are monorails really portable : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Have been told that lighter monorails are field useable and really think I want the flexability of one although dont want to buy my first 4 by 5 and not enjoy the aspect of carting it ...figure I will be using fairly close to car for backpacking into the ansel zones of yosemite....toyo 45c is 7 lbs? but with everything else in tripod case foucus hood ect ..can it be done without becoming tired of schlepping it around when the novelty wears thin

-- Bob Davidson (Rkt, January 11, 1999



I have carted my Graphic View monorail around. I think I made it about a half mile once, and I'm in reasonable shape. I carried it in its case. I have also carted my B&J monorail 8x10, in a suitcase with the monorail in the other hand, tripod in the second trip. I don't get very far with that collection. I have such a heavy tripod (very old Ries A100) that the camera doesn't seem to make much difference. But I would think if you are ever going to go very far at all from the car to stick with field cameras. It's sure nice to have something that folds up. The hardest thing is schlepping a heavy case through wet underbrush up a steep slope. Most field cameras you can put in a backpack and thus use your hands to crawl through the miles of blackberry bushes that are inevitably in between your car and the absolutely perfect spot to shoot that dream photo. Also, I have found (others will surely disagree with this) that landscapes really don't seem to require the kind movements only a monorail has. You are going to use a lot of rise and fall and you are going to use some front tilt and some back tilt. You might on some occasions use a little front swing. Most good field cameras have those movements. I'll probably get screamed at now for saying that - it's just my experience, which isn't yet that extensive. I guess it comes down to: I don't have a field camera but wish I did.

-- Erik Ryberg (, January 11, 1999.

Have you considered one of the collapsible monorails such as the Linhof Technikardan or the Toyo model? If you really need the extreme movements and precision of a monorail this might give you what you need with a greater degree of portability than a standard mono. On the other hand, if you're only going to do landscape work, do you really need those features?

-- Rob Rothman (, January 11, 1999.

Look at the: Canham DLC (a monorail/flatbed hybrid); Arca Swiss FC (and its wildly over priced, very expensive and capability limited clone; the Toyo VX125); and the Linhof Technikardan (AKA: TX45s.)

Yes it can be done but only if you have the desire and will to do the schlepping. I really like the Canham DLC so check the all threads here in the Q&A and also the reviews on this forum's home page.

-- Ellis Vener (, January 12, 1999.


I wouldnt carry just any monorail into the field, but I think with the right one it works quite well; especially for the limited treks you are suggesting. I use an Arca-Swiss Discovery and its a pleasure. It even comes with its own backpack carry case. If you dont stray more than a mile or so from the car it works just fine (if you went on a long backpacking trip using the case as a backpack, the first thing youd probably want to do on your return, is set the case on fire).

You are wise to be concerned about the fact that the camera is not the only thing you will have to carry. Even if the camera is light (which the Discovery is, at least for an all metal camera, 5 lb.), the weight of the other things youll probably need can add up fast. Heres what I carry, and I dont think Id want to carry less: Camera with lens mounted (this is one advantage a monorail has over a field camera, in the sense that you can just pull the camera out of the bag, put it on the tripod, and use it, no set-up is required), two other lenses on lens boards, bag bellows, two light meters, 5 film holders, cable release, small tape measure, stopwatch, magnifier glasses, focusing hood. The whole kit weighs just over 20 lb. and fits nicely in the Discoverys carry bag.

And then theres the tripod...

If you had a camera that weighed 2 pounds less, youd save 2 pounds. Get what I mean? For me saving a couple of pounds (out of over 20 + tripod) is not worth the extra fiddling, possible marginal rigidity and limited movements of most field cameras. If I had to carry the thing all day, that might be another story...


-- Steve Pfaff (, January 13, 1999.

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