View Full Version : Camera packages with all accessories sold new?

21-Apr-2005, 16:05
I'm looking to get my first 4x5, and was wondering if any companies are selling new "packages" for field cameras that would include camera, lensboards, lens (or discounted options), film holders, polaroid back, lightmeter,etc...

Or should I just take my chances on ebay since (I'm not excactly sure what goes with what, but i could probably learn) and buy used?

Eric Biggerstaff
21-Apr-2005, 16:21

B&H Photo sells some packages. They have a Toyo CF 4X5 with either a 150mm lens (part number 180112 at $1,069.00) or a 210mm lens (part number 180113 at $1,209). This is a fine "starter" set that would last a long time.

eBay is a great place to shop if you have an idea what you are looking for and may be able to get more for less. You don't need a lot to get going and this site has articles about getting going in large format. Also, the View Camera magazine site has an article that might be useful reading.

Remember to keep it simple. A camera, one lens, a couple of holders (or a Polaroid 545i holder that can take Polaroid, Kodak and Fuji quick loads might be a good option), a meter, tripod and head. Shop around on eBay as this might be able to save you some money.

Hope this helps.


Juergen Sattler
21-Apr-2005, 16:23
The biggest mistake you could make is buy a new complete outfit. LF is not like 35mm or even MF. Do you know what you want/need? Mono rail, Wooden Field, Metal Field, Folding, not folding, exchangeable bellows, what will be your longest lens you would want to use - what's the shortest? Are you sure you will like the slow nature of LF? Are you ready for all the frustrating mistakes one encounters with LF?

What I am trying to say is that you should start with a budget sized outfit - buy used and buy only what you absolutely need to begin with. The first camera (and the 2nd and the 3rd and....) will not be the perfect camera for you - you will have to go through some iterations to find the "right" camera for you. Buy one used lens, a couple of film holders and a darkcloth and a loupe and go shoot some pictures and see if you even like it. Then once you figured out what you like and dislike about your camera, start looking for that "right" euqipment for you.

Good Luck

Steve Hamley
21-Apr-2005, 17:02
IIRC, Badger Graphic sells a Shen Hao or Tachihara with a 150mm lens (could substitute a 135mm I think), a darkcloth, couple of film holders and maybe a cable release. If you want an entry field camera, it's a nice way to get started. Give Jeff Taugner a call.


Darren Kilgore
21-Apr-2005, 17:10
I recently did just the total opposite Juergen suggested, and I would hardly call it a mistake. Considering I had done sufficient research prior to all of my purchases, and have a more than a number of local friends who shoot 4x5 and are tremendous resources, I went in head-first knowing that I would enjoy this format and that it would be a good match. I did not get budget stuff that may need to be replaced later. I dropped a decent amount of coin for stuff that is good quality that will not need to be replaced later. I am, and will be happy, and am set for years to come. That is not to say I still won't add to my gear, of course, but my main items are set. They were not impulse decisions which will only work on a tempory basis. Perhaps I am the exception, but there is always more than one correct way to do things.

Good luck in your journey, Carl.

21-Apr-2005, 17:28
I'm with Juergen. It's so hard to know what you like until you've lived with the things. We're all different and we all like different things. Buying something cheap amounts to research. Today a cheap used 4x5 costs little more then a couple of books. Plus the cheaper cameras can often be resold for basically the same money it was bought for. The other stuff can be kept for the next camera.

Gem Singer
21-Apr-2005, 19:47
Hi Carl,

A call to Jim, at Midwest Photo Exchange (www.mpex.com) will probably prove to be your best option. Tell him you were referred by this forum. He can package a camera, lens, tripod, film holders (with film), focusing loupe, darkcloth, and light meter, and anything else you will need to get started in large format. Jim sells new and previously owned equipment in like new condition. I assure you, the call will be worth your while.

tim o'brien
21-Apr-2005, 19:51
I'm sorta with Juergen. I am still working on my first 4x5, a Speed Graphic. 18 years now. No, it's not for everyone, but it takes the pictures I want it to. I have it combined with a fujinon 150/6.3 bought secondhand and can't find any reason to spend more money on something fancy.

I thinks you should see if you like it. LF isn't for everyone. Heck it isn't even for me all the time. Many times I just say "I'll take the Novar(or fill in my MF equipment of pleasure for the day)" and I am off to explore with something relatively light, easy to use, and almost thoughtless. Other times I feel the urge to put the Speed and all accessories in a backpack and do some hiking with a tripod over my shoulder.

