So, long story short, I've been given $800 to get myself a new camera. This was prompted by some expressions of how nice it was working with my school's fuji 690 and the negatives it produced.
With cash in hand though, I've been considering a nice 4x5 camera as I've always always kind of lusted after one. I do have some major concerns though. Price and usage. My primary concern is that I can't find a setup on KEH that I can afford. I'd be starting from the bottom and need a camera, lens, film holders, meter etc. I have to go to ebay which I am pretty reticent of.
Also, I've never used something like it so I'm not too sure what to look for and would really be starting from square one as far as taking it outside, using it, and developing the resulting negs, although I've certainly read everything I can get my hands on...I imagine it all makes more sense if I have an actual camera to look at when I read this stuff
So, basically I'm asking if it's as worth it as I think it might be over the easy route (Fuji GSW690). I know there are probably a million topics like this and I appreciate any advice from those more experienced. my subject matter is landscape so I suppose weight is a pretty important consideration as well
Go for a Linhoff Master Technika type (flatbed, I lost the english word for it) and a 75mm Super Angulon or Grandagon.
The 75 is a 25mm on 35mm, a 150 is a 50mm on 35mm. Use f:22 when ever posible for best sharpness.
Try to get the range-finder version, in this way you can even take pic's from the hand/shoulder and you don't need a tripod unless you are
planning to take sunsets or pic's that take longer exposures. (or use Velvia, 50 ASA)
Try to get a rollfilm back later, on this type of camera you will love it, and you spend less on film.
On the other hand if you buy the GSW690 you know what you are getting into.
The basic question you have to ask yourself is if you want/need the possibilities of a 4x5 such as shifts and tilts.
4x5 has 2x the surface of 6x9, do jou need/want that ?
The GSW690 works faster than a 4x5 and so on.
Years ago I had a Master Technika and traded it in for a Sinar P2 8x10, stupid me: I should have kept the Master.
All together I have been photographing on 4x5 for about 29 years now and still love it.
Questions: ask, you can send me a PM aswell.
A good and less expensive alternative to the Linhoff would be a Wista SP, which I use and highly recommend. I found mine used, without a back, for $140.00. The new back cost me $300.00! Those two added is what you could expect to pay for the used camera with a back. Then come your lens(es). A 135mm Nikkor W is ideal, and can be carried in the Wista if reversed. Expect to pay $150-$200 for it. Some filmholders, loupe, darkcloth, and a spotmeter (or whatever meter you have now) complete what you need, and can be had for the $160-$210 remaining...
A wood field camera is a cheaper alternative, used. I started out with a 5x7 Korona and enjoyed using it although it is large, heavier than modern fields, and lacks movements. Mine was $300.00 with a 7 1/2" Wollensak Raptar included, six filmholders, and 15 sheets of film. The only reason I don't recommend this is that it would not be your final camera... the temptation to modernize/reduce size would be great.
A new Chamonix, Shen Hao, or Toyo can be had for the $800.00 if you want a new, modern camera. That leaves you without a lens, filmholders, etc., but gets you new equipment you will surely love. I can recommend, from experience, the Chamonix from owning and using one and the Shen Hao from having handled one extensively.
All the cameras I mentioned have a very different "feel" and it is impossible to know what would suit your style and subject matter without more information. You can look them up and reach some conclusions, perhaps.
Decisions, decisions! Good luck! You will enjoy whatever you get.
thanks for that info. Can anyone tell me about a Graflex Graphic View? there's one in my area but the auction ends in an hour and a half. It looks very heavy.
cI would stay away from a Graphic View. There are better alternatives if you want a monorail. Cambo, older Acra Swiss or Sinar F would be less than $400 (look at National Camera or Midwest Photo Exchange). Better to save for a little longer than get a camera you will be frustrated with A decent modern 150 or 135mm lens might cost about the same. That doesn't leave much for film holders, loupe, film, etc. Another popular alternative is a Crown Graphic. It doesn't give you all the movements, but it works, is a very fun camera, and it will leave you money for film (the most important part!). Another alternative to consider is a medium format SLR. You could get a 2-3 lens Bronica, Mamiya or Pentax kit for $800.
I don't know where you are located, but Craigs List is a good alternative to ebay.
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You mentioned "taking it outside", so I assume a field camera is what you want, not a monorail. Fields fold, are portable, lighter, and easier to use than monorails. Monorails can be very inexpensive, as mark said above. I would not rush and hold out for the field camera.
Ok, so the graphic view is out. I think I want a wooden field camera. I'm looking at KEH and I'm seeing a zone vi in bgn condition for $484 and a nikkor 135 f/5.6 in ex condition for $299. This puts me at $783 and I have some extra money for filmholders and a meter already set aside.
Does anyone have any info on the anba ikeda? it's significantly cheaper, from what I can tell it's quite lightweight and might lack some rigidity?
would I be needing anything else? does the lens need a board? can I mount it on my tripod?
The Ikeda Anba is considered a good choice for backpacking, because it's so light and has enough movements for landscape. If you look up Kerry Thalmann's website, he's written a bit about it.
IMHO a Graphic View (especially the GVII) and Calumet CC-400 are very capable monorails and you can easily find them for less (often far less) than $150. Add an old Tilt-all tripod (less than $100 on ebay) and you're well on your way to building a kit. Some vintage glass---perhaps a 203mm Kodak Ektar, 162mm Wollensak or a Schneider Symmar Double convertable can be picked up for $200 or less. A very basic Sekonic lightmeter is $99 at Freestyle. 5 or 6 used film holders shouldn't cost you more than $50. 50 sheets of Arista.edu Ultra 100 iso will cost you $24. dd some filters, a cable release and a home made dark cloth and you'll be well under budget. If you'd prefer a wooden field camera call Jim at Midwest, tell him your budget and ask him put put a kit together for you.
Another option would be to look at the FS section here. Good luck!
You don't say what you want to use the camera for. One big difference with LF is some cameras are much better for some things then some others.
A good condition Graphic view isn't a bad camera. Or the Calumet CC400. Neither is perfect. Neither is the best camera for long distance hiking. OTOH both are fairly cheap and the other bits can be used on your next camera when/if you decide to update.