which modern 4x5 field camera to buygreenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I am moving up to a Field 4x5 from 35mm. Toyo 45AII seems to be the standard or at least the best seller. Because I wish to do more architecture and on the run outdoor work I wish to have the greatest amount of movements possible. I do alot of macro work as well. The camera needs to be bomb proof as I go into some pretty harsh environments as well. I have been looking at the Gandolfi Variant and the Walker Titan because of their longer bellows and larger movements (than the Toyo). Has any one had experience with either of these two or heard about their problems/performance? I am somewhat skeptical about the Wisner's durability especially ion the tropics.
-- Jeffrey Alexander (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 23, 1999
The Gandolfi Variant is big and heavy, and very flexible. I've never touched one.
The Walker is smaller and lighter (but still big for a field camera). I have touched one. It's nicely finished and works smoothly. It could be a good choice in the tropics.
There are some regulars here who like the Canham DLC a lot. I have tried it, but like more 'drag' to the movements, especially focus. I found I needed three hands. One to hold the loupe on the GG, one to turn the focus knob, and one to lock the focus when I found it. If I took my hand off the focus knob, it shifted. Perhaps someone here will tell me that can be adjusted...
I realize that Architecture and Macro are the applications that use lots of movements, but I wouldn't go too wild on how much movement you need. I've never twisted my camera into the pretzel shapes in the ads. :-)
-- mike rosenlof (email@example.com), December 23, 1999.
If you're thinking as high end as Gandolfi, you might as well go all the way and look at the Ebony cameras. They are beautifully made, and have full movements, including rear swing, tilt, shift, rise. The extension in 4 X 5 is over 500 mm. As for bomb proof, they are titanium and ebony, and as tough as you will get in a wooden camera. Final selling point is asymmetric tilts for easy focusing (I think Sinar describes the advantages of this on their web site). I have an Ebony 8 X 10, and have been delighted with the camera quality (well beyond a Wisner, which I used to own) and service (in a class by itself). They have a number of models in 4 X 5, all described on their web site ebonycamera.com. Downside is cost, but if you're already thinking in the Gandolfi range, you should at least consider these. Good luck.
-- Nathan Congdon (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 23, 1999.
I use the Canham 45DLC, and I mostly shoot architecture, cityscapes and some macro work with it. It is much more versatile than the Toyo or similar designs. I like the simplicity of the design (easy to keep clean); the wide usable range of lenses (58mm > 720mm Nikkor T (or about 550 mm) without having to add rail extentions or purchase (and carry) supplemental bellows or use other than flat lensboardss; the light weight and the rigidness of the camera. I am an extremely critical photographer and if my DLC had let me down in any way I'd have gotten rid of it and replaced it with something else (probably an Arca Swiss FC or Linhof TK45s.) I have one gripe about the DLC and that is the bullseye levels Keith choose to use. Located on the top ofthe standards they are invisible when the camera is at eyelevel. This is a minor complaint snce I always carry a small mirror and also another set of levels. I don't have the problem Mike R. has with the gear driven focusing mechanism. my solution is use it with some amount of drag on the focus locks. The one movement the DLC lacks is rear rise/fall but if i need to effect that movement I use the indirect displacement technique of tilting the bed of the camera up or down and then realigning the standards.
-- Ellis Vener (email@example.com), December 23, 1999.
I beleive all the cameras you are looking at are very good cameras although I have not used any except the Wisner. I cannot tell you if your concern is justified about the Wisner, but I can speak of my own personal experiences with the camera.
I have owned the Wisner 4x5 Expedition for four years now. It still looks brand new. I shoot primarily landscapes of the Colorado mountains at 10,000 and above which is at or above tree line. I shoot year round using skiies and tents in the winter, and llamas and big back packs the rest of the time. It has been subject to extreme UV radition, temperatures below -20, and violent storms of rain, hail, sleet and snow. Large humidity and temperatures changes are typical. One time in September I arrived at my destination in shorts with no shirt and within a 30 miuntes the temperature dropped to 15 degress. By the next morning there was 10 inches of snow on the ground. I have never had any of my movements stick or lockup on me in the four years I have owned the camera.
My llama preferrs to jump across streams rather than walk across them. He is a wimp when it comes to getting his feet wet. I have often argued that the reason I do not have dust or movement problems is because of my llama`s olympian leaps which shake the dust out of my gear and realigns all my camera movements.
My lenses range from 65mm to 720mm, and the camera has full movements on both the front and back standards. The back standard movements may be restricted when compared to a studio camera, but I have found them to be sufficient for my application. It weighs around 4.2 pounds which is my biggest complaint, it is too heavy. I plan on buying the Wisner Pocket Expedition soon which weighs around 3.6 pounds. I will be using my current camera as a backup and storing it in my Montero for quick retieval.
-- Stephen Willard (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 23, 1999.
