Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 68

Thread: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    94

    Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Please excuse me if this is bad etiquette, as I posted on APUG a while ago asking a similar question, but I now have a more refined idea of what I want in a large format camera.

    Basically, I want a 4x5" field camera for landscapes, portraits, macro, maybe cityscapes, and similar stuff. I have a 35mm camera that I will keep for things like action and street photography, so this field camera will be for "slower" field and studio use. I had been shown the path of the Zone VI, and I was looking into getting the last bail-back model camera that was made before Zone VI was bought out by Calumet. I was reading about it, and comments about its excessive weight, drawn-out set-up/take-down process, and unprotected ground glass when closed turned me off of it. Is there a light 4x5 field camera with full movements, a generous amount of bellows (possibly replaceable/interchangeable), and a quick, simple set-up/take down process? Are the issues with the Zone VI overblown? I just don't want to spend more time screwing knobs than taking pictures. That is to say, I want a camera that I can set up and pack away quickly.

    What about lenses? Right now, I'd like a Schneider 110/5.6 and a 210/5.6. Are there other lenses I should be considering for what I want to do?

    I would say that overall my budget for camera, lenses, film holders, etc. is $2,000, but I'm a student so the less that I can spend on the camera means the more I can spend on film, and in the future, a scanner. I won't factor in things like light meters into that budget.

    So, what is right for me? What else should I look into or consider?

    Thank you for your time,
    Jazz

    I should also mention that I want a well built camera that may last forever. I don't want something that will start to fall apart in a few years, I want a tank.

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Location
    Norway
    Posts
    3,376

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnJazz View Post
    ... Basically, I want a 4x5" field camera for landscapes, portraits, macro, maybe cityscapes, and similar stuff.
    That's a lot of "stuff". Not many cameras that shine at all, especially with a tight budget.
    ... Is there a light 4x5 field camera with full movements, a generous amount of bellows (possibly replaceable/interchangeable), and a quick, simple set-up/take down process?
    Yes, there are two: Carbon Infinity and Gandolfi Variant. The first is out of your price range and extremely rare (only 80 ever made), the other is cheaper, still in production, and frequently available. Having tried both side by side I believe the only camera better and more versatile than the Variant is the Carbon Infinity.


    What about lenses? Right now, I'd like a Schneider 110/5.6 and a 210/5.6. Are there other lenses I should be considering for what I want to do?
    110/5.6 - is that the Super Symmar XL? If so, forget that. It would eat too much of your budget, and would be overkill for 99% of everything. A 90/8 Super Angulon - or a newer brighter one - is a great wide angle with plenty of coverage. Or even a 120/6.8 "plain" Angulon.
    Just about any 210mm lens will have plenty of coverage, and the differences in practical resolution are minimal. Anything will do - and I use Angulon, Symmar, Xenar (4.5 and 6.1), Tessar, Fujinon, G-Claron and a few others in this focal length...

    I would say that overall my budget for camera, lenses, film holders, etc. is $2,000
    See above under lenses.
    I should also mention that I want a well built camera that may last forever. I don't want something that will start to fall apart in a few years, I want a tank.
    We're back to the two candidates again.

  3. #3
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    2,920

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    maybe you should get a "starter camera" at first,
    so you can get used to shooting with a large camera,
    and seeing what you need that your first camera might not have ...
    that way you can see what works and doesn't work for you ..
    then sell your first camera ( or put it in "the shrine" ) and get another one that
    might suit your needs better. the lenses and film holders and everything else can
    be used with whatever you might get now or down the road ...

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    San Joaquin Valley, California
    Posts
    6,786

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Jazz,

    Here's one idea: If you are a student, take a class where you can use a view camera.

    You don't know what you really want And you won't know until you learn what it is that you really want. The only way to do that is to use a view camera (any working view camera) and learn from it.
    If you can't borrow a camera from school, then get something cheap--they hold their value---heck they even appreciate in value--and save your money for a lens and film. You can take your lens with you and use it on your next camera, and eventually that film you bought will yield negatives which will please you mightily.
    The important thing is to go out and take pictures.

    Dont waste you time nit picking---it is time better spent photographing.
    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.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Posts
    2,948

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    For a solid camera consider the Wista SP.

    There are many good values now in older lenses. Consider a progression of focal lengths such as 90-135-210 or 90-150-240.

    Check out used prices at KEH:

    http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/Produ...BCL=&GBC=&GCC=

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    94

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    I can't take a class where I can use a view camera, although I have used one before. Movement wise, I want to be able to selectively focus, get rid of converging verticals for architectural shots, and so on.

    I shoot a lot with my Nikon F100, and I love it.

    That reminds me, I really need to get some darkroom equipment so that I can start processing my own film. I love chemistry, so it shouldn't be too hard.

