View Full Version : Need advice Re: Best Camera to Buy

Deanne D
17-May-2008, 03:38
I am needing an excellent camera for digital capture of colorful fine art imagery (works on canvas, Paper, Sculpture, etc) for Giclee reproduction on my Epson 9800 wide format printer. (I have a Dell computer with Photoshop CS2 software to edit the images.)

Secondly, I would like a camera for environmental and sports photography with portability during outdoor hikes. I need good image quality (large format), and accurate & vivid color technology.

I have seen info on "field and view cameras". What is the difference and is there a camera out there to meet my stated needs for both fine art and outdoor shooting (mobile)? If not, pls explain. Also, what studio lighting will I need for my fine art shots?

Expert replies only, pls! Thanks. Deanne deannedeforest@aol.com

Rafael Garcia
17-May-2008, 05:03

Why do you need large format for environmental and sports photography? A field or view camera is not well suited for capturing action, nor very fast to set up, nor very portable. It seems to me that you may do better with a medium format camera such as the SLR Rolleis, Bronicas, Mamiyas, or with a Hasselblad. The 6x6 roll format will give you the quality you desire plus portability. Metering and composing can be done through a prism, and the amount of equipment to carry is very reduced, compared with Large Format. I cannot recommend any specific models, as I do not shoot that format with other than TLR cameras, which I do not recommend for sports photography.

A field camera is also a view camera, albeit one that is specially designed to be more portable for field use. A view camera for studio work is more likely of monorail design and metal construction. A field camera is designed to be lighter, and is commonly made out of wood or graphite composites. A field camera design sacrifices some camera movements possible in the view camera for added compactness and portability.

Walter Calahan
17-May-2008, 05:13
Three different questions with three different solutions.

No one camera can do it all.

For fine art capture, I recommend a medium format digital system, such as a Mamiya 645 camera with digital back. You don't need the state of the art $30K system.

For sports photography, get a Nikon D3. That's the camera all my friends who shoot for Sports Illustrated are switching to.

For you environmental photography, get a good 4x5 or 8x10 field camera with all the requisite lenses that match how you see. Field camera traditionally has less camera movement than a view camera. Unless you are doing exacting architectural images, you can probably live without the extreme movement of a view camera. A field camera will save you weight, and is usually quicker (not always) to set up while working in the field.

Lighting. Strobes or hot light, it's your choice. For fine art I prefer hot light since exposures can be long, and it is easier to see any glare on the art surface. They are less expensive (unless you go with HMI lighting).

Good luck. You have a big learning curve.

MIke Sherck
17-May-2008, 05:50
You should get a ... oh, wait: you only want expert replies. Sorry!


Keith Cocker
17-May-2008, 07:21
I'd get a Holga - but like Mike I'm no expert :)

Juergen Sattler
17-May-2008, 07:24
ahmmm, have you ever held a camera in your hands? Do you know anything about photography? Your questions leave me to believe that you don't - so what would make you qualify for any of the jobs you describe? This is a puzzling post indeed.

17-May-2008, 07:32
I'd get a Holga - but like Mike I'm no expert :)

Well if you'd said a Graflex with a big bertha thats what an expert would use :p

Brian Ellis
17-May-2008, 12:55
I think perhaps you're in the wrong forum. This forum is dedicated to large format photography which, with minor exceptions, means photographs made with film that's 4" x 5" or larger (i.e. it isn't the print that's big, it's the film from which the print was made). Those cameras aren't used to make digital captures unless you're willing to spend roughly $20,000 or more on a digital back. They're also unsuited for sports because of the time it takes to set them up among other reasons. While they can be carried on hikes, there are many other types of cameras better suited for that from a sheer portability standpoint.

I note that this is your third message here, the first one having been posted almost two years ago, at which time you were getting started in what sounded like a digital printing business. Now you seem to be aiming more at a photography business of some kind. If that's the case you need to do some reading to learn the basics of cameras and their operation. I've known some successful professionals who didn't have a lot of technical knowledge but you do need to know the basic stuff.

17-May-2008, 20:52
I wouldn't automatically give up on the 4x5 format for action photography. OK, perhaps not "action" in the sporting event sense. Rather action in the context of reportage, street photography, people being people, etc. Press cameras with coupled rangefinders abound. Grafmatic film holders make fairly rapid shooting possible. GOOGLE knows the way.

Donald Miller
17-May-2008, 21:21
Considering your stated objectives, I would recommend going with a 4X5 field camera because it will work better for the photography of works of art. This would be true because most cameras of this nature will have moveable front and rear standards and photography of this type is usually quite impacted by lack of parallelism between the art work and the film. Secondly since I assume that you are wanting to photograph color artwork, you will need something in the way of lighting that will emulate the color of daylight...you will need two lights set at 45 degree axis to the art work...I would opt for strobes with banks or softboxes on each head. You will want a large light source with an absence of specularity.

Ideally the film would be scanned and output as a digital file for output to your printer. The scanning would be a requirement no matter what film format you decide upon. The alternative is to shoot digital entirely. There are many good cameras out there.

Medium format (120/220 film) could do what you want too...but the set up for photographing art work is more limited than a view camera would be.

This type of camera (view camera) will do everything that you want in terms of outdoor photography aside from action type images.

So to recap...forgive my ruminations as I typed...would be to shoot film, scan, and output through photoshop to your printer. Or to shoot digital SLR and not have to mess with all of the scanning etc.