Gowland and Toho field cameras

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I am thinking about buying either the Toho FC-45A or the Gowland Full Moves camera. I've read a little about them in Shutterbug but would like to hear from anyone who has used them or at least looked at them. I can't really examine either camera before I buy. Thanks

-- Brian Breczinski (brian@cocoa.ocn.ne.jp), May 16, 1998


check out the LF page for a review of the Gowland.

-- Quang-Tuan Luong (luong@ai.sri.com), May 29, 1998.

According to a recent article in Shutterbug (about the PMA show), the Toho FC-45A has been superseded by a new model. But the article doesn't say what the improvements are.

-- Stewart Ethier (ethier@math.utah.edu), June 02, 1998.

I was in Tokyo recently (attending the Sumo tournament) and I did see the new Toho camera. I'm not sure if it's actually replacing the FC-45A, as I was told by a local shop that they could get that camera for me in a week. I haven't actually seen the A model, however.

Here is a description of these cameras, with info. from the brochure. Keep in mind that I have never used them, or any other LF camera (yet).

Both the FC-45A and the FC-45X (the new model) seem to use the same bellows/standards assembly. It's a fixed bellows, attached to the lens and film standards. To switch between horizontal and vertical format, you loosen two clamps and simply remove the bellows assembly, rotate it, and put it back. These two clamps are also used when you shift the standards.

The main difference between the cameras is in the rails. The FC-45A uses a one-piece rail, probably of aluminum. The standard rail is 300mm long, but you can order a 400mm rail too. Bellows extension is listed as 58mm to 370mm (with long rail); weight is 1.1kg (with short rail?). The FC-45X uses a telescoping rail. It goes from 236mm when closed to 400 mm when extended. Bellows extension is listed as 46mm to 364mm; weight is 1.4kg. The FC-45X rail also has a geared focus for the rear standard. Both cameras feature a folding focusing hood that protects the ground glass when closed.

Here are the manufacturer's specs for these cameras. Because of the method of horizontal/vertical format interchange, the rise/fall differs between the two orientations.

FC-45A              Front       Rear
shift,mm            +/-30       +/-35
rise/fall,mm,H     +20/-25     +35/-10
rise/fall,mm,V     +10/-35     +35/-10
tilt,deg.           +/-25       +/-25
swing,deg.           360         360

FC-45X              Front       Rear
shift,mm            +/-18       +/-20
rise/fall,mm,H     +24/-21     +24/-6
rise/fall,mm,V     +13/-32     +24/-6
tilt,deg.           +/-30       +/-30
swing,deg.          +/-25       +/-25

These cameras use round lensboards. The brochure shows a linhof-type lensboard mounted at an angle, so presumably you can use a linhof board with them. Accesories include soft and hard cases. The company also makes 5X7 and 8X10 cameras; the 4X5 bellows assembly can be used on the larger cameras' rails. Two interesting accessories from Toho are reducing holders and panorama boards. With the first, you can use a smaller format film by putting the reducing holder in like a regular holder and sliding the smaller holder into it. The panorama boards are a half-darkslide that allow you to put two images on a sheet of film. Toho also makes a convertible tripod/backpack frame that you can leave the camera mounted on while hiking (Watch out for low branches!)

-- Brian Breczinski (brian@cocoa.ocn.ne.jp), June 04, 1998.

I forgot to mention, the Toho FC-45X comes in black as the standard color, but you can get the rail & lower standards assembly in your choice of gray, red, green, blue, or gold for more money. These look like anodized aluminum, not paint, so it presumably would last.

-- Brian Breczinski (brian@cocoa.ocn.jp), June 08, 1998.

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