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ornate_wrasse
29-Aug-2010, 03:35
I am considering getting into Large Format Photography. I saw a Woodman 45 4x5 camera with a Schneider 150mm lens at my local photo store here in Portland, Oregon. The shop was asking $1,595 for it.

The fact that the camera is light and could be carried easily is one reason why it appealed to me. Another reason was that I could inspect it and could return it to the shop within 10 days if there were any problems with it.

I was wondering 1) if this was a decent price for this camera + lens and 2) if this was a good choice for a camera to learn large format photography.


Thanks all for your input.

Ellen

Lachlan 717
29-Aug-2010, 03:41
I'd say about $200-$300 too much (at least).

You can get a brand new Shen Hao for under $700. A 150mm should be $200-$500, depending on age, condition, type etc.

Woodman's a very nice camera, but that's too much (in my opinion). I would strongly suggest a) looking at new prices on Shen Hao and Chamonix cameras, and b) have a good look at eBay for the lens.

ornate_wrasse
29-Aug-2010, 04:08
Lachian,

Thank you for your input!

If I could get the price down on the Woodman down to say $1,200, would you recommend the Woodman or the Shen Hao (or Chamonix)?

Thanks.

Ellen

Lachlan 717
29-Aug-2010, 04:51
Lachian,

Thank you for your input!

If I could get the price down on the Woodman down to say $1,200, would you recommend the Woodman or the Shen Hao (or Chamonix)?

Thanks.

Ellen

Ellen,

I'm biased towards Shen Hao, so won't (directly) recommend them.

But I think the following holds true in most forms of photography:

"Buy the cheapest camera you can afford, and buy the most expensive glass you can afford".

So, if this is true, don't get caught up in the camera; in LF, it's basically a box to hang your lenses on.

You'll see better value in buying quality lenses. The bix might change, but in 20 years, good glass will still be with you.

ki6mf
29-Aug-2010, 07:48
Ditto what Lachlan 617 said! I have a Shen Hao and have no complaints. The Chamonix users all say good things about those cameras too. Another alternative is to search Craigs list for bargins. Right now in my area, Boston, there is a Cambo SC II with film holders 150MM Rodenstock lens and light meter for $450! So if you can shop around for the best deal. Shen Hao can be had new from Badger Graphics in kit.

Doremus Scudder
29-Aug-2010, 17:15
I own a Woodman, I bought it for about $400 from eBay. It was in pristine condition when I got it. $1.600, even with the lens, sounds a bit much. The Woodman is a bare-bones lightweight field camera and has a lot of capabilities (I use mine for 99% of my European work since the camera lives there now...), but not nearly worth that price. I recently bought a Wisner/Zone VI 4x5 for about a quarter of that.

If I were looking to buy a 4x5 wooden camera, I'd be trolling the auction sites, looking for a good used deal. If you like new, then (although I don't own one) the Chamonix new version looks really attractive and is certainly more camera than the Woodman.

As for lenses, again, try to find something uses. Nikkor, Schneider, Rodenstock or Fujinon lenses in 135mm and 150mm often go for very little used. Even better deals can be had on older lenses like Ektars (I own four that are all outstanding performers) and others. A little research here will turn up a lot of great info on lenses.

I'm sure you can put together a better kit than what you have been offered for significantly less!

Hope this helps,

Doremus Scudder

ornate_wrasse
29-Aug-2010, 21:28
Doremus,

Thanks for your thoughts. I noticed that one of your locations is in Eugene, Oregon. My daughter currently attends the University of Oregon in Eugene. I go down there from time to time.

I looked at your web site and I must compliment you on your images. They are very nice!

