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zoom2zoom
6-Apr-2008, 18:00
hi all..

this is my first LF post.. i shoot 70% DSLR, 20% 35mm film, and 10% MF film, and i dont have any knowledge of large format equipment.

I was wondering if anyone here can help me with the following gear that i was recently able to acquire.

Agfa Ansco 5x7 View Camera ( i think its called universal view from what i found on google). The camera is in really excellent condition, with minor marks on the body, but overall to be good condition. no holes in bellows, all knobs seems to work.

The lens is Hugo Meyer & Gorlitz Primotar 25cm f4.5. the lens also in excellent condition, all speeds sounds accurate, comes with original front leather cap and collaspable hood.

It also comes with its original tripod, case, and extra lens board and 3 film holder.

Here are some questions:

1. i paid $600 for the set.. may i ask if that is a reasonable value.

2. how is the performance of the camera in comparison with other LF cameras

3. how is the performance of the lens, what is the focal length in 35mm

4. I have an extra lens board, so i would like to get another lens, what lens should i get, and how do i find out the exact dim to fit the board? how do i mount the lens to the board? is it just unscrewing/screwing?

5. i suppose there is no polaroid back for this? what film should i try, i would like to do my first shots in wash dc landmarks..

6. is this a field or view camera, it seems like it should fold up, but it sort of doesnt.. ?

any help and or suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

CG
6-Apr-2008, 18:45
Many of your questions need to be answered based on your interests / what you want to photograph. Maybe the best clues would come from the kinds of things you photograph with your other cameras. Your camera's and lenses performance are relative to your goals. If you want a big piece of film and very few movements, I'm guessing you are in good shape. If you are looking for state of the art optical performance and the movements of an advanced monorail, you may see things differently. What lens to get next depends on your goals. Portraiture? Maybe something longer. Architecture? Maybe a shortish lens.

But a couple of responses... Your lens is roughly a normal - like a 50 mm on 35.

Most lenses screw apart and screw back together around a lensboard. You can get a lensboard drilled out to fit a larger lens if you need it.

Does your camera look something like the cameras on www.fiberq.com/cam/scovill/agfa.htm ???

Best,

C

John Kasaian
6-Apr-2008, 19:04
1. I'd he price is a good one when you consider all the goodies that came with it.

2. The performance of these cameras is superb if everything locks down good. Besides thay look classier than a Norma. ;)


3. Argueably 250mm is about average for a 5x7, say like a 50mm on a 35mm.

4. That all depends on what you want, my friend. You may want something longer or shorter. Shoot with your 250mm for awhile and you'll figure it out. Whatever you get make sure it comes with a flange or retaining ring. The flange goes on the outside and the lens screws into it. A retaining ring goes on the inside and sandwiches the lensboard between the shutter and the retaining ring.

5. A polaroid back will fit on a 4x5 back which is quite common and fits the 5x7 model (actually the 5x7 and 4x7 are the same camera with different backs.

6. It is a flatbed camera, it folds up into kind of a chunk. One nice thing is that the lens rides onboard, sticking out between the front rail. The Universal Agfa Ansco is a neat camera---I've got two and another two hulls for parts. Enjoy yours! :)

Rafael Garcia
6-Apr-2008, 19:14
Welcome, CG! A few answers:

1) It's an American (VS English) design, so it slides on the front and rear tracks. The front one swings up, the back track, if you have it, bolts on.

2) 5x7 is a great format, but film choices (especially color) are very limited. I started with a 5x7 Gundlach Korona View and have taken some of my best shots with it and it's 7 1/2" Raptar lens. I now use an old Japanese camera of English design. It folds and is less bulky, but it's less rigid in the wind that my Korona. Your camera is very similar to the Korona. I shoot 4x5 and 5x7 with this Japanese camera, with backs I made for it (the camera was a half-plate format initially, a size close to 5x7). You can do the same with yours.

