View Full Version : Large Format Camera suggestions:?

19-Sep-2017, 00:29
Hyundai's i30 CRDi is cheap and new, but how does it compare to the benchmarks? Bruce Newton reports. THE perception that turbo-diesel passenger cars are expensive and the preserve of a few technically adept European brands is under attack. And as compression ignition sales grow, it's no surprise that aggressive Korean manufacturer Hyundai is leading the assault. The evidence is the i30 CRDi, a stylish (albeit derivative) small car that is well equipped, space-efficient and part of a model line-up selling well in Australia's most popular segment.
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That the CRDi is also extremely keenly priced is a given, but perhaps not the only reason to buy. Hyundai has recently added an automatic transmission option to the CRDi, so its appeal has surely grown significantly among its predominantly urban audience. To test the i30's competitiveness we've lined up two well-credentialled European opponents. The Ford Focus TDCi is a relative newcomer to our shores but it has a strong pedigree and keen pricing. And the Volkswagen Golf is widely regarded as the car that made turbo-diesel cool for small cars when the fifth generation was launched here in 2004 with a choice of two oil-burning engines. Its higher pricing reflects its more prestigious positioning. While these three cars have much in common - front-wheel-drive, independent suspension, four-cylinder engines between 1.6 and 2.0 litres and five-door hatchback bodies - we have added a transmission twist.

Up against the i30's traditional torque converter, a four-speed auto, we've pitched the Golf fitted with a Direct Shift Gearbox, dual-clutch automated-manual and the Focus with a six-speed manual - the only gearbox it has. HYUNDAI i30 SX CRDi There's been plenty of references to the i30's derivative external styling since it was launched. Plenty of BMW 1-Series, some Mazda3 and a splash of Holden Astra are all evident. Despite this potpourri, the result is quite pleasant. However, the i30's 1.6-litre engine is all Hyundai's own work, and it's a mighty impressive effort. Although punching above its capacity against these two, it feels competitive in terms of smoothness and response. It is the quietest and also spins out further, revving beyond 4000 rpm before signing off. The optional automatic four-speed adds to the car's appeal.

While fuel use is higher than the manual, we still managed 6.5 L/100 km against a claimed 6.0 L/100 km. And while it needs more ratios to provide seamless progress, the auto certainly makes navigating the suburbs an easier process. As does the tight 10.34-metre turning circle and finger-light steering. But that's about it for i30 dynamic highlights. The electric-assist rack and pinion system lacks consistent weighting and becomes lumpy and heavy when cornering above suburban pace. That's not helped by a skatey front-end that battles with slippery tyres. The ride manages to be both sloppy and jolting at the same time, lacking the subtlety of damper and spring tuning to match its European opponents.

That's bad news for the passengers, who otherwise have much to appreciate in the cabin. It's noticeably quieter than the Focus and outdoes the Golf in some speed ranges. It's also ahead of the Ford for rear-seat space and interior ambience. Around the cockpit, the i30 has a modern look and feel. There has been particular effort paid to the damping of lids, nothing is too "parts bin" and much of it is bolted together well. The Focus' boot is bigger, but the i30 still impresses for its size, securing hooks, hidey-holes and the way the rear seat split-folds as the flattest of these three. And, of course, there's the pricing. At $21,490 the SX is the base-model i30 CRDi and comes with dual airbags, ABS with EBD, air-conditioning, remote central locking, power windows and single-CD audio.
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It's the only car here with a full-sized spare wheel and USB input. Add our test car's auto ($2000) and the Protectz safety pack ($1790), comprising stability and traction control, side and curtain airbags, and that price climbs to $25,280. Still mighty tempting. FORD FOCUS TDCi The Focus TDCi is a true international. Designed in Germany and built in South Africa, it is powered by an engine that is a co-development between Ford, Peugeot and Citroen. With 100 kW and 320 Nm ( an extra 20 Nm kicks in under hard acceleration), this double-overhead-camshaft, 16-valve four-cylinder is the performance leader among these three.

