View Full Version : Want to replace Chamonix, field camera or medium format suggestions?

17-Aug-2017, 13:18
Hello all!

First off, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who frequents these forums. I have not been on in quite some time. I was doing some research and lo and behold an old thread I started appeared. Wow, it was so fascinating to read the many suggestions, ideas, and thoughts people provided me back then. Also super interesting to see what fit and what did not, as well as to see the level of my own naivete and how far I have come.

Long story short- I cam here several years ago asking about large format cameras. I was about to begin an MFA program and was sold on the idea that using a view camera would slow me down. At that point I was working digitally, occasionally shooting with a Mamiya 7 (which I sold, but not wish I had back) and a Yashica mat-124 G that I enjoyed, but that know longer works. In many ways I was still very new to photography, but I was certain my work would blossom and I would exert more control over my image making if I shot LF. I knew I wanted something to take into the field and that I could travel with. The way I shoot now is different from back then, but not radically so by any means. My website (which needs an update!) is www.isabelmagowan.com and hopefully can be helpful in providing some context for the images I make. I currently work with a 5d Mark III. It is a great camera, but something doesn't feel right. Ultimately, this is because of my own photographic process and inability to decide what I want to make work about than it is anything to do with the camera. Regardless... Those years ago I got excellent advice. Looking back now I am wondering why I did not respond to every single suggestion. I suppose in a way I sort of had my mind made up early on. Many cameras were mentioned. Some were real proponents of the speed graflex, of wood cameras, of Toyo's, of monorails. I knew I did not want a monorail, I still stand by that. Ultimately, I bought a Chamonix. Beautiful camera, but I under estimated by own patience and over estimated the degree to which I thought I needed movements. The truth is, while this camera is beautiful, it never felt intuiative, but more frustrating and difficult to handle, difficult to store. Admittedly, that was because I was a newbie. I over looked more commonly produced brands thinking this camera had the answers. I picked something perhaps to beautiful and too advanced. Its movements at times felt counter intuitive and did not leave me feeling like I had control (again experience). While I made some beautiful images with this camera, I never enjoyed the experience. Set up and break down was always cumbersome, a certain mechanisms, especially the lift and tilt function mechanism on one part on the back kept slipping and almost breaking down on me.

Yet, I have not given up on 4x5 and the idea of a field camera, simply put, this beautiful camera was not the right fit for me. Recently I saw my friends horseman. It looked so tiny! So easy to fold back in! The lens I believe could stay on. All that annoying setup of the Chamonix (I believe it is the 045F1) was one of the reasons why I just couldn't get myself to use it. It felt so anal that I felt my soul being sucked out. The horseman, which she said was fairly inexpensive, was great she said. At this point, I have learned that price does not always make for a better camera. I still love the idea of setting up a shot, but not without all those bells and whistles, all the time of setup. Of course some set up is to be expected but that is fine. I just need something a bit more pragmatic, functional, and useful. I want the process to be smooth and excite me more than frustrate me. Because the Chamonix is sort of "botiquey" I found it hard to find advice when dealing with issues or when trying to problem solve. That back mechanism... not so smooth... I feel anxiety thinking about it.

So any thoughts? What do some thing about the Horseman (I can not recall which she had, I believe she bought it for $600.00). Are there any other light weight easy to use, set up, and carry cameras available? Do any have the option of also taking medium format film? I am also open to the idea of shooting with a medium format camera. I found the Mamiya RZ cumbersome, although know many people who love it. The Mamiya 7 was great but the paralax was tough on the version I had and I found (must have been due to my lens) that I could never get all that close. I also find the Mamiya in some ways has over taken the LF standard in artsy fartsy schools. I have also found that people were shooting with all sorts of things (that is the good news).

Please let me know if you have any questions or could use more information that might help with feedback. Apologies for the long rambling above. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the 5d mainly because now I have a bunch of equipment for it, but in doing this have lost the passion of simply seeing and making. I get distracted by this or that and don't focus on what I want and how to achieve it. Any ideas are welcome and I am incredibly appreciative for all and any advice.

