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Thread: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2009
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    Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    Hi chaps,

    Currently shooting with a Wisner technical field camera 4x5 and a Cambo 8x10. Love shooting with them both but the Wisner, my "daily" camera has a few niggles which I find a bit limiting.

    I've just got hold of a Polaroid back and while it fits, just, it only just fits and I'm concerned I might put the camera out of focus when I'm trying to slide the back in or worse, damage the camera. Secondly, and more importantly, I like to shoot wide angle lenses. Currently as wide as 90mm but would like to go wider. My Wisner grumbles about 90mm lenses and so there is chance in hell it'll go any wider. I've tried the pointing it down 45 degrees trick with mixed success but it's not something I would like to have to resort to regularly.

    I've no plans to get rid of my Wisner. It's compact, easily fits in my bag with some film, a lens etc. without too much thinking about, weighs very little, looks AWESOME(!) so it's a great go-to camera. But I would like a second 4x5 that might fill my Polaroid and wide angle needs. I had a Sinar F2 which really was fantastic but I found just a bit too bulky for someone who solely uses public transport and so it was left on the shelf a bit too much.

    So looking for something moderately transportable, which is happy with wide angle lenses and my Polaroid 550 back (it's quite deep), is moderately happy with longer lenses and has a reasonable range of movements. I think that would do me perfectly!

    Any recommendations would be great and if you have a camera of this description up for grabs, even better. We should talk!

    Cheers all

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2002
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    9,472

    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    Budget?

    Most people are going to point you towards a Chamonix or Ebony as a full Wisner replacement. And they'd be correct.

    There are also Walkers and Shen Haos that do not fold and tend to favor wider lenses, they look like nice cameras although not as useful once you go over 150mm (without fancy top hat lens boards and kludges).

    Even though I am contrarian and usually suggest an inexpensive but finely-made monorail, unless you really spend the big money on an Arca-Swiss, none of them get significantly smaller than a Sinar. And the Linhof Technika really doesn't get wide angle friendly until you get the $$$ later model with the built in wide angle focusing. So see above....

    If you simply want to go wide and use the sheer width to avoid using movements, put a high quality 65mm onto a cheap Crown Graphic body. Worthless for moves but since it will be so wide, would you ever really miss them?

  3. #3

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    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    "Moderately transportable," "happy with wide angle lenses and Polaroid 550 back," "moderately happy with longer lenses," and "reasonable range of movements."

    Depending on what you consider "moderate," "longer," and "reasonable," it sounds like you want a camera with roughly a 15" bellows ("moderately happy with longer lenses") that also accepts a bag bellows ("happy with wide angle lenses"), that weighs less than 6 lbs. ("moderately transportable"), that has a Graflex back ("happy with Polaroid 550 back") and that has front rise, fall, tilt and swing and back tilt and swing ("reasonable range of movements"). IOWs you want a Chamonix.

    Or possibly a Canham or Ebony if you want to spend more than a couple thousand dollars. If you could get away with a bellows of 12" that can be extended to about 14" with some difficulty and potential instability you could also consider a Shen Hao.There are several different models of each of these cameras, sorry but I don't remember the model numbers, you'll have to check those out yourself.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  4. #4

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    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank Petronio View Post
    Budget?

    Most people are going to point you towards a Chamonix or Ebony as a full Wisner replacement.

    There are also Walkers and Shen Haos that do not fold and tend to favor wider lenses, they look like nice cameras although not as useful once you go over 150mm (without fancy top hat lens boards and kludges).

    Even though I am contrarian and usually suggest an inexpensive but finely-made monorail, unless you really spend the big money on an Arca-Swiss, none of them get significantly smaller than a Sinar. And the Linhof Technika really doesn't get wide angle friend until you get the $$$ later model with the built in wide angle focusing. So see above....

