Toyo 45cx for a Beginner: Too Heavy for Toting? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

No one seems to have contributed a Toyo 45CX review to this forum yet. It appears that it is a viable alternative to the thoroughly reviewed Calumet Cadet with a few differences: Heavier (9 pounds vs. 5 pounds), More Movements (Rear Shift, for instance), Slightly More Expensive ($549 vs. $399) and perhaps a tiny bit sturdier construction (but maybe not, it has a lot of plastic).

I'm trying to get a sense for how much difference a twice-as-heavy camera body makes if you want to lug a monorail camera around in the great outdoors. On one hand, 9 pounds is pretty heavy. On the other, by the time you add up an eight-pound tripod, two-pound head, lenses and accessories you're getting over 20 pounds either way the proportional difference isn't that great.

Also, as a beginner (less than beginner, actually) I can't get a sense for what 80mm of rise front and rear versus 60mm of rise front only or 30 degrees of tilt (Cadet) versus 45 degrees (45CX) means in terms of typical nature, still-life and landscape "art" type photography. My guess would be that 30 degrees tilt each way is a lot for most purposes but that 60mm vertical freedom on front only is more likely to be a restriction. But I'm just guessing.

And if anyone has a 45CX and would like to review it, I'm sure it would be a useful addition to the forum.

-- Brent Hutto (BHutto@BellSouth.Net), June 02, 1999


It's not that it's particularly heavy, the problem is that it's ridiculously bulky to tote around. Rather than either of these, I'd recommend a clean used Wista 45DX field camera, Toyo 45A or, if you think you must have a monorail, a Sinar F-series camera.

-- John Hicks / John's Camera Shop (, June 02, 1999.

I agree with John to the extent that a monorail can be tough to carry just due to their awkwardness. However I would say that finding a 4X5 field camera (as an alternative) is going to be tough if your are trying to meet the budget dictated by one of today's low-priced systems from Toyo or Calumet.

-- Chad Jarvis (, June 03, 1999.

Field cameras (new) seem to start around $1,500 (cf. Toyo 45AX) but when you factor in a couple of lenses, tripod, film holders and accessories the overall ratio of cost is less than 2:1, I suppose. And of course, if the monorail is so heavy you never take it anywhere it's no bargain at any price.

Given that a field camera is more reasonable to tote than any monorail could be, that still leaves the question of how limiting will less movements be for scenic, nature and landscape work. For instance, the Toyo 45AX has only 8 degrees of left and right swing (versus 30 degrees for the Toyo monorail) and a rise/fall range of 44mm, front only (versus 80mm for the monorail). I guess those limitations would have the side effect of making something like a CalTar 150mm f/6.3 with only 180mm of image circle more attractive, no?

-- Brent Hutto (BHutto@BellSouth.Net), June 03, 1999.

Whether or not a monorail is TOO bulky or heavy depends on how far you need to carry it and what you will use it for. For myself and my use the weight or bulkiness is not very important. I live in the Southeast. It would be a rare time when I would need to carry my camera more than a 1/4 mile. Right now I carry a 5 X 7 Norma in a cardboard box that was modified to hold it upside down on its rail. It fits nicely in the back of my Jeep Cherokee.

-- bob eskridge (, June 03, 1999.

hi just my 2 cents. i'm afraid issues of weight/bulk/ease of carrying/operation are somewhat personal issues. if i were you, i would try to actually get my hands on these and see how i feel about it. i use an ancient omega 45e (quite heavy - about 8lbs). and i do cart it into the wide, open spaces. i don't think a field camera will lead to me getting out more. if it really matters to you to get out, you will, regardless of whether you have an extra 4 lbs or not. (although i do confess my envy of the new field cameras appear to have all the movements i need and are lighter/fold up etc)

re weight: by the time you throw in lenses, holders, tripod etc you've got a fair amount of weight anyway which you need to haul which is one reason the few extra pounds on the camera do not bother me immensely. but i do know others who would argue that shaving weight everywhere is the only way to get the overall weight down (which ensures you get out more). i can't arue with the logic (esp. since i use the same logic when i backpack or go to the mountains!).

