Metal Field 8x10 Cameras? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I may save up and in a few year's time make a quixotic investment into 8x10 so I can look real sophisticated pondering a shot on a huge 8x10 with an equally huge darkcloth draped around my shoulder (and because I think a 150mm lens and 8x10 film would produce some real authoritative photos as well).

Anyway, I got all excited about the Canham 8x10 because I know they make an awesome 4x5. But then browsing the archives on this site, I learned it's basically a wooden camera with some stylish aluminum parts. Unfortunately, this does not suit my generation-X sensibilty at the cost of a few grand.

So my question is this: What are the current production metal body field 8x10's out there? I am already aware of the 8x10 Toyo M.

Thanks for the input. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, October 08, 2001


the toyo, the arca f and the hoffman are it

-- adam (, October 08, 2001.

I came to the same consensus and opted for a metal 8x10 Kodak Master.

Having said that and since the Kodak went out of production in the 60's, I would take a look at the Hoffman metal 8x10 and the Wehman camera that looks like a hybrid, but I think is listed in this web site.

-- Michael Kadillak (, October 09, 2001.

In ultralight 8x10 monorails, there's also the Toho and Gowland. These are both much lighter than any of the others already mentioned here. I use the 4x5 Toho and love it for hiking and backpacking, but have no experience with the 8x10 Toho.

According to the data sheet I have, the 8x10 Toho comes with a two piece rail. One piece is 340mm in length, the other is 460mm. If you only use wide to normal lenses, you can just use a single rail. For longer lenses, it comes with a fitting to connect the two pieces together for a maximum extension of 750mm. The weight with the 340mm rail is 3kg, with the 460mm rail, it's 3.1kg, with both rails and the connecting fitting, it's 3.4kg. The only lighter 8x10 I know of is the Phillips Explorer (a wooden horizontal only model). Toho has recently updated their web site to include descriptions of some of their cameras in English (in addition to the Japanese language descriptions), as well as pictures and specs. The direct link for the 8x10 Toho is:

Also, I bought my 4x5 Toho from Badger Graphic and I see they have the 8x10 Toho on sale for $2095.

The Tohos are unique cameras - very light and compact for field use, but with full monorail movements on both front and rear standards. They are not for everybody, but if you're looking for a metal camera that's light enough to use in the field, they're worth a look.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 09, 2001.

If you don't mind purchasing used, and if funds are an issue, consider the Calumet C series. (C1 or C3. Did they make a C2? Not sure.) Anyway, I got one of these that's in great shape for $575. At 19 lbs, it weighs a lot. But, it's very well built. And, the weight is on a par with the Toyo M 8x10. I understand that the green models are a special alloy that weigh less. You can also find 5x7 and 4x5 reduction backs on EBay and in Shutterbug ads. Deardorff lens boards work on this camera. I got a Deardorff 6x6 to 4x4 reduction lens board so that the combination of lenses and boards don't take up so much room.

-- neil poulsen (, October 09, 2001.

Michael, Neil, and Adam, thanks for your input. The Arca Swiss has potential. Kerry, I checked out the 8x10 Toho on the site you recommended. It's cute, and seemingly clever, light, not too unreasonably expensive. But I wonder if based on your honest experience with the 4x5 version, could you venture a guess as to the 8x10 Toho's mechanical stability? Andre

-- Andre Noble (, October 09, 2001.


The 4x5 Toho I am using, the FC-45X uses a totally different design for the rails and standards, so my experience may not directly translate to the 8x10 Toho. Please keep that in mind.

Regarding my 4x5 Toho FC-45X, it is amazingly rigid for such a light camera. More rigid than any wooden field cameras I've ever used - many that weigh more than twice as much as the Toho. It is more rigid than the heavier, all metal Canham DLC, and in the same ballpark as my Linhof Techikardan TK45S that weighs nearly 3x as much. There are probably cameras around that are more rigid, but I doubt many of them would be light enough to carry to the places I routinely take my Toho (well, maybe the Arca Swiss F Line, but again, it's going to be about 3x the weight of the Toho). It is not the perfect camera for all users and all uses, but for what I use it for, I find the rigidity of the 4x5 Toho FC-45X more than adquate for my needs.

