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  1. #1

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    Thinking about getting a "big camera"

    With spring fast approaching, i've been thinking about getting a "big camera" to use for my landscape / nature -ish stuff.

    Before now i've been using 6x9 cameras. I started with a rittreck / optika SLR at first that i got from a fellow APUG member. Despite it weighing about 30 lb it was great - i actually used it handheld most of the time, which was surprisingly easy with the waist level finder. Unfortunately the shutter conked out. After that i tried a mockba 5, which i got cheap because the shutter was off on the slow speeds. I cleaned it out and got it working again. It's a really fun camera, but i'm a little disappointed in the lens.

    So, i've been looking over my options and thinking about going from 6x9 to 4x5. Not in small part because there aren't a lot of 6x9 options. There's the Mamiya Press, the fuji rangefinders, the fuji 680 and the baby graphics.

    In 4x5, there are a ton of options from monorails to SLRs, and it's messing with my head. Add to that the fact that some of the 6x9 options have limited movements, and that you can get 6x9 and 6x12 backs for 4x5 cameras, and I really have no idea what to get.

    So i guess i'm looking to figure out what to look for.

    I guess of utmost importance would be speed. I don't want to spend more than 5 minutes to set up and tear down the kit, including packing it in and out of the truck. Being able to go handheld is a great bonus, but not entirely necessary. Something that i can get a nice wide and a normal for. Maybe movements, except i've never used them so i've no idea if i need them or not. And hopefully it won't break the bank.

    Sorry if my post is a little incomprehensible, my brain is a little fried from thinking too hard about something that should probably be fairly simple. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Barry S's Avatar
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    Since you sound like you're not at all sure of what you want or need--maybe start with a Speed or Crown Graphic. They're inexpensive and very fast to set up--at the expense of many movements. It would be a good starter camera to get a feel for what you might want in the future--or maybe it would fill your needs. They're durable and easy to throw in the vehicle--and go.

  3. #3
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The best options for all-round LF work including hand held are MPP Micro Technical VII or VIII, Super Graphic and Linhof Technika late IV or V, that's in order of costs.

    All 3 offer a good range of movements and are classified as Technical cameras because of their versatility, they are all metal bodied. Field cameras are wooden bodied & a touch lighter some offer slightly more movements but they aren't practical for hand held work. Press cameras like the Speed & Crown Graphics and MPP MicroPress have minimal movements and while cheap aren't ideal, I don't recommend them as a first 5x4 camera.

    I have all three types (plus I had 2 monorails), my Wista 45DX field camera has been my main LF camera since the mid 1980's, however I began using a Crown Graphic for hand-held work about 4 years ago. More recently I've begun using a Super Graphic instead of both (here in Turkey) because it's great hand held and still has all the movements I require as well. I could have just as easily bought an MPP or Linhof, it was just a case of what came up first at a good price, and that was the Super Graphic. In practice I sold a monorail then bought the Super Graphic.

    Hope that helps.
    Last edited by Ian Grant; 03-01-2011 at 02:09 PM. Click to view previous post history. Reason: clarity

  4. #4

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    What he said: my Crown graphic can go from packed to shot in 30 seconds, including a flash charge (assuming the batteries are fresh).

    On the other hand, I would recommend you think about what you are trying to shoot. If you are seriously trying to do landscapes, you can't beat a field camera (and you can use a roll film back on most, if you really want to). Taking an extra minute to set up the camera and think about what you are doing is not the end of the world.

  5. #5
    Ian Grant's Avatar
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    The Super Graphic (or MPP/Lihof not forgetting Japanese clones) can do the same and have significantly more movements as well as revolving backs.

    Try using a Crown Graphic in portrait mode there's ZERO tilt capability

    Ian

    Quote Originally Posted by degruyl View Post
    What he said: my Crown graphic can go from packed to shot in 30 seconds, including a flash charge (assuming the batteries are fresh).

    On the other hand, I would recommend you think about what you are trying to shoot. If you are seriously trying to do landscapes, you can't beat a field camera (and you can use a roll film back on most, if you really want to). Taking an extra minute to set up the camera and think about what you are doing is not the end of the world.

  6. #6

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    I have a Super Graphic that I've used, mainly for landscapes, since about 1980. I like the fact that I don't need a tripod for most of my work.

  7. #7
    ronlamarsh's Avatar
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    I'd vote for the linhof if you can find and afford one. I have a Tech III(ancient I know) but its as quick as a speed or crown to setup, has range finder if that's your bag. I've shot it from tripod and handheld and it works great for both.
    No escaping it!
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  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant View Post
    Try using a Crown Graphic in portrait mode there's ZERO tilt capability
    Try a Busch Pressman D then. Revolving back!

  9. #9
    2F/2F's Avatar
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    You don't really need the size of 4x5 unless you print big all the time, i.e. larger than 16x20. If you use nothing but fast films, there would probably be an advantage too. There is a lot to be said for the convenience and cost factor of roll film (not to mention the availability of different products to fill your backs with). There are 6x9 options out there with plenty of movement for decent prices. I would look into the Horseman medium format technical cameras with their matching lenses.
    2F/2F

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry S
    Since you sound like you're not at all sure of what you want or need
    Exactly!
    I'm not really sure how to explain... I tend to get close to the "subject" of the landscape, in a more... selective way? It's why i'm interested in movements - being able to get more control over focus or even perspective seems like an interesting ability. The problem is that i've never had them on any other camera, so i'm not entirely sure what i want in terms of extremity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ian Grant
    Quote Originally Posted by degruyl
    What he said: my Crown graphic can go from packed to shot in 30 seconds, including a flash charge (assuming the batteries are fresh).
    The Super Graphic (or MPP/Lihof not forgetting Japanese clones) can do the same and have significantly more movements as well as revolving backs.
    Before this i hadn't heard of the super graphic, but it looks really nice! No rear movements, but it's a tenth the price of a Linhof. Should i be worried about the electronics and stuff in it?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2F/2F
    You don't really need the size of 4x5 unless you print big all the time, i.e. larger than 16x20. If you use nothing but fast films, there would probably be an advantage too. There is a lot to be said for the convenience and cost factor of roll film (not to mention the availability of different products to fill your backs with). There are 6x9 options out there with plenty of movement for decent prices. I would look into the Horseman medium format technical cameras with their matching lenses.
    I don't think i need the size of 4x5, but far as convenience and cost go, i'm not too concerned. It takes me quite a while to get through the 8 shots i get out of 6x9. I probably won't get more than 3 or 4 film holders. I'm leaning towards 4x5 because there are more options, and if necessary i can slap a 6x9 back on it anyway. I already have a 645, so it would be nice to have something way bigger.

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