New to LF, Q's about Burke and James system. : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have recently purchased a Burke & James "Grover" model wooden camera, it is a 5x7 monorail, with a poorly functioning packard shutter and has a barrel mounted 190mm F4.6 wollensak raptor lens (that is scratched). I will be shooting portraits and landscapes and I am in search of the mystical LF clarity. I would like to change the lens and shutter system into one that would give me more control instead of the fixed f-stop and shutter speed I have now. Keep in mind that I paid less than a $100 for this system and I would like to keep the cost under $300 for a used configuration. Any help or recommendations will gratefully accepted, thanks.

-- Nick Kremske (, November 18, 1999


There are dozens of lenses out there that fit your requirements. Since you'll get many opinions, I'll just tell you about the one I have.

Earlier his year I refurbished an Ansco 5x7 that belonged to my grandfather. It also had a old Packard and a barrel mounted lens. Around the same time I saw a 210mm f6.3 Computar Symmetrigon (made by Kowa) mounted in a Copal #1 shutter at a camera swapmeet for $260. I asked around on the web (here and the large format newsgroup) about it, and it has a pretty good reputation. It has large coverage, 308mm, plenty for 5x7. I then saw the same lens listed at KEH in bargain condition for $ 215. I bought it, and when it arrived, I was VERY pleasantly surprised as it was in near mint shape! I've shot a few 4x5 chromes with it, and it's very sharp and contrasty.

However, the prices range widely for this lens - I've seen it as low as $215, and as high as $600! They come up on Ebay from time to time and sell for around $300. The is also a 180mm f6.3.

-- sheldon hambrick (, November 18, 1999.

Check the ads in shutterbug and other locations. Be aware of CALUMET lenses. Some excellent glass has that name. The Caltar S is apparently Schnieder glass & the Caltar N is supposed to be Rodenstock. I have used some of each & haven't been disappointed. Another good way to find a decent lens is swap meets and the ever present photographer for whom LF was NOT the True Way.

-- Dan Smith (, November 19, 1999.

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