Thank you!

- Issy

Oren Grad
17-Aug-2017, 14:28
Welcome back!

Yet, I have not given up on 4x5 and the idea of a field camera, simply put, this beautiful camera was not the right fit for me. Recently I saw my friends horseman. It looked so tiny! So easy to fold back in! The lens I believe could stay on.

The Horseman 45HF, 45HD, and 45FA are nice cameras and can be set up pretty quickly, though the controls are a bit cramped, movements are limited and there are many lenses that are too big to fit. (FWIW, I have the Horseman VH and VH-R 6x9cm cameras, which share the same basic design.)

But there are many 4x5 cameras that do not require any kind of folding at all. You can leave the lens on, and if you use a quick-release plate with your tripod, you can mount the camera and be ready to go in an instant with no fuss. Non-folding wooden field camera models from Ebony, Shen-Hao and Chamonix come to mind. If you tend to see wide, another non-folding alternative would be a Cambo Wide, which uses lenses in helical focus mounts. There are also rigid-body 4x5 cameras from Chinese companies such as Fotoman, Gaoersi and Da Yi. These all use lenses in helical focus mount; some models have (limited) movements and some don't. These too are best suited to shorter focal lengths; with mounting cones to accommodate normal or longer focal lengths they tend to be pretty bulky, and close-focus may be limited.

Most or all of these will have Graflok backs that can accept roll film holders as well as 4x5 cut sheet film holders.

17-Aug-2017, 15:18
B&H produced a "Professional Photo Sourcebook" in 2007 that's a wealth of information about the cameras available then. Fortunately, quite a few view cameras, field or monorail, haven't really changed much since 2007. From here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/FreeCatalog.jsp in the bottom right corner are the links to the files, the whole beast is at https://static.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/Product_Resources/SourceBookProPhoto/Pro-Photo-SourceBook.pdf and the LF "Field" cameras are https://static.bhphotovideo.com/FrameWork/Product_Resources/SourceBookProPhoto/Section03aLgFormatField.pdf
From that, you might be able to figure out which Horseman your friend had, whether it was one of the folding metal ones or the Woodman, plus see photos and specs for a lot of cameras that you might want to pick up used instead of new.

I see from your web page you're in New York. I'm sure there are lots of photographers in that area who have cameras that you could look at and get a feel for what might be better for you. I don't know if there are LF clubs or meetup groups in that area that might help you get in touch with people with all sorts of cameras, but that would be a good place to start.

What lenses do you like? I have a non-folding Ebony 45SU which is more of a "collapsing" camera. I think the term "non-folding" doesn't describe how they work well. The better way to describe how I store it is that it "flattens." Anyway, I could store it with my Nikkor-M 200 f/8 lens or my Fuji 125/5.6 lenses on it quite easily (those are both very small lenses that could be stored on many cameras in their compact/folded state), but my huge Fujinar 250/4.7 isn't practical to leave on in its collapsed state. Chamonix makes the 45H-1 and 45Hs-1 and Shen Hao makes the TFC45-IIC and XPO45-A that are non-folding. I find it's pretty easy and fast to collapse my 45SU for storage and open it for use, but it's not the perfect style of camera for everyone.

17-Aug-2017, 17:44
Thank God we got the "short" version ! I forgot what the question was.

David Lobato
17-Aug-2017, 18:56
I like a field 4x5 because it's it's less weight and more compact than the RB67 I had for a few months. So I sympathize with your RZ comment. If I am going to carry a certain amount of weight and take the time to set it up a camera, I'd much rather expose an image on a 4x5 inch sheet of film instead of a 6x7 or 6x9 cm piece of film.

I use a Toyo 45A because it's quick to set up, among other reasons. A Chamonix 45F-1 did not interest me either. Check out other metal field cameras from Horseman and the Linhof Technikas. New Technikas are expensive, older ones are more affordable. Also the Arca Swiss 4x5 cameras but they are pricey.

17-Aug-2017, 19:03
If you mostly want big film or non-extreme lens options and not a ton of movements, there are plenty of speed graphic / crown graphic options as well. They don't get much respect but do the job inexpensively and simply.

