PDA

View Full Version : Introduction & request for advice



stefn
24-Aug-2014, 05:37
Hi everyone, new to the forum here.

My name is Steffen - I caught 'the bug' about 5 years ago and started off down the digi route, but quickly became interested in film photography, moving from an Olympus 35sp to a Mamiya TLR and now finally an Arax 6x6 modified Kiev 88. While I do enjoy the convenience of digital (I have a couple of the Fuji X cams), working with film provides me with the greatest satisfaction, particularly when printing in the darkroom.

For a long time LF has been beckoning to me and I've ignored the call, but as time goes on I think it's time to make the plunge; hence I'd like a little advice with regards to setting things up. I live in the UK by the way, where it seems the supply of LF gear is not as plentiful as over in the states; perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places.

In terms of shooting, my MF lenses of choice are a 50mm and an 80mm. I've not found the need for a longer (or shorter) lens as yet as my legs have sufficed, while the extreme wide angle doesn't appeal. My subject(s) of choice are landscapes (no architecture for example) I used to live on the south coast but am now in Hampshire where the land is generally flat, with lots of grass- and woodland. Water fascinates me and is usually found in the frame so I look for rivers. Some of my work can be found here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103910284852691425609/photos/p/pub

I don't know too much about view camera movements; while I understand the Scheimpflug principle at a basic level I tend to learn things best by doing them. Tilt and shift effects such as those emulated by Instagrammers are not my thing, so presumably I don't need those movements? Maximising depth of field would be important however.

Would someone be able to advise me with regards to the current LF market in the UK: what sort of budget (roughly) would I be looking at for a camera (5x4/4x5), two lenses (50 & 80mm MF-LF equiv) and a suitable enlarger? Where should I be looking? I'm no pro - I don't need an Ebony or 'the best', but something that works and will make my eyes pop out of my skull when I nailed the light. I'd rather steer clear of the Auction Site if possible.

I've been looking at some of the press cameras so far, but the field cameras like Shen Hao etc look great. New equipment would be out of the question financially I think.

I'd be looking to get the camera first and then the enlarger down the line - I work almost entirely in BW so am happy to process and print in my bathroom. The enlargers I've seen are very expensive though, even second hand on dealers' websites..

The weather in the UK obviously tends to be 'unfortunate' - and can be quite windy - would this affect the ability to use a field camera?

Dan Fromm
24-Aug-2014, 07:46
http://www.lf-photo.org.uk/forum/

Peter Mounier
24-Aug-2014, 08:26
Tilt and shift effects such as those emulated by Instagrammers are not my thing, so presumably I don't need those movements? Maximising depth of field would be important however.

Tilt and swing should not be discounted as an effect. In fact, when attempting to get as much in focus as possible, as you suggest by saying maximising depth of field would be important, tilt (and swing) can be most useful and may be critically important. Just thought you should not discount some view camera movements based on uninformed assumptions before you buy, since you may soon realize that those movements are important for landscape photography. For example, since your landscape is generally flat, with lots of grass, you might find that tilt is especially useful. I've found the swing movements to be helpful in woodlands.
I can't suggest a source for cameras in the UK though, being from the U.S.
Weather shouldn't affect your abilities, but it may affect the results.

Peter

stefn
24-Aug-2014, 11:13
Tilt and swing should not be discounted as an effect. In fact, when attempting to get as much in focus as possible, as you suggest by saying maximising depth of field would be important, tilt (and swing) can be most useful and may be critically important. Just thought you should not discount some view camera movements based on uninformed assumptions before you buy, since you may soon realize that those movements are important for landscape photography. For example, since your landscape is generally flat, with lots of grass, you might find that tilt is especially useful. I've found the swing movements to be helpful in woodlands.
I can't suggest a source for cameras in the UK though, being from the U.S.
Weather shouldn't affect your abilities, but it may affect the results.

Peter


You are quite right of course, please excuse my ignorance! Would you therefore recommend a field camera over a press camera? My question regarding the weather was whether (sic) it is still possible to shoot in these conditions without risk of damaging the camera.

