View Full Version : newbie advice what camera should i buy?

valeria pandolfini
7-Apr-2011, 16:34
I just joined the forum cause it really seems to be the best out there and I'm happy to have found it!
I'm VERY new to LF photography- but I am eager to learn and have been reading /watching videos for a while now (very overwhelming at first) but I thought it would be good to get some real advise from you guys as to which camera I should buy..

I will be using the camera in my studio only shooting B&W film. I'm looking for something simple and not over the top expensive (max $1500 in total including lens- suggestions about lenses and any other equipment I might need will be greatly appreciated!)

I would love any advice you guys can give me :)
thanks and wow I'm excited to get started!!!!!

Gem Singer
7-Apr-2011, 16:57
In what part of the world are you located?

Knowing that will guide us with our recommendations.

valeria pandolfini
7-Apr-2011, 17:05
I'm in San Francisco :)

Gem Singer
7-Apr-2011, 17:29
For use in your studio, look for a nice monorail. Previously owned 4x5 Sinars are going for a song these days.

Outfit it with a 150, 180, or 210mm lens from any of the big four manufacturers, a focusing loupe, dark cloth, several 4x5 film holders, a sturdy tripod, and you are in business.

It's very possible that someone on this forum can sell you a complete outfit for well under $1500.

valeria pandolfini
7-Apr-2011, 17:52
aw i can't post or even peek in there yet cause I just singed up... i kinda need one yesterday :-/

Mike Anderson
7-Apr-2011, 18:11
aw i can't post or even peek in there yet cause I just singed up... i kinda need one yesterday :-/

I would wait until you can get access to the for-sale forum here (1 month) before going off to ebay or keh.com to buy. The deals here are often better.

If you really need one yesterday I recommend keh.com.


Gem Singer
7-Apr-2011, 18:22

What's the hurry?

You waited this long. A couple more weeks will give you time to see what's for sale on this forum, compare prices, and make better decisions.

valeria pandolfini
7-Apr-2011, 18:38
i have a project im working on that im VERY excited abt- Im a painter in profession but i would like to start using photography in my next body of work.. (I haven's produced anything for last 3 months and I need to get something going soon for upcoming shows- ahh deadlines can't live with them and cant live withoutem)

any other reqs for a camera? heard abt the tachihara? its not a monorail tho

btw thanks everyone :D

Gem Singer
7-Apr-2011, 18:49
Consider renting a 4x5 Horseman monorail and a lens from Adolph Gasser Photo in downtown San Francisco.

Use it for your project and avoid investing your funds in something you will only need for a short period of time.

valeria pandolfini
7-Apr-2011, 19:09
thanks for the tip i might do that.. although i probably still want to own one...

Alan Gales
7-Apr-2011, 19:14
I own a Tachihara. They are ultra light weight field cameras, not studio cameras. Everyone here is giving you great advice. A Sinar P would be a great choice for you. I have seen them go on Ebay with a Schneider 210 lens included for as low as $600 or $700 plus shipping. The thing that you have to be careful of is that some of these cameras have a lot of slop in them due to just being used up. This is a good reason to wait and buy one here.

7-Apr-2011, 19:17
There's a Linhof Kardan on the bay right now with a 210mm lens and film holders, and more stuff you need to start out with for less than $700.

Not a bad deal, I would say.

7-Apr-2011, 23:09
I personally just picked up a Sinar F1 and I think it's one of the most gorgeous machines I've ever used. A decent big-four 210mm would be good for studio work.

valeria pandolfini
8-Apr-2011, 08:24
thank you everyone for your advise. After speaking to a photographer friend yesterday I decided to start out with a medium format camera instead and after getting my toes wet and learning more about using LF then I might get one.. - I'm trying to buy a Hasselblad CM or a Mamiya at the moment... keh.com seems to be a good place

Gem Singer
8-Apr-2011, 08:58

Adolph Gasser Photo in San Francisco has Hasselblads in their rental department.

More likely than not, they would be willing to demonstrate the camera for you.

At least you could handle the camera to see if you like it before making an investment.

There are several models of the Hasselblad and a wide assortment of lenses from which to choose.

Previously owned Hassleblad cameras and lenses are selling for very reasonable prices these days.

Steven Tribe
8-Apr-2011, 10:19
Gem is giving very good advice, Valeria!

valeria pandolfini
8-Apr-2011, 13:40
thanks Gem
at the moment im considering a 500cm or 503cw- u can find these for 1,500 including lens! just need to figure out which one to get..
i saw that ur from frisko :) do u happen to know any good local photolabs that specialize in b&w ? preferably east bay

Gem Singer
8-Apr-2011, 13:49
Hey Valeria,

That's Frisco, TEXAS.

