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Thread: Does It Really Matter?

  1. #1

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    Does It Really Matter?

    I'm new to LF and looking at buying a 8x10 camera. I know 4x5 is popular, but I know I want the bigger format since I'm going to print really big, so I would prefer to only send my money once. I watched a presentation by Clyde Butcher (he's a big deal here in Florida) and he mentioned something that stuck with me. Keep in mind this guy as every camera you can imagine and up to 12x20. He said as long as you have a great lens and great film, the rest does not matter (granted you don't have light leaks). Looking to purchase a camera, there are options as low as $1,200 up to $8,000 on eBay. My question is, does it really matter what brand you buy since the function is mostly the same? I realize that some have more movements than others and the material and lighter weight drives the price up. Is this like buying a car where the everyday car will get me there, but the Porsche will get me there in style? I appreciate it in advance.

  2. #2

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Yes and no. The essential view camera function is to hold the lens, move it in and out to focus, and keep the light out. There is nothing magic about it. There are inexpensive (often rather old) cameras that can do just that. They may lack movements you will decide are essential, depending on what you photograph. I couldn't work with an 8X10 that did not have front tilt. Some people get buy without it. using old Kodak's with front rise and back tilt. It depends on what you are using it for. I couldn't get by without a great deal of front rise either, but some people do. If you're shooting architecture, then movements matter. A lot. You can go a lot lower than $800 on an 8X10.

    Though movements do matter, there is no one answer for everybody on what is essential. The answer is largely dictated by subject matter.

    Are you lugging it around half a mile from the car? Or more? Now weight matters. 8X10 lenses can be heavy, film holders are big, and light weight is worth paying for. If you're working out of your car, don't pay for light weight.

    So to your automotive analogy, no it isn't a question of style. It is a question of capabilities and (in the case of weight) considerable convenience.

  3. #3

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    I appreciate the comment. Makes a lot of sense. I'm looking at photographing Florida landscape and Americana subjects. Many folks have said that you can get 8x10 cameras for less than say $800, but I have not had luck locating cameras at these price points. Thanks...

  4. #4

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by macmaster77 View Post
    I appreciate the comment. Makes a lot of sense. I'm looking at photographing Florida landscape and Americana subjects. Many folks have said that you can get 8x10 cameras for less than say $800, but I have not had luck locating cameras at these price points. Thanks...
    Go to Ebay and type in 8x10. You will see Calumet C1s and old wooden tailboard cameras for less than $800.

    When I bought my 8x10 I was looking for sub $1000 but found nothing I liked for various reasons. I ended up selling some more of my camera equipment to up my budget and bought a used Wehman field camera for $1500. If you can find one 'Wehmans tend to go for $2000 now. There are other used 8x10 field cameras around this price point too. Of course you can always spend more on a used or new 8x10.

    Do your research before you buy!

  5. #5
    (Shrek)
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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Is this like buying a car where the everyday car will get me there, but the Porsche will get me there in style?
    90-99% of the time, yes. Of course, all cameras are compromises and have their limitations. I suggest you start with what you find readily available in working condition, making sure the price is such that you can re-sell and buy something else if it turns out that camera won't do something you absolutely need to do. You could obsess for months studying the advantages and limitations of various cameras but frankly, that time is better spent with an actual camera in your hands making images and learning through practice.

  6. #6

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jody_S View Post
    90-99% of the time, yes. Of course, all cameras are compromises and have their limitations. I suggest you start with what you find readily available in working condition, making sure the price is such that you can re-sell and buy something else if it turns out that camera won't do something you absolutely need to do. You could obsess for months studying the advantages and limitations of various cameras but frankly, that time is better spent with an actual camera in your hands making images and learning through practice.
    I agree, since I'm a photography teacher, I have seen students read for months, but never pull the trigger. I have a feeling I'm at that point. I have found one I think will work. As Alan suggested, I'll sell some of my brand new Nikon lenses to increase the budget. Thanks!

