Intrepid 4x5 Mk 4 camera - new adventure

It took me only two years to get back to large format photography. And I mean here - camera with the lens as I am continually using my incredible pinhole cameras with perspective correction (4x5 and 8x10). 

After selling Sinar F2 (in 2018), which I had been using for many years, I knew it wouldn’t stop there.
I just needed to find something more lightweight to be more mobile - walking and cycling. Lightweight medium format cameras seemed to be the only option. However, it turned out to be insufficient for architectural photography as I need perspective correction without having to sell the kidney ;) 

For some time, I was looking at the Intrepid Cameras, which seemed to be an interesting alternative - Light, small, good range of movement. The only thing that prevented me from purchasing it back then was doubts about the precision with which I can operate this camera - especially important when photographing architecture. 

I am used to the mentioned Sinar, extremely precise equipment. It was, however, too big, too heavy, required a large tripod head with a hexagonal plate and extended time to set up in the field entirely. 

I had a few other cameras in the past, such as Graflex, MPP, and Calumet, but on the other hand, none of them gave me as much freedom with movements and confidence in operation as the Sinar. 

So last month, I got back to the idea of ​​buying an Intrepid Camera. Looking at the very positive reviews of the MK4 model, I found that there is nothing to wait for. 

I have made an order. 

After a few weeks, the courier rang the bell on my door and handed me a box.
An exciting moment.
After removing the packaging, I couldn’t believe how small and light the camera is. 

Right after I bought it, I started looking for lenses and a 6x7 medium format film back.
Almost everything was delivered just before the camera arrived, so I was able to start testing it right away.
‘Almost’, because I still didn’t have the 4x5 film. I wanted to buy it locally, but the one I needed turned out to be unavailable. 

I made the first tests with medium format film and 6x7 back then. 

The bag was packed and ready for action: 

- Intrepid 4x5 Mk4 camera 

- Fujinon SW 90mm f8 lens on recessed Linhof plate 

- Fujinon W 180mm f5.6 lens 

- Horseman 6x7 film back 

- B+W ND 0.9 filter 

- A roll of Ilford Ortho Plus 80 

 - light meter 

- an improvised cardboard mask for a precise composing image in 6x7 format

When I finally got my camera out, I managed to take only one photograph when it started to rain. Classic… Photograph however turned out very well. Exactly as I wanted.

There are plenty of videos and reviews describing the camera in-depth so that I will focus here only briefly on my first user experience and thoughts. 

I needed a few minutes to get used to the way I suppose to set it out. Maybe because I never had a field camera like that. Only boxes like MPP or monorails. 

It is a very well made camera. Its parts, which are delicate at first glance, are actually quite solid.
Dials/knobs hold every position very well. Movements are quite generous (both shift and tilt), and what speeds up everything, I don’t need to change bellow to use 90mm lens as it was in case of Sinar. Using a recessed board with it gives even more flexibility. 

After while I found setting up the camera very relaxing. 

Yes, it takes time, yes, I need to double-check every position, dials and levels before opening the shutter, but this is how large-format photography is to be executed. Right? 

Spirit levels on the front and back element are truly helpful.
Focusing using the dial at the back is also a new thing to me, but it works great.
Replacing ground glass with medium format back is straight forward as well. 

In the end, before checking each setting and position, I also need to check if rotating back is in the right position as for some reason, my camera does not have locking magnets. They suppose to be there as far as I am aware. Of course, it is not a problem at all as it moves nicely and rotation is quite tight. 

A few days later, I have made another approach. This time also with a 4x5 film (Ilford Ortho Plus 80) purchased from Intrepid as well. 

This time beautiful sunny morning. Everything is ready. I sat on my bike and went off to look for interesting locations. 

Travelling with Intrepid 4x5 is like a dream comparing to anything I had before. 

The only pain is a tripod. I need to find something more suitable than my very heavy Manfrotto 055ProB. Generally, it’s perfect, and I use it always while doing commercial photographs but it is too heavy to cycle or to walk with.
Another one, Manfrotto BeFree, which somehow is excellent for my much lighter 4x5 pinhole, isn’t stable enough for Intrepid. Especially in the wind which blows almost always here. Sometimes less, sometimes more, but it still blows.
That’s something I will fix in the nearest future. 

Summarizing in one sentence - I couldn’t be happier with this camera. 

Now just a couple of words about some handy things which I recommend to get not only for Intrepid users.
I know there are discussions about protecting the camera’s ground glass. Luckily, I never had this issue with any camera I was using. I was always keeping the camera and its parts in separate compartments in my bag, which helped to keep it safe. The same is happening with Intrepid. 

I bought, however, 19” Domke protective wrap, which is perfect and cost next to nothing. I would highly recommend it for any camera or even lenses if you travel a lot. 

Another great tool I started to frequently use just now, even though I have it for a few years is Artist’s Viewfinder Mark II app.
It’s a useful app when you have a lot of equipment, and it takes time to set it up.
It can simulate any setup (lens, camera, format) to previsualize perfect farming in no time. 

Have a look at description within the link above. For me, it works like a charm. 

Well, looks like a new exciting adventure with the old format has begun. 

Now, fingers crossed the weather will be good enough in the coming days. The bag is packed and films loaded…

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