field camera for landscape and portrait : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am looking for a LF camera for landscape and portrait.The range of lens used will be between 75 and 300.When I am shooting with the 300 on a portrait ,I would like to be able to get to around 6feet.

My budget will be around $600 for the camera.Since extremely movement and long bellows draw is not necessary(though not undesirable),ease of use and precision of control would be my main concern.

The cameras I have considered are: Linhof color,toyo cx(I still don't know how heavy they are,super graphic(has no back movement),calumet 45N (weigh 9 lb),calumet cadet(opinion on it is the back is not very sturdy).

Since i have not used any LF camera before,i would appreciate some comment and input from those who have.(My understanding on the Linhof color is that it weighs around 6lb,is that correct ?)

I know the best way is to see it myself,but based on where I live,it is not an option.I have not seen a Linhof in person,only saw them in used equipment sales on the net.And so does the toyo and the calumets.

thanks in advance.

-- Robert Choi (, October 16, 1998


Look no further than the Tachihara. I too (as an amateur) am on a budget, and found this to be a beautiful camera (unlike the Cadet, which, is decidedly homely)

You can get it from Adorama (New York) for $650. This is the same camera as the more expensive Osaka and Calumet WoodfieldXM, which come from the same factory. Read this review: and perhaps this review also: tachihara.html I found this second sight invaluable as a novice in the format.

Good luck and happy shooting.

-- Andrew McFarland (, October 16, 1998.

The Cadet is light and cheap, and can be easily carried in a rucksack, and used in less-than-wonderful weather without bothering too much about it. It's fairly rigid when the knobs are done up tight, which can be easily done with gloves. As an example of high- precision engineering, it ranks with a Trabant.

I use the wide-angle version, which can't use a 300mm lens. I can't find the brochure, but I think you might have problems even with the standard version racking a 300mm to focus at 6 feet.

-- Alan Gibson (, October 17, 1998.

thanks for the replies,it gives me one more option(the tachihara which I didn't think about before) but also brings up more question.

In terms of bellows draw.How long a bellow's length do I need to have in order to focus a normal non-tele 300(say a nikon 300) at six feet. this is like shooting a 85 mm lens at close to normal studio setting in head and shoulder shots.

Is there a formula to calculate the relationship of focal length bellows draw and minimum focusing distance ,so I know the limitations are for specific cameras.


-- Robert Choi (, October 17, 1998.

The formula is the first in the book: 1/f = 1/u + 1/v, where f = focal length, u = lens-to-object, v = lens-to-film. Taking u+v=1829mm (6 feet), then v = 378mm, and that's the bellows draw you need.

-- Alan Gibson (, October 17, 1998.

I'd go with the Toyo CX, which weighs 8 lbs. and is probably the sturdiest camera listed yet in this thread. If Toyo/Mamiya stubbornly persists in making affordable 4x5's that people won't grow out of (as they did with their field camera), they're going to dominate the inexpensive end of the market.

(Every contributor has his/her biases; here are mine: I don't like field cameras that require rising the front standard and tipping it back to accommodate shorter lenses, and I would never buy a camera that doesn't allow for interchangeable bellows, extended monorails, and other accessories that are part of a larger accessory line.)

-- Bill Daily (, October 17, 1998.

Well, there as as many opinion on cameras as there are photographers. Let's put it this way. If you think of doing more studio work, buy a view-camera, they are invaluable because of more possibilities concerning movements or expanding possibilities. If you think of working outside of the studio then, buy a field camera. They are always somewhat limited in use but are portable and compact. Tachiara is a good camera even though I find it quite annoying in its metal parts which are made of very poor quality(brass?)metal. Woodman by Horseman is a better alternative but mind you it has to be of the new production because they are still de-bugging the cameras and there are a few around which are less capable of movements that the advertising is promising. If your budget is low consider a kit camera like Bender(it retails for about $ 250). Metal field cameras are expensive, forget Linhof, too expensive or ,if second hand at a good price, in general battered and pretty ugly. I have a metal Wista VX. I find The camera almost perfect! Have fun and take care Andrea Milano

-- Andrea Milano (, October 19, 1998.

Thanks to all replies ,I really appreciate all those who have taken the time to do so. After reading many postings,my conclusion now is there will not be one camera that can satisfy all the needs.You gain something and you loose something.At this point,the first camera I will most likely buy is the cadet,although I must admit that I hate the look of it (its more like a toy than a camera)but it is the one that has the best combination of movement ,bellows draw and price.With the formula provided,i figure that I may be able to focus a nikon 300mm to 6 feet.

Until I can afford a wisner or a canham,this is it.(I believe Cadet has a "Discovery "version in Europe that is sightly more solid.I have sent a email to calumet but haven't heard from them yet.

-- Robert Choi (, October 27, 1998.

You probably also want to consider a nice used Sinar F/F+ instead of a Cadet. Midwest Photo seems to have a few Sinars in stock most of the time. This will last you a long time and you can recover your money when you want to get something else.

-- (, November 11, 1998.

After doing much soul searching and reading many welcoming reponds (yes ,those sinars and tachihara are so tempting)I figure what's\ the use of it if I just do nothing but read.So yesterday,I rented from a local store a crown graphic with a 135mm lens.My experience starts from trying to figure out how to load a sheet film,making all those mistakes a beginner can possibly make,like sliding the dark slide underneath the film accidentally after a shot,forgot to calculate bellows draw,etc,to shooting large format the first time outdoor in freezing cold,dropping the dark slide in the snow and getting it wet,well,you get the picture.

In short ,I have a lot of fun.The most important thing now is I think I start to understand a little bit more about what I need and dislike.

suggestion like buying a really cheap monorail is an excellent idea. I have seen a Calumet 4x5 ,with about 17in of rail ,around 14-17in of bellows ,revolving back and a leather handle selling for Canadian 350 in a camera shop.(by the time I went back for a second look,its gone) If someone know anything about this camera,please let me know . I think I will try to rent a monorail that weigh around 7-8 lbs and see if i can carry it into the woods and still come out smiling .

thanks for all the response.

-- Robert Choi (, November 13, 1998.

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