    I'd really rather not get a starter camera...I'm that kind my snobby person that just has to have the best, you know? A typical American consumer, except I don't define the best by what ads tell me, I try to find the best. Or maybe I'm just an obsessive-compulsive procrastinator.

    Thanks for all of the advice so far. I suppose I may start looking on craigslist for a beater 4x5...

    Ole, I was looking at the 120/5.6 actually, I misspoke. 120mm 210mm

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    94

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Well, it seems as if the forums decided to eat my reply, so I have to type it again.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Tjugen View Post
    That's a lot of "stuff". Not many cameras that shine at all, especially with a tight budget.

    Yes, there are two: Carbon Infinity and Gandolfi Variant. The first is out of your price range and extremely rare (only 80 ever made), the other is cheaper, still in production, and frequently available. Having tried both side by side I believe the only camera better and more versatile than the Variant is the Carbon Infinity.



    110/5.6 - is that the Super Symmar XL? If so, forget that. It would eat too much of your budget, and would be overkill for 99% of everything. A 90/8 Super Angulon - or a newer brighter one - is a great wide angle with plenty of coverage. Or even a 120/6.8 "plain" Angulon.
    Just about any 210mm lens will have plenty of coverage, and the differences in practical resolution are minimal. Anything will do - and I use Angulon, Symmar, Xenar (4.5 and 6.1), Tessar, Fujinon, G-Claron and a few others in this focal length...



    See above under lenses.

    We're back to the two candidates again.
    Wow, I had never really looked into the varient before...it looks amazing. I had seen the Carbon Infinity quite a while ago, and I must say that would be my dream camera, but I don't exactly have the $10-20k laying around to get one, lol. (Please excuse my use of lol, I don't mean to use chatspeak but I just can't think of a more fitting way to describe how I feel about such a statement. That is, I do not think I would ever spend that kind of money on a camera, even if I had it...even though the Carbon Infinity looks utterly beautiful.) I suppose I should get an L3W, then? Do used L3Ws ever pop up, and if so, where?

    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    maybe you should get a "starter camera" at first,
    so you can get used to shooting with a large camera,
    and seeing what you need that your first camera might not have ...
    that way you can see what works and doesn't work for you ..
    then sell your first camera ( or put it in "the shrine" ) and get another one that
    might suit your needs better. the lenses and film holders and everything else can
    be used with whatever you might get now or down the road ...
    I might get a cheap beater camera just to practice with, but I doubt it. I have that American consumer mentality where I have to have to best of everything, but instead of relying on advertisements to tell me what the best is, I try to find it for myself. I am also somewhat of an obsessive-compulsive self-doubting perfectionist, which means it is hard for me to do something if I don't feel I can do it right, or rather, perfectly. I know how irrational that is, and I'm trying to get past it, but human minds are stubborn and complicated. :\

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    Jazz,

    Here's one idea: If you are a student, take a class where you can use a view camera.

    You don't know what you really want And you won't know until you learn what it is that you really want. The only way to do that is to use a view camera (any working view camera) and learn from it.
    If you can't borrow a camera from school, then get something cheap--they hold their value---heck they even appreciate in value--and save your money for a lens and film. You can take your lens with you and use it on your next camera, and eventually that film you bought will yield negatives which will please you mightily.
    The important thing is to go out and take pictures.

    Dont waste you time nit picking---it is time better spent photographing.
    There are no classes at my high school that offers view camera usage, the only thing that comes close is a class that teaches the basics of 35mm with some strange K-mount cameras. Ie. it teaches the basics of photography that I already know. And, I do try to photograph as much as I can...I will always have my Nikon F100 with me unless I am very tired or I'm afraid it will get damaged or stolen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Marshall View Post
    For a solid camera consider the Wista SP.

    There are many good values now in older lenses. Consider a progression of focal lengths such as 90-135-210 or 90-150-240.

    Check out used prices at KEH:

    http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/Produ...BCL=&GBC=&GCC=
    I'm not quite sure about the Wista, but I will look into it.

    Again, I thank you all for the time you have taken to help me, and the advice you have offered me.

    I've been reminded that I need to get some darkroom equipment. If only water-temp regulating faucets weren't so much, I would get off my butt and get some stainless steel reels and tanks. Then again, I'm just making excuses for myself.

    To be quite honest, I am trying to save up $3,000 total before I get this camera, so I have a surplus of money to spend on odds and ends, like light meters, transportation solutions (backpack or old shoulder bag with Domke inserts, most likely), a new pan and tilt tripod head (only have a small ball head for my F100), etc. I will probably cut into that in the end, though...

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
    Posts
    9,477

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Buy a camera outfit from someone on the Forum here or at APUG and you'll have a 98% chance of getting a good deal and an honest, descriptive seller. Look for someone with alot of prior posts and who participates, and they will be honor bound to be straight with you. Beats eBay, although there are some good reliable sellers there too.

