Cambo - Good camera for a beginner? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm contemplating the purchase of a second-hand Cambo view camera as my first dabble in large format photography. Principally I'm interested in the perspective correction on offer for architectural work, and the enlargement opportunies of the larger film size. I currently mainly use an EOS system and a couple of fully manual 6x6 TLRs. Anyway, I've seen a Cambo view camera advertised and it looks like a reasonable buy to me, but I could use an expert opinion or two. It comes with a 150mm f/5.6 Fujinon lens (in a Linhof lens board), two sheet film holders, a magnifying loupe, cable release and carrying case. Cost equivalent 500 USD. Too much? I don't have a darkroom, so need to use a lab to have my work processed, and as a beginner want to use Quickloads, so I'd have to buy another back to allow this. Basically I've read and understood a number of books and web sites, but it's the technicalities of my first camera that are worrying me. Are there multiple flavours of Fuji film back available? The camera doesn't look very old, but am I better buying new to make sure everything is compatible? Is compatibility between camera parts a big issue in large format? I don't initially want to spend a vast amount of money, and am also aware that at the 500 dollar level I could probably resell the camera later if I either want to upgrade or can't cope. What I want is a decent beginner camera to see if I like it, and to see if it suits how I work. I should add that I live in Japan - building a darkroom isn't an option, labs are plentiful, and esoteric camera bits are easy to find.

-- Gavin Walker (, August 12, 2001


You are looking at a decent deal, I figure about $250 for the lens, 250 for the camera body and you are getting the rest for free. So as to the money is not bad. You did not mention what model cambo it is, so you might have a hard time finding accessories specific for the camera, as I said depending on the model, but I have seen on E bay always some kind of Cambo deal or accessorie, so I would not worry too much about this. As to the quickload film back, if you buy it new it should fit your camera. Good luck!!

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 12, 2001.

My first 4X5 was a Cambo. Extremely rugged, straight forward and useful camera. I still have it. It's only downfall is it's heavy if you have to carry it around much. A bag bellows can be used 24/7 with the 150. Makes a nice combo with a 9" rail. If somebody wanted to learn it's what I would grab to teach with. The linhoff lensboard (at least the ones I've seen) won't fit the Cambo so you may have to spend a few $ to get a cambo board. The Fuji 150 is a great lens that allows lots of movements for architecture. Grab it.

-- Jim Galli (, August 13, 2001.

Gavin, I have just bought a Cambo (Super Cambo) for exactly the same reasons as you. On the most part I am pleased with what I got. I paid 169ukp on ebay for mine, came with bag bellows, 10 dds and carry box, a very old lens and a graflex back. A precis of my experience... Positives - Parts seem to be readily available (Robert White can get most new parts, Mr Cad, has a good selection of used parts). Engineering quality seems good - its certainly robust - everything works and looks like it will forever, not a bit of plastic in sight. I am looking forward to using it in earnest. Negatives - I had to get a new lens board with the right hole - cost 19ukp on eBay (35ukp + vat new from RW). I have also purchased a short monorail (30cm) s/h for 35ukp to make it transportable into the field with a 90-135mm lens otherwise I dont see it leaving the house. Two of the dds were wooden MPP versions and all advice offered was to retire them swiftly! The supplied lens has a u/s shutter so I will have the additional cost of a lens which looks like it will cost circa 150ukp for something very basic. The bag bellows need the bag replaced. Lastly I will need to make or buy a dark cloth as this looks like it is essential to be able to focus. These look like they are circa 50ukp to buy s/h.

I think it all comes down to how servicable the lens is as to whether it is a good price. For a point of reference, Mr Cad has a s/h Cambo advertised for circa 250, no lens or dds.

Hope this helps


-- David Tolcher (, August 13, 2001.

Thanks to everyone for responding. I eventually thought 'what the hell' and bought it - just waiting very eagerly for it to be delivered now!

-- Gavin Walker (, August 17, 2001.

With a name like Gavin Walker, you'd think he could build his own camera!

Oh...excuse me. I was thinking, "Galvin."

-- John H. Henderson (, August 17, 2001.

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