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Thread: Good day from Australia

  1. #1

    Good day from Australia

    I have yet to jump into large format photography only because I am not sure what camera I need(want) to purchase for my photographic style.

    I would love to hear from local Sydney and Australian LF photographers and their experiences and advice.

    I am primarily looking for a light-weight 4x5 camera that I can use for general photography, including landscapes, street, and portraits. I am currently shooting medium-format almost exclusively and would like to replace my medium-format camera with a 4X5 camera. I travel by bicycle 90% of the time so I need to be able to fit the camera in a pannier along with a few film holders. I would want to be able to use the camera hand-held at times and at other times on a tripod.

    I already shoot B&W almost exclusively and have been developing my film for a years, so I am fairly well prepared to deal with sheet film on the development front. I do not have a darkroom yet, but I am hoping to change that in the near future.

    I would be looking to use Nikkor lenses if possible, a relatively fast normal and wide angle would be my first purchase. Then possibly a short telephoto for portraits.

    My father used to shoot a mono-rail many years ago in the studio and for landscapes and architectural work, but that was so long ago that I have forgotten most everything I learned.

    So any advice and input would be greatly appreciated,

  2. #2
    Lachlan 717
    Join Date
    Apr 2007

    Re: Good day from Australia

    Hi, P.Lynn!!

    I'm based in Melbourne, so not quite Sydney (but closer than most on this forum).

    As for suggestion, I would go with a 5x7" camera over a 4x5 for these reasons:

    *It has a bigger images; almost enough to do contact prints;

    *It allows longer lenses to perfom wider angled shots. This is a vast place, so wide is usually better... Also, you mitigate centre filters a bit more with the longer lenses. This can also mean access to more film types if you need a specialty film;

    *You have the option of reduction backs if required. It's easier to downscale than it is to increase!!

    *Finally, you have the option of a 6x17cm film back, i.e. panoramic images, that can use lenses longer than about 150-180mm. Handy for getting a bit closer.[/LIST]

    The good thing here is that a 5x7" camera is not too much bigger or heavier than a 4x5" when packed.

    Have a look at Shen Hao's range, or, if price is not a consideration, have a look at Walker's camera. Not as long in the bellows as some, but a bloody strong, light camera!

    Hope that this is of some assistance!

    Please zoom me a PM if you care to discuss further.


  3. #3

    Join Date
    May 2008
    El Cajon, CA

    Re: Good day from Australia

    Welcome aboard, Lynn, Looks like the LF bug is biting you too. I'm hoping to have at least a speed graphic soon. I want to build a field camera, probably won't get to that til later in the year. Too many things happening right now.

  4. #4
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Albuquerque, Nuevo Mexico

    Re: Good day from Australia


    at age 67
    "The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
    But I have promises to keep,
    And miles to go before I sleep,
    And miles to go before I sleep"

  5. #5
    kev curry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Re: Good day from Australia

    This article lead me to buy a Tachihara and I don't have any single regret.... great little camera.


    Just reread your question.... hand holding the tachi would be a no goer!

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Re: Good day from Australia

    Peter, As you know I just got a Wista 4x5, so if you go down this route we can learn together. A speed graphic with the range finder may be something worth looking at if you want to hand hold, but theres proberly nothing to stop you putting some distance scale on the rails of a folding camera and guessimate the focus.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Geelong Victoria Australia

    Re: Good day from Australia

    I have had a Nagaoka and a Shen Hao 4x5. The Nagaoka was extremely lightweight, but a great beginner's camera. The Shen had more movements but was heavier and more solid. I sold the Shen to another LF group member, Mick Fagan, if you want to contact him about how he feels about it, send him a pm. I only used the Shen for a year and a bit before going up to 8x10 but I enjoyed using it very much.
    I would advise buying your film in bulk from the US. Prices in Oz are astronomical.

  8. #8
    Vaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Humboldt County, CA

    Re: Good day from Australia

    Well, I am not an Aussie, but I married one, so I'll toss in my opinion.

    Since you mentioned a push-bike and wanting to occasionally to hand-hold the 4x5, the best suggestion I have is a Crown Graphic, or even better yet, a Super Graphic. (Speed Graphics with their rear curtain shutter are a bit heavier). A press camera by Busch such as this one...
    are even more suitable (more movements) than the Graphics.

    Have fun!


    I suggest these cameras because they are designed to be hand-held and fold up in their own protective case (with the lens), which makes them great for the push-bike, and quick to set up and use.

  9. #9
    Leonard Metcalf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Sydney, Australia

    Re: Good day from Australia


    I would second the Tachihara, as it is a cheap and light start. It would allow you to learn LF before investing all your money in a more expensive and heavier camera. But it isn't set up for hand held shooting. If you really want to shoot hand held you will need to consider a Technica, crown graphic, speed graphic. You might consider a Fotoman if movements aren't going to be a requirement. You can always come up the Blue Mountains and try some of my cameras. I'd get a Nikkor W 135mm 5.6 or 150mm 5.6 particularly as you are already set on a Nikkor. I used the 150mm one for ages and loved the images that came from it.

    Scott at Mainline Photographics in Crows Nest is also a great resource for large format equipment in Sydney, and often has some second hand equipment going. For film you can get it at Vanbar.

    Welcome to the large format community, and in particular from the local large format crowd in and around Sydney, you will find there are quite a few of us.

    If I can ever be of help...



    Leonard Murray Metcalf BA Dip Ed MEd

    Len's gallery
    Lens School

  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Wondervu, Colorado

    Re: Good day from Australia

    Lynn, Welcome!
    I, too, would recommend a Crown Graphic for a first camera given your needs. It is made for photographing on the go and typically comes with a wide-normal 135mm or 127mm lens, and the lenses are typically smaller, lighter, faster than modern LF lenses. If you decide you need more movements you can always add a full-movement camera later. Since you want to shoot handheld and do streetscapes as well as landscapes, you may nevertheless decide you need to keep a CG on hand.

    For weight considerations, look for a stripped down version--they can weigh 3 lbs versus the 5+ lbs of rangefinder-equipped versions.

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