Questions about 4x5....

Discussion in 'Photography Equipment & Products' started by flea77, Mar 24, 2009.

  1. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    I have been toying with the idea of playing with a 4x5. I have tons of experience with 35mm, a few years with 120/220, but none with anything larger and thought it might be fun.

    Given that I do not want to be Ansel Adams and do not have that much money to spend on a setup, and given that I want something reasonably portable (thinking maybe a field camera), and that I want something reasonably new (please no old press cameras), and that I would need a complete system with whatever lenses (they all have shutters in them, right?), lens boards, film holders, etc. What would you recommend as something to get to play with?

    I have looked at some collapsible Zone IV cameras that looked neat. Also looked at a couple monorail types but am afraid they would be a real bear to transport up the trails.

    Thanks!

    Allan
     
  2. Steph

    Steph No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Google Shen Hao and Chamonix. They both make relatively inexpensive 4x5 field cameras. As for lenses, they don't necessarily come with a shutter (they are then called barrel lenses), although most modern lenses such as Schneider and Rodesntock do. To have an idea of what new equipment is available for large format photography, have a look at this website.
     
  3. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A graflex speed/crown graphic is a great starter 4x5 camera. It's very durable and portable, and has a rangefinder for handheld focusing (also has ground glass).

    The "speed" verison has a focal plane shutter which allows you to shoot lenses without a shutter; the crown version is thinner and lighter because of a lack of the internal shutter.

    The one drawback of a graflex is limited movements.. theres some front and back tilt but that's about it.

    You can buy a 4x5 graphic with a lens and a couple of film holders off "the auction site" for $300 or so. Just make sure you get the 4x5 version, many people advertise 3x4's as 4x5s.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. Katier

    Katier TPF Noob!

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    Crown graphic leapt to mind but the OP specifically said 'no ex-press cameras' the CG is neither 'fairly new' nor 'not ex-press'.
     
  5. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    I would agree that a monorail is not a good choice for backpacking. Back in my old film days I did a stint shooting 4x5 landscapes and cityscapes. I chose a light folding field camera. Mine was super light Ikeda, which was similar to the Nagaoka that was also available in the mid-70s through the mid-80s. The Zone VI and Takahara are also good choices, though slightly heavier.

    It should be noted that the nature of a flatbed folding field camera is such that the center of mass, dominated by the lens and shutter, is noticably lower, relative to the top of the tripod head, than that of a monorail style camera. This puts must less torsional load on the tripod allowing it to be lighter and therefore more portable.

    I wouldn't rule out a good press camera unless you are certain that their more limited movements. Press cameras are far more rugged than any wooden field camera as they fold up like a turtle, sheltering all of the fragile parts. Other than the movements, the negatives with a press cameras are:

    1: Lens boards are harder to find, except for the Linhof Technika models

    2: The apeture in the front standard is smaller making some modern wide angle lenses (read: Schneider Super Angulon 90mm, either version) a pain to mount (remove the rear cell, mount the lens, remove the ground glass, and remount the rear cell from the rear).

    3. With the exception of the Linhof Technika and a few rare other models, the lenses that were typically supplied with press cameras are rather poor, particularly if you use any movements that move the optical center away from the center of the negative. There covering power is very limited and off axis quality falls off fast.

    If you go with a Graphic Press, I would suggest avoiding the "Speed" models as the focal plane shutter adds a good pound to the weight. You can removed the rangefinder easily on most models to get a trimmer body for packing. Be certain to get one with a "Graflok" back. These can be snapped off allowing the modern WA lenses to be mounted as noted in #2 above. With the standard spring back, your dead in the water. You must only use lenses that have a small enough rear cell to fit.

    My old rig was an Ikeda body, a Schneider Angulon 90mm f/6.8 (NOT a "Super" Angulon with is a totall different beast), a Nikkor-W 180mm f/5.6, and the other misc. stuff . My tripod was at times either a Leitz Tiltall, a good Tiltall clone, or a Bogen/Manfroto 3020 with a decent ball head, none of which would support a monorail adequately.
     
  6. KevinDks

    KevinDks TPF Noob!

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    You can build The Bulldog 4x5 camera from a kit, which costs £150 in the UK for the basic outfit.

    Kevin
     
  7. Dwig

    Dwig TPF Noob!

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    Another thing to keep in mind with view/press/field cameras is that accessories are not brand specific as a rule. The only common accessories that are partially specific to a range of cameras are lens boards.

    If you start out with an "inferior" body you aren't waisting money on the other accessories when you add lenses, film holders, ... . A later purchase of another body won't require a massive replacement of accessories. An old stripped press body or one of the inexpensive kit cameras don't make bad choices when starting out. You can slowly add lenses (you rarely need more than 2 or 3), learn what you like, and upgrade the body as you refine your skill and taste.
     
  8. djacobox372

    djacobox372 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hmmm... I missed that qualification... makes me wonder what the OP has against press cameras.
     
  9. flea77

    flea77 TPF Noob!

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    Against? Nothing really, I just do not want one. That simple.

    Allan
     

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