View Full Version : Staying with MF or going to LF ?

7-Jan-2011, 17:15
Hi everybody.

I really feel like buying a LF camera and preferably a Linhof, but I'm wondering whether it would be good idea. It's mainly to make portraits and still.

I own a Mamiya Press Universal with a 100mm 3,5 and I only use it with a polaroid back in which I put FUJI FP 100 C or BW. I also ordered some FP 3000.

I also own a Durst BW 670 which I use with films made with my Leica M2 or my Rolleicord (6x6).

I find the Linhof really beautiful but I do hesitate to buy one (a IV or a V) for several reasons :

- I like very much FUJI instant film (BW and color) and in 4x5 format, there is only the color available ;
- If I want to make 4x5 films, I would have to buy a new enlarger
- I don't know if the movements would be really useful for me
- is it better to stay with the Mamiya, with which I can use the 3 kind of FUJI instant film. I could buy a 6x7 back and use them with my Durst enlarger
- the cost of films (instant and BW) is a lot higher in 4x5 but the size is bigger !

So, in a nutshell, what would you do ? Stay with the Mamiya or go with the Linhof ?


Gem Singer
7-Jan-2011, 17:20
Stay with the Mamiya.

7-Jan-2011, 17:22
Go with the LF. You can then comment to MF shooters that you don't shoot anything that small.

7-Jan-2011, 17:31
Thanks guys!
Any other opinions ?

Brian C. Miller
7-Jan-2011, 17:37
Another vote for LF. You can use a roll film back on the camera, and then you will have movements, and still use your current enlarger. 4x5 enlargers are pretty cheap on the used market, and you can find people who will give you one just knowing that it will go to a good home.

Joseph Dickerson
7-Jan-2011, 17:43
You're decision should be based on what you shoot. You mention that movements might not be useful, so why bother. The main reason for large fomat, over medium format, is the camera movements that are available.

If you don't have a need for movements, never enlarge bigger than 11x14 or 16x20, like to shoot subjects that are animate (I.E. portraits), and like to shoot spontaneously, then larger format ain't your thing!

By the way, it seems that Fuji instant films are going the way of the dodo. So I wouldn't base any decisions on their continued availability. I know, I loved the 4x5 stuff, and don't even get me started on the loss of Quickloads!


Sirius Glass
7-Jan-2011, 18:32
Go with LF. I started with 35mm. Now I shoot single frame 35mm, full frame 35mm, 6x6, and 4x5. The choice depends on what I am looking for and the situation.

In the US 4x5 enlargers are not hard to find at a good price. Some other parts of the world, it can be harder.


7-Jan-2011, 18:48
I think in ur mind you subconsciously made ur own decision.... You posted this in large format forum... Of course we're gonna say go large format ;-)

7-Jan-2011, 18:57
While you don't need movements for portraits you can do a lot with them.

7-Jan-2011, 20:03
You won't know if you like LF or not until you shoot it for a while. It will change the way you shoot.

Why does it have to be one or the other?

Just get the Linhof, see if you like it, and if not, sell it.

7-Jan-2011, 20:05
Large format is very different than MF. I also started with 35mm, MF and then large format. Large format is for people with patience and for those who do not mind carrying all the equipment. I use the 3 formats for different situations. My advice would be to go where your heart leads you. In a nutshell, take a plunge into LF world, it is rewarding to see these big negatives.

Alan Gales
7-Jan-2011, 21:00
Hello! Linhof is expensive. Keep the medium format gear and buy a cheap used

Cambo/Calumet monorail including a 210mm lens off of Ebay for $300 or less. Try out

the 4x5 to see if you like it. You can always sell the monorail for close to what you paid

later and then buy the Linhof if you wish.

7-Jan-2011, 21:09
I shoot both (as well as 35mm).

Each system has its unique characteristics and strengths.

I generally find that a particular project will want one particular format.

- Leigh

7-Jan-2011, 21:10
6X9 is 2X3 inches = six square inches of negative/transparency.....
4X5 inches equals = twenty square inches of negative/transparency.....

End of Story!


7-Jan-2011, 21:31
First, if you're shooting MF you should have bought a 4x5 enlarger since the physical sizes are very similar and the difference in the cost of the enlargers is nil these days anyway. No reason not to get a 4x5 enlarger even if you're only shooting MF.

