4x5 Camera for Landscape only

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I have been researching a camera for landscape photography only. It will be used specifically as a field camera. It will have to be rugged as I will be carring it on hikes and field trips. At the present, I am leaning towards the TOYO 45AII, and I am asking for suggestions from the field. I haven't ever used a large format camera and currently own a Pentax 67. I will be using lenses in the 75-300 mm range. If I do get this camera, will I need a recessed board for the 75 mm wide angle lens? Any help would be greatly appreciated. In addition, I only have about $2500 dollars to spend.

By the way, I did search the archives and found lots of good information; however, I did not find anything specifically related to my question.

Thanks in advance,


-- Thomas W Earle (twade@bmi.net), October 05, 1999


thomas - the toyo is an excellent quality machine that would serve your purposes. i believe this body may be able to accommodate a 75mm without a recessed board, but i haven't tried it. you might also want to consider the cambo wide system cameras. they are exceptionally easy to carry and use, extremely sturdy, and the bodies are specifically designed for wide angle lenses. for another improvement in portability, consider using the kodak readyload system rather than carrying heavy filmholders. i can also highly recommend the use of the cambo reflex viewing hood - even though it is something else to carry, it might help ease your transition from medium format to large.

-- jnorman (jnorman@teleport.com), October 05, 1999.

With respect to the Toyo and using a 75 mm lens, Toyo has a website with a forum specifically to answer questions related to Toyo products. You might try that site too (i think it's www.toyo.com or www.mamiya.com). With respect to your particular decision, it's really a two step process: (1) metal or wood field (or even, perhaps a light metal monorail), (2) once I know the answer to #1, what's in my price range. I agree with your choice for a metal field camera; I personally would rather have a used Linhof, than a new Toyo. I personally own a Horseman (6 x 9 metal technical field camera, like the Linhof, but a bit smaller and cheaper) and am very pleased

-- howard slavitt (nverdesoto@earthlink.net), October 05, 1999.


I bought the Toyo for its rock-solid stability as well. It really locks down securely and feels well-machined. However, I opted for the Toyo 45AX model over the 45AII, because I didn't find the revolving back to be worth an extra $550. Before I took the plunge and bought the Toyo, I had rented Sinar F1s for many years and had grown accustomed to removing, turning, and replacing the back to switch between vertical and horizontal. Perhaps because that is what I knew it never seemed like a big deal, and it only takes a couple of seconds longer. I figured the difference would go a long way toward another lens, which was much more desirable. I did add the folding focusing hood for an extra $100.

I've recently been trying to decide between 90mm and 75mm lenses, and have tried both on the camera. I used a flat lensboard with the 75mm, and it will work. If I end up buying the 75 over the 90, however, I probably will use it with the shallower of the two recessed lensboards (12.5mm). The bellows are pretty scrunched up with the flat board, and I think the 12.5mm recessed board will give adequate relief without making access to the shutter and aperture controls too difficult.

By the way, I second the suggestion that the discussion forum at the Toyo site is worthwhile, but the URL is www.toyoview.com. From the homepage look for the User Forum link. I think I even asked the same question about the 75mm lens there a while back!

-- Greg Lawhon (glawhon@unicom.net), October 06, 1999.


I purchased the Toyo AX about 6 months ago exclusively for landscape photography, and after about 500 sheets of film I can say that I am very pleased with my choice. There are many fine 4x5 cameras out there, and I examined Canham, Wisner, Linhof, Wista and Tachihara, but in each case I preferred the way the Toyo AX felt and handled (precise focusing, bomb-proof construction and rock solid when everything is tightened), really liked the acid-etched screen with no corner cutouts, and found the $1499 price easier on my wallet than most other models. Everyone has their favorite camera, but this is the one that works for me in the field.

I currently use lenses from 90mm to 300mm with no problem, and I believe you can focus a 75mm without a recessed board, but the scrunched bellows won't allow much movement other than some front forward or rear backward tilt (which may be all you need for most landscapes). You can even focus a Nikon 500T at infinity by mounting the lens in reverse on the Toyo 45mm recessed board, or you can shell out $500 for the 4" extension back.

Yes, I wish I had a little more bellows extension for telephoto work, and the rear tilt is a tad too stiff, but overall I find it to be a confidence-inspiring camera that allows me to engage in the pursuit of beautiful images without worrying about camera stability, ruggedness or film flatness.

If you like the solid, no-nonsense functionality of the P67, then you would surely appreciate the same in the Toyo AX or AII.

Good luck, Ross

-- Ross Martin (rossemartin@msn.com), October 06, 1999.

Wade, I had a look a Toyo before buying my Wista (metal) VX, have a look at this cameras before buyng Toyo, this last one is a lot more fiddly compare to Wista's an not at all cheaper. Wista have the extra option of longer rails (if needed) and wideangle bellows (for confortable wideangle use) I use it with a 75mm with standard bellows and Linhof recessed lens board and if not too many movements are required it is perfect! Good Luck!

-- andrea milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), October 06, 1999.

Sorry about my poor typing , I see so many mistakes!

-- andrea milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), October 06, 1999.

