the best used 5x7? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I've already corresponded with a few of my fellow enthusiasts off-forum on this, but I want to seek some other opinions. I want to try 5x7, but without a lot of money (my target is $800 to $1000) to spend (Wisner, Canham, Ebony out of the question) my options seem to be the following: a used 5x7 Linhof Tech III or IV (these can still be pretty pricey), Burke & James, Ansco, Seneca, Deardorff (still a little costly). I would also consider a monorail 5x7. Tachihara makes new 5x7s at about $1400 a piece, but that's still champagne on a beer budget for me. I've got a Calumet C-1 8x10 that would accept a 5x7 back, but I don't like to lug that thing around very much. Of the above mentioned 5x7 cameras, which one should I go for, based on ease of use and durability? Are there other 5x7 cameras that I don't know about? Thank you for your replies.

-- Ben Calwell (, February 01, 2002


If you can find an older Gandolfi 1/2 plate wooden field it will take 5x7 DDS. To update it you can have the main lens board carrier machined from alloy. and adapted to take any smaller modern lens board such as Linhof. I have had one of these for a while (just sold it). It had new bellows and a decent viewing screen fitted professionally along with the lens board suggested above. As my use was strictly landscape the lack of swing movements was unimportant. You should be able to occassionally find one on e-bay.

-- Brian Colin (, February 01, 2002.

Sinar Norma, Toyo Metal Field (if you find one of these let me know).

-- Wayne DeWitt (, February 01, 2002.

I don't have any experience shooting 5x7 (yet- there's a home- brew in the works), but FWIW I picked up my Deardorff 8x10, 2 holders, and 3 lensboards for $750.00, so deals on 'Dorffs can be found. While not quite so technologically advanced as some of the newer wooden fields, I've found the Deardorff to be every bit as good as its reputation and have yet have any real gripe about it. 'Dorffs are a pleasure to use and if you can find one either in good condition, or a fixer-upper in reasonable shape, you would probably be very happy with it.

-- David Munson (, February 01, 2002.

Ben---I have a deardorff in 8x10 and their reputation is well deserved, though any of the cameras you've mentioned would probably serve you well. Don't forget the Korona. If weight is important and you like monorails have a look at the Gowland. A couple of Burke & James Rembrants when begging on e-Bay recently which could be useful for portraits but they don't look like they'd be too much fun to cart around. Good Luck!

-- John Kasaian (, February 01, 2002.

Ben: I got started with the Burke & James. They can be had for $200 more or less. They have some problems on some of them, main ones are: Rear standard leans forward when you lock it down, the bed can sag on extension. (At least the second of those is easy to fix) They're kind of ugly, but they're cheap. Lens boards are easy to make. On the plus side they offer an extraordinary amount and variety of movement. All in all not a bad place to start. I refinished it and sold it for more than $500 more than I paid for it. Beneath that battleship grey highly leaded paint is an attractive maple camera. It takes patience but the Deardorff (particularly with just a 5X7 back) can be found, sometimes, for $700- $800. Great camera and a pleasure to use. Sometimes the bed (4 wedge shaped pieces) are starting to come apart and it isn't cheap or quick to fix this. Seller just never seem to mention that little issue in their ads. I have a Seneca that is more of a decoration in the living room, it is quite light and VERY cheap but I think for utility I'd go with the B&J if I were going to use it. Mine has some damage which causes it to not work very well so I've never taken it out to use it. The ones I see usually have bad bellows so right off the bat you're putting $200 into a $150 camera. A nice one with a good bellows for the right price might be something to consider. I really like the format and hope you try it out. Good luck.

-- Kevin Crisp (, February 01, 2002.

I got into 5 x 7 by purchasing an "increasing" back for a Wista 4 x 5. It is a "three dimensional rhomboid" that replaces the 4 x 5 groundglass that holds a 5 x 7 ground glass and film holder. I don't know if that's a help, but it is an option I have successfully used for about ten years.

-- Joe Lipka (, February 01, 2002.

Since 5x7 was a popular format years ago, many older ones are found on E-Bay and other sites. Length of bellows, light light bellows and rigidity are things to consider. However, if you get one cheap enough, your budget will allow upgrades to bring things to like new condition.

I am extremely pleased with 5x7 and in the fact that many users are "(re)discovering" this fantastic format.

-- Michael Kadillak (, February 01, 2002.

I had an Agfa Ansco 5x7 for a while and I was very impressed with it. It was very solid, movements were smooth, everything stayed in place when locked down. I paid around $400 for mine, which was more than they usually go for I think. The only thing I didn't like was the fact that it wasn't a clam shell design and so was kind of ubulky and cumbersome to handle when folded, but that was a minor complaint. I understand that Agfa Anscos were high end cameras in their day, second only to Deardorff. I think that if you find one in good condition for $300 or so, maybe up to $400 if in excellent condition, it would serve you well and you'd still have enough money left over to buy a good lens.

-- Brian Ellis (, February 01, 2002.

Devoted as I am to my Deardorff, I've admired the Ikeda 5 x 7 I periodically see on eBay. Of the contemporary Japanese wood fields, it's the only one I'm aware of in this size, and often not terribly expensive, though that seems to depend -- as with the Deardorff.


-- Stephen Longmire (, February 01, 2002.

I just bought an Anba Ikeda 5x7 and it's an ultralight gem.Under 4lbs.Excellent detailing and woodwork(cherry).Beautiful!

-- Emile de Leon (, February 02, 2002.

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