Which large format camera do you remember with fondness?

Stanga

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Reading another thread where mention was made of 4 x 5, my mind went back to some of the large format cameras that I have been lucky to own when I was younger. My first one was a Mamiya C330, which a wedding photographer friend gave me after he bought a Rolleiflex. My first go at developing B&W film soon followed. A few years later I saw a Pentax 6x7 in the display cabinet in the camera department of a shop, and I was hooked by the looks. I spent several months doing all sorts of weekend jobs to be able to buy that Pentax. It came with the standard lens, and I never bothered to try to buy another lens. It was a beast of a brick. But the pictures were fantastic.
 

RichardC

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My favourite medium format camera was the Bronica SQAi, mounted on a tripod, hand held meter.

95% of anything I was asked to do could be done with the standard 80mm lens, waist level finder and zoom with your feet. Flash sync at all shutter speeds, mirror lock up - what else was needed?

When you take your time to get everything level, correctly focused, correct height, set your lens shade and meter with care, there is a real sense of accomplishment when it's finally time to take out the slide and release the shutter.
 

D7k1

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MAMIYA 23 Press camera, Mamiya C220, and YashicaMat 124. Used an RB67 in work taking thousands of slide images with it.
 
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ac12

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Hasselblad 500cm. The camera that in the past was so far up there (with Leica) that I could not even dream about it.
Digital destroyed the used price of film cameras, and it was cheaper than my Nikon D70.

BTW, I find the title interesting. I consider LF starting at 4x5, but for us shooting m4/3, MF could be a LF. :biggrin:
 
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jhawk1000

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I had a Speed Graphic 4X5 I used occasionally in the Army which I used for documenting things that were public and a Minox for things that weren't public. I also had a YashicaMat 124G, a Mamiya 645 1000, a Mamiya C330, and dabbled with a friend's Mamiya 67. I really do not miss any of them.
 
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The Wista Woodfield and Zone VI Ultralight 4x5 were splendid to use in the field...
mercedes man WHP.jpg
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The Hasselblad 2003 FCW with the F series lenses were superb...
070408r05f10 ridgefield.jpg
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As was the Bronica SQ with the PF lenses...
082512r01f01 meatpacking.jpg
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And the Rollei 6006 was an absolute dream, when it wasn't exploding the mirror box or eating lens shutters...
tsg_r04f05.jpg
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Stanga

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Whilst I never owned a Hasselblad, I did get the chance to use one. The engineering quality of them was out of this world.
 
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I have two:
  1. Zeiss Ikon. Haven't used it since childhood. My Dad gave it to me when he got his first 35mm SLR. We had.a darknroom in the basement, where I remember cutting down film to fit — it didn't take any of the standard large format film, as I recall.
  2. Linhof Super Technika. I still haul it out for demos at schools and such. Kids love getting under the dark cloth and seeing all their friends upside-down. I've got four Schneider-Kreutznacht lenses, two of which are "convertible" to other focal lengths, via screw-on elements.
Linhof Super Technika 4x5.jpg
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Here's an example of the Super-Angulon 90mm ƒ/8, using Scheimpflug to get the mountains and the sagebrush both in the focal plane.
Smith Rocks 00ADBAAI.jpg
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Armoured

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Hasselblad 500cm. The camera that in the past was so far up there (with Leica) that I could not even dream about it.
Digital destroyed the used price of film cameras, and it was cheaper than my Nikon D70.

I had a period of keeping my eye out for used MF equipment on the cheap that I'd always wanted to use. I have a Mamiya C330 that I used for years before that. Picked up several TLRs - including a Rolleiflex, as well as a Pentax 645, and a Kiev 88 / Khassel-blyad.

They all can take fine pictures.

Didn't like the Pentax at all (electronics and grip for eye-level work are uncomfortable), the Kiev has a walnut grinder mechanism, and the Mamiya is a beast. Honestly of the TLRs the Minolta Autocord and Ricoh Diacord consistently are the nicest to use - compact, light to hand, comfortable, and just feel right. I know it's sacrilege but - entirely subjectively - the Rolleiflex doesn't work for me; although it's exceedingly well-made, the focus knob is wrong.

