Monorails in the field

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by wilson2, Jan 13, 2010.

  1. wilson2

    wilson2 Member

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    Does anyone have some suggestions for a 4x5 monorail that is compact and
    light enough to take out for an afternoon hike ? Asked for monorail because need graflok bars for rollfilm back.Would prefer not to have to assemble it
    and then disassemble to carry. Also want to have back movements.
    Is this all possible ?
     
  2. mikebarger

    mikebarger Subscriber

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    Before I got a Zone VI field, I carried a Sinar F everywhere. Just put it over shoulder on tripod and off we went.

    Mike
     
  3. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    An Arca Swiss Misura would suit you perfectly but is very expensive and rarely available used. A Toho monorail would be lightweight. Otherwise, any old monorail would do. You could carry the monorail in a jogging stroller if the terrain is kind.
     
  4. largeformat pat

    largeformat pat Member

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    What about a cambo cadet, there is one on the E site at present, can't remember all the movements. I was looking for similar, then thought I should just get fitter.
     
  5. bill spears

    bill spears Member

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    Exactly as I do !
    The Sinar F's are quite plentiful and a quality camera for little money (at least here in the UK). Spares are usually easy to come by too.
    Mine never comes off the tripod and has taken a fair amount of abuse.
    I am wanting a field camera now though, something with less movements and a simpler sturdier design.
    The Sinar has been a great introduction to large format at a low cost.

    Bill
     
  6. Mike Wilde

    Mike Wilde Member

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    I have a cambo 4x5. The bellows and lensboards/back come off easily, and the standards turn very close to flat while on the short rail. It is not super comfy in the backpack, but for shots when I need the movements that I do not want to torture the crown graphic to try to make, it works.

    If I worked up a better foam insert to cradle it in it would definitetly be easier.

    I hope to land the lottery and get a nice field cameras first, the number of times that I otherwise do this in a year.

    Once I am near area of interest it just goes onto the tripod, and I carry the tripod over the shoulder.
     
  7. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    I used to carry a Cambo 4x5 around until I one day deep into the woods realised that I had left the rail at home.
    Imagine my frustration.

    I use field cameras now.
     
  8. Mike1234

    Mike1234 Inactive

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    Toho or Gowland.
     
  9. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    I use a field monorail: Toho FC-45X. It's about the lightest weight LF camera available (half the weight of the pretty wood field cameras), it's sturdy and rigid when locked down, and it's got full movements on both standards, which is quite useful. I've never used it with a roll film back, but I've read that other people do, so it must work. The Toho has been my only camera for the last seven or eight years -- I've put thousands of sheets through mine. So... something for you to consider maybe.
     
  10. domaz

    domaz Member

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    Gowland is the lightest bar none. They are not made anymore now that Peter is semi-retired though. If your patient you might find one.
     
  11. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    I use a Calumet Cadet for both still life work and out in the field. The back has both swing and tilt movements but nothing else. When I got it about 10 years ago, the Cadet was all I could afford. Your options now are far greater.
    The Gowland is probably your best bet for a monorail for field use.

    gene
     
  12. coriana6jp

    coriana6jp Member

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    I have an Arca-Swiss Field C which is without a doubt the best camera, I have ever used. Its fairly light and easily transportable. The down side is that it is expensive.

    Gary
     
  13. Vaughn

    Vaughn Subscriber

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    I used a 4x5 Gowland (Calumet version of the Pocket View) consistantly for 8 years or so before moving up in format. Two 6" rails that connect together for twelve inches of draw but there are 8" rails, too. I usually loosened the swing on the front and back standards, disconnect the two rails and folded the camera flat to put in my pack.

    But the camera is light enough (mine was 2.25 pounds) that one can walk around all day with the camera on the tripod, I used a Gitzo Studex, which outweighed the camera by a factor of 3. Perhaps lighter pod and some type of GG protector would be nice (I never used one) -- one could remove the lens as a precaution (with a blank lensboard to keep the dust out. I use to use a waterproof stuff bag over the camera to keep it clean, dry and protect the bellows in rougher conditions, or else I would just drape my darkcloth over the camera and carry it that way. But the rest of one's gear (holders, meter, lunch, water, etc, could be in a reasonable size daypack for all day hikes. For short or half-day trips, just the camera on the tripod and other essentials in a shoulder bag sort of thing is great. One would never have to put anything on the ground that way -- I saw Richard Misrach work that way with his 8x10 (20 years ago, that is.)

    Many variations to the 4x5. The All-Movement is probably the model that would suit you -- even if the back actually does not rise nor shifts. Swings and tilts, though with all movements in the front. variety of types of backs, too. Mine will not allow graflex roll backs -- I have to use the Calumet type, but later models than mine came with the type you need.

