View Full Version : 4x5 View for Newby

10-Jul-2006, 09:52
I'm new to this group and have been pretty impressed with the conversations. I currently shoot a Crown Graphic 4x5 and am looking to get into a 4x5 view. My needs are pretty basic: architecture, portrait and products. I see alot of Cambo, Calumet, Sinar, Graflex, Toyo for sale and am willing to take a risk on any of them, but obviously wish to get the best for my needs the first time around.

I like the Cambo Legend with the geared movements. Presuming I'm moderately knowledgeable about view cameras, is there any negative on this camera? Anyone have any opinions on the rest of the list? I started with the Graphic II View camera, but then decided it wasn't precision enough for my taste. Any help is fully appreciated. Thanks!


10-Jul-2006, 10:29
Hi MechE,

FWIW, everyone is going to have their own opinions as to what camera is the best on the market. Are you buying new or used?

Personally speaking, I think the Sinar system is the top contender since the system is fully expandable. Secondly, there's lots of used Sinar gear on the block at the moment... and going relatively inexpensively. Third, it's well built equipment and precise.

This is the system I use and I'm more than happy with the equipment.


10-Jul-2006, 10:47
A Calumet c400 4x5 monorail view camera.
Inexpensive, serious workhorse, lots of movement.
Battle-ship gray color, Battle-ship solid too.

steve simmons
10-Jul-2006, 10:58
Before you buy any more equipment may I suggest some reading

Getting Started in Large Format that is in the Free Articles section of the View Camera web site. There are several more articles in that section that might be helpful.

One of these books

Large Format Nature Photography by Jack Dykinga

Jim Stone's User's Guide to the View Camera (if you can find one)

Using the View Camera that I wrote.

Try your local library for these books

steve simmons

Austin Moore
10-Jul-2006, 11:04
I agree with Capocheny that the Sinar system is the supreme camera system, I my self lig around a Sinar P 8x10 and i have to say it is one of the nicest veiw cameras I have used. Solid as a rock.


Eric Brody
10-Jul-2006, 11:31
What you have not told us is what type of photography you plan to do with the new camera and what you have problems with with the old one.

View cameras are sort of like dogs, almost infinite variety for lots of different purposes. It's a long way from a Toho at a couple of pounds, great for carrying on a backpacking trip, to a Sinar P. Few people are capable of carrying a Sinar P very far.

Most people will encourage you to get what they have, since, presumably they are happy with it. Monorails are different than folding cameras, Metal cameras are different than wooden ones. Great photographers have made great images with most all of them.

I currently use an Arca Swiss F-Line Field and love it though I did most of my work in the past with a Toyo 45A Field (which just happens to be for sale on this site). I like the precision, it just feels good to use, and I think it's pretty. Others may just love their Ebony, or old Calumet.

Steve Simmons gave you some good advice, but do consider what you're really likely to photograph. Don't get caught up in the fantasy of the great landscape if you live in Delaware, but almost any camera can do great work... with a great photographer behind it.

Scott Knowles
10-Jul-2006, 11:40
I agree with Steve Simmons. I have the books and Leslie Stroebel's "View Camera Technique." Personally they're all worth getting and reading for the whole overview. There's always something you need to know and these are great resources. It helps when you get the "Huh?" feeling to look it up and not feel so stupid.

Steve Hamley
10-Jul-2006, 12:12
What you have not told us is what type of photography you plan to do with the new camera and what you have problems with with the old one.
.... but do consider what you're really likely to photograph.

Eric, actually he did tell us, plans on doing architecture, portrait, and product photography. It's probably not necessary to elaborate on the Crown's shortcomings at least for product and architecture.

Eric's advice is pretty sound though. Arca if you need to carry it and Sinar if you don't.

The Cambos are generally considered to be good cameras (although I've never had one), but certainly not as sexy as the Arca or a slick Sinar P/P2. I remember a post Jim Galli made, who has both Cambos and Sinars available, and he prefered the double "goalpost" design of the Cambo standard because you could sort of do tiny adjustments on one side at a time.

I think geared movements are a plus for product photography, especially if the products are small.