It clatters a bit from idle, but is smooth and progressive through its substantial mid-range before getting tighter and noisier beyond 4000 rpm. The TDCi will be scratched from some shopping lists because it does not have an auto option. But with all that torque, turbo-diesels drive differently to petrol engines, requiring much less gear shifting, and this six-speed has a pleasant action and agreeable clutch. The manual transmission also helps produce some mighty impressive fuel use figures - try 6.05 L/100 km against an official claim of 5.6 L/100 km during our test that included everything from inner-city parking lots to freeways.

The Focus is competent and comfortable. Ride quality is the most consistent of these three, able to absorb the constant small jostles of city roads equally as well as freeway joins, potholes and the broken edges of country roads. The extra weight of the diesel engine reduces steering crispness compared with the petrol-engined Focus. However, it's still reassuring on the open road and easy to manoeuvre in town. But too much tyre and road noise invades the cabin, the rear-seat squab is angled uncomfortably upwards and there should be more knee room. Up front, the presentation is downmarket and the build quality only average.

But the front seats are well sized and shaped, and this is the only car of the three with cruise control as standard. The Focus is otherwise not overwhelmed with gear. For $27,990, the basics are there but the added surety of stability control and curtain airbags costs $1300 for a safety pack that also includes brake assist and traction control. VW GOLF TRENDLINE 1.9 TDI Just after we conducted this test, Volkswagen replaced the Trendline with a model called the Edition. Important additions include stability control, brake assist, alloy wheels, a multifunction leather steering wheel, trip computer and height and lumbar adjustment of the driver's seat.

That's an impressive list that tops up dual front, side and curtain airbags, ABS with EBD, traction control, remote central locking, fog lights, power windows and single-CD audio. It all comes for no price increase. So our DSG 1.9-litre Trendline's $30,290 recommended price remains accurate, as does the fundamental mechanical package. The South African-built Golf is a solid car to drive. It sits on the road with authority, sacrificing a little initial compliance for confidence-inspiring overall comfort and control. It is also a tidy handler with plenty of grip. It is way ahead of the Hyundai and better balanced than the Focus. The Golf looks after its passengers in other ways.

The seats are firm but comfortable for the long haul. Like the i30 and Focus, the driver has reach and rake-adjustable steering, as well as a large left footrest and clean, legible and conservative instrumentation. Despite the shortest wheelbase, the Golf offers the most knee room. It's also the only car where rear passengers get cupholders and controllable air-conditioning vents. The TDI has the oldest engine here and it's the least impressive in specification and outputs. Yet the single-overhead-camshaft, eight-valve engine is still a solid performer, showing its age more through a clattery soundtrack than disappointing performance. Its competitiveness is in part due to the sophistication of the DSG gearbox. Shifting manually without a clutch pedal, VW claims it delivers manual economy with the convenience of an auto. We achieved a 7.1 L/100 km average against a 5.8 L/100 km claim.

The DSG shifts more distinctly than the Hyundai in auto mode and the extra ratios help it exploit the engine efficiently. Its manual shifts are scintillatingly quick. VERDICT One thing this comparison didn't do was convince us that turbo-diesel is a must-have in the small-car class. If high mileage is a factor, then it becomes more appealing. Hit the calculator and figure it out, but in most cases the orthodox petrol-engined version will still be more cost-effective. But we were still impressed by the obvious improvements and refinement of turbo-diesel passenger cars showcased. And as the test went on, the more one car stood out. It wasn't the i30, even if it is Hyundai's best effort yet.

