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Thread: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Sep 2010

    My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    Back in the good'ole days, I was weened on 35mm (Nikon FA, FM, the last film body being the F90), shooting Kodachrome 64 then b&w then colour neg. 15yrs ago I had a couple of fully manual 'Blads and a Leica M6 set up. Lovely!
    Now I have D700's and a Mamiya 7.

    The thing is, I have just spent 7 months in Antarctica and Patagonia and came across several LF photographers and deep down, I too wanted to adopt a slower, more methodical, considered approach to my picture taking.

    Now, back in the UK, I feel I owe it to myself to explore this LF way of life myself.
    I envisage landscapes, both urban and mountain but also people being the subject of this project. I really don't care for too many filters (if at all beyond ND's) which seems to be very much in vogue in the typical British landscape photographer's backpack (yes, the kit needs to be as portable as possible).

    Not one to start off at the proverbial bottom of the ladder and then sell & upgrade as I become more familiar with the format, yet not wishing to splash out on brand new kit or even the top-of-the line gear, there must be a middle ground where I can cut my teeth without being restricted too much in what lenses I can add.

    I would appreciate any comments you might have.

  2. #2
    Unwitting Thread Killer Ari's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Ottawa, Canada

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    Use the search key to avail yourself of the countless threads on this subject, but it sounds like you want a folding field camera.
    Get a metal one; Linhof, Wista, Toyo, etc.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    I went to LF for UK Landscape stuff a few years back

    I'd thoroughly recommend a field camera such as a Linhof - they are robust, literally bullet proof, and I still managed to get off the shelf parts for it - I can do everything with it apart from extreme wide angles

    for me getting the image onto film is the easy part, its the bit after that - scanning, correcting and printing that seems to be the trick - you might want to bear that in mind too

    I have 2 filters, an ND 0.6 grad, and a red one :-)

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Czech Republic

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    Indeed a field camera is the way to go! I've bought a monorail, which is nice to learn to understand all the movements, but it is a pain if you want to shoot outdoors (by which I mean really outdoors, not next to the boot of your car
    I'am also looking for something more backpack-able myself, and it seems to me that in the EU there is quite small and quite overpriced market for large format - try patiently watching ebay - and while looking for Linhof Technikas do not leave out of your search stuff like Chamonix, ShenHao or Wista.
    Website of sorts, as well as ipernity thing.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    South Dakota

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    The Chamonix 4x5 is very light, compact, sturdy, and can take lenses over 400mm.

    Kent in SD
    The first five days after a weekend are the roughest.

  6. #6

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    I would look at Robert White in Poole for an Ebony RSW45 or the used SW45 that they have listed:

    There and the classifieds here and on eBay for 90, 150 and 210mm lenses. Spend more on the 90 and 210, less on the 150.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    There are enough threads here about first LF cameras to literally fill a large book if they were all put together. Use the Search function and a couple appropriate terms such as "newbie" "first camera" and other things like that and you can probably spend as much time as you like reading and learning. Plus the home page of this forum has reviews of many large format cameras and those too would be useful. I'm not being critical of your question, just pointing to a vast resource that's already out there.
    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.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2010

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    Chamonix or Shen-Hao are perfect (albeit maybe slightly more expensive but not too much more) choices for a camera for backpacking.

    If you were not backpacking (i.e. driving) a monorail like the Toyo G is perfect.

    If you want real cheap, a Crown or Speed Graphic is hard to beat. But very little movements.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    Handle as many different cameras as you can---monorails, Technicas, woodies, and then take your pick.
    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
    Jun 2002

    Re: My 1st LF camera. But which one?

    It's just like your smaller format cameras, figure that if you like it, you'll want to try several. I think it is a oversight to ignore the monorails and handheld cameras in favor of the oh-so-popular folding woodies.

    I'm a big fan of getting an inexpensive but solid metal monorail (Sinar, Toyo, Cambo, etc.) for learning, based on the fact that they are simple, fast, and obvious... with a robust tripod and medium to long normal lens (150-210mm) and just keep it real simple and minimalist. Then once you have the basics down, diverge into the ultra-light backpacking camera or whatever.... you'll be more apt to learn and use movements with a solid kit that doesn't require a lot of futzing around.

    In the same vein, a $200 Crown Graphic backpacks beautifully and is not so precious out in the rain or sleet. And it can make exactly the same picture as the $5000 Titanium and Ebony wood camera.

    A $300 Sinar F and a $200 Crown can give you more capabilities than most $$$$ luxury cameras. Just saying....

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