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Thread: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

  1. #1

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    Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    Hi guys,
    I am thinking about buying a large format camera and would like to hear some suggestions for an affordable camera and your opinion on my plan.
    To make a good recommendation you need to know something about me, so here are some details.

    About me and my photography
    I am a 26 years old student and photography plays an important part in my life. I am photographing my local landscape 3-4 times a week and whenever possible I travel.

    Most of my subjects can be found in nature and fall in the landscape category. Some of my better images can be found here and for an overview of my everyday photography you can visit my flickr stream.

    Currently I use a Sony Alpha 7 and a wide range of manual lenses from the 70's and 80's. I am certainly a gearhead in the sense that I am fascinated by equipment, learn everything about it that I can and I write gear reviews from time to time. But I also like to use very cheap lenses on my camera and creating images is more important to me than reading about and testing gear, but I enjoy both.

    Lately I have had the feeling that there is no real progress in my photography and I would like to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself a bit.
    And that is why I am thinking about buying a large format camera. I think especially my compositional skills need some improvement and my hope is that the slower and more deliberate process of LF-photography will support me in that. I am also a huge fan of the work of Joe Cornish and as a digital native I would like to enjoy the gorgeous colors of Velvia in my own images before it is no longer available.

    What I need
    Being a student with limited income money is an issue for me and I wold like to keep it as expensive as necessary. I don't want to buy a camera which is a pain in the a** to use or likely to break because in the end that would be more expensive than paying a little more in the beginning. But I don't want to pay for a few grams less or some nice features which are not that necessary.
    Okay, now you want to hear a number: 300 would be great, 400 would be okay, 500 would hurt.

    Image sharpness isn't that important to me, so a medium format camera would give me more than enough detail. If there was a medium format camera which could tilt and shift, was lighter and not more expensive than a LF camera with affordable lenses that would be great, but so far I have not found one.

    Thanks for your time and advice,
    Phillip

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Tamworth, Staffordshire. U.K.
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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    Hi Phillip,
    Welcome to the forum.
    My first LF camera was a Wista 45DX. I've still got it. It has good movements for landscape and it's easy to make lens boards if you don't want to buy them. It's a nice light usable camera.
    Pete

  3. #3

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    Hi Phillip

    ...........and welcome

    Pete is spot on here, it's light but still very decently solid

    just a suggestion, have a look at this one:

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2911731554...%3AMEBIDX%3AIT

    I have no interest or connection with this sale. If it's still available it hasn't been relisted

    good luck

    andrew

  4. #4

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    You are in Germany so delivery from the UK is no problem. Landscape work would suggest a folding Field Camera rather than a a monorail View Camera. You want a robust and reliable camera that is easy to set up and use. Your budget is modest. An MPP Mk VII in good condition would be a fine introduction to 4x5. They are well made of metal and designed to take a lot of use.





    Try and get one with the old plain 150mm Symmar because you will be able to close the camera with the lens fitted (very safe for your lens) and it is convertible, so, by removing an element, you get a 265mm lens as well.

    They use standard 4x5 film holders. There is a plethora of spares still available and a very good MPP Users website http://www.mppusers.com/microtec.htm

    RR

  5. #5

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    and

    ...........as RR has said, these are great Cameras and usually a lot cheaper than Linhof's.....but they're fairly heavy

    I have a similar model at the moment, there's at least one other option with the (convertible) Symmar - remove the rear element and you have a 7 1/2" f5.6 lens. With both elements together you have a 150mm f5.6 but when I made a brief test, the f stop is unchanged at the longer single element focal length

    good luck and regards

    andrew

  6. #6

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    That's a great tip about removing the rear element Andrew! I never knew that. So we really get three lenses in one! I'm going out to try that...
    Are they heavy in the scheme of things? Mine weighs 7lbs 14oz or just over 3.1kg

    RR

  7. #7

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    thanks RR, much appreciated

    .....btw, I play around with lenses...........probably too much...........I've always been 'an outside of the box thinking person'...........it's the same with the Rapid Rectilinear's and Anastigmat's, they're 'triple convertibles' too, although with the RR's, the image seen will be the same, it's just the additional focal lengths available, i.e. the standard 8" UK designed RR, becomes a 12" with the front end and 16" with the rear, the speed correspondingly reduces however

    Symmar's will display significant softness when used for macro style work, with just the one element

    regards, andrew

  8. #8
    Jim Jones's Avatar
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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    Phillip; For many of us, the advantages of 4x5 over 6x9 are significant. A 6x9 outfit may be lighter and more compact, and makes capturing many images in one outing more convenient. However, a comparable 4x5 outfit may be no more expensive and is probably more versatile. Many cameras and lenses are available at modest cost. The negatives scan better for digital printing. Actual experience with both formats is valuable in making the best choice for you.

  9. #9

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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    I'm with Jim, and then some.

    Some years ago I was given a 2x3 (6x9 in metric, the catalog says 2x3) Cambo and have used it as the basis for several rigs. I'm very happy with them but there's no guarantee that they'd suit anyone else. I'd have spent much less money on parts/attachments if I'd based my rigs on a 4x5er. 2x3 view cameras are much less abundant that 4x5ers. Parts and attachments for them are less common too. They usually cost more than equivalent 4x5ers.

    The usual recommendation for inexpensive view cameras is Cambo or Sinar. Both are capable modular systems and both are very available in the US market. In the US market Calumet CC-40x cameras are probably the least expensive. These are very capable monorail cameras with one potentially major limitation, permanently attached bellows. Most newer cameras are modular, have interchangeable everything.

    4x5 Graphics (press cameras, much less capable than view cameras) are often recommended as starter 4x5 cameras. I started with 2x3 Graphics. Again, I like 'em but these days Graphics are getting pricy and they have limits.

    Thinking of limits (RR, Andrew, pay attention), convertible Symmars are indeed convertible but using a single cell requires more extension than some cameras have. For example, a 4x5 Graphic (also MPP Press) can't quite focus a converted 150/5.6 Symmar to infinity.

  10. #10
    DG 3313's Avatar
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    Re: Which affordable 4x5 (or6x9?) camera should I buy?

    Many of the LF cameras accept 120 backs in various formats. I have a 6x7 back that I can use on my rail camera or the Toyo 45a. You could shoot roll film and sheet film with the same rig.

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