  7. #7
    Drew Bedo's Avatar
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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    The older field cameras are just as functional now as they were when new. given no light leaks, they can be just what you want. I like my Kodak 2D even it has no swing/tilt on the front standard. An 8x10 Burk and James has about any movement you will ever want, but they are a bit clunky and painted grey. Examples of either can be had well within your price point.

    Don't be too concerned about spending your money once. I garentee that uf you stay with LF photography, this purchase will not be the last camera you buy or the only one you have in the closet—just ask anyone else here.
    Drew Bedo
    http://www.artsyhome.com/author/drew-bedo




    There are only three types of mounting flanges; too big, too small and wrong thread!

  8. #8

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by macmaster77 View Post
    does it really matter what brand you buy since the function is mostly the same?
    It's not the brand at all, at least in a beginner situation: it's the type of camera and its condition. This is a way simple device, but can have broken or loosen things


    It depends on budget, a refined camera is something one may want, but in LF what maters the most is photographer, and then the glasses, last it is the box.

    If you have to but all gear from scratch you'll need to distribute your investment in glasses, tripod, camera, film, holders, darkroom, scanner...


    Today, because film usage declined, we can get formidable gear with moderate investment.

    So it depends on global budget and on priorities. If you have $15000 to go you can buy without restrictions what you like. If you have $3000 you have to balance very well what you buy, also with $1000 you can get basic things to start, and perhaps to make a better work than with expensive gear.

    Now I'm completing my LF gear, I'm ready with 4x5 and 5x7, and I'm completing my 8x10 gear acquisition.

    I can say that you'll have more doubts with glasses than with wood/irons.


    Let's divide cameras in 2 categories. Studio Cameras vs Field Cameras.


    Studio Cameras:





    These have all possible movements to learn everything, simple, modular, moderately cheap, sturdy, not the most refined but very efective.

    Outside studio it is hard to haul it and to deploy it, it has movements that most of times are not useful for landscapes but can be useful for architecture and studio.

    But I'll be using the CAMBO also for landscape, in a masoquist way because hauling all those irons around. I prefer to have a budged for velvia and glass (still want a Nikkor SW 120mm, that covers 8x10) than investing in a convenient field camera



    Field Camera:

    Tachihara 8x10



    A refined device, lighter and easily deployable. Lacks some movements that are not critical for landscape.



    What are you going to shot? You don't know ? take a CAMBO or similar, if you use it for landscapes you'll also get rid of going to gym


    Tripod!!

    Also you need a very good tripod, a really sturdy one, it is as important as the camera, it can be a bit elastic but it has to return into place after inserting the film holder, because if camera movements done plane of focus can move from place. A 8x10 is not a 4x5: you'll need a "TRIPOD" because a "tripod" won't work, and if it fails the camera can even kill you, at least broken bone is for sure .




    Glass

    And then you need glass. For 4x5 you'll find cheaper glass that will cover 4x5 with movements. I've other glasses that cover 4x5 starting at 65mm, but for 8x10 I selected a Sironar-N 300, an old Schneider Symmar 360 (Tecknika selected! ) convertible to 620 with limitations, and 2 Symmar 210 because I want to make stereo photography. And stil I want a Nikkor SW 120 that is very wide in 8x10, in fact the wider I know that cover 8x10.




    Darkroom

    Then you also need the film holders and darkroom apparel. I'd recommend to start developing sheets in a tray or with a paper safe, that's straight. I want to go Velvia so I'm preparing a CPE2 processor for 8x10 sheets, this is way more PITA than with BW.

    Also you may want a scanner, EPSON V850 to start with, in the future you may spend in other scanners, V850 is ideal to start and it covers 8x10.



    As you see, it's not the camera, at the beginning the camera is something in what you may want to save money in it because there are more important things, like glass. Me, I prefer a Sironar-S or a Universal Heliar 36 jewel instead a luxurious box, at least by now.



    Also

    Look if in your area there is somebody in LF action, sure he will want to help you (or "chiseling" you )



    Remember: no step back, 8x10 is magnificient.

