I've been lusting after quite a few items to feed my photographic addiction with. I, however, can probably only afford one of my options at this point. I was wondering what you guys think would be most beneficial to me?
Add to my Bronica SQ-A system with a 110 f/4.5 for portraits. - $300
Buy a Soligor Zone VI modified light meter so I can begin using contraction and expansion techniques with my current kits. - $130
Aquire a 6x9 folder, allowing me to play with the golden ratio in MF and aiding me in my lightweight photography expaditions. - $150-250*
*probably add $40 for a cheap reflected light meter
Get an S-18 extension tube for my SQ-A to allow me close ups for portraits and a 65 or 50 lens to help with some of my rural landscapes. - $225-$300
Save a little more money to the point where I can get a 4x5 field camera that would allow me to experiment with LF's lack of grain, which I do like a quite a bit. - $500
Suggestions? - $?
I need some advice from people with expirience, so I came here
Old Speed Graphics are a good way to get into 4x5. Not a true field camera due to lack of movements but a heck of a lot cheaper. I have one and use it for everything from portraits to landscapes.
IMO, option 3, exception would be an inexpensive folder like a Kodak Tourist II(6x9) or other 620 size film camera that can be modified to accept 120 film. These can be had for well under $200, most under $100. Agfas in good condition are a bargain, and most take 120 film. Case 5 is a good option, 4x5 monorails can be had for low bucks, Calumet CC-400 series can be had for less than $100, then add lens, film holders, tripod, etc, entire kit within your budget. Either way, a decent incident light meter will be needed, still staying under budget.
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I would choose 1 or 4, depending on which you would use more, a portrait lens or a landscape lens + extension tube. I think adding a new camera system, while the most fun option, adds complexity to your life and surely comes with hidden costs, like new film and perhaps new developing and printing equipment. I guess what I'm saying is, I wouldn't add an entirely new system unless I was sure I had a use for it, not just a yearning to try something different. I say this from experience.
That said, I think there is nothing that will help your photography more than proper light metering. So, if you have no external meter at all, then I'd not buy any new camera equipment until I bought both an incident and a spot meter (sometimes available in the same meter).
You don't need a Zone VI modified meter to work with expansion and contraction, nor even a spot meter, but a spot meter can make life easier for checking brightness ranges.
You might consider a Luna-Pro SBC which is very good for measuring brightness range, and can accept accessories for limiting it's field of view. They sell for <100 USD.
I agree with Wade that a Crown or Speed is a good economical way to get into 4x5. A speed is especially good for economy because you can use shutterless lenses which are much cheaper than shuttered ones.
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I understand the want for a new piece of gear to sink one's teeth into. But do you really need it? You have everything you need in order to make the photographs you wish to make. You already have it. So, before you go sinking dough into something you don't really NEED, make sure first that you really need it. If not, just perfect your photography with the gear you possess.
From Cheryl's Article: Advice For Aspiring Photographers
It’s easier to focus on buying that next piece of equipment than it is to accept that you should be able to create great work with what you’ve got. Buying stuff is a convenient and expensive distraction. You need a decent camera, a decent lens, and a light meter. Until you can use those tools consistently and masterfully, don’t spend another dime. Spend money on equipment ONLY when you’ve outgrown your current equipment and you’re being limited by it. There are no magic bullets.
If you want a lightweight camera then buy a cheap folder from eBay. If you want to do something different with your light meter, teach yourself the math. Looking for a different angle on your portraiture, just move the camera. Wanna make the jump to LF (like I did), trade your MF setup for it (like I did). More is not always better. So save the money for film and chemistry and paper unless you really need the gear.
Last edited by Christopher Walrath; 07-25-2010 at 12:00 PM. Click to view previous post history.
If you do not already own a light meter, then purchase one, immediately !
I am only familiar with the Sekonic L-398. But with it I am able to use it determine an exposure for any camera that I will ever purchase. Eventually when it's time to upgrade to a 4X5, swallow your pride and get an OmegaView 45F. A starter kit should be less than $300.00, once you have gained experience with that you can then consider a field type camera. But you might appreciate the bang for your Bucks, that the 45F will provide you for many years to come.
Unfortunately when we are dissatisfied with our photographs, our EGO tries to compensate by purchasing new equipment. We feel good temporarily,but usually our photographs won't be significantly improved.
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I.M.O. the 110mm f4.5 is too short for head and shoulders portraits on 6X6 you would be better buying the 150mm lens which is ideal.