For next year: good, affordable, lightweight 4x5 field camera

Hectic

D
Hectic

  • 1
  • 0
  • 0
Standing Out

D
Standing Out

  • 0
  • 0
  • 29
Chloe

A
Chloe

  • 2
  • 1
  • 125
Waverley Station

A
Waverley Station

  • 1
  • 2
  • 169
Grain rain

A
Grain rain

  • 3
  • 3
  • 200

Recent Classifieds

Forum statistics

Threads
189,818
Messages
2,647,095
Members
97,352
Latest member
Yuyuik
Recent bookmarks
0

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
11,332
Location
North Carolina
Format
Multi Format
Does such a thing even exist, or is it "pick two"?

And if it does, what to look for in buying one here or on eBay?

I'd like to have it use the same lens boards as my Speed Graphic and Graphic View II, though that isn't a deal breaker. Especially if it takes a larger board, I can make an adapter easily enough, or if smaller (within reason) I can use adapters on those other cameras (though it does need to accept the rear group of my 150/5.6 Componon, at a minimum).

Main things I'm after are good movements (tilts and swings, at a minimum), compact when folded, and lighter than an Anniversary Speed. Ability to use lenses above 300 mm would be nice. Graflok compatible back is desirable as well.

Am I seeking a unicorn, or just missing the obvious?
 

xkaes

Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
2,762
Location
Colorado
Format
Multi Format
There are lots of lightweight field cameras, but I can't think of one with a focal plane shutter. You may have to adjust your goals.

The problem with lightweight 4x5 field cameras is deciding on which one you want based on features -- and then finding it as a decent price.

Here's an incomplete list you can use as a starting point.

The feature I found most helpful is REAR standard -- forward and back -- focusing, to keep the image the same. Not many have that. It also allows you to avoid "bed drop" with wide angle lenses -- which I use a LOT.

http://www.subclub.org/toko/4x5table.htm
 

Bob_Brooks

Member
Joined
Apr 17, 2022
Messages
21
Location
Georgetown, Texas
Format
Large Format
Affordable and lightweight can't be used in the same construct. Pick up a Toyo 45 field camera, I own one and I love it. Not to mention that they are cheep too.
 

xkaes

Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
2,762
Location
Colorado
Format
Multi Format
I guess we all have our own definition of "affordable" and "lightweight". The Toyo is a great camera, but it was too expensive and heavy for me. I ran across the Toko thanks to details in Popular Photography.
 

bdial

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 2, 2005
Messages
7,318
Location
North East U.S.
Format
Multi Format
Much depends on how you define affordable.
For example, a Ritter 8x10 is 6.4 pounds, you can accessorize it with a 4x5 back and it would take 300mm + lenses easily.
 

Paul Howell

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 23, 2004
Messages
8,325
Location
Scottsdale Az
Format
Multi Format
At the bottom of your price point is likely a Crown Graphic, without focal plane shutter lighter than a Speed, will not take a long lens. More movement than speed, all front no rear, and takes a different lens board. Other disadvantage is the movements are geared for landscape orientation, without a revolving back once turned on it's side you lose most of useful movements. I assume you are looking for compact folder which leaves out another inexpensive camera. The post WWII Brand or New View. It's a duel rail hybrid view/field camera, with the rail extension, which can be made DYI, will take a very long lens, has front and back movements, rotating back, build in handle for carrying, will not fold. I have one that I bought in the 80s at a flea market, as it light weight I do carry it, not more than a mile or so from my SUV, I don't hike with it, take my Crown.
 

xkaes

Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
2,762
Location
Colorado
Format
Multi Format
The Toyo 4x5 (there are different models) only has 320mm of extension. You can use it with a 300mm lens, but not very close-up. You can get a 270mm or 300mm telephoto, but they are large and heavy. Plus, at 6 pounds the Toyo is not light -- in my book.
 
OP
OP
Donald Qualls

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
11,332
Location
North Carolina
Format
Multi Format
If a Speed or Crown would do the job, I wouldn't be looking (got a Speed). I want/need at least rise/fall, tilt and swing in the front, and ideally at least rise/fall (preferably shift and/or swing as well) in the rear. A Super might do what I need, but won't be any lighter than my Annie. My GVII has all the movements I could want, but it's too heavy and bulky to carry far from the car.

I don't want or need a focal plane shutter -- what gave the impression I do? I use the one in my Speed because it lets me use a lens that lacks a shutter, but I have another Tessar in a well-working dial-set Compur, and the lens I use most other than on the Speed is the 150 Compon, which is in a shutter as well. A Graflok back is desirable because I have Grafmatics (which will work under some spring backs) and a LomoGraflok (which won't, in general).

