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  1. #1
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Taking the plunge into LF... on a budget?

    I had been thinking about making the move from MF to LF for a while and after much internal debate, have decided to finally go for it and take the plunge. Problem is, I'm on a budget. I'll have about $600 to spend on a new set-up. As much as I would love to be able to get a nice Wista/Wisner/Linhof/etc field camera it's just not in the cards right now. I'm leaning towards either a Speed Graphic or a Super Graphic. The Super Graphic would be nice because of the movements while the focal plane shutter of the Speed Graphics have me intrigued with the possibilities of petzvals and other barrel lenses. Considering the age of these cameras is there anything in particular I should be looking for when shopping around? Are there any other cameras I should be looking at besides these? My main concern for now is packability as I want something to take out on the trails. I had considered a older monorail for budget reasons but, they don't seem like they would be as portable. You guys have always been a big help in the past and your guidance would be much appreciated before I dive in head first. Thanks in advance

    Aaron
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  2. #2

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    I prefer a Crown Graphic as a LF starter, but good luck with what you get if having a focal plane shutter with barrel lenses is you thing.
    When I grow up, I want to be a photographer.

    http://www.walterpcalahan.com/Photography/index.html

  3. #3
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Hi Walter, thanks or chiming in. I wouldn't say barrel lenses are my thing, just thought they would be fun to play with at some point. Any particular reason you would pick th crown over other Graflex incarnations?
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

  4. #4
    Anscojohn's Avatar
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    a speed would be cheaper, and, as mentioned, has a fp shutter that gives you flexibility. Od course, any shuttered lens can always be used later on a view camera, so you have that advantage. Id you must have a view, I'll put out a plug for my Ansco Universal View--a great camera, I think, for the money.
    John, Mount Vernon, Virginia USA

  5. #5
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    I'm a LF newbie but I would still like to offer two pieces of advice. Well, they both actually tie together. STABILITY! Make sure your cameras movements do not sacrifice the stability of your camera and make sure you have a tripod that is up to the task. There is nothing more discouraging than 'AW! Frickin thing moved! Start over again!" So if you jump on a budget as I did be prepared for some setbacks. And thankful if you encounter none. And by the by, you are starting out with even more than I did. Good luck.
    Thank you.
    CWalrath
    APUG BLIND PRINT EXCHANGE
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    "Wubba, wubba, wubba. Bing, bang, bong. Yuck, yuck, yuck and a fiddle-dee-dee." - The Yeti

  6. #6
    DJGainer's Avatar
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    I had the same intent you did, going budget with a cheap camera. What I eventually decided upon was a strategy of building my kit over time. I started out spending about 450 on a Horseman Woodman camera that needed a tripod socket and 200 on a 150mm lens. From there I eventually got a 90mm then a 300mm lens. I am still acquiring film holders, enlarger, etc, but it was the way I choose to do it and stay within what I could afford at any point in time.

  7. #7

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    hi aaron

    the thing to remember about a press camera is there are very little
    movements, so if you wanted to shoot the same sort of things, the same sort
    of way, that u do now ( with a mf or 35mm ) you will be good to go.
    you don't need a gigantic tripod with a speed or crown graphic, a tiltall
    has been my friend whenever i use that sort of camera.
    a speed can use lenses as wide as 58mm to 15" ( tele )
    and you can use pretty much any lens you find for IT on a view camera if
    you decide to upgrade at some point in time.

    good luck! and have fun

    john
    silver magnets, trickle tanks sold
    artwork often times sold for charity
    PM me for details

  8. #8
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Honestly I kinda cringe when I see "LF" and "budget" in the same sentence.

    Yes, you can do LF on a budget, and you can get wonderful results that way. But particularly if you are new to LF then you will do a whole of experimenting and you won't want to feel hindered in the learning process by materials costs.

    A few things you can do to keep costs under control: shoot good but nonpremium b&w films like foma, make up your own developers and chems in general, avoid the temptation to enlarge every single masterpiece, and so forth.

    But probably the biggest single money-saving thing you can do is get to know an LFer in your area and arrange to share equipment/chems/etc. I am totally happy to share with others in my area, including all manner of gear and work space etc. And I find this to be generally true of LFers- that's the good news. The bad news is that despite the rockbottom upfront cost of the gear, it's just not an area for pennypinching. I figure that on average every LF shot that I take runs me about $5-10. I'm not complaining... I'm just saying. The cost of my cameras and lenses is a small fraction of the overall cost of me doing LF.
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

    [APUG Portfolio] [APUG Blog] [Website]

  9. #9
    MenacingTourist's Avatar
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    Aaron,

    I started out similar to your budget but got an inexpensive monorail. A Calumet I think. Looking back I wonder if a press camera would have been better. At this point I would say to spend as much as you can on a lens/shutter. This was what gave me the most headaches to start out.

    Good luck,

    Alan.

  10. #10
    Xia_Ke's Avatar
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    Thank you all VERY much for your input. You have given me some great food for thought. The $600 is what I should have to put towards a camera, lens, and film holders. I have another $300 budgeted for stocking up on film, paper, and chemicals. I realize in this price range, there will be trade offs. I'm not too worried about having tons of movements at the moment. I shoot primarily landscapes and I should think some simple front rise and tilt should suffice for now, I think anyway??? Of course more movements would be fun for experimenting. The graphics have my main interest right now because of price, availability of parts, and they seem like they could hold up to a little bit of a beating being schlepped around in my pack on the trail. The focal plane shutter of the speeds also sound like fun to allow playing with some barrel lenses. I've also seen some old Linhof Technicka III's go pretty reasonably and a few old Korona's as well. I should have cash in hand to start shopping with in about 2 weeks. I'm not in any hurry to have a kit this very second. I plan to take my time shopping around to try and build the foundations of a LF outfit.
    flickr

    "A good photograph is one that makes the viewer so aware of the subject that they are unaware of the print."- Kodak
    "...if you find afterwards that you made a mistake, the price of the film and chemicals was...tuition!" - greybeard
    "The hard part isnít the decisive moment or anything like that Ė itís getting the film on the reel!" - John Szarkowski

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