You may want to consider the Arca-Swiss F-Line (field) camera written about on this web-page. Norman McGrath, a well known architectural photographer, wrote in View Camera (I believe) recently about the excellence of this camera for architectural photography. I have one, and I would agree. You can also read about it at WWW.BHPHOTOVIDEO.COM and at WWW.THEFSTOP.COM. I noticed an FC for sale at Midwest Photo Video for about $2250. (I have no connection to this company.)
You can obtain one of two wide-angle bellows. I prefer the leather folded bellows good for 47mm to 180mm. I think you would need a recessed board for 47mm through 65mm, though. The second is a synthetic bag bellows good for 35mm to 180mm. The synthetic bag would be better for wide-angle adjustments for small lenses; it's also less expensive.
There are add-ons, like 2x3, 5x7, 8x10 conversion kits, long 700mm bellows, etc. The downside is that they tend to be expensive. But, it would be a good camera for what you intend.
-- Neil Poulsen (Neil.Poulsen@MERIX.COM), December 24, 1999.
You really wont go wrong with any of the cameras mentioned; I'd just recommend that you really consider your preferences and style and pick one that will meet those requirements.
I too live in Colorado and have hauled my Canham DLC up many a mountain in all types of weather. From better than 20 below to parked vehicles at well over 100. I've used it in the wind blown "desert" of Utah to snow blown summits at 14,000' and haven't had a single problem.
-- Pete Caluori (email@example.com), December 24, 1999.
here is a very unconventional answer. Don't get a field camera, get the calumet cadet. While this is a monorail it weighs about 5 punds (a little heaver then sum) it breaks down nicely. I have cut my monorail in half for transport and it fits in a back pack Now the good news, the camera is only about $400.00. This may not be the solution for every one, but I have used it for a while now
-- marc fleischman (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 26, 1999.
I suppose your main concern (bomb proof) is moisture? Well in that case, that would exactly be the reason to get a wooden instead of metal camera. I have used a Wisner Pocket Expedition for almost a year now, and it is truly a wonderful camera with an unbelievable amount of movements considering its size.
-- Carlos Co (email@example.com), December 26, 1999.
"I suppose your main concern (bomb proof) is moisture? Well in that case, that would exactly be the reason to get a wooden instead of metal camera. I have used a Wisner Pocket Expedition for almost a year now, and it is truly a wonderful camera with an unbelievable amount of movements considering its size. "
Nonsense. wood is effected by the environment. It can swell or shrink as it absorbs moisture. It can rot from moisture penetration, It can dry out from lack of moisture.
Metal can expnd and contract from temperature, it can rust from moisture if it is not the proper metal but it, like your car, generally is immune to the moisture concerns of wood.
Of course you might feel that the finish on a wood camera makes it safe from moisture but that finish can be scratched, scrabed, abbraded or otherwise compromised.
-- Bob Salomon (firstname.lastname@example.org), December 27, 1999.
If moisture is a concern I would think the Walker Titan would be hard to beat. It's made of stainless steel and ABS, the bellows are a synthetic material also. It weighs 6 pounds - but you could beat to death any metal or wood camera with it, and I doubt that you'd even scratch it.
-- Wayne DeWitt (email@example.com), January 07, 2000.
Yes Bob, metal is good. But I happen to be and still convinced by Ron Wisner's sales pitch which may indeed sound like nonsense to many people.
WHY WOODEN CAMERAS? Because wood is beautiful, durable, light, strong, and withstands the abuses, the grit and grime of the outdoor environment as no metal could. Like the old wooden sail boat which has been in our family for sixty-five years, our cameras are made of many of the same materials and varnished with the same varnish which we use on our boat. The boat has sat in the sun and rain and salt spray summer after summer for all these years and performs as well today as it did in 1935 when it was built. What metal camera could stand the elements like that?
-- Carlos Co (firstname.lastname@example.org), January 08, 2000.
What an artful imagination!
" WHY WOODEN CAMERAS? Because wood is beautiful, durable, light, strong, and withstands the abuses, the grit and grime of the outdoor environment as no metal could. Like the old wooden sail boat which has been in our family for sixty-five years, our cameras are made of many of the same materials and varnished with the same varnish which we use on our boat. The boat has sat in the sun and rain and salt spray summer after summer for all these years and performs as well today as it did in 1935 when it was built. What metal camera could stand the elements like that? "
Ever see a wood boat that without refinishing regularly and constant upkeep would do what the above claims?
The answer is prpably much easier to determin then quian prose.
Go look at a Technika III or IV, up to 54 years old. Used by outdoor photographers and compare the finish after 40 or 50+ years of professional use oputdoors to a 40 or 50 year old top end wood camera- no way the wood stands up better.
But Ron does have pretty prose. Fiction is alsways easier to writ
-- Bob Salomon (email@example.com), January 08, 2000.