View Full Version : Camera for Lens

4-Apr-2012, 07:10
Usually we see threads about, "What lens do I need for this camera?" I'm asking the reverse. I have lenses and want to know what camera to mount them to. As mentioned earlier, I've been picking up some nice but very heavy pre-Civil War lenses. The smaller ones are a good fit on my cute little Chamonix 045n, but the larger ones not so much. What cameras should I be looking for that can handle these lenses? I have an 1880s Watson & Son half plate tailboard, but the lens opening isn't that big, and I feel it's too fragile for a 2 pound lens anyway. I do have a Cambo 4x5 SC-1 monorail that obviously will handle just about anything, but the aesthetics are all wrong. I'm wanting something with a vintage look, that can take 4x5 sheet holders. I'm an outdoor guy, not a studio shooter. I think part of the problem is these early lenses were made for studio use, and when cameras became lighter (such as English field cameras,) the lenses were also much smaller & lighter by then. Maybe what I need is an E&HT Anthony half plate tailboard? Maybe have a couple of custom film holders made by Star Camera for 4x5 sheets? I love the old lenses and vintage cameras but want the convenience of "modern" sheet film. I don't want to start shooting yet another format either.

Kent in SD

7-Apr-2012, 03:08
how about a modern~ish 8x10 camera so you get the large camera structural mass and larger lens boards and then use a reducing back if you want to shoot smaller formats like 4x5 or 5x7 ?
that opens up: Deardorff, Bourke and James, Kodak, etc etc

7-Apr-2012, 06:23
Kent, pre Civil War lenses were on early tailboard cameras like Simon Wing, Roberts, etc. They are very rare and collectible, more so than the lenses. I would flash forward a few years, and use any American studio camera by Anthony or Scovill. The Petzval portrait lenses were so good, they were used by generations of photographers in studios. I have sometimes found nice early lenses that had been handed down that way. So any studio camera will be mostly correct, unless you are trying to replicate the first camera the lens was on. In that case, look for a replica like you are mentioning.

7-Apr-2012, 06:32
Or if you're looking at field cameras for easier portability, check out the early Ansco 8x10. The earlier ones lack the geared front tilt, but also have a larger lensboard (7+") for those larger lenses. These cameras have rear movements for the times you need some control of perspective.