most compact 4x5 kit?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by darinwc, Jul 28, 2006.

  1. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    OK, heres a challenge:
    Put together the most compact 4x5 kit you can think of.
    This should include the camera, meter, 3 lenses, film holders, tripod, and any other acessories you think are neccesary. This does not have to be the lightest kit available, but instead the most compact.


    Background:
    I will be taking my wife to hawaii probably next year. I would like to spend some time shooting 4x5. My current kit includes a zone vi 4x5 and various lenses. It's quie bulky and occupies an entire backpack. I'd like to cut the volume in half. I'm not going to go on any long hikes so weight is not an issue. Any advice will be appreciated. thanks!
     
  2. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Well if a large amount of movements is not an issue, I would probably suggest a Linhof or a Graphic style camera, they fold up into a pretty compact package and really are not that heavy, I carry 5 holders, my crown 3 lenses, meter and darkcloth in a package a little bigger than a six pack cooler, also another camera that is pretty small is the Calumet field, I had one of those for a while and it worked quite well and folded into a small package.

    Dave
     
  3. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    My "compact kit" is 5x7", not 4x5".

    It consists of a Lowepro S&F Rover Light, filled with a Gandolfi Traditional 5x7", ten holders, changing bag, extra film boxes, Pentax (analog) spotmeter, and six lenses. I can cut down to two lenses - 165mm Angulon, and 240 Symmar. Both convertible if needed.
    Most 4x5" cameras are not much smaller than the 5x7" Gandolfi. My 4x5" Speed Graphic is both larger and heavier.

    Just about any tripod will do, with a good head on it. I use ballheads - one HUGE for big cameras, and I sometimes borrow my wife's medium sized one for smaller cameras (5x7" and smaller).
     
  4. DBP

    DBP Member

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    I would go with a Crown Graphic or similar press camera (e.g. Burke and James, Busch Pressman). The Speed Graphic is a little bulkier, but still pretty compact. You can also cut bulk considerably by getting a Grafmatic. As for the rest, I can easily fit three or four lenses on boards, darkcloth, filter wallet, and three holders in a musset bag. Also picked up a magazine case at the army surplus that holds three holders nicely and fits on a belt. Combined with my Anny Speed or B&J it is a pretty compact package.

    I'm sure many will disagree, but if you are willing to use faster film you can skimp on the tripod and primarily use it as a composition tool rather than a means of making the camera steady. Press cameras are pretty light and don't demand much support - after all, they are designed to be used handheld.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm in Hawai'i at the moment, and I travel here regularly, and lately I bring my Linhof Tech V kit with 6 lenses, 4 Grafmatics, Tiltall, 6x7 back, and all the usual accessories in a Crumpler FuxDeluxe bag, and if I'm hiking a long way, I just don't carry it all.

    My ultralight 4x5" backpacking kit, which is at home for the most part, is usually the Gowland Front-moves PocketView with folding hood, 90/6.8 Angulon, 135/5.6 Sironar-N, Linhof 42mm drop in filters (both lenses can either use these or 40.5mm threaded filters), a couple of Grafmatics, Gossen Digisix, and Linhof Report tripod (the little one from the 1950s that folds flat) with a Linhof small ballhead.

    If you'll be spending time in Honolulu, you can call ahead to Imageworks in Kaimuki for 4x5" film--(808) 735-0755.
     
  6. Sportera

    Sportera Member

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    I use a "compact" kit compared to most:

    4x5 Tachihara, 150mm F5.6, 210mm F5.6, 90mm F8, six holders, Gossen Multipro, 4 filters (yellow, gree, blue, grad nd) filter holder, cable release all carried in a lowepro photo trekker, Bogen tripod over the shoulder.

    My most compact kit was my 150mm attached and the camera mounted to the tripod, a domke f2 held the holders, filters, and meter.
     
  7. photobum

    photobum Member

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    Not quite the lightest system out there but very compact is my Horseman HD. 6 3/4 high 7 wide and 3 1/4 deep.Very solid, all moves are on the front It's a lot smaller than my Crown Graphic. For a compact three lens outfit I keep a 135mm Rodenstock N lens on the camera and carry a 90mm Optar and 203 Ektar in a Epsilon shutter. Even lighter is a 150mm Xenar instead of the 135. All of those lenses when mounted can fold inside the camera. The Horseman only has around 9 inches of bellows. I though that would be a problem because I'm mostly a longer lens guy. A Fuji 300mm tele works fine and someday I may buy a 400.

