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  1. #1

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    New here. Where to start with field cameras & lenses?

    Hi everyone!

    New here and my first post. Looking to take a swing at 4x5. I haven't shot large format since college some 10 years ago. Loved it at the time but didn't appreciate the zen like approach to working slowly and deliberately with a larger camera. Currently, I'm shooting with a Mamiya 7 which I love.

    So, where should I start with the field cameras & lenses? I'm not a huge gear person. I tend to find something I like (Mamiya 7) and stick with it. Although, I am attracted to the field camera due to portability. What are some field cameras with rotating backs? I'll primarily be shooting portraits as well as landscapes.

    Also, could someone point me in the direction for some info on lenses? I've been checking out KEH but, kind overwhelming. I know I want a 35mm and 55mm/85mm equivalent.

    If you want a feel of what my aesthetic, please check out my work here: www.johncranford.com

    Glad to find a community of film shooters!
    John

  2. #2

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    APUG, I'm sorry to say, isn't the best place to look for the information you want. Go here http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ and read the FAQs. If you have questions, ask them on that site's Q&A board.

    That you brought up the Mamiya 7 puzzles me. Fine camera with outstanding optics but not what one usually thinks of as a field camera.

  3. #3

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    Thanks for the link. That's just what I was looking for!

    I bought the Mamiya 7 because because it was a medium format rangefinder. Just to clarify, I never mentioned that the Mamiya 7 was a field camera. I only mentioned that to let you know I was a medium format shooter. My wording might have implied otherwise.

  4. #4
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Most field cameras don't have "rotating" backs because they're a big weight gainer for the camera. It's much simpler and cheaper and lighter to have a reversible back. There was a Busch Pressman press camera that had a rotating back, but you'll probably find it somewhat limiting as far as lens choice and movements are concerned. As a starting point for a field camera, I'd point you to a Shen-Hao for something that is light but fully capable - if you are so inclined, you can just about tie the bellows in knots with movements (not terribly useful in the real world, where most of the time you don't need more than a few degrees of swing or tilt and a few millimeters of rise/fall/shift, but it's nice to know the capability is there). They also accept an accessory wide-angle bag bellows and use Linhof-style lensboards which are the closest thing to a "universal" lensboard out there.

    For focal lengths, the equivalent of a 35mm field of view is probably something like a 120/135mm. The "50" equivalent is say a 180-210. A 240-300 would take care of your 85mm, but I think you'll find that those options are a lot closer together on 4x5 than they would seem in 35mm. 90mm on the wide-angle end is a very common focal length, easy to find, and there are lots of options at all price ranges. I'd look for a 90/210/300 set to get a nice starter trio.

  5. #5
    Shawn Dougherty's Avatar
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    I have a Toyo 45AII field camera with a rotating back. I love it... it has it's pluses and minuses like anything else, though.

    If you have an opportunity to check out a couple models in person somewhere before buying that would be ideal.

    Good luck with whatever you choose!

  6. #6
    fotch's Avatar
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    Hello John and welcome to APUG.
    Items for sale or trade at www.Camera35.com

  7. #7

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    John, just take your time. BTW welcome to APUG!

    Jeff

  8. #8
    dismalhiker's Avatar
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    Your website has some very interesting images. Significant irony going on in some of them. I haven't been on APUG long, but find it to be extremely interesting and useful. I also succumbed to the large format urge and have a 4x5 camera on the way (don't have it yet, just some film holders and lots of anticipation).

  9. #9
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    4 x 5 is a gateway drug, John. Soon you'll be schlepping the 8 x 10 around and drooling over an 11 x 14 or 10 x 17.

    A 150mm is the traditional standard for "normal" lenses on 4 x 5, though many, many people use 135mm (my choice for standard) and even 127mm, which was the common choice for photo journalists because of the "point and shoot" capability in capturing scenes for newspapers. The Ektar 127 covers the format very well, as does the Tominon found on old Polaroid 110a pathfinder cameras, as long as you don't need movements. I would equate that focal length with a with a 35 on a 35mm camera. 210mm is a common length for the film size, but is not a 55mm equivalent- it's more like shooting a portrait lens, 100-105 on 35mm.

  10. #10
    StoneNYC's Avatar
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    As mentioned a Toyo45a is a good starter, hearty, and decent movements.
    ~Stone | "...of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong." ~Dennis Miller

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