3) Get a couple of books. Using the View Camera by Steve Simons is good (although he ignores 5x7). Also the articles in this and other websites which I won't mention here but that you can find by googling have a lot of valuable information on lenses and their equivalents. A standard lens for 5x7 (equivalent to the standard 50 to 55mm in 35mm) is anywhere from 180 to 300mm. The focal length your camera can use will be limited by how long you can stretch the bellows and how tight you can compress them. You can use any focal length lens between those two extremes.

4) You need to learn about movements, even though you probably don't have much in that respect. Also bellows factor ( where you compensate the exposure for light lost with longer bellows extension), and several other things.

5) It's the most fun you will have taking photographs, but you cannot rush it. It takes time, a relaxed attitude, and a good ten minutes in a rush to take one shot. You will go home from an outing with 4 or 6 shots, and feel like it was well worth it!

6) As to how it compares, don't worry. It was a state-of-the-art camera once, and very good photographers used it. Today's field cameras are smaller, lighter and have more movements, but that does not impact the photo, only the convenience when taking it. New field cameras work exactly the same way. I have never used a new one (although I have my first one on the way from China) and am totally satisfied with the capabilities of my old girls.

7) Lenses for landscape and architecture: wide angle and standard. Portraiture: standard and slightly long. Just like in 35mm. Watch the size of the image circle when buying. A 121mm Schneider Super Angulon, if you can find it, has all the coverage you need for a wide angle. A 90mm Schneider Super Angulon has just enough circle to cover 5x7 without any movements. That's where having a reduction back (to 4x5) helps.

I need to go now, but others will fill in my gaps.

Enjoy!

zoom2zoom
6-Apr-2008, 19:35
thanks for your inputs... i look forward to trying this format out soon in wash dc..

here are some pics of the camera.


http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805357_qDF9u-L.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806019_rtut7-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805834_mtJJz-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806191_fm8ew-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806359_M4zNw-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805494_rE6uk-XL.jpg

venchka
6-Apr-2008, 19:44
It's gorgeous! I want one! My wife would actually welcome something like that in the house.

wfwhitaker
6-Apr-2008, 20:07
Beautiful camera. Value is in the eye of the beholder, but considering the condition evident from your photos and the fact you got the original tripod with it, you did well. The Agfas are great old cameras. They were the top of their class during their day. And they're still pretty nice these days. Again, it depends on what you want to do...

I'm not familiar with the Primotar, but the Hugo Meyer name is well respected. Most any lens of that vintage at f/4.5 has got to be interesting.

zoom2zoom
6-Apr-2008, 20:26
since i am new to LF, i would like to use polaroid first to test... how do i mount a 4x5 polaroid 545? do i need a speical holder?

oh, the person (wife) that i got it from told me that it was display at home as a piece of furniture for the husband of 26 years, then recently gotten divorced, and now she is sick of this camera in the house...

(just did a quick search and find that i need a 4x5 reducing back to use polaroids... what kind do i need to get?)

Robbie Shymanski
6-Apr-2008, 21:23
You are going to have to hunt to find reducing back for the camera. It may take a bit to find one. Unless you are handy and can jerry-rig. You might just be better off jumping into the deep end with some 5x7 film holders and shooting with film. A bathroom with plastic bags over the windows and some trays will be cheaper than instant film in the long run. 5x7 is a wonderful format for contact printing. Polaroid isn't long for this world. Best to get beyond it. If your heart is set on going with Polaroid, find an in expensive 4x5 like a Graphic or an old Calumet (press or view, with a little hunting you can pick either up for less than $200). You have a beautiful camera that was made for shooting film. I am sure there are many, like me, who looked at the pictures and were in lust. Take it for what it is and make the most of it, but don't try and make the camera do something other that what it was meant to.

Nick_3536
6-Apr-2008, 22:51
The only two things wrong with the Ansco are:

1) It's weight.

2) You can't use very wide lenses.

Neither is a killer. Some modern cameras have similar weights. IIRC it'll take something like a 120 [130mm flange distance?] with a flat board.

