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  1. #1
    Havoc's Avatar
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    First large format camera recommendation ?

    I'm looking at getting a large format camera some time this summer hopefully, i currently shoot with Nikon DSLRs (D3's and D700's) and also have MF cameras which are a Mamiya RZ67, Fuji GW690III and a Minolta Autocord. Any recommendations on what camera for my first large format purchase, i don't want to spend a boat load of money but want something that will produce great images. Thanks in advance as usual for any feedback or help.

    John.

  2. #2
    Brian C. Miller's Avatar
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    Recommendation? YES!

    All of them produce great images, even the Titan pinhole camera. My first LF camera is one I still use, a Graflex Super Graphic with the Wollensak Optar 135mm. No, the lens doesn't have a lot of coverage, but if you keep it within its boundaries, it's tack sharp. Like bicycle spokes at two blocks sharp.

    What you want is really dictated by what you can afford and what you want to photograph. It really takes a lot to make a LF image look bad, like the front lens is smashed with a hammer. (If there is intact glass, then you just get a "soft focus" effect. Seriously.) You want good bellows, as cruddy bellows will leak light into the image. The movements should all still be good.

    If you want something that folds up nice, buy a "field" or "press" camera. If you want something with lots of movements, you may need a monorail camera.

    Just remember this: all types of LF cameras will make fabulous images, even with lenses from the 1930s and earlier.

  3. #3
    PDH
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    As already pointed out which camera depends on what you want to shoot and where. Field or Studio, lots of movement, easy to carry? There are many geat cameras, but buy good lens. I also started with a Speed Graphic followed by a Crown, then a New View which is sort of an odd bed type camera. I dont shoot in a studio so a press or feild camera works best for me. the New View is light and easy to carry if I need more movements. I keep considering a Lindhof tech camera which like the press cameras has a rangfinder but has much more movement, just have not gotten to the point to make a purshase.

  4. #4
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    You need to do some reading and decide what style of LF camera you want, Monorail, Field, Technical or cheap and cheerful Press camera.

    There's fewer LF cameras here in the UK and so prices tend to be higher than in the US, if you import from the US there's a chance you'll get stung for Duty and VAT on the camear & postage, that's around 30% plus another £10 approx for the PO or other delivery company to handle the collection of the taxes.

    If you keep your eyes peeled on the Forums this one and the Large Format Photography one you may get a bargain.

    Ian

  5. #5
    dpurdy's Avatar
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    Just sticking your toe in the water you should go for cheap but sturdy.

    For in a studio type situation you might look at a Calumet monorail.

    For landscape or outdoors take a look at a Tachihara.

    there are plenty of other options but those are what I started with and it worked well.

    Dennis

  6. #6

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    I am also mostly a MF photographer, with much the same gear as you use. But I do venture into LF from time to time, and my experiences with the equipment have left me with some opinions. I work mostly in the field, and a field camera (as opposed to a monorail) is better there. it is just a lot easier to set up and to carry. If you are a studio type, the monorail is easier to use and more versatile. The Speed Graphic (I have a Super Speed Graphic as well as a traditional field camera) is an excellent camera - rugged, fast to use. It has limited movements, but they are usually adequate. The more traditional field cameras are more versatile, however. Wood vs. metal is usually not an issue; the camera is well protected most of the time. Ease of adjustment, and stability of the adjustments, is a very big issue. If possible, fool with the adjustments a quite a bit before you buy. Front rise with a 90mm lens can be very difficult with some cameras. Many cameras have adjustments that slip easily, and that can be a disaster. You also want a camera that takes a standard, readily available lens board (or one that you can make easily, if you are into that). You will pick up a variety of lenses over time. Most cameras, but not all, are quite stable when inserting and removing the film holders. Make sure that works easily and well with the camera on the tripod. You often take more than one shot without moving, and it is nice not to have to readjust the camera much. The same goes for mounting the camera on the tripod. Usually it is easy and convenient, but check it. Also be sure it works well with your tripod, head, and quick mount system, unless you intend to invest in something just for the LF camera.

  7. #7

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    Is LF 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 or other?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mahler_one View Post
    Is LF 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 or other?
    4x5 & 5x7 are "Grande" while 8x10 and up are "Venti"....

    My Chamonix 4x5N-2 with a holder and 135 Apo-Sironar weighs the same as my D800 with a 17-35. I find it, well, smaller than I expected it to be.

    Since I am about 90% field work and 10% portrait, I started with a Toyo 45CF and loved it! Light as can be and stows with a lens, more well protected than the 45N-2 as well, I still have it and three lens boards as a backup.
    "I'm the freak that shoots film. God bless the freaks!" ~ Mainecoonmaniac ~

  9. #9
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    I started with a Linhof Tech III and have never regreted the purchase, $500 about 10 yrs ago. It and the others like it horseman et al will all suffice for quite a bit of studio work also you just can't twist them up like a pretzel. I have a cambo monorail also and find it best at architechual studies but have used it in the field also. I used to cruise the palouse country here in washington with cambo/90mm on a tripod in the back of my van and the linhof with a 150mm, handgrip and sports finder on the passenger seat. Be careful of LF its addictive just like rollieflexes and leicas.
    No escaping it!
    I must step on fallen leaves
    to take this path

  10. #10

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    i'd get a 5x7 camera, a sturdy one, and a reducing back.
    5x7 cameras are barely bigger than 4x5 but you get 2x the negative size,
    and with the longer bellows you can use longer lenses / bigger lenses for your 4x5 work.

    good luck !
    john

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