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View Full Version : 4x5 camera recommendation - on a budget and need a 120 back



JamesCun
29-Apr-2013, 22:45
Hi, first post on here. Looking to get into LF photography and wanted to find a budget 4x5 field camera that has options for a 120 film back, preferably a 6x12. In looking around the forum and other sites, it seems like the Shen-Hao might be a good option. Any thoughts on a good camera setup that is compatible with 120 backs?

Reasons for the 120 back are a few.
- easier access to developing (I don't develop at home yet)
- easier/cheaper access to slide films like velvia

Would appreciate any recommendations or thoughts. Thanks.
James

Daniel Stone
30-Apr-2013, 00:25
If you don't need much movements, a crown graphic can be a great camera.
They can take a LOT of abuse, and will keep ticking :)
The Shen-Hao is a nice camera, as well as the Chamonix 4x5. Both are relatively light(the Chamonix wins that contest), but both can be a great option for 4x5 shooting!

Either way, unless you get a slide-in Calumet 6x12 back(these aren't that common, FYI) or a Sinar Zoom back(thick), I'd recommend that you find a camera with a GRAFLOK back. That looks similar to this:

http://randcollins.files.wordpress.com/2010/01/the-graflok-back.jpg

Using a graflok back will allow you to remove the ground glass frame entirely, and use the sliding locks to retain the RF holder to the back itself, here's a picture of the sliding locking bars:

http://lommen9.home.xs4all.nl/Graflex%20Holders/P1060274_800.jpg

IanG
30-Apr-2013, 00:39
A Crown Graphic's a touch limiting, if you can find a Super Graphic you'd be better off. I picked one up 3 years ago for 100 ($155) and it's far more practical in terms of movements.

Ian

dmtry
30-Apr-2013, 04:59
As I know the Super also much more robust then Crown. Cause metal body instead of wood.

DannL
30-Apr-2013, 09:13
Not knowing your budget, here's some reading material from the 1988 Horseman Catalog . . .

http://www.cameraeccentric.com/img/info/horseman_2/


About two months ago I replaced a Horseman 980 with a new 45HF. I was very happy with the build quality on the 980, and the 45HF is equally as fine. I would have preferred the 45FA, but I also had a budget, and camera weight was also a primary concern.

Though I have never used one, most of these Horseman models will accept what is known as a "rotary back" . . .

http://www.cameraeccentric.com/img/info/horseman_2/horseman_2_26.jpg

If you find that a Horseman camera is too pricey, browsing the catalog may add some new terms to the old vocabulary. The only place I know where semi-reasonably priced Horseman can be found, is by chance on Ebay.

Light Guru
30-Apr-2013, 10:47
Define "on a budget"

JamesCun
30-Apr-2013, 14:31
Define "on a budget"

That's a bit of a hard question to answer. I would love to find a solution for under $500, but don't think that is possible unless I get lucky and find a great used deal. Under $1000 would be nice and maybe a little more realistic. I'm assuming that if I get a new camera like a Shen-Hao and find some used lenses and film holders/roll back, I would be in the $1500 range.

Dan Fromm
30-Apr-2013, 15:32
James, can you relax your requirements?

I ask because if you're patient you ought to be able to get a used monorail with a Graflok back such as a used Cambo SC-2 for less than $150 delivered. Older Sinars too, but I don't follow them. You need the Graflok back (= international) if you're going to use any of the readily available affordable 6x12 roll holders.

If you visit keh.com or pay attention to for sale offerings here, at apug.org and, yes, on eBay you should be able to get a decent 150/5.6 plasmat type in shutter for under $200 delivered. Or a decent tessar type in shutter for a bit less. 6x12's normal focal length is 125 mm, if that's what you're set on.

If you can limit yourself to shooting 2x3, a roll holder made by Graflex Inc. with 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 (called 6x9 in metric) gate to fit a 4x5 graflok back can be had for less than $100. Just be patient and look the obvious places.

6x12 backs that fit a 4x5 graflok back cost more, one of them can easily blow your budget. The cheapest, Guohua, under $200 + shipping, doesn't inspire confidence -- I've handled one -- but users say they work as advertised. Next up are Da Yi/Shen Hao (different names for the same roll holder) at $250-350, then Horseman around $600, and after that the sky's the limit. All these prices are for new, used are uncommon. I did this research recently, just checked and nothing's changed. I went berserk and bought a used Sinar (fixed format, the variable format ones are pricey). Current new Sinar and Linhof 6x12 backs are out of sight. I didn't mention Cambo/Calumet because users' comments about them are equivocal. It seems that early ones (I don't know how to tell early from recent) have been troublesome, newer ones much better behaved; new or old, they're not that common.

wombat2go
30-Apr-2013, 16:12
James,
Last year I purchased a 4 by 5 Speed Graphic complete with GG back and 135 mm lens, rangefinder passive and active with cam etc , $210 all in top shape.
An RH-8 120 back for the 4 by 5 $106
Recently I purchased a Computar variable focus f/16 105 ~150 mm lens $20 shipped. These lenses are from the Camerz 70 mm format electric cameras that were used to photo USA school kids from 1950's to digital. The lens nicely covers the RH-8 format, with a bit of room for movements too.
I made a heavy duty lens board on lathe and mill-drill.
I have just shot a roll with this new lens, not developed yet, but the images on the GG are very good.