The engine is world-class, the build quality good, the space efficiency of the design impressive and the pricing - as always - unbeatable. But the dynamics are flawed. A set of grippier tyres is needed, as is the Protectz safety pack. You will feel better about having your nearest and dearest in this car if you spend the extra dollars. The Focus also doesn't get top marks, either. The engine is strong and obviously economical, the ride comfort a great compromise and the boot the biggest here. But the Focus is noisy, no auto option is a big issue (one that should be rectified when the facelifted Focus arrives in early 2009) and the build quality and presentation inside are lacking.
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So that leaves the Golf. It's not perfect, of course, and the engine's lack of sophistication will put off some people, as might the Teutonic interior presentation and the most expensive price. Even with an all-new Golf VI due here mid-2009, Golf V is not really ageing. It has a convincing combination of technical smarts, packaging efficiency and - with the arrival of the Edition model - a terrific equipment level. HYUNDAI I30 CRDI Price (as tested): $25,280 Engine: 1.6-litre, 85 kW/255 Nm Transmission: Four-speed automatic Safety: Dual airbags, ABS, four-star NCAP crash rating (test car added $1790 Protectz Pack, including ESP, TCS, front-side and curtain airbags) Fuel use: 6.0 L/100 km (6.5 L on test), 159 g CO2/km (176 g) Our rating: 3/5.5 Ford Focus TDCi Price (as tested): $29,950 Engine: 2.0-litre, 100 kW/320 Nm Transmission: Six-speed manual Safety: Four airbags, ABS, five-star NCAP crash rating (test car added $1300 safety pack, including ESP, TCS, brake assist and curtain airbags) Fuel use: 5.6 L/100 km (6.1 L on test), 148 g CO2/km (163 g) Our rating: 3/5.5 VW Golf TDIPrice (as tested): $30,290 Engine: 1.9-litre, 77 kW/250 Nm Transmission: Six-speed automated-manual Safety: Six airbags, ABS, five-star NCAP crash rating Fuel use: 5.8 L/100 km (7.1 L on test), 157 g CO2/km (192 g) Our rating: ⅘

Alan Gales
19-Sep-2017, 02:04
Don't worry about buying the "perfect" camera. After shooting for a while you will learn what you like and dislike in a camera. What is perfect for one person is not for another. Most of us (including me) did not keep our first camera. Also you may find sheet film isn't for you so it's a good idea to start cheap so if you decide to sell you won't lose a bunch of money.

How about an Intrepid 4x5? It's an inexpensive way to get your feet wet.


Welcome to the forum!

jose angel
19-Sep-2017, 05:14
I'm still in the process of my research stage. However, there aren't any places around me where I can look and learn about it.
and specially,
Check the secondhand market; craigslist, eBay, etc. Alan suggestion seem right to me, too.

Peter Collins
19-Sep-2017, 12:31
I just saw this up for sale here on the forum. Use link below. I owned one, and I should not have sold it! Beautiful wood, beautiful metal. Light. Folds up. I don't think you can go wrong--it's a 'keeper.' But it is not the cheapest camera for getting into 4x5.


John Kasaian
19-Sep-2017, 14:40
I'll suggest picking up a copy of Steve Simmons Using The View Camera before spending serious $$. For specific cameras and lenses check The LF Homepage on the blue banner at the top of this page for links to articles, reviews and performance data.
After 30 days you can access the FS forum here, which will surely have the gear you're looking for. Also Keh Camera is a good source with excellent (I think) prices.

Another good book to whet your appetite is Ansel Adams The Making of 40 Photographs, especially if you enjoy B&W mountain landscapes.
Have FUN!

19-Sep-2017, 14:56
Welcome to the Club.

You will get a million opinions, but it all depends on your situation. Some will say get the cheapest and then move "UP" if you want. Some will say get the best (AKA most expensive) and you won't be disappointed. I say, get the most knowledgeable.

There are a TON of new and used large format cameras out there -- using different formats, options, accessories, features, etc. You can buy today, or you can do some research into what you want and what is available. You can spend as little or as much time as you want -- and have -- on research, but it pays off.

Much comes down to how much time you have for research, and how much money you have in your pocket. My advise? Don't believe anyone that says "this is the camera (or lens(s) -- that's another matter) that's best for you.

