View Full Version : 4x5 cameras

gary bridges
20-Jul-2004, 23:25
many of you have answered my previous questions on starting in LF- now I have another: what brand of 4x5 do you recommend that I start out with?

Jean-Louis Llech
21-Jul-2004, 02:26
It's quite impossible to answer to such a question.
Why ? for many reasons : you, and only you, know the kind of photography you intend to do, how many bucks you intend to spend, if you prefer B&W or color, negatives or trannies...
You have a huge job to do now : collect informations about cameras, select and eliminate some ones, read photo books, read what's written on large format photography forums, access the Large Format website (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/).
When you'll have a first feeling that such and such camera might be good for you, then, ask people what they think about these cameras or lenses or accessories.
Nobody is able to decide it for you, nobody can tell you : "you need THIS camera, not another one".
If someone says something like that, don't trust him !
Everybody here is ready and disposed to help you, but you have first to clear the ground by yourself.
Good luck.

Charlie Skelton
21-Jul-2004, 03:39
Buy a cheap one and play with / use it until you decide what you do and don't need. When you do upgrade, you then have a spare machine that does not owe you much, always handy for rougher shoots / travel / leaving in the car on a just in case basis.



Edward (Halifax,NS)
21-Jul-2004, 05:29
Gary, what is your budget? How many lenses do you want/need? What are the longest/shortest? Where do you plan on using it? I prefer nature photography and I don't like very wide shots so if I had the money I would be very happy with a Shen Hao field camera and a 150mm f/5.6 Sironar - N. That would set me back about $1000. Since I don't have $1000 I use a CC400 with a 150mm f/9 G Claron which cost under $300. I am also waiting for a $41 Speed Graphic to arrive.

Brian Ellis
21-Jul-2004, 06:58
Go to the archives, search using a few phrases that include "4x5" and "beginner" or "newbie," you'll find hundreds of responses to the same question you're asking, far more information than you'll get by asking here.

Gem Singer
21-Jul-2004, 07:05
Hi Gary,

Before anyone can recommend a particular 4X5 camera to you, you need to narrow down your preferences so that more specific recommendations can be made. There are dozens of brands of LF cameras and accessories out there. All have their strengths and weaknesses.

Do you prefer a monorail, or a flat bed camera?

If a flatbed, do you want folding, or non-folding?

Do you prefer wood, or metal construction?

What is your price range?

You will also need to decide on a lens/lenses, film holders, a focusing cloth, a solid tripod, etc.,etc.

A good place to begin making those decisions is by browsing through the articles on this LF website.

steve simmons
21-Jul-2004, 07:16
View Camera magazine (www.viewcamera.com) has several articles that might be helpfull to you. The key to selecting a camera is to decide what features you want. There is an article called Getting Started in Large Format that will help you decide.

Also, here are some books that might be helpful

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga

Using the View Camera that I wrote

good luck

steve simmons

Erik Sherman
21-Jul-2004, 07:51
I'd also throw in that you need to think about the issue with a bit of a twist - it's what sort of 4x5 system can you put together that will satisfy your needs and meet your budget. Cameras are separate from lenses, which, I'd argue, could have a bigger impact on your results. Tripod size and stability needs might be different outdoors than in a studio. How much of your budget will you need to alot to a case/backpack/etc. if you are taking the camera with you? So the question becomes "What combination of equipment will give me what I need for the price I can afford?" Although my experience is nascent compared to most people here, my own prejudice is, when on a budget, sacrifice camera features and elan for the quality of the glass, and make sure that the tripod offers enough support and is light enough to haul around, even if it isn't made of carbon and doesn't have the latest and greatest ball head.

Ernest Purdum
21-Jul-2004, 10:58
I think it's worthwhile considering a first LF camera in terms of its usefulness as a training aid. Even if later on you find that you don't use your movements very much, a first camera ought to let you explore the use of all of them. Otherwise, you might never know how much they can help you.

Fortunately, there are several cameras available at low cost that are good at providing experience for use later on. The CC400 that Edward mentioned is one. I think it is much more likely to be in good condition than the Graphic View which would also be a good choice if working well. The Burke & James Orbit is essentially the same camera as the Calumet. The later B&J wooden cameras are the most versatile of their type, but more are missing the extension track than are complete. A major benefit of these cameras is that when you have decided you want something better, you can expect to be able to sell one for roughly whatever you paid for it. The experience you have gained by using the "training aid" will be helpful in making your decision as to what you want at that time.

None of these cmeras is a backpacker's delight, but that is one of the reasons they are inexpensive. You can learn a lot without going far from your car.

Steve Simmons' suggestion to buy a book is perhaps the best advice you can receive, but you'll get more out of the book if you have the ability to follow along on what it is telling you.