View Full Version : first camera for indoors, available light?

natasha berger
20-May-1999, 02:32
Hi, I am very new to this but thinking seriously about making the leap. I've noticed most of the questions relate to studio or landscape work, but I'm interested in indoor shots, with people usually, in widish focal length (in 35mm I use mostly 28mm-50mm lenses). What is a good starter camera for me, assuming about $600-$700 budget for body, new or used?I am very patient and contemplative in my work, and I think lf is a natural match. I also love the old wood cameras because they are are so knock out gorgeous. Would any of those be at all practical for my style?

Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appeciated-this is so confusing!

Thanks, Natasha

20-May-1999, 06:40
Try a toyo cx for 550 dollars new. (no lens)

Alan Gibson
20-May-1999, 07:38
The 'available light' criteria is tricky. Most LF lenses are heavily optimised for small apertures (f/16-f/22), much more so than smaller formats, so you need long exposures. Does anyone know of LF lenses that work well fully-open?

Ron Shaw
20-May-1999, 11:23
The Kodak 203mm Ektar is supposed to be sharpest wide open (F7.7), as well as being good to 1:1 with low distortion, however, it wont give the wide perspective Natasha prefers. Even though LF lenses are designed for best performance at F16-22, you may find that they give you perfectly usable results for your applications used wide open. A wooden camera is as good as any if in good repair.

John D de Vries
20-May-1999, 11:36
Dear Natasha,

Please read this FAQ about large format cameras... http://www.johndesq.com/novice1.htm

Checkout also our other URL http://www.johndesq.com

For a camera search for used Tachihara 4x5 with 150mm lens to start with..

If there are any questions afterwards, feel free to ask Regards, JohnD.esq :<})

John D. de Vries (pres. WFPA) {:]///////[ 

20-May-1999, 14:08
speed graphic, tri-X pushed, 127mm Ektar. don't pay more than $300 for cam and lens in ex condition.

20-May-1999, 14:26
Good for you Natasha,

I'll agree with most of the posts here. But lf may not be the way to go for available light! The recent release of ilford 3200 delta and other fast mf emulsions are breaking open available light photography as we speak. I'd suggest you check out some used/smaller mf cameras for this very reason. Old Rollies, a yashica 124g, mamiya c330's are all great cameras and fit your price range. If you could save a little more money I'd suggest a fuji rangefinder, they are smallish handholdable and come with a 65mm or a 90mm which would match quite nicely to your faves on 35mm. Get out your light meter and play around....test what you feel to be your definition of "available light" to find the ei's and exposures you will require then purchase your camera based on those needs. If your light levels are very low you might want a 2.8 rollieflex, if you don't mind pushing film you could go with a "slower" camera. Do tons of research before you make that leap so the landing will be soft. Good luck!

Tony Brent
20-May-1999, 18:10
You may wish to investigate the work of Marie Cosindas. She used (uses) 4 x 5 Polaroid material to make wonderful available light portraits. I don't know what camera (s) she used. Many other good suggestions have ben posted here.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
20-May-1999, 19:57
It's not exactly l.f. but a Mamiya Universal or similar press-type roll film camera can often be had for $200 - 250.00/body & lens depending on which one you get and whether you're willing to shop a bit. Check out the old Omegas specifically the Rapid M, which I believe John Gossage used to use. It'll shoot 6 X 9 on rollfilm with the right back but a Graflex with a Grafmatic might be faster to use.

Sean Billy Bob Boy yates
20-May-1999, 19:59
Sorry if that was unclear, I meant $200.00 - $250.00/body and $200.00 - 350.00/lens.

John O'Connell
21-May-1999, 13:40
Natasha, I do available-light indoor work quite a bit. At night. (A sunlit room would present less of a problem.) My 150 Sironar MC does OK at f/8-22, and my shutter "speeds" on 25 speed film go from 15 seconds to 2 minutes in well-lit studios. At f/5.6 and with 400 speed film I'd probably be all the way down to 1/4 - 2 seconds.

You could A) push your film, B) blow your budget and probably your quality by shooting one of the f/4 Nikkor wideangles wide open, C) do what I intend to do and swap my 35mm loaded with TMZ for a 120 camera loaded with Delta 3200, D) use a polaroid pack back and shoot their "3000" speed B&W, or E) give in and use flash.

I shoot poets, musicians, and painters performing and working, and I let them go blurry -- I use flash if I want sharpness. Long exposures with available light are just life with 4x5 (at least for me).

Your budget sounds fine for a camera and a decent lens. Concentrate on finding the right lens. If you intend to be able to ground glass focus indoors in artificial illumination, don't get a lens slower than f/5.6. If you want to shoot 4x5, the focal lengths you like in 35mm are closest to 90mm-150mm in LF. Look up or check the image circle on a lens before you buy it -- some lenses in this range are small circle "press" lenses, and some were designed for the old 2x3 cameras, also with smaller circles.

By the way, medium format is by no means fast-paced, if all you're looking for is to slow down. Good luck!