Toho 45 Mini

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Does anyone have any experience or information on the Toho 45 Mini, a $1000 view camera weighing under two pounds in the Toho line?

I'm looking for a simple, lightweight 4x5 do individual portraiture, environmental portraiture and very occasionally, some landscape and interior work.

Its very unlikely I'll be using anything longer than a 360mm or anything shorter than a 90mm.

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), January 24, 2001

Answers

You probably are aware of Kerry Thalmann' assesmnent on the Toho- Shimo FC 45X at http://largeformat.homepage.com/toho.htm

-- Dominique CÚsari (cesarigd@club-internet.fr), January 24, 2001.

I just saw this yesterday on Badger Graphics web site who has a link to Toho's web site : http://www.toho-machine.co.jp The pictures indicate that the mini probably uses the same standards/bellows as the 45X, but with a very simple rail with no rise/fall.

You also have to love that music!

-- Richard Ross (ross@hrl.com), January 24, 2001.


Seems a bit too fiddly for field use - having to dismantle the standards to change from vertical to horizontal format, but very lightweight if backpacking! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), January 24, 2001.

The Gowland PocketView (at least the version I have) also requires removing the front and rear standards from the frames, but in practice it isn't that difficult. I have the 8x10" Gowland, but the 4x5" version is light enough that you could just flip the camera from horizontal to vertical like a 35mm camera on the tripod head. The movements will work differently, of course, but I'd imagine one could get used to it.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), January 24, 2001.

Regarding Mani's original question: I haven't had my hands on a Toho FC45-Mini, but from what I've been able to infer from the web site, and the responses I made to a similar query in the rec.photo.equipment.large-format newsgroup, the Mini seems to be completely lacking in camera movements. From the pictures on the Toho web site, it appears that the front and rear carriers are rigidly mounted to their bases. While I'm sure this rigid mounting and lack of movements allowe the camera to be both VERY light and very stable, I wonder what the intended market is for such a camera. I know that for landscape use, I could not get by with out at least some basic movements. It might work OK for portraits, but I wonder why you'd need such a lightweight camera for this application.

WRT Paul's comments on the Toho FC45-x being too fiddly for field use: Yes, some operations do take longer with the Toho. For example, as Paul mentioned, the bellows/frames unit must be removed when changing between vertical and horizontal orientations. It's not really a full "dismantling". The standards themselves remain attached to the rail, it's just the front and rear frames (that are attached to the bellows) that are removed. The process involves loosening two large, captive knobs (the same knobs are used to control front and rear shift), removing the frames/bellows unit, rotating it 90 degress and re-attaching it. It takes longer to type the description than to do it. Based on my experience, it takes 25-30 seconds to accomplish the change over, and it can be done without removing the lens. This compares to 4 - 5 seconds for my Anba Ikeda with a more conventional removable/re-positionable back.

The other operation that takes longer on the Toho is changing lenses. This is due to the method used to mount the lenboards that allows them to be rotated (they're round) without completely removing them (also for support for the rather ingenious Eccentric Lens Panel for wide angle use without a bag bellows). Changing lenses on the Toho takes me about 18 - 20 seconds, compared to the more conventional Anba at 6 - 7 seconds.

So, yes, in some ways it is fiddly. And is certainly isn't THE camera for all users or all uses. Other than it's little brother the Mini, it is the lightest 4x5 currently on the market (after slight modifications, mine weighs 2 lb. 12.5 oz. even lighter than the Anba it replaced). It also has full movements on both front and rear and over 15" of bellows extension. With the Eccentric Len Panel it supports lenses down to 47mm SA XL with full movements and no bag bellows. As is, you can use a 360mm non-telephoto or a 500mm telephoto for distant subjects. I had Steve Grimes make me an extender board for my Toho that allows me to focus my 450mm Fujinon C down to 11'.

IMHO, in spite of the design trade-offs, it's THE best solution available for backpacking. And while it's certainly no Sinar, Arca Swiss or Linhof, it's a decent choice for a general purpose field camera (although if you don't mind spending another $1000 and carrying an extra 2 lbs. worth of camera, you can have a Canham DLC). So, not for everybody, but it fills a nice niche between the double extension (~12" of bellows) lightweight wood fields and the heavier, more expensive full featured triple extension models.

Kerry

-- Kerry Thalmann (photos@thalmann.com), January 25, 2001.



Kerry & everyone-many thanks for the quick feedback. That info about no movements steers me away... The slightly heavier model seems very versatile, and a good price too, for what it is...

-- Mani Sitaraman (bindumani@pacific.net.sg), January 26, 2001.

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