Which 4x5 Camera to Start with

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Hello I was woundering if anyone can give me some input on which LF camera to start with. Ive been looking and Iam considering the Toyo 45c for 675 , the 4x5 Arca Swiss A split monorail for 21 extension, reduced $675 or any other camera to get into LF with.

-- Max (mvonnied@niederworks.com), September 28, 2001


Hi Max, what ya going to be taking pictures of? Best, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), September 29, 2001.

If you intend to photograph landscapes, I am very pleased by my Tachihara 4x5" camera. Previously, I have used a monorail camera (an old Calumet), and in my opinion, this type of camera is absolutely not suited for field photography: it is heavy, bulky and has a lot of movements you never need (even for normal architectural photography).

On the contrary, the Tachihara (or other field cameras) is light, cheap, and folds to a very compact package. Including all my accessories (3 not specially light lenses, backpack, meter, holders, carbon fiber tripod,...), I come to a grand total of less than 10kg. Everything fits in a compact backpack, and this equipment has proved very convenient for travel/landscape photography.

-- Pierre Kervella (pkervell@yahoo.com), September 29, 2001.

I second Pierre's opinion in voting for a field camera. I just started in LF and began with a Toyo-view 45d, a monorail with full movements. The first time I took it outside I realized the monorail really was going to limit my photography simply because I'm too lazy to hassle with the huge additional bulk. I sold it and got a wooden field camera and am much happier. I haven't been restricted by the more limited (but still ample) movements. That said, if you're staying in a studio or doing work requiring extensive movements you can't beat the monorail. Also, apparently there are a few monorails that collapse sufficiently to be field friendly. Search for "A large format homepage" for a great site for info on all aspects of LF.

-- Rusell Levin (rllevin@fast.net), September 29, 2001.

I go along with Pierre and Rusell. I have a Tachihara 4x5 and it is a great camera in the field. Light, compact and takes great pictures. A small back pack will hold it and all the accessories you could want and stay pretty comfortable. Get a carbon fiber tripod to go along with it and you will have a pretty nice workable solution to outdoor photography. Have fun. Doug

-- Doug Theall (rooster_two@yahoo.com), September 29, 2001.

Max, a word of warning....LF is highly addictive! So unless money is no object and you can afford to upgrade later, a better idea may be to rent a LF camera for a few days. You can then try out field and monorails and see which type suits you best. This will cost but it is money well spent and will allow you to judge whether or not it is worth investing in more expensive equipment or sticking with an "introductory-type" outfit. Just a thought. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), September 30, 2001.

Hi agree and thoroughly enjoy the addiction!

I've had to keep costs down. Have done this with being patient waiting for good quality 2nd hand lenses, I have a 90 and a 120.

I was kindly lent a traditional Gandolfi and being a complete LF beginner, I struggled to get everything set up straight and the to adjust as necessary. There was much muttering.

Having a limited budget, and intent on Landscape, I considered the market carefully, with very little Field cameras around 2nd hand here in the UK. I chose a new Ebony RSW45 from Robert White. THis has great quality and rigidity, but only limited movements, front rise, drop and axis tilt. At 995 (+vat) It's less than 2/3rds price of the SW45.

See the RW website for more info (best on netscape, my mac struggles with IE5 to get all the pages). Recently extremely positivley reviewed by Joe Cornish in Outdoor Photography.

Being non folding it's so quick to set up and it's compact too.

I made a good darkcloth from curtain blackout material. This is lightweight, lightproof and light coloured, great in hot weather.

I made one end into a closed ring with a drawstring, sewed 15" down one side to make a tube so I can look at the whole image. It also means I can reverse it as a more traditional one if I want just a quick look.

Have had problems with condensation from my (heavy) breath on the ground glass. Usually because I've raced to a viewpoint which is made worse too with a heavy dew. Have fun, Bax

-- Baxter Bradford (baxter.bradford@ntlworld.com), October 01, 2001.

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