Eric Brody
10-Jul-2006, 12:14
Oops! I just reread your post and mine, and realize you really did say what you want to shoot... architecture, portrait, and products. Sorry, I must have been reading a bit too fast.

Architectural subjects are among the most demanding of a view camera since "proper" architecture requires vertical lines be kept vertical and perspective control is critical. For that type of work you really do need a monorail with lots of movements and lenses with wide image circles, often expensive wide angles. Product work can also need extensive movements as well. Portraiture is arguably the least demanding, unless you want to distort your subject.

All in all, since buildings are usually near roads, (unless you like to hike to shacks and forest shelters) products are usually in a studio, and portraiture is done almost anywhere from a studio to the great outdoors, a monorail may be your best bet. I'd get something versatile, and inexpensive and spend your serious money on lenses.

Ron Marshall
10-Jul-2006, 14:11
I have a 3 Lb Toho and a 7.5 Lb Sinar. The Sinar is great to shoot near a car.

10-Jul-2006, 19:00
To Steve Simmons et al.

Thanks to everyone for your responses. I realize that the question was somewhat risky, but I thought I would find out what would pop up. Though I only use a Crown Graphic, short of movements, there is quite a bit I've been able to do over the years. But now I'm starting to get serious about perspective control and as we know only a shifting lens or a view camera will do.

I was kind of interested in everyone's immediate, or 'blink' response. I was at the Large View Camera conference last month so I saw alot of really high end (re$$) cameras, but as you can tell from my use of a Graphic that I tend to budget. Your answers were very helpful and are so much is appreciated. What I wind up will be a value purchase, that is probably a better camera at a slightly higher price. I'll let you know, and thanks again for the help.


Ernest Purdum
10-Jul-2006, 19:31
For product photography, a long lens is desirable. For architectural work, particularly interiors, very short lenses are often needed. To do both with one camera, you need one which is "modular", that is, has interchangeable bellows, rails, and other components. Unless you find a complete package all together, which isn't particularly likely, choosing a make for which components are often found on sale would be sensible.

10-Jul-2006, 20:22
personally, new films are so sharp and fine-grained compared to just a few years ago that for architecure, a good 75mm with practically ANY 4x5 body will do the job -- even one without any movements at all. I have used perspective control via Photoshop on high-res scans on more than one occasion and for most "normal sized" client prints (e.g. 16"x20") it is impossible to tell that any digital manipulations have taken place.

I will note that YES YOU CAN TELL THE DIFFERENCE AT BIGGER SIZES, but not at 16"x20" which for many clients is often plenty big for both hanging and editorial work. Recall that the poster "was on a budget". Getting good sharp data is of primary importance as a first step. Stopping a 75mm down to f22 will put pretty much everything in focus, so again movements wouldn't be a big deal here for an architectural application.

Again, most portrait work won't *need* movements (recall this guy is on a budget people) -- but will need a longer lens. 210mm would be my suggestion as the minimum length.

Studio work is more problematic -- here movements will be critical. Are you sure you want to do all three? Personally, I find the skills and techniques needed in portraiture to be quite different than the skills needs for either architecture or studio work. Perhaps you are biting off more than you can reasonably chew to start off with?

I would suggest focusing on two of the three and simply perfect my technique first before plunking down significant dollars on equipment that may not get used as much as you'd like.

J Michael Sullivan

10-Jul-2006, 21:24
The Sinar is great to shoot near a car.

Hear, hear! :)

But then, that's why I also have a 5x7 Dorff with a 4x5 reducing back!

Carrying a Sinar X or P very far is only asking for a supreme hernia! :) However, the Sinar F2 is quite manageable in the field.


12-Jul-2006, 19:33
Again thanks to all for your advice. I just made a purchase of a used Cambo Legend for $455 on Ebay. Seems to be a fairly well made 4x5 and I will start using it soon. Probably also built like a tank, but then so is my 3058 Bogen tripod (17.5 lbs!). So I'm accustomed to hauling heavy stuff, though for camping I use the Crown Graphic. This purchase also came with the geared tripod head-a great bonus I think.

I'll post the first picture. Thanks again for all your.