Luggable 4x5 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

It's time to retire my old Omega 4x5, it's not very rigid or precise and the lack of interchangeable bellows is an issue. I think the Arca-Swiss F line would meet my requirements perfectly but I can't really justify the cost of new since I am an unpaid amateur with wife and kids. I could buy a used Sinar F/F1/F2 or a Horseman for less than a third the cost of a new Arca-Swiss. Primary use is field work. Prefer a monorail for full movements and some studio use. Are the Sinar F/F1/F2 or the Horseman 450 or L series going to meet the requirement of being more rigid than the Omega 45E I was using? Are they going to be more portable or about the same? I have played with a Horseman with the telescoping rail at a dealers shop, seemed very rigid and precise but also heavy and bulky. Appreciate any feedback... or an offer on a used Arca-Swiss F.

-- Dave Schneider (, November 02, 2001



You might check out the Toho (not Toyo) line of cameras. There is a good review on this website as well as a longer review on Kerry Thalman's Large Format website. (my apologies to Kerry if I spelled his name wrong). I use a later model Toyo with the extension rails, but for me its fine because I don't travel more than a mile or so from the truck.


-- Kevin Kemner (, November 02, 2001.

Nearly all of Kerry Thalmann's web site is devoted to the "luggable." For reviews on the Toho, take a look at the following two web sites:

-- Donald Brewster (, November 02, 2001.

I have an Arca-Swiss Classic-F. I wouldn't want any other camera for my purposes, which are general landscape and architecture. It's portable in the field, it can handle long and short lenses, it's not too heavy, it callapses to a manageable size, etc. "Arca" stands for "All-Round-CAmera", and I think they're the best.

With that said, I've looked at some of the older Arca-Swiss cameras at swap meets, and I frankly don't see a lot of functional difference between those and the Classic-F. They sell at very reasonable prices, sometimes under $600. I would check with Badger Graphics or Photomark, both have people who are Arca-Swiss knowledgeable. Find out which parts are interchangeable between old and new. For example, I prefer the older recessed lensboards, because they have a deeper recess. I know the rails are interchangable between old and new, but I'm not sure about the bellows. I don't think that the older cameras have a Grafloc international standard back for 6x9 roll film holders. But, one could probably use the Calumet style insertable holders for that purpose. The older style compendium bellows lens shades are better, because they have blades that slide on all four sides to better frame the image.

The one recommendation that I would make is to get the telescoping optical bench. This allows one to pull both standards of the camera onto one of the 15cm rails. Removing that rail with the camera gives you a fairly compact package that can stored in a backpack, while the remainder of the rail can be stored elsewhere in the backpack. This is a very nice feature, and they can be found on the older cameras. I made a cloth sleeve for my rail, so that it or other equipment doesn't get scratched.

-- neil poulsen (, November 02, 2001.

I've seen older Arca-Swiss cameras at Midwest Photo Exchange, KEH, Brooklyn Camera (I think), and at swap meets. And, there's always EBay. If EBay, make sure the seller has lots of good feedback (100+), and minimal or no negative feedback.

-- neil poulsen (, November 02, 2001.


I can't address anything about the Arca-Swiss line. I do have a Horseman 45LX-C. I bought it slightly used for a lot less than list price.

It is very rigid. Movements are great. For studio or architectural use, it's very nice. Now, is it heavy and bulky? You bet. I have carried it, plus related equipment for miles up mountains or across sand dunes because I can't afford another, lighter camera for the field. On the whole, I have appreciated having that camera when I got where I was going, because I wasn't giving up anything as far as movements. If it were lighter, by a lot, it would be perfect. As it is, I still wouldn't trade it, because when I don't have to lug it a long way, it is very steady and dependable.

-- Don Welch (, November 02, 2001.

the older ArcaSwiss cameras like the basic A , basic B, and of course the Basic AB have two major points of difference from the F series of cameras; the bellows attachment frames are way different and they are not yaw free designs. However they are excellent field cameras and very much worth considering. You might also look at the older Sinar Norma cameras. I'd buy a Sinar Norma over a Sinar F/F1/ or F2 camera any day, particularly if you are planning on lugging it around.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, November 02, 2001.


I back-up Ellis' response - If you must have a Sinar, make it a Norma. The later generations (F, P. etc.) are bulky to transport.

One point that I feel is worthy of consideration is lens panels. Depending upon which system to eventually run with get a lensboard adapter to take Linhof (Wista, etc.) boards. The amount of space taken up by Sinar & Arca panels is verging on the diabolical.

Good luck ... WG

-- Walter Glover (, November 02, 2001.

That's the other recommendation I would offer, but forgot. Get a reduction lensboard. They can be found. There's one currently on EBay to a Linhof Technika board.

-- neil poulsen (, November 02, 2001.

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