Second, why not shoot MF as well as LF? MF cameras are generally helical focus cameras and are great when speed and convenience are paramount considerations and movements are not needed. But when you need a really good image, LF is the way to go!

8-Jan-2011, 02:01
Thanks everybody.

I think price is not an issue because I could re-sell the gear at almost the price paid.

In which circonstances do you find movements usefull ? Are they helpful for macro-photography for instance ?

8-Jan-2011, 03:32
If you are shooting mainly portraits and still life then a monorail may be more suitable than a field or technical camera (and certainly less expensive to buy).

Movements can be very useful for still life.

Ken Lee
8-Jan-2011, 05:40
If you're going to shoot something larger, don't hold back. Consider 5x7. An 11x14 from one is only a 2x enlargement. The quality of such an image is hard to imagine. 5x7 enlargers are available, and it takes only the most humble scanner to get a wonderful image from a 5x7 negative.

Have a look at this article called A Closer Look At a Large Format Photograph (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/qtluong/example.html)

Here's another nice one: The 5x7 Format in Practice (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/5x7.html)

There is a 5x7 Technika. Ole Tjugen uses one, and provides a rather stunning illustration of 5x7 image quality here (http://www.bruraholo.no/images/Lodalen.html) - where you can zoom in and explore this image:


8-Jan-2011, 05:53
Thanks everybody.

I read carefully each opinion.

I have'nt tought about the 5x7 format but after reading Ken links I'm wondering if...

With 5x7, I could just make contact print and so don't have to by a new enlarger.

I'm going to make some additionnal research.

But is it easy to find and process BW film in 5x7 ?

Mark Barendt
8-Jan-2011, 06:02
For me the choice between MF and LF is driven by effects.

The effects of movements. If I want control the plane of focus or the shape relationships in the frame, this is important. So, is squaring or distorting the architecture in the background of your portrait is important? Do you want to square or distort your subject?

The effects of lenses, for example to get a Petzval swirl.

To print really big.

Do you want your subject, or yourself to feel different? I know I work/feel different about shooting when I switch formats and the people around me react differently to different cameras, too.

Frank Petronio
8-Jan-2011, 08:52
When you try a new camera and format attempt to use an "optimal" configuration, use it for its strengths and don't try to make it be something it isn't suited for.

A 6x9 rangefinder like the Mamiya is a great camera but maybe your portraiture would be better served with a medium format SLR? It would allow you to get closer and focus more accurately.... whereas the 6x9 rangefinder is better suited to medium shots, full-length figures, landscapes....

As for large format, perhaps making a bigger jump to 5x7 or even 8x10 would be more satisfying as you'd see a real difference in the results compared to 6x9 or 35mm. The larger cameras are quite impressive.

Ken Lee
8-Jan-2011, 09:01
"But is it easy to find and process BW film in 5x7 ?"

There are several manufacturers of 5x7 film in B&W. Ilford and Kodak come to mind of course. I shoot Ilford these days. Here's where I get my film in the US, but we would expect Ilford film to be even cheaper in the country where it's made :) https://www.badgergraphic.com/store/cart.php?m=product_list&c=256

It's easy to process by yourself. If you're thinking of sending it out for processing, that's another matter. To me, the idea of having someone else process your film, is like hiring someone else to eat your food.

But I'm not a professional, banging out "product". If I were, then I probably wouldn't be considering film anyhow. Instead, I'd be upgrading my software and hardware ad infinitum. :)

chad phillips
8-Jan-2011, 09:21
Go LF and have the variety. I own three MF bodies. I enjoy shooting portraits with them. I also own a 4x5 Speed Graphic and just purchased a 5x8 camera. I can say it is really nice having options. I used to own a Linhof Tech III 4x5. Awesome camera. Wish I hadn't sold it.

Ken Lee
8-Jan-2011, 10:05
Chad makes a superb point.

Some people like to stick with one camera, one lens, one this one that. For the rest of us, variety helps us explore and enjoy. It stimulates the creative processes.

Some times you go out with a camera that shoots square images - and the whole world begins to look square. Another time, you use ultra-modern equipment, and the world looks sharp and clear.

Sometimes you shoot with vintage equipment, and the world looks... vintage :)

8-Jan-2011, 10:21
I'd also suggest both MF and LF. LF gets you another notch up in image quality, is easier to scan decently, and you can trade/resell the gear anytime. You'll also get access to more lenses, perhaps 150 years worth.