    I bought the camera on a whim, to replace a Crown Graphic for motorcycle travel. I wanted full movements up front and a tough bulletproof camera for cross country travel abuse. Much to my suprise I no longer use my Deardorff in 4x5 mode. This tough aluminum box is now my most used camera. I never though it would get so much use. Everything but the tripod can fit into a Domke F-3X bag. That's pretty damn small for a 4x5 outfit.
     
  8. Ted Harris

    Ted Harris Subscriber

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    Either the Horseman HD or HF or a Gowland Pocket View will be the most compact camera. For lenses I would think a Fuji 240A would be a must and would also consider most any modern 135. The third lens ... in terms of compactness and useful ness for a range of optics would likely be an 80 SSXL. There is a spotmeter out there smaller than the pentax digital but I forget its name. For film a Quickload or Readyload holder is the answer. The most compact tripod you will find that will hold a 4x5 comfortably is the Linhof Profi Port (it folds to 17 inches) or a Stabil from Sweden (he can make you one that small but very pricy).
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I think the meter you're thinking of, Ted, is the one made by Metered Light of Metrolux fame. It's called something obvious like the "Pocket Spot" or some such.
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    By the way--the reason I don't bring my Gowland to Hawai'i is because it's very windy here. First trip out I brought my 8x10" Gowland Pocket View and it was a box kite. Second trip I shot medium format (Bronica S2a). The Tech V turned out to be just the right compromise--LF neg, handholdable with cammed lenses, and sturdy enough to stand up to the wind.

    I'd recommend not bringing the lightest camera you can find (Gowland/Toho/Ikeda Anba and other super-light wooden cameras).

    I'd say stick with the Zone VI, go for some more compact lenses like the ones recommended here and by Kerry Thalmann in his backpacking articles, and maybe acquire some Grafmatics to reduce the filmholder volume.
     
  11. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

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    I would start with an ebony rsw or sw45 - miles more compact than any linhof or graphic...miles.

    65 f8 Super Angulon, 90 Angulon, 150 Xenar/G Claron are about the smallest lenses I can think of in their focal lengths. However, I would go for a 65 F4/4.5/5.6 Nikkor, Rodenstock or Schneider over the 65 f8 as whilst small it is very limited in coverage and is dingy. All other options are heavier and larger.

    As for tripods and meters, I could not say.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2006
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Another alternative is my 9x12cm pack:

    Voigtländer Bergheil with 150mm Heliar, additional lenses 90mm Angulon and 210 Xenar f:6.1 (anachronism, but small, light and a no. 1 shutter), six plate holders with inserts, a rollfilm back, and a flimsy prehistoric Linhof tripod. Total weight (in bag, including extra film and changing bag) somewhat less than 4 kg...
     
  13. darinwc

    darinwc Subscriber

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    OK, here is some info:

    zone vi 4x5 (vermont model)
    9.5 x 8 x 4

    no-name 5x7 british plate camera
    9.5 x 8 x 2.5

    Crown graphic (top rangefinder)
    8.5 x 7 x 3.5

    Busch Pressman D (side rangefinder, if I remember correctly)
    7.5 x 6.5 x 3

    I miss my old Busch Pressman but they are terrible with short lenses.
    Sooo... can someone post the dimentions of a linhof? please reference the model.
    I was thinking an old linhof model iii or iv would be nice. Are the linhof rangefinders adjustable like the Kalart or do they require a cam?

    David: Thanks for the advice on the wind in hawaii! I was thinking a tachihara might be my best bet but now I think a heavier camera will be better.

    For lightmeters I have a Seikonic zoom-meter l228 that I absolutely love. It's about the size of a pack of cigarettes. it 'zooms' to 300mm. I'm not sure what that relates to in degrees but its not 1. It's not as sensitive or precise as a pentax but its so much more compact. Are there any modern spot meters that compact?

    I havent seen too much discussion on tripods. Are any 5 section pods as sturdy as the 3 section? I have a medium-weight pod that is quite bulky. are there any designed to be compact?