Tim Meisburger
19-Sep-2017, 15:38
Ya. I agree with that. For buying stuff, after a month you will have access to the forum classifieds (there is a one month waiting period to discourage spammers), but I would say ebay is your friend for most of the stuff you will need. You can buy new or used, but I think you should get a field camera, not a monorail or press camera. A field camera is a generalist, and will do all you want to do; while the others are specialists, perfect for their job, but not as versatile in other areas.

If you want to try some cameras, ask around on the forum, as their are surely a few LFers near where you live that are always happy to share with a fellow enthusiast. Good light!

19-Sep-2017, 15:44
In my humble opinion, a good entry into large format is to choose the least expensive camera you can find that uses conventional LF film. Do that. (That means forget the Soviet/Russian stuff.)

By least expensive I do not mean you should buy some flea-bag piece of s**** with a leaky bellows and a fogged lens. We can help you determine those.

My point is that with minimal expense at the start you can get the sense of LF and decide for yourself if spending more is really worthwhile. Often it is not.

John Kasaian
19-Sep-2017, 20:44
With second hand cameras, it comes down to condition. Either a Ford or a Chevy will get you where you want to go, however a Ford or Chevy with a leaky radiator, shot brakes or a bad clutch will only cause fru$tration and will take you nowhere but the poor house.
There are no perfect cameras and if they were they'd cost a King's ransom.
There have been posters here who spend all their time on researching first camera.
I'll argue that you'll get farther, faster getting just about any LF camera that's in good condition and getting out there and shooting film.
You won't really know what you want (or more accurately what you need) in a field camera until you've spent time playing with one.
My 2-centavos anyway.
No print ever knew the name of the company on that little plate that came with the camera.

19-Sep-2017, 21:13
The logical thing would be to sign-up for a photo course that includes LF cameras, and darkroom access... You would be able use the cameras, all the other accessories, and a place to process & print... You would learn many things, have help answering you questions, and someone to show-as-you-go the things that come up at the moment...

Beyond the camera & lens, there are other needed things, such as stronger tripod, film holders, film, focusing cloth, loupe, exposure meter, smaller stuff like cable release, lens hood, changing bag, empty film boxes, maybe filters, etc and if you process and print the film, a darkroom set-up is used to make the images real... More and less expensive, but it might take time to gather what you would need... But a fairly well set up community college or private instruction program should have what you need to get your wheels turning... So some kind of program would be a wise first step...

So get started, and you can also ask any question here...

Good Luck!!!

Steve K

19-Sep-2017, 21:29
However, there aren't any places around me where I can look and learn about it.
Where are you located?

- Leigh

David Karp
19-Sep-2017, 21:31
You will get lots of advice here, that is for sure. I get that you want a camera that folds into a box. That makes sense. That desire may change over time, but it is a reasonable path to take.

I recently purchased a Wista VX that folds into a box. I really like it. It has lots of movements. An older Wista DX has fewer movements and is available for less $. Toyo 45A, AII, and AX are also options. Horseman also made similar cameras, but I am not very familiar with them. Older press type cameras like the Crown Graphic and Speed Graphic are good options at lower prices, but they offer fewer movements. If you don't want to use extensive camera movements, a good Crown Graphic is an excellent option. These cameras generally allow you to use a 300mm lens max, and that only at infinity. If you want to focus closer, 240mm is about as long as you can go. (I believe that the Horseman cameras of this type had even shorter bellows than the others I mentioned. Others can confirm.)

All that being said, I am glad I started with an inexpensive monorail. It helped me to learn how to use all of the available movements and figure out what type of camera(s) I wanted in the long run.

20-Sep-2017, 01:57
You can use the GRAFLEX Super Graphic 4x5 Camera with Graflex Optar 135mm Lens and Flash Arm which is very useful for large format camera.

