I have always shot with 35 or MF cameras and I now want to get into 4x5 but I do not know too much about it other than I love the quality. I have heard difference between 4x5 Field and 4x5 View. I am looking to backpack with the camera once I learn how to use it so I think I am wanting to get a field camera. I do however all the tilts and swings as well. I have printed many 4x5 negatives / chromes and up but never really get into it as it was expensive and I was happy with MF. But now as prices are much better than a few years ago it looks like it is time to step it up a notch.
Do you know where I couple buy a nice package at a reasonable price. I really do not want to go the ebay route though.
i too have recently made the move to 4x5, and knowing very little, bought a dercent kit on ebay. i'm happy with it, but i've learned so much more since then. may i suggest you consider the camera in this review: http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/anba.htm since you've indicated you want to back pack and still have extensive view camera movements. in any case Badgergraphic.com seems to be a pretty good place to see what's available and/or perhaps shop. good luck.
I have used 4X5 for about 20 years. If I were doing what you are contemplating all over again, I would begin with the decision on the lens focal lengths that I normally used in 35 mm or med format. The lens focal lengths on 4X5 are triple the equivalent focal lengths in 35 mm.
From that decision, I would then choose the camera bellows extension and bellows configuration the best afforded the lens selection.
For instance if you are more inclined to wide angle 28 mm in 35 mm then the equivalent 4X5 lens would be 90 mm. This lens will normally require a bag bellows if one uses movements. The use of rise and tilt, for instance, would be very limited with standard bellows. Does the camera that you are considering have the capability of interchangeable bellows?
On the other hand if you have a telephoto preference. If, for instance, you use a 105 mm in 35 mm then the nearest equivalent lens on 4X5 would be a 305mm. Does the camera that you are considering have sufficient bellows extension to accomodate such a lens? Fifteen inches would be needed for usage other the infinity with that focal length and an 18 inch extension would be preferable.
For landscape photography the single most important camera movement is tilt, both front and rear. Next would be rise/fall. Last would be swing with rear swing being more important the front swing. However swing on both standards is nice to have. The next question to be answered in regard to tilt movements is whether you want base or axis tilt. These are not the same and will have different effects. I prefer base tilt on the rear standard and both axis and base tilt on the front standard.
If you don't want to use Ebay then I can highly recommend Midwest Photo in Columbus, Ohio. Good people, fair prices, and outstanding service. If you want a new camera the I would suggest Canham, Wisner, Zone VI.
Good luck and have fun.
I'll second Midwest Photo (www.mpex.com); talk to Jim Andracki. Also, there's Badger graphic (www.badgergraphic.com), talk to Jeff Taugner. And don't forget Quality Camera (www.qualitycamera.com), ask for Jeff Wheeler.
None of these folks will steer you wrong.
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why a new camera?
If you just want a starter field camera, then I'm not sure a new camera is the best thing to do, especially if you are on a budget. I suggest reading everything at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/ and possibly getting a graflex or something similar. For example, I have a Meridian 45B with just about all of the movements that you would ever need (and more). It doesn't have a removable groundglass, but I haven't found a need for that yet.
Once you really get comfortable with the 4x5 then you will be ready to buy a new 8x10 :-)
For lenses, see http://www.hevanet.com/cperez/kit.html for a good rundown of inexpensive (and some not so) lenses.
I also have to mention that the best way to do large format for cheap is an old Polaroid 100 or 101 and a pack of 665. $15 on Ebay. See http://www.rwhirled.com/landlist/landhome.htm
If you aren't concerned about the cost, then there are a lot of great cameras available new, but it adds up quick.
"I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America." -- Alexis de Tocqueville
lfphoto.info is a great source for info about getting started in large format with lots of practical information and equipment reviews. Also check the _View Camera_ magazine website, which I think has an article about getting started in 4x5", and you might take a look at Steve Simmons' book, _Using the View Camera_ for some basic information in an easily understandable format.
Fish around on Kerry Thalmann's site, mentioned above, since he's written quite a bit on backpacking with a 4x5" camera, lightweight cameras, and lightweight lenses. There are some backpacking threads as well at the Q&A forum at lfphoto.info.
First of all I'd like to disagree with what's been said about focal lengths. I have found myself using wider and wider lenses as I go up in size. I prefer 100mm of TF (TinyFormat), 75mm in MF, 135mm in 4x5", 150mm in 5x7". So far I have only a 165mm for 8x10"(really 18x24cm), and I fear I could get used to it. I also wonder about an antique 135mm WA lens I came across...
So if you like long lenses in TF, it doesn't necessarily follow that you'll want a 300mm lens for 4x5".
Front tilt and rise are the most important movements. Rear tilt is very nice. Rear swing would be my next choise, even before front swing. But that's because my landscapes are almost vertical...
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
In MF I use a 150 and 50 quite a bit in 35mm I use 17, 35, 50, 105 so really I am all over the place when it comes to lens use. Now I am confused.
if avoiding the ebay route - you might check out use dealers like keh camera brokers. some say they are rather expensive, but i have found their prices for large format lenses to be okay, and their descriptions to be accurate.
you might also check out a place in oregon - equinoxphotographic.com -
they usually have a bunch of large format camera gear, and their prices are really reasonable, not to mention they are really nice folks. they guy that runs it, is an avid photographer so he can also answer questions you might have if you are looking for lenses & stuff.