If you want the DSLR to be fun, just put away all but your 50mm lens and get to know it with just that lens. Or get the Yashica repaired and it's a great deal lighter and more convenient than a DSLR in normal outdoor situations.

Mark Woods
18-Aug-2017, 07:18
I use a Deardorff V8 with reducing backs. I love the way it works. I use a Pentax 67 for MF and it's very easy to use -- it's just a big version of the 35mm camera. Good luck!

Jeff Keller
18-Aug-2017, 09:21
Your photos have almost no need for camera movements. The field cameras will probably feel much better and not have any significant constraints for your shooting.

The speed graphic / crown graphic mentioned by jp should work well (were used by news reporters). Horseman 45HF, 45HD, and 45FA (mentioned by Oren), Linhof Technika, Toyo 45A, Wista 45 RF are similar designs.

Since you are primarily taking pictures of people you probably would find the versions with rangefinders are an advantage.

Like Oren I have a Horseman VHR which is fun to use but has limitations on movements, so I use my Canham more often.

Nothing will be quicker nor easier to use than your DSLR. The biggest difference will be whether you like the process of taking the picture or of working with film.

Best wishes, jeff

18-Aug-2017, 13:22
Hi all,

Thank you so much for your considered responses. Drew, I will look into into the source book you recommended. My friends horseman was not wood. 168616168617
It looked something along the lines of the images here (hoping these worked). I think it may have been the 45FA or the 45HD.

My Chamonix is a field camera, however unlike many field camera it offered additional movements, that generally are only found with monorail cameras. I have would like to be able to pack a camera so it collapsing or folding is fine so long as it does not take 20 minutes to set up. I don't think I would mind limited movements, after all part of my issues (which for many others would be its virtue!) was the extent of movements and then the difficult of locking those movements in place. To many components to be accounted for. This made it hard to connect with subject or direct or do much of anything as I was always trying to finagle the camera.

Luis- good one! Main question: What LF 4x5 field camera is functional, lightweight, easy to set up, strong/ durable, and enjoyable to shoot with.

By any chance do any of these 4x5 field cameras have the ability to also shoot with medium format film?

JP: I am still interested in speed graphic, crown graphic. That be said some movements would be nice. I know it is not possible here. Out of these cameras (graphic) is their a particular model or make that you could suggest? Thank you in advance

Jeff: In regard to finding versions with rangefinders, are you referring to medium format cameras? Or is this possible with large format cameras? What is the benefit of this or difference? Apologies for not knowing more in regard to this.

David: I am agreement. If I shooting film, then I rather have a lightweight MF cam rather than a cumbersome RZ. If I have to take that set up time I would prefer the 4x5. Also the RZ was not very convenient to carry. My Chamonix, actually was very light weight and could fit into a backpack quite easily- something I liked. But then Each time setting up, it not maintaining positions, changing the copal boards (which I am not opposed too, but got tiresome in addition to the set up involved) took me out of anything I was doing. I also do not need so many movements. The specific chamonix had to many movements. I just need basic movements.

Here is the link to the Chamonix I own http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/045F1.html (http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/045F1.html)

I also would like to trade the Chamonix or find something under $1000.00. I am tough on my gear and one of the reasons I rarely used my Chamonix was because it was so beautiful and I worried it was too delicate.

Thank you again for all of your feedback. I look forward to reading more.

18-Aug-2017, 13:39
JP: I am still interested in speed graphic, crown graphic. That be said some movements would be nice. I know it is not possible here. Out of these cameras (graphic) is their a particular model or make that you could suggest? Thank you in advance

Not sure about Crowns but look for the graflok back on either.. For speed that would be a pacemaker.. They'd generally have the metal stamped lensboards, which the standard that goes with them has more movements than the previous Anniversary version, which has wooden lensboards. I happen to like the Anniversary and preanniversary better despite less movements because you get a bigger lensboard for bigger lenses... but it's a tradeoff. A Crown basically the same as a speed graphic except that it lacks a focal plane shutter. There are websites and FAQs to fill in the details. Graflex branded 135 and 210 lenses are excellent and usually come with a lensboard. Lensboards are available used for most common sizes or new (and custom) from ebay user golfista174. The front standard can be removed and reversed if you need scheimpflug movement of aiming the lens downward.

