Bender kit, buy or not? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello, It is a question from beginner in LF. The problem is that I would like to have a light and compact 4x5 camera with most of movements. Currently I use old Voigtlander with home-made spring back and modified front to allow all movements on front. It is very compact and very light (~1kg), but my front-standart is not precise and not very rigid. So, I think about something better but under 1000DM (~620US$). The main difficult is that here in Hamburg there are no good chanses to find new or used LF for field, most closest is Linhoff for many $$$. Mr. Bender propose his 4x5 set + bag bellow for 342.5$ (~600DM) include post.

1.Is it good to use in the field and travel(Lanscapes, Architecture, Close Up.. with 150mm and may be with 120/210 )? 2.How does the international money order work and how long will I wait for post? 3.Is there something other?

Best Wishes, Excuse me for bad English.

-- Yarigin Sergey (, October 01, 1998


I do not know about the Bender kit - I once posted a question concerning the 8x10 kit which has never been answered - but I often order items from the USA: the best way to pay is a credit card. Living also in Germany, I may be able to help you concerning some of your questions; contact me privately via email if you like(in German).

-- Lukas Werth (, October 03, 1998.

You might also consider the Tachihara, which you should be able to find at a reputable dealer even if in the US. Payment could be made by credit card. Shipping would be somewhat expensive due to your location but you can still do it within your budget, even with a new camera.

It makes for a nice landscape camera, will take wide angle lenses (within reason) without a bag bellows and extends to 300mm. IMHO, you should buy a new one and this is especially so in this case as you don't want to return it if the condition is unsatisfactory - shipping would be too high.

Badger Graphics is one place to try and they also have Wistas at very good prices.


-- Mike Long (, October 05, 1998.

I just finished building the Bender kit. Up to this point, my work only involved medium format and occassionally small format. Wanting to get involved in LF, but not having anyone around me with experience or even a sample of what to buy, I decided to try this kit as a way to experience LF in a rather inexpensive way and also to help me get an understanding of the parts of these cameras and what they do. I have absolutely no real woodworking skills to speak of and only simple tools found in most homes. I can attest that this is one great camera...You will find it rather easy to build...had to call and ask a few questions from Jay Bender and I did email a guy in the US who helped me get over a few questions while building. but I would recommend this camera to anyone. It is light, has more movements than most of us will ever need or use, is a great value to money product and it is nice to look at...One that you will be proud to use. After building this, I then spent my money on a very good lens to put with the 4x5.

If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask


-- Larry (, October 06, 1998.

I built and have been using the Bender for almost two years. I have taken it backpacking in Alaska, through the national parks of southwest United States, on day hikes in Washington state, and on my bicycle through the city (Seattle). I have used it for macro work (it has a good bellows draw), landscape work, and for formal portraiture at a friend's wedding. I use a 210mm for most work, rent a 90mm and use the bag bellows for wide-angle work, and am converting a 480mm process lens to do "telephoto urban landscape stuff" this winter.

I have designed and am presently building a set of brackets to recess the front standard so I can go "ultra-wide". The bracket will cost me about $8.00 in wood and hardware so if it doesn't work I won't be upset. There is plenty of good advise about building it on this web site, take a look.

While you can probably scrounge together a camera for the same amount of money, the pride of ownership in a home-built camera is rewarding. You will be able to modify it to YOUR specifications. If the only reason you want the Bender is because of the low price tag, DON'T DO IT. You will not build a good camera.

I do not have any connection to Jay Bender, but I like the camera and would rather spend my money on good optics and film.

-- Doug Herta (, October 07, 1998.

Thank You All very much for good answers! Now I practically agree to go for Bender. But is it really better (in time and money and relsut) to buy (from over the ocean) and build kit than to build from rough materials with own construction? I have some enginer experience for design.

Best Wishes.

-- Yarigin S. (, October 08, 1998.


The money you spend on a camera kit is not only for the "box of sticks" that comes to your door. Various improvements have been incorporated into the camera over the years, and the design has been refined in response to user feedback. There are many who build a large format camera completely from scratch. Many who want to build their own camera start out by building a Bender and move on to design their own.

The extra time it would take to design, scrounge up materials, and assemble a camera of your design would be an order of magnitude higher than the time to clamp and glue the Bender kit. If you feel it is a productive and enjoyable use of your time, go for it! It is always fascinating to see what people come up with. Otherwise, the Bender appears to be a good comprimise in terms of price, effort, and time.

-- Doug Herta (, October 08, 1998.

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