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Imagowan
18-Jul-2013, 07:59
Hi there! My name is Issy. Nice to meet you! I am new to this forum and new to large format photography. I am going to Yale for my MFA in the fall and have been shooting digitally, 35mm, and medium format. I am interested in large format because I would like to start to mature in the way I think and make images. Large format forces me to slow down and to critically think about and creatively construct an image in ways that I really appreciate. I tend to shoot fairly candidly, but often use of the fly lighting to highlight the visual absurdity I so often see. Almost all my photos include people. I would so appreciate any advice into what camera might be best. I know I want a folding field camera that will be light and not cumbersome. As of now I don't drive (hopefully will soon) so a light durable camera would be best. Any ideas on what type this might be? Better to get new or used? Go with a KEH, eBay, or B&H? Finally, what lenses might you recommend for environmental portraiture and scenes? I know these are many questions, but I truly am serious about committing myself to learning and working with these beautiful cameras. My website is www.isabelmagowan.com as a reference to the sorts of things I shoot. Thank you so incredibly much!

Jim Noel
18-Jul-2013, 08:17
You can't go wrong dealing with KEH. They under-rate their equipment and have an excellent return policy.Personally, I never suggest to newcomers to the fold that they buy through auction sites since too many sellers are not to be trusted. Jim at MPEX (Midwest Photo Exchange)is an excellent person with whom to deal. He is knowledgeable and very helpful.
Lenses in the 150-210 mm range should suit your projects well.
Almost any of the 4x5 wooden field cameras will fill your needs, but they are difficult to find.

Good luck!
jim

WmRenick
18-Jul-2013, 08:52
Or you could find something close at hand, here on our For Sale forum.
I have a Shenhao PTB that would fit your interests IMHO.
Hope you find what you want.

BarryS
18-Jul-2013, 10:17
Hi Issy--

If you want a classic lightweight 4x5 wood field, gotta be on a tripod camera, the Chamonix 45N (http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/45.html) is a great choice--very light and well-constructed. Looking at your site, you might also be interested in something less conventional that suits your style of photography. Take a look at the Wanderlust Travelwide (http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wanderlust/travelwide-45-camera), which should be available by the end of the year. The Travelwide uses a wide lens. If you want a camera with something closer to a normal view lens, the Razzle 4x5 (http://homepages.ihug.com.au/~razzle/) is good choice for a hand held camera.

lbenac
18-Jul-2013, 10:56
I would suggest a Wista 45DX. The model that has a hole in the bottom plate so a small lense can be left mounted. The Wista GG/Fresnel is excellent.
You could get this with a small 200mm like a Nikkor-M 200/8 or Xenar 210/6.1 and later on add a small 150mm/135mm or 125mm to suit or the reverse :-)
The Wista folds into a compact package that is really easy to carry around with a light carbon tripod

Cheers,

Luc

IanG
18-Jul-2013, 11:01
I would suggest a Wista 45DX. The model that has a hole in the bottom plate so a small lense can be left mounted. The Wista GG/Fresnel is excellent.
You could get this with a small 200mm like a Nikkor-M 200/8 or Xenar 210/6.1 and later on add a small 150mm/135mm or 125mm to suit or the reverse :-)
The Wista folds into a compact package that is really easy to carry around with a light carbon tripod

Cheers,

Luc

I can second a Wista 45DX, I've used once since 1986 light and great to use.

Ian

Otto Seaman
18-Jul-2013, 12:18
While I use a wooden Chamonix and like it very much but frankly I don't believe they are ideal "first cameras". All of the wooden folding cameras I've worked with, including Tachiharas, Wistas, Wisners, and my current Chamonix... use relatively obscure and contorted controls for their movements and folding. Not that a reasonably bright person can't figure it out, but having an experienced person around to simply help you open and close the camera the first time would not be a bad idea. But even once you master the basics, this class of wooden folders is still going to be more complex, fiddly, expensive, and also not as sturdy as some other choices.

If you want durability, versatility, and a full range of movements then a classic metal monorail will be much more capable. Once you start needing or wanting to use movements, a monorail makes accessing them very simple and obvious. You can actually see that you're tilting or shifting the film or lens plane. All of the wooden folding cameras mentioned here make their limited movements more obscure (not intentionally, every design compromises something). Examples of good monorails are the Sinar Norma or F2 models, Arca-Swiss series, Toyo G, Cambo SC or better, Linhof Kardan series, etc. They cost $200 and up... Some of the premium models like the Arca-Swiss F-line or Linhof Technikardan are nearly as light and compact as the popular wooden folding cameras but more capable and also much sturdier. Not cheap though!

But in many cases you may not want to use movements at all. In which case a simple, vintage press camera, like a Graflex Crown Graphic - which can be handheld and rangefinder focused - is going to make just as good a photo as the most expensive 4x5 camera available. That it folds up with the lens mounted, is very robust, inexpensive, and simple are added bonuses. They cost $200 and up... And many famous photos have been made with these simple beasts.

Both a Crown Graphic and a metal monorail can be purchased together for less money than many of the popular wooden folding cameras alone. It wouldn't be a bad idea to start with an inexpensive Crown Graphic and see how you like it, then progress from there if you want more capabilities. This forum has a buy and sell section available to new members after 30 days (to cut down on spammers) and you could probably do better than KEH prices (although KEH is hassle-free and reliable). If you buy smart, you can resell to break even.

I've done a lot of environmental portraiture. My most used lens is a 135, but sometimes a 90 and a 210 are useful. There are, of course other choices in incremental focal lengths but the slightly wide "normal" 135 is pretty classic, like a 40mm on a Leica.

Even with a bulkier monorail, you should be able to fit a simple basic kit into an airline carry-on sized bag or backpack and hand carry your tripod.

Actually my tripod is my most expensive single component, with larger cameras you need better support and that's where the most money should go ;-p

Alan Gales
18-Jul-2013, 13:10
Otto is right about a Crown Graphic for environmental portraiture. I own a wooden Tachihara folding field camera for landscapes but bought a Crown for portraits outdoors. The Crown is light in weight, extremely fast to set up, and very durable. Being fast to set up can be extremely important when shooting people. My camera came with the usual 135mm lens. I added a 210mm Caltar ll-E lens which is a rebadged Rodenstock Geronar. These little 210's can be had for cheap (I have seen them go on Ebay for less than $100.00 letely) and they will also fold up inside the camera just like the 135 lenses. The 135/210 is a great combination!

Pair one of these with an old Tiltall tripod and you have a real nice set-up. Used Tiltalls can easily be found for under $100.00.


Just beware that large format is addicting. I also own a 4x5 monorail and an 8x10 field camera. :cool:

Imagowan
19-Jul-2013, 10:51
Hi guys,

Just wanted to start by saying how great you all are! What informative and helpful answers! Thank you so so much!

I am a bit confused of the differences between wooden folding cameras and non wooden folding cameras. Is it a matter of style? Weight? durability?

