Get a cheap camera in good condition and play with it first. LF isn't for everyone and dropping a boatload of $$ from the get go will only add to your frustrations, IMHO. If your intentions are backpacking, then a Shen or any of the more modern japanese woodys should serve you just fine. If you find a need for plastic camera you can upgrade later and your lens & film holders and the rest of your "kit" can transfer over to the new camera.
My 2-cents anyway:)
8x10 is a great format to learn on!
Backpacking any distance will be a real challenge, as everything 8x10 is heavier and bulkier.
Color 8x10 is prohibitvely expensive( and if you'll be able to find color 8x10 film at all is very much a crap shoot!)
Nothing IMHO beats an 8x10 B&W contact print, however (unless its a 11x14 or larger contact print!)
I mention all this not discourage you, but so you'll be aware of the limitations.
John, Thanks for the info.
I actually just picked up a Crown Graphic for a good price. I figure that would be a good start for now to test the water. Hey, maybe I'll decide I want to go 8x10.
Either way, I'm not too worried about getting film or other materials. It's pretty easy to find that stuff here in Japan.
I have been thinking about getting a better 4x5 but one of the concerns I have is limited bellows draw. Off the top of my head the longest available ones are the Ebony and the Canham. Both cameras are pricey though. I learned the other day that Chamonix has a bed extension available and the bellows can handle it. The Chamonix cameras look like the best deal going these days. It is difficult to find anyone saying anything negative about it. With the way the internet is these days that is rare!
I stick with 4x5 because it is the most practical. I used to have an 8x10 but I never really used it unless the image was roadkill. I just never wanted to lug it anywhere. The image quality was phenomenal of course. 4x5 is the largest neg my enlarger (Saunders 4550xl) can handle so to me it is a sweet spot. If all you are going to do is contact print then maybe go with something larger.
My Shen Hao XPO has 420mm draw. No idea how that compares to those listed, but well over the "usual" 4x5 field camera draw (<350mm).
Yeah, that was the thing for me. I can enlarge 4x5 no problem, but it's a little small for alt process. (IMOO)
Originally Posted by M. Lointain
8x10 is obviously better for contact printing, but I'd be limited to that or scanning for now.
On a side note....I'm very interested in the Ebony 4x5's. They are expensive, but I love the look of them. (I'm sure they work great too.)
Of course all in all....whatever expensive film camera I buy it will last longer and cost less than the latest digital craze.
There just happens to be a walker Camera for sale here, http://www.teamworkphoto.com/walker-...a-p-16090.html Excellent dealer and one of the last pro camera shops in London
Walker cameras are excellent, but not necessarily for everybody. They are extremely rigid, precise and strong. But they don't have the fancy geared movements, scales, DOF markings etc some people want. The Wide and XL versions are much better suited to architecture than general photography. Realistically the longest lens you can put on a 4x5 Wide is a 150. You can maybe go to 180, but not sure how close it would focus. The 4x5 XL is essentially the same but with a rigid back.
For general photography, the one to look for used would be the 4x5 SF. It is a folding design with a long bellows draw, and works well with wide angle lenses too. It has a larger range of movements (example: front rise) than many folding cameras, so it is very flexible and can be used for a wide variety of applications.
That said, apparently the Shen Hao and Chamonix cameras are very good (I have not used one but have read a lot good things) and are priced very well.
Regarding going all the way to 8x10, think some more about the type of photography you do first. Every format has its benefits and limitations and often the type of photography can tilt you in a particular direction. Contact prints can be beautiful, but there are some drawbacks to be considered (aside from the obvious things like bulk). In particular, depth of field can be a real problem. Your choice of modern lenses is also significantly more limited than with 4x5. Also keep in mind everything needs to be bigger, from the tripod to your developing trays (for example, I would not tray process 8x10 film in any tray smaller than 11x14).
It might therefore be easier to start off with a low-priced/used 4x5 setup if you haven't worked with sheet film before. The 4x5 camera will give you the chance to work with sheet film, camera movements etc. You can then decide if you like large format, and if you want to move to 8x10.
My two cents.
The Shen Hao web site lists the XPO as having 360mm of bellows draw. Has the camera changed over time?
Originally Posted by LJH
I cannot answer that, simply because I have never spec'ed another XPO. I can only go on what mine does.
Originally Posted by Dismayed
A simple way to get the answer would be to ask Mr Zhang at Shen Hao about it. He's pretty good at responding, albeit a bit later than expected.
Have you seen this thread? Might give you some more information on it.