_ _ It must not be supposed that because a camera is low in price, the work which it will do is correspondingly low in quality. We have seen excellent views made with a camera and lens costing only twelve dollars, and very fair small views made with an outfit costing half that sum.
We do not think it wise to recommend any particular make of camera, as, where nearly all in the market have certain good points about them, it would be indelicate to advise the purchase of one in preference to another. Possibly, if we manufactured a particular style of camera, we should advise all to purchase that kind, and such advice might mislead as to the merits of different goods made by our competitors. We have our preferences, and think the camera we use is quite ahead of anything else; but our friend across the way has another which he prefers, and his experience is quite equal to our own.
A front-focus camera, in which the focus is obtained by mov ing the front, bearing the lens, forward .or back, is by many preferred to one with a back-focus, which requires moving the back to focus on the object.
The camera should also have a sliding front and a swing-back; and, if the highest degree of excellence is desired, a double swing, a side swing, and revolving or reversible back, the uses of which will be explained hereafter.
The above illustration shows a front-focus camera with sliding front, revolving back, and double swing.
5x7 and 5x8 cameras are convenient portable sizes, which will, by use of kits in the plate-holders, take as well all smaller sized views. We use for landscape work both a 5x8 and an 8x10 camera, and on both a lens capable of covering an 8x10 plate. A 4x5 view taken with such a lens can be enlarged to 8x10 or 16x20 with perfect clearness. (See Chapter on Enlarging.) If only one lens is purchased it is better to get one covering an angle of from 60 to 65 degrees. Such a lens will answer for all ordinary purposes. The first camera the writer purchased was a 5x8, the cost of which, including the leris and tripod, was twelve dollars. This was found to be excellent for landscapes and portraits. Later, for the purpose of taking interiors, it became necessary to add a wide-angle lens, covering a field of about ninety degrees, and finally the old camera was replaced by a 5x8 and an 8x10, with double and side swings, and revolving backs. If stereoscopic lenses are wanted, we think that cheap ones, costing from seven to ten dollars for the pair, do practically as good work as those costing three or four times as much.
We prefer altogether for landscape work a lens of long focus; for a 5x8 plate a lens of at least eight inches focus, and, for an 8x10, one of twelve or thirteen inches. For very near views a lens with shorter focus and wider angle is suitable; but if this is used on objects at a, considerable distance it has the effect of crowding too much into the picture. Wide-angle lenses are
required for views of interiors.
There are multitudes of lenses in market, of excellent quality, Dallmeyer, Steinheil, Morrison, Darlot, and a score of others, and the amateur may be at a loss to know which to procure. We think he will be quite safe to take the advice of a conscientious dealer in the selection of a good lens as well as of the camera itself. We like our imported " Strauss " lens, because it does fine work and was comparatively inexpensive, though it is not, by any means, the best that is made; nor can we see that it is any better than the one in our detective camera, which costs less.
The tripod should be strongly made, to hold the camera steady when used, as it sometimes will be, where the wind blows. A tripod that can be raised or lowered, and folded in small space for carrying, is the most convenient for use.
-Usually a double plate-holder comes with the camera. It will be well to purchase two or three extra holders, with kits for holding plates of a smaller size, so that a number of pictures can be taken, without the necessity of returning to the dark-room to empty and refill the holder each time it is used.
A pneumatic shutter, one that will work slowly for time exposures, and rapidly for instantaneous views, will be indis pensable if a fine camera is purchased. Such a shutter renders it easy to make exposures of a second or fraction of a second, which cannot be done accurately by removing and replacing the lens cap. Besides this it avoids all danger of jarring the camera in exposing. As pneumatic shutters are now made at a comparatively low price and of excellent quality, we should advise their use on all cameras.
In addition to the camera, lens and tripod, not forgetting the very essential focusing-cloth, one or more dozen dry plates of the proper size should be purchased at the outset. Do not buy very rapid plates until you have had some experience in making exposures. Quick plates require a greater degree of accuracy in the time of exposure than slow ones, and are usually not as easy to develop. There are numerous makes of dry plates, and, as far as we have been able to test them, they are all of good quality. Nearly all plate-makers prepare plates of different sensitometers, or degrees of rapidity. It would be a very great convenience to photographers if all plate-makers used one standard scale for marking the rapidity of their plates. As they do not pursue this course, we have thought it not amiss to give here the sensitome ters of the plates made by some of the leading manufacturers.