As of now I have compiled a list of potential Cameras- mainly based on your recommendations. They are are as follows:

1. Gandolfi Traditional Field
2. Ebony (SV45Ti, SV45u, SV45TE, RW45)
3. Chamonix 45n-2
4. shen Hao
5. Horseman 4x5 Woodman
6. Wista 45DX

The weight is super important to me. I really need to be carry this thing without being miserable. I am thinking something under four pounds. Ideally the camera I get will be very light. I am a bit worried about the durability of the wood camera, but believe these are the lighter cameras. I would like the camera to be sturdy, well engineered, not easily breakable. Set up would ideally be quick and not too annoying. I would need it to shoot wide angle and close up (so different lenses and long belows?) I am looking to use it on a tripod. While it would be nice to have a full range of movements, I know this is not possible. It would be great to have as many as possible, but I understand that I need to compromise somewhere! I would say weight is most important to me although I willing to overlook this by a pound or more if this will give me a better all around camera. Sometimes I shoot in situations with a bunch of people or at unusual gatherings and settings so the camera should not be too flimsy. (basically it looks as though I am trying to find a dream camera that just does not exist. Honestly, though, I just want to find the best light weight camera)

I am not looking to break the bank but am willing to spend up if need be. I am having a hard time trying to tell which of these cameras would be best for me and distinguishing the pros and cons of each. If you have any other help, thoughts, wisdom, advice, and suggestions that would be incredible!

again thank you so much for being so kind and helpful

dave_whatever
19-Jul-2013, 11:06
From those on your list I'd get the Chamonix. Best compromise on weight, usability, cost, flexibility and rigidity. The ebony models are probably better but 3-5 times the price and heavier.

The only other on your list I have experience of is a wista, and I found using front base tilt to be a massive pain, although I was using someone else's camera so I wasn't used to it.

BarryS
19-Jul-2013, 11:23
I agree with Dave--based on what you've stated the Chamonix would be the best choice. It was my first serious large format camera and I've yet to find anything better to replace it. It's very precise, super-light, but durable, and simple to set up and use.

DannL
19-Jul-2013, 14:32
How well suited is the Chamonix for handheld shooting?

Kodachrome25
19-Jul-2013, 14:45
have been shooting digitally, 35mm, and medium format. I am interested in large format because I would like to start to mature in the way I think and make images. Large format forces me to slow down and to critically think about and creatively construct an image in ways that I really appreciate. I tend to shoot fairly candidly, but often use of the fly lighting to highlight the visual absurdity I so often see.

Facinating....and here I thought that this was achieved through self discipline and personal vision, not a camera equipment stereotype. Also, be aware that your chance of having pre-exposure dust ruin a shot is exponentially higher with sheet film versus roll film.

Harley Goldman
19-Jul-2013, 14:49
Count me in on the Chamonix vote. I have used owned a Wista DXII, an Arca Swiss F-Line Classic and a Toho and my favorite of all those by a long stretch is the Chamonix. I have owned mine about 4 or 5 years and love it.

Bill_1856
19-Jul-2013, 15:23
Stick to digital.

DannL
19-Jul-2013, 15:52
. . . Also, be aware that your chance of having pre-exposure dust ruin a shot is exponentially higher with sheet film versus roll film.

Ain't that the truth. No matter how hard I've tried, dust always finds a way to sneak up and ruin my day. But, learning to spot prints is very beneficial. Manipulating negatives directly has never been my forte.

Otto Seaman
19-Jul-2013, 17:13
You "experts" are being unnecessarily bitter and cynical. We should be encouraging new photographers if we want to continue buying good quality film and cameras, as well as simply being generally being nice, decent, generous people. Or at least keep our disappointments and failings to ourselves.

Large format photography does not have any significant burdens - even some nasty smelling, hungover, disease-riddled, curmudgeons can make some successful pictures with only rudimentary skills. Undoubtedly any young person dedicating her life to photography and going to Yale is going to shoot circles these jealous old men.

Go for it! The vast majority of photographers don't let minor dust management concerns avert them from making great photos.

Regular Rod
19-Jul-2013, 17:33
Hi guys,

Just wanted to start by saying how great you all are! What informative and helpful answers! Thank you so so much!

I am a bit confused of the differences between wooden folding cameras and non wooden folding cameras. Is it a matter of style? Weight? durability?

As of now I have compiled a list of potential Cameras- mainly based on your recommendations. They are are as follows:

1. Gandolfi Traditional Field
2. Ebony (SV45Ti, SV45u, SV45TE, RW45)
3. Chamonix 45n-2
4. shen Hao
5. Horseman 4x5 Woodman
6. Wista 45DX

The weight is super important to me. I really need to be carry this thing without being miserable. I am thinking something under four pounds. Ideally the camera I get will be very light. I am a bit worried about the durability of the wood camera, but believe these are the lighter cameras. I would like the camera to be sturdy, well engineered, not easily breakable. Set up would ideally be quick and not too annoying. I would need it to shoot wide angle and close up (so different lenses and long belows?) I am looking to use it on a tripod. While it would be nice to have a full range of movements, I know this is not possible. It would be great to have as many as possible, but I understand that I need to compromise somewhere! I would say weight is most important to me although I willing to overlook this by a pound or more if this will give me a better all around camera. Sometimes I shoot in situations with a bunch of people or at unusual gatherings and settings so the camera should not be too flimsy. (basically it looks as though I am trying to find a dream camera that just does not exist. Honestly, though, I just want to find the best light weight camera)
I am not looking to break the bank but am willing to spend up if need be. I am having a hard time trying to tell which of these cameras would be best for me and distinguishing the pros and cons of each. If you have any other help, thoughts, wisdom, advice, and suggestions that would be incredible!

again thank you so much for being so kind and helpful

Based on those requirements the Shen Hao would be a very good match. If you can get your hands on a clean older Schneider Symmar 150 mm lens (http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/vintage_lens_data/large_format_lenses/symmar/) you will effectively get three lenses in one to go with it. Using the lens with the front or rear element removed gives you a super tool for portraiture and, with both elements in place, a very fine "standard" lens for 4x5. The Symmar would help you with the quest for keeping things light and compact without sacrificing quality. For wide angle work an Angulon of 90 mm (http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/vintage_lens_data/large_format_lenses/angulon/)will be fine and you don't need a bag bellows with it on the Shen Hao.

RR

Larry Kellogg
19-Jul-2013, 18:26
Dust to dust. Greg Miller uses an 8x10 view camera to photograph Catholics after they are marked with dust on Ash Wednesday. Dust on his negatives did not seem to stop him from turning in great work and winning a Gugghenheim: http://www.gregmiller.com/galleries/unto-dust/#.UenasRZxtSo

Full disclosure, this week, Issy and I were in Richard Rothman's (author of Redwood Saw, great book, check it out!) large format class at the International Center of Photography. Next week, Issy and I are in Richard Renaldi's class on large format street photography class. Google "Touching Strangers" to see Mr. Renaldi's large format work.

