Need some advice upon field camera

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by kribee, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. Hi!
    While traveling, I have recently made a kind of architectural (urban) project with my Nikon D700 + 17-35, correcting perspectives in Dxo. The result is not up to what I was expecting : IQ is low when printed, and of course there's a lot of cropping (around 20/30 %).
    Anyway I like the idea, and want to go further, with the right kind of photographic tool this time.
    I own a Mamiya 7 + 43mm, but I suspect that, once I'll have my beautiful 6X7 scanned (high res)
    processed in Dxo, I will get the same kind of problems..
    Assuming that :
    - I want to travel "light"
    - I prefer to work with roll film
    - I need at least a (35mm equivalent) 24 mm angle of view (and rather 20)
    - I want to enlarge around 3 feet high (vertical)
    - I need both vertical and horizontal view
    What camera do i need?
    I am ready to get a view camera if necessary (and take the time to learn it). But I don't know a lot about
    Thank you for your advices
  2. Hi Chris
    I can highly recommend a Toyo AII as a good quality but reasonably priced folding 5X4 field camera. I think they might be still available as new, but you'd have to check. If you do go down that route remember it makes a massive difference choosing the best quality glass to go out front. If you've got the money I can highly recommend these also Schnieder Super Angulon lenses, expensive but nice!
  3. You left out your budget, which is a major item here. I think you want a folding field camera and a 75mm lens. You did say urban architecture, which suggests tall buildings, which in turn means you will need more movements than a landscape photographer would. In the folding field camera, you will have the issue of the bed getting in the way, so you'll need a bed that you can drop. Wanting to travel light eliminates monorail view cameras, so you'll have to work around the limitations of the field cameras. As a starting point, I'd look at the Linhof Master Technica and Technikardan and the Ebony field cameras. I'm not sure of the specs, but you might look at the Canham cameras. I agree with Mark on the Schneider lenses. Look at Rodenstock specs, also. In the 24mm (35) equivalent 75mm lenses, try to stick with the f5.6 versions, rather than the f8 versions.
  4. Thank you for your advices!
    However, as I am a complete beginner, I'd like to know ? is it be possible
    to use roll film backs such as 6X7 as I can't imagine traveling (India and Asia in general) with film sheets (I don't know why, however, but it seems more complicated to me.)
    Please Jim, could tell me exactly what you mean by "bed getting in the way"?
  5. ...and also... my budget is around 2500 us
  6. Hi Chris,
    you didn't mention how large you want to print. You may well find that your M7 and 43mm will perform very well. The M7 lenses are amongst the sharpest ever made... out-resolving LF lenses by a generous margin. I've never used Dxo for correction, relying on CS4 instead. I regularly correct 6x12 and 6x17 images in CS4, printing them to 20x40 or 20x60... the results are very sharp. At that size, using the M7, I doubt 4x5 would be much sharper (if any).
  7. For a 3 foot print, roll film is not the best solution. You really should be using an 8x10 camera, but lets talk about a 4x5, which is a good compromise between the two. Since you want it lightweight, it should be a wooden camera. The answer is obviously an Ebony with a 75mm lens. (I am an Ebony importer and retailer). Why Ebony? Because they are tough, accurate and have a beauty derived from great design. Also, they have a very lightweight model which will do what you want. That is the RW45 in mahogany. Get the version with universal bellows to givee you the movements with a wide lens. The lens that equals a 24mm in 35mm is the 80. As it happens, the 80mm Schneider is very expensive and not so great. So the best choices are the 75mm Rodenstock f4.5 or the 90mm from the same series. Currently a new 75mm runs $1375. If you look around you can find a used one for quite a bit less. The 90 costs more, weighs more, but will give you a larger coverage for more movements. As for the camera, a used one is around $1300, a new one $1600-1800. You need about 3 boxes of filmholders and a tripod. The whole thing should be obtainable within your budget, used, or a little above it new. Look on Ebay for the best prices. Any questions, ask here or email me.
