Which camera will fulfill a jack of all trades role

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I am a 35mm user (Nikon) and realise it is self limiting for professional use. I have started doing architectual work for clients, some of which prefer LF although some are happy with 35mm. I also have a stock liabrary of 35mm landscapes which I shoot whilst backpacking. I would like to do some studio/tabl top work. Here is the question:which LF camera system should I buy that will allow me to shoot in the studio and in the field which couls also include backpacking about 8km a day at 2100masl. I am sure there is no single camera that can fulfill all this, but one must come close. I have read the LFpage and have not answered my question, maybe I am just naive.

-- Karl Beath (karlfoto@mweb.co.za), April 29, 2001


The Wista SP would be a good choice. It is reasonably light and folds for field work, has a bag bellows for wide angle architectural work, and an extension bed for tabletop studio work. It would not be the best camera for any of these uses, but it can get the job done, just a little less conveniently.

-- David Rose (DERose1@msn.com), April 29, 2001.

While I don't do studio or architectural work, I like to backpack my camera and do other general photography. I have an Arca-Swiss F-Line that works well for this purpose. By ordering the telescoping 300mm rail, one can manouver the camera onto one of the 15cm rails, remove it for backpacking, and then store the remainder of the rail elsewhere in the backpack.

As a monorail camera with all the accessories, it should also work ideally for the studio. In a View Camera article, Norman McGrath, the well known architectural photography, discussed why he has converted to the Arca Swiss for his architectural work. If 4x5 is too heavy for backpacking, Arca Swiss makes a 6x9 conversion kit attaches to the monorail and two standards to give you a 6x9 camera.

I would think that the Linhof Technikarden would also work well for this purspose. But, I don't think it's quite as versatile as the Arca-Swiss.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), April 29, 2001.


In my opinion the Canham DLC would also pretty much satisfy all your stated needs. It's an extremely capable lightweight field camera and there's no reason it could not handle any type of studio/table top/architectural work as well. It also costs less than the other two previously mentioned.

Good luck, Sergio.

-- Sergio Ortega (s.ortega@worldnet.att.net), April 30, 2001.

I think the Linhof Technikarden or the V would work great both in and out of the studio.

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), April 30, 2001.

Thank you for the Linhof recommendations but to make it easier the current model of the TK is the Technikardan 45 S.

The V has been discontinued since 1976 and the current models of the Technika in 45 are the Master Technika and the Master Technika 2000.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), April 30, 2001.

One of the best "do everything" cameras is the technical cameras, such as the Linhof Technika. It has movements front and back and triple extension bellows, plus the ability to use wide angle lenses easily. There is also a technical camera version made by Horseman and MPP, possibly others. The MPP is out of business, but still available used. The Technika's main disadvantage is it's high cost, but if you can afford it go for it. You won't be disappointed. I use the MPP for a lot of my work, but it is basically a Linhof III, which was made years ago. Technical cameras fold up in a self-protective configuration for transport. They can be had with a rangefinder and viewfinder for hand held operation. The field cameras can also serve as an all purpose camera, but need a tripod and some come with a limited bellows extension, which limits their use in the studio. The more expensive field cameras come with more bellows.


-- Doug Paramore (dougmary@alaweb.com), April 30, 2001.

Also the Wista RF rangefinder technical camera.

-- Bob Salomon (bobsalomon@mindspring.com), April 30, 2001.

Take a look at a Tachihara 4x5. It'll cost you about $650 for a new one. It weighs about 4 lbs and I can fit it (along with three small lenses, six film holders, dark cloth, meter and extra bits) into a Mini Traveller backpack.

-- James Colburn (timepixdc@aol.com), May 01, 2001.

After doing some pretty extensive research and purchasing decisions, my options for a professional "jack of all trades" large format cameras for studio, architectural, landscape & portrait work, came down to either:

Arca-Swiss 45 FC

Base tilt design, very rigid, very expandable (or contractable); easy to use (ergonomics) with a very precise feel, small package when collapsed, great & bright viewing screen,and yaw free.

Linhof Technikardan (TK45S)

Axis tilt design, very rigid, very expandable (or contractable); easy to use (ergonomics) with a very precise feel, great & bright viewing screen, but not yaw free (unless you tilt it on it's side).

I I choose the Arca-Swiss F-Line camera (this does not have the folding rail of the FC version) for both reasons of price, ergonomics and yaw free design (in my opinion a great boon for studio work). But the TK45S is also an excellent choice. Don't consider any of the Sinar models except for the X or P2 models. You'll be disappointed with the stability of the Sinar F cameras.

I also love the Canham DLC and MQC cameras but for professional architecture and studio work I really need rise and fall on the rear standards, and neither of them are designed with the precision feel of the Linhof and Arca cameras, and the Canham base tilt design is not yaw free. Still If I was going to be hiking long distances at altitude the Canham DLC would be my first choice

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@swbell.net), May 01, 2001.

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