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  1. #1
    msbarnes's Avatar
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    5x7 and 8x10 inexpensive recommendations and questions

    I'm looking into getting into LF with one of these two formats most likeley.

    What are some relatively easy to find, not too expensive, and somewhat robust cameras? My budget is roughly 1k, maybe 1.5k but I'd prefer to spend less (need to save money for film and processing equipment).

    I honestly don't know where to start..pricing cameras/lenses in 35mm/120 is easy but I'm totally lost with LF.

    Requirements and preferences:
    -I don't care about a viewfinder/rangefinder
    -Movements are not that important to me
    -I value portability and sturdiness
    -All I want is a normal (~210mm for 5x7, ~300mm for 8x10)

    Well with 8x10 it seems that one budget option is the Kodak 2D is that a good starter? I've also read that Deardorff cameras without front movements can be held more cheaply.

    I'm a bit cautious because these cameras are old. My 35mm/120 cameras are old too but I feel that these LF cameras are more fragile (esp. because of bellows)...are wooden folders fragile? I feel that one good knock and my camera is innoperative. I don't abuse my cameras but I do value robustness as I want to take it with me on the field. People obviously spend good money on wooden Deardorffs so part of me thinks this isn't THAT big of a concern.
    Last edited by msbarnes; 06-02-2013 at 08:13 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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  2. #2
    Barry S's Avatar
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    A Kodak 2D would be a great start if you're looking for a portable portrait camera. There's nothing fragile about classic wood field cameras. I have some that were in use for a century and I figure they're good for another century or two of use if I don't drop them too often. A Deardorff is a step up in terms of overall design and movements. They're well worth the $1200-$1400 cost for a good specimen.

  3. #3

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    Good thing. View finders/range finders are so not real LF. Even on my speed graphic I never used the range finder. A good loupe is all you need.

    While a Deardorff is a great camera, it is probably out of your price range unless you get really lucky. I spent a lot of time and energy getting my 8x10 for 1500 dollars about 6 years ago. Granted it was a complete setup with two lens, two backs and a carrying case but still. It is a nice camera.

    If you choose 5x7 I can give you a field camera (B&J) for pretty much the cost of shipping. You'll need to invest in a lens after that. Not the greatest camera in the world but a start into larger LF.

    tim in san jose
    Where ever you are, there you be.

  4. #4
    Doc W's Avatar
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    Your budget might be a little low to do what you want. If you don't already have a good light meter, you will need one, along with film holders (not cheap, if you get good ones), a solid tripod (one that will hold the much larger camera), and other smaller items, which all add up.

    If you really want to jump into the larger formats, skipping 4x5, then my advice would be to start with a decent 8x10. You can always get a 5x7 back somewhere down the road, but it you start with 5x7, you will need another camera to jump to 8x10. The good thing about either format, as you probably know, is that you can contact print and thus do not need an enlarger. You can get away with some pretty basic darkroom equipment.

    You say you don't care about movements but if you plan to do any landscape work, you will need at least front tilt. If you are only going to do portraits, you can get away with few movements. As for view cameras being flimsy, this is just not true. I would much rather drop a well-built 8x10 than a modern, expensive digital camera. At least you can repair the 8x10 with glue and screwdriver.

    A Deardorff may be out of your league unless you top up your budget a little. Another great 8x10 is the Kodak Master 8x10 which can sell for as little $1200, with a 5x7 back (although you have to look hard and be patient). Whatever you find, make SURE the bellows is light-tight. Get it in writing before you buy. A lot of cheaper view cameras are cheap because the bellows is more like a screen door.

    Keep researching. Spend time on fleabay but make sure you check sold items to see what things REALLY sell for. Check the for sale part of this newsgroup and ask a lot of questions.

  5. #5

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    Kodak 2D, I have both 8x10 and 5x7. Pretty much a couple of wooden tanks.
    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

  6. #6
    msbarnes's Avatar
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    Oh and for further clarification I have good meters and a sturdy tripod.


    It seem so to me that most LF shooters have more than one camera or have iterated between a few.


    Well to be honest I'm not sure where to start. Sometimes I want 8x10, sometimes 4x5 and othertimes 5x7. Ofcourse it depends on your applications and intended use.... I'm more familiar with the 4x5 options but not so much the 5x7 or 8x10..well, until now. I wanted to see my camera options and then weigh the pros and cons myself.
    Last edited by msbarnes; 06-03-2013 at 11:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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  7. #7
    Ken Nadvornick's Avatar
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    There's always the old stand-by. It meets every one of your criteria, except maybe easy portability. There's a reason they call it a Beast. I have one with all three backs (8x10, 5x7, 4x5). It has reasonably inexpensive, relatively available accessories. It's so ugly the thing is endearing. And in case a nuclear weapon detonates in the same parking lot you can always crawl inside and be perfectly safe. (Yeah, it's robust...)

    Calumet C1 8x10

    As far as cost, I originally got mine along with two mounted G-Claron lenses (210 & 305), four working 8x10 film holders, Lee Filters foundation/compendium/filters, a brand new oversized Calumet blue/white dark cloth, and a large, very high quality cable release. Nothing was missing. Nothing was broken. Everything worked perfectly, but everything also needed cleaning. Total was $1,100 a few years back.

    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

  8. #8

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    The 2-D is a terrific camera in many respects, but it is HEAVY compared to many expensive modern cameras in the same formats. How "portable" it is depends on your standards for portability, but it's hard to beat on bang for the buck.

    I've just expanded from 5x7 to 8x10 (both 2-Ds as it happens), and the difference is pretty significant in terms of the logistics of handling the film and the scale of operations on the camera. In some arrangements with the 8x10 I can't reach the front standard from under the darkcloth, which is all right if I plan for it (it means using rear-standard focus for final adjustments, mostly) but was pretty distressing the first time it happened.

    Normal lenses for both formats are reasonably available without breaking the bank. A 210/4.5 Tessar type is a good-sized but manageable lens; in the 300mm length I expect they're more likely to be f/6.3.

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by msbarnes View Post


    It seem so to me that most LF shooters have more than one camera or have iterated between a few.
    First sign of the addiction.

    "Needing" more than one camera makes perfect sense to those of us who use them. Not so much to photographically challenged spouses.
    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

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark View Post
    "Needing" more than one camera makes perfect sense to those of us who use them. Not so much to photographically challenged spouses.
    It helps if you go in for spiffy-looking wood-and-brass behemoths. It's much easier, in my experience, to sell a spouse on the aesthetics of a 2-D than of, say, a Technika or a Green Monster!

    -NT
    Nathan Tenny
    San Diego, CA, USA

    The lady of the house has to be a pretty swell sort of person to put up with the annoyance of a photographer.
    -The Little Technical Library, _Developing, Printing, And Enlarging_

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