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View Full Version : Best Used 4X5 Field Camera body for $1,000?



timberline12k
21-Apr-2009, 07:17
I thought it was better to start a new thread to narrow down the comments. I am interested in LF and would like to purchase my first 4X5. I would like to buy used equipment and hold the cost of the camera body around $1,000. I just purchased two EX+ used lenses; a 210mm f/5.6 APO Sironar-S and a 90mm f/4.5 Caltar-II N. I plan to use the camera for landscape, nature and architecture.

I am unfamiliar with LF and now know that I don’t know enough to select the correct camera body, but my budget allows me to spend around $1,000. I would like to limit my selection to used camera bodies in excellent shape that will hold their value. Some of the recommended bodies that fit within these parameters are the Arca Swiss Discovery and the Ebony RW45. Using this criteria, what camera bodies should I consider? Also, should I still consider a 5X7 if I already selected 210 and 90 lenses?

My original thread is available at:
http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?t=47767

I ordered Jack Dykinga's Large Format Landscape Photography book and continue to read many of the resources available on this site.

Gem Singer
21-Apr-2009, 07:29
You can purchase a new Chamonix 4X5 body for less than !K. It's a cutting edge wooden field camera.

If you prefer a metal cameras, look for a previously owned Toyo 45A. They usually can be found for 1k, or less.

There are many other high quality used field cameras out there in your price range, both wood and metal. Contact Jim, at Midwest (mpex). He can help you find what you are looking for.

Jrewt
21-Apr-2009, 07:32
Chamonix FTW.

Gem Singer
21-Apr-2009, 07:34
BTW, there is an excellent used Chamonix for sale on this forum, as we speak.

timberline12k
21-Apr-2009, 07:50
I keep hearing about Chamonix, but I can't find any reviews. What is the story on these cameras? How are they cutting edge and what other brands are similar in features and build quality.

I think the used Chamonix has sold, but one in that good of shape is what I would like.

Gem Singer
21-Apr-2009, 08:25
Similar in features to the 4X5 Chamonix:

Phillips 4X5, the original of that particular design, but way out of your price range. Superior build quality. Exotic wood. Made in the USA.

Shen Hao PTB, a copy of the Chamonix, but less expensive. Made in China. Build quality matches the price.

The Chamonix is also made in China. Excellent build quality and reasonable price.

Lots of info. available about the Chamonix in the archives of this website. Google it.

venchka
21-Apr-2009, 09:01
Used field cameras under $1,000? Lots of them.
It would be easier to compile a much shorter list: Used field cameras OVER $1,000.

As soon as you have access to the For Sale listings here, you can search for every 4x5 field camera sold in the past year. Or longer. $500 buys a lot of 4x5 field camera. $1,000 buys a camera and 1-2-3 lenses.

timberline12k
21-Apr-2009, 09:32
Excuse my ignorance, but what is the difference between a 5X7 Horizontal only model and a Convertible Model?

http://www.chamonixviewcamera.com/57.html

Can you switch between landscape and portrait mode? Other than wider perspective with the same lenses, couldn't you crop a 4X5 or 5X4 out of a 5X7 body?

Brian Ellis
21-Apr-2009, 09:33
In my many years of LF photography I've owned two Ebonys, two Linhof Technikas, two Tachiharas, two Deardorffs (hmmm, there seems to be a pattern of seller's remorse here), one Technikardan, one Shen Hao, one Agfa Ansco, one Kodak 2D, and one Chamonix. If price was no consideration the Master Technika was my favorite but for under $1,000 it would be the Chamonix hands down.

For under $1,000 you get a very well built, well-designed light-weight (around 4 lbs) camera with about a 15" bellows and as many movements as you'll ever need,all in an innovative and attractive package. IMHO it combines the best features of the Tachihara and the Shen Hao, which used to be my favorite under-$1000 choices, without any of their disadvantages (weight in the case of the Shen, limited movements in the case of the Tachihara, short bellows in the case of both). As you can tell, I'm not a fan of monorails for field work so I can't comment on the Discovery, I know others here think highly of them.

I don't know about formal "reviews" as such of the Chamonix, there aren't many publications that review LF cameras. But as someone else mentioned, if you just search for Chamonix in this thread you can find plenty of pictures and information.

Peter De Smidt
21-Apr-2009, 10:17
I prefer my Toyo 45AX over the Chamonix I used to own. The Toyo is sturdier and faster to use. I have some pictures of the Chamonix up on my blog. I prefer the lighter AX Toyo over the AR and ARII because a rotating back isn't very useful, and it adds weight.

Really Big Cameras
21-Apr-2009, 11:08
Excuse my ignorance, but what is the difference between a 5X7 Horizontal only model and a Convertible Model? Can you switch between landscape and portrait mode?

The convertible model permits positioning the back in either horizontal (landscape) or vertical (portrait) orientation. The horizontal only model, is just that. The back is fixed in the horizontal position. To shoot vertical compositions with this model would require turning the entire camera on its side.


Other than wider perspective with the same lenses, couldn't you crop a 4X5 or 5X4 out of a 5X7 body?

Yes, or you can just buy a reducing back and use 4x5 film in 4x5 holders.

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras (http://reallybigcameras.com)

lilmsmaggie
21-Apr-2009, 11:10
Suggest you contact Hugo Zhang e-mail: hugoz_2000@yahoo.com

I believe Hugo would be happy to answer any Chamonix camera-specific questions.

Dwain

Really Big Cameras
21-Apr-2009, 11:34
I believe Hugo would be happy to answer any Chamonix camera-specific questions.

I would also be happy to answer any questions about Chamonix Cameras - either here in the forum, through PM, or through email at: sales@reallybigcameras.com

Kerry Thalmann
Really Big Cameras (http://reallybigcameras.com)

Songyun
21-Apr-2009, 12:24
I don't know about formal "reviews" as such of the Chamonix, there aren't many publications that review LF cameras. But as someone else mentioned, if you just search for Chamonix in this thread you can find plenty of pictures and information.

Ted wrote a review in VC magazine last year.

bvstaples
21-Apr-2009, 12:39
One of the very interesting things I find about buying and selling used cameras and LF equipment is that they tend to hold their value. This allows someone with say, a thousands bucks, to invest in a pretty nice used camera or even a new one as is the case of the Chamonix and its ilk try it out for a while, and if it's not to your liking, you can sell it for probably something very close to what you bought it for. Then you can reinvest in other equipment. I have friends in my amateur astronomy group who do this (where equipment also holds it value): they buy a piece of equipment, use it for a while, sell it, and buy something else. It's a great thing being involved in a hobby where we can take the same wad of cash and try out different things. So I say if you have $1000.00, take a leap and buy a camera, shoot with it for a few months, and if you don't like it, sell it and get another model. At some point you'll get a camera in your hands that will just feel right, and you'll then start searching for another thousand bucks to invest in a "second" camera.

Ahh, the money pits we dig...


BVS

timberline12k
21-Apr-2009, 13:12
One of the very interesting things I find about buying and selling used cameras and LF equipment is that they tend to hold their value. This allows someone with say, a thousands bucks, to invest in a pretty nice used camera — or even a new one as is the case of the Chamonix and its ilk — try it out for a while, and if it's not to your liking, you can sell it for probably something very close to what you bought it for. Then you can reinvest in other equipment. I have friends in my amateur astronomy group who do this (where equipment also holds it value): they buy a piece of equipment, use it for a while, sell it, and buy something else. It's a great thing being involved in a hobby where we can take the same wad of cash and try out different things. So I say if you have $1000.00, take a leap and buy a camera, shoot with it for a few months, and if you don't like it, sell it and get another model. At some point you'll get a camera in your hands that will just feel right, and you'll then start searching for another thousand bucks to invest in a "second" camera.

Ahh, the money pits we dig...


