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Thread: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Feb 2010
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    1,015

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Chamonix is a sweet sweet camera.

    If Frank has his way with you, go for a Toyo G. Try to find one with metal lock levers, the older plastic levers break over time and are very expensive to replace. But they are awesome cameras.

    However I love my Chamonix.

    If you didn't want movements, a crown would be awesome.

  2. #12
    jadphoto
    Join Date
    Feb 2000
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    Solvang, California
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    465

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Kevwil,

    As you can tell, large format photographers, well, actually all photographers are a rather opinionated bunch. Myself as much as anyone.

    But to actually answer the question I think you asked, yes both the Shen Hao and the Chamonix are good cameras for a beginner or a seasoned pro for that matter. For the money you'd be hard pressed to find better, in fact, you could spend a lot more and not have as nice a camera the either the Shen Hao or the Chamomix.

    Whether it's better to start with a monorail or a field camera has been, and will continue to be, debated here by people with a lot more experience than me...and I'm really old!

    JD

  3. #13

    Join Date
    Jan 2001
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    4,585

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Forget MONORAIL. They're good in a studio, but hopeless in the field (except for architecture).
    Have a look at a Busch Pressman model D.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  4. #14

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    Dec 2001
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    San Joaquin Valley, California
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    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Big cameras are like tennis racquets. Pick something that looks like a camera you can imagine yourself shooting---a camera you'll want to take out and use.
    A lot of big cameras just collect dust after the newness is worn off. I think you'll want a camera that can "haunt" you into using it.
    If you get a camera you really want to shoot, you'll get out and use it more.

    For cheap, there is no shortage of older monorails, but if what you really want is a wooden folder then start with a wooden folder.
    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.

  5. #15
    hopeful
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Frederick, CO
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    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Wow, lots a excellent (and strong!) opinions already. I don't mind strong opinions (as long as they're respectful) because art needs passion. I have my share of strong opinions, too.

    To clear a few things up:
    • I will be hiking with this, so weight is very important
    • I'm very worried that I'm boarding the titanic, with 4x5 film choices shrinking so quickly, so I don't want to spend much
    • Movements should be accurately adjustable and stable - sloppiness will be kicked to the curb
    • Having the option to shoot 6x12 or 6x9 roll film would be a nice-to-have feature.


    My use case is landscapes, high mountain lakes and such (I'm in Colorado). I expect to use fall (lower the front standard, right?) and tilt (lean the front standard forward?) to maintain perspective and maximize depth of field. I probably overstated my need for many technical movements, when I'm really looking for accuracy and stability.

    Wouldn't a monorail be heavy and awkward for hiking? While monorail cameras are awesome, it's probably not for me. I seem to be leaning toward wooden field cameras and away from anything metal mostly because of weight. Both the cameras I'm looking at are 3.0 lbs. I googled for the Toyo 45A and found it new @ B&H for $2500 and used on eBay for $1300. The specs said 6.2 lbs. Too much weight, too much money. If I looked at a Super Graphic, it seems they are still close to 5 lbs. I'm shy of the Graphics mostly because of first impressions - they look beat up, worn out, and heavy. A nice one would probably change that perception.

    Thank you all so much! This is already very helpful.

  6. #16

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    3,116

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    You might look into buying your camera of choice used. Why take a beating if you decide a year from now to sell?
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  7. #17

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    Dec 2001
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    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    I personally wouldn't care to hike any great distance with one of the older monorails, but people often backpack with the Arca Swiss, Toho and Gowlands. That said I think a wooden folder is more intuitive to set up and shoot with. We need to get this thread back on track for the OP and discuss the finer points of the Shen vs the Chaminoix so he can make up his mind!
    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.

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
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    3,116

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Kasaian View Post
    I personally wouldn't care to hike any great distance with one of the older monorails, but people often backpack with the Arca Swiss, Toho and Gowlands. That said I think a wooden folder is more intuitive to set up and shoot with. We need to get this thread back on track for the OP and discuss the finer points of the Shen vs the Chaminoix so he can make up his mind!
    He should get a Deardorff. A used one.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Dec 1999
    Location
    Forest Grove, Ore.
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    3,326

    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    There are some monorails that backpack well. (e.g. Arca. But, it sounds like it's a bit heavy for what you want.)

    It seems like your first suggestions are pretty good. Also, I've seen Toyo fields cameras in the $700's on EBay. Do you want to do wide angle, like 90mm? If so, get a camera for which you can add a bag bellows later. (Like the Shen-Hao.) That's not true of the Toyo's.

    Another metal field camera I've seen go for reasonable prices on EBay are the Wistas. Some of these will accept interchangeable wide-angle bellows. (e.g. Wista SP.)

  10. #20
    hopeful
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    Aug 2012
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    Re: best low-cost field 4x5 for LF newbie?

    Quote Originally Posted by E. von Hoegh View Post
    You might look into buying your camera of choice used. Why take a beating if you decide a year from now to sell?
    I am looking into used, but I'm not finding much. The heavier cameras are inexpensive (< $500), but the light weight folders are usually within $50 of new. Might as well get new then.

    Where's a good place to shop online (besides eBay, I know that one)? Knowing where to shop, and what to look for, is half the battle. I've heard of Linhof and know they're still in business, but their stuff is still thousands of dollars used. I thought $900 for the Chamonix was a steal, and the Shen-Hao is even less at $730.

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