4x5 Polaroid film backs

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I use a Toyo VX125 4x5 camera and am considering getting a 4x5 Polaroid film back for it to check composition, exposure etc. before exposing my regular film. There seem to be several backs available including the Polaroid 545 pro with fancy timer(approx. $189.95) and the 545i which is the less featured holder (approx. $149.95). There are also some other models which don't seem to have the same full size of 4x5 image area (or perhaps I don't understand them).

Would anyone give me some advice on what back to use for this novice in the use of 4x5 Polaroid?

-- Scott Jones (scottsdesk@home.com), March 01, 2001


I moved up to LF in December and got the 545i holder. Every time I think of it, I kick myself for not buyting the pro back. The timer with its linked thermometer would be a very nice thing to have.

-- Nathaniel Paust (npaust@nmsu.edu), March 02, 2001.

Any Polaroid back will give you what you want. I bought a used polaroid back for $25 that isn't as nice as the 545's that the photogs I assist have and use, but it still makes polaroids. Get the 545i, A lot of photogs have it and it works fine. These people have several thousands of $$$ riding on a days worth of shooting and they all of the 545's(timer or basic) and they get the job done. If you don't get the timer, wear a watch.

-- Jason Janik (janikphoto@yahoo.com), March 02, 2001.

Scott, the 545i is reliable holder at a resonable cost. You can always use the sweep hand on your wrist watch or purchase a cheap countdown timer rather then go to the added expense of the pro holder. Providing you keep the holder clean it should give years of consistent results. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), March 02, 2001.

IMHO, the older 545 backs are better made and will last a lifetime... very cheap. Timers are nice but you can spend the money on extra film!... Just my thoughts. Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), March 02, 2001.

Check the price of film. The individual packets cost the most per exposure, the packs, the least.

A few boxes of film can make up the difference in cost of the back.

-- Charlie Strack (charlie_strack@sti.com), March 02, 2001.

Scott, we have a 545i holder here at work, and I have an older 545 at home. The older 545 does have a more rugged construction, but it's not as easy to service as the newer 545i holder. By this I mean, if you have to take the holder apart if it gets jammed (which sometimes happens) The lack of a timer doesn't seem that big a deal to me. Alot of times I just count out the time. The pack film holders come in 2 sizes. There's a larger 550 size (I've never used this) and the smaller 405 pack. I've also got one of these, they're pretty economical, but can be a pain to fit into some older cameras. You also can't check focus on Type 665 film without clearing the film, unlike Type 55, so if you're using this stuff to check focus on a shoot, you might want to consider this. The 405 image area is also smaller, so it won't accurately reflect what your entire frame (maybe not a big deal though), but neither does the 545 back either. You have to be careful to check the groundglass, and not trust the polaroid blindly...(I have learned this the hard way...)One last plus for the 545 holders is that they have the biggest selection of film available to them. Hope this helps.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), March 02, 2001.

This is more of an additional question than any kind of answer.

I am also looking to get into medium format, particularly at the Toyo 45CX or C. The Toyo website states the 45C will take the 550 pack film back but doesn't mention the 405. I e-mailed Toya to ask and an e-mail reply from Toyo told me the 45C can't take the 550(?).

Per the 45CX, it has a Graflok type back.

So, please, if anybody could, tell me whether or not the 405 pack film holder can be used in the 45C, 45CX, or any Graflok back camera.

Thank you

-- David Gonzalez (bmrdave@airmail.net), March 03, 2001.

Sorry, meant to say getting into LARGE format. Guess I stayed out too late last night :)


-- David Gonzalez (bmrdave@airmail.net), March 03, 2001.

David, I don't have a definititive answer for this, but my gut feeling is that if the 45C will take the 550, then it will take the smaller 405 back. These pack film backs are sorta thick, like an inch and a half or so. So, the back has to be able to open far enough to accomadate them. They don't work too well with some cameras. The 45C looks very similar to the Omega 45D we have where I work, and we used to use the 405 back with that, so...but, you really can't use the 405 back on some older cameras, like Speed Graphics with spring backs, and even later ones with Graflok backs. They just won't open far enough. My advice might be to just go for a 545i back, even if you're trying to save money, because the 405 only has like 3x4 (about) image size, and you'll have to use a mask on your ground glass for critical composition (if you're picky) or just live with cropping out the edges of your shot for proofing. Like I said, not a definitve answer, you might want to check with Toyo again. Hope this helps.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), March 03, 2001.

I'd just like to make a correction to part of what I said above, the 405 back will fit into a Speed Graphic with a Graflok back. At least my late 50's era Pacemaker...it's a tight fit though. It will not fit into a spring back though (Anniverasry Speed Graphic). The 405 is an inch thick.

-- DK Thompson (kthompson@moh.dcr.state.nc.us), March 09, 2001.

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