Again, this may or may not be true of the 8x10 model due to the differences in the design of the rail and standards. Just looking at the pictures in my Toho brochure, until I have one in my hands to see for myself, I would be a little concerned about the rigidity when using the two rails combined for maximum extension. The two rails are joined by a special fitting, and the rigidity of this joint is totally dependent on the design and construction of this fitting. It may be perfectly rigid, or it may not be. I really don't know. Other than that, I suspect the rigidity when using one of the two solid rail sections would be quite good. At least based on the pictures in the brochure, the rest of the design looks sound. I'm not saying the joint fitting is not rigid, just saying that for me it's an unknown and would be the first thing I would check if I was considering buying one of these cameras and planned on using it with lenses long enough to require using both rails together.

Since Badger Graphic has the Toho on sale, I'm guessing they have one in stock. If you are seriously considering buying this camera, you might want to give Jeff at Badger a call and ask him to assemble the camera and check the rigidity with the two rails combined. Of course, "rigidity" is a subjective term in this context, but Jeff has a lot of experience with other cameras and is pretty straight forward and honest about the products he sells.

I have a strong affinity for lightweight large format gear (an apparent oxymoron to many), so if I was in the market for an 8x10, the two I'd be looking at are the Toho and the various Phillips models. These are way lighter than the other metal models mentioned here. There's no way I'd be willing to lug a 19 lb. camera, the tripod and head necessary to adaquately support it, big heavy lenses, 8x10 film holders, a pack big enough to carry it all, etc. For me personally, I find my Linhof TK45S with a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod and a box or two of Quick/Readyloads about as heavy as I ever want to carry.

Of course, others have different needs and goals, so YMMV.

If you haven't seen it, I have a very extensive review of teh Toho FC-45X online at:

Again, it's specific to my 4x5 model, and the 8x10 is a different design, but it may give you some insight into what it's like to use one of these unique cameras.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 09, 2001.

I second the calumet option. I have a green one. It weighs approx. 14 or 15 lbs and is basically bullet proof. I can stuff it in the top of cheap I frame pack with film holders and etc and hike a good ways with it. Mine cost $400 from Midwest Camera Exchange.


-- echard wheeler (, October 09, 2001.

Andre, do yourself a favor and at least consider the Phillips Compact II. It's not all metal, but the unique design and sandwich construction result in a camera that's incredibly rigid and weighs only 7.8 lb. It'll handle any 150mm lens you put on it, and you'll have enough energy left to make pictures after carrying it to your shooting location. I'm completely satisfied with mine.

-- Sal Santamaura (, October 09, 2001.

I would urge you to also look at the Wehman closely - it is a very interesting design and works great in the field. DJ

-- N Dhananjay (, October 09, 2001.

Does Phillips have website? BILL

-- william mitchell (, October 09, 2001.

Thank you all for your input. I may just first upgrade my Toyo monorail to 8x10 (or 5x7), and see how I like that.

Wood is nice, but I'm very partial to metal and will definitely be looking at that wonderful looking toy, the Toho 8x10, in the future.

Kerry, you must be a true pioneer to have gotten the Toho 4x5. I considered it ever so briefly before I got the Toyo 45AII. I liked your extensive review of the Toho I read today on your site. Now if you and brother Bob could just get along...:>) Anyway, perhaps by the time I am ready to buy, you will have by then a review of the 8x10 Toho as well. I'm going to email Robert White to see if he is selling them. Toys, toys, toys!!


-- Andre Noble (, October 09, 2001.

Bill, no Web site, but you can contact Dick at:

and see a Compact II writeup (in German) with an illustration at:

-- Sal Santamaura (, October 09, 2001.


Not sure if it qualifies me for pioneer status, but I do have the first Toho FC-45X ever brought into this country by Badger Graphic (there may have been one or two purchased by indiviuals while traveling to Tokyo, I don't know). Due to the light weight and other desirable characteristics of the Toho, I was definitely interested in the camera, but was not willing to commit to buying one sight unseen (it is a unique design, and at that time an entirely unknown quantity).

When I learned that Badger was going to start importing them, I called Jeff to get some info on the camera. He said he'd never seen one, but would be getting one in shortly and offered to send it to me for review - with no obligation to buy if I didn't like anything about the camera. Long story short - I liked it enough to buy it after I finished writing the review. I've reviewed several cameras since, but to date, this is the only one I liked enough to pay for out of my own pocket and keep.