Okay, I do need to define "affordable" -- ready to add a lens/board, it shouldn't exceed $550 shipped. That's close to what I usually get for my tax refund. I don't need lenses, or boards if it's compatible with 4x4, or film holders with it, just the camera (and some ability to mount to a tripod, of course).

Effectively, I'm looking for an Intrepid-beater. Lighter, better movements, more compact for carry, and/or less expensive...
 

Besk

Subscriber
Joined
Jul 30, 2005
Messages
498
Location
Southern USA
Format
Multi Format
I would investigate the Intrepid IV. It would give you an excellent camera to use for comparison.
 
Joined
Sep 10, 2002
Messages
3,244
Location
Eugene, Oregon
Format
4x5 Format
Donald,

If you want to use lenses longer than 300mm, then that limits your choices - a good thing.

You likely won't find many folding field cameras (if any at all) with rear rise/fall; that's usually only on the front standard.

The Wisner and later Zone VI cameras (last generation made by Richard Ritter et al.) have long bellows, take 4x4 boards and have lots of movements. I find them bulky and heavy, but have one that just takes my 450mm lens (with a bit of tweaking). You might find a later Zone VI model at a reasonable price. Try to get one with the bag bellows too if you can.

Lighter, but with lots of movements and bellows draw are the Chamonix cameras. The universal bellows makes using shorter lenses with movements easier. Downside may be that the front rise/fall and tilt share a lock (not sure this is on all models). And, they use Technika boards. I'd sure look at the Chamonix selection if I needed another camera, though.

If you can get by without using longer than 300mm lenses, then there are more choices. I sure like my Wista SW (basically a DX with interchangeable bellows - I leave the wide-angle bellows on it mostly). I can easily vignette my Nikkor SW 90mm f/8; i.e., the camera has enough in the way of movements to use up all that image circle and more.

I've found that the point and swing/tilt method of achieving more effective shift/rise really helpful when trying to maximize movements on field cameras.

Having both front and rear standard focusing helps with close-up work, but otherwise I find it unnecessary and ends up making the camera heavier.

Hope this helps,

Doremus
 

xkaes

Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
2,762
Location
Colorado
Format
Multi Format
The Graphic Views will probably win the "affordable" award, but they are large and heavy -- not a field camera.

But there are some field cameras that are light (wooden) and have lots of movement -- front and rear -- but they may not meet your other preferences.
 

xkaes

Member
Joined
Mar 25, 2006
Messages
2,762
Location
Colorado
Format
Multi Format
I'm surprised no one has mentioned Tachihara. They came in different models over the years, and are very similar to the Wistas, and sell for less. The last two I sold (in GREAT shape) were bought for about $500.

I prefer my Toko Nikki II which has more rear movements (focusing, swing, shift, & tilt) and more bellows -- enough for my Fujinon T 600mm.
 
OP
OP
Donald Qualls

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
11,332
Location
North Carolina
Format
Multi Format
Rear rise is not a necessity, and I can get away without the 300 mm lens. One of the conversion options on my Componon gives what I calculate as a 340 mm, but I haven't tested it that way yet, wouldn't need that length frequently. I do have a 270 -- forgot the name, but it's effectively a Tele-Tessar -- that came with my GVII; the shutter needs a CLA, but as a tele it doesn't need a lot of bellows.

I've seen a lot of good things about Tachihara, including light weight and compactness (Matt Marrash uses a Tachihara 8x10 and packs it all over Ohio). And I agree, a much lighter tripod would help a lot -- the one I have is an aluminum sliding-leg surveying type, and it weighs a BUNCH.
 

abruzzi

Subscriber
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
2,477
Location
New Mexico, USA
Format
Large Format
What about the Shen Hao HZX-IIa? Not the lightest—2.4kg, but it has a decent amount of movements, and 360mm of bellows. Pristine ones are a bit out of your price, but well used ones should be available close to your price. Takes Linhof boards, which might be a problem if all your lenses are on 4x4 boards.
 
OP
OP
Donald Qualls

Donald Qualls

Subscriber
Joined
Jan 19, 2005
Messages
11,332
Location
North Carolina
Format
Multi Format
"Linhof board" doesn't seem to be one size. I found four sizes in a fifteen second Google look...
 

jeffreyg

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 12, 2008
Messages
2,380
Location
florida
Format
Medium Format
I have a Toyo 45 field camera (metal version). It can handle a 300mm tele. You can extend the rear a little but I also have a rear extension that connects to where the removable film holder/ ground glass attaches to the camera. Just relocate the film holder/ground glass to that and you add about 4 inches plus what the rear rails add. If your lens doesn't cover, you might get vignetting. Affordable today ?

