Which View Camera for Life?

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Unlike 35mm AF cameras, View Cameras can last you for life. The only thing that makes them useless is not having the materials to use them. Which view camera (one only) would you pick,if you knew you had to use it for the rest of your life? It can be any format, field or monorail and any make. If you need accessories(like bag bellows or extension rail) please include them. Please no creatives answer like, "I would get a 24x24 monorail with reducing backs for 12x20,8x20, 7x17, 11x14, 8x10,5x7,4x5". This camera should go nicely with your ONE lens.

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@home.com), June 26, 2000


I know what you are getting at... the problem with questions like this is the assumption that you, as a photographer don't change or evolve with your photography, which if true would be pretty sad. I have used many cameras and systems over the years and each played its role to get me where I am today. My current "love affair" (i.e not "marriage fore life") is Arca Swiss 6x9 with Schneider 110 XL. Who knows what tomorrow will bring ;-)

-- Andreas Carl (andreas@physio.unr.edu), June 26, 2000.

David, I could quite happily remain faithful to my Ebony SW and Schneider 110 XL, as long as I had a half dozen 5x4 film holders and a good supply of FP4 Plus!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), June 26, 2000.

Good question...10,000 answers. In my opinion, if I had to buy one camera today that would have to last the rest of my life, it would be a Linhof Technica, current model. It would not handle extreme focal length lenses, but it will handle most photography I intend to do. I would equip it with a 210mm lens. That lens will handle a lot of picture situations. I use a wide angle a lot, but if forced to choose one, it would be the 150 or 210. Actually, a lot of the old LF photographers did buy the old Linhofs and use them for life. They were buying a tool, not a fancy rig for their collection. Many a photographer never owned another LF than a Graphic with a 135 or 150 lens. Incidentally, I would by the rangefinder with the Technica.

-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alanet.com), June 26, 2000.

Any one you like. Since they're not technology driven, they hold a lot of their value.

Decide on your format: for most that's 4x5 or 8x10. Get 8x10 if you want to make contact prints and can handle the weight, 4x5 if you want to enlarge or can't handle the weight. I've got both 'cause I can't make up my mind.

I like monorails for ease of use, but flat-bed field cameras for their sturdiness in wind. I've got one 4x5 of each.

You could spend $5,000+ on a top-notch 4x5 with all the bells and whistles or $2,000 and get a couple or three, likely used.

Out of curiosity, why do you ask?

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), June 26, 2000.

A wooden field, perhaps a Deardorff 8x10. Mine has already lasted a lifetime, and it probably still has another 100 years in it.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), June 26, 2000.

3 1/4x 4 1/4 Super-D Graflex, with f:4.5/152mm Ektar and half-a-dozen Bag-Mags.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), June 26, 2000.

Ebony SV810U. There is no doubt I will collapse before it does. Nikon 360 f6.5, for everything from portraits to landscapes.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), June 26, 2000.

Regardless of what you get - buy it USED! It will have plenty of stories to tell you.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), June 27, 2000.

My vote goes for Arca-Swiss, for a few reasons. It works well in both the field and the studio. It's well made, and you can easily change format sizes -- down to 6x9 and up to either 5x7 or 8x10. Only downside for this camera system is that cameras, accessories, and format changing kits are a trifle expensive.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), June 27, 2000.

My current love affair having divorced a Horseman VH and commited bigamy with an Ebony SW23 is an Ebony SW45 with Schneider 110XL. Regards, Trevor.

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), June 27, 2000.

My favorite all round camera so far is the Arca Swiss F Classic Camera with a 40cm rail, and bag bellows But I can see a very strong case being made for the Linhoff Technikardan TK45s. Or the Canham DLC. Or the Sinar P2. or the Canham 8x10. I guess it really depends on what you want to do with it. if i was only restricted to one lens it would be either a 90mm f/4.5 Grandagon or a 150mm f/5.6 Nikkor W. These seem to be the focal lengths I use most.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), June 27, 2000.

Being that I have had my share of studio 4x5's (2), My current and final feild is my trusted Linhof Tech III. I have out fitted it with lens from 90mm - 360mm (my last purchase) and do not plan on ever selling this one. I toyed with the idea of going 8x10 but I feel I can do everything I need with the 4x5 format. It works for me... whether I'm in the woods on a foggy morning or downtown Boston for a great evening. Cheers.

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), June 28, 2000.

For me, photography is mostly for personal satisfaction and not a business. If it were a business it would affect my camera choices.

In the last 30 years or so, I have owned maybe a half-dozen different 35mm cameras...

In 8x10 I have switched cameras 5 times...all older, but decent equipment...

But through all the other camera changes, I still have the same old Speed Graphic with the origional 135mm lens that I bought used in the late 60s. I wouldn't part with it, and I don't leave home without it. It's not a true view camera, but the ability to take quick "snap- shots" in large format is a true pleasure to me.

-- Dave Richhart (pritprat@erinet.com), July 01, 2000.

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