4x5 is nice because enlargers are easily available and you can shoot and process with modest costs and have fabulous results. The other larger formats are more of a good thing, but the "systems" seem to be a little less mechanized / more traditional.

Marc B.
8-Jan-2011, 11:06
I echo those that say, why not both? Also, for entry into large format, go with 4X5. There seems to be a greater availability of film choices, used equipment at lower prices, and scanning options for 4X5, (if you desire a hybrid work flow).

There are also smaller, 405 Polaroid backs available for 4X5, that uses 3.25 X 4.25 instant pack film from Fuji, the same that is used with medium format. Adorama just had a sale on FP100C @ $8.50 a pack. Learning large format @ less than a buck a shot is dirt cheap. Much cheaper even than Fuji's FP100C"45", 4X5 pack film, @ $26.00 a pack.

As others have said, start with a Cambo/Calumet kit. They're affordable and capable cameras. If later you decide to move up, or move away from the format, sell it.

Roger Thoms
8-Jan-2011, 12:15
My 1 cent, keep the MF and get the LF.

8-Jan-2011, 12:50
Thanks everybody.

It's really helpfull to read all your opinion. Things look clearer and clearer in my mind.

I allready have a 405 polaroid back that I used with a pinhole camera.

I think I'm going to by a LF without selling my other camera and take a try with FUJI to begin.

8-Jan-2011, 15:46
My philosophy is to pick the right tool for the job. So by having both MF and LF, you can decide which tool will work best for the task you have.

Go the way I did.
I got a used Toyo 4x5 with a 150mm lens to "get my feet wet" in LF. It is not the best LF camera, but I figure if I really don't like it, I am not out too much, and I could probably resell it for about what I bought it for. And if I like LF, I can always upgrade to a better body, and reuse all the other LF stuff.

The other thing is the tripod. I don't know what you have for MF, but you may need a larger tripod for LF, and that would add to the cost.

8-Jan-2011, 16:02

As a tripod I have a heavy Gitzo. I guess I could use it with a LF...

I saw a Linhof Tech V with a Schneider Symmar 210mm f:5,6 (without cam) to sell at about 1000 $. As far as I can judge by the pic, it is very fine. Is it a good price ?

I guess the 210mm will be ok for portraits. Also for still life ?

Gem Singer
8-Jan-2011, 16:40
Don't forget to factor in the cost of LF film, film processing equipment, film holders, focusing loupe, dark cloth, filters and lens hood for the 210 Symmar, and a carrying case for the entire outfit.

al olson
8-Jan-2011, 16:44
As Scotty says, movements are very useful for doing still life, ala table top, photography.
I use a Linhof Color monorail for my still lifes and I can't think of a setup with this camera where I didn't use tilt and, perhaps, some swing. At close range your depth of field is very thin and it is nice to have greater capability to control it.

Every once in a while I will do some table top shots with the MF, but the results are not comparable. Check out Ken Lee's flower images. Ken is a master at still life shots. Or Chris Broadbent, another master. Their control of depth of field is impeccable.

Ken Lee
8-Jan-2011, 17:00
The 210mm focal length is popular for good reason: for landscape, portraits... everything, including close work. On 4x5, 210mm lets you shoot from a little further away, so that you get no wide-angle distortion of close objects looking much larger than distant ones. It does the same for portraits and landscapes. Some of us shoot most of our images, with lenses in that neighborhood.

Remember that you need a bellows extension of twice the focal length, to focus at 1:1.

If you plan to shoot small objects and fill the frame, you'll need 420mm of bellows draw with a 210mm lens. How much bellows draw does your intended camera provide ?

For that reason, many 4x5 macro lenses - those actually optimized for work at close to 1:1 - are shorter, like 120mm, 180mm, etc.

8-Jan-2011, 17:14
Thanks again every body, for all your usefull comments. I read you very carefully.

I don't know the length of the bellows draw on a Linhof Technika V but maybe somebody could help ?

If, for instance, I want to make a picture of the page of one opened book and have only one word clear and the rest of the page fuzzy, would that be possible ?

Should I also find a macro lens ?

8-Jan-2011, 17:16
Yes, 5x7 is excellent for contact prints. 4x5 is not quite up to it for most people.

What you could do is buy a 5x7 camera which can take a 4x5 back. Some cameras are actually the same for 5x7 and 4x5, just using different backs (e.g. Deardorff).

