View Full Version : 4x5 in the UK?

8-Feb-2012, 08:50
Good day,

..I'll start by saying that this is a very helpful place for someone who's wishing to step into large format. so much information, that I need to take brakes when reading to absorb it all.

I would like to buy a used 4x5 camera. I've been reading as much as I can, and because of my very small budget - 400 pounds - I understand that something like Combo 4x5 would be affordable and practical for someone starting out.

So my question would be... Does anyone know a place in the UK where to buy used 4x5 LF cameras? I've tried all the big shops( Jacobs, Jessops, Calumet..everything I could find really) but nothing.

I also found that my budget would allow me to order it from the US, but does anyone know how much would I have to pay at customs?

Thank you for reading this!

Have a wonderful day!


Steve Smith
8-Feb-2012, 09:07

And it's 5x4 in the UK, not 4x5!


Steven Tribe
8-Feb-2012, 09:39
Cambo is many different things - many are quite delicate, others are as well engineered as Sinar. And weigh as much.
You will have to think about what you want to photograph a bit before you spend 400 - or quite a lot less.
If I was starting out on the journey again, I would choose to start with an old folder (9x12cm - slightly less than 4x5"). Film is quite easily available for this size by post. You may not be able to buy 4x5" film in Bristol anyway!
The only problem with 4x5 or 9x12cm is that contact prints are a bit small - so you have to have access to either a scanner or a big enlarger (small price but they fill a lot of space). These, mostly German, cameras are very reasonable in price on e**y. You have to make sure that they come with film holders rather than the older "plate" holders or the newer (useless) film pack holders.
You dont have to stick to the original lens as there are plenty of cheap lenses in shutters for wide angle etc. No lensboards usually -you screw in the various lenses.
Movements are restricted but at least you will find out whether LF is for you.

8-Feb-2012, 09:56
Other people to try are http://www.ffordes.com/ and https://secure.peterwalnes.com/

And rather cheekily, could I suggest having a look at http://www.lf-photo.org.uk


Steven Tribe
8-Feb-2012, 10:19
Good luck with the lf-photo forum. I've tried twice to get without any response!
I, personally, have bought very little from dealers - they are most often not competitive with the private sellers.

8-Feb-2012, 12:10
It does take persistence to get in, but it's an interesting site.


Pete Watkins
8-Feb-2012, 12:49
Stay well away from any shops in Croydon. Hang around here 'till you're eligable to buy from forum members for the best deals. I've bought two cameras from members in the states in the past and had great deals on both. A lot of old LF cameras don't have front tilt, read about movements and make your own decisions. It's too bloody cold to go out with any camera around here, but I hate snow and refuse to photograph it. Personally I would steer away from press cameras but many here would argue with me. Older MPP's also have registration problems which you don't need when starting LF. In my opinion most plate cameras found in The UK are best used as ornaments unless you have wet plate ambitions.

Steven Tribe
8-Feb-2012, 13:08
IanG (based in the UK) has a basic Cambo Cadet (monorail's have both advantages and disadvantages) for sale in our for sale section just now which would be a easy start for 125. On top of that, you will need tripod with head, 4x5 film holders and a lens or two. Plenty left from 400!
You can get into the commercial thread here after a month's membership.

8-Feb-2012, 13:22
Re: And it's 5x4 in the UK, not 4x5!

He could just buy a 4x5 camera and rotate the back 90 degrees.

8-Feb-2012, 13:41
Thank you all for the answers and suggestions!

..I've been doing photography with 35 mm and 6x6. I would be using this for portraits and some ''fine art''. So the quality and the fact that it takes time to make a photo with 5x4 (...) is perfect for me.

thank you. I will contact IanG about the camera.

8-Feb-2012, 14:12
Re: I've been doing photography with 35 mm and 6x6

In the UK it's 6x6 - I know it's hard to tell, but I did reverse the numbers...

Pete Watkins
8-Feb-2012, 14:32
When you swing a 6x6 back around to do a portrait the difference is amazing!!

8-Feb-2012, 18:35
4x5 prints are small for landscapes, but in vertical format they work very nicely for portraits. Edward Weston and many others made 'em that way for years.

Steven Tribe
9-Feb-2012, 03:54
I absolutely agree with Bill. Even CdeV portraits (2+ x 4+) work well in the hands of a gifted photgrapher.
I have enclosed some related CdeV portraits of the same sisters over 10 (?) years which should appear as approximately 4x5" on the average computer screen.

Steve Smith
9-Feb-2012, 05:13
When you swing a 6x6 back around to do a portrait the difference is amazing!!

I regularly do that with my 6x6 folders!


9-Feb-2012, 05:53
I'm sure that you've already got this covered but my main advice to anyone starting out is to plan your complete workflow and all associated costs before buying a camera.

