start with an older and cheaper 150, just to learn and find direction. Any suggestions?
     
  2. BrianShaw

    BrianShaw Member

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    Congrats. The only suggestion I can give is to make sure that older/cheaper lens either has a good functioning shutter, or you have a few dollars set aside to have it overhauled. You'll be slowed down a bit by that process but you will thank yoruself later when you realize how much better it is to have properly functioning equipment.
     
  3. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Either a 150 or a 210 would make a good starter lens for a studio camera - the 210 will have more coverage, which is useful especially if you're going to be doing any amount of still life or other work requiring extensive movements (macro, product photography, etc). If you are staying in the studio, get a big, beefy (and therefore cheap) tripod, like a Majestic. You won't want to move it far at all, but by the same token, it won't move when you don't want it to either. If you're going out in the field with it, get a good aluminum tripod like a Gitzo 4 series or Manfrotto that will stay stable without killing you weight wise. Get a pan-tilt head to start with, rather than a ball head, as you'll want something that won't pitch forward dramatically when you loosen the tension (especially since you have a monorail which has the tendency to become unbalanced).
     
  4. noacronym

    noacronym Member

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    Get yourself a Tiltall, some trays for developing, and you're in business. Of all the expensive tripods I've ever seen, there's nothing better than a hundred dollar Tiltall. Your darkroom is any room in your house after sundown, except during full-moon cycle. See how easy it is? Get some D-76, Dektol, Kodak Fixer and there you go.
     
  5. DannL

    DannL Member

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    Now's the time to find a "quality lens" and shutter, and modern film holders. If you stick to it, you'll find out in time how critical both ends of the camera are to making a good exposure on film. If you skimp on these items now, you may be in for many disappointments down the road. I skimped in the early stages . . . and I had a ton of disappointing negatives to show for it.
     
  6. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/
     
  7. TimFox

    TimFox Member

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    For 4x5, you can go for years with a 90 mm (possibly on a recessed board, or use a bag bellows), 135 or 150 mm, and 210 mm lens. A nice thing about Cambo is the interchangeability of the bellows. I started with a 45SF (short monorail), then found extension monorails, a bag bellows, and an extra-long bellows.
     
  8. pbromaghin

    pbromaghin Subscriber

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    Thanks for all the help. Lots to digest.
     
  9. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    You can get a real nice 210mm f/5.6 lens in a modern Copal shutter for around $200.00. Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikkor, Fuji, and Caltar are all great and pretty equal in quality.
     
  10. ajmiller

    ajmiller Subscriber

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    I'd agree with this. I laboured with the 'standard' 150mm for a while before realising 210 was my preferred focal length. I bought a Schneider APO-Symmar f5.6 and have been very pleased with it.

     
  11. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Caltars are (or were) either Schneider or Rodenstock lenses with different labels on the outside. It just depends on the focal length and the age as to who was the OEM. So they're greatly underappreciated bargains.
     
  12. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Subscriber

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    Yeah, I agree that the later rebadged Rodenstock and Schneiders are indeed a bargain.

    I own a 300mm f/5.6 Caltar HR lens in a Copal 3 shutter that is a nice performer too. The HR stands for Horseman but the lens was actually made by Topcon who used to supply Horseman with lenses. From what I have read earlier Caltars were made by Ilex and Komura.
     
  13. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    It's actually hard to go wrong with a large format lens. These have to be really bad to produce a bad image on the film. All of the top names are good, and you can get them for not too much money. Nikon, Fuji, Calumet, Schneider, Rodenstock, they're all excellent.

    What's so special about it? I just got back some Fuji 64T E6 from Praus, and yesterday went around with a little light box, a magnifier, and a loupe. The scene is out the company kitchen window, where there is a spotting scope. Using the scope you can see all kinds of things. Looking at the slide with the loupe, it's like looking at things with the scope. Everybody was agog looking at all of the detail. The branches on the Queen Anne hill ridge were distinct, you could nearly see the stars on a flag on the Space Needle, lots of stuff like that. One fellow commented that after seeing that slide, he just didn't understand why people made all the fuss over digital cameras. His thought was, if you could get that kind of detail with film, why bother with digital? Was the color better? No, I replied, the color is worse. Digital just gives results faster.

    So you want to give people a sense of wonder about what you do? Shoot some large format E6. That's a real eye-opener.
     
  14. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    You don't need an OLD 150.
    There are plenty of somewhat recent Multicoated 150mm lenses at reasonable prices.
    I have one, and it was less than $200.

    BUT make sure that shutter is in good condition.
    A shutter repair will add approx $150 + parts to the cost of the lens.
     
  15. k_jupiter

    k_jupiter Member

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    I agree that you need not go past the 1980s for an affordable lens. I have been shooting a Fuji 150 6.3 since 1986. Still sharp, still accurate (Seiko shutter).
    To start, stay with plastic film holders, check the slides for light leaks. Clean everything extremely well. While I have used trays, the absolute darkness is always concern. I use System 4 tanks with home made nylon screen tubes and process the sheets just like 135 or 120 film.

    Take is slow and work everything through. Write EVERYTHING down and make repeatable systems.

    tim in san jose