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Thread: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

  1. #1

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    Thumbs up Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    I know many have jumped onto the Chamonix bandwagon and from what I see in terms of price/weight/performance, it's a no brainer. Of course, there's always the longing that so many seem to have for the behemoth weight Deardorff 8X10 that has far less features/movements than the Chamonix/Ritter/Canham/Wehman/Arca Swiss/Ebony/and even the Tachihara/Nagaoka/etc. type cameras.

    So really, on the marketplace right now, one can find an excellent "used" Deardorff for about $1.5-$2K. For that same amount of money, one can find an excellent Wisner/Wehman/Ritter/Philips/etc. etc...

    Many have commented about movements used with their cameras and from what I gather, it sounds like the majority (maybe can even say ALL) could easily use a Tachihara/Nagaoka/Wista/etc. type camera that doesn't have much for movements, but has enough for the primary movements used, and the occassional use of another movement.

    I have seen many describe their qualms/issues with particular cameras. Davidb, as a recent example, got rid of most of his stuff to keep only his Chamonix and Toyo. Flesher also sold off some very beautiful cameras and uses the Chamonix. Of course, the Chamonix is much more versatile than a Tachihara from what I can see/tell. And maybe those that have the Chamonix wouldn't consider touching a Tachihara due to its issues that the Chamonix does not have...not that there isn't any issues a user has with the Chamonix, but just that there is less issues for users of the Chamonix.

    So we have all these very luxurious cameras from Arca Swiss to Ebony to pick you choice. Then we have what seems to be the middle field=Chamonix, Wehman (by price), Ritter (by price), etc. And lastly, we have the basic models such as the Cambos/Calumets/Tachiharas/Ikeda-Nagaokas/B&J/Gundlach/Deardorff/etc. etc.


    And in the end, it's all just the most simplistically built camera ever designed and just so happens to have the ability to record the most information of the world around us.


    I know many have multiple cameras, but I would like to try and exclude multiple in this discussion, and attempt to keep things to one that each person seems to find the most fondness towards.


    The questions:

    1) What do people that use the upper tier (price wise) feel about their cameras and do you feel that you could easily live with a lower tier camera OR do you feel that there are things missing and do not work for you with the lower tier camera?

    2) For those with a lower tier camera, I ask the opposite-Do you long to have one of the upper tier cameras? For those with money being no issue, what is it about the lower tier camera you prefer over any other potential camera you could use?


    3) Lastly, what is it that these luxury cameras buy that the plain jane ones do not and if we were to compare every camera on the market and forget about weight, price, etc. etc. and just choose any camera...do you feel that you would be able to get the same performance out of the plain jane camera or do you feel that the luxury types will give you the best image when all is said and done?

    I emphasize the last question most because I have read comments by users of all sorts of very expensive cameras say that their best images came from their use with a Shen/Tach/Graphic/etc.

    Hopefully this is not too congested a post and can make for some interesting discussion about LF cameras, personal feelings, and then some

  2. #2

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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    The camera captures the image. The photographer takes the photograph. The camera with it's various movements allows the photgrapher to capture the image he/she is looking for. I don't think a specific properly setup lf camera regardless of the cost takes a "better" picture that another one. Now if you want to talk about lenses thats another ball of wax entirely and sort of a pandoras box as discussions go.

  3. #3
    Scott Davis
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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    With the camera itself, the reason to use "higher end" cameras is that they have some certain feature that meets a need you have, be it light weight, greater bellows extension, geared movements, etc. I think it also has to do with how easily the camera gets out of the way of you making the image you want. The less time you spend fiddling with the camera to get it to do what you need, the better the fit. When I'm in the field, the camera I want to have in my hands is my Canham 5x7 (or as the case requires, the 5x12 configuration). It lets me do exactly what I want, with a minimum of fuss on my part. The controls are intuitive, it is very light weight, and it doesn't have any features that get in the way of me making an image. In my studio, the camera of choice is a Century Master portrait camera. It lets me use those big brass cannons that would never fit on the Canham. It also cost a fraction of what the Canham did. I would never take it in the field, as it would be totally impractical.

  4. #4
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    "Getting out of the way" is the same as I think of as "transparency". A good camera is "transparent" in that it lets you work directly with the image without the camera getting in the way.

    I was spoilt rotten to begin with, since I started with a Linhof Technika 5x7". When I got a Gandolfi 5x7" I found the same precision, stability and "transparency", and a lot lower weight. so I got a 8x10" too...

    My favorite 4x5" camera is the most "transparent" of all, the Carbon Infinity has no limitations that I need to be aware of and stays locked in any position until I want something to move - and moves smoothly at the lightest touch.

    The Speed Graphic is more of a conscious effort to use, and requires quite a bit more aforethought. But it's got that neat focal plane shutter...

  5. #5

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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    I got rid of a Deardorff because it just wasn't me. I found it difficult to work with and clumsy. Everybody else in the world loves them. I have several cameras now, and I use them all from time to time.

    Toyo 810M: A bit klutzy, but useable. I would like it better if it had a wider range of movements and a longer bellows. However, it's VERY solid and smooth.

    Toyo 4x5 monorail. Not sure of the model, but it has geared movements and interchangeable everything. Love it. The only thing negative I can say is its not too good in a backpack.

    Toyo 5x7 monorail. Not sure of the model, but it's identical to my 4x5 in every way but size. This is my absolute favorite camera, except when backpacking.

