Cost to get into LF camera setup?
Having gone from 35 to MF, i'd like to try LF field camera like Ansel used,one day.
What would it cost for landscape lens, camera and all the assc?
And what brand would u reccomend for a beginner LFer? camera swap meet? ebay? thanks!
You can spend as little or as much as you want, from an old beat-up Graphic with the original lens/shutter for maybe $100 total,
to a large kit with numerous lenses, each of which costs thousands of dollars.
I would strongly recommend you start with an inexpensive used camera and a decent lens with a modern shutter (this is important).
The 'normal' lens for 4x5 (equivalent to a 50mm on a 35mm camera) would be 135mm to 150mm.
The most common aperture for LF lenses is f/5.6, but some wide-angles are larger, and some long FLs are smaller.
Read the introductory pages at LFPF (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/) for a good over-view of the topic.
“Wise men talk because they have something to say; fools, because they have to say something.” - Plato
There are many options to get there, but first you really need to know where you want to go...
Are you looking at studio work (portraits, still life, etc.), or more location / landscape?
Those will impact both your camera (monorail versus field) and lens options (e.g. wide=> may need bag bellows capability, long=> may need a lot of bellows or telephoto lens design, large heavy portrait lens=>need robust front standard).
Do you have a LF (4x5) enlarger that you are using for your MF darkroom work, or will you need to buy one, or looking at contact printing?
Short answer until you answer the above questions yourself, is to befriend a LF photographer who is photographing the types of subjects you want to photograph and see what works for them and what does not work, and what they would suggest.
If you are using a MF system, you no doubt know the cost in acquiring all the extra bits, besides the camera and one lens, so you are better buying someone's kit, than trying to assemble one yourself from scratch.
The good news is that as a result of the move of many professional photographers and serious hobbyist to digital, good quality equipment is much cheaper than it has been, and people are getting out, as well as others like yourself getting into LF...
And the other good news is that if you are patient and careful in your purchase of used equipment, should you decide to abandon LF, you can re-sell the equipment and just consider the difference in purchase versus selling price, rent on the equipment to experience it.
Do be aware that for some of us who have tried LF, it can cause an addication type of behaviour, and you will find yourself pondering bigger and bigger formats, until you find yourself not just looking at the APUG LF section, but also the ULF section too.
Good luck with your search,
Cost depends on your location, LF cameras are much cheaper in the US compared to the rest of the world particularly Europe, Australia etc.
The best place to buy is probably here on APUG or the LFP Fourum Leigh's mentioned. However I'd recommend finding an LF user near you and looking at a few cameras first then decide and then sit patientlt for one to come up for sale. Better still place a wanted advert.
To give you an idea though I can & have put together LF outfits for less than £500 ($750) here in the UK, you'd possible do the same in the US for $500-$600. (Super Graphican 3 lenses but a lot of waiting buying at camera fairs - slight restoration).
You can find monorail cams for as little as $75-$100, then you will need a lens , sturdy tripod(Tiltall's go for $100 new), focus cloth, film holders, loupe, etc. 8x10 and larger will start at least three time more than 4x5,but you can contact print the larger sizes and won't need an enlarger. You don't need an enlarger for 4x5, but who wants to look at post cards for prints, I like my prints a bit larger. Field cameras, or folders, are far and away more expensive than monorails, but lighter in weight, have fewer movements(a must have for architecture). Just a few things to think about as you venture into the wonderful world of LF.
BTW: the big kid in my avatar is my hero, my son, who proudly serves us in the Navy. "SALUTE"
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there is a range expensive to cheap
... it all depends what you want.
Last edited by jnanian; 09-07-2012 at 08:58 AM. Click to view previous post history.
things can be had cheap if you're willing to wait and you know what you're doing.
if you don't know what you're doing you better find someone you trust to help out.
if you can't find anyone best is to buy from a reputable place that accepts returns--don't go bargain hunting right away. most bargains require some sort of repairs. if you don't know what you're doing you WILL learn...it ain't rocket science and just about any problem you will encounter can be remedied with solutions found from searching these forums or asking--best to learn yourself and search though--if just depends on how much time you want to spend fiddling with stuff.
you want the least amount of problems learning the photography aspect, spend the money on a decent, known good equipoment from a reputable place--there's already enough variables in photography and iffy equipment causes problems learning. You search and you will see all the "what causes these streaks" problems that are ususally caused by faulty equipment....if you like to spend time doing that then that's your bag.
alternatively, you can build one and learn that way--a camera is a light tight box--I have built a bunch out of cardboard--they work. you can build a pinhole camera for FREE from stuff laying around the house.
RECOMMENDATIONS: a good, known working crown graphic 4x5 with graflock back--best bang for the buck--you'll keep it a lifetime. you can use it as an enlarger if you're clever. You can shoot direct positive paper in it you can put a rollfilm back on it. it folds up to a tiny box. thehy are extremely well built and have lasted for decades and still deliver.
OP, if you stick with LF you'll realize within a year after you started that you bought the wrong camera. This happens to everyone. Until you've used the gear, you won't really know what you enjoy and need.
About buying at a swap meet. Not a good idea. LF cameras are poorly represented at them, so are lenses, buyers rarely have any recourse, prices are often not good. If you don't know prices and can't afford to overpay, don't buy at a camera show.
If I had to do it all over again, given today's prices, I'd probably start with a Cambo or Calumet-badged Cambo. Monorail cameras with full movements front and rear, very modular, not very expensive used and fairly plentiful. The best monorail alternative is probably Sinar, but I don't know that system (or prices for Sinar gear) well enough to know whether a Sinar would be a better starter camera than a Cambo.
I shoot 2x3 Graphics and a 2x3 Cambo. If you want a view camera, you don't want a Graphic, they are just too limited. And nowadays decent 4x5 Crown Graphics cost more than decent 4x5 Cambos.
Re lenses, start slow. Its easy to go overboard. I started out with a normal lens for 2x3, recommend that you start out with a normal lens for 4x5 (150 mm). Every so often someone runs a little poll here or on the LF forum "your most-used focal length." Normal for the format always wins. There's a hint.
Good luck, have fun.
Or, you could buy my complete kit that I posted here a couple of weeks ago. I'm days from either breaking it up or ebaying it. See my post Chamonix kit for sale.
Dan's lens advice is spot on. Even shooters who use a plethora of lenses on 35mm often find themselves straying less from normal. I use three: a 90mm, a 150mm, and a 210mm and am very happy with the range. I will likely add one longer lens eventually but it's really not necessary.
Originally Posted by Dan Fromm
The LF forums at the site Leigh refers to are a good resource to watch the classifieds and get an idea of what is available at what prices.