Which (cheap) 4x5 monorail to get? (portrait use)

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by thicktheo, Aug 23, 2010.

  1. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    Hello all,

    I don't like to create new threads for subjects that have been discussed extensively, but I am really confused about the monorail 4x5 cameras - there are many different manufacturers, a lot of models around, new stuff that's great but also older cameras that are still highly usable - it's disorienting - I look at Cambos, then Calumets, then Linhofs, then View Graphics, then Toyos, the list is endless.

    What I want is a monorail camera for portrait use. I don't think I'll be using it in the field a lot, so I don't really care about its weight. Here's what I want:

    a) I want a graflok (international) back, rotating, if possible.
    b) I want tilt and swing, I don't really care about rise, fall and shift.
    c) I want it cheap (less than 200$/200€).
    d) I want it pretty.
    e) I want it available - better buy it soon than spend months looking for it.

    Currently I own an Anniversary Speed Graphic - it would be nice to be able to use the Graphic's lenses on the monorail but it's not really an issue since I mostly own barrel lenses (and obviously the monorail won't have a FP shutter).

    I am looking into a Linhof Color 4x5 which looks pretty but I don't know about its size/weight/graflok/ease of usability.

    So, do you have any recommendations?
     
  2. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I have a Calumet CC-400 that I acquired for very cheap. These are decent quality, and nearly indestructable, and have almost all the movements of more modern monorails. They have rotating backs, and take almost all modern accessories. There are a couple of them for sale on LFPF, for under $200, and usually can be found on evilbay for around a hundred bucks.
     
  3. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Cambos are cheap and plentiful. I paid $150 for for one including a Symmar 150/5,6 and four holders.
    Rotating back etc.
     
  4. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    Does the CC-400 have a graflok back?



    Yeah, but which model?
     
  5. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Well, the "pretty" specification :smile:D) really narrows it down to an older Linhof, Norma, or Graphic View, IMHO. I see beauty in most cameras (I do really like the no-nonsense-looking clean styling of SINAR Fs and Ps.), but no monorail approaches a Linhof in that department for me, except for the Norma and GV.

    While you may luck out and find a lower-end Linhof for 200 Euros, I don't think you'd have much of a shootable kit until you spent probably twice as much on a lens, holders, etc.

    If getting a GV, make sure it has a Graflok. Version Is did not come with them, and neither did early version IIs (though either may have been retrofitted with one after manufacture). Also, make sure it has the combined rail clamp/tripod head, or it is unusable without fabricating a rail clamp of some sort.

    I think that the GV II with a Graflok is your best bet to match all of your criteria.

    Linhof:

    http://www.magnachrom.com/images/LinhofBiKardan.300.jpg

    SINAR Norma:

    http://sinarp2.at.infoseek.co.jp/images/Norma-4x5-2.jpeg

    GV I and II:

    http://graflex.org/articles/graphic-view/GraphicView.html
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 23, 2010
  6. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    So... you would say this Linhof Color 4x5 is a good deal (performance-wise)? Because looks are nice but I need the performance too.
     
  7. werra

    werra Subscriber

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  8. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Maybe...but that really is one of the VERY UGLY ones! :D

    ...but seriously, those Technika-style rear movements are not the most smooth or precise to use. I am also not sure if that camera has front swing. If you can get it cheaper, though, it may be a good buy and be something that will suit your purposes just fine. Remember that you need to get a lens, board, and holders on top of the camera.
     
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  9. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Which model you asked.

    One of these but an older model with aluminiun surface instead of black.
    http://cgi.ebay.de/Cambo-4x5-Fachka...puter_Foto_Camcorder_Foto_Camcorderzubehör_PM
    I might have been lucky, and I was buying a Focomat V from the seller when he asked if I would be interested in this camera also.
    They are however quite common and not very expensive. You can find bag bellows etc without too much effort.

    If you don't want to spend too much they can be an alternative.
     
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  10. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    .
    The Omega (Toyo) 45F !
    Has everything you want, except that it's,
    Not the prettiest of cameras visually, but the price is attractive.
    And the bellows, can be replaced by a bag for wide work


    Ron

    From The Long Island Of New York,
    And The Macro Management, and Long Island @ Large Format APUG Groups
    .
     
  11. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    Wow, thanks for all the info and the links.

    werra, I don't really care for bag bellows and changing the original bellows - I mainly do portraits and it's highly improbable that I'll be doing landscapes and other themes that require wide-angle lenses. That Linhof Kardan is really nicely-priced - the main difference from that Linhof Color is that the Linhof Color also has the monocular prism (or what's it called), which I'm not really sure if it's a must-have or not.


