OPinions on Toho FC-45X

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Alexz, Aug 14, 2005.

  1. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Still on my online search for optimal 4x5 among monorails.
    Another discussion about the topic brought me to this Toho. Figured quite rave review of this model:
    http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/toho.htm
    unbelievably light yet monorail with apparently more then adequate movements.

    What make me hard to accept that is my belief that typical (even the one considered as portable) monorail shall be considerably heavier and bulkier then field camera, but this one negates this rule.

    Would be glad to hear opinions on this one, specifically regarding it's qualities as monorails, rigidity and probably comparative analysis with supposedly portable monorails such as Linhof Color Kardan 45s and Sinar F1.

    The rail on this Toho is telescopic, I wonder whether is may compromise rigidity noticeably ? Weight-wsie this camera appears to be lighter then many wooden field cameras, a nonsense, isn't it ?

    Alex
     
  2. BradS

    BradS Member

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    I haven't used the Toho...in fact, I've never even seen one but when Kerry Thalman, who has set hands on and used so many different cameras, says its good. I take it that it is good.

    That said, Kerry has been known to participate here from time to time. Maybe he'll answer your specific questions.
     
  3. Paul Sorensen

    Paul Sorensen Member

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    I had a chance to see one that someone else owned and see how it worked, it is a marvel. I think it might be the answer to your question about having a light and portable monorail. The person who owned it sold his Sinar Alpina to buy it and was really glad that he had. The design is very unique and unconventional, but I think that it wouldn't be hard to get used to it.
     
  4. pellicle

    pellicle Member

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    Hi

    I've I'm a new member, and I've had one of these since 2001. I quite like the camera, its very backpackable, definately sturdy enough, and works well on smaller 35mm sized tripods (like my Manfroto)

    happy to answer specific questions if its not too lage

    :smile:
     
  5. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    I used one extensively for a number of years. If you plan on multi-day backpacking, it's a nice camera. It's more full-featured than other super light weight monorails like the Gowland. It also packs small, and it's quite rugged.

    That said, I sold mine because I didn't like it that much for non-backpacking photography. The movements do lock down securely, but adjusting them is not all that much fun. Mine would often stick or move jerkily. A little powered graphite helped quite a bit. The part where the lens/rear frames attach to the standard is a weak point. You really have to tighten the locking mechanism down, or you get flex. Mine showed some where here. In addition, squaring up the camera was a challenge. When in the detent position, my standards were definitly not aligned, which I hated, and there not an easly way to use levels, and there's not much surface area, and holding a level against a surface tended to flex that surface a bit. So, I replaced the toho with a Sinar P, which is really heavy but a joy to use, and two Fuji medium format rangefinders, which I use when I have to travel light.

    My conclusion is that the Toho is an excellent backpacking camera, but it's less desirable as an all around camera. It could be that my camera was something of a lemon. Maybe other samples are better aligned at the detent positions.

    -Peter
     
  6. Bruce Watson

    Bruce Watson Member

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    I've been using one for four years. Mine weighs in at around 2lbs 12 oz (about 1.25Kg). This after I threw away the tripod mount and replaced it with an Arca Swiss style quick release plate for use with my ball head.

    It gives you full movements on both ends, but has rear focus only. I don't do a lot of architecture, but I've never needed movements it didn't have. I use lenses from 80mm to 360mm. My 360mm is in a top-hat lens board, but I don't really need it as I really seldom use the 360mm at less than infinity focus.

    It works really well with a Maxwell screen. I highly recommend it. One other addition I made to mine was to add a set of levels to the rear standard so that I could level and plumb the rear standard easily.

    In the field it's quite stiff. I've worked in some windy conditions and not seen any signs of camera shake on my negatives until last month (a 90 second exposure on soggy ground in the rain - the motion was my feet!).

    I've found nothing wanting in the Toho. I even like the way it looks (yeah, I know what that says about me ;-). It's a stiff beast, it takes abuse well, it packs well. What's not to like???
     
  7. Jerry Thirsty

    Jerry Thirsty Member

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    My understanding is that you can't use most roll film backs on it, correct? Except the thin ones like the Calumet that can slip in under the GG?
     
  8. ReallyBigCameras

    ReallyBigCameras Advertiser Advertiser

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    It doesn't have a Grafloc-style back. So you can't remove the ground glass and clip a roll film back in place. However, the back on the Toho opens wide enough to swallow up just about any roll film back ever made. I've even used mine with a Shen-Hao 6x12 roll film back (you have to be careful when inserting/removing it or you may scratch or break the GG).

    Horseman backs won't work (unless modified) as they have an extra ridge that prevents them from seating flush with the Toho. If you're willing to have a machinist modify the back, they could be made to work with the Toho.

    For 6x7 and 6x9, the Toyo roll film backs are probably the best match for the Toho. They fit without modification, slide in easily without risk of damage to the GG and and hold the film nice and flat.

    Kerry
     
  9. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    I'll second everything good that has been said about this camera. I got the FC45A when it came out and later upgraded to an FC45X (MUCH more substantial rail and easier movements, at a small weight penalty, with the same top end). As well as 4x5, I use a Horseman 6x12 back in mine: the extra ridge was milled off, and I put a couple of stick-on felt dots on the back of the film-holder to stop it scratching the ground glass.

    But I'll also agree that while it's the perfect travel camera (not just backpacking -- ideal for flying and motorcycling too), it's a good idea to have something else in the studio, with smoother movements. With 4x5 monorails dirt cheap, you can buy one of those as well.

    Cheers,

    Roger (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 26, 2006
  10. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    You can also use a much lighter tripod with the Toho than with a standard 4x5 camera. I used a carbon fiber Gitzo. With Readyloads my 4x5 kit weighed less than my standard 35mm kit. It's amazing how much more fun photography is when your not completely exhausted when you reach your subject. Like Roger says, having both a nice travel camera and a more heavy duty camera is a good idea.
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Peter,

    Hear! Hear! on the Readyloads/Quickloads.

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  12. Peter De Smidt

    Peter De Smidt Member

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    Another advantage of a really light weight camera is that you can successfully use a much lighter tripod head. For example, like some others, I'd occasionlly use an ARCA B1 head with a Really Right Stuff arca plate attached to the camera in place of it's mounting pedestal. That worked fine, but the Arca head was way overkill. If I had the Toho today, and if I wanted to use a ball head, I'd look into one of the smaller Really Right Stuff ballheads. In my case, though, I don't like ball heads and view cameras. (Some do, though, so it's purely a matter of taste.) As a result, I mostly used Bogen-Manfrotto's cheapest and lightest 3 way head, the one with the 4-pointed-star handles. I think I paid $25 for it new. It was light, easy to adjust, and plenty sturdy.