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  1. #1
    eSFotos's Avatar
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    Need help setting a 4x5

    I've been shooting 35mm and MF.
    Now I want a 4x5!

    But I need help and please talk slowly - I am the noobiest of noobies when it comes LF.
    Here are some basic questions:
    1) What components do I need? Body with below, lens and film back?
    2) If I get a Linhof Kardan body, for example, can I get any lens? Nikon, Grandagon, Fujinon etc. Do I need an adapter?
    3) Similarly, does any back fit to this body? And can I use any 4x5 film loader?

    Told you I'm a noobie.

    Edward
    Canon/Nikon/Contax/Mamiya/Olympus/Minolta/Praktica/Pentax/Pentacon/Zeiss/Yashica/Zorki/Kiev/Ricoh ...

  2. #2
    Tom Nutter's Avatar
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    any 4X5 film-holder should fit the camera. As long as you have a Linhof Kardan lens board with the correct size hole for the lens' shutter---copal 0, for example, almost any lens will fit.

    Make sure the camera has a ground glass to focus on.
    I'm not a linhof expert, so I'm not aware of any compatibility with other manufacturers, lenses not withstanding. the lens you buy should come with the proper retaining ring to hold it on the lens board.

  3. #3
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    Hi, Edward.

    With view cameras, there is not really a rigid "body" in the same sense as with other cameras. You basically have a lens and some film, with a flexible, light tight connector between them, called the bellows. The lens and film mount to what are called "standards". So, a view camera is comprised of a lens standard, a film standard, and a bellows at the very least. There is always a way of supporting the two standards and connecting to a tripod. On some cameras, this is a single rail. On others, it is a flat "bed" type of support that holds the standards and connects to the tripod. (Technically, the lens and film back mount to "carrier frames", the carrier frames mount to the "standards", and the standards mount to the bed or rail, but almost no one bothers to make this distinction, except for Sinar, which is the most "Lego-like" of view cameras. The carrier frames are decidedly separate parts that are easily removable on a Sinar; not so with most other view cameras.)

    So, you need a bed or rail, two standards, a bellows, a tripod coupler (usually built into a "bed", and usually a separate piece on a "rail"), a lens board and a lens, and a film back and film holders. A complete 4x5 camera will come with all of these things, as a given (except the film holders).

    One of the great things about 4x5 is that there are no such things as your typical "lens mounts", which are brand specific. There are different lens boards for each type of 4x5 cameras, but pretty much any lens can be mounted to pretty much any lens board. All it is is a flat piece of material with a hole in it; no special mounts for each brand of lens.

    Each brand of 4x5 camera will need to have its own proprietary back. Though their basic design is the same, and they take the same types of holders and accessories, you can't put the back from one brand of camera onto another brand of camera (except in certain circumstances, such as Sinar/Horseman, or later Toyo/Omega). However, these come with the cameras. The back is a part of the camera itself, and this goes without saying if you get a complete camera. The back contains the focusing screen AKA ground glass. When using a view camera, you compose the image on the back using the ground glass, with no film in the camera. You then insert the film before you shoot. The film holder moves the glass out of the way and the film ends up where the ground glass was when you were composing and focusing.

    I think what you mean by "back" in your third question is actually "holder". Holders are the things that hold film and attach to or are inserted into the back to actually shoot the pix. There are various types of holders. Some hold sheet film. Others hold roll film. Others hold instant prints. Other adapt down to smaller sizes of sheet film. All of these accessories will fit an international standard back, which will likely be present on most 4x5 cameras built in the last 50 years. "Graflok" back is another term used for these types of backs. The type of back on the camera is certainly a consideration when shopping for a 4x5, especially if you want to use any type of film other than standard 4x5 in. or 9x12 cm. sheet film. In general, you want a camera with a Graflok back. Sheet film holders will fit many (most?) non-Graflok backs back about 100 years, but other types of holders will not.

    I would shop for a newer Toyo/Omega or Cambo as a starter camera. They are cheap, full-on systems, will likely be in decent shape, and will allow you to explore all the possibilities a monorail view camera offers. If you just want to shoot some 4x5 with a solid and inexpensive camera with a decent amount of capability without going full bore into a full-on system, I suggest a Graphic View II with a Graflok back. BE CAREFUL. There are three types of Graphic Views, and only one of them (the latest model) always has the Graflok back. To make it simple: If the back has long, exposed leaf springs that span the length of the ground glass, and are mounted permanently in the middle and pinned at each end, it is not a Graflok back. If the back has metal bars that only go about half of the way across the length of the ground glass, and internal coil springs (not visible in most photos), it is a Graflok back. Wish I had pix to show you, but I don't. It is really a very easy distinction to make.

