Are Toyo film holders better? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

How much of a sharpness problem are film holders? I remember reading a thread on this board that showed considerable and significant discrepancies between where the film should have been and where it actually was. Is it worth investing in the more expensive Toyo holders? Are they better that the cheaper riteway etc? I suppose that the ultimate solurion is the Sinar - but that costs more than my camera... and that's only for one of them! many thanks in advance

-- Yaakov Asher Sinclair (, January 06, 2001



An old site is: Film Holders

If you do a google search you find more than you want to know on ANSI.


-- Art (, January 06, 2001.


I can give you half an answer any way. I've used only the Toyo and Sinar holders in 8 X 10, and can see no perceptible difference in film sharpness in regular scenes. The Sinars are, as you note, expensive and also somewhat difficult to load. Static discarge can be a problem. I've not used Fidelity, etc., at 8 X 10, and just went straight to the Toyos on the rec of Jeff at Badger Graphic. I like the feel of them very much. They are very smooth to use and solid- feeling (certainly more so than the Sinars!) I have lost occasional shots (rarely) from scenes where the camera is pointed nearly straight down with conventional holders, and imagine that will not be a problem with the Sinars (haven't shot any such scenes with them yet.)

My bottom line rec at this pooint would be: the Toyos are great, the Sinars are probably not worth the $ unless you have very specialized uses. Loading exposed film in the light, the film does not appear any flatter in these than in the Toyos. The missing piece I can't provide you is to answer whether the Toyos are any better than Fidelity, etc. I have found Jeff at Badger to be uniquely able to answer these comparison type questions, as he gets the chance to use just about everything. He's extremely friendly as well. Why don't you give him a call at 800-558-5350?

Good luck,


-- Nathan Congdon (, January 06, 2001.


Are you talking about the Sinar "Adhesive" holders? So you could not tell any difference. What apertures were you shooting at? That is important, I guess.

Also you say in light you loaded exposed film. Was this processed film?


-- Sol Campbell (, January 06, 2001.

I have used the Fidelty's for years and have never had any problems. I never shoot wide open but have done some at f11 with no loss of edge sharpness.

-- Scott Walton (, January 06, 2001.


If you shot at f11 I would not be interested in the edge sharpness as much as the center. That is where the film is most sloppy. What was the sharpness at the center?


-- Sol Campbell (, January 07, 2001.

I use plastic Fidelity 4x5 with most of my shots taken with the rail level with the ground. I have an Arca-Swiss, so the ground glass with Frasnel has been optimized for the holder that Arca provides.

The best test that I've had was photo's I took of some water colors. The 150mm Componon-S lens that I used wasn't stopped down that far. I recall that I took the photos at about f16. Looking at the transparencies I received back from the lab, I was impressed. I examined them with a loupe, and they were absolutely tack sharp.

-- neil poulsen (, January 07, 2001.

Yaakob: The effectiveness of the light trap in any holder being a given, the next issue is the accuracy and unit to unit consistency of the plane of focus. Linhof and Sinar have the tightest specs of all, + or - 0.001". I have not tested those. Lisco's I have tested quite a few units and they came at + or - 0.007" with one unit of 20 at 0.009". (that involved 20 sides and 15 measurements per side most done twice for a total of about 500 measurements. Results for Toyo's came at 0.002" to 0.0025". Doing the tests is easy on principle but gets tricky at the finer points and last decimals. I have always wondered why people go to great lengths in the search of the sharpest lenses and expense in their purchase, yet the scrimp on the lowly $30 holder which can cut off hundreds of dollars of your lens' worth. Today there seems to be no choice and for me is Toyo, not because they are the best, but because they are the best affordable ones. One last point, unless your camera back is calibrated and adjusted so that the groundglass is on the same plane as the holder, any holder, or even, lens may not make a difference. There are ISO and ANSI standards for depth of GG settings but what really matters is the tight agreement between GG and film plane. Sinar allows 0.0005" for film buckling. One well known photographer, Joe Englander I read, starts his workshops by having students check their GG settings. Good idea!

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 07, 2001.

Correction: Liscos, tested twenty holders and 40 sides. Lots..

-- Julio Fernandez (, January 07, 2001.

I own and use a mixture of Toyo and Fidelity holders. Some of the Toyo ones are 30 years old and still function perfectly. I can find no difference in the results from either make, but I prefer the 'feel' of the Fidelities. They're smoother in operation, and better in build quality. Still, as I say, the Toyo ones have lasted well too.
The only part of the ANSI standard that's of any significance, as far as I can see, is the distance that the film should sit from the front face of the holder. This should be 3/16" (4.75 mm), and it's easy to check this with a depth-gauge, caliper, or even a decent steel rule. Graphmatic backs are well wide of the mark, and you either need to make a small focusing compensation, or adjust your GG if you use them exclusively.
The only film holders that seem to get consistently bad reviews for film-plane accuracy are ready-loads.

I've recently bought a 2nd hand Linhof holder, and this has a sprung pressure plate to push the film into proper register and hold it there. It seems like an excellent design, but trials with a piece of used film in the light show me that it's the devil to load properly. I haven't used it in anger yet, so I can't say if the awkward loading pays off in terms of improved sharpness.

-- Pete Andrews (, January 08, 2001.

Toyo, on the recommendation of Robert White!!!!!

-- paul owen (, January 08, 2001.

Current 8X10 Toyo film holders have one disadvantage: the lower corners are sharp. If the holders are stacked and the stack shifts, the corner of one will pierce the plastic dark slide of an adjacent holder. Best to keep them in their boxes, but this adds an exta step to an already complex process of using 8X10. [Possibly the corners could be rounded off.]

-- Jerry Stein (, October 02, 2001.

I am currently using both Toyo and Fidelity Elite 4x5 holders. I never found any discrepancy in sharpness between the two products. Toyos may be a little bit more accurate as they are a little bit more difficult to load (thinner sloats?) in my experience. Another point is Toyos' dark slides are more fragile : I already cracked two from my newer Toyos when I did'nt crack any of my older and more used Fidelitys'.

-- Jean-Marie Solichon (, October 03, 2001.

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