Alan Gales
18-Aug-2017, 13:52
If you like the Horseman then look at a metal Toyo 45A/45All or a metal Wista SP. Both are quick to set up and are very sturdy.

If you decide on medium format and an RZ is too heavy/bulky then look at Hasselblad.

18-Aug-2017, 15:06
I use a Chamonix 045n, and trust me, I'm not a "boutique" kind of guy. I'm a duck hunter on the Northern Plains. I like the camera because it's so light and backpacks well. Anyway, no one camera is for everybody. If you aren't using movements or historical lenses, I'd suggest trying a Hassleblad with three lenses.

Kent in SD

Jeff Keller
18-Aug-2017, 20:42
Imagowan, the picture of the Horseman you showed looks like it has a range finder on the top of it. The center window is for composing your view, the two round windows are used to create a split image, which when aligned properly, means you've found the correct focus. You look through two different eyepieces on the back of that camera to either focus or to compose your view.

Some of your images have the background out of focus while the people are sharply focused. You are likely to find it easier to focus by aligning the split images of a range finder vs. judging when it is sharpest on the ground glass. An alternative is to get a focusing hood with built in magnifier (ex: https://fotodioxpro.com/products/4x5-view-hood). It is quicker to focus a dim image by looking through the eyepiece than putting a dark cloth over your head and looking at the ground glass.

Jim Andrada
20-Aug-2017, 09:32
You could look for a nice Super Graphic. All metal, has front tilt, rise, etc. And a rangefinder. Rugged and not too expensive. I have both a Crown and a Super. Both are nice. The Crown is lighter and very nice camera, but no front tilt. I moved up to a Technika which is a great camera but somewhat heavy and a bit pricey. It has a rangefinder but getting focus cams made for each lens can be expensive. The cams for the Graphic rangefinders are fairly easy to make oneself. I like the Technika because it has enough bellows draw for longish lenses and is rock solid but for what you mainly seem to want to do the Super Graphic would IMHO be a great fit. And roll film adapters are available for pretty much any 4 x 5.

25-Aug-2017, 12:32
Issy, I think we have met in Adorama. Have you thought about a non-folder? Ever since I got my Chamonix 45-H1, I have put F1 in the storage. It is a bit bulky though. Do you still live in NYC? If so, I can show you my non-folder.

25-Aug-2017, 14:44
I loved my Mamiya RB67. The only problem was the weight of the camera AND those huge lenses, etc. When I discovered that I could get a camera (and lenses) that was lighter AND gave me a negative 4 TIMES the size, the decision was made. I went with a TOKO KIKKI II -- a wooden, folding, field camera -- after comparing the size, weight, and features of the alternatives.

If you are only interested in NEW, your options are more limited.

If you would like to see a, far from complete, list of wooden, folding, field cameras, and features, check out:

25-Aug-2017, 16:37
During most of the year I use my 4x5 Chamonix, but on rainy days and in the winter here in New England, switch to using a Pentax 67II with various lenses. All carried in a ThinkTank backpack. In my opinion the Pentax 67 is the hardest 120 camera I have ever owned to load film into... but even in sub-zero temperatures just takes a bit longer to do. Optics are excellent. Prices of Pentax 57 equipment, specially the lenses, are amazing bargains. I've owned and used several Hasselblads and a Rollei SL-66 and if 11x14 enlargements are the biggest you will go, side by side I dare anyone to see any differences in sharpness or contrast. Vibration at slower shutter speeds not a problem at all if you lock up the mirror.