  8. The difference between using a roll film camera, such as the Mamiya 7, or digital, such as the D700, and a 4x5 is HUGE. It is an entirely different workflow. The learning curve for 4x5 is not trivial, perhaps forgotten by those of us with decades of experience. The op's first two points are "I want to travel light," and "use roll film." Guys... he's traveling! I'd either find a better way to process the digital files, it still might be difficult to get a 3 foot print, or use a high quality medium format camera. I have a Mamiya 7 and a 50mm lens. The scanned files are seriously sharp. Another option is a tilt-shift lens for the digital camera. I've only played with them in my local store, but would love to actually use one in the field. Unless the op is prepared to learn as he goes, certainly not impossible, the 4x5 option seems to be not reasonable. Were he not travelling, it would be terrific. Even though he asked his question on a large format forum, and I have been a large format user for thirty years, I do not believe it is reasonable for a beginner to start with 4x5 while traveling. There are better tools for his project. It's hard to believe the person who suggested an 8x10 read the original post. The guy's traveling and has never used large format!
    Good luck Chris.
  9. While I tend to agree with Bruce that you should consider 4x5 sheet film and that Ebony cameras are well made (I own one myself), there are many more choices: Shen-Hao, Tachihara, Wista, Chamonix, just to mention a few wooden flatbed field cameras.
    A new Ebony RW45 will eat ca. 70% of your budget. Tachihara, Shen-Hao or Chamonix cameras go for $650 - $800, which leaves you lots of money for film, lenses and accessories (which you'll need, like dark cloth, loupe, film holders etc).
    Since you want to use wide angle lenses, I'd lean towards Shen-Hao or Chamonix cameras. Both can be equipped with bag or universal (Chamonix) bellows, which make life much easier wiht wide lenses. Tachihara make fine cameras, but the bellows are not interchangeable.
  10. Thank you Eric. I have a lot of time and interest, so I think i'll
    make it sooner or later. But I will think about your advice for the near futur.
  11. Hi Eric (and Chris): Yea, I actually did read the post. Not all of us are afraid of large cameras. I have an acquaintance who regularly goes to the far east with a 16x20 camera, and another with a 14x20, both from the US. What I suggested was a 4x5, not an 8x10, though an 8x10 or at least a 5x7 would be more suited to getting quality prints of the desired size. Yes it is a steep learning curve, but one assumes from the post the Chris is motivated and willing to take a little trouble. I don't think the learning curve (such a popular phrase this year) is any steeper than I faced when learning digital this year, and driving everyone here and on Fred Miranda crazy, looking for help with my D700. People are here ready to help. "Aspire to more and you will achieve more." -- me. As far as the weight goes, the outfit I suggested weighs no more than the average medium format film setup.--Bruce
  12. Hello Chris. Actually reading your post, it's going to be difficult to do what you want with the money you have. The cameras that are specifically designed to do architectural photography on roll film are the Alpas and Horseman SW's. Very nice and very expensive. Using a view camera with a roll film back will be tricky because of the very short focal length you are asking for. Affordable field cameras like the Toyo will have great difficulty with a 47 or a 58 mm lens. A used monorail with bag bellows will handle the short lens with movements and is within your budget but it will not be "light". Linhoff and Arca Swiss make compact 2x3 monorails but again $$$$$. You could also afford a conventional MF SLR with a shift lens but focal length will be about 35 mm (equivalent), not 20-24. You will have to compromise (e.g. go 4x5) or find more cash.
  13. Chris: See "Using a Wooden Field Camera" on There are 2 parts. It makes it easier.
  14. I am not afraid of large cameras, at least of a 4x5, which I've been using for 30 years. In my response, I assumed the op is traveling quite soon, thereby not having a lot of time to learn and practice. If he has time, as he says in his last post, LF is clearly the best. 4x5 should make a large enough print.
  15. Chris - How long do you have before your trip? Perhaps there's time to find borrow a 4x5 camera from a friend, just to sure that you're comfortable with the format (I bet you'll love it).
  16. can i state the obvious?? why not get a perspective control lens? nikon has a 24mm f3.5 one that suits your needs and costs around $2000/USD. its a full frame lens so it will work on your d700.
  17. jtk


    If you're not happy with D700 IQ the problem is probably your post processing and printing skill. If you're using a lab it's surely their fault.
