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View Full Version : Help me pick the perfect LF camera for my needs!



teleugeot
26-Mar-2012, 15:50
Hey, all! Let me start this off by telling y'all a little about myself: I'm a starving college student (music cognition/philosophy) who has been shooting 35mm (various rangefinders and SLRs) and MF (Mamiya c33, Rolleicord V) but I'd really like to get into large format.

My criteria for a camera are this:

I'd like it to make pictures that look respectable when contact printed (no room for an enlarger, certainly not one that can support 4x5 in my apartment), so I think 8x10 is the most appropriate. I intend to keep the cost down by using x-ray film and/or paper negatives, b/w, and developing myself.

I'd like it to be more portable than a monorail unit.

I'd like it to have modular backs in case I find myself desperate to shoot 4x5 or 5x7. (though this isn't the most crucial criterion)

I'd like it to be adaptable to glass plate negatives too if at all possible.

I'd like it to be sub $1000 (with lens).

Movements are great, but I probably won't be doing anything that requires a full set. Nor do I consider a shutter to be of utmost priority. Low tech, beat up, whatever, is fine with me.

What camera should I buy? If anyone here has any information (or a camera to sell) that'd be awesome!!

Thanks,

Isaac

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2012, 16:06
Look for a Kodak 2D or Ansco Universal 8x10. A 240 G Claron barrel lens would be a good investment (you can add a shutter later without having to have adaptors machined.) Old lenses like Wollensak 1a triple convertable or Turner Riech might be found within your budget, or lens off a graphic arts camera.
The deal killer may be be the film holders, I'm afraid.

Lachlan 717
26-Mar-2012, 16:08
Issac,

Perhaps start by letting Members know a) what you intend to shoot, b) what research you have already done and c) what equipment short list you have created.

teleugeot
26-Mar-2012, 16:59
Issac,

Perhaps start by letting Members know a) what you intend to shoot, b) what research you have already done and c) what equipment short list you have created.

That's a good idea!

I plan to shoot natural light portraits, city/landscapes, assemblages of objects, etc. Nothing too out of the ordinary yet (only marginally interested in macro/night shots, etc). As far as research into 8x10 cameras goes, I know very little--just what I've seen on ebay and here and there on the web. I'm not quite sure what you mean by "research"... Research into process, specific equipment? I know that I would prefer a "field"-type because of the limited space I have available in my living quarters and portability.

As far as equipment goes, I'll need camera and general-purpose lens, tripod, dark cloth and film holders and a halfway decent light meter. And some trays for developing. That's about it. I have a loupe already, strangely (it's a replacement viewfinder for my nikon f3...).

What do you folks think?

Vaughn
26-Mar-2012, 17:08
As John suggested, a 2D might suit you well. With the back extension rail if you wish to do "macro" work. A few old wood holders and a process lens and you are set...oh -- I almost forgot about a hefty tripod and a way to haul of it around (a used front-panel backpack might suit you).

Frank Petronio
26-Mar-2012, 17:34
Try to budget $500 since it will always double. But you should be able to find a decent 8x10 woodie and a shutterless lens for under $500, maybe a bit more for a lens in a decent shutter. I'd spend more on a good tripod since it will serve you well for all your photo adventures.

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2012, 18:51
Take a look at Steve Simmons Using the view Camera it is an excellent primer and discusses older stuff you're likely to come across in your hunt. Also look at the photographs of other 8x10 shooters and note what focal length lenses they've used to shoot the kinds of photos you'd like to shoot. Whatever focal length they use, you'll probably want yourcameras bellows to be at least 50% longer or even more if possible for macro work, to fully utilize you're chosen lens. Thats an important consideration when buying your camera (2Ds and Agfa Ansco Universals, as originally equipped, have bellows that go from here to there and back again ;) )
8x10 Contacts are a lot of fun!

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2012, 18:59
This place is your friend:
http://www.cameraeccentric.com/info.html
Check out the vintage Kodak catalog

John Kasaian
26-Mar-2012, 19:01
UNlikely you'll find a Century Universal in your price range, but if you do---jump on it! ;)

sully75
26-Mar-2012, 19:37
You could also find a whole-plate camera and put 5x7 or 4x5 backs on it. Definitely a lot harder to find film and more importantly perhaps, film holders for. But a nice contact print size (you can read about this on The Online Photographer, if you like).

I started with 5x7 because I intended to contact print. Now it's 2 years in and I've never made a silver print or anything else. Just scanning and inkjet. So...I'd be realistic about that. If you end up scanning, 4x5 scans pretty darn nice for a 17x22 print on a pretty cheap Epson scanner in my experience.

teleugeot
26-Mar-2012, 21:11
You could also find a whole-plate camera and put 5x7 or 4x5 backs on it. Definitely a lot harder to find film and more importantly perhaps, film holders for. But a nice contact print size (you can read about this on The Online Photographer, if you like).

I started with 5x7 because I intended to contact print. Now it's 2 years in and I've never made a silver print or anything else. Just scanning and inkjet. So...I'd be realistic about that. If you end up scanning, 4x5 scans pretty darn nice for a 17x22 print on a pretty cheap Epson scanner in my experience.

I'd never heard of a whole-plate camera before--it doesn't sound like a half bad idea, although the comparative availability of 8x10 in a variety of formats outweighs the weight savings, it seems like. I definitely won't throw the idea out.

Re: printing--part of the impetus for moving to large format is so I can prevent the digital world from intervening in the process at all. I don't like having to worry about having a big enough transparency unit on my (now $500) scanner, worrying about getting the film SUPER FLAT, worrying about the maximum resolution of the scanner, having enough hard drive space and DEFINITELY about post-processing AT ALL, etc etc. My life is dominated by those machines enough--contact printing sounds simple enough to not be terribly frustrating and to provide a healthy alternative to all that scanning nonsense... Of course, if you're happy with that process, all the more power to you!!

Drew Bedo
27-Mar-2012, 08:50
The Burk and James cameras come up on e-bay from time to time as well and while a little clunky, have all the movements.

If you can find a medical clinic that still uses dark room developed X-Ray film they probably have an automatic processor for their film. The chemistry is compatable with Tri-X film (but NOT T-Max and others). Get to know someone there and maybe you can work something out for developing your shots.

Brian C. Miller
27-Mar-2012, 10:03
... I'm a starving college student (music cognition/philosophy) ... I'd like it to be sub $1000 (with lens).

What camera should I buy? If anyone here has any information (or a camera to sell) that'd be awesome!!

Pinhole camera, and make it yourself.

Face it: you want to have some fun, and pinhole cameras are the cheapest that you can go. You can make an 8x10 camera out of a paint can. Jim did this shot using a Pringles can (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?83871-Pinheads-Let-s-see-your-shots&p=811853&viewfull=1#post811853).

teleugeot
27-Mar-2012, 10:30
Pinhole camera, and make it yourself.

Face it: you want to have some fun, and pinhole cameras are the cheapest that you can go. You can make an 8x10 camera out of a paint can. Jim did this shot using a Pringles can (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?83871-Pinheads-Let-s-see-your-shots&p=811853&viewfull=1#post811853).

Once I get my toe in the water, I fully intend to shoot pinhole! I've got a few cigar boxes at home that would be absolutely perfect for this. I just feel like I would be cheating myself if I denied myself the experience of seeing that image upside-down on the ground glass for the first time... My mouth is watering already...

Pawlowski6132
28-Mar-2012, 19:29
What kind of portraits? Headshots? Full length?

Are you ready to buy all the chemicals and paper?