COlorado, October, 4x5 color film......hubba hubba. We'll hope all the rain does not knock the leaves off too soon.
see my PM that will be coming in a few seconds
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
I read over this thread quick and here is my pov. The Graphic and a 135mm or 150mm for just about anything Colorado is the best first bet. Light, fast to setup or can even be used handheld, sufficient rise for landscapes (verticals are less so) if the lens allows it, and with a Graflok back useable with a rollfilm back, although it can be a pain, but it does allow using cheaper film and getting more pictures. If you could budget another lens a 207-210-240 would be nice to own as a second for distant vista's. Your budget tho must include enough film holders, a changing bag to reload when tripping, better tripod head (for verticals), a possibly larger pack, a loupe for the GG and perhaps strange size filters/hoods and even filters you may not own. Color film is still expensive to buy and develop and b&w sometimes doesn't do for spectacular landscapes and skies, and which can merge all things green into 1 color. For b&w you'll definitely need a yl/gr filter with 2 stops compensation. 400 iso film is now 100 and watch your dof/shutter speed. Frankly, when I read about peoples LF budgets and their travel plans I sometimes cringe. There's always more cost/more time associated with LF then expected and it's not a fast shooting traveling format unless you have experience with it and time to do it. Not to put you off, and relating from my own personal travel experiences, if I was moving around a lot with others while sightseeing I would carry a 35mm or MF outfit instead. If I was planted with a a lot of time on my hands and a car available to roam, then I might take the 4x5. As it is, I rarely carry my 4x5 out of my state preferring my MF which allows me quite big enlargements, cheaper film and affordable processing. It also allows me to use the camera for all subject matter including family spontaneous shots. Also you know you MUST carry on your film so either put the film thru the scanner or beware the TSA agent that wants to open the box. I like the 4x5 format, but I feel that it's important to make the right choice that leads to the proper kit for the circumstances you'll experience in your travels. A planned specific photographic trip to shoot LF is much different then a visit to the relatives trip or just a vacation. Of course for local area shooting stuff while home it's easier to deal with.
I guess you'll need to make some decisions as to what you most want to use it for, starting with studio vs landscape, ie do you want to carry the thing around? You can pick up an old 4x5 Calumet or Kodak rail type camera quite cheaply on ebay, but they're not compact by any stretch of the imagination. Press cameras like the Crown Graphic are a relatively cheap alternative that is more portable. As others have said, the 127mm just barely covers 4x5, it was actually designed for 3¼x4¼ or so I'm told. 150mm or 165mm would probably be more useful.
I agree with the idea of a 5x7 as it would allow you to use both 5x7 & 4x5 film (with a 4x5 back) but you'd be hard pressed to get the camera, both backs, and a lens for $200 or less. Possible, but not easy - and shipping on one of these cameras tends to be $25 or so, too.
In any case, one extremely important thing to consider is the condition of the bellows. A few pinholes can be patched easily enough, but a new bellows is probably going to wind up costing over $200.
So, decide what you're most likely to use the camera for and be patient. If you're careful you can pick up something within your budget, use it, learn from it, and if & when you're ready for something else you'll be able to sell it for at least what you paid for it.
Last edited by Nathan Smith; 08-23-2006 at 11:34 AM. Click to view previous post history.
Welcome back! Years ago I used 5x7, until I lost the enlarger in a darkroom fire. Since then I use 4x5 backs on both a monorail and a flatbed 5x7 B&J. They are a bit heavier and bulkier than 4x5 cameras, but the longer bellows is handy. Each cost under $100. The later Speed Graphics can be modified for front swings and better tilts. My much abused older B&J Press, unlike the Speed Graphic, has generous front slides and tilts and a revolving back. It also uses square flat 4" lens boards, which are easy to fabricate. Its all metal body should last forever. Other B&J press cameras have more or less features. The later Speed Graphics have their advantages, though, including usually a focal plane shutter. When you don't need a between-the-lens shutter, the options for lenses are cheap and plentiful. I get by with no shutter at all with the longest lens on the view cameras.
a 5x7 is nice, but big and you would need a larger tripod for it. a lot of the lenses that cover 4x5 can pretty much cover a 5x7 sheet of film too, but reducing backs can be hard to find, if you aren't getting a "kit" already.
crown graphic is a nice camera.
for a 127 lens you might consider a 127 tominon.
people suggest they don't cover 4x5, but they do and they don't cost
too much $$ as for a 90mm lens, you might look into a wollensak raptar, or a wollensak exwa 3 1/2" both cover 4x5 film nicely and if you decide eventually you want/need a 5x7 camera, the exwa will cover 5x7 stopped down all the way. both lenses are inexpesive compared to some of the over the top glass out there. if you are into super angulons ( 90mm ) i have has a "chrome barrel" one for years and it will cover 5x7 as well.
oh, a tiltall tripod will hold a crown graphic and they are pretty low-priced.
ps. if you decide on speed graphic you can use really inexpensive barrel lenses too! ( focal plane shutter )
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A big advantage of buying the lens that comes with the Crown ( assuming it hasn't been vandalised ) is the cam will match the lens to the rfdr.
A Crown rfdr is VERY accurate. Wide open, the 127 Ektar will easily resolve ( with the rfdr ) eyelashes at 6 feet. That focussing accuracy means you DON'T need a loop and darkcloth and all that stuff when you're out and about.
"One of the painful things about our time is that those who feel certainty are stupid,
and those with any imagination and understanding are filled with doubt and indecision"
You're right John, but she spoke of wanting lots of movement - the 127mm does a fine job on 4x5 but doesn't allow for a whole lot of movement. I really like the 127mm Ektar that came with my Speed, but they have their limits coverage-wise. Excellent main lens though, maybe just start off with that and pick up another lens when you feel like you need it.
Originally Posted by jnanian
An Ektar 203mm or a Xenar 150mm would be a good lens to start with, perhaps with an Angulon 90mm f6.8 (not the 'Super') – all those can be picked up, with clean glass and working shutters, for less than GBP80. Don't suppose anyone would throw in a camera for free though!
B&J Press sounds like a good one to try. I use an MPP which is a poor man's Linhof Technika made in England 40-odd years ago. It is the basis of my cheapo landscape outfit – camera, Angulon 90, Sironar 150mm, cloth, loupe, dark-slides (I already had the tripod and meter) – which cost all told about GBP300 (~$500). I don't think I could have done it for much less.
Maybe you might have to reassess your budget – or are things really so much less in the US? Anyway, good luck.
two hundred dollars is not near enough to be considered "serious" about Large format. You are kidding yourself with that for anything under $500. Stuff costs more. Plain and simple. You watch ebay. price it out.
I don't really need lots of movement. I just wondered if I could get something with MORE movement than a Graphic. If I can't then it's perfectly fine.
I inquired about a Crown Graphic on Ebay going for a reasonable price and I'll see if I can get that.