Best 2x3 view camera for travel/field use? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I would be interested to hear opinions on which 2x3 view camera is best suited for travelling lightly, e.g. longer backpacking trips. I have been hauling a 4x5 Linhof Super Technika V around in the past, but I am beginning to get too old to carry this outfit. One of the bigger problems for me has been to carry enough film - 60 sheets of readyloads + holder take up a lot of space compared to roll film. Anyway, the camera should have the following features:

1. Ability to accept high quality (re. film flatness) roll film backs in 6x7 or 6x9 format.

2. adequate front and back movements for landscape photography with lenses down to 65mm (eliminates most medium format cameras, including my Rollei SL66; as much as I like it for "faster" shooting, the tilt feature it has is often not sufficient for my purposes).

3. adequate bellows draw for lenses up to 210mm.

4. compact size, reasonably light weight and easy set up of the camera would be a big plus.

5. the camera needs to be robust, rigid and reliable.

6. I already own more cameras than I can afford, so price is a concern (this eliminates, for example, a new Baby Linhof, but I don't mind looking for used equipment).

From what I have found out so far, the Horseman VH(R), "Baby Linhofs", Arca Swiss 6x9 FC, and Canham DLC (with roll film back) all meet my criteria to some extent. I got some very nice information reading some of the reviews posted on the net, but could not find much direct comparison that would make my decision easier. Therefore, I would welcome anybodys' comments on the relative merits of these different models, or any suggestions for alternatives. Thanks in advance to everybody taking their time to respond.

-- Hermann Steller (, June 25, 1998


Have you considered a 2-1/4 Busch Pressman or Graflex camera? You can get these for well under $300 and buy new lenses, roll film backs etc. The Busch cameras have revolving backs, front rise and tilt. The miniature Speed and Crown Graphics lack revolving backs but are much lighter than the Busch cameras, espcially the Crown Graphics.

One of these cameras would meet all your criteria at a fraction of the price of the Horseman VHR I recently bought a 4x5 Busch Pressman and am seriously considering the 2-1/4 version as my next camera.

-- Darron Spohn (, June 26, 1998.

The Busch cameras are nice; I have a 4x5 D and a 2x3. To my knowledge, they were all spring back. Difficult to use roll film. The Century Graphic is a very nice camera, but movements are limited and rear movements are nonexistent. Unlike the Speed And Crown cameras, the Century is made of a tough plastic that may have weathered the years a little better. The immediate predecessors to the Horseman VH and VHR (the 970 and 980) appear to differ from the later models primarily by the fact that they don't have a revolving back. There are some mint condition examples out there at quite reasonable prices. If lighter weight and more movements are important, you need to look at the Galvin 2x3. It is a view camera, not a technical camera. It may take longer to set up, but it is much more flexible than the technical cameras. They are no longer made, but you can find them for $250-500. I paid $250 for mine not long ago. Good luck!

-- Gerald Pierce (, June 27, 1998.

I have been a long time user of the Galvin 2x3. I think one of the main advantages of this camera over some of the other 2x3's mentioned is that the camera accepts both Graphlex and Mamiya RB roll film holders without removing the ground glass. Roll film holders just slip under the ground glass like a sheet film holder, the spring "balen" is very large and designed to do this. It was one of the main reasons I bought the Galvin in the first place. The camera is not as well made as a baby Cambo, Linhof or even some of the press cameras. The knobs are prone to slip, and are hard to turn in the cold. I replaced the knobs on my Galvin with large wing nuts. The Galvin is a very simple camera, hence adaptable. Lensboards are easy and inexpensive to make. My Galvin serves dual duty in the field, filling my needs for functional 6x7 view camera and as a compendium lens shade for my 4x10 view. I even have a back for my Galvin that allows me to use it with my 35mm nikons for studio work which is to be scanned to computer as soon as the slides are processed.

-- Britt Leckman (, June 29, 1998.

I'm seriously considering the Arca-Swiss in 4x5 version. You will be able to go much wider than 65mm and much longer than 210mm since the Arca is a system camera. I've been getting opinions for a while on this camera and everything I've heard is positive.

-- Chris Bitmead (, July 01, 1998.

I use both a 2X3 Century Graphic and a 2X3 Galvin View. I modified a Galvin lens board to accept a graphic lens board so that I don't have to change lens boards. All of my equipment fits into one bag including four lenses and a couple of backs.( I also have polaroid back for the Galvin.) The Century Graphic can be used hand held when necessary. With this outfit I can handle almost any commercial, industrial, portrait assignment. I hardly use my 35mm or other medium format equipment because of the versility of this 2X3 system.

-- David H. Sherman (, July 01, 1998.

Another camera that would meet your criteria would be the Ebony 23S. It is (supposedly) well made but expensive ($2700). It weighs under 4lbs. Since it doesn't fold, it can be setup very quickly

-- Nicholas Fiduccia (, June 02, 2000.

I'm amazed to see this thread resurrected after two years. I would certainly like to know what Mr. Steller ended up with, and how well it worked.

-- Bill Mitchell (, June 02, 2000.

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