If you're only doing darkroom work, then perhaps just go with the 5x7 & contact print. If you'll be scanning & using color, then 4x5 will likely be better for film availability, cost etc.

8-Jan-2011, 17:17
Ken, I just had a look at your pictures and they are really great !

Ken Lee
8-Jan-2011, 19:11
Thanks !

Take some time to learn a little more about view cameras, view camera lenses, before you spend your money. You'll be glad you did.

This is a great place to learn.

8-Jan-2011, 19:54
Yes Ken.

I've been reading a lot of stuff all day and night (it's nearly 4 am here in Paris and I'm still in front of my computer...) and the more I read, the more I think i do need to buy a LF...

I think the idea of getting a system which can do both 4x5 and 5x7 is the best.

Deardorff, Plaubel, Sinar...

Still reading...

al olson
8-Jan-2011, 20:29
Here is a web page with a number of different examples of table top photography. You can click each image to enlarge. Lensboard movements were made on all images except the flowers. The digital scans do not show the sharpness and readability on the sheet music and on the navigation shart. Sixteen by 20 enlargements of these images are completely readable. These plus the starfish photo were done at a very acute angle to the table.


9-Jan-2011, 04:43
Nice shots Al ! I need a LF !

Any opinion on a Cambo 5x7 ?

Any opinion on a Linhof Kadran Master L 5x7 ?

Robert Skeoch
9-Jan-2011, 12:48
I would stay with the MF.
I just sold my 8x10 camera and switched to 4x10. I have a project I want to spend a couple years shooting with the 4x10 then will decide on it's future.

When I first got back into LF, and bought my first 8x10, I also had a great Hasselblad system. Three cameras, five lenses, prisms, everything, and I used it for shooting basketball. The problem with the blad was the camera was heavy and relied on batteries, and every time I went into the bush for a few days, the batteries would die and I'd be stuck. So I decided to get more into 8x10 and was on the slippery slope.

Eventually I sold off the blad stuff when the NBA switched to digital.

If I had it all to do over I would have just bought one blad camera that didn't need batteries, and use that and my lenses in the bush. The blad is also great for portraits. I don't know how I didn't figure this out before switching into the 8x10 system.

Now, don't get me wrong, I do like 8x10 it's just if I had it to do again, I would have stuck with the blad.

-rob skeoch

Robert Budding
9-Jan-2011, 12:56
A 4x5 press camera is a nice, and inexpensive, way to try out large format. Sounds ideally suited to your subject matter, and you can easily shoot hand held.

9-Jan-2011, 12:57
Thank you Rob for that opinion which is also very interesting.

Many they are also some other people who went down from LF to MF, but I guess a few among them are posting on this forum.

9-Jan-2011, 13:07
I've been shooting for more than 40-years. First 35mm, then 2-1/4, and now LF (albeit with a digital back...so the hard-cores will smirk a bit....). I use them all inter-changeably.

All three have their place in life and creativity.

One thing about LF that I learned, and I'm sure you would too, is....it's very humbling.

To image your work (or pleasure...!) with camera movements is daunting. To execute them...is sometimes full of humbling insights.

Try it. You'll find your own path....and be able to judge for yourself.

There's always eBay to extricate yourself from an untenable experiment...!

9-Jan-2011, 13:39
I prefer using my Hasselblad system (500 S/M and three lenses) more than I do the large format and have had the LF longer. There are some things I can do with LF I cannot do or do as easily as with MF such as pinhole, paper negs and of course movement. I have a friend who has tried LF and TLR Rolleiflex T which I do not think he liked that much but was surprised that he liked the Hasselblad as I also thought he more of a rangefinder person.

Guess what I am trying to say is I think we all eventually find a system or format we prefer over all others and it would only be natural to suggest that one to other people. My advise would be try LF but do not invest in either expensive or new equipment, keep it simple and keep coming to back this forum.

9-Jan-2011, 15:11
You don't need to limit yourself to just one format. I shoot 120 6cm x 7cm, 4x5 and next 5x7. I think different formats keep me creative.

9-Jan-2011, 15:19
Bought my first LF not long ago - my 0.02$ are these: If you do not intend / are not able to buy a new enlarger, stick with the MF or - better - go immediately larger - 5x7 at the least. Those 4x5 negatives are so tiny! (I've made a 5x7 pinhole and now I am already looking round for a bigger camera for the LF shooting is something to make your day. A therapy indeed.)
If you need movements, you can try to get a 6x9 view camera and use the enlarger you have.