    You can also ask questions here, like, "is this a good deal?"

    Personally, YMMV, I'd get an inexpensive but fully featured monorail with a late 1980s-1990s era 210/5.6 lens from any of the major manufacturers. Some will question getting a monorail, but until you are able to use movements, you won't learn or know what movements you want to use. If you do mostly portraits, you may find that you use minimal movements, so a folding camera like a Crown Graphic (very inexpensive) or a Graflex SLR (great for portraits but not much else) may suffice. If on the other hand you gravitate towards using extreme movements -- studio work, architecture -- then no folding camera (Linhof Technika, Wista wood or metal, Toyo Field are the come ones) will be as flexible as a good monorail.

    Monorails are also cheap these days since many of the older hobby photographers aren't strong enough to lift them ;-0

    Something like a Sinar F2, Linhof Karden S, Toyo G, Arca Swiss Discovery -- those would be great to start with and they sell for about $5-700. A nice 210 would be $300 and you can get a loupe (get a cheap one -- >$20), ten holders ($100), and a changing tent ($175 for a nice Harrison Pup Tent). A Rubbermaid ice chest makes a great monorail storage case. Look for a complete outfit from someone.

    Your main concern with any used camera is the bellows, ask to see some close up photos or buy from someone trusted. Search here for how to tell if your bellows has pinholes. They can be replaced but you don't need that hassle early on.

    Use the leftover $ for film and shoot a lot of it.

    You can always sell this stuff for about what you paid for it, so later on you can decide whether you want a light, quaint little wooden camera or a heavy duty beast... but it is pretty easy to swap gear around thanks to the internet.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Location
    Baraboo, Wisconsin
    Posts
    7,697

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    There are several cameras that will suit your needs I think. The Zone VI actually would do fine though I've never used one so I can't speak to how easy it is to set up and take down. "Unprotected ground glass" is no big deal, few LF cameras come with a ground glass protector but you can buy a generic one for about $15 from Calumet or several other sources (I like the Canham plexiglass protector that Badger and other places sell for about $30).

    But if you want light weight (to me, that's 6 lbs and under), movements adequate to do the things you want to do though not necessarily every possible movement, reasonably long bellows (to me, that's 15" or thereabouts), and easy to set up and take down, you have Linhof Technikas (the IVs and Vs are within your budget, weigh about 6 lbs, 15" bellows, the easiest to set up and take down of any LF camera I've owned), Chamonix ($800 MOL, full movements, 15" bellows, weigh about 4 lbs), Tachihara ($600 MOL, you'd need a "top hat" extender to get the bellows past 13"), and Shen Hao ($600 MOL, probably would also need a "top hat" to get the elllows past 12 " though Shen Haos can go to 14" if you're willing to fiddle a little with the front tilts). There are others such as Ebony and Canham that would fill the bill but they're out of your budget, there are probably others I'm not thinking of offhand.

    Tachiharas don't have front or rear shift or rear rise and fall so they probably don't have what you may be thinking of as "full" movements but the movements they have - front tilt, swing, rise, and fall and rear tilt and swing are more than adequate for most subjects. And it's very unlikely that any camera you buy today no matter what the price is going to be one you'll keep for a lifetime unless you're 80 or so.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  10. #10
    multi format
    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Posts
    2,920

    Re: Please help me choose the right 4x5 field camera for me...

    Quote Originally Posted by AutumnJazz View Post

    I might get a cheap beater camera just to practice with, but I doubt it. I have that American consumer mentality where I have to have to best of everything, but instead of relying on advertisements to tell me what the best is, I try to find it for myself. I am also somewhat of an obsessive-compulsive self-doubting perfectionist, which means it is hard for me to do something if I don't feel I can do it right, or rather, perfectly. I know how irrational that is, and I'm trying to get past it, but human minds are stubborn and complicated. :\
    hmmm

    i didn't really say "beater camera", i said "starter camera". ...
    getting "the best", to me at least, is a total waste of time and energy.
    you will be more timid to use it, because if it breaks, or gets damaged or whatever
    ( you are not used to using a 4x5 camera so you will probably make mistakes )
    you will then have to spend a small fortune getting it repaired and finding somene to repair it &C.
    landscapes, portraits and macro work do not require a lot of movements
    ( or any at all ) maybe something like a toyo technical view camera might be worth looking into.
    it has long bellows, the back pops out and offers some movements for
    architectural photography, and it is built rugged.

    have fun!
    john

Similar Threads

  1. 4x5 vs 8x10 camera
    By Shailendra in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 40
    Last Post: 6-Jun-2008, 05:29
  2. 4x5 vs 8x10 camera
    By Shailendra in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 8
    Last Post: 8-Sep-2007, 06:06
  3. Best 4x5 camera?
    By Chris Bitmead in forum Cameras & Camera Accessories
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 22-Nov-1998, 04:06

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •