View Full Version : NEW TO LF: need advice on what would be a good startup gear

14-Jan-2010, 00:33

I am a complete novice to his and need to set up gear so I can start shooting.
And advice pls?
I have been considering Crown Graphic as a possible option. I will be shooting urban and natural landscape and environmental portraits mostly outdoor.

Many Thanks


14-Jan-2010, 02:46
Fine cameras, and there is an English equivilent, I believe. Find a good one for a good price, and you can eventually sell it with little or no loss if/when you decide to move to a camera that better fits the way you are using the format.

But the Crown (and Speed) Graphic seems to be a fine camera for urban photography -- comes in its own case, can be hand held, and not reconized by your average thief as being something worth stealing (maybe ;) ). They usually come with a fold-out viewing hood -- so you won't have to be under a darkcloth in a area of town where someone under a black cloth is usually dead.

The lenses that usually come with the cameras are good quality if not abused. usually anything from 127mm to 150mm. The one deciding point on a lens is how well the shutter is working and not sluggish at the very slow speeds. You can send the lens off to be cleaned and adjusted, but nothing beats a dependable lens/shutter. One less thing to worry about when looking for images.

Film holders can be found used, for about $5 here in the States. There a lot of possibilities -- all depends on your budget and how your photography is shaped by the format. If you end up using a 4x5 camera more for natural landscape, you might go towards a folding wood field camera, for example -- or a rail camera if you tend towards portraits and/or never get far from home or the car.

Good luck and have fun!


Tim Meisburger
14-Jan-2010, 02:52
Hi Brij,

I was in the same boat and bought a crown, but don't use it very much. I thought I wouldn't need movements that much, but once you get over the initial learning curve, unless you are only shooting portraits, movements are where its at. I also have a 4x5 Ikeda Anba field camera, and when I took the crown on a recent business trip to the US, I really missed the Ikeda.

So, my recommendation would be to get a used field camera, which can be had for about the cost of a good crown. Anyway, thats my two cents (or p, as the case may be). Whatever you get, you will have fun.

Robert Hughes
14-Jan-2010, 08:42
Several similar press cameras are available. My Busch Pressman "D" camera has a metal frame and integral rangefinder, and came with a perfectly good Wollensak Raptar lens - all for about $120 off the Dreaded (2007 prices). Press cameras are cheap, set up fast and make for a nice, simple introduction to LF. Go for it!

14-Jan-2010, 14:04
Good advice and if cost is an issue and you decide to stay away from press style cameras used rail style view cameras are fairly in expensive and can be purchased for $150 in the USA. Next in price is a used wooded style field camera. These go from 500-800 depending on make. Shen Hao and Chamonix are the current best selling wood field cameras and are in the $700 range new.

Vick Vickery
14-Jan-2010, 15:44
The Graphics are all good starting cameras, with the Crown and Speeds being common and pretty inexpensive in the U.S. while the Super, at a little higher cost, offers the most features and front movements. In England there was a camera made that was almost up with the Linhofs as a technical camera; I think its name was MMP or something very similar...I think these are much more available in your area, and everything I have heard about them (I've not used one) has been very positive. I'd check with the London camera stores and see what I could look at in person.

By the way, while most of my shooting is with a Cambo rail camera, my Super Graphic does make a very nice field camera when I know I'm not going have to use alot of movements.

Gem Singer
14-Jan-2010, 17:08
If you decide to purchase a wooden folding flat bed field camera, I have a friend who wants to sell his 4x5 Tachihara.

This camera is like new. He has used it three, or four times, at the most.

He has a Paypal account, is willing to sell the camera at a very reasonable price, and will ship it anywhere in the world.

This the ideal camera to use as an entry into large format photography.

Contact me if you are interested.

Frank Bunnik
14-Jan-2010, 22:32
I use a Crown Graphic. To get forward tilt without having to drop the bed first (and thus having to slide the lens back in focus etc.), I reversed the front standard. This is easily done within 5 minutes. Mine has the rangefinder on the side and I synchronised it with my Nikkor W 135mm lens. It works great for environmental portraits.

15-Jan-2010, 16:07
Hey Guys

Many thanks for the suggestions. I will have to weight out the pros and cons of each and see what is available with ease to get me started...

Gem, can you pls put me in touch with your friend who is selling the 4x5?