View Full Version : Buying Camera Equipment

6-Jul-2004, 13:13
Hy my name's Laura. I'm completely a beginner in photography, the only camera's I have used are digital and disposable. I've recently become interested in devoloping my own film and having my own dark room. But I don't want a new expensive camera, I want something I can develop myself and something used. The problem is, I have no idea where to buy used camera's good for self developing. Pawn shops I guess might be somewhere to look and also antique stores because I'm very interested in buying an older one, but one that has color too. Any idea's on where I can find one? And equipment?

6-Jul-2004, 13:22
A local reputable camera shop would be your safest bet. While you may be able to find less expensive equipment online, having the ability to pick up and hold the camera, as well has having somebody to show you how it operates will be well worth the extra cost. If you could let us know where you are located (city, state, country), I'm sure a forum user in your area could recommend a store. Don't feel that you have to buy a new camera to get reliablity and quality, there is plenty of excellent used equipment available. Regards,

John Cook
6-Jul-2004, 13:34
As for where to buy, I suggest planing a trip to a camera store which specializes in used equipment. This might be an old mom-and-pop place in a small town, but more likely a large store in a large city. Chains like Wal-Mart camera department are useless for this. Buying sight unseen online is very risky for a beginner.

As for what to buy, you have to realize that this is the large format website. The beauty of an old wooden camera or a crown graphic press camera is simplicity itself. No electronics to fight with. Nor to break down. Just you and the shutter, aperture ring and focus knob. One of these with some polaroid film is an excellent way to learn.

Downside is that 4x5 color sheet film is difficult to get developed and frightfully expensive. Rollfilm adapters are available for these cameras which solve these two problems.

If you get this far, you may one day consider developing your own black and white sheet film. Much, much easier and less expensive. Like watercolor compared to oil paint, black and white in its own way can be very beautiful indeed. Much like a fine pencil sketch. Don’t let the absence of color put you off.

6-Jul-2004, 14:29
You buy gasoline at a gas station -- you buy a camera at a camera store. If you're serious about photography, sign up for classes at the local technical school, or find a camera club and attend some meetings before plunking down a bundle for equipment.

Ron Bose
6-Jul-2004, 15:05

You may benefit from checking out www.photo.net

It's not clear in your posting whether or not you're specifically interested in large format photography or general photography.

photo.net will guide you better than this one in terms of general photography. This website specializes in Large Format and therefore the perspective (pun intended) is quite different than general photography. Large format gear may not be the most effective way of pursuing your interest.

photo.net has a very good 'learn' section and will help you figure out which equipment will suite you best, be it digital, 35mm, medium-format or even large-format. It will also tell you where the best sources of equipment are located.

Good luck !

Frank Petronio
6-Jul-2004, 15:51
A good general photographic educational textbook covers a lot of ground and will prove to be a valuable reference. I think this is the best: "Photography" (7th Edition) by Barbara London, John Upton, Kenneth Kobre, Betsy Brill, Ken Kobrč. It is an $80 book at Amazon - a staple for college programs. It combines technical and asthetics better than anything else I've seen.

6-Jul-2004, 16:13
If it was me. Put your money away. Lock it up. Sign up for a darkroom class. Something basic. See if you can find something similar for basic photography. See if you can find somebody locally to mentor you.

Okay once the money is ready to come out. Don't rush. People have suggested local shops. The local shops around here are trying to sell 20 year old cameras for 60+% of the price of brand new. Often quite a bit more.Hopefully your local shops are better then mine. Try www.keh.com. They have a good rep and the prices for some things are cheaper then the great auction site.

Take your time.

6-Jul-2004, 20:08
There are a couple of good stores you can call and get decent advice on cameras. Keh, Midwest Camera, even B&H if you can say no to the sales hype. You sound like you would be more comfortable with a 35mm camera so buy a copy of the shutterbug and look at the ads in back for used equipment as a starting point. You can get anything you want there used.

Go to the library or a good bookstore and get a book on photography to understand the basics of taking and developing film. Take a class at the local community college. Learn as much as you can before you spend your money.

