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Thread: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

  1. #1

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    Apr 2017
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    Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    I've looked at Wista 45, Toyo 45 and the Intrepid 3d-printed black edition. Both Wista and Toyo seem to retail used for about $300 used in good condition. The Intrepid 3d-printed black edition is over $400 new.

    - What is your preference of the three models?

    - Are there any 4x5 field cameras that sell for even less than these?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Dec 2010
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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    Ben, In my opinion, if you're getting into LF, you're better off not looking for the cheapest, but look for a solid 'average' camera. Wista, & Toyo, as well as older model Linhofs,... or wood fields like Tachihara, Zone VI, are all good bets. You might find a cheaper one.....& then find out that it needs repairs or new bellows....& any savings are lost. You may find something cheaper in monorail cameras like the Calumet, or even the minimalist Calumet Cadet.

  3. #3
    Lachlan 717
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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    What’s your intended use? This is important.
    Lachlan.

    You miss 100% of the shots you never take. -- Wayne Gretzky

  4. #4

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    now in Tucson, AZ
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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    The price of the camera alone is not the whole story. You must also factor in the cost of a used lens (less than they used to be), tripod, film holders, focusing cloth, light meter, etc.
    But both the Wista and Toyo are fine cameras with long track records... i'm not familiar with the Intrepid.

  5. #5

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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    If you do an Advanced Search on this forum for "Intrepid camera", title only, you'll discover that there's been a fair amount of discussion about them. Also, a few have come up for sale used.

    The same applies to the Wista and Toyo, except that there will be more threads about them.

    There are also quite a few videos about Intrepid cameras on YouTube, and the company has a channel of its own.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    $ of camera should not be the only deciding factor.

    What are the image goals, lenses required to achieve these image goals then the camera required to support this.

    Seems there was a previous post about wide angle lens choice of Nikkor -vs- Fujinon 90mm lenses. If this is one of the lens focal lengths to be used (90mm)
    most light weight field folders should be ok with this focal length_with limited camera movements. This will limit the ability to fully utilize the image circle capability of these 90mm wide angle lenses. On balance, if the image goals do not require full image capability of these lenses, virtually any field folder should be ok. Decide on ALL possible lens focal lengths before even the starting the venture of camera choice. If a longer than normal focal length lens is needed, say 300mm this could be a serious limitation for a field folder (many recent LFF discussion about this problem with light weight field folders). If significant camera movements are required, this would be another very serious limitation for a field folder.

    It is crucial to know what the image goals are, then what lenses are required before venturing into any camera choice. IMO, stay way from the current fashion of low buck start up view cameras. While their entry $ appears to be low, long term these might not be a wise choice.. They do and can offer a some-what low cost entry to the doing view camera. It is wiser in the long run to get a GOOD (not cosmetic, functional) view camera from one of the long time view camera brands like Toyo, Sinar, Horseman, Arca Swiss and similar. Know it is very difficult to assess the quality and capability of any view camera for one beginning the LF view camera journey as the knowledge, skills, demands have not yet been properly or fully developed to fully exploit what any view camera/lens and all related is capable of. Those that have been at this view camera stuff for decades and have pushed any view camera/lens and all related to their absolute limits will have a different set of needs, expectations and demands from any view camera system.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Ben View Post
    I've looked at Wista 45, Toyo 45 and the Intrepid 3d-printed black edition. Both Wista and Toyo seem to retail used for about $300 used in good condition. The Intrepid 3d-printed black edition is over $400 new.

    - What is your preference of the three models?

    - Are there any 4x5 field cameras that sell for even less than these?

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2021
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    Scotland
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    65

    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    When I decided to give 4x5 a go a couple of years back, even though my primary interest is in landscape, I got a monorail camera. I wanted a camera that would allow me to fully explore the movements (I had had lot of fun with a 6x9 field camera by then, so had some idea about the limitations of that design). Monorail isn't very practical choice for carrying about, but I am glad I went down that route initially because it really opened my eyes to the possibilities. This summer I got the wooden Interpid as a second camera because of it's weight and because it takes standard Technika lensboards (as I think all the cameras on your list do).