How many wooden 4x5 field cameras weigh under 4 pounds? I just weighed my little Wisner 4x5 and it comes in at 5 pounds, with the Manfrotto quick release plate, which adds a few ounces. I have found the Wisner to be a pretty amazing camera, because of all the movements it affords, as well as because it has 23" of bellows draw, allowing you to shoot long lenses. More information is here: http://www.johndesq.com/jdp/wisner.htm and here: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/cameras/wisner-expedition-technical/ Somewhere, there is a manual for all of the old Wisner cameras. Does somebody have a link?

I think the prices of the Wisners are kind of depressed because of the horrible business practices of Mr. Wisner, who eventually went out of business. Still, the cameras are terrific and can be picked up at reasonable prices, often around $600.

Issy, make sure to remind me to let you borrow the plastic replacement ground glass I fashioned when I smashed my ground glass on a trip to France: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?103659-Help-save-my-French-large-format-vacation!&highlight=save+French+large+format The ground glass is the most fragile part of the camera, breaking it should not stop you from shooting.

I have the spanner wrenches from SK Grimes you need to mount lenses on lens boards, no matter what camera you get. Good luck!

DannL
19-Jul-2013, 20:23
You "experts" are being unnecessarily bitter and cynical. We should be encouraging new photographers if we want to continue buying good quality film and cameras, as well as simply being generally being nice, decent, generous people. Or at least keep our disappointments and failings to ourselves.

Large format photography does not have any significant burdens - even some nasty smelling, hungover, disease-riddled, curmudgeons can make some successful pictures with only rudimentary skills. Undoubtedly any young person dedicating her life to photography and going to Yale is going to shoot circles these jealous old men.

Go for it! The vast majority of photographers don't let minor dust management concerns avert them from making great photos.

Thank you for that, Otto. Are you saying that the experts here are all "men"?

Alan Gales
19-Jul-2013, 22:27
Like I said, I use a Crown Graphic for environmental portraiture but also own a field camera. It looks to me that you want a field camera that is the best compromise over all. I have never used one but I would take a good look at the Chamonix if I were you. There are videos on You Tube about it if you want to check them out.

Larry Kellogg
20-Jul-2013, 02:04
Ok, so I looked it up, and the Chamonix does indeed weigh less than 4 pounds, coming in at 3.1 pounds, and costs $900, for the N2. It has only 395mm (15.5 inches) of bellows draw, which seems kind of limiting to me. How is the build quality on these cameras? How sturdy are those cameras?

To be honest, I get rubbed the wrong way by a Chinese camera with French name, I feel tricked.

Another option would be a used Deardorff 4x5, they are a bit heavy, but are amazing cameras, and very well built.

Zone VI also made beautiful wooden field cameras.

Here is the Wisner catalog: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/cameras/wisner-expedition-technical/WisnerCatalog300dpiMonoChrome.pdf The Pocket Expedition 4x5s came in at 3.6 pounds.

This item number: 271238980436 on that famous auction site by the bay, is currently at around $400. If you get a camera at auction, and hate it, just turn around and sell it, probably getting what you paid.

I bought a used Gitzo 1228 tripod, I think I got it for around $300. I recommend a tripod with a hook on the bottom to improve stability, and to give yourself a place to hang your bag with gear while shooting in the field. My father-in-law fashioned a short length of chain in order to reach the loop on my fStop Tilopa backpack (terrific pack!). Works great, and the tripod is a lot less likely to topple over when you hang a weight under it.

Regular Rod
20-Jul-2013, 02:07
... I just want to find the best light weight camera...

This illustrates the easiness of the Shen Hao TZ45-IIB.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H6M4BWxwAp0

RR

Dave Grenet
20-Jul-2013, 02:17
I have a Chamonix and I love how portable it is. That said, it takes longer to set it up than a Crown or Speed Graphic, although it also has more movements. You're going to have to work out for yourself what suits your style the best.

As you're obviously already thinking about how you're going to be carrying whatever camera you get check out this thread (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?31080-Show-your-bag) to see how others carry theirs.

Welcome to large format - I'm sure you'll love it.

Jim Jones
20-Jul-2013, 07:11
Issy, the weight of the camera is sometimes less important than one imagines at first. My ready-to-go Inba Ikeda (similar to the Tachihara) outfit, including four lenses, four film holders, and a Tiltall tripod, weights 20 pounds, while the camera alone weighs maybe 2.5 pounds. Several pounds could be eliminated with fewer lenses and a light weight case and tripod. A press camera such as the Crown Graphic weighs maybe 5 lbs with lens but not including film holders, and can be operated without a tripod. My more versatile MPP technical camera weights two pounds more.

A press camera with a rangefinder might suit the style of photographs on your web site better than the more versatile monorail or field camera. The image quality advantage of fine view cameras and lenses is less important than the convenience and speed of operation in grab shots. For much information on Speed Graphic cameras, study Graphic Graflex cameras by Morgan & Morgan (or Morgan and Lester in earlier editions). The 8th edition covers early Crown cameras; the 11th edition covers later models.

Don't aim at perfection in buying your first large format camera. Rather, use it as a learning aid, and then upgrade based on your own experience. You may eventually want a variety of large format cameras to suit various applications. Over many decades I've accumulated monorail, flatbed, press, and technical cameras, and find uses for each of them. Unlike cameras, one good tripod can be a lifetime investment. Choose it well. New is not necessarily better than old. With several tripods at hand, I usually use an ancient Tiltall.

As you gain experience in large format photography, ask more specific questions here. Some of the regulars have more practical experience in almost anything than you'll find in the library books at Yale.

DKirk
20-Jul-2013, 07:47
My more versatile MPP technical camera weights two pounds more.



Ditto well worthwhile if you can get your paws on one. Try for the Mark VII or VIII you'll need a lensboard with a cone for a 90mm and remember to drop the bed (MK 7 has single drop, I believe the 8 has double drop for wider lenses) depending on the environment style of portrait a lens between 90mm to 135mm may be "best". Also a 203mm ektar is good for closer portraiture (and will fit nicely when the camera is folded up). Out of personal preference Symmars are a good buy too, as you can remove one of the cells and get a longer lens.

tgtaylor
20-Jul-2013, 08:06
Hi Isabel,

I recommend the Toyo-Field 45CF for consideration: http://toyoview.com/Products/45CF/45CF.html. It's lightweight (~4.0 lbs with a 150mm or 210mm normal lens attached), has all the movements on the front standard you need (you focus with the lens standard), very sturdy (made out of carbon fiber), in production and readily available both new and used and relatively inexpensive either way, sets-up quickly, and last, but not least, it's a good looking camera!

I have owned and used this model since it first came out - took me 3 months to get it from B&H - so I can recommend it without hesitation. For lightweight travel I use it with a Gitzo GT-0540 carbon tripod and Gitzo G-1177M ball head. Admittedly the tripod is on the light side but you don't need a heavy tripod with a 4-lb camera and lens and there is very little vibration from a Copal 0 shutter. The tripod has a hook for hanging your pack if you want.

That said, from the images on your website I'd recommend the Pentax 645NII if you want to shoot film. The NII weighs and handles much like a 35mm except that it gives you a negative a little more than twice the size of 35mm and Pentax medium format lens are excellent. The 645 lens are very similar in size as 35mm lens. Oh, and I own this camera also:) it's great for street photography - being very discrete and has auto-focus!

