I am about to purchase my first large format camera. When I started looking I went through both this forum and f32 reading many posts on the topic of cameras and beginners (I really liked the article here on a monorail in the field). I have tagged along with another lf photographer watch and trying out his camera. I have had the chance to use a few cameras and I rented one for a weekend. The experience has me ready to get into the format.
However I need help with deciding on a camera. I have seen/used -Calument NX, Linhof Technika, Tachihara, Horseman FD?, and an old Graflex monorail (the one that weighs like 20 pounds). However there are several other models that I have read about about but never seen.
The rental and time spent with another photographer did help me decide that I prefer metal to wood. It also made me realize I prefer the feel of a monorail to a field camera. I was able to work with lenses from 75-450 and that helped me learn which are best for me.
I should probably mention that I am a location/field shooter too. My subjects are all outdoors-landscape(70%), nature (20%), and architecture(10%). I work out of my truck and usually within a couple hundred yards of it. On occasion I might hike 1-2 miles, but I am close to the vehicle for 90% of what I do. My lens choices will be a 90 and a 210 or 240. I might want to add a 75 or 65 in the future. I will not need anything longer than the 240 for the subjects that I work with.
The models that look very interesting (but I have never seen) are the ;
ArcaSwiss Discovery, Badger M-1, Linhof Karden E (or M).
I considered a few others but pics or specs lowered my interest in them-Toyo CX, Calumet Cadet, Horseman LE.
The camera that looks the best is the Discovery. Seems to be very modular, expandable, solid yet lightweight. Looks fairly easy to pack for a hike. The biggest downside is price. The Discovery with the 110 sized board setup runs about $1800.
The Karden is cheaper (only $900) and looks solid. It is also much heavier and I am not sure if it is modular to the extent the Discovery is. Looks bulky.
The Badger M-1 looks interesting. I cannot find any info on it other than the brief Ken Cravillion review. It does not appear modular at all. It looks reasonably solid and the price is amazing at $675. Is it too bulky? could you carry it for any kind of a hike?
I am leaning toward the Discovery but I the $1100 savings of going with the Badger would buy a lens and a lot of film. The rub is I have never seen any of these three in person and reading about them only goes so far. I am also looking (or at least pricing them) as new since I seldom, if ever, see them on KEH, B+H, MPEX,or Adorama websites. I may look but do not have the faith to consider an auction site.
Would I be wise to keep saving my pennies and getting the Discovery? Would one of the other ones be a pleasant suprise? Should I consider something else?
Maybe I just need to fly to Chicago so I can goto Calumet and then drive upto Badger?