View Full Version : Choosing a view camera

17-Aug-2011, 21:52
Good morning all,

I'm a newbie (albeit long-time lurker) here, and would appreciate the benefit of others' experience in a choice I'm about to make.

I'm looking for a monorail camera as my first LF (Why monorail? Flexibility, abundance in the market at reasonable prices, not being too concerned about portability). I have provisionally narrowed the choice down to some specifics.

1. A local seller is offering a Graflex Graphic View with a couple of lenses and various holders etc. -- I have yet to see the age and condition, and would want to negotiate on price, since I think the seller is being a little optimistic in their asking price, BUT local is good, since I live very far away from major markets, so shipping is expensive.

2. Importing something from the likes of KEH or another reliable dealer. I have in mind something in the Sinar F family. This will likely cost more (but not ridiculously so) but be a more modern camera with better part availability etc.

SO, is there any particular reason to either go for or avoid either of these options?

I'd appreciate others' experience :)

Kind regards,

Daniel Stone
17-Aug-2011, 22:52
A Sinar F2 is a great camera, and full of features that make shooting easy(once you've understood the system and all its quirkiness ;)), and ease of extra accessories(if you want them) makes it a very open-ended system. I owned an F2 for 6 months, and regret selling it. I'm now shooting another model 8x10 camera, but use a 4x5 back as well on it sometimes, but the Sinar still has a very fond place in my heart.

That is MY recommendation.

FYI: IF you decide to go with a Sinar, I'd HIGHLY recommend getting a Sinar Pan/Tilt head to use with it, its designed for Sinar cameras, and will give many years of faithful service. They're worth their weight in gold!



17-Aug-2011, 23:03
Both options are viable, but in the short term, buying local is your best bet.
You can always keep the lenses from the Graphic sale and get a different camera later on, if you decide to stick with LF.

John Kasaian
18-Aug-2011, 00:12
A Graphic View is a fine, very capable camera if its in good shape including the tripod attachement. Lenses, if they are good ones can easily up the asking price quite a bit.
Check out---
for what to look for in these cameras.
I happen to like Graphic Views and Calumet CC400 series monorails over most modern monos---they're built like tanks with hardly any plastic to break.

Drew Bedo
18-Aug-2011, 08:52
The Grafic View kit could be a good buy for an intro to LF—but if money is not a critical issue, go for the Sinar.

Alan Gales
18-Aug-2011, 14:09
Like Dan says, Sinar F2 with Sinar Pan/Tilt head.

If the camera stays in the studio or you only shoot next to your car I prefer the Sinar P.

Older Sinar Norma's are also very well liked but I have no experience with one.

Alan Gales
18-Aug-2011, 14:34
A great reason to buy a Sinar is to be able to use a Sinar Shutter for use with old lenses in barrel. That is if you like the look that older lenses can give you.

Check out Large Format Photography Forum member Ken Lee's sight for a ton of great information and many beautiful images. You can just google Ken Lee photography.

20-Aug-2011, 08:00
I really appreciate all the constructive advice I had. In the end I opted for the GV from the local seller. It was really well cared for and being sold by someone who loved it -- which always helps. And the lenses are a Symmar 180 and Tele-Arton 270. Should give me enough to explore for now.

I've just processed my first few sheets of HP5 from it and will post samples once they're dry.

I'm sure I wouldn't have regretted going the Sinar route either, but I'm delighted at the journey of discovery this one opens up anyway!

Thanks again, everyone!

20-Aug-2011, 09:48
I think you've made a very good start with that camera and those lenses.
The Symmar has a large image circle, giving you plenty of movements on 4x5; should you buy another camera later on, it would be a lens worth keeping.
Post your photos when you can.