9-Jan-2011, 15:33
The more I read, the more I feel like have a 5x7.

9-Jan-2011, 15:44
As others mentioned the 5x7 is almost purely for black and white. Unless you want to cut 8x10 color negative to 5x7. 5x7 is almost twice as big as the 4x5 and I have seen 5x7 contact prints and they look amazing. Another pro is the size and weight of a 5x7 is pretty close to a 4x5 so easy to backpack.

9-Jan-2011, 19:56
I've noticed little mention of composition...

I started in 35mm, moved to med format (6x6), then 4x5 to 8x10, then down from 8x10 to 4x5 and 5x7....

I learned composing full frame 35mm.....and would use every bit of the frame...

Then fought and fought with the square 6x6 medium format, hated cropping....and disliked square images...

Moved to large format, 4x5 and 8x10, little better than square - but composing upside down was a new challenge...

For me 5x7 is the happy medium...composition seems more natural and big enough for decent contact print... even though it's still upside down :D


Also, keep the MF gear...it's always nice to have the option, whether you use it or not....

Noah A
10-Jan-2011, 06:51
Like others I've gone through quite a few formats. I started with 35mm, in college experimented with 6x6 and 4x5 and at my job as a photojournalist I used mostly 35mm then small-format digital.

A few years ago I started shooting 8x10 to slow down the process and make a different kind of photographs. But I found it a bit TOO slow (not to mention too big to travel with and too expensive for (color) film and processing). I then went to 6x7 with a Mamiya 7 kit, and now I'm shooting 4x5 again and I'm very happy with it.

I think every photographer should at least try a view camera sometime. It's a great way to learn about photography and it may help improve your smaller-format work as well.

I also think that just wanting to try something new is a valid reason to switch to LF.

Having said that, once you're past the expirimental phase, it seems to me that you should pick your format based on the work you want to do.

There are a few reasons I can see to shoot LF over MF:

Perspective Control--camera movements can be important for keeping vertical lines vertical, controling the plane of focus or even for intentional distortions if that's your thing.

Image Quality--If you want the richness of a contact print or an incredible amount of detail in a very large print, LF is still the only way to go.

Slower working method--This can be a pro or a con depending on what you want to do. But for certain types of work it can improve your photographs.

I'm sure others will have their own reasons, but for me these are the main ones. I do a lot of work in urban environments and I don't like converting verticals. I also do 40x50in. or larger exhibition prints. So 4x5 is a great format for me.

I'd stick to 4x5 for your first foray into LF. The equipment is probably cheaper and more readily available than 5x7. And there are limited film choices in 5x7, at least in color.

If you really want to focus on contact printing, 8x10 might be a better choice. You could always get 4x5 and 5x7 backs so you'd have the best of both worlds. But the camera will be large, heavy and more pricey than a 4x5.

Whatever you buy,as others have said numerous times on this forum, your first LF camera will probably not be your last. So buy something cheap and used and you can resell it once you know what features you need and don't need in a camera.

If I were you, I'd go for either a 4x5 press camera or an inexpensive 4x5 monorail, depending on if you want speed of use or more ability for movements.

Henry Carter
10-Jan-2011, 14:02
My main camera is a 4x5 Linhof Masrte Technika Classic, and I have never regretted this purchase made new in 2000. It is truly an outstanding tool, and one of the great camera of all time. It is made for life!

A couple of years ago I acquired a late production used 2x3 Linhof 'Baby' Technika as a travel camera. I had it refurbished by Linhof and cammed with new 55, 100, and 180 lenses. I shoot with 6x9 roll-film backs.

This camera is smaller, lighter, and more convenient to use than its 4x5 bigger brother, and you have all the advantages of movements, ground glass composition, as well as easier hand-held use. You can use a smaller and lighter tripod, and carry a complete kit all day. And those 6x9 negs can be quite big and beautiful, yielding outstanding quality.

Does the 6x9 Technika replace 4x5? No, but it complements it, and it gives you an alternative to 4x5 when you would not consider taking the 4x5 at all.

11-Jan-2011, 13:45
I just read again every answer and, first of all, I do want to thank you for the time you spent to give me all those pieces of advise which are very very helpfull.

I'll try to sum up everything (sorry for my poor English but I'm French).

