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  1. #1
    Anupam Basu's Avatar
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    Press / Field / View camera alternatives on a budget

    As far as I can tell the cheapest ways to get into 4x5 is to either buy one of the press cameras, in which case one loses most of the movements or to buy one of the heavy view cameras - calumet, graphic view, omega - in which case portability becomes the issue. Since the reason I currently want to do LF at all is not resolution but the movements and control, I am not keen on the press camera angle. So my question is, is there any practical compromise between these two extremes?

    I don't mind a little bit of weight if the camera easily disassembles into a compact package that can be carried a few miles or so. But I am not sure how practical this is with the view cameras. Or are there any other field cameras that are relatively cheap ($200 at the most) and yet are less restrictive about movements. A compact view camera would be ideal, but only if it is easy to set up and dismantle - I don't imagine a long setup procedure is going to be much fun in the Wisconsin winter.

    There is another option of course - keep practising BW shooting and printing on 35mm and 6x6 and in two years time when money is less of an issue, buy a proper field camera (long story, dissertation to complete etc). If that is the most feasible course of action do let me know, but I would like to hear of any possible alternatives if they exist.

    Thanks,
    Anupam

  2. #2
    Jim Noel's Avatar
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    Keep your eyes open for a Graphic View, or Graphic View II.
    Althought they are monorails, they are small, lightweight and easily carried in the field. Movements are adequate, but not extreme. They are lighter than many press cameras. Be sure they have the tripod mount with them as they are unuseable without this special item.

    I often see these go for less tha $150, sometimes less than $100. Often they have a 203mm Ektar lens which was one of the lens choices when they were new. Excellent lens, lots of coverage, I use one on my 8x10 occasionally.

    As for press camers, the heaviest and least useable w/o modification are the Crown and Speed Graphics. Best choice is a Busch Pressman, next is a B&J Bress. Both have front tilts.

    Good luck
    Jim
    [FONT=Comic Sans MS]Films NOT Dead - Just getting fixed![/FONT]

  3. #3

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    The big problem with the Calumets isn't the weight it's the bulk. I think somebody here took the rail off and packed it that way. Yes it's heavier then most field 4x5s but if it as an 8x10 you'd think it was light -) And you don't have to haul 8x10 film holders either.

    The B&J only really lacks rear movements. The front is fine for most things. The bellows aren't very long and no graflok back.

  4. #4
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    You can find a Sinar F for around $250 or less these days. It's more portable than most people think, gives you plenty of options for expansion in the future, and it's a precise instrument with some handy features that does just about anything you need to do with a view camera.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
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  5. #5
    raucousimages's Avatar
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    Check out a Toyo (Omega) 45 D or E. Not too heavy. Just pull the rail out and put it in a pack. I shoot a 45 AII but my kids use an E from a pack, not to bad to set up. I had 3 E's but a couple of days ago two of them fell off of a shelf, ugly. My kids use them at times and prices are so low right now I did not want to sell them, just wish I hadent knocked them over. Not a bad camera to start with.
    DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.

  6. #6

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    Second the suggestion on the Graphic View I or II if you must have front and back movements. The difference is the I didn't come with a Graflok back (many were retrofitted) and doesn't have center neutral tilt and, of course, the I has 12 inch bellows extension vs. 16 for the II. If you are interested in macro work, recalling your suggestion to set up a macro section, I would think you would want the longer bellows - or do you intend to use the 45 for marco?
    bart

  7. #7
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Without knowing your budget, I'd suggest looking at a Shen-Hao as a really nice field camera with movements you'd be hard pressed to find on some monorails. Some folks have had QC issues with the camera; I cannot say that I have, however. I have had mine for five years and been extremely happy with it.

  8. #8

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    In terms of inexpensive view either monorail or twin rail you can count in Orbit, Solar, NewView and Brand, all for under a $150. If you find a battered Speed or Crown you can strip them down, and with a few modifications they can be made more adjustable in terms of front movement, for a passable field camera.

  9. #9

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    Another lightweight option is the Gowland Pocket View or the Calumet Gowland. Very lightweight and it folds up small. May be hard to find a used one though. They are pretty obscure so if you find one you may get it cheap. I paid $175 for one last year. Check this link for new ones: http://www.petergowland.com/camera/

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb
    You can find a Sinar F for around $250 or less these days. It's more portable than most people think, gives you plenty of options for expansion in the future, and it's a precise instrument with some handy features that does just about anything you need to do with a view camera.
    I used one for years and never knew there was an "official" way to fold it up that made it more compact than I'd ever managed...

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