I was thinking about getting getting into large format photography, and was wondering what a good 4x5 camera and lens would be to start out with. I'll be mainly doing B&W, with 75% of use being non-field work. I'm looking for something used, with a budget of $1500, although I'd like to spend $1000 or less. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
An old Linhof Color, if you can find one.
A really basic, rugged, light monorail which can also be used outdoors. I put mine in a Lowepro S&F Rover Lite, along with 5 lenses or so for landscapes. I do 99% field work...
Spend money on lenses. Good shutters are more important than good optics. Spend the rest of your money on film
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
What focal length lenses should I consider? Two to 3 lenses is what I'll usually have for each format...a wide angle, normal, and close-up. Also, who makes good large format glass? My knowlege is limited to 35mm and medium format. Thanks.
When you say 75% non-field, what does this mean exactly? Does this mean you do mainly studio stuff or street shooting. The recommended setup should be tailored to your specific needs. If you can elaborate on your shooting requirements that would help.
Yes, mainly studio work, or location work where taking the camera to one spot will be all the carrying I'll do. Therefore weight really isn't much of an issue seeing how I won't be trekking miles with it on my back.
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I chose a Sinar F monorail - it has enough features to last me a lifetime, parts are widely available, and it's well made. The type and brand of camera is going to be a very personal choice.
For lenses, pick something close to what you normally use in 35mm or MF. 150mm is "normal", 75mm is very (but not extreme) wide, 300mm is equivalent to about 100mm on 35mm. For brands, there are 4 main players (current): Schnieder, Rodenstock, Fuji and Nikon. Anything made by any of these vendors will be plenty sharp. The old/used market is overflowing with lenses from various companies.
Calumet has several starter kits aimed at students. Their "Caltar" lenses are made by Rodenstock.
After (or even before) you figure out what you want, check Midwest Photo Exchance (www.mpex.com). They're extremely helpful. I bought my first kit there for less than $1200, and had everything I needed - monorail camera, mounted lens, film holders, film, tripod head, dark cloth, and even a Polaroid holder and film.
Calumet has a sale on a bunch of thier used 4x5s for $150. It would be hard to wrong with something like that! Robert White was closing out thier 150mm G-Clarons. I'd check with both those places to see if they've got anything left.--Cheers!
This is my first post at the Forum - but have been shooting large format for 20 plus years - ekk!
If you are just starting out and have a limited budget I would shop around the used camera market. EBay is one of your best bets. Last year I sold my trusty Calumet 4x5 on eBay and purchased an Arca-Swiss Discovery 4x5 also from eBay. With all the accesorries I would have paid about $1900. but purchased for $1100. It was one year old and in mint shape! You will find many large format cameras in excellent shape. I purchased the Discovery to do light back-packing photography, location and studio work.
Here's a link to an older model Arca-Swiss on eBay:
The Buy It price is a little high!
Also you might consider the Cambo/Calumet 4x5 - shot with one for years mostly in the studio and it's light enough to set-up on location. But not good for back-packing as the camera does not close down like the Arca.
There is one on eBay: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewI...&category=15247
Not sure how much the new ones are going for but the Buy it Price is fairly good.
Either one will get you started!
Also lens are going for cheap on eBay also.
Best of luck,
Lots of options. Check largeformatphotography.info for camera reviews, general advice, and links to more information.
A good three lens kit would be 90mm, 150mm and something in the 210-360mm range. On a budget you might consider a Schnieder convertible Symmar either to cover the mid range and longer range or to extend your range at the long end, giving you a fourth option.
If you are going to be shooting mostly indoors, an older calumet C-400 series is a perfect beginning camera. Very sturdy, has full movements and there are always a few on Ebay for $150-$200 with out lens. What ever your choice of lens if used make sure you have the shutter CLA or purchase a lens new. I would also purchase new film holders to eliminate any variables you can find wth older holders. New Fidelity holders are adequate.
Don't forget the tripod. A lightweight 35mm tripod is not good enough. You need something more sturdy to eliminate vibration and camera shake from the wind when outdoors. This component is usually an afterthought but should be as carefully choosen as the camera. Search the forum for discussions on tripods. I would give you some ideas but mine are custom made with Ries heads.
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