I wish you good luck and even though it is not on topic here we will help you out. Everyone here started somewhere and had help from someone along the way so a little payback would not hurt. ;o)

paul stimac
6-Jul-2004, 22:16

I learned by getting taken to the cleaners. It's good that you came here to ask before you buy.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

A calumet C400 is a 4x5 to learn on. It's cheap and sturdy. Find one from a reputable buyer on ebay. Don't pay more than $200 for one in excellent condition. Then find a lens with a shutter in the 150mm 300mm range, that will be another $200 to $300. Then you'll need a tripod with head $150 (possibly a bogen 3030 with a 3047 pan tilt head) $150-$200. You'll also need a film holders $10 each, dark cloth, some kind of meter. You're 35mm with work fine.

You might want to read - "getting started in large format photography" on www.viewcamera.com. The person who wrote it also has a good book called "Using the View Camera.." "Photography" by Barbara London is also a excellent book for learning all aspects of photography. It's expensive ($80), but well worth it.

It may seem like seem complicated,but once you get into it, it really is quite simple and straight forward.

Good luck. Here are some links to some equipment for sale on ebay.






7-Jul-2004, 11:12
Laura, When I started in photography, I took a class a local community college. This has a great advantage because it will put you in contact with other photographers (Teachers, students, etc). This also helped me to look at the many possibilities from film, cameras, darkroom equipment to techniques. I am not suggesting a community college, some photo places teach classes regularly. If you take a class, you have to show up without anything, the instructor will suggest basic equipment to start. Do not get overwhelm, there are many possibilities and combination of equipment. I know I get a headache every time I think that I will need to buy a digital camera at one point. Good Luck

Brian C. Miller
10-Jul-2004, 14:29
If you are a self-learner, then you can easily learn from books.

Before I became really interested in photography, I had only used a couple of point-and-shoots, the kind sold in bubble packs. Then I got inspired by some blazing moonlit nights, and I bought a better point-n-shoot. After I realized that wasn't enough, I bought a real camera.

I bought a Pentax 6x7, 90mm LS lens, and a Pentax spot meter. (still have it, not letting go.)

And I bought a couple of books. One was Ansel Adam's "The Camera." The other was Bernhard Suess' "Mastering Black-and-White Photography." I read the books cover to cover, and learned how to use the camera. I made pictures, and had them critiqued by people I knew would be honest with me. That's the best way to learn: honest, open criticism. Hearing "your picture sucks and this is why" was one of the most important things in my learning curve.

I started by taking my film to a local lab, and having them develop it for me. After I had some quality issues with the lab, I decided to do it myself. I bought a Patterson kit and Kodak chemicals. I lived in a 18-ft travel trailer, and I developed the film in my bathroom. I had prints made at a lab.

Now I live in an apartment, and the bathroom is big enough for my enlarger.

Laura, since you are asking your question in an LF forum, I'll give you my advice on starting with LF from nothing.

Buy a view camera for under $200, and spend $100 or so on a lens. I bought a Calumet C-1 4x5 camera in excellent condition for $150, and lenses for about $100-$200. Buy a sturdy used tripod, should be $100 or so, and a quick-release tripod head. Buy a used Polaroid 545 back. A Polaroid back costs about $100, and the Polaroid film will give you instant feedback, with no development hassles. You can also use Polaroid Type 55 film, which will give you a real negative. You can shoot color or BW at a moment's notice. When you are ready to use real film, you can use Kodak Readyload or Fuji Quickload film in the Polaroid holder, and then have it developed at a lab.

All told, you're looking at a ballpark figure of $600 to start from nothing. However, this equipment will last many, many years.

When you are ready for developing film at home, you can use trays, or you can use a daylight tank.

When you are ready to start making prints at home, you can buy a 4x5 enlarger for less than $500 on Ebay, through the local paper, or other places. There's lots of enlargers on Ebay, and I bought an Omega D-3 with Rodenstock lens for under $500.

You want good deals? Watch Ebay, and remember to bid low. Putter around your local stores, and remember to say, "Gee, I can almost afford that." Some stores will cut you deals if they see that you are really serious about photography, and you scrimp like Scrooge.

Look at what some of the famous guys, like Edward Weston, did in the darkroom. Weston did not use an enlarger. He used an 8x10 camera, and made contact prints. (A contact print is where the negative is laid directly on the paper.) He strung up a light bulb overhead, and turned it on, and turned it off when he figured he'd given it enough light. Seriously, that's what he did. He considered enlargers to be a new-fangled invention, a gadget he didn't need.