SINAR, ARCA-SWISS OR TOYO : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hello, I'm looking at getting a 4 X 5 system in the next few months and would like to know the pro's and con's of getting SINAR, ARCA-SWISS AND TOYO. I'm really looking at going with the TOYO VX125B unless I find a better crafted tool to work with. I will use it for landscape most of the time, with some architectural work and some studio/portrait work. Are there any pictures on the web that show what "EACH MODEL" looks like? Discription of each model etc,. What is the better model for the type of work that I will be doing in 4X5 ...SINAR P2? ARCA-SWISS F-LINE?....and wuz up with that MONOLITH? .....Please compare with the TOYO VX125B. Thankyou for all your help.

-- DAVID R.WILLIAMS> (David.R.Williams2@JSC.NASA.GOV), March 16, 2000


Personal opinion only... I would go with the Arca-Swiss 45F Field. It uses the small front standard so your lensboards are only 110mm square, packs very small and light (less than 6 lbs) and has virtually unlimited expansion capabilities in rail and bellow length, down to 6x9 format, and up to 5x7 and 8x10. The camera is exquisitly crafted of high strength, low weight materials, and is simple in design and construction so it is not very prone to mechanical breakdown due to dirt or moisture.

-- Glenn C. Kroeger (, March 16, 2000.

The Monolith and the P2 are the top of the heap as far as studio large format cameras go. They are designed and built for studio work, not field work -- basically because of their weight. The Arca Swiss F-line, particularly in the metric mode, is the best, if you want geared geared movements. The Toyo is in my brief handling but careful perusing of the specs, a seriously overpriced, and underfeatured clone of the Arca F-line idea.

-- Ellis Vener (, March 16, 2000.

I traded in my old Speed Graphic for a Sinar F2 last year and have been very happy with it. I do mostly landscape and still life work with an occasional puppy dog or neighbor child throw in.

The three main reasons I picked it over the others, in no particular order, were 1) built in swing and tilt, and DOF calculators great for those close / far shots as well as studio work; 2) expandability, the system is very easy to change around to other formats and there is a plethora of accessories for it. My personal favorite is the meter back and Gossen Profi-select/UltraPro meter. That gives me film plane metering for both flash and ambiant light; 3) weight and portability, it weighs about the same as the Speed Graphic, about 8 lbs and breaks down nicely into my backpack. I can carry the camera, 6 film holders, meter, and accessories without it killing me by the end of the day. The downside is it does take me about 5 minutes to set it up, but then if I was in a hurry I wouldn't be shooting 4x5 .

Just my 2 cents worth, -harry

-- Fender (, March 16, 2000.

David... One consideration you need to first accept is the difference between a true field camera, ie. box type vs. compact camera that try to imitate a field camera. I do have the VX125, (B designates Black vs. Jade color, be careful they do make a R, which has a few less features) and a friend of mine owns one also, we both really like it... however, that does not mean there is no drawbacks... the main problems I have with that camera.. there is a review of this linked to this home page... is the camera takes up a lot of space in a backpack.. unlike its toyo field 45AII which does not, it folds to a small square box. IF you plan to back pack with it, in my opinion this is a major consideration. The other shortcoming of the VX is the ability to focus longer than 300mm of bellows, you must buy and carry a long bellows as well as new extension rail system, system since you now must abandon the telescoping rail system. So the ARCA wins in that area for sure... There is some really great true field cameras not in your list, but do offer very long bellows, such as the Linhoff, Ebony, Wisner, Wista, Canham and a few others... To view Toyos, go to, Linhof has a website, Bob S will follow with its address I do not have it and contact Jeff at Badger Graphics, he has access to everything, 800-558-5350 and has seen all these camera first hand. The Canaham is best seen on the "f stops here" web site, linked to this home page.. To really make the best decision, you need to best assess your priorities then compare makes.... for example, as Glenn points out, if you want upward compatibility to larger formats, then you can rule out true field cameras, but if you plan to shoot your landscapes by backpacing most of the time, I would highly reccomend the field type... if you want extreme, easy to use gear movements, that a rail type system is more appropriate...

-- Bill Glickman (, March 18, 2000.

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