Alan Gales
24-Aug-2014, 12:26
Since you are interested in landscapes I would recommend a field camera like a Chamonix, Shen Hao, Tachihara or wooden Wista. If you prefer metal cameras look at Toyo and the metal Wista's.

For lenses you would probably like a 90mm and 150mm. The 90 is a really popular wide focal length for landscapes and a 150 is a "normal" focal length. Look for lenses made by Schneider, Rodenstock, Nikkor, Fujinon or Caltar in modern Copal shutters. All the modern lenses have a similar "look" so let price and condition be your guide as to which to buy.

Welcome to the forum!

Regular Rod
24-Aug-2014, 12:41
Hi everyone, new to the forum here.

My name is Steffen - I caught 'the bug' about 5 years ago and started off down the digi route, but quickly became interested in film photography, moving from an Olympus 35sp to a Mamiya TLR and now finally an Arax 6x6 modified Kiev 88. While I do enjoy the convenience of digital (I have a couple of the Fuji X cams), working with film provides me with the greatest satisfaction, particularly when printing in the darkroom.

For a long time LF has been beckoning to me and I've ignored the call, but as time goes on I think it's time to make the plunge; hence I'd like a little advice with regards to setting things up. I live in the UK by the way, where it seems the supply of LF gear is not as plentiful as over in the states; perhaps I'm looking in the wrong places.

In terms of shooting, my MF lenses of choice are a 50mm and an 80mm. I've not found the need for a longer (or shorter) lens as yet as my legs have sufficed, while the extreme wide angle doesn't appeal. My subject(s) of choice are landscapes (no architecture for example) I used to live on the south coast but am now in Hampshire where the land is generally flat, with lots of grass- and woodland. Water fascinates me and is usually found in the frame so I look for rivers. Some of my work can be found here: https://plus.google.com/u/0/103910284852691425609/photos/p/pub

I don't know too much about view camera movements; while I understand the Scheimpflug principle at a basic level I tend to learn things best by doing them. Tilt and shift effects such as those emulated by Instagrammers are not my thing, so presumably I don't need those movements? Maximising depth of field would be important however.

Would someone be able to advise me with regards to the current LF market in the UK: what sort of budget (roughly) would I be looking at for a camera (5x4/4x5), two lenses (50 & 80mm MF-LF equiv) and a suitable enlarger? Where should I be looking? I'm no pro - I don't need an Ebony or 'the best', but something that works and will make my eyes pop out of my skull when I nailed the light. I'd rather steer clear of the Auction Site if possible.

I've been looking at some of the press cameras so far, but the field cameras like Shen Hao etc look great. New equipment would be out of the question financially I think.

I'd be looking to get the camera first and then the enlarger down the line - I work almost entirely in BW so am happy to process and print in my bathroom. The enlargers I've seen are very expensive though, even second hand on dealers' websites..

The weather in the UK obviously tends to be 'unfortunate' - and can be quite windy - would this affect the ability to use a field camera?

The camera you will find meets all your needs is an MPP Mk VII. Made in England, metal, folds away into itself, tough as old boots (tougher) and it is very stable on the right tripod in a breeze. I use mine on the moorlands and in the river valleys of Derbyshire and it has never let me down.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?115443-Which-affordable-4x5-(or6x9-)-camera-should-I-buy&p=1159322&viewfull=1#post1159322

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?115443-Which-affordable-4x5-(or6x9-)-camera-should-I-buy&p=1159385&viewfull=1#post1159385

http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1687676

http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1687833

RR

Tim Meisburger
24-Aug-2014, 12:57
Also, there is a metal Wista on sale in the forum now, which would be perfect. I would not recommend a press camera to start. It is a specialist camera and if you know what you need they are great, but they lack a lot of movements and if you start with one you will be unsatisfied until you get another. (Maybe the MPP mentioned above has movements. The Speed and crown do not).

stefn
24-Aug-2014, 15:47
The camera you will find meets all your needs is an MPP Mk VII. Made in England, metal, folds away into itself, tough as old boots (tougher) and it is very stable on the right tripod in a breeze. I use mine on the moorlands and in the river valleys of Derbyshire and it has never let me down.