BVS



Maybe I will try this line on my wife, but it does sound familiar. I returned to photography last year after a 15 year hiatus and purchased a D300 and kit lens. After a couple months I sold that equipment at not much discount and upgraded to a D700 with FX lenses. Of course that also required I sell my guitar and amp. The camera body and lens held their value pretty well considering I used them all summer. The guitar was a trial to bond with my son. I was not willing to put in the time to justify learning how to play the guitar, so the guitar and amp sale covered a really nice lens addition. I am normally a buy and hold type of person, but in this situation I came out pretty well. I can't say the same for the software.

David

lilmsmaggie
21-Apr-2009, 13:31
IMHO that Jack Flesher wrote an excellent review at the GetDPI Workhop forum:

forum.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=178

It's what sold me on the Chamonix 45n-1

Dwain

____________________________________________________________
It's the good girls who keep diaries; the bad girls never have the time.

Tallulah Bankhead

Frank Petronio
21-Apr-2009, 13:55
You really can't go wrong or get too hurt with any of the better cameras.

You might consider that the Chamonix is one of the better light wooden cameras; where the Toyo A-series or an older Linhof Technika IV would be of the better folding metal technical cameras -- heavier but more robust than any wooden camera. And a good minimalistic monorail like the Arca Discovery (or the Sinar Norma, Linhof Kardan, Cambo SF, Toyo G, etc.) is a bit bulkier but with the benefits of having a full range of clear, easy to understand movements and system-wide expandability.

Personally, especially for a beginner, I like simple cameras that allow them to see and utilize the movements without contorting themselves to get at them, therefor a nice metal monorail is the best choice to me. The weight and bulk are mere disadvantages, but at least with a "open" camera like an Arca-Sinar-Cambo you can actually see what you're doing when you decide to make a rise or shift or tilt, so you will learn how to use the view camera faster.

Then trade everything around and become a camera slut like me. After all, being a gearhead and swapping gear is really what the hobby is about, making photos is incidental. Otherwise you'd just get a $300 Crown Graphic and go shoot instead of dicking around ;-)

ki6mf
21-Apr-2009, 14:38
The other Under $1000 to consider is Shen Hao. Basger Graphics and Midwest Photo carry this all the time. You never see used Shen Hao on Craigs List, E bay or Keh.com so you are almost forced to buy them new. Shen Hao has a similar model to the Chamonix too. The advantage is they are stocked and distributed by Badger Graphic. I have had one for 3 years and wont give it up.

Jim Rhoades
21-Apr-2009, 16:42
Your lenses will cover 5x7 so you may want to consider a 5x7 with a extra 4x5 back. But that may be pushing the cash limits. You can get a real nice Zone VI plus a bag bellows for under a G. I like the Zone because of the 21" bellows but the I like long lenses and close ups. The Zone VI is over 6 lbs.

If buying a Chamonix I would deal with Kerry. I won't get into the details but this is a man to trust and stands behind what he sells even well after the fact. I mean like a year later. Having someone dependble to turn to when things go wrong is not to be taken lightly.
Jim

Ron Marshall
21-Apr-2009, 16:59
If you are willing to go to $1200, KEH has an Ebony:

http://www.keh.com/OnLineStore/ProductDetail.aspx?groupsku=LF039991034930&brandcategoryname=Large%20Format&Mode=&item=0&ActivateTOC2=&ID=59&BC=LF&BCC=7&CC=3&CCC=1&BCL=&GBC=&GCC=

This is just an example of what is out there. Check Midwest Photo, Badger and the classifieds on this site as well.

Don Hutton
21-Apr-2009, 18:10
I think I've owned just about every 4x5 you can get your hands on new or second hand. I currently use a Chamonix and would highly recommend it. I believe it's an excellent combination of lightweight, rigid and functional. It has a very decent fresnel screen, which is an important feature for new view camera users. The only two movements I'd suggest you worry about for a while are front rise and tilt - both of which are very easy and intuitive to use on the Chamonix. For the money, I don't believe anything comes close. It's worth mentioning though, that every view camera I have ever owned is a compromise of some sort - you just need to find out what your own preferences and needs are and the only way to really refine that is to own and use a camera.... While you obviously want to make the perfect choice first time, I'd suggest that you will ultimately only find out exactly what matters to you through use and experience - so get one and get shooting.