    Regarding filmholders.. I do have a grafmatic but its prone to leaks and does not slide smoothly. Are the qickload/readyload holders bulky like the polaroid 545?

    David: What island is imageworks on? Are there any good labs in hawaii? I was thinking if I had the film processed there then I wouldnt have to worry about x-rays.
     
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  15. wfwhitaker

    wfwhitaker Member

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    I'm not shooting much 4x5, but the kit I keep is a Linhof Tech III sans rangefinder with a 203mm Ektar, 120mm Angulon and 12" RD Artar. Meter is the same Zone VI Pentax digital which I've used since 1984. It's compact and reliable. Film holders and tripod should be the same whatever the kit. The Linhof is remarkably compact - or maybe I've just been away from 4x5 for too long. :wink:
     
  16. Tom Hoskinson

    Tom Hoskinson Member

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    Peter Gowland's Pocket 4x5 gets my vote for the most compact 4x5. Google Gowland
     
  17. Dave Parker

    Dave Parker Inactive

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    Darwin,

    The only decent labs when I lived there were located on Oahu in Honolulu, I suspect that most of them are gone by now, I used to live on the Big Island on the east side, I normally just sent my stuff back to the mainland and had it processed.

    Wind can indeed be a big probem depending on the time of the year, I didn't go back to the beggining of this thread, to check, but what time of year are you visiting and which islands will you be visiting, Kauai and Maui can be very windy, the north shore of Oahu is also normally windy, the higher elevations on the big Island are always windy as is the north area of the island, so if you can get something with a bit of weight, that woud help, also I used to hang a weight from my tripod to help mitigate vibration most of the time. With 4x5 I used to shoot on my bogen 3 section 3001 model a lot, I don't know what they call it now, but it is a good little sturdy tripod that will fit in most carryon baggage, albeit a bit short if your a taller person.

    Dave
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Imageworks is in the Kaimuki district of Honolulu and is the last supplier of sheet film in the islands. They're doing a brisk business mostly with schools and students. If you call ahead, you can see what they have in stock, and if they don't have what you need, they can order it pretty quickly. Frances Camera, which was a pro film source for many years, closed not too long ago.

    I don't know that you can get sheet film processed locally anymore. Robert Teague sends his film back to the mainland for processing. I process it when I get home. You could ship your film to your favorite lab, and pick it up or have it shipped to you when you get home. I've done that with rollfilm and A&I mailers.

    I wouldn't worry too much about X-rays with carry-on luggage (I'm more worried about inspectors opening a box of exposed sheets), but if you buy the film here, that saves one trip, and you could FedEx it home or to your lab, if you were really concerned. As recently as 2 years ago they didn't X-ray on interisland flights, but now they do.

    I'd measure my Tech V for you, if I had a ruler, but there's a good article on Technikas at cameraquest.org, and also look at the reviews at lfphoto.info, and you may be able to find specs for the current models at www.linhof.de and bhphoto.com. The dimensions of the IV, V, and Master Tech are the same, and the MT2000 is the same size, minus the rangefinder. Some of the earlier versions of the Tech III are slightly smaller, but don't have the range of movements that the later models have.
     
  19. RalphLambrecht

    RalphLambrecht Subscriber

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    I'm impressed by the way you are allowed to phrase that. If I don't say 'We are going to Hawaii next year.', I'll end up carrying this compact kit myself.
     
  20. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

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    Agree with Tom here about camera - Ebony SW if money permits. I use APO-Symmar in 120mm and 150mm which are cheap used and tiny and more than enough image circle for the RSW which I owned for 2 years. then 80mm XL for the wide which I would love to own - or swap 120 for the 110mm XL if really no financial contraints.

    Lightmeter don't skimp - use your favourite. No hint on film preference, but Quickload/readyload saves on weight, not really saving so much space.

    Tripod 4 sections reduce bulk over 3 section models in Gitzo carbon, but more fiddly to set up each time and loss of rigidity (wind etc). Head Manfrotto 410 geared - compact and precise.
     
