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Thread: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

  1. #11
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Field cameras usually don't allow bag bellows. My Toyo 45AX doesn't. It works fine with a 90mm, which is similar to a 28mm lens in 35mm. You can gain some movement with a compressed bellows by using a recessed lens board, but this can make changing settings on a lens challenging. I don't use anything wider with that camera. So it really comes down to the lens you want to use, and the type of photography that you want to do. Super wide angle architectural photography, for example, is best done with a wide angle friendly camera.

    There are some cameras, for example an Ebony RW, that offered a hybrid bellows, a standard bellows with a bag like section on the front. That allow more movements with wide angles than a standard bellows, but it still had long enough extension for most uses.

    For regular landscape photography, extensive movements aren't usually required.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing you don't already know

  2. #12
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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    The product descriptions for the various 4x5 models on the Chamonix View Camera website that is run by the US distributor, Hugo Zhang (www.chamonixviewcamera.com) identify the features that differentiate them. (Yes, I've read them all.) Best to start by reading those carefully, and follow up here with more specific questions if there's anything that remains unclear about what particular features mean or why they are important.

  3. #13

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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    I'd suggest buying and reading a book like Steve Simmons's "Using the View Camera." This will go over some of the differences between camera types, the various movements and their effects, and the situations in which one would want to use particular movements, bellows, cameras, etc. While it won't cover newer camera models like the Chamonix, the information is all generically applicable. Most of this information is available on the web if you already know it and know where to look. But a beginner (or even an experienced person) is well served by the organization of a book.

  4. #14

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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Thanks! I think I've got it. Yes, I have several books... and Simmons's book is one of them. I think one of the books (I'm at work and can't check) even has a series of exercises to complete as a sort of introduction to movements. Most of what I have in mind is fairly simple. But the opportunity to do something complex is intriguing, too. Loved the description from Alys Tomlinson (on the Large Format Photography podcast) of "three men staring at an apple in a bowl for three hours" as her intro to LFP.

  5. #15

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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Or why most field cameras have limited camera movements. Reality is, typical landscape image making does not need significant camera movements.
    In the case of bag bellows, typical landscape image is not usually made with extreme wide angle lenses which is one of the reasons why bag bellows for a field camera is not common. Other problems with extreme wide angle lenses on field cameras, the flat bed can enter the image in unexpected ways and pushing the front standard with extreme wide angle lens produces a focusing problem.


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    Field cameras usually don't allow bag bellows.
    For regular landscape photography, extensive movements aren't usually required.

  6. #16
    Foamer
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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    My Shen Hao and Chamonix both have bag bellows available.


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

  7. #17

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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Simple answer: In order to keep field cameras light and costs down, they can't have all the features at once (those that do, and there are a few, are bulky and heavy). So manufacturers trim down "unnecessary" features to keep the cameras small and light. Normally, bellows length suffers (many field cameras only extend to 300mm or so), making the use of longer lenses impractical. Similarly, bellows are usually fixed and standard pleated types, making the use of movements with shorter lenses difficult. Many models don't have shift, some don't have swings or tilts on the front standard. Most field camera adjustments are not as precise as top-of-the-line monorail cameras either.

    A first decision to be made is whether the field camera will be wood or metal. Wood is lighter, weaker and usually the adjustments are not as precise. Metal is strong, easily machined to be precise, but heavy and more expensive. Both types have their advantages and market niche, so both are out there.

    So now, along comes someone who says, "lets make a more full-featured or specialized field camera for xxx photographers." Do we want to appeal to users of short lenses that need a lot of movement, say architectural photographers? Well then, we need to incorporate a bag bellows and have lots of movements available, but we don't really need a long bellows or even a camera that folds closed. Result: a specialized "wide-angle" field camera with a short bag bellows, shift on at least one standard and swings and tilt on both standards (maybe even one with asymmetrical swings and front axis tilts to help the photographer work faster). But, to keep things affordable and light, we'll sacrifice the longer bellows (making the use of even moderately long lenses impossible) and maybe another feature or two.

    Or, lets go the other way: We need a field camera that has lots of bellows extension and is solid as a rock and strong enough to use heavy long lenses. This may result in a camera that doesn't play well with shorter lenses and doesn't have a lot of movements available, but will accommodate 450mm lenses ore even longer.

    Say we want a field camera that can do it all. Well, it will be bigger, stronger, heavier, have interchangeable bellows, lots of movements, and be basically a monorail-type camera with a bed instead of a rail. It will be more expensive and heavier.

    Do we want extreme lightweight? then cut most of the movements, limit bellows length, use lightweight (usually weaker) materials, and design the thing so it will do well with lenses in the middle range (135mm-240mm).

    Do we want a sturdy rangefinder camera for handheld photography? Look no further than the Graflex and other press cameras. They're metal, bullet-proof, but have limited movements.

    Do we want more precision? Then machine a metal masterpiece like the Linhof Techikas. Downside: more expensive and heavy.

    There are endless variations on the above depending on what a manufacturer thinks they can profitably offer for whatever segment of the market.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

  8. #18

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    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Simple answer: In order to keep field cameras light and costs down, they can't have all the features at once (those that do, and there are a few, are bulky and heavy). So manufacturers trim down "unnecessary" features to keep the cameras small and light. Normally, bellows length suffers (many field cameras only extend to 300mm or so), making the use of longer lenses impractical. Similarly, bellows are usually fixed and standard pleated types, making the use of movements with shorter lenses difficult. Many models don't have shift, some don't have swings or tilts on the front standard. Most field camera adjustments are not as precise as top-of-the-line monorail cameras either.