If you stick a good lens on it and put the camera on a stable tripod it'll produce photos no different then the same lens on a fancy brand new camera.

If you're reasonable in the woodshop you could mount a 4x5 back to it fairly easily. If not just shoot 5x7.

You need to move the both standards far forward on the tracks. When you've done that the rear track should fold up behind the back standard. Wrap it in a darkcloth and throw it in your case.

walter23
6-Apr-2008, 23:03
In that shape, and with the tripod, etc, you got a good price. If you want to try out some more film options (especially colour) try to find a 4x5 reducing back for it and some 4x5 holders. This will increase your options quite a bit.

In the meantime, enjoy shooting B&W 5x7 film. You can make some nice contact prints (e.g. cyanotype, van dyke, regular silver paper, etc), or scan and print the 5x7 sheets with a transparency-capable flatbed.

Welcome to the LF world - with a camera like that I hope you'll stick with it for awhile! It can be frustrating sometimes (especially when the light is changing rapidly and you're still setting up your shot instead of just firing away with your DSLR), but once you get into it and learn to plan and work with the camera you'll never see photography the same way again. It's a whole new way to think about things; you'll start spending most of your time scouting for shots and looking at compositions without your naked eyes, instead of squinting through tiny viewfinders.


thanks for your inputs... i look forward to trying this format out soon in wash dc..

here are some pics of the camera.


http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805357_qDF9u-L.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806019_rtut7-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805834_mtJJz-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806191_fm8ew-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275806359_M4zNw-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/275805494_rE6uk-XL.jpg

lenser
6-Apr-2008, 23:15
If you want to make a 4x5 back, take a look at 140220729021 on ebay. I used one of these and a little woodworking skill to make a back for the exact same camera. Just be sure to follow the inside profile like the 5x7 back. That stepped trap is what keeps light leaks out. It also helps to paint the inside of the new back with flat black paint.

Polaroid is seemingly on it's way out, but Fuji has a 4x5 back and instant film system (and better color quality) that is supposed to fit backs like this.

Nick gave you the right advice about folding the camera. Take a look at the brass hook on top of the rear standard, it engages a small brass screw on the back of the rail when the rail is folded. Then you've got a package that's easy to carry around.

Have fun with this baby. It's a keeper.

Tim

eddie
7-Apr-2008, 04:57
great stuff!

in case you have not noticed (it took me a bit of time to see it on mine) you have a track "inside" of the rear rail. this allows you to gain greater extension. there is asmall knob on the rail that allows you to extend it out a bit more. i will take a quick snap of mine....hold on! ok. got it! :) :)

eddie

man! looks like my crappy digital camera AND my crappy scanner are giving up the ghost in the same week!

zoom2zoom
7-Apr-2008, 05:28
Wow… thank you everyone here for your comments and help, I am really getting excited to get shooting with this camera, there are so much to learn coming from 35mm and shooting mostly digital.

With all the comments, I think I may jump straight into 5x7 film, and I will start with B&W film and see what happens.. I also have a epson 4870pro flat bed that I scan MF film with, so I am anxious to see the result.

The first thing I need to do is head to Borders to get some books, as I have no clue as to loading film and developing, etc. I know it’s a dumb question, but do I buy sheet film, and then load them in the dark? And is it easy to develop at home? Or should I take the film to have a shop develop?

I am interested in doing night DC landmarks as a start, I have done some shots, but these are done using digital Nikon D2X and D3, but you get the idea.. thanks again.

http://zoom2zoom.smugmug.com/photos/57345501_jfkGd-L-2.jpg

http://zoom2zoom.smugmug.com/photos/57345605_i7GiY-L-2.jpg

oh, i had the chance to take a closer look at the camera last night and i am really amazed at the craftmanship and materials used, is this camera in the 1930s period?

EuGene Smith
7-Apr-2008, 05:59
Golly, not only do I love that camera and tripod, but would give my eye teeth for that good old dial set Compur shutter. I have several of them and they are great!

Scott Kathe
7-Apr-2008, 06:13
Buy sheet film and load the holders in the dark. Sacrifice a sheet and practice with it in the light.