    If you simply want to go wide and use the width to avoid using movements, put a high quality 65mm onto a cheap Crown Graphic body. Worthless for moves but since it will be so wide, would you ever really miss them?
    Budget probably doesn't quite stretch as far as an Ebony sadly. A Crown Graphic actually might be ideal. I didn't even think of that as an option. Perhaps I'm missing the flexibility of my old Sinar and grabbing another one of those for "serious" shooting could be what I need, plus a membership at the gym, and my Wisner for day to day shooting. Cheers Frank!

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 1999
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    550

    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    So looking for something moderately transportable, which is happy with wide angle lenses and my Polaroid 550 back (it's quite deep), is moderately happy with longer lenses and has a reasonable range of movements. I think that would do me perfectly!

    And I suspect the new camera will have to satisfy yourself at least at the same level of your Wisner and the F2... it could be even more difficult. If not, it will be abandoned on a shelve, sooner or later.
    Cameras like the Canham DLC are capable of everything, but if you`re used to a Wisner, you`ll probably miss a bit of speed and comfort. Also, I think you`d like a rock solid back for the Polas.
    The only camera that comes to mind is a Linhoff Technika. Maybe limiting your use to a moderate wide angle lens, with a recessed board you don`t need the latest model.
    Anyway, I never used a 550 but a 405, that seems to me quite close (size wise). Isn`t the Wisner capable of such aperture for the holder? Also, cannot you use a recessed lens board for your camera? Personally, a 75mm lens is enough for my needs; with a recessed lens board it`ll work on any 90mm capable camera, (I guess).

  6. #6

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    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    As long as we're talking about 50 year old cameras... you might consider a Meridian 45B. They'll focus on the inner rails with lenses from 47mm to 90mm... Recessed boards for Technikas retail for more than these whole cameras typically sell for in nice shape. (You won't need recessed lens boards or helicals with a Meridian 45B). Downside is that these didn't have a Grafok back, originally, but simple spacers work well for Grafmatics and other slide-in film holders. A bail back wouldn't be difficult to fab. Others have Graflok-adapted them.

  7. #7
    scm's Avatar
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    Jun 2011
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    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    Personally, I'd talk to Richard Ritter about having your existing back modified to more easily handle the Polaroid holder or maybe getting a second back modified with the Graflok-type fittings. It may be that just having a bail (like on the later Zone VI cameras) installed will allow lifting the ground-glass panel enough to slip the P-holder in without disturbing the camera, Richard can install those, as well.

  8. #8
    Lachlan 717
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    Apr 2007
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    2,437

    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    I might be up in Sydney sometime in the next few weeks, and can probably pack my Shen Hao XPO for you to have a look at.

    I use a 72mm with it (using a Sinar bag bellow), and I'm sure that it could go slightly wider.

    It can also go out to over 400mm.
    Lachlan.

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

  9. #9

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    Jun 2002
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    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    Quote Originally Posted by scm View Post
    Personally, I'd talk to Richard Ritter about having your existing back modified to more easily handle the Polaroid holder or maybe getting a second back modified with the Graflok-type fittings. It may be that just having a bail (like on the later Zone VI cameras) installed will allow lifting the ground-glass panel enough to slip the P-holder in without disturbing the camera, Richard can install those, as well.
    None of these cameras is ever going to be "perfect".... If you like the Wisner this sounds like a good idea, you might be able to fabricate it yourself with an inexpensive Graphic or Cambo Graflock back.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Nov 2010
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    775

    Re: Recommend me a 4x5 camera

    You might consider a used Linhof Technikardan. It'll work with a huge variety of lenses and you can use your wideangles on flat lensboards, which is a pleasure. I have a Master Technika 2000 too, which honestly I use as my main camera, but that's because I don't like to shoot wider than 90mm. If I routinely used 75mm or wider, I'd use the Technikardan. Of course the Technika CAN be used with very wide lenses, the Technikardan just makes it easier if you want movements.

    The TK has movements like a monorail but folds relatively small like a field camera. It's also something of an underrated camera, which means it goes for relatively low prices on the used market. You'll need the bag bellows though. It's expensive if purchased new, but it too can be found on the used market.

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