Go cheep.

tim in san jose

John Berry ( Roadkill )
21-Apr-2005, 22:43
First off I buy used, 90% or better in condition. I like the fuji glass. great stuff, good price. All the other glass recomended here will do. Leave the dirt lenses where they are, in the dirt. I do landscapes so If I only had one lens it would be my 135 wide field ektar. never had much use for standard 150mm focal length, it was always to long or too short. I second or third or however far down the line it is to call jim at midwest. He will set you up with YOUR kit not the one someone wants to sell. You might as well talk to him about the darkroom part of it too, unless all you are going to shoot is E-6. John

Scott Rosenberg
22-Apr-2005, 00:25

i would advise you strongly against ebay. unless you really know what you're looking at, you may end up paying more than you would have from agood used dealer. do yourself a HUGE favor, and call jim at midwest photo. explain to him what you want from the camera and what you're going to be doing with the camera and he'll put together a great outfit that will meets you specific needs. since he deals in just about every camera made, he's not going to be limited to what he has on the shelf. you can not go wrong by dealing with jim. call midwest, settle into a comfy chair, and hold in jim's call queue... i assure you, you'll be glad you did.

Gene Crumpler
22-Apr-2005, 10:21
Scott has a point. I got a mint - Toyo CF with the 150 rodenstock starter lens from KEH for less than the e-bay price. The CF seems to be hot on e-bay right now(15-20 bids), so based on the last two auctions I can sell it for about $50 more than I paid KEH!

The CF is a great starter camera, all it really lacks is back movements. It only weights 3+ lbs, which is a plus for an older photographer. I was initially put off by the carbon fiber construction and the lack of back movements, but I attended a workshop (Sexton's) with a professor of photography last fall and he told me his department had purchased 6 of the CF's for student use and the first year's experience with the CF had been excellent.

I just started in LF about 3 months ago and I tried to keep the up front cost down. I have all I need including a Omega D enlarger and prinstine 135 el-nikkor. So far I have less than $1,000 invested. It just took some time and a bit of shopping to do this. The one thing I already have is a professional Bogen tripod, so no cost there. In fact it may be a bit of over kill for the light CF camera!

Gene Crumpler
22-Apr-2005, 10:33
Also the all black construction makes it a sexy camera, if you are into that sort of thing! No old fashioned chrome like the graphics! I wear two flashy Rolex watches (not at the same time) so I'm into that sort of thing!

Brian Ellis
22-Apr-2005, 12:11
"All it lacks is back movements."

That's a pretty big lack I think. One of the most basic of large format practices is tilting the camera up to get the top of a building or the top of a tree or whatever in the picture and then tilting the back to bring it parallel with the building, tree, etc. (i.e. avoiding the "keystoning" or "falling over backwards" effect seen whenever a fixed back camera is pointed up). Maybe for someone who does only landscapes or only portraits the lack of back movements isn't a big deal but if you plan to photograph buidlings or products or almost anything where you'll need to point the camera up (or down), the lack of back tilt is a real disadvantage IMHO.

Gene Crumpler
22-Apr-2005, 17:51

I am an engineer (retired) and I've already figured out a work around for back tilt. I also have 25 other cameras to do a lot of stuff. I plan to do only landscapes with the 4x5. I have a couple of Pentax 67's, hasselblad, mamiya, nikon, contax, 2-rollies, 2x3 field camera, some folders, digital, ad nausem!

When I shoot buildings, I use the 55mm on my Pentax and back up a few feet. My situation is I'm a fanatic for sharpness, have used 4x5 a lot in the distance past, and I only shoot for my own pleasure.

If I want a better camera, I have enough money to buy about 300-400 new Linholf' 2000's.

Gene Crumpler
22-Apr-2005, 17:58
I almost forgot, check my web site at http://genecrumpler.home.att.net

Scott Rosenberg
23-Apr-2005, 01:24
25 cameras... e-gads! i hope when i'm a retired engineer i can afford 25 cameras! gene, i may need to contact you for some career advice!!

Gene Crumpler
25-Apr-2005, 19:32

You need to be looking for the 400 linhof's($2 million) to retire comfortably.

The 25 cameras include my collection of older cameras that I don't use. The 25 also includes 3-4 P&S cameras. The cameras that I use are 2 pentax 67's, hasselblad, CF toyo, and kodak digital. I recently sold my Contax G-1 and wonderful Zeiss lenses on e-Bay. I have stopped using 35mm altogether.