    No zoom equals Nikon's better primes...consider a 50/1.4 plus Nikon's incredibly-good perspective control wide/s, a 20, and something on the order of 85 or 105mm for longer shots. And a good tripod.
    You won't improve 6X7/6X9 "quality" beyond that Mamiya 43, assuming it's in good condition. You can't buy better for that format.
    You can't count on labs for good scans unless you shop and compare. You can't rely on "reputation" or claims. You can beat most of them with a Nikon 9000 scanner (for both 6X7 and 35mm) or 5000 (for 35 only). Fine scanning isn't as challenging as fine film development. Fine inkjet printing IS as challenging as fine enlarging.
  18. LF is definitely an option, and other have given the pros and cons.
    On the digital front, as has been mentioned, you might want to take a look at a tilt-shift lens. This won't give you the same degree of control a view camera will give, but it may do. Another option on the digital front is to get a panoramic head, and stitch multi-row panoramas. The software will give you your perspective control, and/or you can combine this with your tilt-shift lens. There are a number of suitable packages around, the two I quite like are Hugin (free, open source) and Autopano Pro (commercial).
    The building below is a multi-row panorama, shot handheld, with a 6MP DSLR. At 300dpi, it prints to 33x67cm, or at 240dpi it will print to around 40x83cm. You can easily make a bigger print by using a camera with a higher resolution than my measly 6MP, and by using a longer lens (which will give you more individual frames to stitch).
  19. If you're not happy with D700 IQ the problem is probably your post processing and printing skill. If you're using a lab it's surely their fault.​
    I've seen 16x20" prints from a D700 and Mamiya 7 side by side (both with top quality lenses) and the Mamiya blows the Nikon out of the water. The Nikon print is not bad, but for a static subject the larger format has a considerable advantage. Thus, a Nikon shift lens is the most portable option, but if top quality is desired then 6x7, 6x9 or 4x5" should be used. It will be obvious in large prints.
  20. Thank you for all your answers. I'll definitely go film anyway...
  21. Chris, your listed requirements are met by the Cambo Wide, a compact, robust camera designed for architecture, as it has lens rise and shift. The original Cambo Wide was manufactured from about 1990 till about 2000, when it was replaced by the current (and more expensive) Wide DS model. The Wide model is most commonly found with either the Schneider 47mm or 65mm Super Angulon lenses; more rarely, one sees the 58mm XL, 90mm, 100mm and 150mm lenses. The lenses are mounted in helical focus mounts which are themselves mounted on dedicated lens mounts. The use of helical mounts eliminates the need for a bellows and enables focusing via the distance scale and DOF marks rather than the included groundglass for speed, with framing via a mounted viewfinder. This setup also provides constant parallel alignment with the film plane. There is either 15mm or 20mm of shift or rise available, depending on the lens mounted, which enables one to keep the verticals vertical. On the back, one can use either 4x5 film holders or a roll-film holder for 6x7, 6x9 or 6x12 formats. I have a Cambo Wide 650, with the 65mm lens, available if you email me. A few reviews can be found on the web. Regards, Rod.
  22. The Chamonix 4x5 is very light and compact, and will accept most roll film backs. I use mine with a Graphic 6x7 back and it does very well. You can pair it with a small lens, let's say a 90mm Schneider Angulon or a shorter wide angle to get the coverage you want. The format would have to be marked on the GG for composing and focusing, but that is easily done with tape or grease pencil. As a wood field, it can be delicate, but it is surprisingly steady for its weight. They should range in the $800.00 now. For a bigger lens (more weight) a 90mm Super Angulon works well, as would the shorter Super Angulon lenses. You could carry some film holders and still do roll film for the bulk of the work.
    Of course, for sheer durability, the 4x5 camera I take around is a Wista 45SP. Same lensboards as the Chamonix, but built like a tank. A used one will go for about the same as a new Chamonix.
    Just a couple more options... the advice above is good.
  23. as much as I love my lf and film, the TS lens as a few others have suggested seems to be your most practical option. If you want more info on stitching pans and multirow pans go to RRS website and download their pdf catalog
  24. The OP mentioned in another thread that he wants to make prints up to three feet tall. That's a real stretch for a 35mm format camera.

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