I've had the camera for over two years now, and unlike many other cameras I've owned, the longer I have this one the more I like it and the more I'm convinced there is nothing better for what I use it for (hiking and backpacking). There are better cameras - no doubt. Weight being no object, I prefer my Linhof Technikardan TK45S for the smooth operation, longer extension, and easily reversible back. However, often times for me, weight is an issue and that's where the little Toho really shines. I'd never dream of going on a long distance multiday backpacking trip with the Linhof. With the Toho, I never consider going without it.

WRT to my brother Bob... I actually do have a brother named Robert, but he goes by Rob. We get along famously, thanks.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 09, 2001.


I know Robert White used to sell the Toho. I have a copy of his Pro-Photo Review from a couple years ago with a little two paragraph write up on the FC-45X. They used to be listed on his web site under "other", but last time I checked they were no longer there.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 09, 2001.

Kerry, thanks. Andre

-- Andre Noble (, October 09, 2001.

I have an old Eastman, that is a Kodak but instead of being wooden it is aluminum. It is about 90 years old , But it have very limited movements, only front rise. It is light at under 7 lbs without lense. I do have a 155 grandagon and it fits, once I hogged out the inside lense board cover , I put it on a flat 6x6x.125 piece of aluminum, polished, WOW! I rack the lense board out to the end and bring the back up and it focuses at infinity. The bellows does not move much but I treat it like a really big SWC. Yes the pics are Awsume!!! I use forte 200 rated at 100 and developed in Tmax developer. The tones just won't blow out!!


-- Edward Burlew (, October 09, 2001.

Thanks,Sal. BILL

-- william mitchell (, October 09, 2001.

Andre... Just to stray from the camera choice a bit...I'm not sure that 150mm would be my first choice for a lens. Maybe you already own one??? Just a thought... -Dave

-- Dave Richhart (, October 09, 2001.

If weight is important to you, I'd look seriously only at one of the Phillips light weight models or the Toho. I have a Deardorff, which is a great camera. But it weighs about 12 lbs, not too bad by 8x10 standards but by the time I pack and carry everything else it's too much for me to carry more than a short distance, maybe a mile maximum and that's a really uncomfortable mile for me. Those 8x10 holders are really heavy, as are the 8x10 lenses (I have three, one small, the other two fairly large) and the tripod needed for 8x10. In 4x5, I think the weight of the camera is often over emphasized. I think you have to look at the weight of the camera as a percentage of everything else you carry so to me the difference between say a 4 lb and a 6 lb 4x5 camera isn't enough to worry about since everything else - tripod, holders, etc. - can remain the same with either camera and the overall weight of the entire system isn't that great regardless of the camera weight (within reason of course). But with 8x10 you're really getting into everything being a whole lot heavier so a light camera such as the Toho or one of the Phillips models, combined with the lighter tripod that the lighter camera may enable you to use, can make a big difference. Just my thoughts. I don't plan to sell the Deardorff any time soon but if I had known how much I would end up liking the 8x10 format, and just how heavy an 8x10 system based on a 12 lb camera can be, I think I would have paid more attention to some of the lighter cameras.

-- Brian Ellis (, October 10, 2001.

Brian raises some good points about taking into account the total weight of the system. However, I do mildy disagree with his statement:

"to me the difference between say a 4 lb and a 6 lb 4x5 camera isn't enough to worry about since everything else - tripod, holders, etc. - can remain the same with either camera"

Based on my experience, with a lighter camera, I can get by with a lighter tripod and especially tripod head. For instance, with my Toho FC-45X (modified weight 2lb. 12 1/2 oz.) I regulary use a tripod/head (modified Gitzo 1227 and Velbon PH-253MG) combo that weighs 3 lb. 4 3/4 oz. I have a friend who uses an even lighter (but shorter) Slik carbon fiber tripod with the same head with a wooden field camera of similar weight. I would never consider using either of these tripod/head combos with a 6 lb. camera. The 1227 legs were adaquate for my Canham DLC (4 lb. 14 oz.), but at the very least, a heavier head is required (something like the Linhof Profi II that weighs about a pound more than the little Velbon magnesium ballhead). With my Linhof Technikardan, I use a Gitzo 1325 with an Arca Swiss B1 head. By most accounts this is still considered a very light tripod/head combo. It's the lightest tripod/head I'd consider using with the Technikardan and at a very resonable 6 lb. 2 oz. it's still nearly 3 lb. heavier than the combination I use with the Toho. So, it does all add up.