20-Sep-2017, 05:35
Whatever you buy, you will likely replace it within a year, so don't by something that you can't resell ( and don't pay stupid money), or something with low demand. I'd stick to a wooden folder like Wista, Tachihara, or Zone VI or the like. Plentiful, cheap and resellable. You can go with Intrepid if you want new, but the resale price will likely be less than what you pay. The lenses you're more likely to want to keep, so buy them in recent Copal shutters.

Bruce Barlow
20-Sep-2017, 06:37
In 1984, I bought a Wista DX as my introduction to LF. Figured I'd replace it with something better after I learned.

I recently replaced the bellows on it. I never replaced the camera. It does everything I want to do.

I have added to it with 8x10s and a 5x7, but they don't replace my go-to Wista.

Take the plunge.

20-Sep-2017, 06:47
Whatever you buy, you will replace it within a year.

I guess I'm an exception to your "rule". I bought my first 4x5 over 35 years ago -- a TOKO NIKKI II -- without ever seeing or using a 4x5 before. I did a lot of research first -- well before the days of the Internet -- and it paid off. I liked my first TOKO camera so much, I later bought another -- a TOKO FL-452.


20-Sep-2017, 09:48
I guess I'm an exception to your "rule". I bought my first 4x5 over 35 years ago -- a TOKO NIKKI II -- without ever seeing or using a 4x5 before. I did a lot of research first -- well before the days of the Internet -- and it paid off. I liked my first TOKO camera so much, I later bought another -- a TOKO FL-452.

Wonderful! To the OP, there you have it, an unsolicited testimonial to buy a Toko (Nagaoka) which you'll likely keep for 35 years! I too have cameras I bought 40 years ago (Deardorffs) but they weren't my first LF cameras.

20-Sep-2017, 10:11
Wonderful! To the OP, there you have it, an unsolicited testimonial to buy a Toko (Nagaoka)

First, Nagaoka made a very FEW late model TOKO cameras, but not many.

Second, I was not suggesting to anyone to buy a TOKO. You have to figure out for yourself why you read that into what I wrote. My point was, and still is, to do some research on what is available before you put down your cash -- whether hard earned or not. That way, you are less likely to go through the trouble of needing a replacement.

I also wrote on this thread:

"Much comes down to how much time you have for research, and how much money you have in your pocket. My advise? Don't believe anyone that says "this is the camera (or lens(s) -- that's another matter) that's best for you."

which you intentionally (?) neglected to mention.

DG 3313
20-Sep-2017, 19:07
I'd start with a press camera and a good lens. I did with a Bush press camera and after a short time sold it. I got it back a few decades later and made it my travel camera. I put a Fuji 125mm lens on it and love them together. Sometimes simple is better.

Jim Andrada
20-Sep-2017, 22:26
Super graphic would be my suggestion. Not too expensive, reasonably light weight, generally nice cameras. The Super has front tilt, which is something you will want.

21-Sep-2017, 07:11
Here is an INCOMPLETE page with a table listing MOST of the FOLDING WOODEN 4X5 FIELD cameras -- current and past.


Although it is not finished, it has many of the features of these cameras for easy comparison. It is useful to understand what features to look for in a camera, as well as, what cameras have been and are being made.

There are many other 4x5 cameras that are NOT folding, or NOT wooden, or BOTH, which of course, are not listed on this table.

Tim Meisburger
21-Sep-2017, 18:11
I think you lost the OP long ago...

john borrelli
21-Sep-2017, 18:47
Also consider your favorite lens focal lengths and see if a particular camera you are interested in will be able to handle those focal lengths. If you are OK with using only "normal" focal length lenses to start then itís not as much of an issue. However, some people have a favorite focal length equivalent to a 20mm lens on a full frame or 35mm film camera, others may like longer lenses like the equivalent of a 100mm lens in 35mm film terms. The more "extreme" kinds of focal length lenses will work best with particular cameras. All the best, John

21-Sep-2017, 19:12
I think you lost the OP long ago...

+1, no sign of him!

Jim Andrada
22-Sep-2017, 08:52
+2 re missing OP