Steve Simmons 'Using the View Camera' would be a good book to start with along with all 3 of Ansel Adams books. I also think that 'Medium and Large Format Photography: Moving Beyond 35mm for Better Pictures' by Roger Hicks and Frances Schultz would be a good introductory book. If you want a book now by all means go to the bookstore but I have had great luck with used books from Amazon and from people here.

Scott

Nick_3536
7-Apr-2008, 08:07
oh, i had the chance to take a closer look at the camera last night and i am really amazed at the craftmanship and materials used, is this camera in the 1930s period?

my understanding since it's labeled Agfa/Ansco and has tilt it's betwen 1941 and 1943.

Skorzen
7-Apr-2008, 08:55
The first thing I need to do is head to Borders to get some books, as I have no clue as to loading film and developing, etc. I know itís a dumb question, but do I buy sheet film, and then load them in the dark? And is it easy to develop at home? Or should I...

For books Borders may be a little slim. They would probably have The Camera by Ansel Adams which is a decent book in my mind. I would also check out The Negative (also by AA) which gives you a good idea of some of the options that shooting LF opens up to you in processing each negative for the scene you shot. The Print is good as well but I don't know if traditional printing is what you have in mind right now. Steve Simmons book is a good one as well, probably a little better for the complete beginner, however when I finally got a copy I found it somewhat elementary (I had been on the forums here for a few months and read the Ansel Adams series).

As far as processing I along with most everyone here process B&W film at home. You will likely find that finding a lab to process it for you will be fairly difficult, but besides that you will likely want the control that processing it yourself gives you. The cheapest method is probably just using trays. check out this article here (http://www.viewcamera.com/pdf/TRAYPRO.pdf) on that. Another inexpensive option would be to use an 8X10 drum for processing paper (most commonly used are Unicolor drums) and a roller base. The Unicolor drums should allow you to process two sheets of film at a time in a "daylight" environment (you just load them in the dark).

As far as film I would recommend the Arista.edu film sold by freestyle. It is foma film with their house labeling. I have found it to be a very nice film and relatively inexpensive. A couple things to watch out for though is that it is an older style emulsion and scratches easily (may be difficult in trays) also it has a high reciprocity factor compared to more modern films so that needs to be taken into account with long exposures.

John Kasaian
7-Apr-2008, 09:33
Some very useful features are
1) tracks are hinged so they dont get lost
2) the body can be removed and reversed, so for very wide lenses you can use it as a tailboard camera(back focus so there are no rails in the shot)
3) 5x7 is a very pleasing to the eye format.
4) most lenses can ride on board when your camera is folded.
5) the lensboard is quite large so it can handle most any size shutter.

By all means get a copy of Steve Simmons Using the View Camera---it is a great primer!

Jim Noel
7-Apr-2008, 14:12
"Re: Agfa Ansco View Camera Question/help
1. I'd he price is a good one when you consider all the goodies that came with it.

2. The performance of these cameras is superb if everything locks down good. Besides thay look classier than a Norma."

Nothing is classier than a Norma. If you doubt that, ask whi one is in the Smithsonian as a piece of functional "Art".

John Cahill
7-Apr-2008, 17:26
.

The first thing I need to do is head to Borders to get some books, as I have no clue as
oh, i had the chance to take a closer look at the camera last night and i am really amazed at the craftmanship and materials used, is this camera in the 1930s period?[/QUOTE]


Your camera was made between about 1926 and 1935. It is a Universal View. Your's is really beautiful. I have the same camera and love it. I do have the 4x5 reducing back for it, and as others have pointed out, it should be a doable make if you are good with tools and wood. You will need to put a Graflex-type back on it if you wish to use the Fuji 4x5 film pack holder on it. They do not fit in the standard spring-type back like the one you have for 5x7. Keep you eyes peeled for goodies. I got a split back portrait back--two images on a sheet of 5x7 for next to nothing on fleaBay. Lens boards fairly easy to make. Good luck, have fun, keep in touch.

zoom2zoom
7-Apr-2008, 19:18
thanks for the info, and i was able to fold the camera up, and fits nicely into the case.

what are these two boards for? each board has 2 circular holes on the boards?

and the lens board already has a thread mount already, is there a specific size for this thread?

