View Full Version : Purchase of camera

Tom Arnhold
27-Sep-2005, 15:51
I want to purchase a camera and I am just starting out. What lens or camera does anyone recomend? I have heard of several inexpensive, but good chinese cameras.

Ted Harris
27-Sep-2005, 16:30
A great place to start is by reading the information on this website .... you can click on the link at the top of this page or just go to http://www.largeformatphotography.info/

steve simmons
27-Sep-2005, 17:03
You might want to do some reading

Getting Started in Large Format

that is on our web site


in the Free Articles section

There is also a lens comparison chart to help you find lenses equivilent in focal length in lf to what you have in smaller cameras. There will not be an exact match because of the formats are a little different in proportions but the chart will be close

and/or the following books

Using the View Camera that I wrote

User's Guide to the View Camera by Jim Stone

when people make suggestions for cameras ask them the following

what do they photograph

what range of lenses do they use

this will help provide a context for their advice.

Feel free to write with any questions

steve simmons

Frank Petronio
27-Sep-2005, 19:48
Ask Rosanne

John Kasaian
27-Sep-2005, 22:48
I'd also recommend Steve Simmon's excellent book "Using The View Camera" as a good place to start. I found it a valuable resource.

4x5 is probably the most practical format to start out with. Once you have an idea of what kind of photography you want to shoot (landscapes, portraits, handheld etc..) you'll have a better idea what you think you'll want.

OTOH if you just want to go out and play for very little coin, a good Crown Graphic, a few holders, a set of trays and a box of Arista.edu will get you there pronto.

Good luck!

Kirk Fry
28-Sep-2005, 01:24

After you read the recommended books above and not before, buy a CC400 or 410 Calumet 4X5 camera on Ebay for about $100-150. Try to get a good one, most are, they are built like main battle tanks. The black ones are newer but it won't matter much. Then you will need a tripod, light meter, black cloth, 5 film holders and a loupe (essential) and you can go at it. Oh and a lens, (start with a 210mm or 150mm). Go shoot film and make mistakes, it takes awhile to get it down. If you do black and white film you can develope the film in 5X7 trays. Start with TMX100 film and HC110. (Not everyone's choice, you can change after you get into it.)

After you go through about 100 sheets of film or so you will know what you are doing and can then sell the Calumet (or not) and get what you really want. The Calumet is a real view camera, the Graphics are, well, Press Cameras.

Good luck.

Mike Kovacs
28-Sep-2005, 08:43
I think you have some good advice. I have a Calumet CC400 and while its a heavy and awkward beast to use in the field, I can live with it for the price. I've so far a convertible Schneider Symmar 1505.6 lens (converts to a 265/12) and a Fujinon-SW 90/8 lens for the wide angle. Will add a dedicated 240-300 range long lens when I have the dollars free. Also consider the light meter - I have a nice incident meter I use with all my other cameras but I'd like a nice spot meter for the 4x5 now, and they aren't cheap.

Also cheap and what I started with are the old 9x12cm format plate cameras. Colour film is tough to locate in North America but there are good B&W film emulsions available. The trick is assembling a complete kit with film holders that fit and have the proper inserts to accept film rather than glass plates. (though you can buy those too) If you get a nice one with a double extension bellows, you can even do some nice closeup work.

Ed Richards
28-Sep-2005, 10:28
Unless you really like Ebay, buy your stuff from one of the good used camera dealers. You get a warranty, a place to return it, help on the phone, and you help keep them in business. In many cases you will pay no more, sometimes less. I like KEH - www.keh.com, but there are other good folks who I am sure others will recommend.

Ron Marshall
28-Sep-2005, 11:34
I agree fully with the above posts. There is an enormous amount of detailed information on this site, read it then read it again. Buy a cheap used camera to start because you will almost certainly want to buy another once you have more of an idea of what is best suited to you. There are occasionally great deals on ebay, but lots of stuff goes for more than it is worth. If you have lots of time and patience you may get a great deal. The second-hand equipment at the major LF stores is a good value. I am not connected with any of the following: KEH, B+H, Midwest. Good luck.

Adonis Villanueva
30-Sep-2005, 10:48
I also recommend Steve Simmons' "Using The View Camera" book. Very easy to follow with thoughtful diagrams and pictures. The chapter about focusing the view camera shows very detailed effects on an image when a particular movement was used.