Thomas

Imagowan
20-Jul-2013, 13:35
Thanks for coming to my defense Otto. Discouraging to see, certainly fits my own stereotypes about the threat of the jaded photographer who is too quick to make assumptions about my own relationship to photography and the camera.

Chamonix seems to be the winner! 4x5 N1,4x5 N2, or 4x5 F1? Is there anything I should be aware of when buying it, things to make sure of?

Imagowan
20-Jul-2013, 15:14
... can't find any that are used to buy. Hmmmm

Otto Seaman
20-Jul-2013, 16:06
If buying used, the first N-1 model had an issue with its placement of fresnel and ground glass introducing focus errors. Most people resolved this but you would want to check. The N2 has no issues. The new F1 design has an asymmetrical rear tilt useful for some traditional landscape subjects. Ask Hugo Zhang for details, he is the US rep.

I would buy new from Hugo, less risk and still reasonable.

Winger
20-Jul-2013, 17:28
I've been contemplating the same question lately. I started with a monorail and have added Speed and Crown Graphics, but find myself wanting movements and hike-ability. I'm fairly sure I'm going to get a Chamonix, but haven't totally settled on which one. I'll get a new one, I think, because they are hard to find used. There are some used Shen Haos and Tachiharas around right now and also a few Wistas - all are fairly light and sorta similar in design. Someone on APUG has an outfit with a Wista, IIRC, and a couple of lenses and film holders for about 900. While I really like my monorail, it's 9 pounds and awkward to carry. The Crown Graphic is not bad for hiking, though, so Jim's advice is sound in that weight is not the whole story. I'm one of the few other females on here, btw, and I'm not overly strong. My "regular" camera bag with a dSLR and my Pentax 645N with both the 75mm and 120mm weighs about 23 pounds, though. I can deal with that.

Alan Gales
20-Jul-2013, 20:12
If buying used, the first N-1 model had an issue with its placement of fresnel and ground glass introducing focus errors. Most people resolved this but you would want to check. The N2 has no issues. The new F1 design has an asymmetrical rear tilt useful for some traditional landscape subjects. Ask Hugo Zhang for details, he is the US rep.

I would buy new from Hugo, less risk and still reasonable.

I completely agree with this statement about buying new. They rarely come up for sale used.

If it was me, I think I would go for the new F1.

tgtaylor
20-Jul-2013, 21:16
If it was me, I'd go with a manufacturer such as Toyo that has a long standing reputation of building high quality cameras constructed with quality materials.

As pointed out above the Chamonix has had significant issues with with its previous models which may or may not have been corrected in their latest incarnation. There's also the question of the longevity of the (relatively speaking) cheap bellows that Chamonix uses and further, whether or not they are IR proof. Finally, what is the longevity of a hybrid wood/metal camera compared to an all wood or all metal camera? Frankly I believe that the all wood or all metal metal design wins out against the hybrid.

But the OP is an admitted newbie in LF photography – probably has never owned or even operated a LF camera before – and this, as with many others, is just a passing fad: pick up a LF camera, take a couple of snaps, and pass it along.

So what the hell, any LF camera works.

Thomas

Otto Seaman
20-Jul-2013, 22:34
Prozac would be a good choice. Or LexaPro. What the Hell, it doesn't matter.

Larry Kellogg
21-Jul-2013, 03:36
Thomas,
Could you talk a little more about how the Chamonix is a hybrid wood/metal camera? Where are the weaknesses? I have built furniture with a professional cabinet maker, and know that good wood joints and glue can be incredibly sturdy and long lasting. My Wisner is very solidly built.

Also, I'm not happy to hear that the bellows are cheaply made, if that is true. Light leaks are no fun.

One of my tricks to buying used is to go back and look at the original selling price of a camera, and see what the same camera commands in the used marketplace. I try to buy the more expensive cameras from back in the day, at a good price today. Quality holds its value.

As for the idea that this is just a fad, give Issy a break, she took an LF class last week, so she has shot LF and has developed her own negatives.

Issy has the eye to get into the photographic program at Yale, that counts for a lot. There is a long tradition of using large format cameras to produce fine art. I'll bet that once Issy sees the quality in a 4x5 negative (or 5x7, 8x10), and the possibilities of a fine silver print, she'll be hooked for life. ;-)

Larry

Larry Kellogg
21-Jul-2013, 05:43
One other thing, I think the Manfrotto 410 is a terrific head. I think once you go to a head with geared movements, you never go back to a ball head. I love being able to make slight adjustments at the turn of a knob. It's a fairly heavy head, though, but it's worth its weight. See here: http://m.bhphotovideo.com/mobile/detail?R=124665_REG&

Otto Seaman
21-Jul-2013, 05:49
The camera our enthusiastic Thomas recommended is primarily made from plastic. He's one of the few proponents of it but, like the choice of colleges, he goes through life seeking validation for his decision.

I have the Chamonix and don't see where the bellows is any worse than the other dozen various good quality cameras I've owned.

To me the main downside of the Chamonix is the slower, fiddly set-up and lack of instructions. But it is very well made, intelligently designed (based on Dick Phillips' cameras), and a heck of a value for under a grand.

The 410 head is nearly as heavy as the camera ;-p A better quality ball head from a good manufacturer will have a drag control that great helps with the finer positioning of the camera - if you learn how to use it!

Winger
21-Jul-2013, 05:59
Everyone I know who has a Chamonix loves it. The bellows are not safe for IR apparently, but are just fine for regular film. Since HIE and Efke are gone, it's not that big an issue for me. Those who've used them call them sturdy enough. I believe the "significant issues" to which Thomas refers were corrected with later models of the first version of the camera. The ones being sold now, the N2 and F1, are not affected.

rcmartins
21-Jul-2013, 06:00
I have owned a Chamonix 045 N2 for more than a year now, used it quite frequently and couldn't be happier. In my photography group there are two Shen-Haos, one Cambo and one Sinar. In my oppinion, and please remember that these are all opinions, mine compares favourably to all of them. Naturally this is a different camera than the monorails', but construction-wise is pretty much there. The bellows are of very high quality, being very sturdy and versatile. They cannot be used for IR, as most LF camera bellow's can't but this is not because of lack of quality but because of the materials used in them being permeable to some extent to IR wavelengths which together with the long exposures times makes it difficult to shield. There are bellows specifically designed for IR if that is your thing. The carbon fiber base makes this a superior field camera, in my opinion. I have been able to use my Sironar-N 360mm/5.6 which weights more than a kilogram for a close-up shot of my kids with a belows extension of 485mm with no issues (extension base used). The torque is very high. A wooden bed could easily break or bend. This bed cannot bend, only break, but rest assured it is indeed extremelly sturdy.
As for issues there was only a single issue, if you want to call it that, and for the first model. It was just the order between fresnel and ground-glass being swaped in regards to the more usual arrangement. Since the N2 it is back to the normal arrangement. In honesty I don't think this really qualifies as an issue.
Also, I have seen people criticise because it does not have scales. It is true but having used it for architectural shots I never felt them needed, but note that this is very much a question of style and attitude when taking pictures.
Raul

vinny
21-Jul-2013, 06:20
It seems as though many of you think chamonix cameras are made of solid carbon fiber. Remember, they are closely based on the Phillips design which was plywood covered in cloth/resin. Chamonix parts are still wood but covered in carbon fiber instead of something else. Take yours apart if you don't believe me.

