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  1. #1

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    Thinking about purchasing a LF camera...

    Hey folks,

    I've finally sold off some of my 35mm equipment and freed up some cash for a LF camera. At first I was thinking about adding a MF system to my 2 Rolleiflexes, but now I'm leaning towards a LF camera. However, with my current setup (2 Rolleiflex 3.5Es), I do not have much room for flexibility in terms of focal lengths. So far this hasn't been a problem, but I'm sure there will be times where I will want a wider or longer lens (this may be solved with a digital camera, but I'm still on the fence on this as well).

    That being said, I have a few questions and would really appreciate your advice.

    First of all, I've seen a lot of different cameras made from different types of wood or some that are constructed from metal. What's the difference between the types of wood chosen?

    How heavy do these LF cameras get? I'm specifically looking at the 4x5 cameras. My tripod leg (Bogen 3021PRO) can support up to 13.3 pounds while my head (Bogen 468MG) can support up to 30. Will I need to invest in a new set of legs (don't want to do this, but if I must, I must!).

    Any recommendations on which camera to get? I'm also wanting to use a 6x12 or 6x17 roll film back, so if there are certain bodies with available adapters, I would be interest in those particular cameras.

    I am really fascinated with LF cameras, but I cannot see myself using one all the time. My main focus is to shoot landscapes but I've been considering shooting portraits as well (maybe using one strobe and an umbrella).

    Your help is appreciated! Thanks.

    Jason

  2. #2
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    Once you start shooting LF you'll probably become converted and shoot almost exclusively LF. Look at Shen Hao's they seem to be the most popular at the moment, and your tripod should be fine.

    I shoot a lot of 6x17, I could have bought a conversion back but actually prefer using a separate 617 camera.

    Ian

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonjoo View Post
    How heavy do these LF cameras get? I'm specifically looking at the 4x5 cameras. My tripod leg (Bogen 3021PRO) can support up to 13.3 pounds while my head (Bogen 468MG) can support up to 30. Will I need to invest in a new set of legs (don't want to do this, but if I must, I must!).

    Any recommendations on which camera to get? I'm also wanting to use a 6x12 or 6x17 roll film back, so if there are certain bodies with available adapters, I would be interest in those particular cameras.
    The Shen Hao 4x5 seems to be a very capable camera at reasonable cost and has Ian rightly says, it's very popular at the moment.

    To help give you an idea as to weight of a 4x5 rig, my Ebony SW45 with 110 XL Super Symmar lens weighs in at just over 5 lbs (approx. 2.3kg).

    If you want to use the standard roll film backs just make sure the camera has the standard Graflock locks (2 slider bars, top and bottom on the camera back to lock in/hold roll film backs).

  4. #4
    colrehogan's Avatar
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    You also have to consider the weight of the lens/shutter combination, a roll film back and a film holder as well as the camera when considering the tripod and the tripod head's weight capacities.

    Another issue that you should look at when considering purchasing an LF camera is the length of the bellows. This is the determining factor for what focal length lenses you can use. Some cameras are limited in how far they can be extended. You also should consider how wide of an angle you want to shoot and whether the camera you are interested in can focus to that focal length.
    Diane

    Halak 41

  5. #5
    Andrew Moxom's Avatar
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    It just so happens, I maybe selling my Canham DLC 4x5 in the next week or two. PM meif you are interested?
    Please check out my website www.amoxomphotography.com and APUG Portfolio .....

  6. #6
    jovo's Avatar
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    For landscapes you expect to have to hike to find, lighter is better. The Shen-Hao is an excellent camera, very inexpensive for what it offers, folds up nicely, and isn't very heavy. (for specs, go to www.badgergraphic.com ). I'm looking at a Feisol tripod to lighten up my kit (I now use a Bogen 3021) which seems to be up to the task with the Shen. You'll want several lenses (though it's a good idea to spend a lot of time with just one for a while), film holders, a meter, filters, and a dark cloth at least 5' x 4'. All that adds up to a far more substantial pack than your Rollies. I've learned along the way that LF is a very different experience than MF, and I don't need particularly long lenses, or very short ones either (east coast, not the wide open west!). Take your time and learn what you're getting into. Good luck!
    John Voss

    My Blog

  7. #7
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    I'll put in another vote for a Shen-Hao as a starter camera. They're not the lightest thing, but they're quite reasonable - 6lbs. Put a lens on it and you're looking at 7 +/-. They come in new at around $600. They will handle anything you're likely to put on it, lenswise.