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391758_LKa8G-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391937_WG7uR-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276392005_YcMBZ-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391846_oLG6k-XL.jpg

John Kasaian
7-Apr-2008, 19:46
thanks for the info, and i was able to fold the camera up, and fits nicely into the case.

what are these two boards for? each board has 2 circular holes on the boards?

and the lens board already has a thread mount already, is there a specific size for this thread?

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391758_LKa8G-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391937_WG7uR-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276392005_YcMBZ-XL.jpg

http://www.smugmug.com/photos/276391846_oLG6k-XL.jpg

These are sliders. They fit it to slots in the back of your camera and by sliding them around allow you to take eithet two 2-1/2"X7" or two 3-1/2"x5" or four 2-1/2"x3-1/3" exposures on a single sheet of 5x7 film. Very cool. Slide the long ends in first. The circles allow you to slide them around.

zoom2zoom
7-Apr-2008, 21:11
also... i can't see anywhere on nps.gov that you need a permit to use tripod on wash dc monuments? do i need one if i am setting up on the lawn, not inside buildings.. if so, where do i acquire one?

John Cahill
7-Apr-2008, 21:41
my understanding since it's labeled Agfa/Ansco and has tilt it's betwen 1941 and 1943.

Yes. You are correct. I did not see the tilt in the pix I viewed. No matter what, it is one beeeuuuutiful camera. Looks pristine.

BarryS
7-Apr-2008, 22:41
also... i can't see anywhere on nps.gov that you need a permit to use tripod on wash dc monuments? do i need one if i am setting up on the lawn, not inside buildings.. if so, where do i acquire one?

You don't need a permit for a tripod. Just try not to get in the way of the flow of people entering or exiting the monuments.

tenderobject
2-Aug-2009, 16:28
hi guys. i think this would be my first post as well...

im eyeing for an ansco 5x7 (my first LF). but need more info about the camera.. atleast seen a few already.. what i also want is to output of the camera. i haven't seen any pictures from this camera. anyone would like to share?

thank you very much!

John Kasaian
2-Aug-2009, 17:47
hi guys. i think this would be my first post as well...

im eyeing for an ansco 5x7 (my first LF). but need more info about the camera.. atleast seen a few already.. what i also want is to output of the camera. i haven't seen any pictures from this camera. anyone would like to share?

thank you very much!

Which model Agfa/Ansco? They made several, some with rather limiting movements, bellow ext. etc... IMHO the best is the "Universal" (it won't likely say "Universal" anywhere on the camera, unfortunately) You might do a search for Agfa Ansco Universal and see what pops up. I know there are photographs of one on the internet. I've got two of them and they are excellent chick magnets. Not as good a chick magnet as a Deardorff, but as close as you can get for the money:D

tenderobject
3-Aug-2009, 00:08
Which model Agfa/Ansco? They made several, some with rather limiting movements, bellow ext. etc... IMHO the best is the "Universal" (it won't likely say "Universal" anywhere on the camera, unfortunately) You might do a search for Agfa Ansco Universal and see what pops up. I know there are photographs of one on the internet. I've got two of them and they are excellent chick magnets. Not as good a chick magnet as a Deardorff, but as close as you can get for the money:D

actually it looks the same model that the OP got from 600$ but no tripod though.


http://images.marketplaceadvisor.channeladvisor.com/hi/79/78562/agfacamera.2.jpg

same lens as well i think.. i can't find any sample in the internet. i mean the shots taken with the camera and lens :(.. im so new to this. i've used 6x6, 6x7 and 6x9 cameras but that's the biggest that i have. want to jump on much bigger and the looks of this wooden cameras are fantastic i don't mind the weight.

is it possible to have left, right, top, bottom shift with this camera? i'm very interested with the selective focus, soft and creamy bokeh these LF cameras can do. is it possible? i've seen graflex can do those but i'm inlove with the wooden built. if not i would probably go buy a crown graphic

thank you again.. sorry for the OP i just hijacked his thread. hope he can post some of his shots from this beauty!

hopefully someone could post some pics taken with ansco 5x7 with Hugo Meyer & Co Gorlitz & New York 6 1/2 inch f4.5 filmotar lens in compur shutter.. please! :) thanks!