I have calibrated the rear shutter on the Speed and it is quite accurate, so i don't have to buy any expensive shutters.
The Computar lens can be set at 135 mm to allow use of the existing scales and Rangefinder.
Also it can be used as a zoom lens. At 105 mm it is a standard lens for the RH-8 format.
I added another scale to the rack for the Computar, calibrated visually by the GG, and made a little tabulation card for various focal lengths. At 105 mm and f/16 focus is not so critical.
https://www.box.com/s/ftfro5plttrrqlz91qfi

I also have made adaptors to the Speed for the Pentax 6x7 wide angle retrofocal lenses and they work well on the Speed, but that would take you over budget
Good Luck with your project.

JamesCun
30-Apr-2013, 20:51
James, can you relax your requirements?

I ask because if you're patient you ought to be able to get a used monorail with a Graflok back such as a used Cambo SC-2 for less than $150 delivered. Older Sinars too, but I don't follow them. You need the Graflok back (= international) if you're going to use any of the readily available affordable 6x12 roll holders.


I didn't initially look at the monorail design since they are much bigger and heavier than the 'field' camera design. I would mostly be taking the camera hiking in the mountains, so portability would be an issue.

Kodachrome25
30-Apr-2013, 20:51
I use a Chamonix 45N-2 with a pair of Dayi 6x12 backs and love them. The format is just the right amount of panoramic and the fact I can use roll film a *really* great option.

I usually carry the camera, 5 lenses and one 6x12 back when skiing, works great in keeping me shooting if I need to reload in the field.

JamesCun
30-Apr-2013, 20:54
Thanks for all the replies so far. Looks like I need to be patient and hunt around for the right deal. I think I could get mostly setup for $1500 without much looking around, so if I can find some real bargins I should be able to get under 1k. I've at least got a much better idea of what I'm looking for. Now I just need to wait for this 30day thing to be able to see the classifieds on here :)

Cheers,
James

JamesCun
30-Apr-2013, 21:00
I use a Chamonix 45N-2 with a pair of Dayi 6x12 backs and love them. The format is just the right amount of panoramic and the fact I can use roll film a *really* great option.

I usually carry the camera, 5 lenses and one 6x12 back when skiing, works great in keeping me shooting if I need to reload in the field.

Sounds like a big kit, is the for back-country touring?

With the Dayi 6x12, does that mount directly into a graflok camera? I looked at the website and it was hard to tell if it was specifically made to replace the 4x5 GG.

Thanks.

Kodachrome25
1-May-2013, 15:43
Sounds like a big kit, is the for back-country touring?

With the Dayi 6x12, does that mount directly into a graflok camera? I looked at the website and it was hard to tell if it was specifically made to replace the 4x5 GG.

Thanks.

I actually use it for everything, hiking, snowboarding, etc. I used it a lot inbounds for a series I am doing on the ski areas, even on double blacks, weighs about 21 pounds. The 6x12 back is a Graflok type so it goes right in...

JamesCun
1-May-2013, 18:00
I actually use it for everything, hiking, snowboarding, etc. I used it a lot inbounds for a series I am doing on the ski areas, even on double blacks, weighs about 21 pounds. The 6x12 back is a Graflok type so it goes right in...

Sounds great. I just talked to Hugo and have a brand new 45n-2 ordered...only problem is 5 month wait for it to arrive :( Gives me time to track down good deals on lenses and other needed accessories.

Otto Seaman
1-May-2013, 19:01
If you expect to use 120 film why not get a medium format camera? They are smaller and can be inexpensive, simpler and easier to pack.

JamesCun
1-May-2013, 20:42
If you expect to use 120 film why not get a medium format camera? They are smaller and can be inexpensive, simpler and easier to pack.

I already have a MF film camera, but it doesn't have movements and can't shoot 4x5. Some films are so expensive to buy and develop in 4x5 that I can't see myself shooting much of those. Velvia 50 would be at least $10 per sheet to buy and develop, 120 rolls are more like $20 a roll or $3.50 a shot (6x12). My general thought was to shot mostly BW 4x5's and learn to develop them at home and add in some 6x12/6x9 in color slide film. That way I can ship the film off to be developed at the same time as my MF camera and cut down on some of the costs. I use a Mamiya 645, so even a 6x9 is double the image area, and I like the pano format for the mountains in my area.