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?115443-Which-affordable-4x5-(or6x9-)-camera-should-I-buy&p=1159322&viewfull=1#post1159322

http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?115443-Which-affordable-4x5-(or6x9-)-camera-should-I-buy&p=1159385&viewfull=1#post1159385

http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1687676

http://www.apug.org/forums/viewpost.php?p=1687833

RR

I'd been wondering about those as I've read that they have most movements that landscape photogs require. I've spotted a Mk VII complete with Schneider Symnar 150mm and Angulon 90mm along with 12 film backs and other minor bits and bobs for 625. Does that sound reasonable in your opinion?

Tim, I'd be interested in looking at that Wista, but I'll have to wait until I've been registered 30 days...

Regular Rod
24-Aug-2014, 17:59
If everything is perfect then that would be a fair price. 90mm Angulons are going for higher prices now, around 170 upwards, probably to do with Travelwide camera sales, or HolgAgon hacking. The 150 Symmar is really 2 lenses in 1 as it is a convertible giving 150mm with both lens elements and 265mm with one element, that has to be worth 100 to 150 if not damaged. The long extending bed and bellows makes using the long lens a doddle. The film holders if in good order are worth at least a tenner each. So if the camera is worth 250 you are 15 in front... These old lenses are not to be underestimated if in good order, they produce very good results. If you are happy with the condition of everything then you would not be getting ripped off.

RR

stefn
25-Aug-2014, 12:11
If everything is perfect then that would be a fair price. 90mm Angulons are going for higher prices now, around 170 upwards, probably to do with Travelwide camera sales, or HolgAgon hacking. The 150 Symmar is really 2 lenses in 1 as it is a convertible giving 150mm with both lens elements and 265mm with one element, that has to be worth 100 to 150 if not damaged. The long extending bed and bellows makes using the long lens a doddle. The film holders if in good order are worth at least a tenner each. So if the camera is worth 250 you are 15 in front... These old lenses are not to be underestimated if in good order, they produce very good results. If you are happy with the condition of everything then you would not be getting ripped off.

RR


Sounds good, thanks! I'll make the necessary checks - looking forward to diving in

Mark Sawyer
25-Aug-2014, 12:38
Welcome to the forum! You have a lot of choices in cameras. Most press cameras offer little in the way of movements, so if that interests you, forget those. Field cameras are generally very small and light, and are great if you plan on serious hiking and backpacking forays. But if you generally only stray a few hundred meters from the car, 4x5 monorails are very nice; very steady, lots of movements front and rear, and usually reasonably light weight. The monorail; doesn't fold down, so it's a bit larger than a field camera when folded up, but if you put it on a tripod and compress the bellows, you can carry it over your shoulder and barely tell the difference from a field camera. Right now, very nice 4x5 monorails like the Toyo, Cambo, and Calumets are selling very cheaply, less than half what a nice field camera would cost. Just another option!

Tim Meisburger
5-Sep-2014, 00:16
Just read Mark's post above!

Alan Gales
5-Sep-2014, 10:48
I need help for purchasing a new camera. Now I am going to niagara falls ny or canada side (http://www.getbustours.com/2day-york-niagara-falls-us-canada-tour.html) tour. I would like to take lots of photographs of my favorite locations. For this purpose I want to buy a new camera. I have no idea about it. Can any member of this community guide me? I am waiting for suggestions.

You say that you want a new camera. Check out these http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/index.html. The Chamonix N2 and F1 are said to be very rigid besides being light weight. Personally, if I was buying a new 4x5 field camera I would take a good look at these two cameras. They are both very popular. You don't need the asymmetrical tilts of the F1 but it is a nice feature. If you want get the N2 and put the money you saved towards film.

As far as buying used I would check out what was for sale in the UK.

Re-read what Mark Sawyer says in post #11. A used monorail is a great place to start if you don't mind the extra weight and bulk. If you are doing a lot of hiking though, I recommend a lightweight field camera.

Don't forget that you will also need a sturdy tripod.