John Kasaian
3-Aug-2009, 07:28
Thats a Universal alright. You've got all the shifts, tilts, swings and rise you'll likely ever want. Plus the whole camera can be reversed on it's bed if you wish, and the extension rails are hinged on so you'll not have to worry about misplacing them.
A beautiful camera! Enjoy :)

Archphoto
3-Aug-2009, 09:15
Zoom2zoom, a great camera !!!!
Looks fantasic for it's age, allmost new.....

I hope you don't mind me downloading the photographs for future references.
I would publish them, promisse !

Make great pic's with this beauty.

Peter

Fred Haeseker
12-Aug-2009, 12:16
Hi zoom2zoom,
I have an Ansco 8x10 which looks exactly like yours -- the finish on the wood, lacquered brass hardware, front tilt, etc. Mine is just labeled Ansco, which I've learned means it was made late during the war years or just after. The dealer I bought it from said the previous owner has completely refinished the camera (I imagine he stripped off the grey paint finish that was standard on the later models). Then he never used it! Hard to understand, but good for me. The camera looks brand new.
I use mine on a hefty old Paul Ries tripod. It's a wonderfully rigid camera (should be, considering the weight) with firm adjustments.

IanG
12-Aug-2009, 12:36
If it's the same lacquered wood finish & brass hardware then yours is probably pre Agfa taking over Ansco. The Bingham factory ceased camera production during WWII and it appears the view cameras were made elsewhere, the hardware changed it was all nickel or chrome plated and they were all painted battleship Grey, So the hardware should be a good indication of when yours was made.

Without photo's it's hard to tell.

Ian

Nick_3536
12-Aug-2009, 12:39
If it has front tilt then it's post 1942. No? Tilt. Only Ansco on the label.

IanG
12-Aug-2009, 23:22
If it has front tilt then it's post 1942. No? Tilt. Only Ansco on the label.

No front tilt was available pre-42 on some models, Standard, Universal and Commercial View. It doesn't help that Agfa Ansco used the wrong photo's in their catalogues for some of the cameras.

My Commercial View was bought sometime around 1937/38 and has front tilt, the original owner bought it with a 12" Dagor an it's serial number indicates it was manufactured some time between 1934/7.

Early versions of the same models of the cameras were just marked as Ansco.

Ian

Nick_3536
13-Aug-2009, 10:20
But pre-42 would be labeled Afga-Ansco. Not just Ansco.

Rick Moore
13-Aug-2009, 11:16
Golly, not only do I love that camera and tripod, but would give my eye teeth for that good old dial set Compur shutter. I have several of them and they are great!

Unless my old eyes are fooling me, that lens is in a Compound shutter. Note the pneumatic cylinder at the top.

IanG
13-Aug-2009, 11:38
But pre-42 would be labeled Afga-Ansco. Not just Ansco.

The Ansco name was on the cameras until they were re-branded Agfa, I'm not sure when that happened but some time after 1928. Initially Agfa only had a 40% stake in the merged US Agfa Ansco company, and these camera's were an Ansco product..

But without photographs it's difficult to say whether the camera is post 1942, or an early version of the previous 10x8 models,

Ian

Nick_3536
13-Aug-2009, 12:23
Yes but the tilt didn't come in until early 1930s IIRC. So if the camera has front tilt and only carries the Ansco name it has to be after the US government took it over.

IanG
13-Aug-2009, 12:38
There's front tilt on some 1928 Ansco's :D

Ian