Ellen

richard brown
30-Aug-2010, 22:19
Hi Ornate.... and enjoy the large format world.
That price is way too much... the woodman i sold for $500 was in nice shape but i found it too wobbly... didn't lock down that well but an okay camera.. just not at that price.
And grab a used camera... lots on auction sites or this site.. the chinese are making some nice ones and i love my old toyo 45A metal field that has bounced around the worlds.
Lots of wonderful, generous folks on this site willing to give you advice...
Cheers, Richard

Brian Ellis
31-Aug-2010, 08:29
If you're buying used the fairness of the price depends to a considerable extent on exactly which version of the Schneider 150mm lens you're talking about because there are at least four generations of Schneider 150mm lenses for 4x5 out there. If the lens on the camera you're looking at is the Symmar then a price of $1,600 for the camera and lens is close to $950 too high. If it's the Symmar S then it's about $850 too high. If it's the APO Symmar then it's about $700 too high. If it's the APO Symmar L then it's a good price because the lens alone sells new for something like $1,200 IIRC but if the lens is used I doubt very much that it's an APO Symmar L. These are all ballpark numbers of course but under any realistic scenario a price of $1,600 for that camera and lens on the used market is way too high.

ornate_wrasse
1-Sep-2010, 21:59
If you're buying used the fairness of the price depends to a considerable extent on exactly which version of the Schneider 150mm lens you're talking about

Hi Brian,

The camera + lens are currently at Pro Photo Supply in Portland, a shop you may have used before since I see you are also in Oregon. Now you have got me curious as to which lens comes with the camera. I'll contact them and find out which lens it is. I do remember, however, being told that the lens costs about $1600 if purchased new.

I'll check and report back exactly what lens it is.

Thanks for pointing out the differences.

Ellen

Sideshow Bob
1-Sep-2010, 22:24
When you contact them about the lens, ask for the serial number, with that you can find out the age of the lens from the Schneider web site. http://www.schneideroptics.com/ (look under info)

Gale

Peter Gomena
1-Sep-2010, 22:42
I agree that the price is too high if the lens is a Symmar-S. If it's one of the latest Schneiders, that's a different story. A Symmar-S (a perfectly good beginner lens) should sell for $200-300 in really good shape. A Woodman should be priced at about $500-600 in top condition. Let it sit in the store for a couple of months and then make a reasonable offer.

Peter Gomena

Vaughn
1-Sep-2010, 23:25
While the price seems high, the Horseman Woodman is a very nice lightweight 4x5. We have a couple of them we check out to students. Certainly out lasted the Tachihara we have.

The Woodman has limited movements compared to more technical cameras, but it does very well with general landscape work. It is one of the trade-offs to get a camera which weighs under 3.5 pounds.

I think it would be a great camera for someone who plans to use it primarily for landscape and ease of traveling with it. Perhaps coupled with an older rail/studio camera for when one needs the precise movements...or more bellows for longer lenses.

I used a Gowland PocketView 4x5 for many years -- still have it and have plans to use it. It is even lighter than the Woodman -- about 2.5 pounds with a Caltar IIN 150/5.6 on it! Like the Woodman, it did not have back shift nor back rise/fall But you learn to live work with what you have.

Its light weight is also at the cost of a shorter bellows (12.5"), and with no bag bellow option, you might be limited to lenses from 90mm to 240mm. I have only used a 150mm on the Woodman, so I have not tested the extremes.

B&H has them new (no lens), for $1428. I think the camera fills a particular nitch -- a sturdy, lightweight wood field camera for landscape. It can work outside of its nitch as long as one does not push it too hard.

Vaughn

ornate_wrasse
3-Sep-2010, 12:02
When you contact them about the lens, ask for the serial number, with that you can find out the age of the lens from the Schneider web site. http://www.schneideroptics.com/ (look under info)


I called Pro Photo Supply and found out the Serial number of the Schneider lens that comes with the Woodman. It's 14810033.

It appears to me that it was made between January 2002 and January 2003, as best as I could determine.

Ellen

Andrew Plume
3-Sep-2010, 14:04
I am considering getting into Large Format Photography. I saw a Woodman 45 4x5 camera with a Schneider 150mm lens at my local photo store here in Portland, Oregon. The shop was asking $1,595 for it.

The fact that the camera is light and could be carried easily is one reason why it appealed to me. Another reason was that I could inspect it and could return it to the shop within 10 days if there were any problems with it.

I was wondering 1) if this was a decent price for this camera + lens and 2) if this was a good choice for a camera to learn large format photography.


Thanks all for your input.

Ellen



Hi Ellen

As others have said, the price quoted is way too much, almost excessive I'd say

I'd really recommend an 'entry level' good quality monorail, ok it would be heavier but you would have access to all possible movements - just set it up and move the standards this way and that way and you'll see from looking at the ground glass, the possibilities that this style of camera will have

I've a Sinar A1 (otherwise known, I believe as an Alpina) which is completely surplus to present requirements at this end - if you're interested I can do a 'package' deal including a lovely Schneider 150mm which I've owned since bought new about 10 years ago and still in great condition - 550 to go + shipping - a heck of a better camera than the Woodman, albeit a tad heavier - if you're interested, suggest you send a pm

Hope this helps

andrew

Brian Ellis
3-Sep-2010, 20:23
I called Pro Photo Supply and found out the Serial number of the Schneider lens that comes with the Woodman. It's 14810033.

It appears to me that it was made between January 2002 and January 2003, as best as I could determine.

Ellen

Those look like the right dates but unfortunately they won't tell you whether it's an APO Symmar or an APO Symmar L because the APO Symmar L line was introduced at Photokina in 2002, i.e. during the year when the lens you're looking at was made. So with a 2002 manufacture date it could be an APO Symmar or it could be an APO Symmar L. New APO Symmar Ls sell for about $1,200 I believe. Used APO Symmars are somewhere in the $400-$600 range I think. So which lens it is makes a big difference in how fair the price is.

Of course even if it's an L, which would make the price more fair, there still remains the question of whether you want a lens that expensive. APO Symmars, even Symmar Ss, were fine lenses and more than adequate for almost all purposes. I bought a 210mm APO Symmar new around 1996 and it was my favorite lens for many years. But if you wish to pursue a purchase of this camera and lens I suggest that you ask the seller which model it is.

jeroldharter
3-Sep-2010, 21:30
I think that is a lot of money. You can get a Toyo AX for ~$700 and a 150mm lens is hard to give away unless it is the absolute latest model Schneider or Rodenstock Sironar S. I would not pay more than $1000 but you could do better if you were pinching pennies.

al olson
4-Sep-2010, 05:22
. . .

But I think the following holds true in most forms of photography:

"Buy the cheapest camera you can afford, and buy the most expensive glass you can afford".

So, if this is true, don't get caught up in the camera; in LF, it's basically a box to hang your lenses on.

You'll see better value in buying quality lenses. The bix might change, but in 20 years, good glass will still be with you.

One caveat regarding the camera however. If buying used, ascertain that there are no light leaks in the bellows or around the back with a holder in place. Or else will they guarantee a refund? It is not a pleasure to be chasing light leaks and replacement of the bellows is a little expensive.

ornate_wrasse
4-Sep-2010, 16:43
if you wish to pursue a purchase of this camera and lens I suggest that you ask the seller which model it is.

I contacted the shop and found out that the lens is an APO Symmar L lens. So, it turns out to be the more expensive of the two lenses it could be.

Now that have this information, what is a fair price to pay for the Woodman 4x5 camera + Schneider APO Symmar L 150mm lens?

Thanks for all your help!

Ellen

Peter Gomena
5-Sep-2010, 09:29
It sounds like a Chevy with a Porsche engine. I looked around a bit but couldn't find a used price for that particular lens. Look at it this way - once you've found a reasonable used price, you'll own a great piece of glass that will last you the rest of your photographic life. The camera is secondary.

I've bought quite a bit of used gear from the vendor you mention. Find out what the true value of the kit is, and offer them 70% of that. They may have to double-check with the owner consigning the item, but my bet is you'll get it at your price or you'll get a reasonable counter-offer. Take some time and research this a bit. No one is going to beat the doors down to buy it at the current asking price! In my experience, used gear in really good condition should go for about 60% of new price.

Peter Gomena

Oren Grad
5-Sep-2010, 09:52
FWIW, the B&H price for a new Woodman 45 is $1428.90 and for a new 150 Apo-Symmar L is $1099.99, or $2528.99 for the pair.

Low-end 4x5 wood field cameras are very common and inexpensive used. But the 150 Apo-Symmar L is not. If I had my heart set on that lens, I'd ask the dealer to knock $250-300 off the kit price, mostly to reflect the poor resale value of the Woodman, and if the dealer countered with an offer of a $200 discount I'd probably take it.

jeroldharter
5-Sep-2010, 09:59
From the sound of it, you are just getting started. Therefore I doubt you are wed to a particular lens, especially one at a steep premium. You could easily get a similar wood field camera or a Toyo metal field camera with the standard Fuji, Nikkor, Rodenstock, Schneider 150mm lens for $900 or less. I doubt you would be able to tell any difference in B&W negatives and you would have enough money left for at least 300 sheets of film. Also, I think that your photos could improve more by "downgrading" to a regular 150mm lens as noted and spending the difference in a quality tripod and head. Just my $0.02.

ornate_wrasse
5-Sep-2010, 12:58
Also, I think that your photos could improve more by "downgrading" to a regular 150mm lens as noted and spending the difference in a quality tripod and head.

That brings up a question I've had as I start to enter the world of large format photography. I currently own a Gitzo G1228 tripod with a Markins M10 ballhead which I currently use with my other cameras. Will that tripod and ballhead work with the Woodman, or a Shen Hao or Chamonix camera?

Thanks to all for your input. It has been very helpful as I ponder the decision of whether to buy this camera or not.

Ellen

jeroldharter
5-Sep-2010, 17:11
That brings up a question I've had as I start to enter the world of large format photography. I currently own a Gitzo G1228 tripod with a Markins M10 ballhead which I currently use with my other cameras. Will that tripod and ballhead work with the Woodman, or a Shen Hao or Chamonix camera?

Thanks to all for your input. It has been very helpful as I ponder the decision of whether to buy this camera or not.

Ellen

I am not familiar with those particular models, but from looking at the specs on the web you would be either pushing it or inadequate using a 4x5 on that setup. Of course, anything is possible, but add a heavy lens, bellows extension, wind, etc. and I think you will soon wish for a more robust combo. I use a Feisol CT-3342 (http://www.feisol.net/feisol-tournament-tripod-ct3342-rapid-p-30.html) tripod with an Arca Swiss Z1 ballhead (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/469077-REG/Arca_Swiss_801103_Monoball_Z1_sp_with.html) which I consider minimalist for 4x5.

Armin Seeholzer
6-Sep-2010, 14:22
Hi Ellen

I use this tripod for my Horseman HF 1,7 kg and also my Nikon F 5 with a 300mm lens with not any Problem, so your tripod should be fine I do not know your head!

Cheers Armin

P.S. A very faire price would be 1200 USD for this combo and 1300 would be okay any cts. more would be to much in my opinion!

Brian Ellis
6-Sep-2010, 17:08
I contacted the shop and found out that the lens is an APO Symmar L lens. So, it turns out to be the more expensive of the two lenses it could be.

Now that have this information, what is a fair price to pay for the Woodman 4x5 camera + Schneider APO Symmar L 150mm lens?

Thanks for all your help!

Ellen

Probably about what the shop is asking, maybe a couple hundred less. But you could get an approximately equivalent or arguably better camera and a lens that would be more than adequate such as a 150mm APO Symmar for considerably less than $1,600. Your choice.

Jordan
6-Sep-2010, 19:27
Do not underestimate the importance of the camera. Lenses are also important. If the camera is really sloppy and doesn't lock down tight or move smoothly, then you may be turned off to the whole large format experience. Of the many reasons people are attracted to large format is that you gain more control over your images. If your camera is all out of whack then that control is minimized. For 1600.00 your options for a large format camera kit including lens are pretty good. I personally prefer a 135mm lens to the 150mm also, just saying.

ornate_wrasse
6-Sep-2010, 23:38
Probably about what the shop is asking, maybe a couple hundred less. But you could get an approximately equivalent or arguably better camera and a lens that would be more than adequate such as a 150mm APO Symmar for considerably less than $1,600. Your choice.

The key words here are "your choice". It sounds like, from what you and everyone else is saying, that I could spend less money and do just as well. The classic advice is to "put your money into getting good glass" but it doesn't seem to make sense here, especially as I'm just starting out, to buy this lens, which comes with the package.

I've had a kind offer from one of the members who lives in my neck of the woods to let me borrow his Shen Hao and 150 lens and see if I like large format, before I spend big bucks.

The incredible generosity of the members here is much appreciated. Thanks to everyone who has stepped in to give me advice on the wisdom of making a potential purchase.

Ellen