View Full Version : newbie to LF from Scotland

19-Jan-2015, 07:55
Stuck in the rural Scottish Borders I've had to make do with digital. Had a brief go with a local photographers MPP 5x4 monorail and I was hooked. But I could never afford a camera of my own. Then by shear luck I managed to pick up a B&J 5x4 Grover Monorail for peanuts. Its presently in the care of the Royal Mail, winging its way to me through snow and rain.

It needs a lens and the back/viewing hood/glass. But apart form that looks restorable. I plan eventually to strip the paint back to wood. but first order of battle is to get it up and working.

Am going to use the camera for mostly portraits. If I'm brave, both indoors and out.

Are there anyone other LF users on the Forum from Scotland?


19-Jan-2015, 09:06
I'm from Yorkshire, but will be in Glencoe first week of Feb. More than happy to communicate and meet up occasionally.


19-Jan-2015, 09:08
Forgot to say that I have a few spare Kodak 5x4 ground glass if you want one for the cost of posting.


John Kasaian
19-Jan-2015, 10:13
Welcome from bonny California!

Andrew O'Neill
20-Jan-2015, 16:02
Welcome Chris! My dad's from Invergordon. I've been to Scotland many times. Endless photographic possibilities.

21-Jan-2015, 14:40
Hi Bruce, John and Andrew. Thanks for the warm welcome. I got my hands on the camera today. Picked it up off a well known internet auction site. I'm not sure if you are able to post pictures here, so I've put them on my website (http://chrisfrear.photium.com/5x4-camera-restoration-project). It looks in reasonable condition, well atleast the wood and metal does. The bellows as might be expected failed the light test. But then I think there was a clue in that the edges of the bellows had at sometime in the past been painted with dabs of black paint which have now cracked with age and or use. The back is missing the viewfinder/DD slide holder (I did now this when I bought it). I can get a replacement from the States but its crazy price of over 100 once you include shipping and import taxes! Has anyone any ideas on a replacement/adapter I could make. I am trying to do this on a budget.

Pete Watkins
21-Jan-2015, 14:58
For new bellows see Custom Bellows in Brum. Really nice people to deal with.

21-Jan-2015, 15:07
For new bellows see Custom Bellows in Brum. Really nice people to deal with.

For the cost of those bellows you can buy a complete modern 4X5 monorail camera, and have change for some extras.... :) just my 2 cents.
If you are set on restoring the grover you can find primo quality bellows on ebay (from hong kong) for much less, though replacing the bellows is a major undertaking on this particular camera...

If you want i might even have a spare 4X5 back that will fit your camera, complete with spring and glass for not much money.

29-Jan-2015, 05:46
Took a long hard look at the cost of the missing pieces (lens & film back) and the replacement of the bellows. It was going to cost a considerable amount to get up and running. At the same time I was lucky enough to see a Calumet CC400 with a film back (in mint - condition) offered at less than a third the cost of vastly less cost than repairing the B&J. The only thing missing was a lens. It was a steal. So I've changed horses mid race and gone with the Calumet. I intend to sell the B&J on ebay, maybe someone will restore it or use it for parts.

29-Jan-2015, 05:53
128635 I bought it from a guy in Liverpool who tells me he bought it from a dealer called Iris Point Cameras in Montana.

31-Jan-2015, 08:45
Welcome from Geneva!
Rural Scottish Borders sounds beautyfull!

1-Feb-2015, 15:16
Hi Chris, yes there are a few of us LF photographers in Scotland.

In my case, about 30 miles from Ullapool.


1-Feb-2015, 15:21
Welcome and hello.

William Whitaker
1-Feb-2015, 16:32
Aye! Yeww brrring the malt, lad!

Andrew O'Neill
1-Feb-2015, 23:44
Nice Canadian accent, Will!

Bill Suderman
6-Feb-2015, 09:46
"Stuck in the rural Scottish Borders." Oh, such a hardship! Yes, it's a bit flatter there, but with the amount of precipitation you have, you enjoy green and wonderful lighting. Portraiture in that soft light is fantastic. Your Calumet will serve you well, I have and still use the gray version I bought in '64, I think it is part anvil. I lived for 2 years north of you back in the late '60's, Sandbank, just north of Dunoon. In '05, I took my wife on a 3 week trip carrying a 30 pound backpack with my 5x4 kit, made a circuit around Scotland, up into Orkney, down the east side and back to the Glasgow airport. That was in May, it's a little dryer then, but the heather was in bloom. BTW, outdoors "environmental" portraiture in and around all that history is exciting to think about.
Welcome to large format, you have begun a wonderful adventure.

15-Mar-2015, 09:28
First two 5x4 shot and processed. Taken in local old fashioned hardware shop. Happy to have proved camera light tight and processing technique. 130873130874

15-Mar-2015, 10:25
awesome, you are on your way, with very good results!

We were in Dumfries for a day, and sunny 'twas!

Leszek Vogt
15-Mar-2015, 14:04
Dogs, kitties and Volvos are coming down heya. Welcome to LF forum.


16-Mar-2015, 10:06
Welcome, I'm just outside Glasgow, or occasionally in Fife. Seems there's a few half decent prices on Symmar lenses on eBay just now. . .

16-Mar-2015, 13:55
The Borders are the best!