    Regards and luck !
    Last edited by Oren Grad; 8-Aug-2016 at 08:53.

  9. #9

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    The Burke & James 8X10s are functional and inexpensive and their bellows seem to last a long time. If you remove the bottom plate under the front standard, you can swing the front. The Agfa Ansco cameras with front tilt are decent users too, but will cost more than the B&J.

  10. #10

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    Re: Does It Really Matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pere Casals View Post
    It's not the brand at all, at least in a beginner situation: it's the type of camera and its condition. This is a way simple device, but can have broken or loosen things


    It depends on budget, a refined camera is something one may want, but in LF what maters the most is photographer, and then the glasses, last it is the box.

    If you have to but all gear from scratch you'll need to distribute your investment in glasses, tripod, camera, film, holders, darkroom, scanner...


    Today, because film usage declined, we can get formidable gear with moderate investment.

    So it depends on global budget and on priorities. If you have $15000 to go you can buy without restrictions what you like. If you have $3000 you have to balance very well what you buy, also with $1000 you can get basic things to start, and perhaps to make a better work than with expensive gear.

    Now I'm completing my LF gear, I'm ready with 4x5 and 5x7, and I'm completing my 8x10 gear acquisition.

    I can say that you'll have more doubts with glasses than with wood/irons.


    Let's divide cameras in 2 categories. Studio Cameras vs Field Cameras.


    Studio Cameras:


    These have all possible movements to learn everything, simple, modular, moderately cheap, sturdy, not the most refined but very efective.

    Outside studio it is hard to haul it and to deploy it, it has movements that most of times are not useful for landscapes but can be useful for architecture and studio.

    But I'll be using the CAMBO also for landscape, in a masoquist way because hauling all those irons around. I prefer to have a budged for velvia and glass (still want a Nikkor SW 120mm, that covers 8x10) than investing in a convenient field camera



    Field Camera:

    Tachihara 8x10

    A refined device, lighter and easily deployable. Lacks some movements that are not critical for landscape.



    What are you going to shot? You don't know ? take a CAMBO or similar, if you use it for landscapes you'll also get rid of going to gym


    Tripod!!

    Also you need a very good tripod, a really sturdy one, it is as important as the camera, it can be a bit elastic but it has to return into place after inserting the film holder, because if camera movements done plane of focus can move from place. A 8x10 is not a 4x5: you'll need a "TRIPOD" because a "tripod" won't work, and if it fails the camera can even kill you, at least broken bone is for sure .




    Glass

    And then you need glass. For 4x5 you'll find cheaper glass that will cover 4x5 with movements. I've other glasses that cover 4x5 starting at 65mm, but for 8x10 I selected a Sironar-N 300, an old Schneider Symmar 360 (Tecknika selected! ) convertible to 620 with limitations, and 2 Symmar 210 because I want to make stereo photography. And stil I want a Nikkor SW 120 that is very wide in 8x10, in fact the wider I know that cover 8x10.




    Darkroom

    Then you also need the film holders and darkroom apparel. I'd recommend to start developing sheets in a tray or with a paper safe, that's straight. I want to go Velvia so I'm preparing a CPE2 processor for 8x10 sheets, this is way more PITA than with BW.

    Also you may want a scanner, EPSON V850 to start with, in the future you may spend in other scanners, V850 is ideal to start and it covers 8x10.



    As you see, it's not the camera, at the beginning the camera is something in what you may want to save money in it because there are more important things, like glass. Me, I prefer a Sironar-S or a Universal Heliar 36 jewel instead a luxurious box, at least by now.



    Also

    Look if in your area there is somebody in LF action, sure he will want to help you (or "chiseling" you )



    Remember: no step back, 8x10 is magnificient.

    Regards and luck !
    I appreciate you taking the time to put this all together. Some of the items I have which takes the load off a little. I have been researching whether to invest in a scanner like the V850 or Epson 11000XL. This is a journey, we'll see where it goes! Thanks.

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