View Full Version : 5x7 cameras with 5x4 backs

John Brewer
13-Mar-2005, 05:44

I'm looking to buy a 5x7 camera that will take a 5x4 back as well, but it needs to be cheap! What cameras are available on the second hand market? What sort of money am I looking to pay? Monorail or flatbed will do, it will be used mostly indoors for alt process. I saw a Burke and James 5x7 Saturn 75 for under US$200 on Ebay, is this a good price for this type of camera?



John Kasaian
13-Mar-2005, 07:42

I don't knbow about the B&J monos., but I think the gray painted wooden flat bed models will take a 5x7 back.Anscos are pretty reasonable---$100-$300 but condition is an important factor. If you have to replace the bellows and/or buy backs you can easily double or triple the cost.

Eric Woodbury
13-Mar-2005, 11:24

It's because 5x7 is the greatest format.

Kevin Crisp
13-Mar-2005, 11:38
John: With the "cheap" qualification, Burke & James and Ansco come to mind. I've owned both and the Ansco is a much better camera, with a built in rear extension. The front of the Ansco can be easily modified to give you swings. If you shop around you can probably find one of the later ones with two backs in the $350 or less range. The B&J's I've had suffer from sag in the middle at the hinge, with shims that can almost be remedied. They have every movement known to man or woman but they aren't the most rigid things. And Eric is right, it is a great format.

John Brewer
13-Mar-2005, 11:46
Are us Brits the only ones to call 5x4 cameras 5x4? I see the Germans call 5x4 cameras 4x5.
What about 645? 456 anyone :)

I like 5x7 for contact printing and 5x4 for enlarging. Having a camera that does 5x7 and 5x4 means one less camera in the house which is why I asked the question.

I take your point with condition John.


Emmanuel BIGLER
13-Mar-2005, 13:04
Two French friends of mine have found in France very affordable 5"x7" / 13x18 cm monorail cameras on the second hand market ; one is an old Arca Swiss 13x18 monorail (older than the current F-line, rails are compatible however) the other is a Plaubel monorail. Both were less than 300 euros and both can take a reducing back for 9x12-4"x5". 13x18cm was a favourite format for studio work in in Western Europe until 1960. 13x18 and 5"x7" holders are slightly different inside by one or two millimetres but outside dimensions and position of the film w/respect to the camera are absolutely identical and defined by the same standard. Same applies to 9x12 an 4"x5", so reducing backs are identical for both the metric and inch format. With older cameras the only problem can be to find additional lensboards. The friend who uses the Plaubel has machined his own adaptor to 96x99mm Linhof Technika boards so he does not need to chase for a Plaubel board on the used market. Used Arca Swiss boards older style are the same for all films sizes from 4"x5" to 8"x10" and they are easy to machine if necessary.
So consider either a 5"x7" or a 13x18.

MIke Sherck
13-Mar-2005, 13:14
Both Ansco 5x7 and B&J 5x7 are fairly common used and either will make a decent field camera. While there are both Ansco and B&J 4x5 only cameras, most of them will take either the 4x5 or 5x7 back. I've owned both; I currently use a 5x7 B&J with both backs and do exactly what you're contemplating: contact print 5x7 and enlarge 4x5, mostly because I got a 4x5 enlarger cheap. :)

Although B&J cameras have the reputation as being "floppier" than Ansco, keep in mind that this is a case of "average." In other words, the "average" Ansco you will find will probably be a bit tighter than the "average" B&J. Me, I'm always out on the edge of the curve, for some reason: my B&J is in much better condition than my Ansco was in, even though cosmetically my Ansco was pretty sharp. As my own personal preference, I prefer my B&J: your mileage may vary! Either way, you should be able to get a functional 5x7/4x5 camera for $300 or so, less if you shop carefully. I got both of mine for $150 each, including lens, but that was a while ago and prices have crept up over the years. Truely, large format photography is growing!

Emmanuel BIGLER
13-Mar-2005, 15:11
What about 645? 456 anyone :)
Yes of course in France we call this format : 4-1/2 x 6 i.e. litterally 4.5-6 ;-)
Never seen any '645' on this side of the Channel, where did you see that ? ;-)

John Brewer
14-Mar-2005, 11:54
Emmanuel, thanks for the tip, i'll look on ebay.fe postage costs will also more favourable than ebay.com too.

BTW Emmanuel you owe me a new keyboard ;) I had a mouthful of Chardonnay when I read your 645 comment!

Looking at Ansco and B & J cameras they seem to be painted a drab grey which is rather sad. If I do get one i'll remove the paint and stain the wood. To finish of I might even replace the nameplate with Deardoff. :)


Kevin Crisp
14-Mar-2005, 12:03
John: The majority of Ansco's I see on the market are actually stained wood, not grey paint. I think that means they are the older ones. I haven't used the older ones, I'm not sure what front tilt they have, if any. The "newer" ones have axis tilts and geared front rise/fall. The Ansco is a very usable camera, the only drawback I found was size (but it wasn't that bad with the bed tucked up) and weight. If the weight isn't an issue for you, it will do everything you want a viewcamera to do.

14-Mar-2005, 12:21
The grey painted Ansco's are the better model. At least that's my understanding. The non-painted camera was a cheaper model. The 5x7 ansco is fine if you don't mind it can't go wider then 120mm or so.