I agree about the Sinar, if you have any sort of budget. They are top-notch cameras, and the prices they are going for are ridiculous. Additionally, their component nature makes them very easy to travel with and to use in "the field." I would start with a F1. No need for an F2. You only need focusing on one standard, and the F2 is a bit heavier. My Sinar F1 with bag bellows, 12 inches of rail, and standard rail clamp (model 1) is just under 6 lbs. There is a low-profile rail clamp you can get that is lighter. I have a P front standard that I put on when I am shooting in the studio, but this is replaced with the Multipurpose Standard to make it an F1 most of the time when I take the camera out and about.
Last edited by 2F/2F; 12-22-2009 at 09:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"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)
Unless you are like me...
I did my research, decided what features I needed, and what I found sexiest... I really needed a sleek, beautifully grained and polished wood folder. I had already turned my nose up at 4x5, I needed 8x10 or larger. I would have put it off for years waiting for the perfect camera.
In the end, accepted an offer from a friend to try a Calumet CC400. It's the camera my research told me not to buy. It's big, and ugly, and weighs 700lbs, (or something thereabouts) but it is light tight, and has all the movements I am likely to need for a good long time. I know it's bottom of the line, but apart from weight and portability, I can't think of what it's missing that I cannot live without at this stage of my development. I may still get that dream camera some day, but until I do, I've got wheels on my carrying case, and I'm out there taking pictures.
Tom, on Point Pelee, Canada
Ansel Adams had the Zone System... I'm working on the points
system. First I points it here, and then I points it there...
I very recently picked up a Sinar F1 from ebay. Very reasonable price ($250 USD). I also got a bag bellows and a 6" rail extension, along with another lens board, two lenses, bunch of holders, and new tripod and a box of film. Total price was around $700 for everything. Sweetness.
If you can find a Calumet 400 or Graphic View (I have a preference for the GV2) for around $100-150, that will give you more money for film holders, glass, etc.... and that is 1/4 of what you'll likely spend on a comparable wood field camera and about 1/2 what a good Crown or Speed Graphic will cost you.
On a tripod and carried over the shoulder infantryman style, I doubt if you'll find much difference between any of these cameras if you find yourself needing to cover a moderate distance cross-country (at least not enough diffeence to justify 2X-4X the money!)
I'd advise you to consider which focal length you normally shoot with in 35mm, then check out the chart at the link below to work out the nearest equivalent in 4x5. The other thing you'll need to know about LF lenses is their coverage, since this tells you how much you have spare for movements.
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Pretty good setup just listed on photo.net if you're looking right now- field camera a lot lighter than monorail setups at these prices:
You don't mention a budget which will significantly affect the definition of "starter."
For a modern, basic kit for field work, get a modern field camera. A used Toyo, Zone VI, Tachihara, Shen Hao, Wista would be fine. You should get 1 or two modern lenses, ideally lenses that are relatively light and take the same filters natively or with step rings. I suggest something in the 90-135 range for wide/normal and something in the 150-240 range for normal/long. Adjust the set to your tendencies.
I started with a Toyo AX field camera, Caltar 90mm lens, Schneider 150mm lens, and Caltar 210mm lens all of which can take 67mm filters.
The other item is a tripod and good head. You need at least a Bogen 3021 with the 3 way pan-tilt head which are reasonable used. If you have the budget, a Feisol tripod and ball head are hard to beat.
You also need some film holders (might be worth buying new unless you find some that were actually taken care of). Also a good cable release like a Gepe 20 inch and a loupe like a Toyo 3.6x focusing loupe. For a darkcloth anything will do from a dark T-shirt on the cheap end to a BlackJacket on the high end.
If you have a minimal budget and just want to try large format, then get a Crown Graphic with an antique lens, use it on your existing tripod, and buy a couple of used film holders.
Thanks for the info I guess what I am looking for is a inexpensive 4x5 and one lens for now and see where that leads me. I have seen CC400 Calumet's on ebay for around 150 and some other view cameras but most don't have lens or lens board. I know the old cameras are bulky and heavy but may be a low budget way to try 4x5. I have film developing tanks for 35mm and 120 film but nothing for 4x5 so I will have to look at that too.
I just found a great calumet set up with a lens on ebay for $175 and I am thrilled to bits with it! It is too heavy for certain things but I am extremely happy with it. Keep looking.
Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time
I would be happy to loan you a couple of 4x5 cameras to try. I have a mono-rail Orbit, and a couple of Speed Graphics. Send a PM, and we'll talk. I am in NC, too.
Originally Posted by Marvin