Apologies for my absence, my computer got a virus. I should have mentioned, I'm based in Victoria, AU, and will primarily be using this camera for commercial work. I think I would like to start with a 5/6x7 rig. I am competent technically with most aspects of 135 photography, but I think a trip to the library might be in order for this. The Camera and The Negative are must-reads, but considering I'm going the digital route post-negative I might hold off on the last book until I get a darkroom happening. Now I would definately like to meet some LF APUGers, but I am also confident in my ability to jump right into this. 5x7 fits the 135 mantra fairly well, so would people have any recommendations for cameras in the format?
5x7 changes the game somewhat, but not too much. Look around for an old tailboard Agfa/Ansco or Burke & James. They're fairly plentiful and will fit in your budget. Another option would be to keep an eye out for a monorail like a Sinar Norma (although these are rather popular of late and would probably break your budget). The holy grail in a field 5x7 is something like a Deardorf, Canham, or Ebony, but those are all definitely out of the range you're talking about. There's a 5x7/4x5 monorail kit in the APUG classifieds right now that would be a good option for you if you could stretch the cash a little. Shen Hao and Chamonix also make 5x7 field cameras but again they're out of the price range you mentioned. If you stick to 4x5, the Shen Hao is a very nice option at an affordable price. Not quite as light as a Chamonix, but still a fair bit cheaper.
Consider that if it's a more horizontal image you're after, something more like 35mm, that either a 6x9 roll film back for a 4x5 camera, or simply cropping the 4x5 frame will give you a great deal of image to play with. While it's had a rebirth among LF enthusiasts in the past few years, 5x7 is somewhat of an orphaned format. The variety of film available is much smaller than for 4x5, particularly for color films. 4x5 offers a larger choice of more modern lenses as well. That said, there's nothing like scanning a larger format negative - that is, unless you're printing it.
I wasn't aware 4x5 was so much more prolific than the slightly larger formats. Considering this, it looks a good place to start. I've been considering a Wista. How much could a BGN Wista 45(VX maybe) + standard lens be had for, abouts?
I belong to both APUG and LFPF. I suggest do more than just read LFPF - Join and ask plenty of questions; do lots of reading and ask more questions. I started about 2 years ago down the same path you're embarking on. After a year, I purchased my first camera; a Chamonix 45n-2.
Originally Posted by strapping
You're gonna get recommendations and suggestions up the kazoo, so you need to decide what is going to be your shooting style and what format. 4 x 5 is usually the place to start.
Going the 5 x 7 route will limit your film choices, so keep that in mind and it may, add a bit to your carrying weight. I'm not gonna kid you, I'm biased towards the Chamonix since I'm an owner. Beautiful camera, lightweight, compact and will have all the movements you need for landscape. The choice of camera is yours and what your budget dictates but do give the Chamonix and the Shen Hao serious consideration.
When considering you choice of lens, keep in mind the image circle. It has at the very minimum need to cover the diagonal of the film. For 4x5 thats aprox. 153mm.
If your subject require movements, you'll need a lens that projects a larger image circle.
If you decide on 4 x 5, your first lens consideration should be 210mm. It will allow a large image circle giving you an opportunity to learn various movements. e.g. rise, fall, tilt & shift. 135 - 150mm is considered a normal focal length for 4 x 5.
Determine what your favorite most used focal length lens is in your current format, then find the equivalent in LF.
Consider bellows extension. The Chamonix 45n-2 with Universal bellows has 395mm of belows extension, allowing me to use a lens with focal length up to 350mm without problems.
My current lens kit is composed of:
90mm 6.8 Rodenstock Grandagon-N
135mm 5.6 Rodenstock APO Sironar-S
210mm 5.6 Rodenstock APO-Sironar-S
350mm f11 Schneider APO Compact
With the exception of the Schneider, I was able to acquire all the other lenses used and in excellent condition.
Others have mentioned Ansel Adams and Steve Simmons books -- must reads.
I'd also include Zone VI Workshop by Fred Picker which can be found used.
Again, just don't read posts on LFPF, join, ask questions, read, do some research, ask more questions BEFORE you buy a camera. Base your decision on your shooting style and needs.
