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  1. #1
    Krzys's Avatar
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    FSU large format? (looking for a cheap camera)

    This is just my following of the whole zorki (cheap leica), salyut (cheap 'blad) ideal.

    I am completely ignorant of LF photography and really want to get into the game. Ideally I'd start by getting a cheaper camera, find some decent ground glass and holders and start off with some cheap Russian glass.

    But where are the cheap bodies? Where are the FSU large format cameras?

    I cant understand where there aren't any bodies around for under $200, at least not that I can find on ebay. It is essentially two shapes and a rail. Given that I can easily find the stuff for in between. So *shrugs*

    Can anyone recommend any cameras or sources? I just want to dabble and have some fun.

  2. #2

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    They are everywhere. In the USA. Postage may cost more than the camera.
    My experience: Speed Graphic, 2 lenses, 5 holders-$100
    Kodak Master View, 4 holders-$50
    Cheap lenses: Polaroid copy camera lenses in Copal shutters-under $100, often WAY under $100.
    More cheap lenses: Old Kodak folders with Rapid Rectilinear lenses
    Wollensak or Bausch & Lomb lenses from the 20s, 30s, 40s & 50s.
    Kodak Ektar 127mm/4.7 lenses sell for under a $100. Super good lens for little money.
    Holders-$5 or less each
    Go for it!

    A friend just bought a Calumet 400 (copy of the Kodak camera I bought listed above) for about $50 and a Sinar A1 for $100. Both from ebay USA.
    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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  3. #3

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    Wayne's correct; lots of options. And the Kodak Master View (the 4x5 rail camera) is not only cheap, but quite a competent camera that usually has good bellows. It or a very similar camera was also branded Orbit or Calumet. The Graphic View rail cameras are also plentiful, cheap, and competent. In press cameras, there's also the shutterless Crown Crown Graphic, Burk and James press camera, Busch Pressman, and so on. Modern multicoated lenses in the 150-210mm range are going for about $200 now if you shop around because they made a ton of them, and these lenses have to be the "sweet spot" for value if you're not bound to absolute rock bottom price.

    A Speed Graphic with a working shutter may be your best deal, because it opens up the world of barrel lenses, which are usually cheaper, and of course don't have shutters to CLA.

    A word of caution, whatever you get, make sure it has a good bellows. Replacing a bellows will blow all "good deals" out of the water.

    Cheers, Steve

  4. #4

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    You want a Former Soviet Union camera in Large Format (assuming that's what FSU means)?

    Why in the world do you want to do that?

    Exquisite top shelf lenses and cameras are abundant and relatively cheap these days. Sinars sell for $300-400 USD. Rodenstock APO Sironar lenses often go for less than that. Prices are 10-20% of new for gear in excellent or better condition. Bargains are legion. No sympathy is extended.

    If you can't afford current LF equipment prices, you certainly can't afford to dabble in LF for long. Hell, your first year film costs alone can easily exceed your equipment costs these days.
    Last edited by Pupfish; 12-30-2009 at 09:31 AM. Click to view previous post history.

  5. #5
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    Your best bet for a cheap large format camera is the previously mentioned Kodak/Calumet/Orbit. The easiest version to find is the Calumet - usually labelled a CC-400 or somesuch. They're (to our modern eyes) ugly and primitive. However, they'll do whatever you want to do with large format. The biggest downside is that they're monorail cameras, so they don't fold up in to a nice little package you can stuff in a backpack and drag around with you, and being a bit on the zaftig side themselves, need a beefier tripod.

    Another option is to look for a 3.25 x 4.25 inch camera, as they're a sort of unloved cousin to the 4x5. The image size is ALMOST as big, but the cameras are smaller and lighter and usually a lot cheaper since folks think you can't get film for them (not true- there are still several manufacturers putting out 3.25x4.25 film, and you can always cut down 4x5 easily enough).

  6. #6

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    This may sound like a stupid question, but did the FSW actually make and/or market LF cameras? I've never heard of them doing so, but that dosen't mean they didn't.

  7. #7
    TheFlyingCamera's Avatar
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    There are a lot of FSU large format cameras out there, but they're mostly wooden tailboard style cameras used for portraiture. They're relatively cheap, but still not really in the price range the OP is looking for. FKD is a common brand, if I recall correctly.

  8. #8

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    You can get 4x5/5x7 (same camera different back) Grovers very cheap on the auction site usually. Shipping from the USA (where they were made) will be high though.

  9. #9

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    Make your own LF pinhole.

  10. #10
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    I have an old Calumet and I love it. It was really cheap at $165 with 11 film holders, Schneider 210mm, and a nice hard case. It can be kind of bulky but it is an amazing camera and an amazing value.
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

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