jeffrey glasser
 

btaylor

Subscriber
Joined
Dec 28, 2010
Messages
2,066
Location
Los Angeles
Format
Large Format
Yes, I was thinking Tachihara or similar as well. Kumar here often has Japanese folding wooden 4x5's. I bought a very nice Tachihara from him for well under $500. For using 300mm lenses if they aren't too heavy a top-hat board should help. I don't imagine a Graflex to Linhof lens board adapter would be hard to find or make. About the Linhof boards- off the top of my head I can think of 5 different ones. The type most people talk about are made for the 4x5 Technica from models IV onward. They are kinda the "universal" board many people use (most of my LF gear has a Linhof board adapter on them if they are not native).
 

abruzzi

Subscriber
Joined
Mar 10, 2018
Messages
2,477
Location
New Mexico, USA
Format
Large Format
"Linhof board" doesn't seem to be one size. I found four sizes in a fifteen second Google look...

Sorry I was less specific, but I mean the extremely common 99x96 Technica IV board--lots of cameras use them, not just Linhof. I standardised almost all my lenses to that board, and any camera that doesn't use that board, I use an adapter, so they do take the technika board. (Other linhof sizes are the large Kardan board (~180mm), the older technika III board, the 5x7 board, and a couple different 2x3 board.) The 99x96 Technika IV board is also used on Wista cameras, Chamonix cameras, Shen Hao cameras, and Intrepid cameras. And of course many of the Linhof cameras including all the 4x5 technikas from the IV and later, and the Technikardans. It is probably the most common lens board out there for 4x5 cameras, but since it is smaller than the 4x4 Graphic boards you can adapt a technika board to a graphic, but not the other way around.
 

nosmok

Subscriber
Joined
Jun 11, 2010
Messages
623
Format
Multi Format
I was holding off to see if my Meridian 45B can do 300mm bellows draw-- and it can! And as luck would have it, there's one on evilBay now that looks in good nick, with a somewhat fair start price and seller is open to offers- item # 194943345213. I dig the 45B-- I may have an undue fascination with old weird American cameras, but it does everything you need. A tougher alternative to a wooden field camera, weighs no more than a 4x5 Speed, and the bellows are seemingly indestructible.
 

MarkS

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2004
Messages
384
When I asked myself this question in 1982 I wound up with a Tachihara. I used it hard for ten years; it did a great job- and easily handled my 300/9 Nikkor-M. There are numerous featherweight Japanese 4x5s out there- the Tachi has slightly longer bellows than some, and is more strongly built than, say, an Anba Ikeda.
I sold that camera to buy a "more capable" Zone VI and have used that steadily since then, but the Tachihara was a fine machine.
 

otto.f

Subscriber
Joined
Aug 18, 2017
Messages
325
Location
Netherlands
Format
Multi Format
Chamonix 45F-2: many forum members here and on LF forum including myself like it a lot. I can’t say I’m a sportsman in getting things the cheapest possible way. I like it it when a brand conveys some philosophy (apart from as cheap as possible) and feeling for esthetics. So Intrepid is not my thing, also because I do not see plywood as an option for view camera’s. I don’t expect to sell my Chamonix. For good photography you also need to be in love a bit with your camera’s. In weight it’s among the top 3.
There’s one thing I regret not having studied before: the possibility of replacing the back with 5x7 or 8x10. But I doubt whether that’s possible within this weight and price category.
 
Last edited:

guangong

Member
Joined
Sep 10, 2009
Messages
3,328
Format
Medium Format
I have had a Wista wooden field camera for many years. Light in weight and quite durable. There are other very similar cameras of Japanese manufacture for about the same price. Similar cameras made of metal are available but I prefer wood. On the other hand, I have always considered monorail cameras more suitable for indoor studio work.
 

Rick A

Subscriber
Joined
Mar 31, 2009
Messages
9,562
Location
Laurel Highlands
Format
Large Format
I have a Tachihara with a Zone VI label, it weighs just a smidge over 2.5 pounds without lens. I haven't used it in some time, no reason other than I mostly shoot 5x7 and 8x10. I have two tripods (both rated at 30+lbs load), an Induro AT 313 leg set with pan/tilt head that weighs in at 8 pounds (for 4x5 and 5x7) and a Vanguard carbon fiber leg set with pan/tilt that hits the scales at 8.5 pounds(no weight saving there) that is dedicated to my 8x10 Nagaoka. The Tachi uses 96x99mm Technika boards. My other camera is a Deardorff Special clone(india) that has 4x5 and 5x7 backs.
 
Photrio.com contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.
To read our full affiliate disclosure statement please click Here.

PHOTRIO PARTNERS EQUALLY FUNDING OUR COMMUNITY:



Ilford ADOX Freestyle Photographic Stearman Press Weldon Color Lab Blue Moon Camera & Machine
Top Bottom