Advice on LF cameras

Alan9940

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The only 4x5 camera I have owned is the Chamonix 045N-2. Its a really nice camera but I sometimes wonder having the focus knob in the centre just underneath the rear standard is a good idea. The more I look at the traditional rack an pinion design where your arms are out side the dark cloth to focus just seems a little more natural but I may be wrong.
The only thing I don't like about this setup, or any other LF camera that focuses only via the front standard, is that the sheer function of setting correct focus can change your composition; more critical when doing close-up work. Since I like to pay close attention to what's happening along the edges of my frame, I much prefer rear standard focus.
 

martin henson

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The only 4x5 camera I have owned is the Chamonix 045N-2. Its a really nice camera but I sometimes wonder having the focus knob in the centre just underneath the rear standard is a good idea. The more I look at the traditional rack an pinion design where your arms are out side the dark cloth to focus just seems a little more natural but I may be wrong.
Your not wrong mrB it’s in the worst possible place you could think of under a dark cloth with the loupe in another hand, bad design IMHO
 

Alan Clark

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Alan, thanks for mentioning Morley Baer. I had heard of him, but was totally unfamiliar with his work. So I looked him up. Wow! What wonderful photographs. Right up my street. Exquisite … Did he just do contact prints?
Looks like he used a "standard" lens a lot, which is interesting in the context of this thread which is about using a full range of focal lengths.

Alan
 

David M

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Alan,
I'm sure you are right. I'd give the same advice to anyone else. I do happen to like cameras themselves, although I'm not any kind of collector. Involuntary accumulator, perhaps.
The Intrepid works perfectly well, but a little extra convenience is always welcome. One thing I really would like them to do is to make the screw that holds the front standard a captive one. I'm sure there are Marks II, III and IV on the way.
 

Alan9940

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Alan, thanks for mentioning Morley Baer. I had heard of him, but was totally unfamiliar with his work. So I looked him up. Wow! What wonderful photographs. Right up my street. Exquisite … Did he just do contact prints?
Looks like he used a "standard" lens a lot, which is interesting in the context of this thread which is about using a full range of focal lengths.

Alan
Yes, I believe he did only contact prints from his 10x8 negs. Yep, many of the most famous photogs--like AA, for instance--used the standard 300mm focal length quite a lot. I mentioned his name only in the context of the beautiful work that can be done with minimal equipment.
 

Alan9940

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Alan,
One thing I really would like them to do is to make the screw that holds the front standard a captive one.
Yep, that sucker drives me bonkers! I'd, also, like it if the front standard moved a bit more smoothly; rise/fall and tilt.
 

Alan Clark

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Yes, I believe he did only contact prints from his 10x8 negs. Yep, many of the most famous photogs--like AA, for instance--used the standard 300mm focal length quite a lot. I mentioned his name only in the context of the beautiful work that can be done with minimal equipment.
Thanks again Alan. I have just ordered one of his books. Remembering Barns - California Plain.

Alan
 

Alan9940

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Not to spend your money... ;) But, one of my favorites of his is: Light Years, The Photographs of Morley Baer

Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of his books IMO!
 

Alan Clark

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Thanks Alan. Will look it up. Some of his books seem very expensive. The one I ordered was very cheap!

Alan
 

Alan9940

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Yep, a brand new First Edition (what I have) is ridiculously expensive IMO. That said, I've seen used copies selling for around $35US; a beautiful book at this price, if in decent condition.

Alan
 

Dom Palubiski

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Morley Baer's work looks incredible. I'll see if I can find his book I think.

I also think I agree with Alan and David. Might as well learn with what I have for now, but I think either the Arca Swiss or Chamonix may be my next step if I end up wanting a bit more.

As my first post here I am very thankful for everyone advice and words, just so you all know.
 

Dom Palubiski

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I was wondering about the Shen Hao cameras too. I hear they are copies of an older more well know brand (but somehow forgotten which one) .Anyone have any experience with them at all?
 

KenS

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After my official "retirement" invested in a new Linhof Technica since I was quite familiar with that model which I had used
every day when I was a 'working' photographer... but only until we 'upgraded' to a Sinar F2 which I (personally) found to be much more 'versatile'...(and the off-axis swings/tilts were a"great" benefit).