Steve Hamley
22-Apr-2009, 06:51
A friend of mine who's a full time nature photographer also uses and likes the Chamonix, but I prefer the design of the Ebony. Either one will be a superb choice.

Cheers, Steve

bvstaples
22-Apr-2009, 12:25
Then trade everything around and become a camera slut like me. After all, being a gearhead and swapping gear is really what the hobby is about, making photos is incidental. Otherwise you'd just get a $300 Crown Graphic and go shoot instead of dicking around ;-)

Thank the gods I'm not the only camera slut around here! I just finished putting together an old Toyo Field and using it tickles me pink. But I'm sure with time I will find another project camera, and away I go on that one. Half the fun is getting to use different equipment, learning how to make movements on different machines, and looking at the negs out of different bodies/lenses.

Oh crap, now I have to start looking for more gear...

venchka
22-Apr-2009, 12:43
Shop carefully. Shop patiently.

Things I know you could have gotten for $1,000 or less in the past 6 months:
Chamonix (used) and either a 90mm or 125mm lens.
Shen Hao and Ektar 203mm and either the 90mm or 125mm lens above.
Shen Hao and a 90mm, 125mm and Ektar 203mm lens. (Sifferent 90mm lens)
Shen Hao, 1 lens from above list, all the odds and ends 4x5 requires, film, change.
Several different 4x5 camera and 1 lens and odds and ends kits.

There's a lot of good stuff out there. Good stuff comes along all the time.

Ralph Miyashiro
22-Apr-2009, 15:26
I agree with Frank Petronio. I'm a beginner and the mono rail idea makes sense. Lots of basic used ones out there being almost given away. Get one of those and decide which movements you use/need (architecture may have different requirements than landscape) then shop for the camera that suits your preferences. For example, you may not care for how the back swing on the Chamonix works, it's different than most view cameras. The 5x7 question? I shoot the format. The decision was initially driven by not having a darkroom/enlarger, so it was a changing tent and contact prints on POP (printing out paper). POP is gone now, so it's harder to make a case for 5x7, but I'll continue in the format because I like the aspect ratio. 5x8 looks even more appealing, but hey, I've already made life difficult enough.

timberline12k
22-Apr-2009, 18:58
I appreciate everyone's input. I pulled the trigger today on a 4X5 Chamonix 045n-1 Camera. It was hard to find a used camera with the same features for $875 including shipping. Kerry with Really Big Cameras had one in stock in Walnut/Titanium w/Universal Bellows. He also had a quick release plate in stock that I ordered. He went ahead and attached it to the camera before mailing everything this afternoon. He also had two copal 1 lensboards that I purchased.

With the used lenses I received today from KEH (they are in great shape), I will be ready to research film loaders once I figure out how to put the lenses on the lens boards. I will also need to find a source for film and developing. Guess I will be back on the LF resource pages as well as the forums.

I did not cause too much of a stink on the home front. The only casualty was that my wife requested I sell my pit smoker that has been sitting in the garage collecting dust. If anyone is interested take a gander at this monster. Unfortunately I can't ship it as easily as camera equipment.

http://www.bbqpits.com/backyard_smokers/20x40_byc.htm

Heck, I had to sell my guitar and amp to pay for my Nikkor 200mm F/2. I think I see a pattern here.:rolleyes:

Gem Singer
22-Apr-2009, 19:18
Kerry, not Kelly.

He's a good guy to get to know. Knowledgeable and helpful. Kerry also sells a great line of tripods.

You made a wise decision to go with a new Chamonix.

Your journey has just begun.

Peter De Smidt
22-Apr-2009, 19:52
That's a great camera. I'm sure you'll have fun using it.

Craig Roberts
22-Apr-2009, 20:40
You can buy a new Tachihara for less than $1K. Great camera. Craig, PM me for details.

Gem Singer
22-Apr-2009, 20:45
Craig,

Read the posts. he has already purchased a new Chamonix from Kerry Thalmann.