Entry level new Field Cameras vs higher end used?

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Hello all, I am an amature looking to purchase a field camera and have narrowed my search to these 3. The Toyo 45CF, Tachihara 4X5 Cherrywood Field Camera, and the Toyo 45CX. From my research all seem to be good cameras but was looking for some insight from more informed or experienced folks. Thanks,
 

David A. Goldfarb

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Check out largeformatphotography.info for lots of camera reviews and also comments in the Q&A forum.

The 45CF had some manufacturing problems when it came out, so if you go that way, you'll want to be sure you can handle it first in the shop, or if you order it by mail order, see that you have a good return policy. That said, there are satisfied users of this camera out there, as well as some who have given up on it after multiple exchanges and returns.

One of the best deals out there in new field cameras is the Shen Hao HZX 45-IIA. See www.badgergraphic.com for info. I would choose the Shen Hao over the two field cameras you mention. It is similar in design and build quality to the Tachihara, a bit heavier, but more versatile and less costly.

The 45CX is a monorail. A good starter camera, but it seems that if you are looking equally at a monorail and two field cameras, that maybe you haven't quite sorted out your priorities yet. What kind of photography do plan to do with the camera?
 

David A. Goldfarb

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There are people (like myself) who use monorail cameras (Gowland in my case--8x10" and 4x5", and I also have a folding Linhof Tech V) in the field for landscapes, but they can be a little cumbersome to transport and set up. You might want to try one out before committing.

The attraction of a monorail is that you get more movements usually, and having symmetrical movements on the front and rear standards makes things more intuitive. On the other hand, landscape photography doesn't require extensive movements, so a simpler camera will often do. The 45CX isn't too heavy for a monorail (about 8 lbs according to the manufacturer), though some would find that a bit much for field use (of course it's not so unusual to use an 8 or 9 lb. 8x10" camera in the field, so this should be taken with some perspective in mind). Personally, I would find the 45CX to be too bulky for, say, a day hike. The long one-piece rail and oversized standards don't look like they would pack well. This kind of camera is usually carried in a trunk case where the two standards are compressed together and hang from the rail. The Gowland, Toho Shimo, Arca-Swiss F-line, and Lihnof Technikardan are more packable monorails.

Check out Kerry Thalmann's website at:

http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/

He's written quite a lot about cameras and lenses that are lightweight and well suited to landscape use. He also has some good articles in _View Camera_ magazine on the subject.
 

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i would second david's opinion about the cx.
i have been using one for about 2 years, and have never taken it apart - i just invert the camera, and put it in a tenba trunk case (tenba 45 i think it is called) it weighs a ton when you take into account the lenses and film holders you have to lug around too. it is a pretty good camera in other respects, seems to be better constructed than its "ugly cousin" the cf ...
 

David A. Goldfarb

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The CF seems very attractive in principle, but there have been a number of reports of flimsy construction, Graflok slides that bend easily, the camera not closing securely, and such. I don't know whether those issues have been worked out yet.
 

cjarvis

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That seems to be the beef about all the low-end view cameras. I notice that the Calumet Cadet is being pushed the way it once was. I think one would be best served spending a little more for something more substantial in construction or buying some used and proven. My $.02.
 
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Thanks folks, looks like either a Shen Hao HZX 45 IIA or a Tachihara Cherrywood if I buy a new camera. I noticed you can get the Shen Hao without rear rise for $475 from Badgergraphic. I may just keep my eyes peeled for a nice used camera as well.
 

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I use my Tachihara a lot. I am very satisfied with it - It backpacks well - is light and has enough movements for what I do. The money I saved bought lenses. The front standard is not as sturdy as a premium camera I think but it is quite usable.
 
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Wow, thanks for all the great input folks. I have a lot to consider now with all this great info. It has started me to think about looking at used cameras as well, such as a Horseman Woodman 45, a Wisner 4X5 Traditional or maybe a Zone VI 4X5 field camera. There are so many great choices I'm sure any of the above would serve me well. Thanks again for your input.
 

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I have used a Zone VI 4X5 for about 15 years now. These do come up on Ebay fairly regularly. It has proven to be a solid performer. The only recommendation that I would make in regard to this particular camera is that if you plan on shooting 90 mm or shorter lenses that the bag bellows is almost a necessity. Good luck in your journey.
 
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