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Thread: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

  1. #1

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    Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Hi, I am looking for advice on which 4x5 camera would be best suited for handheld use?

    The key here is that I need to be able to use the camera hand held in the field. I am thinking a model that has a rangefinder might be a good idea, but I am unsure because I haven't owned a camera like this before. I currently have a 5x7 wood field camera that I use for landscapes but this isn't suitable for my new project. The new project is for street photography, so I need to be very nimble and be able to focus and respond quickly.

    You may be wondering why 4x5 and not a smaller rangefinder? I make large 30x40 and 40x50 silver gelatin prints and so I need the bigger film.

    I appreciate any thoughts you may have based on experience.

    Thank you,

    Larry

  2. #2

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    The answer is: none of them. Not for the size of prints you want to make, unless you are willing to haul enough strobe power with you to hold f16-22 for adequate depth of field. A 6x7 or 6x9 rangefinder and Delta 100 or TMax 100 are all round better bets for this sort of thing. The lenses are better optimised for wider apertures & in many cases much higher resolving than the average LF lens.

  3. #3
    Foamer
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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Speed Graphic


    Kent in SD
    Qui sedes ad dexteram Patris,
    miserere nobis.

  4. #4

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Linhof Master Technika and the Multifocus finder for lenses from 72 to 360mm that can be RF coupled. And the Anatomical grip.
    Or a Wista RF that rangefinder couples 135 to 180mm lenses out of the box.
    Both would be parallax corrected and the Linhof also corrects for field size.
    However while each have full view camera movements the rangefinders and view finders can not be used when movements are applied.

  5. #5

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Thanks Bob! That Wista 45RF looks like it could be a great fit. Now to be able to find one...


    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Salomon View Post
    Linhof Master Technika and the Multifocus finder for lenses from 72 to 360mm that can be RF coupled. And the Anatomical grip.
    Or a Wista RF that rangefinder couples 135 to 180mm lenses out of the box.
    Both would be parallax corrected and the Linhof also corrects for field size.
    However while each have full view camera movements the rangefinders and view finders can not be used when movements are applied.

  6. #6

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Thanks Kent. The focal plane shutter on the speed graphic is a winner... I just need to find a camera that is clean and in good condition.

    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    Speed Graphic


    Kent in SD

  7. #7
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Linhof is amazing if you want to shoot multiple lenses with coupled RF on all of them.

    Speed Graphic is the answer for affordability and fast shutter speeds, if you can get one with a good FP shutter, but only couples with one lens basically.

    Both have separate VF and RF which can be a real drag. If that is something you would like, a converted Polaroid 110B or similar is an amazing camera, and the most compact of the options, but can't use multiple lenses with the RF.

    I own and use all of these and they each have their pluses and minuses. You don't mention what kind of images you want to make, so not sure if you need something specific. DOF and accuracy of focus will be a problem, especially with separate RF/VF if you drift a little, as well as composing (cropping to fix loose framing will hurt if you are trying to maximize resolution).
    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  8. #8

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    Very helpful info Corran, I appreciate it.

    I am starting a new street photography project, so I needed to be mobile and hand-held, but wanted to use 4x5 film.

    I didn't realize the single lens coupling to the RF on the speed graphic, so thanks for pointing that out.

    Do you know of any good resources for how to adjust the RF with your lens on the speed graphic?




    Quote Originally Posted by Corran View Post
    Linhof is amazing if you want to shoot multiple lenses with coupled RF on all of them.

    Speed Graphic is the answer for affordability and fast shutter speeds, if you can get one with a good FP shutter, but only couples with one lens basically.

    Both have separate VF and RF which can be a real drag. If that is something you would like, a converted Polaroid 110B or similar is an amazing camera, and the most compact of the options, but can't use multiple lenses with the RF.

    I own and use all of these and they each have their pluses and minuses. You don't mention what kind of images you want to make, so not sure if you need something specific. DOF and accuracy of focus will be a problem, especially with separate RF/VF if you drift a little, as well as composing (cropping to fix loose framing will hurt if you are trying to maximize resolution).

  9. #9
    Corran's Avatar
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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera

    There are two (basically) rangefinder options on the Speed - the side-mounted Kalart or the top-mounted model that takes cams. The side-mounted is generally preferred for coupling to specific lenses, as the cams are limited to certain lenses and can be hard to find (so buy a camera and lens kit already together, don't try to piece together a kit). Oh, and while it takes these cams, they are hard to get out and install, hence not really being appropriate for multiple lenses, even though technically you can.

    The Kalart can be coupled...but it's a very difficult and time-consuming process. I've done it about a dozen times and it really is a PITA, and I've found that some Kalarts just don't work right with some lenses. A couple of times, I simply replaced the entire Kalart mechanism and suddenly it coupled just fine...so it's kind of a crap-shoot. Again, finding a camera/lens setup already is great, but of course you'll pay for the privilege.

    PS: look in this thread for some Speed Graphic "street" images posted recently by one of our members.

    Personally I've shot some candid images on the street with these and the Polaroid was definitely the winner as long as the fixed 135mm was the focal length I wanted to use exclusively (you can get them made for a variety of lenses from 90mm up to 150 or maybe 180mm). The Linhof though was more precise and I was able to more accurately focus, but drift is a serious issue, when moving the eye from the RF to the VF. If you are shooting moving subjects, stopping down will be your friend...personally I like short DOF which is a real challenge...

    Here's something I shot years ago with my Linhof and 150mm f/2.8 Xenotar, at about f/4 I think, on E100VS:

    Bryan | Blog | YouTube | Instagram
    All comments and thoughtful critique welcome

  10. #10

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    Re: Seeking Advice for 4x5 Handheld Camera


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