Verticals on a Canham : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm doing my research on 4x5's as I get ready to make the jump into LF photography. I have one question that I haven't been able to find an answer on any of the posting or on the product literature. That is...."Do either of the Canham 4x5 cameras (DLC45 & Wood/Metal) allow for vertically oriented shots?? If so how??

Also....which model is better for a "new-to-large-format landscape, minor architectural, and a little portrait minded" photographer? Or should I consider a different camera...Wisner, Toyo, etc? Thank You!!

-- Scott Mittelsteadt (, August 25, 2000


Canham cameras have backs that are removeable and can be oriented for either vertical or horizontal compositions.

As far as which camera is better for a new photographer, I will suggest that you review tha archives as this question is highy subjective and there have been as many answers as there are folks here on this webboard.

Personally I have used the Canham DLC 45 and find it to be a very useable camera. People either love it or hate it. One big problem with the design seems to be that the rear standard does not tighten up as solidly as some would like. If you were to use a dark cloth whick fits with elastic stays like the Darkroom Innovations cloth, I have found that you must be extra careful not to move the rear standard.

I have taken wonderful images with the Canham DLC. With that in mind, I must also say that my favorite LF camera is the Arca Swiss F-Line Metric. I love this camera so much that it the only one I use regularly. It is solid, failry light weight. Sets up as if not faster than the Canham DLC-45 and has geared movements, which for architecture is a joy.

Good luck. Mike

-- Mike Kravit (, August 25, 2000.

I agree with everything Mike Kravit wrote. I also own an ArcaSwiss F-line and a Canham DLC.

But frankly if you are just starting with large format and need a camera that will help you get the most of the possible movements by assisting you in determining how much tilt or swing you might need or how to maximize your depth of field without having to stop down to f/32 or beyond for a particular shot then I recommend you get a Sinar F2 or, if you have the money and don't intend to backpack with it, a used or new Sinar P, P2, or Sinar X camera.

For landscape work, portraits or exterior architecture the Canham DLC is a fine choice but it has limitations as a camera for interior architecture.

-- Ellis Vener (, August 25, 2000.

Consider the Wisner Technical Field in one of its versions--Technical Field, Pocket or Expedition. With a standard bellows it will easily handle lens down to 110 mm Xl Super Symmar,, and with a bag bellows and a slight movement of axis tilt you can use wider lenses. My 72mm Super Angulon works well on the Pocket and on the "standard" Technical field. The 23 inch bellows allows the use of almost any longer 4x5 lens. I find the cameras rigid, easy to set up and to use.

I use it for landscapes, interior architectural shots and portraits, about 1/3 of my shots fall into each grouping. bob

-- Bob Moulton (, August 27, 2000.

Just to point out: With the standard bellows and standard (flat) lensboards, the Canham DLC can handle, with a full range of movements and no need to do indirect tilts as with the Wisner, lenses from 58mm to the 720 mm T-Nikkor (max extention is about 550 mm).

-- Ellis Vener (, August 27, 2000.

I'd like to thank all of you for responding to my questions. Its much appreciated.

I am leaning toward the Canham field cameras mostly because they are light, they have lots of movement, and from most of what I have read, they are just plain excellent cameras. I would love to get an Arca- Swiss or Sinar, but they way out of my price range and less than completely portable. The DLC is expensive as well.....but its a smaller pain!!

There is no question that I want to take the plunge into Large Format photography. Therefore, I wonder why it would be better for me to start with a cheap camera that I will just sell later (at a loss) to get a better one? I can see how this would be benefitial if I was unsure about the jump or severely strapped for cash. But because I don't have an issue with either....why not get a camera that can do the things I want it to do, learn how to do it with that camera, and then own it forever??

In my mind, the field cameras fit my style better than view cameras. Landscapes, architectural exteriors and portraits are the genres I'd like to concentrate. Therefore I agree with the comments about the DLC45 from Canham. Sure its expensive, but not overly so. Sure its not perfect, but I hear from many of you that no camera is perfect for every occasion....and I agree with that wisdom.

To shut up and let someone else talk....I'll just end with the statement that I am leaning towards the DLC. Does anyone see why this would be a bad camera for a large format starter who is willing to put the time in to learn the craft and the equipment??

I appreciate all of your comments and advice....Thank you! Scott

-- Scott Mittelsteadt (, August 27, 2000.

Scott, since nobody has responded to your post, I'll jump in with one, no, two reasons why you may want to consider another camera. Weigh these comments as heavily or lightly as you wish.

1. The DLC does not have swing or shift detents at neutral. This is not a terrible problem if you are meticulous with your set-up. If, however, you are working fast because of lighting conditions, etc. you may find that you have accidentally shot with some shift (not a terribly big problem) or worse, some swing, which can throw off your focus. There are definately easier cameras to set-up from this point of view. I also happen to think this type of error is one of the more common beginner errors.

2. The DLC has base tilts. This makes focus a little more difficult for a beginner because you have to focus, then tilt, then re-focus, then adjust the tilt again, then refocus.... unitl you have a feel for how the tilt affects focus, you may struggle a bit. Many people use one hand to adjust tilt, and the other to adjust focus at the same time to avoid the endless circle. That works for me, except sometimes, I find that I need to do the tilt very carefully, and one -handed doesn't cut it at those times.

When doing macro work, base tilts seem can be more difficult to work with, so macro landscapes can be more trying.

Don't let me scare you from a DLC, but my feeling is that if you have never used a LF camera, you may be better served by another camera. I get the feeling that a novice LF photographer can become frustrated by the camera, because it doesn't do anything to make the process easier. By that I mean that it doesn't come out of the case in neutral position, and it doesn't 'snap' into zero settings. I prefer this, because the camera also doesn't inhibit the photographer for the same reasons. But you have to follow good procedures, or else you will be frustrated by the learning curve.

As a field camera, I don't see myself wanting for another camera. The DLC does everything I want it to do. For architetural work, I would like a geared monorail camera so that I can be more precise with levelling and squaring up the camera.

If you have any more questions, email me off list, and I'll help if I can.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, August 30, 2000.

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