re movements: again very dependent on the kind of pictures you want to make. architecture and studio work are quite demanding of movements, i hear(!). if its the field you're interested in, its perhaps less of an issue. the maximum tilt i use is when i've lowered the tripod close to the ground (or plane i want to keep in critical focus). i haven't yet twisted my camera up into those pretzels you see in the ads (although i suppose it is possible that studio work might see that).

re rise/fall: these movements at the back only serve to reposition tha film and choose which part of the image circle you want to use. the front movement actually changes perspective (since you change relationship of lens to subject). its really hard to say which is more useful. i find i like having the front movements, esp when i'm doing close-up work (very slight change in perspective between subject and background) but then the rear is useful too, (esp if i already have exactly the perspective i need but want to change composition slightly). 60 mm is over 2 inches which, to me, is quite ok. whether it is to you, only you can decide. in practical terms, anyway, i find that the bellows forms the biggest obstacle as it starts binding (unless you use a wide angle bellows which restricts the longest focal length you can use).

rest assured, whatever you buy will be, under certain circumstances, a pain/too heavy/not rigid enough/without sufficient movements/etc. i'm sure there isn't a camera which can say 'none of the above' problems, although i guess there are some which are 'all of the above'. you will find ways to improvise solutions to the blind spots of your equipment (which is a fair bit of fun to some people).

i would urge you to try and rent a camera for a day or a weekend and try taking the kind of pictures you like taking (rephotograph old favourites!). that would give you an idea as to whether the extra weight matters to you, how much movement you seem to need for your kind of work and so on. hope this helps. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, June 03, 1999.

I think Bob has it right, only you can decide if this camera is too heavy. Bob is unconcerned with the weight. I, however, would never consider buying a nine-pound camera. At least once per year (more often when work allows) I go backpacking high in the mountains. Last year I carried a Busch Pressman (seven pounds) on a six-mile hike at over 9,000 feet. Never again. I'll take my Minolta Autocord on that hike next time. By the three-mile mark I decided to drive past camp straight into the nearest town for a hot shower, a hot meal, and a soft bed. By the four-mile mark the $3,500 Rollei 2.8GX was looking like a bargain. By the five-mile mark I didn't care about anything except getting to my car.

If you're really a beginner in large format I would suggest you look for a good used field camera. You won't spend as much money as you would on a new camera, you can sell it at a small loss when you decide to upgrade, and after a few months you'll have a much better idea of what you want in a 4x5 camera. You can buy a good used Crown Graphic for $200-$300, or spend more on a newer camera.

-- Darron Spohn (, June 03, 1999.

I bought a 45cx last winter as my first 4x5 camera and been very happy with it. It certainly makes getting started in the format much more cost effective than some of the alternatives. At the time of purchase I was debating buying either the cx or a Tachihara wood field but chose the Toyo based some studio uses I have for the camera. More on that in a moment. As a beginner you need to know that large format is accessory heavy. In addition to a solid tripod and at least one lens you will need film holders, polaroid back, changing bag which can double as a focusing cloth, focusing loop, maybe a case (big cost drawback with the monorail here), lens boards, and a good light meter preferably with some spot capability (Don't be cheap here). After that there is always some little widget that you will need. As for lenses buy used for starters until you have a good feel for how everything works and what focal ranges you want. I stated that my decision to buy the cx was based on using it partly in the studio which I'll be honest I have done just once. Otherwise almost every weekend I toss the Tenba Air Case (remember, cost drawback) into the back of the Rodeo and barrel around the desert shooting happily away. I'm fortunate that the things I like to shoot you can usually drive to within 100 yards or so. As for the CX I think its a great camera to have as your first large format. It is a great platform for, when you know what you want to do with large format, to move up in grade. Me, I have my eye on a Canham of some sort.

-- kevin kemner (, June 03, 1999.

