Ok, ready to move up a notch...
I have an old beaten Crown Grapich, and it has been a wonderful intro to LF for me, but I`d like something a bit more flexible, with more movements.
It has the 127mm Ektar.
My budget is $1500-2000+-...
I have used the CG for landscapes mostly, but I have a desire to do portraits with LF, and the Ektar is a bit too wide for that, the rangefinder is a bit off too....
So, what can you guys/girls recommend? I want something fairly portable and sturdy and if it exists, a rangefinder too..
I plan to keep the Ektar, as it seems to perform good with B&W film, but I`d like a modern multicoated lens too...
You might be able to find a used Linhof Tech IV or V with a couple of cammed lenses and stay in budget, or maybe a Tech III with three cammed lenses. If you get a Tech III, you won't be able to get new lenses cammed easily, so you'll want to be sure it comes with a few cammed lenses included in the package.
Maybe you want a wood field camera, you can get some quality ones for $600 or less on Ebay. Then you can use the rest to get the best quality 210mm lens you can get. That more a normal length for 4x5. An older Technika would be right if you want the rangefinder, but you have to buy the lens and matching rangefinder cam as a set or the rangefinder is useless. I have a wood field, an Anba Ikeda, and I'm very happy with it. The lack of a rangefinder is no problem with portraits, the subject is not likely to run away in a studio setting. The great masters in the 40s and 50s did quite well with just the ground glass and a little patience and skill.
There'll be others chiming in with thier knowledge on the other cameras, they won't steer you wrong. Good luck!
The Shen Hao 4x5 is around $600 or so. But the bellows aren't that long. You could get the Shen Hao 5x7 plus the 4x5 back for less then $1300. Add in shipping to your location. It won't handle extremely short lenses. With a flat board I think it's 80mm from the ground glass to the centre of the lensboard. Anything less then that would need a recessed board and I wonder if it would include the bed in the photo. OTOH you'll have plenty of bellows for portraits.
What kind of lens do you want? If it's 150mm to 210mm you'll find plenty of used ones for not much money.
If you want to save your money for lenses then why not get two cameras? You can get something like the Shen Hao 4x5 for landscape use. Add in an old monorail for protraits. Used monorails are often not that expensive.
There is a long list of issues you should consider in choosing the most appropriate LF camera for your objectives. There are several articles discussing these on the http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ site, and I'd suggest doing some reading to arrive at a better understanding of how these issues balance against each other. Once you've done a little research, I'd suggest thinking about what you want to do with the camera, writing down your requirements and the priorities of those requirements.
Some objectives end up at opposite ends of the feature spectrum. Doing portraits, for example, tends to require longer lenses and longer bellows, while landscapes require wider lenses and short bellows. You'll want to divide your budget between lenses and the camera, naturally. So, it's helpful to figure out what you can get by with, lens-wise, before considering different camera models.
For portraits, also consider the style and perspective you prefer. For close head shots having good perspective, you may want to look at longer telephoto-design lenses - a Nikkor 300T or 360T, for example. A 300mm lens on 4x5 would give you about the same "look" as a 90mm or 105mm lens on 35mm, for example, while the 360T would be closer to a 135mm lens on 35mm. The tele design lenses will allow you to use shorter bellows, but you'll still need about 1.5x to 2x the flange focal distance for tight head shots.
Choosing the camera and lenses is a balancing act, and you'll need to consider the compromises between size, weight, features and cost. That's where having your objectives and priorities well defined in advance will help.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
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Har du prøvd å spørre on dette på foto.no? (He he he...)
Back to "international lingo":
I feel right stupid for this, but I won't recommend that you buy mine - the Tech III 5x7". Sorry - but it's not what you're after.
First recommendation: Forget about rangefinder. That really limits you to newer Technikas with cammed lenses, which tend to be between "expensive" and "very expensive".
Older technikas can sometimes be had with focus scales; there's one on mine (which needs to be set at infinity before shooting, since it has an unoriginal back). These can sometimes be usable, but it takes some practice! Any fixed-zero camera (excluding only some monorails) can easily be fitted with distance scales if you need them.
Multicoated lenses are less important than many people (esp. beginners in LF) tend to think. Since LF lenses don't need to be zoom, or retrofocus, they can be made with fewer lens elements. That again means that there are fewer glass/air surfaces, which is where reflections and flare comes from. For an example of a result from an old single-coated lens, have a look at this picure and the detail here.
For portraits on 4x5" you'll want a lens in the (180-) 210-300 (\360)mm range, and a camera that can handle it at close range. That means at least 40cm of bellows/extension, you don't want to work too close to the absolute limit of the equipment. Last week I saw a coated Heliar 210mm/f:4.5 go for 149 Euro on ebay.de - I was sorely empted to bid on it. There is no finer portrait lens for 4x5", coated or uncoated (well - maybe the new Cooke Optics one. But that's out side your budget, and mine too).
If you want more movements, monorails are best. But they are a b*st*rd in the field (with some exceptions here too, of course). For field cameras, I would think long and hard about Shen-Hao and Gandolfi. The Gandolfi Variant especially is a very strong, very stable and very flexible camera!
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Wow, amazing response!!!
Okay, I`ve learned a lot from you already. I`ll check out Gandolfi and Shen Hao, look for a 200+mm lens and forget about rangefinder LF cameras....
The Gandolfi Variant looks promising...
Ole, foto.no er nok ikke rette fora for dette nei
Another thing to consider would be a rollfilm back. A 6x9 back with a 210 lens would give a fine perspective for portraits, and a Calumet back slides in like a regular filmholder. This leaves you with the abilities of the view camera as well and you can switch back to full frame at the drop of a hat.
There`s a used Horseman 45FA available here in Norway, is that a good option?