4x5 field camera for wide angle architectural photography?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Is it possible to use a Schneider Super Angulon 72mm XL lens with its full capacity to shift on any affordable (less than $1000, ideally) 4x5 field cameras? I'd like to be able to use this for wide angle architectural shots, but since I don't have a car, I want to keep my equipment light enough to carry in a backpack. If so, which models should I be looking for? If not, are there any cheap monorails sufficiently portable to consider?

-- Peter Hamel (hamelp@yahoo.com), September 23, 2001


All of the answers for the Super Angulon 72mm XL lens are answered on the Schneider web site at:


This lens is recommended for 5x7 use so I am sure it will give you most adequate coverage on a 4x5. There are many 4x5 cameras available under $1000. Especially used cameras. Check eBay or the many online camera dealers such as Midwest Camera Exchange.

-- Jim Brick (jim@brick.org), September 23, 2001.

The Schneider site will not answer your query exactly, and neither will ebay necessarily. Asuming you want or need to use movements with the field camera and the 72mm XL, you will need a camera with a bellows capable of being compressed and still mantaining adequate movements . I don't sell cameras, but I doubt you will find many/any sub $1000 field cameras that will do that mainly because many such cameras-the Tachihara in its many configurations, some of the Wistas, etc. do not have interchangable bellows. You may be able to find a used Wisner Technical field with WA bellows, or perhaps a Canham. The DLC is said to be able to handle such configurations with its normal bellows, but it has the bad reputation of not being easy to use with extreme WA lenses and its standards. The 72mm XL is a large, heavy lens. I own one, and bought it only after making certain I could use it on my field cameras.You'll need a camera that is strong enough or "beefy" enough to support it and any movements you make with it, plus the WA bellows. So what to do? You might consider a used field camera, or you might consider a rail camera that offers a WA bellows. Used Sinar Fs might work. While not exactly in your budget, they at least are available and well made. Hope this helps. Bob

-- bob moulton (bobmargaretm@home.com), September 24, 2001.

Try looking for the older Calumet wide angle cameras that come up on eBay. While not elegant they are workhorse cameras that do the job and last a long time. If the rear element will fit, take a good look at a used Linhof Technica. Bob Soloman can probably tell us if this combination will work. Technicas have been made for a long time & even the older ones have a lot of movement. The used camera market can yield some excellent buys that will solve your problem.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), September 24, 2001.

You might look at the Walker XL or wide series. The XL has a rigid back so that it will be in alignment with the body at all times. If I understand correctly, they have a deal with Scheider so you get a discount if you buy lens and camera together. I don't know the price, but it is more than you want to spend (maybe $1,500). Check Badger Graphics website, since they sell the lens at low price.

-- Michael Waldron (michael@cadogan.net), September 24, 2001.

72xl for movements is a good choice, don't forget to buy a center filter if you wants to use a lot of movements (spacially with slides!!!) The best "light weight" 4x5 camera for this use is the quite expensive ARCA Fline Metric, Then ARCA Fline, Then MASTER technika, Then SINAR F2, Then SINAR F There is plenty others alternative, but i believe that the SINAR F buy second hand in england (robert white,...) should be the best value for money (not easy to back pack !), then you will have to carry a good strong tripod, light meter, Holders, dark cloth, loup, 72xl... Buy the way, with a 72xl is important to use a fresnel, or bright screen to be able to see the entire image ! Sinar F is a good compromise to start, but if you can afford a F2, it's better ! Remenber that is very expensive to use 4x5, so if you buy a cheap and not appropriate camera for your purpose, you will spend a lot of money in films, process...for nothing ! Good luck

-- dg (sacripant@online.fr), September 24, 2001.

If it were possible to meet all of your criteria in your price range we'd all have that camera. Unfortunately cameras are like bicycles. As the pounds come off the price goes up. In your price range, look for a Cambo with bag bellows and 9" monorail. Weighs a ton but will absolutely get the job done. On the other hand, if you can afford the 72, you can probably afford the matching high end camera.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@lnett.com), September 24, 2001.

I haven't used one but if that is all you want it for I'd definitely check out the Walker XL cameras, as recommended above. The downside is that you won't have any control over perspective rendering as you'll have no rear swing or tilt movements.

Otherwise, in that price range, look for an Arca-Swiss Discovery if you want precision and ease of use, and there is the wide angle version of the Calumet Cadet camera (http://www.calumetphoto.com) which runs about US$500.

-- Ellis Vener (ellis@ellisvener.com), September 24, 2001.

You might consider the wide-angle Cadets that Calumet sells. You could speak with Calumet on whether or not this camera will support the weight of a 72mm SA XL.

-- neil poulsen (neil.fg@att.net), September 25, 2001.

A good, inexpensive camera can be obtained from Peter Gowland (www.petergowland.com) for around $1000. He makes light (2.5-4 lbs), aluminum monorail cameras with friction controls and variable movements on the rear standard, with either a standard bellows or bag bellows, for around $800-$1200. The photos on his website aren't the greatest, but you'll get the idea of what they look like. I've heard he's a really nice guy based on comments from this and other sites.

Another alternative not mentioned above, which many people poo-poo as an amateur camera, is a Bender 4x5 (www.benderphoto.com). You buy the wood and build the camera yourself which ends up about 3 lbs. The kit sells for $300, the bag bellows for an extra $30-40. It's pretty simple to make (I built one). Though you'll read a lot of criticism of it, it's not a bad camera, as many common problems are due to errors in construction (eg. not being able to tighten everything down well) and are not uncommon with more expensive cameras. Just don't compare it unfairly with other cameras. Also, Jay Bender is a pleasure to deal with.

I think I saw someone mention a couple Calumets. I have the 45NX. They're not uncommon on eBay and are within your price range. The bag bellows can be obtained for about half of what it costs new. Downside: size and weight (~10lbs). The Calumet Wide sounds like something more up your alley as it's very inexpensive and made specifically for W/A photography.

If I had to have only one of these cameras , I think I'd get a Gowland. Even thought the Bender is really inexpensive, the Gowland will be sturdier than the Bender and offers interchangeable bellows unlike the Calumet Wide. --Tony

-- Tony Karnezis (karnezis@aecom.yu.edu), September 27, 2001.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