    I am happy enough with it, it's fine for most of the things I do. It doesn't have any scales, so e.g., it's difficult to reproduce existing setups, and I have to take care with properly locking the front swing, the screw has to be really tight. But it is light, packs well, and the ground glass is bright enough, and there are some nice touches, like the little spirit levels. The movements with a 90mm lens are very limited by the bellows (I expect you might get some small variation between different folders depending on the quality of the bellows, but movements at wide angle need bag bellows really). But most of the time the Interpid is more than enough for what I indented to do, and when I have a specific image in mind that I know will need more movements, I take the monorail (or sometimes make a note to come back to the same place with the monorail ). The thing is you can have any number of cameras that take the same lensboards, and you can upgrade your camera at will later, the initial investment in 4x5 is primarily the lenses, and film holders, and depending on the size of the camera a tripod upgrade (the intrepid is light enough to work with standard tripod designed for a DSLR).

  8. #8

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    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    Quote Originally Posted by _tf_ View Post
    When I decided to give 4x5 a go a couple of years back, even though my primary interest is in landscape, I got a monorail camera. I wanted a camera that would allow me to fully explore the movements (I had had lot of fun with a 6x9 field camera by then, so had some idea about the limitations of that design). Monorail isn't very practical choice for carrying about, but I am glad I went down that route initially because it really opened my eyes to the possibilities. This summer I got the wooden Interpid as a second camera because of it's weight and because it takes standard Technika lensboards (as I think all the cameras on your list do).

    I am happy enough with it, it's fine for most of the things I do. It doesn't have any scales, so e.g., it's difficult to reproduce existing setups, and I have to take care with properly locking the front swing, the screw has to be really tight. But it is light, packs well, and the ground glass is bright enough, and there are some nice touches, like the little spirit levels. The movements with a 90mm lens are very limited by the bellows (I expect you might get some small variation between different folders depending on the quality of the bellows, but movements at wide angle need bag bellows really). But most of the time the Interpid is more than enough for what I indented to do, and when I have a specific image in mind that I know will need more movements, I take the monorail (or sometimes make a note to come back to the same place with the monorail ). The thing is you can have any number of cameras that take the same lensboards, and you can upgrade your camera at will later, the initial investment in 4x5 is primarily the lenses, and film holders, and depending on the size of the camera a tripod upgrade (the intrepid is light enough to work with standard tripod designed for a DSLR).
    Or, get a folding monorail like the Technikardan.
    But it’s not inexpensive.

  9. #9
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
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    17,813

    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    Every camera is specialized. even the cheapest

    Almost every user changes camera/lens/etc as they figure the game out

    Buy, learn, sell, repeat

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2019
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    195

    Re: Inexpensive 4x5 field cameras

    For a folding field/technical camera, I'm guessing that the $300 you're seeing is about as cheap as you're going to get, unless you look for a monorail. Monorails seem to be less popular at the moment, I'm assuming becuase of portability, but they can easily be had for $200 or less, just the other day (now gone) KEH had a Sinar F monorail for $200. They now have an Sinar F+ for $250. I'd seriously consider a "field oriented" monorail, if you can find one that you can easily transport. I went through several 4x5 cameras until I settled on the perfect camera for me--a Linhof Technikardan. I doubt manyother 4x5 field monorails fold up as compactly as the TK, but there are certain nice things about monorails, the big one being that they mostly have more movements than you'll ever need, but there are other benefits as well (like not getting the bed in the shot when using an ultrawide lens.)

    In addition, as mentioned, you will have a number of other expenses that you'll have in order to get functional, but I can certainly understand economizing. I haven't used any of the cameras you've listed, so I can't comment on details, but I'd probably lean towards the Wista or Toyo. But if I was limited to that price, I'd probably be more interested in condition, since you're scraping the very bottom of the barrel, and you don't want to "save money" only to have to spend it and more getting the camera to a usable state. Thats one benefit of the Intrepid--its new and comes with a warranty.

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