I also had a look at the pics some of you did and they are really great.

1) On the whole, about 30 posts advise me to go LF but also to keep (and not sell) my MF gear.

2) Only four or five advise me to stay with MF (either with my Mamiya Universal or with a SLR, which is better than RF for portraits and still life, or namely with a Blad). Two suggest to buy a 6x9 gear with movements (like Baby Linhof Technika).

Of course I'm conscious there is some bias because we are here in a forum devoted to LF...

3) Five voted in favor of 5x7 instead or along with 4x5 (like a dual format Deadorff).

4) A couple think I'd better begin with a cheap gear (like Cambo/Calumet) or generally with a monorail instead of a folding.

After having made some additionnal reading following the directions you indicated, here is my today opinion (but it may change as I keep studying the question) :

A) As Ken Lee has wisely suggested I need to take my time before buy a LF.

B) I'm not going to sell my Leica, but maybe I will change (in the future) my Mamiya Universal for a Mamiya RB or for Blad (but that's not the point today). Thanks everybody.

C) a 6x9 (like the Baby Linhoff for instance) could be a way to experiment movements. I saw a mint Plaubel Peco Jr with 3 lens on a German dealer site, which I find more than beautiful and which sounds sturdy and cheap. But I don't think it's a good idea, as 4x5 is not more expensive and would be easier to use.

D) I won't choose neither a dual format (5x7 + 4x5) nor a 5x7 as my first LF

E) I'd probably buy a cheap monorail LF. In that category, the Sinar Norma which is cheap, beautiful (there is one at the Moma), sturdy and compatible with the Sinar family, is on top of my list (I found one offered under 300 $)

F) I'd probably buy a 210mm as my first (and maybe sole) lens (thanks Ken)

G) I'd probably use 4x5 sheet films and not 6x7 120 (even If I could enlarged with my Durst 670) ; I'd buy a 4x5 enlarger or alternatively a good flat scanner. I'd process myself the film (only BW). I'd also use backs for Fuji instant film, both 3.25x4.25 (for cost reasons) and 4x5

H) I'd probably look for a long rail (420mm to have 1:1 - thanks again Ken).

I) and what else... ?

Thanks again everybody

12-Jan-2011, 09:03
no comment ?

Noah A
12-Jan-2011, 09:21
I think you're on the right track now. Find yourself a cheap monorail or field camera and a good 150mm or 210mm lens and start shooting. Buy everything used, not new.

If you like it you can tailor your kit to your needs. If not you can sell the gear and probably get most of your money back.

Have fun!

Brian C. Miller
12-Jan-2011, 09:26
I started cheap with a Graflex Super Graphic years ago for $500. I still use the camera. There are plenty of excellent cameras that can be purchased cheaply. Just make sure that the bellows are good and no light leaks in them.

Ivan J. Eberle
12-Jan-2011, 10:56
What exactly is it that you're trying to achieve with a jump to large format? Where is your present equipment letting you down, what are your strengths as a photographer and will these be better served by a format change?

Instead of thinking of "which camera" first and foremost, I'd suggest working backwards from which lenses you'll likely need. Lens decisions will best be predicated on the subject matter you intend to shoot. Bit of a challenge to know all that (in any more meaningful way than finding other photographers imagery and finding out what focal lengths and coverage they used), without personally shooting LF for awhile.

So the advice of jumping in and getting a cheap camera is not bad at all since the format jump itself will affect your way of seeing and thinking. This can be a very good thing if your imagery is getting stale or you're looking to expand into some new area, but could be frustrating if trying to replicate a look that a smaller format actually achieves better.

Not all lenses fit all camera types, and some will be infinitely easier to use with certain camera designs. Cameras with greater precision and larger moves will be more versatile but are generally heavy. Lenses with more coverage will be may be so large as to not fit anything but a monorail or a wooden field.

LF not only makes possible image-plane/focus plane moves-- it often requires them while a smaller format does not. Smaller taking apertures are otherwise needed due to the longer focal lengths involved for the same angles of view in smaller formats, at a penalty of very slow shutter speeds. (Sometimes moves don't help like when the subject matter does not all fall into roughly one plane.) OTOH, razor thin Depth of Field can be exploited for other purposes, like in portraiture, due to these same LF qualities.

