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Thread: Beginner to 4X5

  1. #21

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    My advice is start with a 150mm, as it is extremely versatile but still easy to work with, focus and has tons of image circle for movements (even cheap ones). I bought a 210 to start and quickly then bought a 150 and a 90. Only been doing 4x5 two months, but I never use the 210 at this point. It's a weird focal length (longer than normal but not long enough to feel like 85mm on 135 film or 150 on 120 film) and I don't really understand why there is all this advice out there to start that way. You can always crop a photo taken with a 150 to look more like 210, but you can't do the reverse.

  2. #22

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    I can only speak for myself but for 4x5 I've always liked the 90/135/200/300 combo because this is a 1.5x mathematical progression with even spacing and this works for me. Of course, a 210 could replace the 200.

  3. #23
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    Another question...Will standard 4X5 inserts fit in these old calumets? Also, can I put a Poaroid 4X5 back in? Thanks
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  4. #24
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    I lucked into a Calumet, I think it's a cc400 and has a 150mm Schneider that has been a real joy to learn with.

    The one I have has a shortened rail which is it's only true flaw. Someone before me decided they did not want or need long lenses or to do really close macro.

    That flaw has not hurt me one whit! I'm a fan or normal to slightly wide perspectives so it's just right for most of what I shoot and if I had to pick another lens right now I'd go shorter, but I'm in no rush. If I had started with a 210 or longer lens I'd probably be in a rush to go short, but that's just me. I can twist the bellows in to a pretzel and get vignetting but I really have to try. On the rail cameras you can also swing the back if the front won't give you everything you need.

    I picked up an old Peztval to use for portraits and effect, same 150mm/6inchish length, just got the lens board yesterday and looking forward to shooting with it in the next few weeks. I got this lens specifically to use the vignette and softer edges.

    I also bought a Calumet 220 back for it, this essentially gives me a longer perspective. Haven't used this much yet, so far this perspective pushes me back too far from what I want to shoot.
    Mark Barendt, Ignacio, CO

    "We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are." AnaÔs Nin

  5. #25

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    Wisdom(?) from LF old-timer

    I started shooting 4x5 as a newspaper photographer in 1960, using Speed Graphics. I had a 2x3 Century Graphic of my own for a while, and bought a Calumet wide-angle 4x5 when they first came out around 1970. But I didnít stay with LF. Drifted off into 35mm, sold the big gear.

    Then, about three years ago, I started hankering after big negatives again, and I found myself in much the same position as you Ė wanting to get (back, in my case) into LF, but not sure the best way. I started with a Crown Graphic, but wanted to do more, so I started looking at the other options.

    That was when I figured that dealing in LF equipment was a good way to try (and acquire) a wide range of gear. Iíve done over 400 transactions on Ebay, and a lot of cameras and related stuff have passed through my hands Ė and some of them stuck. I now have (in addition to the Crown) a Toyo G (4x5 and 8x10), a Toyo A (4x5 field camera), and a Toyo D45M (4x5 monorail), as well as a plethora of lenses (65mm to 240mm).

    Hereís my opinion on your question, for what itís worth:

    Remember that the Calumet was intended as a low-end LF camera, marketed to those who wanted to dabble in LF without the investment in very expensive equipment. The older Graphic view cameras were aimed at much the same market. Thereís nothing wrong with these cameras; if you put decent lenses on them, theyíll take as good of photos as you could want.

    In this low-end market, I think the Graphic View II is the best choice. The Calumet is bulkier and heavier, and I think less well made.

    Thereís also an esthetic issue. In my mind, the camera itself should be as much a pleasure to look at as the photos it produces. And I find the Calumet just butt-ugly, with that skinny little monorail (looks unstable, even if itís not) and hulking front standard. The Calumet comes out of the utilitarian Ď60s. The Graphic View still has traces of 1930s Art Deco grace and thoughtful design.

    If I were you, though, Iíd shoot higher than either of those cameras. Assume that youíre going to love LF and want to grow and expand in it. Look for a camera that can grow with your skills and aspirations.

    I acquired my Toyo D45M almost by accident. I was part of an outfit that included three very nice lenses I wanted. I fell in love with it instantly. Itís smaller and lighter and more attractive than the later model Toyos; itís similar in size and weight to a Calumet; and it has the full features of a professional camera.

    Unlike the lower-end cameras, it has interchangeable backs and bellows and an extendable monorail. It disassembles easily for easier packing when travelling. And, maybe best of all, itís still part of a living photographic system. Pretty much everything Toyo makes for its current model cameras fits on the D45M as well. You have access to the full range of viewing backs, bellows, lens boards, shades, and other accessories.

