Street Photography with Large format.? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am considering progressing to large format but am unsure about which type to be looking for and which one lens would meet my needs.The camera will be used for street photography,with some portrait work.The size and weight with accessories can not be to great due to spinal injuries.I will be looking for an inexpensive used model due to little available cash.Any and all help in relation to cameras,lenses,tripods and needed extras will be greatly appreciated.

-- Curt Dawson (, April 30, 2001


IMHO the best camera meeting all the criterea you set forth would be the Graphic, preferably a Crown or Super. They can be hand held and also work fine on a tripod. I would suggest a 135mm for street photography and a 250mm or 210 for portrait work. A few hundred dollars ought to put you in business.


-- Doug Paramore (, April 30, 2001.

Doug's suggestions are good ones Curt. A Crown graphic is a little thinner and lighter than a Speed Graphic, but lacks the giant rear focal plane shutter. This small difference in size can make a big difference when trying to fit it into a small camera bag. I fit a Crown, 2 lenses on boards, a Weston meter and two film holders in a small Tamarac bag made for a 35 mm camera. Very portable. The 135 Schneider lens performs quite well and is small and light, it would be good street lens, but the Ektar 127 would be a good choice too, just a little wider. Even the lowly Wollensak 127 mm can produce very sharp 11X14's handheld if you get a good one. A crown with a side mount Kalart rangefinder can be fairly easily calibrated to work with whatever standard lens you use. A 210 for portraits can also be a Tessar lens, small and light and sharp, but with no real room for front rise movements (which you probably aren't going to need.) A 207 mm Ektar is also a very good lens. Now if you want to go really cheap, the B & J press cameras are very inexpensive on the used market, but not the quality of a Graphic. Make sure you get one with a working Kalart rangefinder. A lot of the B&J's I see are pretty abused, I suspect many were used by students who were hard on them and/or they didn't hold up as well. Good luck.

-- Kevin Crisp (, April 30, 2001.

Curt, one word of warning. If you suffer from spinal injuries take care that the extra weight of lf equipment isn't going to spoil the whole experience for you. Not so much carrying the gear in a bag but lifting the camera and lens to your face for framing and focusing. I assume that you won't be using a tripod for street photos and lifting that extra couple of pounds up to face height for framing and focusing could become unpleasant after a short time. Try it for a while with a weight of 5 or 6 pounds and see if it's comfortable.

-- dave bulmer (, April 30, 2001.

i photographed with a speed graphic for five years before finally moving up to my wista. what a great camera that was-- bombproof, super lightweight, versatile, and it was so cheap that i never needed to worry about taking it out in the rain. i also used a very light weight tripod, made for 35mm, without any problem at all. it was shaky and didn't stand up very tall, but i just waited for it to stablize before clicking the shutter and all was fine. my lenses were a 127 and a 206, both old 1940's Ektars, which gave me some of the sharpest photos i've ever taken. wish i still had a graphic-- they're awesome. enjoy. ~cj

-- chris jordan (, April 30, 2001.

Chris, I really feel for you so I'm ready to sacrifice myself and swap my Graphic with your Wista :-)

-- Sorin Varzaru (, April 30, 2001.

Curt, being a street/people shooter myself I'd like to emphasize that you'll probably get lots better pictures with 35mm. However, if you really want to go large format, you might consider that it doesn't have to be 4x5. The 2 1/4x3 1/4 Crown Graphic does virtually everything that the 4x5 does, and weighs less than 3.5 pounds compared to over 5 pounds. Good luck, whatever you decide. Bill

-- Bill Mitchell (, April 30, 2001.

Hey Sorin, I'd go for a trade but I like lifting my heavier wista-- helps keep the arm muscles in shape...! ~cj

-- chris jordan (,), April 30, 2001.

I took a Tachihara 4x5, three lenses (90, 150 & 240) and tripod outfit to Paris in February and did a bunch of "street photogarphy." One thing to watxh out for, and enjoy, is the Street Theater aspect of doing this. I'd set up the tripod and camera, dive under the dark cloth and find that a small (or large) crowd had gathered to watch me. Everyone loved the idea, smiled a lot and gave many "Bon Photo"s and thumbs up. It was a real hoot. And nobody objected (aside from the guard at Versailles that said "no tripods"..... So I shortened two legs, said "Un Monopod" and he went away sceatching his head.....

-- James Colburn (, May 01, 2001.

I'd get a Century Graphic 6x9 with a rollfilm back. $150 to $350 for a complete kit. Plastic bodied, they are very light. I own one and love it for my landscape work. The Super Graphic has incorporated rangefinder focusing with a cammed lens instead of the Kalart on the side. Probelm is the Graphlok rotating back which has some weight to it. $450 to $650 usually. In case of a 4x5, maybe a monopod will work for you. P.S. there's a Graphic 4x5 for sale over in Photonet classifieds cheap.

-- Wayne Crider (, May 03, 2001.

I saw a guy today with a Speed Graphic, old flash unit converted for electronic flash, and a Polaroid back photographing women in their Mother's Day finest with their families outside the Beacon Theater on upper Broadway in Manhattan. He was working pretty quickly to get in as many customers as he could before the show.

-- David Goldfarb (, May 13, 2001.

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