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Thread: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    Hello, this is my first post here. I regularly use DSLRs, but I have an idea for a series of still-life photos, where I would like to get into large format film photography. Perfection is not my quest, rather I am looking for equipment with history. It may sound weird, but it is important to me that the equipment I use for this project has history, both camera and lens. I would prefer to use 4x5 format. So I would be looking for old, probably wooden cameras, and old lenses. But I am completely new to LF photography, what should I look for? I am not a millionaire, so I am not looking for Deardorff equipment, beautiful as it seems to be. Hope you can help.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    New Hampshire

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    Look in the classifieds here, and also on, Craiglist, ...

    There's lots of cameras with lots of history getting sold out there, and with prices forced low by digital, now is a good time to look around.

    I think there are probably too many suitable brands and models of cameras for me or anyone to say you should buy "X" or "Y". Find something with a good bellows and use it as a cheeeeeep learning experience. Then, if you feel a need to acquire a different set of features in a camera, you'll know better what you want.


  3. #3

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    watch the photographic section of ebay, it gives you some idea of whats about and what it costs


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    S.W. Wyoming

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    You can't go wrong with an old Speed Graphic press camera. Photographers have been using them for any and all types of photography for nearly 100 years. Many of the worlds most famous photos came from them. The Speed Graphic has a focal plane shutter that allows you to use virtually any lens you can fit on it. I would get the Anniversary model. It uses 4"X4" wood lens boards that you can make yourself, if need be. You should be able to get a decent working Speed for a couple hundred bucks. Less if you are a patient shopper.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Naestved, Denmark

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    Ok I know you wrote 4X5" but how about an old 9X12 Folding Plate camera. you can get plate holders and sheaths for 9X12cm film. take out the sheaths, coat some glassplates with liquid emulsion and get some interesting results.
    I just got a Voigtländer Bergheil, Its 80 years old and I can't wait to try it out. No back movements, no tilt, just frontshift and rise/fall thats it. If only it could talk
    Kind regards

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    An Agfa Ansco Universal is a beautiful old camera, very capable when it comes to movements, bellows length, etc... accepts both 4x5 and 5x7 backs too. Other cameras you might consider are the Kodak 2D and Gundlach Korona. For a lens there are many choices available. Are you looking for a "softie" or something sharp? There are several articles to be found by clicking on the LF Homepage on the blue banner at the top of this page reviewing various "experienced" lenses. A Wollensak Verito or Vitax might suit your needs. Have fun!
    "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for men if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority"---EB White

  7. #7
    westernlens al olson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Southwest Mountains of Colorado

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    The Linhof Color is an excellent camera for still life, table top photography. This is a rugged tubular rail, metal frame camera produced in the early 60's that has front and rear standard movements similar to the Technika models. It is very easy to use in a studio setting. They are not as common as the Technikas, but you can find them at very reasonable prices.

    A step up would be the Linhof Color Kardan which has differing frames and adjustments.

  8. #8
    Scott Davis
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Washington DC

    Re: Old 4x5 camera for personal, still-life project

    A Calumet CC-400, Burke & James or Kodak equivalent... they're monorails, which will be better for doing still life work (especially if you're shooting small stuff), and they're cheap. They'll often come with a decent 135mm lens, or sometimes you'll find them with a Kodak Ektar or Commercial Ektar lens, which are storied and deserving of their reputation.

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