Advice for Horseman HD vs Canham DLC45 in the field : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


Despite lugging my 35mm (Canon A2, 28-105mm, Bogen 3001, Kaiser Head) in the field, I'm looking for the results I get when I shoot 4x5 (own Omega 45E, Nikkor 210mm f5.6). I'm preaching to the choir but resolution, tonality w/ LF still beats 35mm despite new film technology. I would like to backpack with this outfit so weight is very important. I plan to buy a 90mm (probably Nikkor 90mm f8) and maybe a 135/150 sometime in the future. The main subject will be landscapes. I've rented the Canham from Samy's camera in Venice, CA (the large format guy is pretty knowledgeable and nice) for a weekend. I would prefer a metal view camera. Here's my conundrum when comparing the Canham DLC 45 vs the Horseman HD:

Canham DLC 45 is better than the Horseman HD: 1) More than adequate movements in all respects (I would probably sell my Omega 45E if I bought the Canham) 2) Related to #1 but especially has back tilt and swing, where the HD doesn't. 3) Has 22 inches (558mm) of bellows draw (means that I can use the 300f8 Nikkor lens w/o carrying a heavier telephoto lens). The Horseman has 249mm bellows draw.

Horseman HD is better than the Canham DLC 45: 1) Horseman HD is nearly 1 pound (27%) lighter (3.7lbs vs Canham 4.7lbs) (when it's all on your back it matters - made me consider the Mamiya 7 for awhile) 2) Personally, the controls and folding the camera don't feel as good to me as the Horseman. For example, unfolding the Canham seems clumsier. The lens mount on the Horseman seems simpler (large clip). In the studio, this doesn't seem to matter as much but in the field this might become an issue.

I think the critical decision points are: 1) How important are back tilts and swings when shooting landscapes? 2) For those Canham DLC owners, do the ergonomics of the camera ever bother you? 3) How much of your landscapes shot are done w/ lenses greater than 240mm? 4) Do you own a Horseman HD and are fustrated by lack of movements, espcially back tilt or amount of bellos draw?

I appreciate your advice. Thanks!


-- Harry Wan (, August 26, 1998


Where to start? 1.) Agreed, the DLC has a ferocious amount amount of movements, except for rear rise and fall which is not really a concern for 98.82% of landscape shooting. But this is can be an issue for still life work.

2.) see above.

3.) Not only can you use the 300mm f/9 M-Nikkor but you can even try the 720mm Nikon T(elephoto) lens (equal to a 240 lens for 35mm). More importantly, you can also use down to a 58mm lens, without have to buy, carry and change to a bag bellows for wide angle work. No compromise in movements either. 3a.) 249mm just is not much bellows especially if you ever want to do macro work with a 150mm or portrait work with a 210mm lens.

4.) yes the HD is lighter. It is also less versatile.

5.) Feel of a camera is a personal issue. I have played with a Horseman HD but bought the Canham instead. It doesn't feel clumsy at all to me, but IMHO is well designed and locks up tight. I wish there was a zero detent for the swings but I haven't a problem with alignment or unintended swing.

6.) lens mounting: I purchased the Technika (lens board) to DLC adapter at the same time I bought the camera as my lenses were already mounted on Technika style boards (a mix of various vintages of Linhof and Bromwell and maybe a Wista as well.) The mounting is accurate, fast and secure. Most of my work is in the field: landscapes and architecture.

7.) Tilts are generally more important than swings.

8.) No (see answers 5 & 6 above.) I came directly from shooting an Arca Swiss F-Line (which I still use for studio still life.) I miss having a yaw free camera sometimes but neither of the other cameras you mention are yaw free so you won't. By the way, for most landscape work, a yaw free design (tilt axis below swing axis) is irrelevant.

9.) The 300mm gets more of s workout these days then it used to. these days. it is great for detail shots and portraits (because of the long bellows) as well as vistas.

10.) For my style of photography, the lack of bellows, lack of rear tilt, and probably trouble with short focal lenses would be a pain. Especially if I were paying nearly the same price.

Other points to consider: the fresnel/groundglass combination. The only one better (IMHO) is the Arca. I haven't used the Linhof but experiences with Sinar P and C cameras (extensive), studio versions of the Horseman, Cambo/Calumet, and Toyo led me to the choices I made. The only thing I do not like about the DLC are the bullseye levels mounted on top of the standards. They are accurate but something I can see with the camera at eye level would be nicer.

-- Ellis (, August 27, 1998.

I love the DLC. To second the above answer if you do buy a wide lens the cost of a bag bellows is high and I'm sure it would weigh a pound.Ya, folding it up is not fun but I usually leave it assembled and carry it on a tripod over my shoulder. I used to own a Pentex 67 and this thing is a lot lighter.Also the fact you can talk to the guy who built the camera is kind of cool.

-- Roy Feldman (, August 31, 1998.

Why not consider the Wisner Pocket Expedition? Take a look at the wooden cameras that still exist after close to 100 years-the wood Wisner uses is stable, dimensionally precice, and beautiful to behold besides. Wooden cameras can take a lot of knocking around, and can be repaired quite easily besides (compare a wooden canoe v.s. an aluminum canoe. I think it might be real interesting to compare the Wisner Pocket Expedition and the Canham.

-- Dan Bereskin (, September 07, 1998.

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