Pitful Plea for entering Large Format Photography
Iím really enthusiastic about trying large format photography. Although, despite my enthusiasm for LF, there are some obstacles.
Iíd like to start with 4x5, as this seems like a fairly common size, and film costs will be a little less than larger formats. Iím fairly strapped for cash at the moment being a undergrad student, and would like to avoid anymore debt on top of that of my tuition.
So here in lies the pitiful plea. Is there anyone out there who would be willing to donate, or sell at a lower cost, a 4x5 camera? I was searching around online auctions, and have found some Crown Graphics cameras, but often even those exceed my budget.
So if there happens to be any saintly soul out there willing to donate or offer some advice on how to cheaply enter LF, please respond.
It sort of depends on what you are trying to do in LF. You should be able to find a Anniversary Speed Graphic or earlier for under $100 if you are patient enough. You might also want to look at some of the other brands of the time, such as Busch and Burke & James. If you are more interested in the movements than the large negative, you can find some cheaper options in 2x3 or 3x4. 9x12 plate cameras can be really cheap, but the holders are hard to work with.
Another really cheap option is a Polaroid pack film camera, like a Automatic 100If you use type 665 film you can get a negative. The pack film cameras tend to go for under $15.
Personally, the only large format cameras I paid more than $100 for are my Horseman 980 and my 5x7 Century.
If your very patient, you can find a full movement 4x5 monorail for a $100 bucks or less, with a rotating back, the calumet CC400 series is a good camera for the new person interested in LF photography as well as those who have been in it for a while, I have sold 2 of them this year for $100 bucks each and I know Jim Gali has them everyonce in a while as well.
I have a nice Graphic View I that I could be persuaded to sell....fairly reasonably too, and my wife will thank you (though she probably won't realize it's just one more step towards another 8x10 camera in the house, muhahahahah)
Heh. Yeah. That's always the problem I have. Everyone cheers when you sell something, but then they realize that you're selling stuff to buy more stuff.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
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you should have seen her face when I came home with my quickly built 8x10 camera, it was priceless....outdone only by her look when I got my ebay orbit 8x10 in, bad bellows and all, spent the next 3 hours disassembling the bellows and regluing. I'm quite sure she now knows I'm insane for sure.
You might want to rethink this. Even if you get a cheap body you still need the accesories and those will run you. Large format photography adds up. You will not always be strapped for cash so maybe now is just not the right time. Step back and enjoy the camera you do have, and then, when the cash comes your way or you have saved a few hundered then do it.
I went a long time wanting before scraping together enough for my first view camera. Life sometimes takes patience.
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 have a Calumet 400 series camera with a 26 inch rail that I would be happy to give you if you pay for the shipping. It's missing one of the sliders to hold the lens board, and a couple knobs were replaced with screws. The bellows look good, it has a ground glass, and lensboards are easy to find. It would be pretty easy to get it working, and I think Calumet may even still have some parts for these cameras.
I have to agree with Mark. I bought a Meridian 45B and a lens, then some holders, and a loupe, and a darkcloth, and a tripod, and a tripod head, and some filters, and a meter, and some film, and more film, and lens board making stuff, and retaining rings, then some btzs tubes, then another lens, then another lens, then another lens....
It is quite scary how much it adds up to. I sometimes feel like Neal Gaiman's Mr. Croup with his love for Tang Dynasty figurines everytime I see a lens. Mmmm. Tasty!
"I am an anarchist." - HCB
"I wanna be anarchist." - JR
But it doesn't have to add up.
I bought a Graphic View I with around 20 film holders for $70ish. Sure it was worn out. But the bellows didn't leak. It held a lens fine and if you didn't rush it worked.
I bought a B&J press with a lens for even less money.
Odds are most people wanting LF have a tripod. Have a camera they can use to meter. Have something they can use for a dark cloth.
Is this ideal? No but you start with what you can. Later on you can get better.
The only argument I can see about avoiding the low priced stuff is you might end up frustrated by any problems.