25-Aug-2017, 17:32
I had a look at your website to see what kinds of things you're shooting - some very nice work too! I could imagine some of the portraits and pictures in the colorful rooms could look amazing with 4x5 film. 4x5 film workflow is significantly slower than medium format though. Maybe if you want a film camera to work in tandem with your digital it would make sense - you could do all the set ups and lights and check exposures with the digital and then shoot the the keeper on film? Personally I find the most convenient 4x5 camera to use is the polaroid 110b rangefinder conversions. You can focus and compose these with the viewfinder and they are fast and you don't have to fiddle with lens boards or other stuff and they fold up. Currently I have three of them each with a different focal length, 90mm wide, 127mm and 152mm. I also really like my Linhof technica because of the rangefinder for fast focusing, however they are heavy. They do also fold up into a box.

Medium format is totally different and can be much easier to work with considering some of them have autofocus and auto exposure. I have a personal and professional bias towards the Rolleiflex TLR and SLRs but there are a great many of MF cameras that are fantastic - but some shoot 6x7, some 6x6, and some 6x4.5 and so you might want to think about that first. There are few that will shoot 6x6 and 6x4.5 and some specialty ones that shoot up to 6x9cm.

25-Aug-2017, 17:57
Let's not leave out 6x8 from Fuji.

25-Aug-2017, 22:47
Let's not leave out 6x8 from Fuji.

Yeah, that what I meant by some specialty cameras can shoot up to 6x9 or in the Fuji's case 6x8. I have one and like it but almost never use it. It's seriously a monster compared to the others - weighing easily more than 4x5 cameras.

26-Aug-2017, 12:01
Hello Issy, just read the whole thread more or less, and saw your website. For this kind of people photography you are practicing I can fully imagine that the Chamonix or any 4x5 camera is working only on your nerves. For this kind of photography I would choose for 6x7 and that with the Pentax 67 mk ii.
I just bought the Chamonix 45F-2 and I love it! But I do real stills, landscape, and abstract studio work with it. For that purpose this camera is not at all anal to me, quite the opposite, it's rather zen. One of the most important features of working with large format for me is the large screen through which I can study elaborately what the lens does with a scene and during this process I get the inspiration to build images in more and other ways than I had in mind at the start. That is totally different from portraits of people in action, which is so interactive that your camera has to be fast.

john borrelli
11-Sep-2017, 07:03
Looking at your photography, which is very nice by the way, I would think a rangefinder camera would suit your style. You have had the Mamiya, I was wondering if you ever went smaller rather than bigger, something like a Leica (digital or film) or a Voigtlander (Cosina) for film. All the best, John

11-Sep-2017, 08:05
The Bessa and Contax rangefinders also have a lot of followers. And I'm sure the are websites out there that cover all of the amazing Fuji 120 rangefinders -- some with interchangeable lenses, as I recall.

7-Oct-2017, 13:49
Thank you all. Especially John and and Otto. John do you have any specific camera recommendations? Any thoughts Otto? I wish there was a way to try out some of these camera prior to purchase.

7-Oct-2017, 13:57
Hi EH,

Thank you for your feedback. This seems like you are on the right track. I believe I have that hugggggge fuji you speak of- medium format with bellows. It is huge and so not useful in the slightest (perhaps I am not thinking of the right thing though). For fun- what three cameras (model etc) specifically would you suggest I research and look further into. I enjoyed shooting with the yashica twin reflex but don't like the square ratio. With the Mamiya 7 I found I could never get very close and the paralax was tough. Thank you so much for all of your feedback.

7-Oct-2017, 13:58
Hi Songyun,

I think we did meet!! Would love to hear about your non folder! And any other helpful information you may have. Thank you!!

7-Oct-2017, 14:01
Also I am still curious in the graphics and that camera my friend originally had that I posted about. This is tough stuff.

7-Oct-2017, 14:03
Looking on ebay but it gets a bit confusing with so many types

7-Oct-2017, 14:05
Wish I could try out the Pentax 67II - as it is a real investment. Same as to some of the other cameras mentioned. I wish there was a resource like that.

7-Oct-2017, 14:07
Hi Jeff, do you mind posting a link to which you are looking at- is that a specific model I can look into. Thank you!