    The three models of Graphic View are:

    GV: Tilts from the bases of the carrier frames. Spring back, unless converted to Graflok.
    Early GV II: Tilts from the middle (top to bottom) of the carrier frames. Spring back, unless custom ordered from the factory or later converted to Graflok.
    Late GV II: Same as early GV II, but always has a Graflok back.

    There are differences in the lengths of the rails as well (earlier ones are shorter), but be aware that sometimes swaps or modifications have been made.

    Check out www.graflex.org for a better description.
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-05-2009 at 11:48 PM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  4. #4
    MattKing's Avatar
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    Edward:

    4x5 cameras generally don't have lens mounts. Instead, they have a mechanism that you attach lens boards to. Lens boards are boards with holes in them. You attach a lens to the board. For most 4x5 cameras there is also a shutter that is attached with the lens to the board. The exceptions are those 4x5 cameras that have a focal plane shutter - for those cameras you just need to attach the lens to the board (the lenses without shutters are often referred to as barrel lenses).

    Different cameras take different size boards, although there are a few board sizes that are used by more than one camera brand.

    The size of the hole in the board needs to match the size of the shutter and lens - usually they are expressed in terms of a number. As Tom Nutter posted, a copal 0 (that is a zero) is an example.

    Matt

    PS 2F/2F is a better source of info then I am!

  5. #5

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    i vote with 2F/2F a Toyo is going to be an easier system to acquire parts for my observation of linhof is that there are variations from version to version that makes compatibility a worry, if you go for something like a toyo 45g (4x5) parts are plentiful and interchangeable with later 45gII (you can even add an 8x10 rear standard and bellows if you wanted to)

    Looks like your in Sydney Vanbar imaging are agents for toyo they have a shop in Camperdown which may be accessable to you

    Also you dont say what you want to achieve with your camera a mono rail (like the toyo 45g) is less suitable for out door work that a toyo 45a (which is a field camera) perhaps try before you buy

    Mainline photographic (Crows Nest) may also be close to you i think Scott at Mainline is the Australian Agent for View Camera magazine and he would be a good person to talk to and may be able to give you a demo on the various aspects of large format cameras

  6. #6

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    Addendum

    Try you local library for view camera books there is a readily available book by Eastman Kodak also there are several books using large format as part of the title (google will find them and they on amazon for cheap) these will give you an overview of whats involved

    DCM

  7. #7
    eSFotos's Avatar
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    Thanks all, you all have explained very clearly.

    2F, that's a wonderful write up. I can't say I fully understood but definitely improved my knowledge by at least 2 levels up.

    So I need:
    1) bed or rail - I see a frame (bed) with bellow and tripod coupler attached and they call it 'body', right?
    2) two standards - one for lens and one for film back,
    3) a lens board and a lens - with correct size (e.g. Copal 0)
    4) a film back and film holders - does film back come with ground glass?

    David, Vanbar is my MF film supplier. Next time when I'm there I'll have a chat with them on Toyo.
    By the way, I'll be shooting landscapes with the 4x5. So it needs to be outdoor capable.

    Edward
    Canon/Nikon/Contax/Mamiya/Olympus/Minolta/Praktica/Pentax/Pentacon/Zeiss/Yashica/Zorki/Kiev/Ricoh ...

  8. #8
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    All that stuff you listed will be there on any complete 4x5. All you might have to add is a lens and holders, and maybe a lens board. I was just describing what parts a complete 4x5 camera should have, so you don't buy one with missing parts.

    I would suggest a field camera, a technical camera, or a press camera for what you describe. Look at Super Graphics, Speed/Crown Graphics, Horsemans, Toyos, Linhofs, etc. IMO, your best bet for the money with that kind of work is a Super Graphic. As for lenses.......that is up to you. When you shoot landscapes with your other cameras, what focal lengths do you like to use (and with which film formats)?
    Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-06-2009 at 06:34 AM. Click to view previous post history.
    2F/2F

    "Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."

    - Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)

  9. #9
    juan's Avatar
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    You need to go to the large format photography site. On the homepage are links to articles for newcomers. A very good site.
    juan



 

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