I agree with many of the users above, but will add one thing. You have to take a look at the type of movements you want to use first, then pick the camera. The AII / AX has limitations in bellows draw, which can be somewhat overcome by the back extensions they sell, limited in rise, compared to the Toyo VX125 (which I also own) and slightly less limited in shift which does not get used as much in lanscape work. If you are not going to use extreme movements in these areas, I think this is an excellent camera for the money. The Canahm DLC offers much more in terms of movements and bellows draw but is a bit more money. Mamiya America Corp. (the importer) really stands behind their products in every way, and that is very helpful when you have problems or need add on accesories which Toyo has a lot of... and they are all interchangable between cameras! So you definetly can not go wrong, unless of course you want the camera to do more than what the specs say it can do! Good luck.....

-- Bill Glickman (Bglick@pclv.com), October 06, 1999.

Why not consider a wooden field? Wood is more friendly, lighter and much stronger compared in weight than a metal one. I've owned all kinds of fields, and wouldn't think for one second what to purchase if I had to choise between a Toyo and any wooden camera. Think of this!

-- Jan... (jan.eerala@itameri.net), October 06, 1999.

If your budget is $2500., you might want to spend more money on glass, and less on the body. I went this route and got a Super Speed Graphic and a set (90mm, 125mm and 240mm) of Fujinon lenses for quite a bit less than your budget maximum of $2500. The Super Speed has a significant advantage over the Toyo in that it folds up with a lens and cable release attached. The Super with a Grafmatic back can fit in a large fanny pack and the lens is protected in a solid metal case.

In any event, the body is not that important for landscape work. Even a camera as modest as the Super Speed has all the movement required for most landscape work. As you no doubt are finding out, you could shoot half of your budget on the 75mm lens alone. I would get a body and a "wide normal" (125-150mm) lens to start rather than an entire kit right off. Rent other lenses and see what focal lengths work for the way you see things. You should be able to get a Super Speed and a modern lens for under $1000. If you decide that this camera is not for you, it can be sold quickly and you are not tying up much of your money. The lens can be used on you next camera, so you are really only risking the $300 or so that the Super Speed set you back.

-- Gary Helfrich (helfrich@sonic.net), October 06, 1999.

Have you considered a used market? I've seen Canham DLCs in 9+ to mint conditions from $1450-$1950 on Ebay, photo.net classifides and shutterbug. If you're considering Toyo 45II or X then, I have seen them for sale many times. (maybe MAC promotion for new AX and AII is a better deal) You can save some money if you go for used market and possibly can buy another lens and accessories. You just have to be careful.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (mhayashi@phys.ufl.edu), October 06, 1999.

I agree with Gary. A good used Super (or even Speed) for landscapes is a great choice, and you have money for lenses. These cameras are experiencing an increase in demand now, so offloading it if you ever decide to would be easy. (dont be suprised if you fall in love with it, though!).

-- Ron Shaw (shaw9@llnl.gov), October 06, 1999.

I do the kind of landscape photography where I back pack my gear in for extended trips either on my back or using a llama. My needs for a 4x5 is that it must be durable, reliable, light weight, and versitle. I ended up purchasing a Wisner 4x5 Expedition camera. It is a wood field camera that has served my needs well. This summer I spent 35 days in the field amoung the peaks of Colorado and the camera preformed flawlessly. The camera has been rained on, snowed on, and subject to extreme UV radiation at high elevations. It has full movements for both front and back standards comparable to a studio camera. I take full advantage of of all these movements. I have lenses that range from 75mm to 720mm. And the camera only weighs 4 pounds.

I plan I buying the new 4x5 Wisner Pocket Expedition camera and retiring my current one as a back up camera. It has everything noted above in addition to geared rise and fall and geared lens tilt on the front standard. This camera only weighs 3.6 pounds.

Out of all the cameras I looked at, I would have to say that the Wisner cameras are the most beautiful cameras I have ever seen.

I believe that John Saxton is also a Wisner user. Perhaps you might drop him some email and see what he has to say about them. Wisner has a web page that can be found at http://www.wisner.com.

Best of luck...

-- Stephen Willard (willard@lvld.hp.com), October 08, 1999.

Perhaps you are referring to John Sexton. Rather than John "Saxton".

If so John uses the Linhof Master Technika 2000 4x5, The Linhof Super technika V 5x7 and the Linhof Technikardan 45S.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), October 08, 1999.

This thread has lots of replies already....everyone chimes in with their favorite 4x5 field camera. I bought a used Wista SP (metal field) several years ago, just for this type of photography, and I really like it. It was $1100 and is sturdy as can be. This particular model also has the micro-swings on the rear, which is very handy....it doesn't take a lot a swings to do ya. It also has the revolving back, which I use a lot. It goes in a backpack...also has a pretty long bellows, although I've never used it with anything longer than a 210mm lens. All the usual movements on the front. Takes Linhof (or Wista) lensboards. Great camera. David

-- David L. DuPuy (dupuy@vmi.edu), October 15, 1999.

Hi, iI would look at a Wista Field, I have been using one for a year or so, very happy with it. Good and sturdy, cheaper than others in the category, and can be found used rather easily.

-- David Schwartz (DSchwa8059@aol.com), October 15, 1999.

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