View Full Version : I'm new here! Press camera for field work? I'm looking at a Meridian 45a.

Matthew Bender
19-Apr-2013, 10:36
Hello there! I just joined this forum, and it seems to be a wonderful source of knowledge.

Some quick background on myself.......I went to school for photography, and I'm currently working as a wedding photographer. That's 35mm DSLR the whole way, and I have a very good kit put together. Several L lenses, 5d Mark II's, etc. I love them, and they're perfect for everyday photography. I worked with 4x5 in school, so I have a basic understanding of what the system is capable of. However, I haven't shot large format in several years. I'd like to get back into it for my personal work, and at the moment, I've been shooting mostly landscapes and urban exploration work. I'm not making any money through this work right now, but I'd like to take the shooting of it more seriously. I want to print bigger, and I know that with my style, I would benefit from having movements, if only for DoF.

So, my dilemma......I'd like a field camera to haul around, but as I'm not going to be making money with it, at least at first, I have to treat it as a 'hobby', if you will. I'd love to just get a Shen Hao and some lenses, but it doesn't make business sense right now for me to dump over a thousand dollars into a system that I'd strictly be using for 'fun'. I think it makes more sense to try putting a decent lens library together, pick up a cheaper camera with adequate landscape movements now, and invest in a nicer camera down the line a bit. So, because of this self-imposed pricing limitations, I'm looking at press cameras.

As I'm new here, I'm still locked out of the for sale section, so I've just kind of been pouring through ebay and keh.com. There are Speed Graphics all over the place, but they don't have rear movements. I found a Meridian 45a on ebay with a Schneider Xenar 135mm f4.7 lens, and the price is right, but it has a funky round lens board. Are the round boards really that annoying to find? Through researching it, it seems like the widest lens I could use would be a 65mm, and the longest a 350mm, both of which I'm fine with. Would there be any issues using modern shutter/lens combos with a press camera like this? If I found another lens board, would it even accept a Copal shutter? Or would I need to get something custom made? (ehhhh)

I like that the Meridian has rear tilt/swing how relevant are rear movements for landscape work? From what I remember, they're mainly used to accentuate foreground elements. Front movements would be more important, correct?

Any help that anyone could provide would greatly be appreciated. Thanks!

John Kasaian
19-Apr-2013, 10:52
Calumet CC-400 or Graphic View should get you where you want to be for very little $$. For glass you can add a used 210mm from any of the big three from Keh for a little more. Speeders and Crowns are very nice, but you'll be limited in movements & bellows length--OTOH handheld LF is pretty liberating.
Have fun!

Bob Salomon
19-Apr-2013, 11:04
Rear movements allow you to control the shape of the subject as well as do Scheimpflug movements (tilts and swings) to control the plane of focus. Linhof Technika IV and later cameras are technical cameras with rear tilt and swing as well as optical axis front ones.

Maybe a field camera like a Wista would work better for you as they fold and also have front and rear tilt and swing. So does the Wista RF rangefinder model if you want to do hand held work (without movements) like you can with a Speed, Crown or Technika camera.

Matthew Bender
19-Apr-2013, 11:55
Thanks to both of you for the reply!

I should've mentioned this in my initial post. I do actually have a 4x5 mono-rail, a Calumet. I also have an older lens for it, and 8.5 inch, which I take to mean it's about a 210mm.

While it's very nice, I just don't want to haul the thing around, frankly. I'd like something that I can fold down and put in a back-pack. And I don't plan on using it handheld much, if at all.....it'd be strictly tripod usage.

Tim Meisburger
19-Apr-2013, 14:14
I would think the Meridien would be perfect for your neds as a knockabout but capable 4x5.

Jim Noel
19-Apr-2013, 19:24
The Meridian can't be beat by any "Press" style camera. Yes, the lensboards are difficult to find, but a machinist can easily make them for you.

Ivan J. Eberle
20-Apr-2013, 17:33
Suggest that you look for the later Meridian. The 45A has that funky round board that you're going to have a very difficult time finding 65 years since they were last made; they were only in production about a year until replaced by the model 45B. It takes relatively common 4" square Graflex I or II boards. Too the 45B has the slick wide-angle focusing inner rail the Model 45A lacks.
Also saw a beautiful MPP go for $130 on eBay earlier today... they're a camera from the UK that's a little heavier, with more gearing on the moves, but are less commonly seen in the USA. Also have back post moves.