For backpacking, I use the Toho with the aforementioned tripod/head and a set of three or four ultralight lenses. The camera, lenses, a couple boxes of Quickloads, all my accessories, lunch, a couple water bottles and a light jacket will all easily fit in a lightweight daypack (I use the Northface Yavapai model).

A bigger, heavier camera also requires a bigger, heavier pack to carry it in. It all adds up (even the lensboards on my Canham weighed twice as much as the Toho lenses boards, with my bigger lenses I use 67mm filters, with the ultralight lenses, I use 52mm filters). What may seem like only a couple pounds can end up having a ripple effect that leads to an added 5 - 10 lbs. Granted, most people would not notice a difference of 5 lbs. on a reasonably short dayhike, but on a long, multiday backpacking trip, every ounce counts.

Taken to the extreme, the 4x5 system I use for dayhiking and road kills is currently based around a Linhof Technikardan TK45S. It's a wonderful camera, but it is the heaviest 4x5 I've ever used in the field. The camera alone weighs over 7 1/2 lbs. and by the time I add a RRS quick release plate (helps balance the camera better with long lenses) and the bag bellows (necessary for wide angle use), it's pushing 8 1/2 lbs. This camera requires a heavier tripod/head and a much bigger heavier pack (12 1/2 lbs. empty) to carry it all in. I also carry six lenses instead of three or four. Without going through a complete itemized list, the total weight of this system is in the 35 - 40 lb. range. The Toho based system I use for backpacking is in the 13 - 15 lb. range (depending on how much film I'm carrying). Most people would notice the differnce between 15 lbs. and 40 lbs. pretty quickly.

Granted, this example illustrates sytems approaching the extremes (alhough I'm still using a carbon fiber tripod and reasonably light lenses with the Technikardan), it is based on what I actually use depending on if I want to go lightweight (backpacking or really long day hikes) or full featured (road kills and dayhikes of moderate length). I'm not disagreeing with Brian's comments about 8x10. In fact, I heartily agree (especially about those 8x10 holders). The weight of an 8x10 system quickly adds up to the point where my Technikardan system seems light by comparison. Still, I did want to point out that you can't totally ignore weight in a 4x5 system if you intend to schlep it all over the mountains and desert (as I do).

I also agree with Brian's recommendation of the Phillips cameras. Being of an, ahem, "older" generation, I'm not exactly sure what this "generation-X sensibilty" is that Andre alludes to. If he means he'd rather have something high tech looking than something that looks like it belongs in a museum, then the Phillips should suit him fine. Although Dick Phillips uses wood in the construction of his cameras, they are still very modern and high tech looking. The Explorer is pretty much all black. The original Compact did show more bare wood, but it has been discontinued and replaced by the more high tech looking Compact II. In any case, I'm just an old fart that doesn't give a rat's ass what my camera looks like or what it's made of, as long as it meets my needs and gets the job done.


-- Kerry Thalmann (, October 10, 2001.

Let me second the endorsement of the Wehman 8x10, and expand a bit here. I have been using one for about 3 months and flat love it. In some ways the design is non-traditional, and it will never win any beauty contests (unless, perhaps in the context of efficient industrial design). The Wehman contains only aluminum (base plate, top cover that flips over to become part of the base for long extensions, body of the rear section, front standards), steel (misc. hardware and braces), and composite resin board (everything else). It folds very compactly, sets up easily and quickly, and is at least as rigid as other field cameras I have used (B&J, Calumet metal). The movements are pretty complete and easy to use (front tilt on and off axis, rear tilt at base, simply front swing, and a very clever design that integrates rear swing with the gear-driven focus). Most movements have clear detents for zeroing things out. Another clever touch is a lever that partially lifts the back for film hoder insertion--kind of a partial bail. Altogether it weighs 12 pounds. Not as light as it could be but as Bruce says, it is pretty indestructable, especially with the optional plexiglas screen included with the camera. Check out the camera at Bruce's web site but be warned that I don't think his photos or descriptions do the camera justice. I also think the $1400 price is a relative bargain.

-- Bob Krantz (, October 10, 2001.

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