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Thread: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

  1. #1

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    Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Hello.

    I'm planning a back packing trip in S America for 6-12 months and want to take my time and a larger format than 35mm.

    The little I know about LF suggests that I look at field cameras (?).
    I'd typically travel with a 28, 85 and a 200 when using a 35mm, but appreciate lenses will not always correlate.

    I've looked at Ebony and there are other alternatives too although Iíve only considered 5x4 field cameras thus far.

    I'd appreciate your collective musings as I need to carry all this kit plus a rucksac, so it's got to be manageable, and a lighter tripod looks likely too.

    Thanks.

    Tim

  2. #2

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Pardon me for being a heretic but if I were doing what you are planning, I'd be trying out high-quality compact digital cameras to find one that will give the desired quality. If you said you'd also have a friendly alpaca to carry your gear I might suggest something else.

  3. #3

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Oh... and welcome to the forum!

  4. #4

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    I'd get a late, clean Graflex Crown Graphic with its 135mm lens ($400) and a couple-three Grafmatic film holders ($250) and a Harrision Pup Tent ($150). A Chinese-made 1" leg diameter Carbon Fiber tripod with a good ball head ($400). Take a lot of film ($1000) and concentrate on shooting, both hand-held and studied shots. Budget for processing too.

    I'd learn how to use this kit handheld and on the fly before I left, testing everything with real-world practice.

    While you may be able to afford to bring an Ebony and nicer gear ($3000 plus), there is little reason to, you won't miss any shots with Crown. And you won't have to baby it or worry as much if it gets rained upon or stolen, most repairs can be made in the field.

    If you really want to gild the lily and be pro, then get a second identical outfit and hold it as a back-up to be sent if the need arises.

    If you really want a luxury camera when you get back then by all means treat yourself, but I think taking too much valuable photo gear gets in the way as much as it benefits.

    I don't know your style, but ask yourself whether you realistically want to be spending a couple to five minutes doing a shot or whether you want to be one of those fussy dicks who spends an hour under a darkcloth to shoot a postcard, of which you could buy a better version in the giftshop? ;-)

  5. #5
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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    I recommend a high-end digital camera, such as a Leica, with a few prime lenses.

    Backpacking with a LF camera is highly impractical. It requires an excessive amount of gear. 4x5 film and film holders would be your primary problem.

  6. #6

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Ya, but Frank... let's face it... you'd have three or four girls with you to help carry all of that stuff.

  7. #7
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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Welcome; I'd suggest you get your camera and accessories months in advance of your adventure so you can practice and learn with them. You'll find LF is good for certain things that 35 is mediocre with, and vice versa. This is all stuff you have to learn, in addition to basic operation and film handling before venturing off.

    Budget and capabilities will dictate what you get. Low end is a used press camera, then midrange is the wooden field cameras like chamonix/shenhao, and higher end would be ebony/canham.

    For rough traveling, you might want to get a canham plastic groundglass protector or make sure your camera has some sort of integrated protection for the groundglass.

  8. #8

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Thanks.

    It's either LF or take my 'Blads (film). I still think the LF route will suit me better, but as you say, it's partly the film stock that might swing the balance owards the 'Blads. I'm not decided yet.

    I'll keep an eye out for the 3x listed cameras, though there are some Wista Zone 1V & Gandolfi cameras I've spied.

    Some other good ideas here - thanks thus far.
    Tim

  9. #9
    David de Gruyl's Avatar
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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    Personally, I would choose a Chamonix because it is so light. If I were inclined to take a 4x5 camera. The trouble is not the camera itself, but the filmholders, tripod and the film. I would not pick a camera system that I had never worked with and go traipsing off on another continent.

    I would definitely take only 3-5 standard filmholders and a changing bag. I might choose the harrison tent or I might go with an unstructured bag. I would not choose the "changing room" that just pops open. It works great, but it is the wrong choice for compactness.

    What, precisely, do you mean by "backpacking"? If you mean "taking a bus up and down the continent" then this could work fine. If you mean walking for hours per day, this might be too much crap.

    Film supply and processing is going to be a problem. You may have to bring all of it with you. You might be able to get it shipped in. I'd try to figure that out before I started anything else.

  10. #10

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    Re: Travelling for a year; so which LF camera?

    If you said "traveling" I'd be all for a sheet film camera. But "backpacking" is better accomplished with a roll film camera, like the Mamaya 7 or even a Pentax 67 though the Mamaya would clearly be lighter, stow smaller.

    The Blad' would work too, but unless you print and display "square" the "post crop" film area is significantly larger with a 6x7 or 6x8 medium format rig.

    bob

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