4x5 for architecture/travel?

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I'm looking for a 4x5 camera that will be easy to use and carry in Southeast Asia. The primary use will be architectural photography. I'm considering the Wisner Pocket Expedition, an Ebony, or a Sinar view camera. Portability is a major consideration, as is ease of set-up and use. Help! Arthur

-- Arthur Gottschalk (Arthurwg@aol.com), July 11, 2001


Linhof Technika. Or Canon 1V with a couple of TS lenses.

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), July 11, 2001.

Definitely the Canham DLC 45. It only weighs in at just under 5 pounds. And, you don't need a bag bellows for 75mm lenses (without much movement). Anything shorter, and you would definitely want a bag bellows.

Great camera from a great person. I love mine.

-- Andy Biggs (abiggs@tvmcapital.com), July 11, 2001.

If you're willing to sacrifice precision movements for light weight and come out with a monorail camera in the bargain, you won't get much lighter than a Gowland Pocket View (info at www.petergowland.com--I use the 8x10" version).

Kerry Thalman also has a very positive review of the Toho Shimo monorail, which is a bit fancier than the Gowland.

For more precision, but a bit more weight, the Arca-Swiss F-line is very attractive.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), July 11, 2001.

An ArcaSwiss FC Field or a Linhof TK45s.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), July 11, 2001.

I had the same question myself recently. Where you are going, how much bulk and weight you can carry, and the types of situations that you will be in dictate the kind of equipment which will work best.

I will be going to Belarus (a former republic of the USSR) for a couple of months this fall. Often I will be riding a train or bus and therefore must carry everything by hand. The police in the cities are suspicious of anyone with unusual equipment and I want to avoid them as much as possible. Plus I will often be with people who have little interest in photography.

I also wanted to eliminate being under a darkcloth as often as possible.

I decided to take a Busch Pressman press camera and a very lightweight tripod. Reasons: Small, lightweight, and compact. Front rise, tilt, and shift. All you need for 90% of outdoor photography. And the Kalart rangefinder is adjusted to the 135 Sironar-N lens that folded up in the camera.

I can therefore use the attached view finder for framing and the rangefinder for quick focusing when desirable. And a distance scale on the bed can be used when using my 90 lens. The camera, extra lens, loupe, light meter and quickloads all fit in a Domke 803 satchel.

A Crown Graphic or Linhof can be equally good. The Linhof is heavier, and more costly but has more movements.

How this contributes to the discussion.

-- Bob Eskridge (besk@shtc.net), July 11, 2001.


Any camera set up by non-local will be extremely suspect in Belarus. I hope you are taking lots of "grease" and have contacts in the goverment there.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), July 11, 2001.

Take a look at the Wista SP, a metal folding field camera that will take a bag bellows. I use it for travel after years of lugging around a Sinar F-1. It does most of what the Sinar will do but makes a much smaller and more rugged package. Before I got the Wista I experimented with a Graflex Super Graphic- similar idea to the Wista but lighter and cheaper. The only problems were limited movements and lack of a bag bellows option. If you can live without these, it's a great buy!

-- David Rose (DERose1@msn.com), July 11, 2001.

Ellis, is that true about the need to woory about public tripod photography in Belarussia? I was thinking of a similar trip through the Baltic countries and European Russia within a year or so. I mean, are you speaking from experience/reliable reports?

And Bob, are you also doing large format portraits of the world famous Russian mail order brides, (If so, I thought I was the only one with this splendid idea) :>)..please don't be offended, I say this with much tongue in cheek!! Andre

-- Andre Noble (andrenoble@yahoo.com), July 11, 2001.

The problem with the police is only in Minsk and other larger towns. In the country side you will only see the curious. I spent two and a half weeks in Belarus two years ago so know a little about the country.

I decided to take the rangefinder press camera so that, if I thought it to be prudent, I could determine exposure and rough composition before even pulling the camera out of the bag. I might have to forgo a tripod in the center of the cities and instead use a monopod and park bench etc. instead. And at all times I will have one or more natives with me. Hey, the portraits of the mail order brides is a great idea!

-- Bob Eskridge (besk@shtc.net), July 11, 2001.


Can't comment on belarus or ukraine cos i haven't been there, but you'll have no probs in the three baltic states - tallinn is practically a suburb of helsinki nowadays and latvia & lithuania are similarly 'westernised'. Incredibly photogenic though, especially the old centre of tallinn. I was there a few years ago with pentax67 and large gitzo and nobody even noticed me. (see here for the results: http://www.flat3.co.uk/europe/pages/index_tallinn.htm ) Go in spring or autumn if you can for some incredible raking light. For landscape buffs the woods and lakes, especially in latvia have a special kind of magic.

Only hassle from officialdom I had on that whole trip was a two hour delay at Polish customs because they thought I was a journalist but that was a very minor border crossing and I think they were just looking for some boredom-relief.

(ps. When in Vilnius, don't miss the Frank Zappa statue. Quite mad.)

pps. to get back to Arthur's original question, I've just plumped for the Wista but haven't put it through its paces in the field yet - will report back on that one in October.

Cheers, Stuart

-- Stuart Whatling (sw@dial.pipex.com), July 12, 2001.

Ebony SW45 or the cheaper reduced spec.RSW45. Very light and compact, quick to set up and second to none with wide angle lenses. Regards,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), July 12, 2001.

I'd also suggest looking at the three very light weight cameras (4x5) that are produced by RH Phillips. I believe the standard model is at 4 pounds and it'sstable.

-- David Goldes (david_goldes@mcad.edu), July 13, 2001.

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