"lack of instructions"? it's not a canham. use google to find michael gordon's video that shows all you need to know.
Rollei IR is still made.
Special bellows for IR are made? Not by chamonix. I've commented on a few threads regarding this issue and I use shenhao bellows (both leather bag (https://www.badgergraphic.com/store/cart.php?m=product_detail&p=134) and standard) on my 45n-2. I was told the max extension for the shenhao bellows would not allow the use of a 450mm from jeff at badger graphic. As usual, I bought them anyway to see for myself. I can go to 500mm (http://www.flickr.com/photos/62218065@N00/8096903172/) when using my version of the extension bracket (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?98018-FS-Extension-bracket-for-Chamonix-cameras&highlight=vinny). The shenhao bellows aren't 100% impermeable to ir but even at 1 minute exposures the exposures are usable. The shenhao leather bag bellows (HZX45-IIA/PTB45) allow the use of a 210mm and are completely IR proof. It also looks like they've doubled in price in the last 10 years.

jeroldharter
21-Jul-2013, 07:18
Lots of praise for the Chamonix. But I would avoid a wooden camera in your situation. I have seen college darkrooms and equipment areas which are on the used and abused side of things. A wooden camera is durable, but not necessarily student proof.

No offense meant, but you are probably not a 40-65 year old male gear freak who who keeps and updates a spreadsheet on the movements and bellows lengths of view cameras (I am in that group by the way). If you were in that group, you would love a beautiful wood camera, envy an Ebony but hate the price, and periodically pull out the camera to blow off the dust and wax the wood for fun. But for school, a metal camera (Toyo, Wista) is built like a tank, generally inexpensive. Looks like you need a Toyo AX or AII with a 135 mm lens and a few film holders.

A couple of questions: how likely are you to drop your camera over the course of training and how easily can you afford to repair/replace the camera?

Drew Bedo
21-Jul-2013, 07:21
Hello Issy,

First off: Congratulations on getting accepted in an MFA program. Many consider this to be an accomplishment in-and-of-itself!

I have not read most of this thread. I am sure that there is really great information here that will apply to your needs.

Now for my two cents worth:

Sure . . .go ahead and buy a nice wood field camera. For which one and where to get it . . .See above. Almost any of them will do what you want, and it will look great. I regularly use a classic Zone-VI for 4x5 and a mid-thirties era Kodak 2-D for 8x10. You may even channel William Henry Jackson, Bradey or Curtes . . .Adams, Weston et al.

After that, also get a-hold of a Speed Graphic. These press cameras were designed for taking pictures of people hand held and on-the-fly. They are quick to set-up and stow away and even have a little bit of front tilt. There may even be some cachet in the academic art world for using this type of gear. Donít know your budget (I didnít read) but they donít come too high either.

Later on, tell us what you did and show us a few images.

Vaughn
21-Jul-2013, 10:00
Lots of praise for the Chamonix. But I would avoid a wooden camera in your situation. I have seen college darkrooms and equipment areas which are on the used and abused side of things. A wooden camera is durable, but not necessarily student proof...

I have been checking out view cameras (all 4x5) to students for 20+ years. The advantage of wood over metal is that wood tends to give a little if dropped and metal tends to get permanently tweaked. The Tachiharas we had did not last too long (5 or 6 years) -- the metal fittings tended to break with student use and eventually it was dropped too many times and was used for parts. The Horseman Woodman 4x5's have held up much better (less fussy to set-up and fold away...which is where much of the student damage is done...and the hardware is simpler and stronger than the Tachahara).

The Shen Hao (sp?) is holding up well so far, but we have only had it for a couple years. It is also a bit heavier.

For 4x5, I have been using a Gowland Pocketview for the past 25+ years. http://www.petergowland.com/camera/

It does fold up, but not as neatly and cleanly like most wood 4x5's -- I have used it for backpacking and on a 6 month bicycle tour of NZ. Mine weighs 2.5 pounds with the 150mm/5.6 lens on it. Later models with more movements (that I have never missed) and reversible backs (which would be nice) are a pound or two heavier.

Crown or Speed Graphics are cheap enough to pick one up and used for times one wants to hand-hold or do not need as much movements (pretty much limited to front tilt.)

Good luck with your camera(s) choice and your MFA! Congrats!

tgtaylor
21-Jul-2013, 10:31
My To yo 45Cf is right at 10 years old and it still looks as if new. But I do take care of it by wrapping it in a large Donkey wrap when storing it in the backpack or pennirrs (sp) and in waterproof hard cases when not in use. It's also heartening to see that the camera is now selling for almost twice the price I played for it. Samething with the Rode stock 150mm lens that I bought from B&H with the camera.

Incidentally, B&H doesn't carry the Chamonix and neither does Badger. Of the manufactures listed on the B&H site, Arca-Swiss leads the pack with 20 models available, To yo comes in 2d with 11 models, Linhoff 3d with 6 models and Horseman a distant 4th with only 1 model.

Thomas

Vaughn
21-Jul-2013, 11:04
Thomas, we have a Toyo CF we are starting to check out to students (it was a donation to our program). Reviews of the camera I have read (from users) tend to indicate a weakness of some of the plastic/metal interfaces, and that it would not make a suitable 'student camera' due to the rougher use by students -- especially for the first time.

So I have been trying to hold back lending out the CF to beginners. How does any of this match your experience with your CF?

Thanks! Vaughn

Larry Kellogg
21-Jul-2013, 12:41
You know, B&H is not into large format these days. I visit B&H once a week. They have every digital point and shoot known to man, on display, but few large format cameras, except one or two in used department, as far as I can see. I don't think what they carry means much in terms of what is worth buying for large format. Most people can't dish out for Arca Swiss, but some New Yorkers can. Arcas are all special order and take 3-8 weeks to get. The Toyos say they take 4-6 months!

Imagowan
21-Jul-2013, 20:50
Finding a used Chamonix 45n-2 has led to zero results. I will either have to buy it new or consider going with the other options (many of which I am sure will work for my needs just as well). I used a Toyo field camera last week (not sure what the model was). While I should acknowledge that it is a school camera given out to many students, I felt the camera was somewhat rinkydinky. It functioned okay, but my experience of it was that it felt like a plastic toy camera and and seemed poorly built. I will be using it again this week. Perhaps I shall grow to love it.

Steven Tribe
22-Jul-2013, 02:26
Isobel - I would be interested in knowing which MF camera you have been using. One with interchangeable lenses and a viewing screen? Have you chosen colour film on purpose? Many of your images, I think, would be even more striking in B/W.

You will never get a really lightweight set as you must consider the tripod, film holders, lenses and etc. So 500 grams difference in camera body doesn't mean too much in practice.