    Anyway -- it is not the camera for everyone. Test drive one, since YMMD.

    Vaughn
     
  14. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I use an 8x10" Gowland and also had a 4x5" Gowland for several years. The 4x5" was super light, but the version I had didn't have a Graflok type back, though I know that's an option. You would need to use a lighter weight rollfilm holder with it, I think, like a Graphic. I'd be concerned about things sagging or moving out of adjustment with, say, a Linhof rollfilm holder on a Gowland.

    I'm a little confused about your statement that you need a monorail to use Graflok type backs. Many folding field cameras take Graflok type backs.
     
  15. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    What David says = my Wista Field camera (the 45DXIII) has a graflok type back, and that's so much easier to carry around than a monorail. I think you can buy the graflok back by itself too, if you were able to find a reasonably priced 2nd hand Wista. Mind you, the monorail I used to lug around was a Graphic View, and they (bless 'em) are kind of solid and bitey...

    Marc
     
  16. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Like a couple of others I have a Cambo (Calumet) Cadet, they are very cheap and extremely versatile you certainly can't run out of movements with one, and they are light weight.

    I have used mine out in the landscape, in fact at the moment it's my main 5x4 camera when I'm in the UK, but I prefer my Wista 54DX field camera for landscape use and it mas more than sufficient movements.

    There's a nice one for sale in the classifieds at the moment at a great price with lens, darkslides etc

    Ian
     
  17. El Gringo

    El Gringo Subscriber

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    I've got a Sinar F2 and use it quite a lot out in the field. Apart from being cheap as has been mentioned you can get parts and accessories pretty easily and the whole sinar range is pretty much interchangable so you can upgrade on part at a time if you want.

    Before shooting the Sinar I was using a Mamiya RB67, with 3 lenses and an extra back my bag feels about the same weight. I know the mamiya is heavy but I think the comparison shows that the sinar isn't too heavy for a monorail.
     
  18. nick mulder

    nick mulder Subscriber

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    Ditto on the Sinars - F, F2 and Norma all quite bearable
     
  19. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Thanks for the PM--so you want back movements and a Graflok back. In wooden field cameras Shen-Hao, Chamonix, and Wista have varying rear movements, and among metal field cameras there are Linhof, Toyo, and Wista, and there are others. Another monorail for the field that will do what you want is the Linhof Technikardan.

    Extensive rear movements are a convenience, but there are often ways to achieve the same movements indirectly. For instance, if you have front and rear swing, you can swing the standards in parallel for rear shift, and likewise for rear rise/fall, if you have front and rear tilt. If you've got front swing and shift, you can do an indirect rear swing by using swing and shift on the front and rotating the camera, and likewise for indirect rear tilt, if you have front rise/fall and tilt. With a field camera one is usually trading convenience for light weight and sturdiness, but it's worth noting that the Shen-Hao and Chamonix cameras have extensive rear movements for folding wooden cameras. Just note that some of the earlier Chamonix 4x5" cameras had a design flaw that caused a groundglass registration problem, so I wouldn't purchase a used one.

    A Sinar F/1/2 is certainly a backpackable camera that doesn't take long to set up, but I think I'd find it a bit bulky. It's a good architecture camera, because it's quick to use, has full movements, and is easy to transport by car, and architectural subjects tend to be accessible by road.

    The Sinar Alpina/A/A1 has a more compact rail system, so it's more suited to backpacking, but of course that means that the rail components aren't compatible with the rest of the Sinar system, if that's important to you.
     
  20. jeroldharter

    jeroldharter Member

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    I have never used a Cadet but always thought itwould be a good, simple field cameras, especially if it had a collapsible rail (which I don't think it does).

    A monorail is always the pain for storage and carrying. There is no substitute for lightweight. I know a lot of people tote a Sinar or other big monorail in the field but that is labor that can detract from the fun of taking pictures. They are so cheap used though that it could be compelling to have such a fine camera.
     
  21. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    If I had a shorter rail the Cadet would be far more practical, build quality is cheaper, I don't think they were designed for heavy use. Mine was about £100 ($160). It's very light thoigh so in the field I carry fitted to a tripod.

    Ian
     
  22. YOP92270

    YOP92270 Member

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    Hi,

    I have an Arca Swiss F monorail and though it is bulkier than a wooden one, it is perfect material and not very heavy to carry, that's a high quality material. I read in one of the previous messages that it was expensive...well, it is true when brand new and very rare on occasion.
    If this can be of interest to you, I have put a very nice one for sale in the classifieds on the forum some time ago, which would be a very good starting point. It is still available, let me know if interested.


    Yann.