We're about 25 miles north of downtown Dallas.

Many labs in the SF Bay area still process B&W 120 roll film. Ask around.

Steven Tribe
8-Apr-2011, 14:19
The only disadvantage I can see with going with the hasselblad idea is that alternative lenses (they usually come with an 80mm) are going to be expensive. It is true that aroung 80% of shots on medium format are with this "normal" length - but it does restrict artistic experiment during the learning phase. Hasselblads have a delightful cassette system for 120 film - but these cost money and cannot always be depended on due to years of professional use. Cassette system are only really necessary with professional rapid use.

I would recommend the more simple TLR Mamiya series - where a set of different objectives not empty your wallet or weigh down your case! Mechanically more simple and no extra costs with backs.

Brian C. Miller
8-Apr-2011, 15:01
What about a view camera and a roll film back? Quite seriously, on a tripod the real operational difference between a LF and MF camera is pretty much how the film is loaded. If you don't have a serious need for 20 square inches of film surface, then you can get a really nice setup and a couple of lenses for less than the price of the Hasselblad.

Oren Grad
8-Apr-2011, 16:51
I'm trying to buy a Hasselblad CM or a Mamiya at the moment...

Valeria, if you've only ever used a 35mm or digital camera, medium-format SLR cameras are more fiddly than anything you're used to. And Hasselblads are fiddlier than most, and IMO take a fair amount of getting used to. (Yes, I've owned one.) If at all possible, SLOW DOWN. Get your hands on the different kinds of cameras you're considering - they have strong and distinctive personalities - before you commit to buying anything. And expect a learning curve before you're productive with whatever you buy.

If you're really facing a deadline, think hard about whether you'd be better off sticking with something you already know.

Bill Burk
8-Apr-2011, 18:13
A Yashica D is offered for sale on a site similar to this.

It may serve your needs.

valeria pandolfini
8-Apr-2011, 19:20
im VERY stubborn and I learn fast AND i just got myself a yummi hasselblad 503CX :D

Oren Grad
8-Apr-2011, 19:28
Well then... enjoy! :)

Steven Tribe
9-Apr-2011, 01:40
A very nice late version - check that the view finder still has the better quality GG installed!
Be sure to check the spacing of the exposures before you do serious work. This can be done by "wasting" an expired 120 film - taking of the back between shots and marking the framing - and repeating until all 12 shots have been made.
Note that the coupling between lens and body requires careful allignment to ensure no damage!

valeria pandolfini
9-Apr-2011, 08:31
great advise Steven! I just got a manual too but tips like these are awesome!
do u recommend any good b/w filters? or film as well? i might try shooting infrared too- any reqs?


9-Apr-2011, 09:07
I'm sorry but I think it's kind of funny you come to the forum and ask for advice and then end up ignoring said advice and doing something totally different. :D hahaha Stubborn indeed. :p Hey, sometimes the best way to learn something new is to dive into it and go for it. Hasselblads are great cameras, enjoy!

valeria pandolfini
9-Apr-2011, 09:24
all advice i got here has been great and served well- hands down I'm VERY grateful :)
and yes being stubborn and a workaholic has got me where i am today so no regrets on that front ;)

9-Apr-2011, 13:04
I was totally joking by the way I hope I didn't offend you. :) Welcome to the forum and looking forward to seeing the "Hassy" images. There is a thread for "small format" in the lounge forum were you can upload them.



Sirius Glass
9-Apr-2011, 15:43
I have a Hasselblad 503 CX and Hasselblad 903 SWC. The CF 80mm lens cost $500, the CF 50mm, CF 150mm and CF 250mm lenses cost about $800 each.

For LF, decide if what you want shoot: hand held, landscapes, architecture, portraits, table tops, flowers, ... Once you know that, you know the type of camera that you want and the lenses. The only thing that can slow you down is money!


valeria pandolfini
10-Apr-2011, 12:24
thanks gabriel :)
Sirius do you use any filters? Bayonet 60 costs tons so i might just get an adapter- although not sure what filter to get.. I want to get the same effect as in the pics here

i.e the glowing skin tones.. beautiful isn't it

Sirius Glass
10-Apr-2011, 13:58
Sirius do you use any filters? Bayonet 60 costs tons so i might just get an adapter- although not sure what filter to get.. I want to get the same effect as in the pics here

i.e the glowing skin tones.. beautiful isn't it

The advantage of staying with CF or later lenses allows one to buy one set of B60 filters for all CF or later lenses, except IIRC some 40mm lenses. Similarly with C lenses one to buy one set of B50 filters for all C lenses.