Comments on Toyo 45CX vs. Calumet 45N : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am looking to step into 4X5 photography soon and am in the long process of narrowing down the candidates for an economical first 4X5. I would eventually like a Toyo 45AX, but in the meantime, (while eagerly awaiting for that call from National Geographic), I need an entry-level 4X5 that won't break the bank. I feel I need something a little more substantial than the Calumet Cadet. I like the looks of the Toyo 45CX, but some of the reviews I've read on this site about it concern me. For a little more money, I would consider the Calumet 45N. Calumet advertises it as an all-metal camera- does this include the locking knobs? I would appreciate any comparisons (or other options) on the Calumet 45N vs. the Toyo 45CX. (The Calumet 45NX is just a tad too expensive and a tadder too heavy!).

Thanks for the input!,

-- Brent Flint (, April 17, 2000



When I started with 4x5 I bought a Toyo CX and have been pretty happy with it. My only personal peeve has been that the zero detentes are so well sprung that minimal adjustments to the camera are difficult. Some of the negative comments that I've seen have to do with the carriage blocks and the overall weight of the camera. The blocks are a composite plastic and if you feel like really reefing on them they will break. There was one on ebay that the owner had broken both the front and back the first month. If you are the kind of guy that feels things have to be tightened with a wrench this isn't the camera for you. As for weight I've carried it around for over a mile and a half without much complaint but, how much you're willing to carry around is up to you. I should also say that I live in the desert where distance hiking isn't a smart option. All in all I think its a good purchase for someone who wants to enter the format and then think about what is the right camera to grow into. One option you might consider is searching for a used full featured monorail for under $500. Midwest photo usually has a couple as does KEH and Quality Camera. It may not be brand new but, it will leave a little extra to purchase a lens (which is the really important part) Hope this helps.


-- Kevin Kemner (, April 17, 2000.

I have the 45NX, everything same as 45N except a revolving back. Locking knob is not metel. It's solid build. One thing I don't like is that the block(connect with tripod) prevent the two standards from getting close to each other. Even with a recessed board they are not close enough for a 90mm lens. I have to mount it with both standards on one side of the block. That's awkward. It's quite heavy too. Actually 99% of the time I use it as a dumbbell, yeah expensive dumbbell, to get acustom to its weight so that when I travel later with it I don't have too much trouble.

-- Aaron Rocky (, April 17, 2000.

You seem to be looking at watermelons while your dream is a cantaloupe? IOW, why consider large rail cameras if your dream camera is a folding field camera?

I'd suggest a nice clean used Wista or, for less money, a Tachihara.

BTW, I've seen many cracked Toyo blocks. They can be replaced for about $60 each. The problem is from tightening them too tight, but the design forces a splitting action on the block rather than simple compression.

-- John Hicks (, April 18, 2000.

Brent I recently found myself in a similar situation when contemplating the move to LF. I had a good read of the reviews and Toyo literature before checking the camera "in the flesh". Toyo describe it as a "professional - entry" camera. If by this they mean that it will withstand regular, demanding usage, then I have to disagree. The photos of the camera look appealing but in the hand it is uninspiring. It seems far too "plasticky" and certainly I would question how it would stand up to average amateur use. MY other concern was that it did not appear to be very rigid, especially with the bellows extended and I wonder how it copes with a breeze in the field. Other niggles IMHO, is not very compact (okay for studio but not for outdoors)and the front and rear standards appear to be fixed with rivets that do not appear that secure!! I would definately look for a good condition used field camera to begin with, say a Wista and then when you are well and truly bitten, as you will be !! then take a look at the Ebony range !! Regards Paul

-- Paul Owen (, April 18, 2000.

I have a Toyo 45AR (predecessor to the AX)and recently bought a 45CX after a trip to Yosemite. The AR focus was stiff. (It was 35 to 40 degrees, and I suspect the grease was not very fluid.) I bought the 45CX on a whim, but I'm impressed. I don't think you can do better for the money.

There's the old mono-rail vs. flat bed argument. Mono-rails are faster and easier to use, but flat bed designs, when well done, are more stable. Now I've got my choice.

Weight: Not a huge difference between the 2. The CX is a couple pounds more.

I agree the front board detent is too strong, but I noticed its just a spring that I can reverse and get rid of the detent. (If I reverse it, then I won't loose it if I ever want to go back to detents.)

One of the nicest things about the CX was my revolving back and lensboards for the AR fit the CX. I don't have to get new lensboards, or an expensive adapter. I can go either way.

If you get the CX and later get the money, you can get the AX and have interchangeable components. That is really nice.

A lot depends on how you will use your camera. For studio shots, the CX should serve nicely as an intro camera. In the field, for short hikes, and not very windy days, again it is probably OK. If you want to backpack for a long distance, in inclement weather, I'd probably go for the AX or a used A/AR. The AR is a rugged little beast. My complaints with it are limited movements, especially with short lenses, and having to crank the focus all the way out and back.

I should say I bought the AR after looking at the light wooden folders, and thought them not very solid.

Good luck with your decision.


-- Charlie Strack (, April 18, 2000.

Just received a 45CX brochure. Metal mounting blocks are available as replacements. The seem expensive (about $125 from B&H), but if you break the plastic one I would replace it with metal.

-- Charlie Strack (, April 20, 2000.

I bought a 45cx and had to send it back because I really could not lock the focusing rails down tight. I seemed like they were not machined well. I complained to Mamiya and they tried to fix it twice to no avail and then replaced the camera for me. The new one is much tighter and does not have any movement. So, the problem was, after tightening down the focus knobs if I grabbed a standard and moved it from side to side a little (not using alot of force here) I was still able to wiggle the parts. Mamiya is very good at working with you if there is a problem. They are excellent with their service. Thanks. Hope this gives some insite into the camera. Craig Murphy

-- Craig Murphy (, April 21, 2000.

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