    2F/2F, yeah I know about the rest of the stuff - I've got various holders for the Speed Graphic, I'll only need a decent lens (but I tend to be experimental, so I could easily test out my barrel lenses with the remove-cap-and-put-it-back-as-fast-as-possible method).


    For me it's something like an introduction to monorail cameras - I need a nice budget camera to see how it all works out, and who knows, maybe in the future I'll check out the advanced models.
     
  12. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser

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    if you can get away from having tilt / swing
    you might look into one of the best portrait cameras
    ... it ISN"T a monorail ... a graflex super D.

    it can use some longish lenses and some widish lenses
    and is made for portraits.
    they look elegant ( chrome and black )
    have a graflock back, are perfectly weighted for hand held work, might fit your cost criteria
    and you will be able to use shuttered or barrel lenses without a problem.
    there is less fussing around with a graflex slr, you put your film in, focus and shoot.
    the super d's take all modern film holders, so you aren't shackled to old hard to find things ...

    i used a gvII for years and it had a graflock back, they can still be bought inexpensively
    and are worth the money. they can handle a wide variety of lenses ( bellows can't be removed so not toooo wide ) ...
    sometimes you can find them in a fiber box so you can carry it around to where
    you need to be when i got mine it came with a box fully loaded for 300$ ( 20 years ago ) maybe similar deals can be found today ?

    nice website + blog btw !
     
  13. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    I can't seem to find any graflex SLRs available (for a normal price and in a good condition). Moreover, I already have the speed graphic, which does wonders with the barrel lenses - I want a full-fledged monorail, with tilts, swings and everything. :wink:

    I'll look into the Linhof Kardan, it seems nice (and locally - Europe - available).
     
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  15. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    The graphic views are horrible. I feel sorry for whoever had them as their first mono.
    The older cambos, toyos, or linhof kardan's (not the colors) are perfectly adequate.
     
  16. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    I am glad you feel sorry for me, but there is no need. The thing worked great. I learned everything I know about using a view camera on a GV. Then I got a Speed Graphic to compliment it. I only sold it when I got my SINAR. I regret it now, as the camera was very sentimental, and still perfectly usable. I used to go hiking with it all the time in a standard school backpack. It was a lightweight and capable field camera.
     
  17. greybeard

    greybeard Member

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    For sheer value, it is hard to beat a Calumet 400-series. On the other hand, the lensboard is only about the size of a Speed Graphic board, and that is a bit tight for many otherwise suitable portrait lenses. The Cambo lensboard, however, is 6x6 inches, and it is possible to mount an 18" Verito on one if you think the front standard will take it. (Why you might want an 18" lens on a 4x5 camera is another discussion entirely :smile: ) It wouldn't be that hard to come up with a Speed Graphic-to-Cambo board adapter (the Calumet-to-Cambo is a factory item) which would let you use your current lens inventory without remounting or buying more than a couple of boards.

    For appearance, look for a Cambo Legend; IMHO, the NX series all resemble a pile of black-anodized aluminum kindling, although they work just fine.

    Oh, yes---there is a Cambo Graflok back, and you can find monorail extensions, intermediate standards for multiple bellows, binocular viewers, and the like. The very best portrait setup might be a 5x7 Cambo with a 4x5 reducing back as well, but I don't know how available they are. 5x7s seem not to have ever been imported into the US.
     
  18. cowanw

    cowanw Member

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    Personally I think the oldest green version of the Cambo is the prettiest, and better built than the NX, although the Legend is the most Macho looking.
     
  19. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    I've had a Calumet 400 and a Graphic View II. Both are excellent and could do anything I needed them to do.
    Both cost me about $100 each.
    I still have the Graphic View II :D
     
  20. andrew plume

    andrew plume Subscriber

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    a plug here for the Sinar A1 (aka Alpina I believe) - a very decent entry level monorail - doesn't have the revolving back but it has everything else

    I've a spare and if you're interested best send me a pm - if not, then good luck with your search


    andrew
     
  21. fotch

    fotch Member

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    No revolving back? How do you change, use the head to 90 degrees?
     
  22. fotch

    fotch Member

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    I could not believe you could not change the format and did a search and found you can do it, just not as easy as a rotating back.

    "The film back is not rotatable, but is easily taken out and put back vertically or horizontally without much fuss. "
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    SINAR Fs and Ps do not have a revolving back either, so it is not something that was skimped on for the A.
     
  24. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Sinar must think. whats the hurry.
     
  25. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

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    How about a B&J Rembrandt? Two rails being better than one (and all that!:wink:)
     
  26. thicktheo

    thicktheo Subscriber

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    I can't seem to find any info about this camera, apart from its comparison to the other Sinar models. Moreover, I can't seem to find any one available on ebay (to check photos, etc)...


    Now there's a camera I definitely can't find any info about. :D