Alan Gales
5-Sep-2014, 10:55
I need help for purchasing a new camera. Now I am going to niagara falls ny or canada side (http://www.getbustours.com/2day-york-niagara-falls-us-canada-tour.html) tour. I would like to take lots of photographs of my favorite locations. For this purpose I want to buy a new camera. I have no idea about it. Can any member of this community guide me? I am waiting for suggestions.

Forget about what I said about buying used in the UK. I got you mixed up with the OP. :)

Alan Gales
6-Sep-2014, 11:32
I was not interested in that model. I thought you have a great knowledge about cameras, so I quote you post to catch your attention for reply and that really works.

I'm not an expert but I have owned or handled more than a few cameras. I occasionally sell photography gear on Ebay to help support my hobby.

I have owned/used a Tachihara. They are really light weight and have a bright fresnel. The Shen Hao is more rigid than the Tachi but a little heavier. Shen Hao supports a bag bellows. Tachihara does not. Wista had several different models. I read that one model was even made by Tachihara.

I have handled a metal Wista SP and a very good friend of mine owns a metal Toyo A1. The metal cameras are more rigid and sturdy but of course weigh more. The metal Wista's are really versatile because you can change out the bellows to either a bag bellows for wide lenses or a longer bellows with an extension rail for longer lenses.

The most important thing about buying a 4x5 is first deciding what lenses you want. If you like ultra wides then the option of using a bag bellows is important to you. If you like using long lenses then you will need a lot of bellows draw. If you only plan on using a 90mm up to a 210mm then any of these cameras will do. With the metal Wista though you will need the bag bellows for a 90.

With the Tachihara I owned, he longest lens that I used was a 300mm. I could focus it at infinity for landscapes but I could not focus it close enough to shoot portraits since I only had 13" of bellows draw. My widest lens was a 75mm. I used it in a recessed board to get movements out of it. A 90mm would work on a flat board. A 65mm was said to work in a recessed board but with probably no movements. Now if the Tachi could have used a bag bellows then 65mm and wider would not have been a problem. Of course bag bellows capability would have added weight.

The more rigid and sturdy a camera is then normally the more it weighs. The exception is the Chamonix which is both very rigid and lightweight which is why I recommend them.

Everything is a trade off, durabilty, rigidity, weight, versatility, usability, price, prettiness. There is no perfect camera.

All these cameras are popular. The thing is that different photographers have different needs or tastes. I know what I like but I had to learn that. When you first start out you really don't know what you want. That's why we suggest buying used because you may end up selling it and buying something else down the road. You can buy a cheap entry level monorail from Cambo, Calumet or Toyo for around $100.00 to try out large format. They are a pain to hike with though but some do. Monorails are very straight forward to use and the easiest cameras to learn on.

I know it's a bit overwhelming at first but it's well worth it. Large format is a lot of fun! :)

Tim Meisburger
8-Sep-2014, 00:20
Yes. The Tachi, or the Chamoniox will be fine.

Alan Gales
8-Sep-2014, 08:40
The Tachihara is a nice camera. Read this review: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/tachihara.htm

I liked my Tachi. It was very lightweight, easy to focus with, easy to use, not too expensive, and very pretty. You can get great results with it. If the Tachihara appeals to you then get one.

There is a learning curve with large format. I recommend getting a book to help teach you about camera movements. I like "Using the View Camera" by Steve Simmons. You can get it at Amazon.

djdister
8-Sep-2014, 09:43
Alan Gales , I have no idea about cameras. I am not a photographer and do not know anything about photography. I just wanted to know about light weight camera which can be used easily with good result. I want to use this camera during my tours to take some photographs. what do you think Tachihara will be suitable for me.

