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  1. #1
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    LF School: Sturdy older wooden 5x7 cameras.

    The Burke & James will be fine for now, but speaking to my husband and doing some thinking has brought me to think that I should probably look at other options before too long. However...I don't know enough *about* the other options. I have read through the documentation on LFF.info and I suppose I have a few questions.

    What I shoot most will be environmental portraiture, traditional portraiture, still life, and basic landscape. This leads me to think that an older wooden camera would be more to my liking. I don't need the lightest thing in the world because I won't be hiking with the thing anywhere. I would have about $5-600.

    What, in that price range, could I get? I know that a 2D, in 5x7 or 8x10, could be found with patience at that price. Also the older Agfa/Ansco wooden cameras, as well as the Koronas. But what's the sturdiest of them?
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  2. #2
    MDR
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    The Kodaks and Agfas should be equally sturdy don't discount mono rail cameras they are often cheaper and can be carried in a backpack.
    The Calumet C1 (8x10) can often be found for under $500 and is a great and very sturdy camera in my opinion.

    Dominik

  3. #3

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    I have an early Kodak/Century that is a "full plate" camera, a little larger than the 5x7 at 6½" x 8½", It has a reducing back for 5x7. nice size, mine was little used apparently and was in immaculate condition. Only drawback is that it is not an 8x10 camera.

    Any of the Century or Kodak cameras will be built about the same, Ansco I would toss in with B&J. Look for cameras that come with extra lens boards, Extension rails, tripod blocks --make sure the rails will lock into position... no missing screws... no bent brass...no split or cracked wood... check that the back doesn't look like it has been modified or taken apart and that it will fit solid both horizontally and vertically.
    * Just because your eyes are closed, doesn't mean the lights in the darkroom are off. *
    * When the film you put in the camera is worth more than the camera you put the film in... *
    * When I started using 8x10, it amazed me how many shots were close to the car. *

  4. #4
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Note that the Calumet C1 8x10 does have fine 5x7 and 4x5 reducing backs. And the camera is a tailboard design portrait camera. Meaning the back standard is used for focusing instead of the front. That way the lens, once composed, never shifts its position relative to the subject, and hence its perspective always remains unchanged.

    But they don't call it a Monster (magnesium) and a Beast (aluminum) for no reason. It's all metal, heavy and bulky. It needs a big-boy tripod and head. Preferably a Majestic head, if finances permit. And wider angle lenses can be tough to focus as one must lean over that obstructing rear tailboard to get eyes close enough to the ground glass.

    (But it does look very cool when set up out in public!)

    Ken
    Last edited by Ken Nadvornick; 11-05-2012 at 04:06 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: Incorrect case...
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  5. #5
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    The old Bunk and Junk only has to hold still for 1/15th of a second. It can wobble the rest of the time. Just saying.......

    (with studio flash, maybe only 1/100,000th of a second)

    Actually, what's fun and not really very expensive for the type of work you described is the old Century Studio cameras on the 3 wheeled semi-centennial stand. Many have an 8X10 back but most were downsized to 5X7 reducing backs after film prices went high post WWII. Nice to have both. 8X10 paper negs are a lot of fun.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

    http://tonopahpictures.0catch.com

  6. #6

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    Big 2d fan here. Very sturdy if you have the extra mounting block (don't know what to call it. If I don't use it or forget it at home I worry about shake when I am focusing close up. I have 2ds in 5x7 and 8x10. The 5x7 is no problem hauling it around, I just wish the extension rail was attached to the camera. I have dropped it more than once which is a problem because replacing the extension would cost more than buying a new camera. The 8x10 is just plain big and awkward, but the negs are sooooooo cool.
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  7. #7

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    It might be easier to find a decent 8X10 with 5X7 reducing back. My KMV 8X10 + back cost me total about what you are willing to pay. Of course the lens will greatly increase that amount (though some barrel lenses can be had rather cheaply). Then there are film holders too.
    In the end, though, 5X7 is a very nice format especially for your interests.
    van Huyck Photo
    "Progress is only a direction, and it's often the wrong direction"

  8. #8
    Stephanie Brim's Avatar
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    I think, living in Iowa, the old portrait cameras are going to be harder to source. I know that there was one in the window of a store in Ames for years, but it went out of business and I don't know if he ever sold it. May be worth it to find out as I remember it having a huge brass lens attached to it. I also think that it was an 11x14, which is just about crazy.

    The only problem I have with the monorails is that I find them clunky in the event that I *do* have to transport the thing somewhere. A 4x5 I had no problem with, but an 8x10 would be monstrous.

    I'm watching an 8x10 2D slowly drop in price right now, along with the 5x7 Conley on Ebay. Oh, and I kind of wish that this one was 8x10 or 5x7 instead of whole plate. It has a pretty nice back from the looks of it.
    No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.

  9. #9
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    Wow. That WP guy is a beauty...

    Ken
    "They are the proof that something was there and no longer is. Like a stain. And the stillness of them is boggling. You can turn away but when you come back they’ll still be there looking at you."

    — Diane Arbus, March 15, 1971, in response to a request for a brief statement about photographs

  10. #10
    papagene's Avatar
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    Steph... PM me about a Kodak 2D 5x7.
    gene LaFord


    Long live Ed "Big Daddy" Roth!!
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    "I don't care about Milwaukee or Chicago." - Yvon LeBlanc

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