New Student Camera Recs for 4x5
My son will be a new student at the Antonelli Institute this Fall. He will need to have access to a 4x5 camera throughout the school year. I am interested in recommendations for the purchase of a used 4X5 that takes into account that we need to be budget conscious. Also, I need to know what he will need in addition to the camers e.g. lens, rail, film, tripod, etc. Your help is greatly appreciated.
Did they give any pointers to what type of camera?
The Calumet CC400 types are fairly cheap usually. Less then $200 and often closer to $100. Not the sort of thing to take hiking very often. But a young guy can easily handle it.
It will need a solid tripod. Lens. Film holder. Film. Dark cloth. Light meter.
A simple monorail, like the Linhof Kardan Color, should cover just about anything. The Linhof Color might be a little limited movements-wise for his purposes, unless the emphasis is on nature photography.
One or two lenses, no need to go for high-end. My suggestion is European again, but that is what I know best: Schneider Symmar 150/5.6, the old convertible type. Single coated, but a very good performer at a very reasonable price. And it can double as a 265mm f:11 by removing the front cell - nice when the budget is tight.
Some film holders - five should be plenty. A Polaroid back is a good idea too, I bought mine back when I only had one camera and one lens. It's worth its weight in film!
A good tripod, lightmeter, black T-shirt (AKA "dark cloth", but a lot cheaper).
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Right now, I think the Sinar F and Sinar F1 are the most camera for the money. You can find these on eBay for $300-400, and they are high-end professional, full featured monorail cameras that are expandable, that he will never grow out of, and that originally cost a few thousand dollars.
I like Ole's recommendations for lenses--the old Symmar convertibles are great to start with and are highly undervalued.
Give Jim Andracki at Midwest Photo Exchage a call (www.mpex.com) - and keep trying, he's a busy guy. Midwest carries a lot of used gear and he can tell you what you need and then supply just about everything if not everything. Good prices and service.
You also might try Badger Graphic, they put together a Shen Hao starter kit for about $1,500 IIRC which includes a lens, dark cloth, and film holders. You can customize it.
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The View Camera web site has an article called Getting Started in Large Format that will be helpful. (www.viewcamera.com). There are several other articles as well. Go to the section called Free Articles
Here are three books I recommend
User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone
Large Format Nature Photography
Using the View Camera that I wrote for AMPHOTO
I'll second David's suggestion of the Sinar F series. It may not be the very best camera for one particular reason or another, but it is sturdy, widely available and easy to get accessories for, and many lens on boards are already circulating so that he can swap.
Sometimes the schools have a deal with a camera manufactuer that offers a nice student model at an attractive price - if his peers have the same cameras they can swap parts and lensboards easily. I know Linhof has a very nice student model.
He might as well learn how to use eBay, as most pros do.
I have a Nikon D70 if he needs a DSLR...
Students enrolled in college photography courses qualify for some pretty good discounts from Mamiya, Toyo, Bronica, Hassleblad and others,
It has been a few years since I taught, but new 4 x 5 Toyo monorail with a new Rodenstock 150 was between 650 and 750 if I remember correctly....
Your son's professor should be aware of these programs..
I don't think however I could recommend the new above equipment over David Goldfarb's suggestion of the Sinar cameras, if you can get a good one at a good price, they are the best.
I have Steve Simmon's Book in my library and would recommend it.
Dave in Vegas
Toyo rail cameras are available on Ebay at great prices.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
Jim at MPEX can be emailed to. Just use the email link on the website for LF.