Michael_4514
22-Jul-2013, 03:13
Hi guys,

Just wanted to start by saying how great you all are! What informative and helpful answers! Thank you so so much!

I am a bit confused of the differences between wooden folding cameras and non wooden folding cameras. Is it a matter of style? Weight? durability?

As of now I have compiled a list of potential Cameras- mainly based on your recommendations. They are are as follows:

1. Gandolfi Traditional Field
2. Ebony (SV45Ti, SV45u, SV45TE, RW45)
3. Chamonix 45n-2
4. shen Hao
5. Horseman 4x5 Woodman
6. Wista 45DX

The weight is super important to me. I really need to be carry this thing without being miserable. I am thinking something under four pounds. Ideally the camera I get will be very light. I am a bit worried about the durability of the wood camera, but believe these are the lighter cameras. I would like the camera to be sturdy, well engineered, not easily breakable. Set up would ideally be quick and not too annoying. I would need it to shoot wide angle and close up (so different lenses and long belows?) I am looking to use it on a tripod. While it would be nice to have a full range of movements, I know this is not possible. It would be great to have as many as possible, but I understand that I need to compromise somewhere! I would say weight is most important to me although I willing to overlook this by a pound or more if this will give me a better all around camera. Sometimes I shoot in situations with a bunch of people or at unusual gatherings and settings so the camera should not be too flimsy. (basically it looks as though I am trying to find a dream camera that just does not exist. Honestly, though, I just want to find the best light weight camera)

I am not looking to break the bank but am willing to spend up if need be. I am having a hard time trying to tell which of these cameras would be best for me and distinguishing the pros and cons of each. If you have any other help, thoughts, wisdom, advice, and suggestions that would be incredible!

again thank you so much for being so kind and helpful

Based on what I've seen of your work and what you say you're looking for, getting anything other than a Crown or Speed Graphic would be nuts. If you want candid shots, you're going to need something you can hold in your hand. There's a reason press photographers used Speed Graphics and not fancy folding field cameras on tripods. They are also light and have enough movements to get you started.

The reason you don't get more recommendations for one of these is because there isn't much for a gear nut to say about them. They're simple, they work, they do the job, but no whistles, no bells, not pretty to look at (well, I like them) and they're not expensive. If you hang around here long enough, and I hope you do, you'll find that when somebody asks a general question about what kind of camera to use, most of the responses are people recommending what they use. For some reason, people take comfort when others do what they do. That's why humans are by and large conformists.

In terms of the candidates that you've selected, in my opinion there isn't that much difference between them. They all do the same thing, in more or less the same way. What you need to do is get a camera in your hands and start taking some pictures.

Larry Kellogg
22-Jul-2013, 03:40
If Issy wants candid shots, I think she should get a Leica or a Contax G2, a fast street machine, or use her digital. Crown and Speed Graphics are heavy cameras.

I think Issy is interested in taking portraits, where she has more control over the composition of the scene.

Perhaps this quote from Judith Joy Ross describes will help:

"With a view camera we are doing something together. Definitely together. I am fumbling around under a cloth over the camera and myself and the person is arranging themself. We work together."

From: http://www.ahornmagazine.com/issue_8/interview_ross/interview_ross.html

Bob Salomon
22-Jul-2013, 03:59
If Issy wants candid shots, I think she should get a Leica or a Contax G2, a fast street machine, or use her digital. Crown and Speed Graphics are heavy cameras.

I think Issy is interested in taking portraits, where she has more control over the composition of the scene.

Perhaps this quote from Judith Joy Ross describes will help:

"With a view camera we are doing something together. Definitely together. I am fumbling around under a cloth over the camera and myself and the person is arranging themself. We work together."

From: http://www.ahornmagazine.com/issue_8/interview_ross/interview_ross.html

Or maybe she wants to do what Mary Ellen Mark did with her Master Technika?

Regular Rod
22-Jul-2013, 04:46
Based on what I've seen of your work and what you say you're looking for, getting anything other than a Crown or Speed Graphic would be nuts. If you want candid shots, you're going to need something you can hold in your hand. There's a reason press photographers used Speed Graphics and not fancy folding field cameras on tripods. They are also light and have enough movements to get you started.

The reason you don't get more recommendations for one of these is because there isn't much for a gear nut to say about them. They're simple, they work, they do the job, but no whistles, no bells, not pretty to look at (well, I like them) and they're not expensive. If you hang around here long enough, and I hope you do, you'll find that when somebody asks a general question about what kind of camera to use, most of the responses are people recommending what they use. For some reason, people take comfort when others do what they do. That's why humans are by and large conformists.

In terms of the candidates that you've selected, in my opinion there isn't that much difference between them. They all do the same thing, in more or less the same way. What you need to do is get a camera in your hands and start taking some pictures.

This is the best response of the thread so far.

RR

jonreid
22-Jul-2013, 04:50
Sounds like the OP needs a Razzle....

Jon

Larry Kellogg
22-Jul-2013, 06:30
I think the choice is between tripod and hand held. Since we just took a large format class together, my assumption has been that Issy wanted a camera to use on a tripod.

Larry

Regular Rod
22-Jul-2013, 07:56
Sounds like the OP needs a Razzle....

Jon

Or else a Travelwide for $99! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wanderlust/travelwide-45-camera

RR

Drew Bedo
22-Jul-2013, 08:26
Speed Graphic: Tripod and hand-held . . . .<$500
Polaroid Conversion: Primarily hand-held. Leica-like RF/Viewfinder
Wanderlust/Reavelwide: Hand-held only:<$150 [/[U]$1000

Imagowan
22-Jul-2013, 10:20
While the speed graphic is tempting (and I may one day consider getting one), Larry is right in that I would like to start composing my images and working with a tripod. Knowing how heavy tripods so often are is why I have been set on a light weight camera. Larry has mentioned that a used Gitzo might be a good option.

Otto Seaman
22-Jul-2013, 10:25
The Gitzo naming system is hard to decipher and they also change it too frequently, but in general you'd want a #2xxx-series tripod, either Carbon Fiber or Aluminum. The other factor is a tripod head. Gitzo makes a #2-series 3-way head and there are numerous larger bullheads available from a wide range of manufacturers.

If you are patient and shop eBay, a fine older metal Gitzo #2 series with a 3-way head can be found for under $300, sometimes far less if you're lucky.

Next a few people will bring up the Gitzo clones from China, some of which are excellent values. And I bet a lot of people will suggest lots of alternatives but, generally speaking, Gitzos have a good reputation overall.

Regular Rod
22-Jul-2013, 10:57
Speed Graphic: Tripod and hand-held . . . .<$500
Polaroid Conversion: Primarily hand-held. Leica-like RF/Viewfinder
Wanderlust/Reavelwide: Hand-held only:<$150 [/[U]$1000

The Travelwide has a tripod bush and a focus screen, it need not be restricted to hand held only, in fact it seems to be light enough to allow it to be used on a Gorilla Tripod.
99148

RR

jeroldharter
22-Jul-2013, 19:43
Finding a used Chamonix 45n-2 has led to zero results. I will either have to buy it new or consider going with the other options (many of which I am sure will work for my needs just as well). I used a Toyo field camera last week (not sure what the model was). While I should acknowledge that it is a school camera given out to many students, I felt the camera was somewhat rinkydinky. It functioned okay, but my experience of it was that it felt like a plastic toy camera and and seemed poorly built. I will be using it again this week. Perhaps I shall grow to love it.