    A first decision to be made is whether the field camera will be wood or metal. Wood is lighter, weaker and usually the adjustments are not as precise. Metal is strong, easily machined to be precise, but heavy and more expensive. Both types have their advantages and market niche, so both are out there.

    So now, along comes someone who says, "lets make a more full-featured or specialized field camera for xxx photographers." Do we want to appeal to users of short lenses that need a lot of movement, say architectural photographers? Well then, we need to incorporate a bag bellows and have lots of movements available, but we don't really need a long bellows or even a camera that folds closed. Result: a specialized "wide-angle" field camera with a short bag bellows, shift on at least one standard and swings and tilt on both standards (maybe even one with asymmetrical swings and front axis tilts to help the photographer work faster). But, to keep things affordable and light, we'll sacrifice the longer bellows (making the use of even moderately long lenses impossible) and maybe another feature or two.

    Or, lets go the other way: We need a field camera that has lots of bellows extension and is solid as a rock and strong enough to use heavy long lenses. This may result in a camera that doesn't play well with shorter lenses and doesn't have a lot of movements available, but will accommodate 450mm lenses ore even longer.

    Say we want a field camera that can do it all. Well, it will be bigger, stronger, heavier, have interchangeable bellows, lots of movements, and be basically a monorail-type camera with a bed instead of a rail. It will be more expensive and heavier.

    Do we want extreme lightweight? then cut most of the movements, limit bellows length, use lightweight (usually weaker) materials, and design the thing so it will do well with lenses in the middle range (135mm-240mm).

    Do we want a sturdy rangefinder camera for handheld photography? Look no further than the Graflex and other press cameras. They're metal, bullet-proof, but have limited movements.

    Do we want more precision? Then machine a metal masterpiece like the Linhof Techikas. Downside: more expensive and heavy.

    There are endless variations on the above depending on what a manufacturer thinks they can profitably offer for whatever segment of the market.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus
    Then there was in the early 80s the Linhof 45 Standard monorail with a fixed bellows that allowed full movements with any lens from 47mm to whatever would focus to infinity with an 18” rail. Had full tilts and swings and rise and fall front and back. Weighed about 5 pounds, used Technika 45 boards, rotating International back and was the lowest priced Linhof back then.

    Only problem? Didn’t sell as users preferred interchangeable bellows, and the larger Kardan board and the ability to use longer rails.

  9. #19

    Join Date
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    1,586

    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Could a 8x10 Shen Hao or Chamonix be used with a 38mm Super Angulon XL with a bag bellows?

    This is easy with a Sinar monorail.


    Bernice



    Quote Originally Posted by Two23 View Post
    My Shen Hao and Chamonix both have bag bellows available.


    Kent in SD

  10. #20

    Join Date
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    1,586

    Re: Camera confusion: Beginner Puzzles over Chamonix et al

    Or why one should consider the kind of images and prints to be made, then lens choices with the camera as the last item to consider.

    There is no idea one camera type that fits all LF image needs, they are ALL a different set of trade offs.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Doremus Scudder View Post
    Simple answer: In order to keep field cameras light and costs down, they can't have all the features at once (those that do, and there are a few, are bulky and heavy). So manufacturers trim down "unnecessary" features to keep the cameras small and light. Normally, bellows length suffers (many field cameras only extend to 300mm or so), making the use of longer lenses impractical. Similarly, bellows are usually fixed and standard pleated types, making the use of movements with shorter lenses difficult. Many models don't have shift, some don't have swings or tilts on the front standard. Most field camera adjustments are not as precise as top-of-the-line monorail cameras either.

    A first decision to be made is whether the field camera will be wood or metal. Wood is lighter, weaker and usually the adjustments are not as precise. Metal is strong, easily machined to be precise, but heavy and more expensive. Both types have their advantages and market niche, so both are out there.

    So now, along comes someone who says, "lets make a more full-featured or specialized field camera for xxx photographers." Do we want to appeal to users of short lenses that need a lot of movement, say architectural photographers? Well then, we need to incorporate a bag bellows and have lots of movements available, but we don't really need a long bellows or even a camera that folds closed. Result: a specialized "wide-angle" field camera with a short bag bellows, shift on at least one standard and swings and tilt on both standards (maybe even one with asymmetrical swings and front axis tilts to help the photographer work faster). But, to keep things affordable and light, we'll sacrifice the longer bellows (making the use of even moderately long lenses impossible) and maybe another feature or two.

    Or, lets go the other way: We need a field camera that has lots of bellows extension and is solid as a rock and strong enough to use heavy long lenses. This may result in a camera that doesn't play well with shorter lenses and doesn't have a lot of movements available, but will accommodate 450mm lenses ore even longer.

    Say we want a field camera that can do it all. Well, it will be bigger, stronger, heavier, have interchangeable bellows, lots of movements, and be basically a monorail-type camera with a bed instead of a rail. It will be more expensive and heavier.

    Do we want extreme lightweight? then cut most of the movements, limit bellows length, use lightweight (usually weaker) materials, and design the thing so it will do well with lenses in the middle range (135mm-240mm).

    Do we want a sturdy rangefinder camera for handheld photography? Look no further than the Graflex and other press cameras. They're metal, bullet-proof, but have limited movements.

    Do we want more precision? Then machine a metal masterpiece like the Linhof Techikas. Downside: more expensive and heavy.

    There are endless variations on the above depending on what a manufacturer thinks they can profitably offer for whatever segment of the market.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus

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