View Full Version : Good source of cheap 4x5 and lenses?

s. polke
29-Jun-2001, 13:41

I want to get back into 4x5 photography but am on severe budget restraints. I h ave used the crown graphic in the past and disliked the lack of rear movements. I am considering buying a used graphic view II off of ebay, adding a couple len ses and making do with that. Specifically I am interested in a 90mm and a 210mm -- I own a 135mm and a roll film back so I want a view camera with the graflok back (aint it stupid? -- I have a lens, film holders, rollfilm holder --- but no camera!). Is the graphic view okay with the wide angle? I guess I would need a recessed lens board with it.

I want to use this equipment to shoot outdoors -- hiking and carrying will be in volved, but I am in good shape and young enough so I don't worry so much about w eight.

A lot of people in these online forums complain about ebay but the pric es look much better than www.mpex.com or www.keh.com or similar places -- if the seller is reasonably honest in his description isn't ebay a good place to buy?

Charlie Stracl
29-Jun-2001, 14:34
I've gotten some great deals on EBay and also some bad deals. The bad ones happened (at least the expensive ones) when I didn't pay attention.

Be cautious in your shopping, know what you are getting, ask questions ahead of time, and read the seller's feedback. Do this, and you whould be OK on EBay.

Also check Midwest Camera Exchange for used LF equipment.

Regarding wide angle lenses, if you plan for 90 mm & shorter, I would look for something that accepts interchangeable bellows. There's just a practical limit how far you can squeeze standard bellows, and how flexible they can be when compressed.

Dave Willison
29-Jun-2001, 14:34
E-bay is a great source if you are interested in viewing equipment. No used retailer offers as much "visual" information on large format equipment. Indeed, I wish I had the time to download every image and burn it to CD! It would make a great little multi-media catalog and a nice complement to McKeowen's book. On the other hand, I've never purchased from e-bay even though I do a great deal of on-line buying. Part of the problem is a question of trust. More importantly, however, I find that the e-bay auction system is annoying. I don't particularly like the thrill of the auction and, in general, I don't like bidding against other potential buyers. If an item is for sale and it meets my needs in terms of price/condition, I'de like to buy it. I don't want to wait for the auction to end only to be outbid! It also annoys me that some retailers use e-bay as an outlet and are moving away from the traditional mail order approach. I even see identical items listed for sale on a retailer's site and for auction on e-bay. Sorry for grumbling!


29-Jun-2001, 15:26
The Graphic View cameras were/are one of the great bargains of the century. Get a GVII with Graflock back so you can use the RFA. You can use a 90mm lens on a plane board, but if you plan to use any front movements then you'll need a recessed board (as you assumed). The Kodak 203mm f:7.7 is one of the best lenses you'll find at any price. Plenty of them around, and also the (plain, not Super)Angulon 90mm f:6.8. It will give you some movement, but not a lot. This should make a really good outfit, about as inexpensively as you're gonna get.

Ellis Vener
29-Jun-2001, 17:14
Pete Andrews has one he is probably willing to pay you to take off of his hands.

Doug Paramore
29-Jun-2001, 18:08
I have used a Graphic View II for years and found it to do a good job. It, and most others I have seen, tend to jump the gears on the focus track unless you leave the focus and back rail locks just a little tight. The trouble is the long slender rod from the front and back standard knobs, which have too little support. It was not a marvel of 20th century engineering. Other than that it is a fine camera, capable of some good inages. It will handle the 90mm lens with a bit of rise, but bellows stiffness does not allow a whole lot. you can mount the lens a bit off center toward the top with an offset hole in a lens board and should have plenty of rise. I think it is a greatly under-rated camera.


29-Jun-2001, 19:28
I'd be surpised if Mpex wouldnt sell you something at the same price they sell for on ebay, or darned close. Ask.

Lens Boards
29-Jun-2001, 21:02
I have to say that I have gotten my best deals from Midwest Photo Exchange. Great guys. I stop by every time I go through Columbus. Places like KEH are in my opinion way overpriced and I refuse to shop there. I know that the Dallas KEH outlet only survived about ten years and shut down operations last year. The only time I bought something there, was if it was in the junk bin! Of course I have a slight advantage over most of ya' because as a truck driver, there's not a camera shop in Shutterbug I can't personaly walk into. So I probaly get slightly better deals than someone would over the phone. I still stand by my praise of Midwest Photo Exchange!

joe a kras
29-Jun-2001, 21:26
I also don't particularly enjoy bidding for an item on ebay but, having written this, I have purchased a number of items with 100% satifaction with my purchases. I have also purchase through mpex and they are also extremely helpfull and reputable. I would check both of these for reasonably priced photo gear.

David R Munson
30-Jun-2001, 00:39
I'm a big fan of both Midwest Photo and KEH. Personally, I don't find the prices at KEH objectionable, especially if you consider the quality of service and conservative grading of their items. Everything I have ever purchased from KEH was in better condition than I had expected and none of it has ever let me down. When I switched medium format systems this spring (to one that would meet Ohio University's requirements, grrr....), I bought everything from KEH and I'm very glad I did. I bought an RB67 Pro-S body, 120 back, NPC Polaroid back, KL 127mm, KL 250mm, and 50mm C lenses. Granted, I dropped a fair amount of money on this setup, but I still saved roughly 50% compared to what I would have paid new, and most things (the body being the one exception, got it in bargain condition) are in practically new condition. Even when I decided that the 50mm C was far too soft (just a dog of a lens in general, from what I understand) and returned it for a KL 65mm, the service was excellent to say the least. No, I'm not in any way affiliated with KEH, just a satisfied customer. I've purchased probably 70% of my equipment in the last 5 years from KEH and haven't been disappointed once.

Midwest Photo is also a great place, especially if you can make it to their store on High Street in Columbus, OH. Good service, friendly people,competitive pricing. It's easiest usually to just call them when you want to make a purchase instead of looking at print ads or on their web site to check what they have laying around.

As for eBay, I think that as long as you're careful, pay attention, and stick to sellers with good feedback, you're generally safe. Just don't do what I've done a few times and buy stuff at random because it looks like something fun to play with (anyone want to buy a 75mm f/1.9 in Ilex shutter?). I've had pretty good luck in general, and I think as long as you play it safe, it can be a pretty reliable and less expensive way of purchasing gear.

Clive Kenyon
30-Jun-2001, 13:11
I can personally corroberate the earlier postings about eBay - there are some great bargains, but you have to do your homework to avoid disappointment.

In over 100 eBay deals I have had only three duds and one of those was down to a camera I sold going belly up in transit. For the most part the regular sellers will prove reliable. Check the feedback before placing a bid.

As for prices - I cannot comment on US dealer's prices, but over here in the UK,the eBay deals represent a welcome saving. In the last 8 months I have amassed an outfit comprising of Olympus 35mm and Linhof Technika gear for about a quarter of the dealer S/H prices.

There are two secrets to buying on eBay: The first is to be prepared to buy a whole outfit in order to get the item that you want. Often selling the individual parts seperately will yield far more than you paid for the whole outfit and can lead to you getting the items you want to keep for nothing. This has been indirectly broached on these pages before.

The second secret remains with me.....


Darrell Wood
30-Jun-2001, 18:42
I've bought from e-bay on 3 occasions. i bought products i was fairly familiar with, paid prices that were on the low end of normal and dealt with guys that i e-mailed, then spoke with. Only if they knew what they were discussing did i buy, given all this, i've never been disappointed.