Seriously, if you find a Toyo field camera to feel rinkydinky, you will be disappointed with many others too. Toyo field cameras are pretty solid. Is the camera all black? I wonder if it is an ancient model?

Larry Kellogg
22-Jul-2013, 20:32
The TravelWide will not be available to the general public until later in the year. First, the TravelWide guys have to fill the orders of all the initial backers. So, that's not an option for Issy. Besides, that camera has no movements, and will not offer the control you can get with a good field camera.

I echo Issy's feeling that the Toyos being handed out to students are plasticky and underwhelming. I don't know the model, perhaps we can figure it out Weds in class. Yes, I believe the camera is all black.

I found this info on the net: "On my kitchen scale, the Speed Graphic weighs almost 7 lbs (3.17 kg) while the Crown Graphic weighs about 6 lbs (2.72 kg). Bottom line, the Speed Graphic weighs 16% more than the Crown." I don't think Issy will be happy with either of these cameras, as she is looking for something under 4 pounds.

I say go for a used carbon fiber tripod by Gitzo, you won't regret it. I don't know how the 1228 compares to the 2xxx series, but I love the 1228. The numbering system is confusing. Mount one of the lighter ball heads on the tripod. The Manfrotto 410 weighs 2.7 lb (1.2kg), according to B&H. I think it it is worth it but don't get it unless you can deal with the weight.

Alan Gales
22-Jul-2013, 21:31
A very good friend of mine owns a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. When he handed it to me I just couldn't believe how light it was. He has a pan/tilt head on his which I like. I just can't get along with ball heads.

Peter De Smidt
22-Jul-2013, 21:55
The Toyo CF was a plastic version of their 45AX camera. I've heard complaints about sturdiness of the CF. I have an AX. It's a very solid camera.

tgtaylor
23-Jul-2013, 08:59
I have owned the Toyo CF for 10 years now and while it's light, it is a very sturdy camera - perfect for lightweight backpacking or bicycle touring. I also own the Toyo AX which is a much better camera (it's a technical field camera with full back movements except rise), but it's twice as heavy as the CF and requires a heavier tripod. I use the CF for overnight backpacking and bicycle touring.

Thomas

Peter York
23-Jul-2013, 09:29
One to look at is the Toho FC-45x. It is a lightweight monorail that can accomodate wide angles and long lenses, and handles portrait, landscape and architecture well. They run about $1000 used. Kerry Thalmann has a review of the camera on his website. You might want to go with a used Linhof IV or V, which is heavier but solid and capable of handlheld and tripod-based composition with movements. The Meridian 45B (not the 45A) is a Linhof knockoff that does not win any beauty contests but gets the job done well for less than $500. From what I have read and heard, the Chamonix is also an excellent option. I have an Ikeda Anba for sale if you are interested but in my opinion it is optimal for backpacking rather than walk-around.

Recognize that you are battling system weight, not camera weight, and you may want to put your money into lighter lenses, tripods and accessories rather than the camera. I consider a carbon fiber tripod a must (Feisol is cheap and excellent), and I choose lenses that are light, perform well and have a decent image circle. Many of us go through several cameras before finding the one that fits our needs best. The tripod and lenses will last forever.

John Kasaian
23-Jul-2013, 09:42
Just make sure it has the bellows and lens board to support whatever lens you'll be using. If weight is your main consideration, bellows length may be sacrificed in the manufacture in the interest of weight reduction and if the bellows aren't long enough to let you use whatever lens you're going to be using to it's fullest, well, you get the idea.

Otto Seaman
23-Jul-2013, 12:04
Not a bad deal for a Gitzo: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?104949-tripods-and-accessories

Bob Salomon
23-Jul-2013, 12:41
Or maybe a deal on a Berlebach with a new warranty?

http://hpmarketingstore.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2&products_id=536

Alan Gales
23-Jul-2013, 14:13
A wooden Berlebach with a wooden field camera make for one purty outfit!

Peter De Smidt
23-Jul-2013, 16:57
I owned a Toho FC-45x for a couple of years. It was amazingly light weight, and so it was by far my favorite camera to carry around. Nonetheless, it was my least favorite camera to use.

Michael_4514
23-Jul-2013, 19:19
One to look at is the Toho FC-45x. It is a lightweight monorail that can accomodate wide angles and long lenses, and handles portrait, landscape and architecture well. They run about $1000 used. Kerry Thalmann has a review of the camera on his website. You might want to go with a used Linhof IV or V, which is heavier but solid and capable of handlheld and tripod-based composition with movements. The Meridian 45B (not the 45A) is a Linhof knockoff that does not win any beauty contests but gets the job done well for less than $500. From what I have read and heard, the Chamonix is also an excellent option. I have an Ikeda Anba for sale if you are interested but in my opinion it is optimal for backpacking rather than walk-around.

Recognize that you are battling system weight, not camera weight, and you may want to put your money into lighter lenses, tripods and accessories rather than the camera. I consider a carbon fiber tripod a must (Feisol is cheap and excellent), and I choose lenses that are light, perform well and have a decent image circle. Many of us go through several cameras before finding the one that fits our needs best. The tripod and lenses will last forever.

Toho is an excellent choice, if you can find one. I rarely see them for sale. Of course, the OP asked about field type cameras, but if she's interested in a lightweight rail, there are some great choices available. The Toho, the Arca Discovery, Sinar has a light rail the name escapes me . . .

tgtaylor
23-Jul-2013, 21:02
Although I have never owned or used one, the Arca-Swiss Discovery seems to be a fine camera. It's no longer manufactured and weighs in at 5lbs - lighter than the Toyo AX by 1lb and heaver than the Toyo CF by 1.6lbs, but well worth the consideration if the extra weight and bulk doesn't matter. If my memory is correct it sold in the $1100/$1200 range when the CF was $549.95. It's a monorail and would have full movements. But you wouldn't need the back movements forlandscape and most general photography.

Thomas

Drew Bedo
25-Jul-2013, 09:17
The more I read about your needs, the more I feel you need to get a press camera. A whole shooters kit can be found for ,$500. Another option would be one of the Polaroid conversions.

The Speed and Crown Graphics, and the Polaroids fold up into the camera body for self storage with the lens mounted. One of these with a couple of Grafmatics and your good to go.

View Camera Magazine had two articles on how to modify the Graphics cameras for front tilt and swing, back in the early 2000s. A friend of mine did the tilt mod in 5 min while I watched. Sounds like you don't really need that though.

Bob Salomon
25-Jul-2013, 09:29
The more I read about your needs, the more I feel you need to get a press camera. A whole shooters kit can be found for ,$500. Another option would be one of the Polaroid conversions.

The Speed and Crown Graphics, and the Polaroids fold up into the camera body for self storage with the lens mounted. One of these with a couple of Grafmatics and your good to go.