How are you going to develop the film? (commercial lab? trays? rotary?)
Are you going to scan the film? (commercial scanning? consumer scanner?)
How are you going to print? (optical enlargements? optical contact prints?)

LF is a uniquely soulful and rewarding way of working.

Pete Watkins
9-Feb-2012, 08:46
Just bear in mind that it was me who discovered this.
Fame at last!!!

10-Feb-2012, 04:24
It took me a while to find a LF camera at the right price but it was worth the wait. I got a Wista field camera via the 'auction site'.

I got my first lens and lens panel from Ffordes and have found them very good to deal with. Other dealers in the UK to try are Teamwork in London www.teamworkphoto.com who are very helpful and friendly. It's worth giving them a ring about used equipment because they don't put all their stock on the website (just bear in mind, though, that their prices are ex-VAT). Also Hailsham Camera Centre www.camcentre.co.uk. Again, give them a ring as they might have stuff that's not on the website. As was mentioned by someone else, Peter Walnes is also a good, reputable, dealer.

I would also recommend joining the lf-photo.org.uk group even if you do have to wait a bit for a response (not in my experience though). There are helpful people on there willing to give advice and there is a lot of gear for sale through other members at good prices. You may also be able to make contact with a member in your area and can arrange to meet to see equipment before deciding what to buy.

Good luck!

Andrew Plume
10-Feb-2012, 04:38
...............good to hear that you're sorted

yep, Teamwork prices are definitely 'ex-VAT' - they're very sound guys, know 'em well

and as for my good mate Pete's comments re 'our friends in Croydon', West Croydon in fact, they're never cheap but there's so much gear down there, there's enough spare flanges there to sate any barrel lens enthusiast...................like me

good luck


Steve Smith
10-Feb-2012, 07:50
Just bear in mind that it was me who discovered this.
Fame at last!!!

I wouldn't be so sure about that. I have one of my father's Kodachrome slides showing me holding my Agfa Isolette up to my eye rotated ninety degrees because I thought it was cool when I saw my father do it with his Nikon F.

I was ten at the time - I'm now forty seven.

So I have photographic evidence proving me to be the originator of this artistic technique!!


10-Feb-2012, 18:09
Hi Josefs, 400 does not seem too bad a budget for a camera, I found it's the other stuff that is the killer once you have the camera. If you do not get anything sorted I might be selling my MPP. It is however a metal folding camera (with limited front movements), not a monorail and so might not be what you want but has got a cone lens panel for wide angle (90mm) stuff and a 90mm angulon which I had serviced before I got a 90mm Super Angulon about a week later (doh).

If you want, I can also make enquiries with a local dealer as well and ask him to have a look. I recently traded my Cambo in against a Sinar monorail from him so he may have a Cambo. I am in the North East however.

Also depending on what you want it for and the focal length you are intending to use, you might need to consider bag bellows for a monorail if using wide-ish lenses.

If you order from the USA and customs get their hands on it, I think you will be charged VAT (20%) so it might be costly.

11-Feb-2012, 05:51
I agree with Nguss that you have to bear in mind the cost of all the other bits you need once you've bought a camera. As well the obvious lens there's the lens panel and film holders plus other bits like a cable release, dark cloth, loupe etc. It all adds up! I didn't buy a dark cloth but use an old black polo shirt which works fine for me. I also use an old SLR camera lens as a loupe so you can be inventive to save money. As Marizu pointed out, you may also need to consider how you're going to develop your film and make prints.

I think Josefs said he was going to be doing portraits and fine art pictures so he may not need wide angle lenses or much in the way of camera movements so a press camera may be a good solution at a reasonable cost.

Just few thoughts.

11-Feb-2012, 10:19
Yup, my 'darkcloth' consists of 2 extra large cheap black t-shirts sewn together and I put my arms through the arms of the t-shirt with the loupe in my hand to focus. It is not too bad and I look really stylish at the same time. The loupe / cable release I got from an auction site from china for about 3 each. Nothing but the best for me. Lens panels you might be able to make if push comes to shove, but the film for the camera, a decent tripod, a scanner (if you dont have one) will cost a bit more.

14-Feb-2012, 10:33
Thank you all for your good advice! I've got the camera now (Cambo Cadet), but have one more question... Does anyone know where could I get the Fuji Instant PA-145 back? I think it would be the best way for me to start and explore LF photography, as I could see the results and make notes. But I can't find it anywhere... Maybe someone has got some suggestions?

Thank you!


14-Feb-2012, 11:59
Congrats on the camera! As to the back, I have not come acorss one, so other than the sites mentioned earlier or the for sale section here, unfortunately I have no idea. One of my flickr contacts seems to have one so I will ask him where he got his from, but I reckon he will have had it for a while now.

Good luck with the search. In the meantime, it's not exactly great but perhaps you could take a digital camera along for reference?