7-Oct-2017, 14:09
Thank you Jim,

Trying to find a unit that comes all together on ebay, but hard to navigate what is what

7-Oct-2017, 17:00
Based on reviewing your website I think a MF camera would be the best choice. The Pentax 6X7 would work but actually any MF camera would
be more than good enough. 6X7, 6X6 or 4.5x6 I myself would prefer a Hasselblad system if you can afford it. Start off with an 80mm lens until you get used to it.

7-Oct-2017, 23:54
Thank you all. Especially John and and Otto. John do you have any specific camera recommendations? Any thoughts Otto? I wish there was a way to try out some of these camera prior to purchase.

Well as I said, Pentax 67ii. But why? Hasselblad is ok and Rolleiflex twin lens reflex also, the latter being much more handy for the way work with people. You should have the one with the Planar 3.5/75. But they are not exactly cheaper and the Rollei is having just one lens. Apart from that I find the 6*6 format nice, but special. The 6*7 format is much more multi-purpose. Personally I like that format very much. It’s also ideal for magazines, for single portraits in portrait mode, for double or triple portraits in landscape mode. The 105mm is your first choice for your people work, drawing very nice and not as unforgiving as the Hasselblad sometimes can be. You have to ask yourself whether something like 12-1400$ is too much money for your excellent work. You can always resell for the same price, some ebay sellers have a return policy of 30 days.

gary mulder
8-Oct-2017, 00:34
Hello all!

Ultimately, this is because of my own photographic process and inability to decide what I want to make work about than it is anything to do with the camera.

- Issy

There is nothing wrong with your camera. You just suffer from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Normally the cure will not be found in buying more gear. Just try harder to answer the questions regarding what you want to say with your work.

8-Oct-2017, 09:33
There is nothing wrong with your camera. You just suffer from G.A.S. (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). Normally the cure will not be found in buying more gear. Just try harder to answer the questions regarding what you want to say with your work.

This is exactly on point. The hardest advice to hear sometimes is the most accurate and best. I have a certain sense of what I want to say but I suppose I am wondering how different cameras can render that vision. I wish I could find a place that does trial runs... just so I can know if there is something out there that might be a great fit or put to bed this nagging feeling.

8-Oct-2017, 15:13
Hello all!

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the 5d mainly because now I have a bunch of equipment for it, but in doing this have lost the passion of simply seeing and making. I get distracted by this or that and don't focus on what I want and how to achieve it. Any ideas are welcome and I am incredibly appreciative for all and any advice.

Thank you!

- Issy

You have a good eye for people (I saw your website), but I think using a 4 by 5 camera for this kind of work gets in the way, and it is easy to see why you did not like the Chamonix.

But it sounds like you want to slow down, at least sometimes, and using a 4 by 5 could be a way for you to do so and still take pictures. Why not try it on subjects that it is more ideal for, like landscapes, or maybe still-lifes or portraits? It may take a while for you to get satisfying work, but that fits the idea of slowing down. You could trade/sell the Chamonix for a simpler field camera -- lots of used ones out there -- and just focus on using what you have, one lens, B & W film, just simple wandering around and taking pictures when you see something you like. And I think you will see something, and others will like it.

11-Oct-2017, 10:36
Thank you mmerig. This is good feedback... I agree, the 4x5 can get in the way- especially the Chamonix. I agree on a simpler field camera. What would your suggestions be in regard to that? There are so many out there that it becomes hard for me to feel confident as to what I may be getting.

13-Oct-2017, 08:03
As you say, there are lots of them out there, and you'll get many recommendations here (LFPF) as to which to get. Here is some simple advice:

1. There is no perfect camera that works for every task -- if there was, they would all be the same.

2. Decide on the type of photography you will be doing, and then start looking for cameras that are suited for it. The LFPF home page has a general article http://www.largeformatphotography.info/matos-begin.html on camera uses and features to look for.

3. Make a short list of acceptable cameras, maybe ranking them by likely price, availability, and desirable features.

4. Start looking at the various auction sites, second-hand stores, the LFPF and APUG (PHOTOTRIO) classifieds, etc.

5. Save your egg money, sell your Chamonix, etc. to have funds ready.

6. When a suitable one comes up, get it.

7. Most important-- When the choices are so similar that it is hard to choose, it's natural to think it's a hard decision. But the decision is actually an easy one, because the consequences of choosing one over another are likewise similar. Don't lose sleep over a decision that is really a snooze.