Roufi - since you have indicated several times that large format cameras are not what you are looking for, I will suggest this as an appropriate alternative for you:
121485

Peter Lewin
8-Sep-2014, 09:48
Alan Gales , I have no idea about cameras. I am not a photographer and do not know anything about photography. I just wanted to know about light weight camera which can be used easily with good result. I want to use this camera during my tours to take some photographs. what do you think Tachihara will be suitable for me.
Roufi: Since you say you are not a photographer and do not know anything about cameras or photography, I think a view camera (which is the subject of this entire forum) is not what you should be looking at. Especially if you are taking a tour with other people. View cameras, which need tripods (I am ignoring press cameras and Linhofs for the moment) use sheet film, and are best used in a slow and methodical manner. On a group tour, for an absolute beginner and with a requirement to keep up with the group, you are much better off with any of the digital hand held cameras on the market. I can't even make a specific camera recommendation, because the cameras which appeal to me are expensive, and largely aimed at a much more experienced user group. I would not even recommend a film 35mm camera, since unless you can process your own film (which most members of the forum do) it is getting more and more difficult to find places to do the processing, and ultimately it is more expensive than digital. Hopefully some other members could suggest other photography forums which are more appropriate for you.

stefn
13-Sep-2014, 15:16
If everything is perfect then that would be a fair price. 90mm Angulons are going for higher prices now, around 170 upwards, probably to do with Travelwide camera sales, or HolgAgon hacking. The 150 Symmar is really 2 lenses in 1 as it is a convertible giving 150mm with both lens elements and 265mm with one element, that has to be worth 100 to 150 if not damaged. The long extending bed and bellows makes using the long lens a doddle. The film holders if in good order are worth at least a tenner each. So if the camera is worth 250 you are 15 in front... These old lenses are not to be underestimated if in good order, they produce very good results. If you are happy with the condition of everything then you would not be getting ripped off.

RR

So I finally went and plumped for the MK Vii - a new adventure to familiarise myself with all the extra workings of an LF camera! One thing is confusing me though: should the 90mm lens only run on the rear track (closest to the film plane) as opposed to the 150mm which appears to have a notch for the rangefinder cam along the other track? The reason I'm asking is because the focus scale along the bed for a 90mm lens is actually further away from the film plane than for the 150mm, and yet the bed should be dropped for WA.

NB: I've only practiced focusing in the house with the 150mm so far, using an 80mm enlarger lens as a makeshift loupe. I'll go on a field excursion tomorrow with the 90mm after some more practice.

I tried to do some research on this and could only find reports of WA lenses 'wobbling' when extended on the focus track. I did kind of replicate this when pulling the standard out with the bed dropped, at which point of couse the lens became uncoupled from the track; I'm sure this is not what was meant though...

Regular Rod
13-Sep-2014, 17:56
So I finally went and plumped for the MK Vii - a new adventure to familiarise myself with all the extra workings of an LF camera! One thing is confusing me though: should the 90mm lens only run on the rear track (closest to the film plane) as opposed to the 150mm which appears to have a notch for the rangefinder cam along the other track? The reason I'm asking is because the focus scale along the bed for a 90mm lens is actually further away from the film plane than for the 150mm, and yet the bed should be dropped for WA.

NB: I've only practiced focusing in the house with the 150mm so far, using an 80mm enlarger lens as a makeshift loupe. I'll go on a field excursion tomorrow with the 90mm after some more practice.

I tried to do some research on this and could only find reports of WA lenses 'wobbling' when extended on the focus track. I did kind of replicate this when pulling the standard out with the bed dropped, at which point of couse the lens became uncoupled from the track; I'm sure this is not what was meant though...

The 90mm lens is used with the rear track only (inside the main housing). You drop the front track out of the way to stop it obscuring the view. You will find it all works very well. The 150 is really the standard lens and if it is a Symmar you've got two lenses in one. This is used with the front track up level with the rear track. I don't use a loupe. I bought some cheap +5.5 "reading" glasses from eBay and wear those under the dark cloth. You can see the whole image right into the corners easily, even with the iris stopped right down and the magnification is enough to let you focus just as well as with a loupe. 4x5 and a loupe is painful, there is so little room. When you are working you may find it more convenient to remove the cover that opens up to make a light shield around the ground glass. It gets in the way, so I unclip it once the camera is safely on the tripod and replace it closed just before taking the camera off the tripod as it is a first class ground glass protector. If you use the 90 mm lens, connect the cable release before you attach the lens and panel to the camera and check it is working cleanly before the real exposure(s).

Enjoy yourself!
;)
RR