The best camera for landscapes : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi I would like to know what is considered to be the best field camera for landscape work with wide and normal lens application. The price is not a factor just the quality and the reliability. Ross

-- Ross Schuler (, April 18, 2002


The non-foldable Ebony SW45. There is no rear tilt or swing but the thing is so small, light, rigid, user-friendly and reliable it more than makes up for the rear disadvantages.


-- David G Hall (, April 18, 2002.

(folding type )Canham DLC.

Compact (collapsing monorails):Linhof technika TK45s. Arca-Swisss 45FC

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, April 18, 2002.

If there was one field camera that was the "best" for landscape work then all the landscape photographers would buy it and the other companies that manufacture field cameras would go out of business. The fact that this hasn't happened, and that instead there must be at least ten different companies manufacturing field cameras these days, demonstrates that there are wide differences of opinion as to which one is "best." While I don't think extensive movements are necessary for landscape work, there are two that are indispensable for me: front tilt and rear tilt. Any camera that doesn't have rear tilt couldn't, in my opinion, possibly be the "best" camera for landscape work, in fact I'd call it the worst. But someone else thinks that an Ebony camera without rear tilt is the best field camera for landscape work and it is . . for him. So now you see that there are wide differences of opinion in this area and asking a question like "which one is best" isn't going to produce anything like the unanimity that you seem to be looking for. Instead, ask people which camera they use, what things they like about it, what things they don't like about it, and then determine whether the things they consider important are also important to you.

-- Brian Ellis (, April 18, 2002.

I echo previous comments. If you are looking for the "smoking gun camera" good luck! Any unit, from A-X would be perfect, depending upon your needs. Look at books by Drennan, Sexton, Dykinga, McSavaney. They are contemporary landscape photographers each of whom has chosen a "perfect" camera. Whether you opt for Linhof, Canham, Wisner, or Arca-Swiss, the same old situation exists. The image is created two inches behind the eyeball. The tool, you use is the one with which you feel most comfortable. Me: I want the beauty of a Wisner, the absolute dependability of an Arca-Swiss, and th price of a Craftsman screw driver. After all they are all craftsman tools. Bob

-- bob moulton (, April 18, 2002.

The only real answer to 'what is the best camera for . . ." is the one you have at the time the shot is there and with which you are comfortable. If you don't have the camera when the shot is there, it doesn't matter how 'good' the camera is. If you are not comfortable with it, it isn't the 'best' - FOR YOU, which is all that counts. My 'best is not somebody else's. Having my camera when I see the shot is a LOT better than seeing the shot with empty hands and wondering which camera I would have if I had my druthers. If you get caught up in the 'what _____ should I have' neurosis, you will never be taking pictures because you'll spend your time figuring out what you 'ought' to have to capture the shot that is disappearing in front of your eyes.


-- Anthony J. Kohler (, April 18, 2002.

"THE BEST NEVER RESTS". This sounds like a contradiction to large format photography. Doesn't it?. I hope you have deep pockets because you will have to try of lot of different cameras in your endless search. And I hope you do not have too much expectations in regards to your photography as you won't have the time to master any of them before the new one arrives. LF is about patience, learning his tools as much as possible, practice, and thinking. As long as your equipment doesn't occupy your mind too much you will be fine. Your camera may be the BEST out there, with the MOST features and yet produce poor results because it has so many features that it takes hours to set or it's so heavy that your back shuts down when you are ready to set your tripod. I know I am ironic here and I understand you are just trying to avoid the expensive mistake of buying a camera that won't fit your needs. I would recommend that you start your search on a different level. First what type of landscape photography are you up to? From the road? Backpacking? Are you new to LF? Are you patient enough? What movements do you like to use. I started with a cheap used wood field (Wista DX) and made some great shots. I am now using a Wisner PE that cost me 3 times as much. I am sorry to say but my photography has not progressed 3 times. It's just a different tool that allows me to use a larger variety of lenses and offers some conveniences that the Wista didn't have. Both are well made and reliable. As others mentioned my PERFECT camera may be unusable to you. The Wisner PE is a good example, some people love it, some hate it. To me it is what I was looking for: compact, light, versatile, stable, simple to use, and a beauty to look at. Yes, for me that last attribute counts as well: I love the feeling of wood. Choose any of the leading brands and you will get quality, reliability, and service. But first defines you needs more precisely. Jack Dykinga has a nice book "Large Fotmat Nature Photography" where he describes his equipment. He has 2 cameras, vastly different from each other. One is the folding Wista DX used for backpacking, the other a monorail Arca-Swiss that is a lot heavier and expensive. Nobody can tell what camera was used on any of his images. They are tools and each is used depending of the situation. Good luck in your search. LF is fun.

-- Georges Pelpel (, April 19, 2002.

Ross, my solution to landscapes is versatility, portability, and clarity. Lost of words, but what do they mean. A versatile system allows me to photograph many different compositions which makes me very productive. A portable system lets me get gear into remote areas where there is great beauty which also makes me very productive. And big clear images rich in colors and contrast sell especially panoramics.

I have been thinking about 8x10 for years, and I even have an 8x10 enlarger, but 8x10 is not portable, and it is very expensive with lots of DOF problems. Currently, I own a Wisner 4x5 Expedition with a 4x10 panoramic back standard that is interchangeable with the 4x5 back standard. All my Nikkor lenses cover both formats except the 75mm. That is 90mm, 120mm, 180mm, 210mm, 300mm, 360T, 500T, and 720T. The reason I am listing these lenses is because none of them are spec to cover the 4x10 back, and yet, they all do with room to spare. The T lenses have one front element with three interchangeable rear elements which saves lots of weight. The draw back to this system is clarity. The 4x5 is fuzzy for prints 20x24 and larger.

So here is my plan for the summer of 2003. I intend to buy the Wisner 5x7 pocket expedition with a 4x5 reducing back. The 5x7 has more bellows (32") and is only 8oz heavier then my current 4x5. The 5x7 will give me the clarity I need for larger prints, and all my current lenses will cover it (which are smaller, lighter, and less expensive than 8x10 lenses). If I need more coverage, then I can resort to the 4x5 reducing back. I have talked with Wisner, and he will modify my 4x10 back so it will work the 5x7 camera. This provides me with a very powerful, versatile, and portable system - 4x5, 5x7, and 4x10 all in one camera that can produce big clear images.

The drawback to this is there are fewer films for 5x7, but I intend to cut 8x10 film down to 5x7 if needed.

Well that is how I cut the pie. Hope this helps.

-- Stephen Willard (, April 19, 2002.

Does the best camera actually exist? I don't know. The closest would be an Ebony SW45.

-- paul owen (, April 19, 2002.

12"x20" from any manufacturer.

-- David Vickery (, April 19, 2002.

my strong recommendation is a folding metal field camera such as the Wista SP or a Toyo. they're bombproof, very forgiving when banged around in backpacks, with lots of movements, rock-solid performance, and a high degree of accuracy and precision when needed for fine adjustments. i'll be keeping mine as long as it keeps working (and my back holds out...)


-- chris jordan (, April 19, 2002.

Is there a nice light landscape camera on which I can mount my Sinar 480, and apo Ronar 600 or will I have to take my Sinar p?

-- Dick Roadnight (, April 21, 2002.

A landscape camera has a secret code that lets you know it can handle this type of photography. "L" is the secret code letter. If the camera has an L in the name it is good for landscape. Just as if it has an "N", it is good for nudes. Take the type of photography you want to do & see if the brand name has the letter used for that type of photography. If not, it won't work.

-- Dan Smith (, April 21, 2002.

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