  8. #8

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    A wooden 4x5 field camera like a Tachihara probably wieghs less than a medium format Hasselblad or Mamiya.

  9. #9

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    What kind of budget are you looking at? Wide? Long lens type person?

    If the budget can handle it. I'd suggest the Shen Hao FCL-57. Add the 6x17 rollfilm back and the 4x5 back. I guess add the 6x12 back to if you want that. It's a fairly light camera. Not much different then the 4x5 body. Will go wide and long. The 6x17 back for it is cheaper then the models that fit the 4x5 cameras.

    OTOH if the budget is lower. Get an older 5x7 [Ansco] and a cut darkslide to shoot 6x17 on half a sheet of 5x7.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by jasonjoo View Post
    How heavy do these LF cameras get? I'm specifically looking at the 4x5 cameras. My tripod leg (Bogen 3021PRO) can support up to 13.3 pounds while my head (Bogen 468MG) can support up to 30. Will I need to invest in a new set of legs (don't want to do this, but if I must, I must!).
    If you get pretty much any field camera you'll have no problem on that tripod. I use my Shen Hao on the same legs and an inexpensive 3-way head. I've actually pushed it and used an 8x10 with a monster lens on the legs, and while usable the legs splayed out a bit and I wasn't very happy... but 4x5 - no problem.


    Any recommendations on which camera to get? I'm also wanting to use a 6x12 or 6x17 roll film back, so if there are certain bodies with available adapters, I would be interest in those particular cameras.
    The Shen hao 4x5 is a great field camera, inexpensive, has almost all the movements of a monorail, can take an exchangable bag bellows for wide angle lens use, and also can be used with roll film backs. There's even a shen hao brand 6x17 back that is pretty inexpensive (as these things go).

    If you want a shen hao, you can get one from BadgerGraphic.com (one of the most trusted retailers in large format sales). Midwest photo exchange (mpex.com) is also a good store to check out.

    The shen hao doesn't come up used very often, so buying new is probably your only option. Film holders, lenses, and accessories are better bought used on ebay. I'd look specifically at the caltar line of lenses - these are schneiders and rodenstocks, rebadged by Calumet photo and usually a few hundred cheaper than their name-brand counterparts. I've talked to people who've tested the caltar vs. name-brand versions side-by-side and they are indistinguishable in sharpness, contrast, etc.

    The Caltar-II N 90mm f/6.8 and 90mm f/4.5 are the same as the Rodenstock Grandagon N lenses of the same specs. Caltar-II N 150mm f/5.6, 210mm f/5.6, 240mm f/5.6, and 300mm f/5.6 are the same as the Rodenstock Sironar-N lenses. Generally if they have a black barrel, they are Rodenstock lenses, and if they have a silver barrel they are Schneider (or if really old, possibly Ilex).

    90mm is a wide angle lens, about like 24mm on a 35mm SLR.
    150mm is normal, about 45mm in small format terms.
    210mm is longish normal, maybe 60-65mm in small format
    300mm is a short long lens, like a 90mm or 100mm in 35mm terms.

    You may be tempted to look into monorail cameras because of their less limited camera movements, but remember that you need a much more expensive lens with a much larger image circle to be able to use those movements. My lenses all run out of coverage before I find myself limited by the shen hao's movements. Also monorails are usually heavier, bulkier, and harder to transport and setup.

    The main advantage of a monorail would be your ability to use longer extensions, for macro or longer lens use. The shen hao is limited to using a 300mm maximum focal length because of its 320mm maximum extension.

    Other cameras to look into:
    Speed graphic (a press camera with built in rear shutter curtain, lets you use unusual non-shuttered lenses)
    Crown graphic (as above, without shutter curtain) - cheap but limited movements.
    linhof technika (a press-style field camera with lots of movements, long extension, and heavy price tag)
    tachihara (as shen hao, less movements, lighter)

    burke & james (inexpensive, both monorails and field cameras)
    calumet 45n, 45nx (good inexpensive monorails)
    The universe is a haunted house. -Coil
    .

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