I'm currently still cutting my teeth with my RB67, but now have an itch to move into 4x5.
Can anyone provide suggestions on a decent 4x5 I should consider, along with what size lenses, and possible sources to buy?
The Monorail cameras are the most versatile, and affordable options available.
I love the OmegaView 45 Cameras, I bought a 45F for $105.00, and a 45D for $60.00 ! Transporting the monorail camera can be a bit of a hassle due to the size, and weight. Lenses are a personal choice based on your preferred subject matter, or what might be affordable at the moment. Remember to get a copy of, Using The View Camera, by Steve Simmons.
Enjoy The Weekend !
Appreciate the insight...
I wholeheartedly agree with Ron.
Unless portability is crucial (in which case a field camera will serve you well), a monorail camera is the way to go. Hands down the most versatile camera system, and many pros (especially in landscape/architecture/product photography) still use them, whether with film, or with a digital back. My personal favourite is the Sinar P that I use in school, but the Omegaview 45s are damn decent, and usually dirt cheap.
90mm, 150mm, and 210 mm are probably the best focal lengths to start with.
EDIT: and, as the book is a recommended text in my program, I would also suggest picking up a copy.
IMO, monorails are a true pain.
Too heavy, too bulky and overly complex for landscape use.
Disregard those eBay photos showing cameras with pretzel-like movements. In truth, you need very limited swings and tilts for most landscape "stuff".
For me, front rise is of primary importance, with rear tilt/swing coming second. In 4x5, image circle is not as limited as the ULF I shoot, so front tilt will be useful given a fairly modern lens.
Remember: the camera is just a box. A new, $600 Shen Hao will take photos as well as a $5000 Linhof if you put the same lens on it. Glass is so much more important than the camera. I'd suggest buying the cheapest camera that you can live with and put more research effort into your lens choices.
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Originally Posted by LJH
And a $100 Calumet cc-400 does this just as well. Yes, they are bulky and a bit harder to pack into the field, but super adaptable to many more situations. They are super for architectureal photos, and right at home with still life shots. I pack a cc-401(long bellows) out for nearly all my 4x5 shots. I also have a cc-400 for sale for $100.
What is a master but a master student? And if that's true, then there's a responsibility on you to keep getting better and to explore avenues of your profession.
I agree that monorails are bulky (sticking out in all directions from your backpack), but they aren't all that heavy.
Originally Posted by LJH
The main thing I dislike about most sensibly priced flat-bed (field) cameras is lack of rear shift. I find that motion very useful for landscapes. I have two good Toyo field cameras when I need to backpack, but they do restrict me, especially for cityscapes. He is right that the essential motion is front rise--otherwise, use a MF rangefinder.
Of course, the most important thing with landscapes is to "be there", so one can make a point for fields.
Although Cambo is not evolving their line of monorails, there is a ton of used cameras and accessories (Cambo had a very wide arsenal of bellows, monorail sections, etc.) readily available.
Especially if you use a flat-bed camera, remember to bring a 9-inch "torpedo" level with you--don't trust the levels on the camera or tripod.
If at all possible buy something you can examine before you purchase it. I bought my Toyo 45G on eBay for a very good price after asking the seller to verify the condition was as listed. Turned out that most of the controls on the rear standard were stripped or otherwise damaged. He did say the bellows were no good, which turned out to be true, and I replaced it with a cheap one from a Chinese seller on eBay (see "$69 eBay Bellows" thread). I have another rear standard coming from another eBay seller, if it is as represented and verified by the seller, I will have a fully operational camera for about what I could have bought one for in the first place. In other words, I saved nothing by buying what seemed like a bargain from eBay.
I would go with the monorail suggestion, for best price and versatility. I would only suggest a field camera if portability is the most important thing on your agenda. Even then, I would suggest getting a "freighter" backpacking frame and carry your monorail in a hard case with that. You can save a lot of weight by going with compact light weight lens instead of the heavy studio type lenses; the trade off is usually the maximum f/stop and a bit of coverage.
And speaking of coverage, don't buy into the your need an insane amount of it. I have found that my 135 Optar from my Crown Graphic, a lens that is reputed to have no coverage at all, will at f/16 cover the maximum standard bellows movement on my 45G. I doubt that it would cover the movements I would have with a bag bellows. In other words, the movements are limited by the bellows, not the lens. And that lens weighs something like 6-8oz.
As to set up time: I carry my 45G knocked down in a pelican type hard case, the tripod in a bag, and a shoulder bag with film holders, lightmeter, etc. Setup goes like this: set up tripod, mount rail to tripod (I leave the rail base on the tripod as it acts as a quick release that way), mount front standard to rail, mount rear standard to rail, install bellows. That takes like 2 minutes. Since you are going to take at least 10 minutes to set the shot, that is not a problem at all. At home, I just leave the camera set up with a plastic bag over it as a dust cover, so ther is no set up time for the camera.
As to brand, none of these cameras were junk (previous owners could have changed that) and they were intended for professional use and abuse, so pick the one that has the features you like. I picked the Toyo 45G, because I hope someday to get a 5x7 rear standard and bellows for it, so the modular format feature was important, and the 45G was the cheapest (used) camera with that feature. Note however that no camera with that feature is going to win the light weight and compactness contest.
The above is written from the viewpoint of someone new to monorail cameras; but not to 4x5 as I have had a Super Technika, and currently a Crown Graphic http://www.graywolfphoto.com/presscameras/index.html.
How is a monorail "more versatile" than a field camera?
My 4x5 has over 400mm draw. It has more rise than the image circle of my 72mm can cover. It can focus said lens at infinity without a recessed board. It uses Sinar boards and bellows. As such, it can also use have a Sinar shutter system mounted on it. I have had a 3.5kg lens, iris diaphragm and Sinar shutter on it with no issue. And it packs down into a small backpack.
So, please state why this is less versatile than a monorail?
Versatility of any camera depends on needs. I'm not going to do architectural photography nor portraits... mostly just landscapes. A Chamonix 45N will do just fine for a lot of what I intend to do. If I want rear shift to stitch two or three 4x5 sheets then I'll carry a Canham Traditional. If I get the urge to shoot some still life pics then I'll repair an old 45G I bought on the cheap.