Anyone who’s ever looked into ‘getting into’ large format photography can be pretty intimidated, I know I was when I first picked up a Speed Graphic in Rochester. But since then it’s become pretty natural for me. I no longer use that beat up Speed Graphic, it died part way through my 52-sheet project last year and was soon replaced with a very nice Crown Graphic. I then started to hear about a new player on the block, coming out of England from the Interpid Camera Co. I started following them on their various social media accounts hoping for something big. And sure enough, something big happened. They were building a new 4×5 field camera that was affordable, I backed their kickstarter campaign as fast as my computer would allow, enough to pick up an early bird special on the camera. It was a wild success, after an initial goal of £27,000, they ended up making £63,158! Then it was a matter of waiting. And finally the day arrived and I was able to unpack a very handsome box with this beautiful camera inside. I mean I still have the box. But anyways, enough gushing, time to get down to business.
- Make: Intrepid Camera Co.
- Model: Intrepid 4×5
- Type: Field Camera
- Format: Sheet Film: 4×5
- Year of Manufacture: 2015
- Lens: Interchangable, Technika Board
The first thing that I really noticed about the camera is the weight, compared to my Crown Graphic this thing is light. Mostly due to the plywood/aluminium construction, which is still damned sturdy, even with my heaviest lens (Schneider Symmar-S 210mm) there’s no movements in the front standard. Speaking of movements you get pretty much every move with a field camera in the Intrepid, Front Swing, tilt, rise, and fall. You can even do back focus if needed. Three points to mount the front standard so you can use pretty much any lens between 90mm and 300mm, sorry ultra-wide junkies, but there’s a TravelWide for that. It takes a widely available Technika style lens board and since the camera came with a pinhole board, you could even manufacture your own boards from wood or 3D printing with the right tools. The camera also featured something I’ve been wanting in an owned 4×5 for some time now a rotating back, and yes the Intrepid has that! And continuing on the back it works perfectly with any existing film holders even the Polaroid 545 so you can use any old Polaroid Stock or New55’s PN or 1SHOT film products. It should also work with pack film holders as well, but I can’t speak to that as I don’t have one. The back is also Graflok compatible and the ground glass is removable to mount a roll film adapter or Polaroid pack.
If you’re looking for speed you have the wrong camera. This is a camera that requires a good multi-minute setup (and that’s even after I’ve setup and taken down the camera multiple times). But with the weight you really don’t have to if you’re in the field and can easily carry it on a lighter tripod because the camera itself is so light. But out in the streets of Toronto…keep that thing packed away when on the move through the streets, but for a smaller town like Stayner, Ontario shouldn’t be too much of an issue. Probably the biggest issue I found with the camera is the front standard the one thumb screw (on mine at least) has a tendency to fall out when making movements.
The Down Low
So you want to get into large format photography and you don’t want to mess around with vintage gear that could have plenty of problems. You don’t want to drop a tonne of cash on a premium camera like a Canham, ShenHao, or similar. But you also want a little more freedom of movement than a travelwide. Well this is where the Intrepid fits into place. You have an affordable (£199/407CAD/300USD), precision crafted field camera that is ready to shoot right out of the box. I mean, if you have the holders already, there’s a pinhole lens so you can shoot while you hunt down some good glass. As for lenses, if you’re getting started something like a 125mm or 135mm lens would be a great place to start. Want to learn more? Check out the Intrepid Camera page and maybe if you want…place an order.