You should have no trouble hooking up with LF photographers living in Australia that are also members of LFPF.
Last edited by lilmsmaggie; 01-10-2011 at 02:58 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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you might consider getting a 5x7 camera
with a 4x5 reducing back if you feel you will
be jumping up a format size sooner rather than later.
unless you are using super wide lenses ( larger than 90mm )
chances are if they will work on your 4x5, they will work on a 5x7.
( all my 4x5 glass double duties on a 5x7 even the 90mm ) ...
but that said, if you are unsure about large format and all the stuff that
goes with it, you might consider getting a speed or crown graphic, they
sell easy when you want to trade-up.
i bought mine in 1988 and still use it, and 75$ tiltall tripod i bought to go with it.
i mention the tiltall because it is rugged and sturdy ( inexpensive! ) and can easily handle a 4x5 camera
( i used it for years with a monorail and the speed graphic ).
good luck !
Hi Multi Format,
Here in UK, second hand prices are really low. There are so many makes too. Here are a few monorail cameras: Sinar, Cambo, Linhof. They are quite bulky, as they need to be in a case because they are delicate. The plus side is the unlimited amount of camera movements, which give you great creative possibilities. (Yes, I know you can fix or create perspective distortion in Photoshop.)
The next choice is the folding camera: Linhof, Wista, MPP, Toyo and many more. They are easy to carry in a rucksack, but often limited to a 90mm lens on 5X4. So if you like super wide lenses, you may be limited, and the camera movements less than a monorail with bag bellows.
Or you could go the whole hog and get 10X8 inch. Hugely expensive, especially in colour. Like the Rolls Royce car, but as slow to use, you tend to think before you shoot...
Last edited by colourgeek; 01-10-2011 at 05:14 PM. Click to view previous post history.
Reason: bad grammar
Starting with 4x5 is probably the best idea considering the used market. I would undoubtedly by the Chamonix given I had the money, but right now I'm looking at a used Shen Hao. I expect my first lens will be 210mm, or not ranging far from there if I can get a good price. There appears to be both quite a few designs and also quite a few market places; does anyone have any recomendations on what I should choose basd on experience? I expect to be using lab developed colour film for the first few months, but I might develop B&W at home, I already have a few tools. Also Ive read that I would be better off getting a lens board other than Shen Hao brand, is this true?
I'm not sure I follow this question. Are you still refering to camera or lens?
Originally Posted by strapping
I'd keep you eyes open for lenses on KEH: http://www.keh.com, be careful of evilBay. I purchased the 135mm from a professional photograher who had recently gone all digital. The others I found at KEH with the exception of the Schneider as I previously mentioned.
Lenses are like women, wine, audio speakers, etc. Each lens imparts its own signature. In general, you can't go wrong with Rodenstock and Schneider.
A cheaper route would be Caltar (rebadged Rodenstock & Schnedier) lenses.
I can't speak to how you identify which is which maybe others can but I hear that they are just as good -- just offered at a lower price-point.
Japanese glass (Nikkors & Fuji) have their own signature as well. Some people stick to the German glass, some prefer the Japanese and some have both. Just depends on what you like. The Japanese lenses tend to be smaller and lighter. That may be a consideration when backpacking.
I suggest reading Kerry Thalmann's site to learn more about LF lenses and lens choices:
As far as lens boards go, the Chamonix is designed to be compatible with any lens board of Linhoff type.
Chamonix also makes available their own carbon-fiber boards which are quite nice.
I believe the Shen Hao uses Linhof/Wista style boards.
And of course, check the classified sections of LFPF and here for people that are selling their gear.
Last edited by lilmsmaggie; 01-11-2011 at 04:07 PM. Click to view previous post history.
LF cameras are quite frankly a pain in the assets. It will always be simpler to shoot a 35mm or MF. Always.
Here's the trick: if you have a LF camera you really love to use, chances are you'll get out and use it more.
The more you shoot, the better your results will become. The better your results the more you'll want to shoot.
It's a slippery slope!
My suggestion is to find a camera you can imagine yourself shooting.
A camera to fall in love with.
Then, you'll be on your way. Really.