I actually like the Diacord best of all for real-world use, and I think it was the cheapest. And quality of images from it are either just as good, or (more likely) I get better images out of it because I like it better. It's small enough to toss in a camera bag for a change of pace on an outing - no pun intended, it is a different pace of camera work.

Oh, and I have a rescue from an odd-bits bin when I was a student that I have a sentimental attachment to - a "Rolleicord" with Nikkor lenses (!); it's actually an Aires Camera tlr with a switched-out Rolleicord nameplate. Remarkably good workmanship on the nameplate swap actually; leaving "Aires Camera" on the lens mechanism was an odd oversight after going to such effort. The images from it can be quite sharp but tend to haze and low contrast - which can be quite attractive at times - but it's a sentimental keeper, not for heavy use.
 

leuallen

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Linhoff Bi Karden 4x5, Linhoff tripod, and carrying case. Toted it out once or twice and then sold it. What a monster.
 
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I always wanted one of those Japanese 4x5 wooden field cameras like the Tachikara, etc. Those were incredibly gorgeous and I lusted after them. I got a Calumet wooden 4x5 field camera I built from a kit and used it with an old Polaroid 545 back and some Polaroid lenses and shutters I salvaged from a copy camera. It was kinda fun to play with, but I only took a few shots with Polaroid P/N film before putting it away. I didn't use it enough to get much out of it, but I still have a sentimental spot for 4x5s. I even bought a used vintage Kodak 4x5 monorail (precursor to the Calumet 4x5) but never used it. Hahaha... it was an infatuation. :)
 

Michael Meissner

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This is probably not what the OP asked for, since I haven't shot with large format cameras.

I've never used large format cameras, though I do now own a few as shelf cameras and steampunk props. In terms of looks, I gravitate between the wooden field cameras of the 1900's, Speed Graphic press cameras, and of course those gloriously pretty wood/brass field cameras that are way out of my budget (Tachihara, Zone VI, Deardorff, etc.).

As my icon photo indicates, I am into Steampunk and the associated *punks. Steampunk has many different interpretations, but it started as combining aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery (i.e. Victorian times) and anachronistic technologies or retrofuturistic inventions (modern day inventions that might have been created by Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, and Mary Shelley). Steampunk Wikipedia

My inspiration is the movie/tv/noir images of the press photographers of the 1930's and 1940's, usually with classic 4x5 Speed Graphic and flash. Cigar optional. Jimmy Olsen from Superman would be one such image. Some classify this as Deiselpunk instead of Steampunk, but the camera bits of the press camera were all available in bits and pieces by the large format cameras available in the classic Steampunk timeline.

As part of my doing renaissance faires, and later steampunk, I always was looking around for ways to hide the modern (Olympus) camera in something that fits the time period. So I start pondering putting my small camera (Olympus E-P2) in a large format body.

My first large format camera was the Seneca Chautauqua 4x5. When I got it, my wife declared this was too pretty to be made into a steampunk camera and I agreed with her. So it is a shelf camera:
http://www.the-meissners.org/large-albums/camera-hacks/large/2009-12-30-22-09-220-chautauqua.jpg
2009-12-30-22-09-220-chautauqua.jpg
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In looking at the Sececa Chautauqua camera, I came to the conclusion that the 4x5 camera was too small to hold an E-P2. So I looked for 5x7 cameras. So I found a Kodak Pony Premo 5x7 camera:
http://www.the-meissners.org/large-albums/camera-hacks/large/2010-04-18-20-24-227-premo.jpg
2010-04-18-20-24-227-premo.jpg
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So I carefully removed the lens and the back that held the glass plates and put my E-P2 inside. I believe I used the Panasonic 20mm f/1.7 lens mark I in it. I added the range finger lens hood to give it flare. One thing that I discovered is there was no room to attach the Olympus RM-CB2 wired shutter release without drilling a hole in the camera wall, so I took a film mechanical shutter release and added a wood/velcro frame so I could use that to fire the shutter.
http://www.the-meissners.org/2010-l...ep2/large/2010-05-22-09-42-031-hidecamera.jpg
2010-05-22-09-42-031-hidecamera.jpg
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I used this for quite some time, but over time the stress of using it and I dropped it a few times, has made it more fragile.