  21. tim atherton

    tim atherton Inactive

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  22. HerrBremerhaven

    HerrBremerhaven Member

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    Really minimal items . . . stick with one lens of 110mm to 135mm. Then for a tighter view use a roll film back, like a 6x7 Horseman, or similar. That effectively replaces having a longer lens. If you really want a wider lens, then add one 72mm to 80mm to your kit.

    Change your film holder system to Kodak Readyload or Fuji Quickload, and try sticking with one film type. The Polaroid 545 is an option, but lacks a pressure plate. Also, it is slightly bulkier to pack than either the Fuji or Kodak holders. You can take the package out of the film box to save a small amount of room, though in reality the boxes are good protection for the film packets.

    I am still working on a compact or small tripod solution. One item I am considering is the Berlebach table top tripod. Another possibility is one of those large bean bag pods, maybe from a gun supply place, though it seems I don't save weight with that, only bulk.

    I am using a LowePro CompuTrekker AW as my simple carrying backpack. The computer slot fits film boxes of Readyloads or Quickloads nicely. The internal dividing system could be arranged better, though my field camera fits easily. I reverse the lens on the front standard, then the lens folds up into the camera. The rest of the holders, Toyo loupe, and lightmeter easily pack into the bag, still leaving space for me to add two more lenses, or even a small 35mm with a couple lenses.

    I would think your current camera should be fine for weight and bulk. Unless you can switch to a Carbon Infinity, I don't think you could cut large amounts of weight. Just resist the temptation to take lots of lenses and your life can be easier with a 4x5 (and lighter).

    Ciao!

    Gordon Moat
     
  23. Jack_Flesher

    Jack_Flesher Member

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    My choices would be:

    Ikeda Anba camera -- tiny and weighs about 3.5 pounds, uses Tech boards. Higher quality choice would be an Ebony 45Te, but it weighs about 6 pounds and is not as compact.

    You said three lenses, so here goes, in order of preference:

    1) Normal: Schneider 120 APO L (small), Scneider or Rodenstock 135 APO (L&S versions) or possibly a 150 GD Dagor (smallest) -- All are compact, lightweight and sharp.

    2) Short: I would take my Schneider 65 Super Angulon MC -- not really compact, but very sharp, allows good movement and gets by without the center filter. (Sharp enough to crop slightly for slightly longer view.)

    3) Long: Nikkor 300M or Fuji 300C or 8-1/4" (210) GD Dagor or Schneider 240 G-Claron or Fuji 240A, depending on location. All are sharp, in #1 shutters and quite compact.

    Meter: Pentax Digital

    Film: Quickloads of choice and Kodak holder.

    Bag: ALL of that will easily fit in a Domke J2 shoulder bag.

    Tripod: Gitzo 1228 w/Kirk or RRS small head

    I estimate the entire outfit will weigh in at under 15 pounds.

    Cheers,
     
  24. John Simmons

    John Simmons Member

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    For 4x5 Try the following

    1) Ebony 45S
    2) Schneider 80mm Super Symmar XL
    3) Rodenstock 150 Sironar N or S
    4) Nikon 300mm m/9 lens
    5) Fuji Across Quickload Holder
    6) Sheets of Fuji Neopan Across Film

    I am able to fit the whole kit in a lowepro mini treker
     
  25. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    The Carbon Infinity is not a lightweight camera, although it's lighter than some. It weighs about 3.5kg, and another kilo for the bag (it's difficult to leave that bag behind!).

    It also has the secondary effect of tempting you into bringing an extra long lens, and an extra short one... Mine has 65, 90, 121, 150, 180, 210, 240 and 355mm lenses on lens boards. To keep it light I would probably bring the 90 - but the Angulon, not the Super Angulon - the 150 (Germinar-W instead of Apo-Lanthar, and the 210 Xenar (f/6.1, not the f/4.5).

    Or maybe the 180 Symmar instead of both the 150 and the 210, since it's really not bad at all when converted; so I get a "weightless long lens".
     
  26. LVaszar

    LVaszar Member

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    Tachihara 4x5 with 90/6.8 Caltar, 135/5.6 Sironar-S, 240/9 Germinar, Polaroid holder for Provia Quickloads and Pola 55, 2 holders for IR, filters (#16, IR, CP), meter, Palm pilot for calculations in the field, Gitzo CF with Arca B1.