I've got a couple of technical field cameras (Meridians), a Super Graphic, and a Sinar Norma 4x5. I gravitated toward the Meridians because they do essentially everything a Linhof Master Technika will do (and some things better) at ~1/5 to ~1/20th the cost. After using them for a year and a half, I bought the Norma (with a bag bellows) to exploit the moves of my Nikon SW90 f/8-- specifically rear rise, font fall. But the Norma gets the least use. Most of the time I don't need all the moves to be worth the 2lb extra weight of the camera nor the 2 lbs heavier tripod head.

12-Jan-2011, 13:40
Thanks Ivan.

I wish to make both portraits and still live (even macro) and I really find it very difficult to obtain good resuts with the Mamiya Universal (with macro tubes). I understand RF is not the appropriate tools to shoot that.

Ken Lee's pictures are more the kind of pictures I dream to do.

Also, I'd like to explore movements.

As far as I understand 210mm would be the more appropriate to the kind of pics I'd like to shoot.

I also love beautiful cameras (I love my Leica M2, which I consider as one of the most beautiful camera ever).

If I were to buy one of those two LF, which one would you suggest :

- a mint Plaubel Peco Jr 6x9 with 3 lenses (I'm conscious that the market of parts is very narrow and that 6x9 is not as open as 4x5 but I find it so cute). approx. 650 $ for the kit

- a very nice Sinar Norma, with no lenses. approx. 350 $

- a mint Linhof Super Technika V with grip and a apo-sinaron 5,6 210mm. Approx. 1500 $ (this one is on top of my list).

So, what would you do ?

Robert Hughes
12-Jan-2011, 13:45
Use both MF and LF - and digital. Good camera gear is so plentiful nowadays you just can't go wrong with any format that tweaks your fancy. Sell off what you don't use, so you don't fill up your basement with good cameras you forgot about.

Scott Davis
12-Jan-2011, 13:47
I'd skip the Plaubel - it's a good system but an unusual one and parts and accessories for it will be few and far between. The Sinar Norma is a great camera, and I think in the end you'll be less limited by it than the Linhof. This is not a dig against the Linhof, it's a great camera. But the Norma has a million accessories that will fit it, and it can do everything the Linhof can do, and better in many cases, except be used hand-held. If your budget is $1500, then the $1150 difference between the Norma and the Linhof will buy you a very nice multi-lens kit, film holders, darkcloth, and even a hand-held meter if you don't already have one.

12-Jan-2011, 14:12

I also saw a Sinar F with a Symmar 210 and a Symmar 100, plus a polaroid back at 550$. It sounds good, don't you think (even if the Norma is said better built) ?

Brian C. Miller
12-Jan-2011, 14:35
The Polaroid back that you want is the 550. The 545 takes sheet "pods," which aren't made anymore. The 550 back takes the Fuji instant pack film, but you may need to fiddle with it a lot.

12-Jan-2011, 14:37
Ok. I'll ask the seller if it is a 550 back.
What do you mean "you may need to fiddle..." ?

john biskupski
13-Jan-2011, 15:43
Don't agonise too long, get something reasonably suitable for your main idea and start using it. That's the best way to really discover both if LF is really for you and what type of tool serves you best. BTW, if you were brought up on 35mm and MF, I'd suggest you do not completely abandon them, there are always times when they are the right tools for the job, just as for many of us, digital is often just right for some occasions.

Martin Aislabie
14-Jan-2011, 04:00
Just one note of caution

If you don't live in the USA/Canada then 5x7 Cameras and all that goes with them are as rare as hens teeth

My $0.02


Ivan J. Eberle
14-Jan-2011, 16:50
Sinar gear pretty much all converts between formats, mix and match. It's rather commonplace, too, because it was the coin of the realm for pro LF gear in the 80's and 90's. A fair number of 5x7 and 8x10 pieces come up for sale used, though if one is patient a better deal might be found by buying a complete kit.

Color film itself might soon be tough to find, though, in sizes other than 4x5.

Sirius Glass
15-Jan-2011, 16:02
To add to the list of hard to find color film is 3 1/4" x 4 1/4". At least I could get that size in black & white from FreeStyle and directly from Ilford.

15-Jan-2011, 16:56
I only do B&W and we can easily find 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10 films in Europe until now...

Foma is rather affordable.

I've now limited my search to Linhof Technika 45 IV or V or Sinar (Norma or F).

Today, I missed a mint and complete Sinar F with two lens (Schneider MC 210 and 100), with Sinar-Compur around 500 $.