13-Oct-2017, 10:52
If you went the MF I highly recommend the Mamiya6. Love the square format no need to rotate for a photo. It is a very compact camera the lens will collapse into the camera to make for a small footprint. I find it easy to carry, has a nice meter so no need to carry one and you only have 3 lenses so no worries of what to buy next. For LF I have an Ebony field camera that is not bad at setting up but the Mamiya6 is my favorite. The 6x6 was the preferred MF format of Ansel Adams. Something about a square negative that just exudes fine art.

16-Oct-2017, 04:16
Having recently acquired a Crown Graphic, it strikes me as a sensible choice in the OP's situation. Just be patient and get one with the original lens, rangefinder, infinity stops, focussing scales etc. in place and functional.

Set-up is dead easy then. The camera folds up into a reasonably compact box with no fragile appendages, lens safely inside. For most basic use, you push a button, pull open the front cover which clicks in place firmly. You grab the front standard by its locking lever, unlock, pull out straight against the infinity stops, flip lever left or right to lock... And that's it. You can now focus with the rangefinder or open the shutter and push a little release tab to pop open the viewing hood to compose on the ground glass.

There is a limited set of movements that you can use but their controls stay nicely out of way when all you want is a 'straight' shot. The camera is built well enough to inspire confidence. It may lack some of the smoothness and finesse of, say, a Linhof but it's definitely a beautiful instrument in its own right.

I guess the best part is that unlike some of the alternatives discussed here, a nice Crown can be very affordable. For a single data point, I got my 1964 top rangefinder model complete with a clean 135/4.7 Xenar in Synchro-Compur-P for 200 GBP from a well-known UK store.

16-Oct-2017, 17:08

This weekend I rented a Linhof Technikardan 45s 4x5. I learned something- My chamonix by comparison is nothing in terms of complexity (I also just realized I have the f2, previously I thought the N2, although I don't know why). So this lead me to take out my Chamonix. I bought a Harrison pup tent recently and for the first time in over a year I loaded 4x5 film. Not as hard as I remember with the tent. I think the f2 has a few more movements than the N2, which is perhaps part of why to me it feels/felt complicated. But after staring at the Linhof- which was gorgeous, but so so soso sooo not for me- I realized wow, my Chamonix actually isn't too intimidating. Maybe the problem is me- my wanting results and being impatient. I am excited to try and shoot with it again. At least this will inform what I do or don't want. Before I was just recalling my fear around the camera. Let see what happens... Also, a very kind acquaintance was kind enough to allow me to borrow his Mamiya 7II, which I feel very grateful to have the opportunity to try out. While he is not a photographer, he is enough of an enthusiast and hobbyist to have four lenses WOWZA. I am trying to under my relationship to these lenses in terms of what I like and what sort of images I make. I am going to let myself to screw up- to make images, even if bad simply because. I am looking forward to this. My hope is I learn something about my process moving forward as well as my relationship to what I want to shoot and how I want to accomplish it. Any ideas please keep posting and I will continue to update. thanks guys!

16-Oct-2017, 17:10
What auction sites would you recommend. Thank you in advance (assuming something other than ebay?)

16-Oct-2017, 18:20
Issy, I think we have met in Adorama. Have you thought about a non-folder? Ever since I got my Chamonix 45-H1, I have put F1 in the storage. It is a bit bulky though. Do you still live in NYC? If so, I can show you my non-folder.

What are your thoughts on the h1?

17-Oct-2017, 02:17
What are your thoughts on the h1?

H1 has become my go-to camera, F1 is my backup now. The only thing that I miss is the focus knob on F1, which only require one hand operation. It is slightly bulky than F1, but I put a 150 or 90nikon swim the camera all the time, so I can pull out and shoot quickly. I will drop you an email and give you my number, drop me a message when you are in NYC.