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Thread: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

  1. #1

    Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    I've been playing with film for a while now; I'm getting curious about large format. Ground glass and the bellows... I'll also get into developing my own film soon enough.

    I'm looking for suggestions for a Large Format Camera. Where Can I get one? Are there big differences in quality? Fotoman, Toyo CF.
    I'm generally looking for one that can fold into a box that I can go hiking with.

    I'm still in the process of my research stage. However, there aren't any places around me where I can look and learn about it.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2010
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    St. Louis, Mo.
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    2,644

    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    Don't worry about buying the "perfect" camera. After shooting for a while you will learn what you like and dislike in a camera. What is perfect for one person is not for another. Most of us (including me) did not keep our first camera. Also you may find sheet film isn't for you so it's a good idea to start cheap so if you decide to sell you won't lose a bunch of money.

    How about an Intrepid 4x5? It's an inexpensive way to get your feet wet.

    https://intrepidcamera.co.uk/products/intrepid-camera


    Welcome to the forum!

  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 1999
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    472

    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    Quote Originally Posted by adrienne223 View Post
    I'm still in the process of my research stage. However, there aren't any places around me where I can look and learn about it.
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info
    and specially,
    http://www.largeformatphotography.info/matos-begin.html
    Check the secondhand market; craigslist, eBay, etc. Alan suggestion seem right to me, too.

  4. #4
    Silver Fox
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
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    Ann Arbor, MI
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    323

    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    I just saw this up for sale here on the forum. Use link below. I owned one, and I should not have sold it! Beautiful wood, beautiful metal. Light. Folds up. I don't think you can go wrong--it's a 'keeper.' But it is not the cheapest camera for getting into 4x5.

    http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ara-4x5-Camera
    Peter Collins

    "Growing older is not for sissies." --anon.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    8,187

    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    I'll suggest picking up a copy of Steve Simmons Using The View Camera before spending serious $$. For specific cameras and lenses check The LF Homepage on the blue banner at the top of this page for links to articles, reviews and performance data.
    After 30 days you can access the FS forum here, which will surely have the gear you're looking for. Also Keh Camera is a good source with excellent (I think) prices.

    Another good book to whet your appetite is Ansel Adams The Making of 40 Photographs, especially if you enjoy B&W mountain landscapes.
    Have FUN!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2015
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    Sheridan, Colorado
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    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    Welcome to the Club.

    You will get a million opinions, but it all depends on your situation. Some will say get the cheapest and then move "UP" if you want. Some will say get the best (AKA most expensive) and you won't be disappointed. I say, get the most knowledgeable.

    There are a TON of new and used large format cameras out there -- using different formats, options, accessories, features, etc. You can buy today, or you can do some research into what you want and what is available. You can spend as little or as much time as you want -- and have -- on research, but it pays off.

    Much comes down to how much time you have for research, and how much money you have in your pocket. My advise? Don't believe anyone that says "this is the camera (or lens(s) -- that's another matter) that's best for you.

  7. #7
    Tim Meisburger's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
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    McLean, Va.
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    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    Ya. I agree with that. For buying stuff, after a month you will have access to the forum classifieds (there is a one month waiting period to discourage spammers), but I would say ebay is your friend for most of the stuff you will need. You can buy new or used, but I think you should get a field camera, not a monorail or press camera. A field camera is a generalist, and will do all you want to do; while the others are specialists, perfect for their job, but not as versatile in other areas.

    If you want to try some cameras, ask around on the forum, as their are surely a few LFers near where you live that are always happy to share with a fellow enthusiast. Good light!

  8. #8
    Jac@stafford.net's Avatar
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    Winona, Minnesota
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    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    In my humble opinion, a good entry into large format is to choose the least expensive camera you can find that uses conventional LF film. Do that. (That means forget the Soviet/Russian stuff.)

    By least expensive I do not mean you should buy some flea-bag piece of s**** with a leaky bellows and a fogged lens. We can help you determine those.

    My point is that with minimal expense at the start you can get the sense of LF and decide for yourself if spending more is really worthwhile. Often it is not.

  9. #9

    Join Date
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    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    With second hand cameras, it comes down to condition. Either a Ford or a Chevy will get you where you want to go, however a Ford or Chevy with a leaky radiator, shot brakes or a bad clutch will only cause fru$tration and will take you nowhere but the poor house.
    There are no perfect cameras and if they were they'd cost a King's ransom.
    There have been posters here who spend all their time on researching first camera.
    I'll argue that you'll get farther, faster getting just about any LF camera that's in good condition and getting out there and shooting film.
    You won't really know what you want (or more accurately what you need) in a field camera until you've spent time playing with one.
    My 2-centavos anyway.
    No print ever knew the name of the company on that little plate that came with the camera.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2015
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    SooooCal/LA USA
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    974

    Re: Large Format Camera suggestions:?

    The logical thing would be to sign-up for a photo course that includes LF cameras, and darkroom access... You would be able use the cameras, all the other accessories, and a place to process & print... You would learn many things, have help answering you questions, and someone to show-as-you-go the things that come up at the moment...

    Beyond the camera & lens, there are other needed things, such as stronger tripod, film holders, film, focusing cloth, loupe, exposure meter, smaller stuff like cable release, lens hood, changing bag, empty film boxes, maybe filters, etc and if you process and print the film, a darkroom set-up is used to make the images real... More and less expensive, but it might take time to gather what you would need... But a fairly well set up community college or private instruction program should have what you need to get your wheels turning... So some kind of program would be a wise first step...

    So get started, and you can also ask any question here...

    Good Luck!!!

    Steve K

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