Interested in getting into 4x5 photography
I am currently considering buying a 4x5 camera. I used to shoot a Mamiya RB67 Pro. What would be the best option for an entry kit? I'm not in a hurry and would be willing to piece together a camera if needed. From looking online I am leaning towards finding a Sinar F1. What lens should I look for? I plan to use the camera mainly for landscapes. I'd like to keep the price around $400.
Thank you for any advice,
Really, there's no telling. So much of the differences between cameras, lenses, films, tripods are a matter of personal taste that whatever advice you get is going to have to be considered in that light. Some generalities might apply, though. For $400 you're most likely to find a monorail; wooden "field" cameras tend to sell for more than that. A Sinar F1 is one possibility. More often found might be something like a Calumet CC-400, a Kokak Master View, a Burke & James (B&J) monorail, etc. They all work pretty much the same and the "perfect" camera for you, if there is such a thing, will only emerge after experience. Ditto with lens: if you tend toward wider lenses in your medium format work then it's likely that you'll prefer them in large format but not necessarily. Don't worry about finding something the "exact" equivalent of your favorite medium format lens, though: that often doesn't translate all that well for some reason. Make your best guess, go with something inexpensive and try to learn lessons before you spend more than you're comfortable with. Take your time and you'll figure out what works for you, then next year you can be giving the advice to some new entrant! Have fun!
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming– “Wow! What a Ride!”
— Hunter S. Thompson
Good Afternoon, Steven,
There is a lot of information (and opinion) in various threads here on APUG. A good tutorial/introduction to large format is on the Large Format Photography web site. The books by Stroebel and Simmons may be available in your local library.
Last edited by Konical; 01-29-2013 at 07:36 PM. Click to view previous post history.
As you write that your primary use will be landscape work, I'd STRONGLY recommend avoiding a monorail. They are heavy, bulky and slow to set up in the field. Not only that, they are heavy, bulky and slow to set up in the field (get the idea??!?).
I'd also avoid the press cameras (such as the Speed Graphics),as, IMO, they just aren't a good design for field work.
So, that leaves the folding/field cameras. There are plenty of older folders that should be around $500. Occasionally, you'll see newly purchased cameras such as Shen Hao's, for about $600-700. I'd get one of these. (I know that you wrote $400, but you'll probably be buying someone else's problem at this price. And you'll end up buying a "better" one sooner or later once you realise this, fulfilling the old saying that "A fool spends his money twice").
But, don't get too hung up on the camera. It's pretty much just a box. As long as there are no light leaks, most field cameras will do what you want (at this stage).
Way more important are the lenses you buy. Don't get hung up on either the number of lenses you want, nor their age. A 1970s MC lens' results will be almost indistinguishable from a new lens.
If you're a wide angle shooter, look at something like a 90mm. If you're shooting "standard" lenses, look at 150mm (or the real sleepers, the 180mm lenses). A 210mm lens is probably the best "bang for your bucks" lens, as they were a staple back in the film days, meaning that there are both plenty out there, as well as plenty of really good examples. And, they're cheap!
As Konical wrote, do some research. And then a little more. Ask plenty of questions here, regardless of how basic they are. No point spending your $$ twice!!
I agree with LJH.
Make sure the camera has a rotating back and decent movements.
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I agree and disagree with LJH. For landscape work, I would steer clear of a monorail and look for a field camera - Tachihara or it's ilk are good, but looking for a full kit with a budget of $400 is going to make that hard. As a result, I would probably spend more money on a nice lens - depending on the type of landscape stuff that you are interested in something between 90mm and 150mm, and then go for a low cost camera - which will probably put you with a graphic camera. If you get bitten by the LF bug, you can keep that lens, and sell the camera for whatever you paid for it, and upgrade to something else. One of the nice things about LF is that everything is interchangeable- the film holders that you buy to use with a graphic camera will work with any other 4x5, similarly with lenses etc.
Movements are nice, but not as needed in landscape as in other types of photography.
FWIW, I use a plastic field camera (Walker Titan), which has far more movements than I ever take advantage of. I upgraded to that from a Crown Graphic, and kept the same set of lenses, film holders, hood, focus loupe etc that I had invested in earlier with the press camera.
IMO a Rotating back is a nice to have. Tripod is a necessity, and it can't be too sturdy.
yes, a speed or crown graphic (difference: crown lacks rear shutter you never use anyway) is an excellent beginner choice. Cheap -- under $300 with a good lens and shutter, built like a tank (finest straight grain mahogany under that leather cover) and has enough swings and tilts for a beginner to play with.
also readily marketable if you decide you don't like it after all.
advantages: build like a brick and has three separate viewing systems so the camera is actually hand-holdable. virtually indestructable. Old Ektar lenses on most of them are really really good glass. Maybe not as good as modern new lenses, but some of the greatest photos of the 1940s and 1950s were shot with those old lenses. Really, they're very good.
bad points -- it's isn't ideal for landscape but it will do in a pinch -- consider it an investment in learning -- if after 6 months you decide you like 4 by 5 work, and feel cramped by the graphic, sell it for what you paid for it and buy something better.
Last edited by summicron1; 01-29-2013 at 07:49 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Welcome to the site!
I started with MF film too [after digitial MF], then upgraded to LF, bought Pacemaker Speed Graphic without lens then Crown Graphic[don't know which model?] with 162mm Wollensack lens but didn't use them both yet, then Shen Hao HZX45 IIA with Rodenstock Sironar-N 150mm and did shoot 5 sheets[one is double exposed so i lost one as blank] and the results shows what is LF quality is.
Good luck with whatever combo you will choose, all will give you something nice if you have time to learn/experiment/use.
Thank you for all of the replies. I am still doing quite a bit of research. I have been reading The Camera by Ansel Adams. I still have to decide how I will process the film. I also plan on buying a scanner since I don't have access to a darkroom.
Hello hazardsg and welcome to APUG. You don't need a darkroom to develop film. Its nice to have but don't let that hold you back.