I started thinking about the iconic press camera (i.e. the Speed Graphic series). I found a Folmer Grafex Speed Graphic 4x5. Like the Seneca Chautauqua, it was in too good of shape to use as a steampunk prop. In fact I paid a camera shop to bring it up to spec, so in theory I could run some film through it. I know 2 people locally that have shot 4x5's in the past, but I've chickened out actually shooting with it.
http://www.the-meissners.org/large-albums/camera-hacks/large/2010-05-19-00-48-238-sgraphic.jpg
2010-05-19-00-48-238-sgraphic.jpg
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I was still wanting to explore putting a camera in it. So I looked for Speed Graphics that were really used and not desirable as a shelf camera. The phrase is usually "looks like it has been through a war", and given the Speed Graphic was made just before World War II and used by the press, it may be that the camera had seen wars. I've found that an E-m5 mark I and appropriate lens (classic 4/3rds Olympus 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 mark II + MMF-3 or micro 4/3rds Sigma 16mm f/1.4) will just barely fit, but I haven't had the energy to finish it.

Instead I concentrated on making or adapting wooden boxes, that would look similar to the press cameras, and incorporate the modern camera bodies. One thing that I've noticed over and over, is the older large format cameras were square while the modern digital cameras have the lens and the grip on the right.

For quite some time I used my E-5 and 14-54mm f/2.8-3.5 mark I lens in various configurations. The idea was to add various things that people have in modern cell phones in a steam-sense. Now the camera itself takes pictures, but every thing else is props. Also, I have stuffed animal mascots that do certain functions.
http://www.the-meissners.org/2018-l...d-props/large/2018-01-13-14-15-001-arisia.jpg
2018-01-13-14-15-001-arisia.jpg
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However, I find as I age, I can't carry the E-5 box any more, and I've switched to boxes with my E-m5 mark I in it. The idea is I don't put my best camera or lens in the prop (in case it gets broken). Rain is always a possibility at many of the local events. In addition to rain, there are indoor parts to the event, which means low light. I've gone from using the Olympus 12-50mm f/3.5-6.3 to the classic 4/3rds Olympus 14-54mm mark II + MMF-3 adapter to Sigma 16mm f/1.4.

My full box from 2019 is:
http://www.the-meissners.org/2019-l...d-props/large/2019-05-10-16-11-009-hidewc.jpg
2019-05-10-16-11-009-hidewc.jpg
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The elements are:
  • Top left: Painter squirrel Livenia;
  • Top 2nd left: Photographer squirrel nutso;
  • Top 2nd right: Snap the dragon with compass;
  • Top right: Angry birds on a ballista;
  • Middle left: Octopus named Madeline Pomfrit III (i.e. MP3) playing various 'anonying' instruments;
  • Middle center: Olympus E-m5 mark I, MMF-3 adapter, classic 4/3rds Olympus 14-54mm mark II lens;
  • Middle right: Eva the Beaver (said with a Boston accent) with slide rule and sextant;
  • Bottom left: Racky the Raccoon with telegraph key for communication and toolbox;
  • Bottom right Dr. Quackenstien, mad scientist.
I also have a smaller box when I don't want to carry all of the weight:
http://www.the-meissners.org/2019-l...d-props/large/2019-01-19-12-00-005-arisia.jpg
2019-01-19-12-00-005-arisia.jpg
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This has the E-m5 mark I and the Olympus 12-50mm mark I lens.
 

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