Remember with 4x5 unless you use a graphic with a rangefinder of some sort it is tripod time all the time. Another thing to consider is the size of prints you make. Unless you are going to be printing 16x20 or larger you are really gaining nothing over a good 6x7 MF rig such as an RB/RZ or Bronica. And these cameras you can hand hold in a lot of situations.
You also need to factor in the cost of film holders. You should have a dozen. Six holders at the absolute minimum. That would equal a roll of 120 film. If you are out in the field and you shoot all 12 exposures and want to expose more film you need to reload with a changing bag which is doable but a PIA.
"Fundamentally I think we need to rediscover a non-ironic world"
I like my Crown Graphic as a walking around camera. How much lighter it is than a Speed is a good question, but the Speed looks bulkier to carry around. I have no trouble adjusting the body cable release to fire every time and the rangefinder only goes out of adjustment when I forget and pick up the camera by grabbing it just underneath the rangefinder mechanism.
Enjoy the large negatives!
You seem to be saying that you want a camera that is sharp, lightweight, and portable., and you are on a budget. The obvious solutions are too expensive for you (and too expensive for me, e.g., Mamiya 7). I also tried the Crown Graphic route and although it works fine as a beginner 4x5, it never really worked for me as a medium format option. There are people who use them hand-held, but if you are going to do that, it takes work and you will have to spend money on "graphic gadgets" to make it work well.
However, there are other medium format cameras out there which, in my opinion, are a much better option. I just checked on fleabay and found:
Mamiya RB67 - basic kit with lens, sold for under $400
Mamiya 645 - basic kit with lens, sold for under $300
Mamiya 645J - another very basic kit, body and lens, sold for under $200
Mamiya C330 - an older style TLR, great camera, for under $200
The RB67 is quite heavy but can be used without a tripod (hard to hand-hold under 1/125). I shoot mainly large format, but this is my medium format camera. A lot of people love the 645's and with both this camera and the RB67, you can buy additional lenses, backs, and other gadgets. The C330 does not have an interchangeable back but if you want portability, sharpness, and quality for almost no money, it is a very attractive option.
I would pass on a Crown or Speed as a hand-held option unless you really, really, really want to use one. You don't have to shoot 4x5 just because you have a 4x5 enlarger. Get the appropriate negative holder for it and, if you go with 6x7, you won't notice much difference from prints made from 4x5 unless you print very large.
"The beauty and profundity of God is more real than any mere calculation"
Handheld 4x5 can be a lot of fun. This past weekend I shot 78 sheets of 4x5 in an hour using both a Crown Graphic and Graflex RB handheld. I had a C330 around my neck but never got a chance to use it.
Exposing film is the easy part, developing it all is a killer.
I find at least some movement to help immensely with almost every shot I take on a tripod, and certainly anything "still lifey". This is one of a view camera's fortes, IMO. I think a Crown Graphic, Speed Graphic, or Super (or Super Speed) Graphic with a roll film back is a better tool for this than a medium format camera such as a Mamiya RB.
Personally, any time I use a movement-less camera to shoot a product, a still life, or even a person sometimes, I miss movements. it is not that I can't take a picture, but I do find cameras without movements to be much more restrictive. Perhaps it is because I was spoiled by learning photography on a view camera, but I still think you can benefit from even the slight bit of movement that a press camera offers, especially in a still life.
The fact that you can use any lens that you can mount to a board is also a huge benefit, IMO.
You can shoot 6x6, 6x7, 6x9 this way with reasonably-priced roll film backs, and, in fact, this is what I would recommend unless you really need the big 4x5 piece of film.
As I mentioned previously, of all the Graflex press cameras, I think the Super Graphic or Super Speed Graphic are the best choices for shots of static subjects using a tripod. If for some reason having a reflex camera is a great advantage, then by all means use something like an RB. I have and use both view cameras and an RZ (and a C-33 and C-220). However, I think such a camera is not as good as a choice as a press camera for static subjects, with which a reflex camera offers little advantage over a view camera. Just having that little bit of shift and tilt on a Speed or Crown can help quite a lot, and you have even more on a Super Graphic, plus a rotating back, which is a very big deal IMO.
If you don't actually use movements, I say forget the idea of any view camera for this, unless you just need the qualities of 4x5 film for some reason.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 08-25-2009 at 10:21 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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I prefer working with a view camera on static subjects even when movements are not required because I find it easier to compose and light on the larger ground glass. For me it makes it easier to avoid any little surprises.
I still shoot a lot of MF for convenience, but it always feels like a compromise when I compare the negatives.
Yes, but with emphasis on sharp, and budget. I already have lots of very portable cameras; but what I don't have is what I feel to be knock-socks-off IQ capabilities. The best IQ I can do right now comes from my 35mm cameras. The idea was rather than lust after a far-out-of-budget MF system and lenses (hassy etc.) maybe I could get a LF for much less, that would fulfil my static/deliberate photography requirements better than a MF camera anyway, and I like my current MF folders for portability.
You seem to be saying that you want a camera that is sharp, lightweight, and portable., and you are on a budget.
After looking closer at TCO it looks like even a press-camera-based LF setup is going to be several hundred dollars anyway so at this point it's just a decision over what to lust over.
Random used stuff I have seen lately:
Bronica C body & Nikkor lens. $150 @ Houston Camera Co-op.
B & J Grover 4x5 monorail with 127mm lens, 6x9 rollfilm back, sliding frame for rollfilm back, carry case. $250 at Large Format Photography Forum.
Sign up at the Large Format Photography Forum. In 30 days you'll be able to shop there. Bargains abound. They sell fast too.
John Kasaian is spot on re: 127mm Ektar lens. A tiny gem of a lens.
Don't forget the recurring cost of large format. The film is not cheap at $1 a frame. The development is not cheap either, even if you do it yourself. On the plus side you probably will find yourself actually using up all your developer and fixer before it goes bad. If you are trying to accomplish something on a budget, look elsewhere than LF. If you want image quality that blows everything else away and the possibility of using literally thousands of lenses on your camera, than LF is for you.
THIS is a 3 1/4 x 4 1/4 model - you can't get film for it any more, additionally, it's pre WWII camera and 60+ years old, the Tessar lens is uncoated and will flair a lot more than you are used to if you like having light sources in the picture -- all these add up to why the price was so low. OTOH, it is in reasonably good shape, the old rim-set Compur shutters hold up very well and likely the most it would need is a good wash in some Ronsonol and a microscopic drop of watch oil on the slow-speed train, you can always cut down 4x5 film, and the smaller models are quite a bit lighter and handier.
If all that sounds reasonable then you can find more cameras like this at these sorts of prices.
If you want 4x5, then figure around $250-350 for a Pacemaker Speed with a good lens like a 152mm Ektar.