    Check out the camera online and keep an eye on Ebay. Theyíre not common, but they show up, and theyíre usually cheap.

    As to lenses, that depends very much on what youíre shooting. Get a 210 for portraits and still lifes, wider lenses for landscape, architecture, etc.

    Just another two cents worth: One of the lenses with the D45M was a 120mm Super Angulon, which I also will never let go of. Itís only a moderate wide-angle on a 4x5, but it was designed for 5x7 format and will cover 8x10. If youíre looking to explore the extremes of 4x5 camera movement, this is a lens to do it with. These show up pretty regularly on Ebay and typically are not very costly.

  6. #26

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    What Polaroid?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ektagraphic View Post
    Another question...Will standard 4X5 inserts fit in these old calumets? Also, can I put a Poaroid 4X5 back in? Thanks
    standard 4x5 film holders (darkslides) will work just fine.

    Polaroid 405 and 550 holders will accept the appropriate Fuji products. The holders (and the Fuji branded ones as well) are a fat 1 inch thick. Meaning slightly more than 1 inch thick. These holders work best with a Graflok back. Remove the ground glass and attach the holder for a photograph. The holders may, or may not, fit by sliding the holder under the ground glass. The DO NOT slide under my Zone VI ground glass. The springs are too short and the fit is just too tight.

    I thought we expalined Graflok backs & Polaroid holders earlier?

    Polaroid ceased production 2+ years ago.
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
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  7. #27
    keithwms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ektagraphic View Post
    Hi Guys-
    I have shot 135 and MF and now I would love to try 4X5. I am stunned with the cameras, negs, and prints after seeing some in person last night. I want to get a beginners camera and want to keep it very economical in the beginning to see if it is something I really want to do a lot of. I was looking at the older Calumet monorail cameras. The price is definatly right. I have looked at a couple with Schneider lenses which seem to be highly reccomended from what I have read. I have not come across many recent thoughts on this cameras though.....Thanks for your input.

    Patrick
    I think I would start with a 135. That's what I had on my crown graphic and it was a great standard lens, also very inexpensive and super compact.

    What you'll probably realize with 4x5 and LF in general is that wide shots can be done with ~zero distortion. So it's fun to get a crazywide and just enjoy the possibilities.

    Which lenses are you using for MF? Hold one in front of your 4x5 and you may be amazed. Among my recent exploits, I have been using an rz 110/2.8 on 5x7 at close focus. With LF you can use all kinds of nutty lenses... or pinholes for that matter. Just have fun with your new format!
    "Only dead fish follow the stream"

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  8. #28

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    More stuff to read:

    If you can't find an answer here, the answer may not exist.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/

    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/index.php
    Wayne
    Deep in the darkest heart of the East Texas Rain forest. Apprentice Analog Activist.
    ... And to paraphrase Yoda, there is no how, only do.
    Vaughn
    My Photos Online

  9. #29

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    [QUOTE=2F/2F;904149]I have put a 4x5 on one of those cheap plastic giveaway tripods.....so, technically, yes...

    The only plastic on a real Tiltall is the pad on the camera mount.
    And yes, it will easily hold a monorail 4X5 of the brands mentioned here.
    Heavily sedated for your protection.

  10. #30

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    I would highly recommend a Calumet 400 series view. First of all, they have been used across the country in schools and universities everywhere to teach beginners large format photography. They are rock solid cameras, they work tirelessly day in and day out and get subject to a lot of abuse and keep on working. They are simple to use, they have excellent range of movements, all controls lock down solidly, they are easy to repair if need be. They are extremely cost effective with terrific bang for the buck. These cameras were made for commercial studio use, that's why they are so robustly made. This is also why their weight is more than say a Graphic View. I think the weight factor is overstated a tad, it is not horrible or terribly burdonsome. When I was in college and managed the photo departments equipment room these 4x5's were checked out and taken everywhere from the studio to out and about locations. You can't go wrong with a good condition Calumet 4x5, period. Thousands of students have learned on them and thousands of commercial photogs have used them in their day to day operations.

    If there is one drawback to a standard 4x5 Calumet it is the lack of a removable bellows. But, they also made a wide version of the same camera. A great feature of the camera is it's rotating back. Because you are talking about a camera to learn with and not specifically saying you wish to shoot wide angle subject matter then this camera would be superb for you. I would recommend the long bellow version for greater versatility over the standard bellows model. Before you venture into wide angle work you should first get all the fundamentals under control working in the standard focal length ranges.

    For beginning lens choice, the important factors have already been mentioned. A standard optic in 4x5 will range between 165mm - 210mm. I recommend you read View Camera Technique by Leslie Stroebel to learn large format.

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