I was then invited to do a 'swap' with a local photographer who 'lusted' after a Technica for hand holding. To this day I have not regretted the 'deal' since I believe a monorail is a much more 'versatile' instrument... much greater bellows extension and ('shifts) as long as you are willing to humph a tripod when you feel the need to get out and 'make' some images (personally I have an extreme extreme dislike for the use of the words "taking" photographs... my mentor always insisted that photographs were "MADE" rather than just 'taken'.
If I were now in need of a 'second' (new) 4x5 [ok how 'bout 5x4? :cool:] I would (again) look first to a monorail... and it would (most likely) be a Sinar

Ken
 

KenS

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After my official "retirement" invested in a new Linhof Technica since I was quite familiar with that model which I had used
every day when I was a 'working' photographer... but only until we 'upgraded' to a Sinar F2 which I (personally) found to be much more 'versatile'...(and the off-axis swings/tilts were a"great" benefit).

I was then invited to do a 'swap' with a local photographer who 'lusted' after a Technica for hand holding. To this day I have not regretted the 'deal' since I believe a monorail is a much more 'versatile' instrument... much greater bellows extension and ('shifts) as long as you are willing to humph a tripod when you feel the need to get out and 'make' some images (personally I have an extreme extreme dislike for the use of the words "taking" photographs... my mentor always insisted that photographs were "MADE" rather than just 'taken'.
If I were now in need of a 'second' (new) 4x5 [ok how 'bout 5x4? :cool:] I would (again) look first to a monorail... and it would (most likely) be a Sinar

Ken
 

Alan9940

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Hi Ken,

Always interesting to me how LF photographers wind up with the gear s/he uses. I started with 4x5 way back in 1979 when I bought my first outfit; a modified Wista/Tachihara from Zone VI Studios along with all the fixins to practice LF photography. I used that happily for years until I invested in 8x10 and wanted to use my 300mm lens with both cameras. Being that my 4x5 only has about 12.5" of bellows draw (yep, I still own that camera!), I could only focus pretty much at infinity and it wasn't the sturdiest beast racked all the way out. Later on, desiring an even more portable and lighter setup I bought a Toho FC-45X which reportedly had nearly 15" of bellows draw. I thought...hmm...could make pretty good use of the 300 with that extension. Well...it does extend to that length, but not easily and the bellows is about as taut as a snare drum at that length! :D

Therefore, even years and years later I really didn't have a 4x5 setup that would allow me to comfortably use that 300 and I kind of resigned myself to that fact. Then, a recognizable name (and fairly major camera guy) on one of the forums here (USA) listed a sorta Arca-Swiss F line camera for sale. I say "sorta" because it had the highly desirable telescoping monorail, brand new long bellows, and front/rear format frames of the F line, but base controls from the B era. It also had the desirable (to me) 4x5 rear standard, but 6x9 front standard. Anyway, long story short I bought it and couldn't be happier! It allows me to use the 300 with ease, and with extension rail and that long bellows I can even use my Fuji C 450mm! Don't have much extension available beyond infinity with that lens, but it's usable if I need it. I eventually bought a bag bellows for it which allows me to use my 75mm with ease. Yeah, that's another great feature that I never had...interchangeable bellows. And, to put a bit more "frosting on the cake" the camera weighs in at only 5.5 lbs!

I've always heard the Sinar's were great cameras--never owned one myself--but over the years I've used and/or played with a few other monorails and not a one comes even close to the Arca-Swiss. If I'm not packing the 8x10 (my usual format), then the Arca-Swiss comes with me every time!
 

KenS

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The only thing I don't like about this setup, or any other LF camera that focuses only via the front standard, is that the sheer function of setting correct focus can change your composition; more critical when doing close-up work. Since I like to pay close attention to what's happening along the edges of my frame, I much prefer rear standard focus.
Coming in somewhat 'late'
The greatest/best reason for using the rear standard on monorail since Subject to Lens distance has an effect on 'magnification' hence focusing using the rear standard keeps the subject to lens 'stationary'


Ken
 

David M

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Ken is right, but the effect is small for normal distant landscapes. With greater magnification, you can be in a situation where to focus on the subject, you need more extension. Front-extension moves the lens closer to the subject. Being closer means you are not in focus and must rack out the lens a little more, which changes to lens-to-subject distance again. And so ad infinitum. The image never gets sharper but just changes size on screen. Rear focus avoids this. Being able to move the whole camera back and forth helps even more. You can simulate this by moving both standards back and forth together.
 
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