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Thread: Upgrade from Bender

  1. #1

    Upgrade from Bender

    I am looking to take the next step from the Bender 4x5 that I assembled about a year ago. The Bender was fun to build, works fine within its limitations, and has taught me more about LF than I could have ever learned from a book. But it's rather clunky and crude, and now that I understand LF better, its limitations are quite obvious. So I'm looking to spend under $1000 on another monorail that is more sturdy and precise. I particularly want zero-position referencing and adjustment calibrations. I'm willing to buy new but am also interested in near-new (eBay or Keh). I'm thinking the Calumet 45NX would meet my needs. I mostly do landscapes and architectural details not far from the car. I'm strictly an advanced amateur with lots of experience in 35mm and MF. Any advice?

  2. #2
    Kevin Kolosky
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Posts
    800

    Upgrade from Bender

    Used Sinar F2

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    8

    Upgrade from Bender

    The Calumets are nice. The NX was their standard for many years. They also have the Cadet now. I am not sure if it has zero dents. The Toyo cameras are also very nice. They were also sold under the Omega name. Those cameras have very nice fine-geared focusing on both standards. Crude focus is still sliding, but precise focus is geared. I assume they have detents, but someone else would have to answer that for sure. Actually, there should be a large number of options for a monorail under $1000--I would say even under $500.

  4. #4

    Upgrade from Bender

    If you are thinking of a used camera try Midwest Photo Exchange in Columbus, Ohio. They usually have a good selection of cameras that will meet your needs and great service to boot. I have bought from them many times over the years; if you can pay them a visit the place is quite a candy store for photographers.

  5. #5

    Upgrade from Bender

    Sinar F2 or perhaps you can assemble a camera from Sinar F parts and Sinar Norma parts (find the stuff on Ebay). The Sinar Norma is an extremely well built camera. Both cameras can be upgraded to P series for studio use and can be used with practically every Sinar part ever made.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    Posts
    68

    Upgrade from Bender

    i love my 45NX, and i dont think i will ever change cameras - after 20 years with this thing, it is like my left arm or something - it is my best friend, i know it intimately, it does everything i need to do as an architectural photographer. i agree, midwest camera is a great place to do business with - those guys are very friendly and knowledgeable. i also like jon at the F-stops here.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Sep 2000
    Location
    Farmington, MI
    Posts
    204

    Upgrade from Bender

    Like you I started with a Bender, and had the same feelings about it after a couple of years. I bought a Sinar F-1, and later a Wista SP. I recommend that you buy a monorail that has a depth of field calculator. The Wista is much easier to transport than the Sinar, but I sure miss the DOF calculator when not using the Sinar. You can try to check the groundglass with a loupe or use polaroids, but the Sinar calculator makes it quick and easy and I have never had any out of focus suprises when using it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Posts
    104

    Upgrade from Bender

    There are dozens of good used monorails out there at this time. For the dollar- for dollar, ounce-for-ounce value, look for a Toyo-Omega with rotating back and geared movements. The detents are there. Spend more, and get an Arca Swiss. I also reccomend Midwest for good used equipment at reasonable prices. Website is Mpex.com, or call 614-261- 1264 and ask for Jim. He is in Japan until 4/24, so talk to Tom, if you call before the 24th. I don't work there. I'm just a satisfied customer.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Feb 2000
    Posts
    104

    Upgrade from Bender

    Tom, a P.S. to my post-- Stay away from E-bay. Prices at KEH are slightly above the market, on the average. Also, check with Quality Camera in Atlanta, GA. Check through the latest issue of View Camera magazine. All of the dealers that advertise there are reliable and knowlegable. Let us know how you made out.

  10. #10

    Upgrade from Bender

    I was recently in your situation, and the Calumet 45NX looked like it would fill the bill. However, I decided to raise my price range a little, ending up with a Linhof Kardan E (AKA M), currently underpriced at B&H for $1104. If I wanted new under $1K, I would go with either the 45N or the 45NX.

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