Intrepid Adventure

Having used a large format camera during my early career in addition to printing exhibition and advertising images from large format film, it come as no surprise that despite the advent of digital photography I still love large format photography.

Several years back I had the opportunity to purchase a 5×4 film camera that had been part built as a project, this has since gone through a multitude of modifications and despite it being very usable being made from aluminium it tips the scales at over 3 kilos. Subsequently I have been hankering for a lighter option. Enter the Intrepid  5×4 Mk4 camera!

Intrepid 5×4 Mk4

Whilst we were at the Photography Show this year we visited the stand of Intrepid cameras. Last week I finally gave in and purchased the Intrepid  5×4 Mk4 film camera.

Since I live fairly close to where Intrepid cameras are made, I took the opportunity to visit in person.

Intrepid cameras are hand built. They make both 5×4 and 10×8 versions. Most of the work done in-house, this includes grinding the glass for the focusing screen and construction of bellows. Current wait time for a camera is 6 weeks.

Thanks to Maxim to showing me around and introducing me to the rest of the team at Intrepid Camera Company.

Maxim and Naomi in the Intrepid office

Machining some of the components

Construction in progress

Some part built bodies awaiting next stage of construction

Description.

Construction of the camera is anodised aluminium, marine ply (treated with a plant based wax/oil mix) and high density plastic for the film back holder/ focus screen.

The Intrepid Mk4 base plate has both 3/8 and ¼ inch tripod threads, the focus rail, which has 4 threaded sockets to hold the lens standard in the correct position depending on focal length of lens used. This in turn is bolted onto the base plate, focus is via a worm drive situated at the rear of the camera. The lens panel takes either Intrepid or Linhof/Technika style lens boards (96mm x 99mm) film back/ focus screen is fully rotating, sprung loaded and has a gridded ground glass screen, also the back has Graflok fittings so it can be removed and be replaced with a roll film back. Bellows are tapered and constructed of a tough but lightweight material.

Base plate

Focus rail fixings – front standard at furthest point

Focus wheel

Rotating back

Using the Intrepid

The Intrepid Mk4 is incredibly lightweight, making it a joy to carry around. To open the camera the rear standards knobs are loosened and the back raised up and locked upright by re tightening the knobs. Lens standard is then fixed in the relevant threaded socket on the focus rail via a captive knob. The standard is centralised using the grooves in the front standard. Two spirit levels are fitted on both front and rear standards to ensure the camera is level and square in both planes. Back panel can be tilted only, whilst the lens panel has swing, tilt and rise and fall, this is adjusted via two knobs on both sides of the front lens standard.

In use, with the lightest tripod I could find!

The ground glass screen provides easy focusing, but if a brighter screen is need a Fresnel screen can easily be added (this is something I may do). Focusing is smooth and precise, also due to the design the focus does not change when the camera is pointed downwards (unlike some cameras)

Everything locks tightly on the Intrepid so no danger of anything moving out of place whilst taking a photograph. The focus screen is sprung to enable a dark slide to be inserted, this is also precise whilst being light enough in action to not cause camera movement when loading.

The results.

Images produced from this camera are dependent on several factors not related directly to the camera, these are sharpness of image due to lens, contrast and grain in image due to film and chemistry used to process. You can be spot on with your focusing, but a soft lens, poor quality film and bad processing can wreck everything.

With all that in mind. For the test I used a Schneider 90mm Angulon, Fomapan 100 ISO film processed in Ilford HC29 developer and fixed in Ilford fixer.

Conclusion

If this is your first venture into 5×4 or you are looking for a lightweight alternative the Intrepid is the ideal candidate. It is solidly constructed, well finished and very reasonably priced at £280, just add a lens panel, lens, a 5×4 double darkslide or two, film and you are ready to go.

Intrepid Cameras can be contacted through their website:https://intrepidcamera.co.uk/

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