View Camera Magazine had two articles on how to modify the Graphics cameras for front tilt and swing, back in the early 2000s. A friend of mine did the tilt mod in 5 min while I watched. Sounds like you don't really need that though.

I would expect that if someone was going to take a graduate coarse in photography they would need a camera capable of doing view camera controls. And that would mean full movement; front and rear swing and tilt and front and rear direct displacements. Otherwise they will never learn everything a view camera can really do, inside and outside.

Of course once they have finished the coarse they can start to use whatever type of camera suits their workload afterward.

Imagowan
25-Jul-2013, 10:50
It is done! I have placed an order for a Chamonix F1. Drew, I don't doubt you are quite right and very open to the possibility of this being the right camera for me... but as of now that will need to be on the back burner. My lovely camera should be arriving next week! Now for lenses. Are there certain makes I should prioritize? Or is that not necessary? I would like a good portrait lens and perhaps something a bit more wide angled. Any suggestions or thoughts?

Otto Seaman
25-Jul-2013, 10:55
Start with a normal 150mm f/5.6 late-model (1990s-2000s) Schneider APO-Symmar or Rodenstock Sironar-N mounted in a black-rimmed Copal #0 shutter from a reliable used dealer like MPEX.com or KEH.com. Probably will cost about $300 to $350 for one in excellent condition.

Decide on other lenses after you get used to the first?

Bob Salomon
25-Jul-2013, 10:58
Start with a normal 150mm f/5.6 late-model (1990s-2000s) Schneider APO-Symmar or Rodenstock Sironar-N mounted in a black-rimmed Copal #0 shutter from a reliable used dealer like MPEX.com or KEH.com. Probably will cost about $300 to $350 for one in excellent condition.

Decide on other lenses after you get used to the first?

Late model Rodenstock would be an Apo Sironar N.

Imagowan
25-Jul-2013, 14:49
If I already purchased a lens board with my camera, do I want it mounted still?

Imagowan
25-Jul-2013, 15:06
Also is benro a good cheaper and light alternative to gitzo?

Bob Salomon
25-Jul-2013, 15:23
If I already purchased a lens board with my camera, do I want it mounted still?

You need the lens mounted to the correct board.

Bob Salomon
25-Jul-2013, 15:25
Also is benro a good cheaper and light alternative to gitzo?

Compared to a Berlebach at just over $100.00? No.

And tripods come in all weights and sizes so your question, as asked, can't be answered.

Otto Seaman
25-Jul-2013, 15:28
Mounting the lens is simple, the rear element unscrews from the shutter. There is a retaining ring that threads onto the rear of the shutter. You simply tighten the retaining ring against the lens board to hold the lens in place, then replace the rear element. Simple and obvious once you see it but harder to explain ;-p

A lens wrench helps to tighten the retaining ring. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/131992-USA/Rodenstock_260600_Metal_Lens_Wrench.html You can probably just borrow one from another photographer.

Somewhere at the front end of this website there are detailed explanations of how to do almost everything.

Alan Gales
25-Jul-2013, 16:59
Look for a Rodenstock, Schneider, Nikkor, Fujinon, or Caltar lens in a modern Copal shutter. There is nothing wrong with older shutters (I own a couple) but a newer shutter will hopefully give you less trouble. Any modern lens is sharp so shop for condition and price.

I would recommend a 210mm lens for your first lens. They are arguably your most versatile lens, they work great for portraits, have large image circles and since there are a glut of them out there they are cheap. You can find a nice f/5.6 example in shutter for $200.00 or less. Of course a 150mm as recommended earlier would not be a bad choice either. I'm just thinking that since you like portraiture you would most likely keep the 210.

Jim Noel
25-Jul-2013, 18:20
There are two excellent ones currently listed on this site.

Larry Kellogg
26-Jul-2013, 00:51
Go Issy.

I think you should just get the Gitzo. I don't think you will regret it. There is a 1228 on that famous auction site, currently at $300. Comes with Laird leg pads. I think I need those pads to make it easier to carry the camera on my shoulder. I'll probably just use pipe insulation and hockey tape as shown in the video on this page: http://www.oopoomoo.com/2011/12/pimped-out-tripod-for-winter-shooting/

Ken Lee has a whole page of info on lenses. Fujinon A lens are amazing. The 240 f/9 A is a terrific lens.

Imagowan
15-Aug-2013, 04:46
Hi guys. Just wanted to give you the update and thank you again for all your advice. The chamonix f1 is beautiful. I just started shooting with it the past few days still getting used to locking everything in place, figuring out what each knob does, etc, but wow is it something. Having no instruction manual is tricky only in that I worry about somehow hurting it. I try to be slow and careful. Excellent recommendation. I will keep you all posted. And special side note to my friend Larry K- I did it! I'm currently in France with beauty.

Larry Kellogg
16-Aug-2013, 18:33
Way to go Issy! Congratulations on getting your outfit to France. Just make sure you write "Pellicules photo exposees. Ne pas ouvrir!", on all your boxes, tape them shut, and don't let the customs guys open them.

What film are you shooting? How has it been going so far? I need to get back out the door with my camera. I may have someone who is willing to assist me, that would make life easier for me.

Larry Kellogg
16-Aug-2013, 18:45
One piece of advice I can give you is with regards to unfolding it. If the Chamonix is like other field cameras, it is a good idea to extend the front rails an inch or so before unfolding the front standard. You want to be careful not to scrape the bellows or crunch them when you unfold the camera.

Imagowan
17-Aug-2013, 04:31
So at the airport I asked for a hand check the woman put the wand to it but then made me put it through the machine... It's portra color 400. On the way back ill ask for a hand check again. The woman on the way over pointed to the yellow circular sticker that keeps the box closed saying normally that's on there. I hope my photos are okay

Larry Kellogg
17-Aug-2013, 12:58
You should be ok going through the hand check luggage scanners, just never put the film in with your checked luggage; it will be destroyed. I gave up on requesting hand checks, and just put the film in Domke lead lined bags in separate plastic trays and let them x-ray it. I'm afraid that hand check might lead one of them to open a box.

The thing about the yellow circular sticker is that you won't have that on there when you unload exposed film into empty boxes in order put new film into your holders. Did you bring some kind of changing bag or tent? Clearly, most agents aren't aware of the difference between exposed film and unexposed film.

vinny
17-Aug-2013, 15:36
tsa agents often want to open unsealed boxes, even brand new sealed boxes because they can't see what's in there. I've even yelled across the terminal for them to "stop!" when they were in the process of opening one last year after I asked them to not start the inspection until I got thru the security check. Always make them wait til you are present. Holders are a different story. I've never had them want to open a holder and all my holders are taped shut as part of my labeling system. Always tell them it's 3200 speed film, regardless of what your labeled holdes say, ALWAYS. The agents don't know it doesn't exist in sheet film format.

matthew klos
17-Aug-2013, 18:22
Which portfolio on your website did you use for the application into yale?

Imagowan
19-Sep-2013, 11:11
parts of "minds eye" unfortunately at the moment my site is down. I am making a new one.