If you are planning to travel/climb/hike I would consider a field camera If I were you. Camera moves in nature/still-life/landscape are usually very slight. Many photographers who specialize in just such subjects are satisfied with much less. Radical moves are rarely used even in the studio. And a 45cx would be a nice studio camera but you could do the same work with a much heavier much older rail camera. I'd hate to see you buy something you may consider a burden and end up not taking it outside. All the posters above are correct in the amount of ancillary equipment you will need if you use a view camera and in most cases the camera will be the lightest thing you carry. I don't usually take a polaroid back into the field and most times i'll simply take camera, lens, pod, meter, loupe and 6 or so cfh's. In any case your money is best spent on the camera that affords you to buy the best lens possible. My first view camera was a B&J orbit and it was a heavy sucker and had more moves than I ever used but I never wanted to load it up fiber case and all and take it out into the field. Then I tried a friend's tachi and it was a little too light weight for my windy locale. So be careful to identify exactly what you need in a camera, the toyo will take pictures of anything but then again so will a speed-graphic. Now consider that graphic or clunker wood-view with a great lens and you'd be going in the right direction. Now I shoot a stripped linhof technica and it is on the heavy-side but it is bash-proof for the most part and that is the most important factor for me. Good luck!

-- trib (, June 03, 1999.

I got a monorail last year (older Calumet 45N), and a huge backpack to lug it around in. At first, I took it quite often, but then I found it was following me less and less. The weight (for me) wasn't an issue, it was the bulk of the camera and getting it set up and down.

If you're going to shoot mostly nature, then I'd agree with the folks who advised a Graphic of some sort.

This year I had a better budget, and I narrowed my choices down to the Canham DLC in 4x5 and the MQC in 5x7. I just ordered the 5x7, film size having won out over sanity. The MQC will be lighter and less bulky than my 45N even with the 4x5 reducing back.


-- Paul D. Robertson (, June 03, 1999.

I faced the same dilemma a year or so ago with my first LF purchase. I, too, got a used Omega 45E. Yup, it's heavy. Yup, it's cumbersome. However, I son't regret the decision since it has given me an opportunity to learn the view camera at moderate expense. The monorails can be toted into the field, you feel like a pack mule but if it's worth getting it's worth sweating for. The camera itself is less than half of the total load into the field, film holders, lens and lens boards, light meter, tripod, filters, focusing cloth, notebook, focus loupe, cable release, ruler.... you get the idea. I had considered the 45CX which had just been introduced at that time. For $100 less I got geared rise front and rear, more readily available used lens boards, I gave up interchangeable bellows and the thrill of new.

-- Dave Schneider (, June 04, 1999.

I have an B/J 5x7, and a Calumet 400 45 both mono's, the camera I take into the field is my Speed Grafic 45, I have a friend who has a Zone V1 in 45 and the only movements I ever see him use is rise and fall and forward tilts, which is only rarly done. Get an old Grafic and put you money towards a top quality lens and get a couple of grafmatic film holders, a wooden tripod (dampens vibrations), a large dark cloth, a heavy duty trash bag (in case it rains), and a good backpack with frame, and whatever you need to survive for 2 days. (I live in the desert)and every once in awhile someone turns up dead, because they don't respect the local conditions. Always a consideration.


-- pat j. krentz (, June 09, 1999.

I was able to use a Toyo 45CX for a workshop at Foothill College over the summer...and lemme tell ya, it was a bitch to take everywhere. First never take the 45CX to Altamont Pass on a windy day, as mine almost went down the hill into some cow's trough. Yeh, the CX has every movement known to man, but is a esstentially a 45A field camera trapped on a monorail body that looks like it came out of Ajax Company works in Cleveland. The other things I didn't like about the 45CX is the front plate is connected in back of the rise-fall rails. Trying to control the tilt motions with those rails located in the front was especially cumbersone. It also wasn't particularly smooth, and I had to stuggle to get things into perspective. So after huffing and puffing with that thing up the hill, I returned the 45CX back to Foothill, and checked out one of our lighter, old beat up Cambos which are still tickin' nearly after 15 years of student use and bang-up. To-yo...No-No!

-- Sam Reeves (, October 14, 1999.

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