    4x5 Crown Graphic. My backpacking 4x5. Damn short bellows anyway. But I love the camera.

    5x7 Korona. My backpacking 5x7. Looking for something better. But all of the above cameras have one thing in common. The sloppiest part of each one of them is the nut that operates the focusing mechanism. If I could fix that, each one of them would be a much better camera.
    Michael W. Graves
    Michael's Pub

    If it ain't broke....don't fix it!

  6. #6

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    Talking Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Ole Tjugen View Post
    "Getting out of the way" is the same as I think of as "transparency". A good camera is "transparent" in that it lets you work directly with the image without the camera getting in the way.

    I was spoilt rotten to begin with, since I started with a Linhof Technika 5x7". When I got a Gandolfi 5x7" I found the same precision, stability and "transparency", and a lot lower weight. so I got a 8x10" too...

    My favorite 4x5" camera is the most "transparent" of all, the Carbon Infinity has no limitations that I need to be aware of and stays locked in any position until I want something to move - and moves smoothly at the lightest touch.

    The Speed Graphic is more of a conscious effort to use, and requires quite a bit more aforethought. But it's got that neat focal plane shutter...
    Talk about reverse psychology on the poster above you regarding lenses...sure, single coated lenses are excellent, but many would argue in favor of modern APO Rodenstocks over the single coated wonders. So you started and ended with luxury based cameras, but all of your lenses except the one we are waiting on an image with (you know the MC one you picked up) are single coated! I wonder which one would choose, the 121 Super Angulon or the Nikkor 120/Schneider 110XL/Rodenstock 115 Grandagon

    Cheers and thanks for letting out the infinity carbon of sheer amazing quality, along with your endless lens collection!!!

  7. #7

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    Thumbs up Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Graves View Post
    Looking for something better. But all of the above cameras have one thing in common. The sloppiest part of each one of them is the nut that operates the focusing mechanism. If I could fix that, each one of them would be a much better camera.

    Heheheehe. Silly nut you cameras!

  8. #8

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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    I think you're asking the wrong question.

    Upper tier cameras are usually a bit more solid and smoother, look nicer. Considering only functionality, a good solid monorail is my choice, and good used studio monorails can be had for far less than a kilobuck. Now once you need or want something beyond functionality, you're into weight, appearance, size, portability, etc.

    In 8x10, I've owned Agfa, Deardorff, Canham, Linhof, and Ebony. In 4x5 and 5x7, Ebony, Tachihara, Crown Graphic, and Sinar.

    The Deardorff is not a "behemoth weight" 8x10, it is about average and maybe a pound or pound and a half heavier than the mahogany Ebony SV810. If you think the Deardorff has less features or movements than the Ebony or most other cameras, you probably haven't owned or used one. The Deardorff easily competes with modern cameras in terms of features and movements, and is better suited for short lens use than almost any other camera.

    I prefer the Ebony because of the more conventional controls versus say the Canham or the Deardorff. For large lenses, the Agfa's 7"+ lensboards make it useful where other cameras won't work. The Agfa can also have movements and features competitive with new field cameras depending on the model.

    I also prefer the camera that's suited to what I'm doing; hiking, large lenses, or working out of the car. I have no preference for one camera over the other based on the camera alone.

    Finally, Ole has the same opinion I do; whatever you use should allow you to concentrate on the photograph and not fiddling with the camera. What he didn't say is that the camera that does this may well be different for different people.

    Cheers,

    Steve

  9. #9

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    Re: Luxurious Cameras vs. Plain Jane Cameras and your Camera of Choice!

    Perhaps I would fall in both camps. My new Chamonix 5X14 would draw a crowd at a workshop of fussy photographers, but my most used camera is a very tired looking Kodak 2D that is probably down to 60 percent of it's original finish. When I set it up at a group function people keep a wide swath so as not to be associated with it. About 60 feet away is enough.

    If you wander around in my web site, probably 80 - 85 percent of the images have been made with that Kodak. My interest isn't the cameras, it IS the lenses. With the Kodak I have a packard shutter living inside that's always ready and it's just stout enough to hold up some really abusively large brass lenses. On my darkroom wall is a reminder to myself......"it's the picture stupid". For my kind of working the Kodak is the most versatile camera I've found so far. I could care less what it looks like.

  10. #10

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    Re: Luxurious Cameras ... I support them !!

    Being a French patriot, and taking into account that the industry of luxury goods brings so many euro (and about 1.5 times more USD those days) to our economy, I have a "support our troops" approach with respect to luxury items.

    My diet is on only on Foie Gras and Champagne wine. Sometimes I make an exception for Sauternes wine (nobody is perfect).
    My suit & trousers come from the best (& rich) parisian tailors.
    My violin comes from the best crafstmen in Mirecourt.
    My pianos are a Pleyel and a Gaveau (serious pianists need at least two pianos, preferably Made in France)
    My watches come from of the most luxurious shops at Place Vendôme, Paris, and so far I ignore the tiny 'swiss made' engraving.
    Of course, I only drive luxury French cars, and it is a torture that German cars are more luxurious than ours.

    So it is not a surprise if my view camera is a luxury camera made in France with some Swiss design & spirit inside, exactly like for my Place Vendôme watch.

    (post scriptum : one of my favourite "faux amis" is the "luxury" word, do not translate it into French as : luxure !!)

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