which 4x5 field camera for noobie

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Graham1952, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. Graham1952

    Graham1952 Member

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    Hi Guys,

    this is my first post sorry if this has been asked before the question is this:

    I would very much like to get into L F photography but know nothing much about this format.

    I have seen two 4x4 field cameras used at about the same price they are Toyo 45AII and Wista 45SP both look in great condition from a trusted retailer i have used in the past so please could you advise which might be the better camera for a novice

    Thanks Graham
     
  2. paul_c5x4

    paul_c5x4 Subscriber

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    I think of a Field Camera as a lightweight wooded folding design such as a Gandolfi The Toyo and Wista models that you quote are (in my mind) Technical or Press cameras. Quite capable tools, but sturdy and robust. If you plan on hiking across the moors, weight will be an issue, and these two are heavy beasts.

    I started out with an MPP MicroTechnical - It coped well for much of the subjects I shoot, but I found the range of movements to be limiting at times. In the end, it was me that couldn't cope with the weight so found a Wista wooden field at half the weight to be easier to lug around. Not quite as rigid at times, and a 300mm lens is right on the limit of usability, but so pretty.
     
  3. Doremus Scudder

    Doremus Scudder Member

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    Take some time and do a bit of research on different "field cameras." Pauls point is valid and important.

    Maybe it would help to think in "families" of folding cameras.

    First, there are the metal-bodied technical/press cameras. The true press cameras, like the Speed Graphic and similar were originally designed for hand-held use and have limited movements.

    Technical cameras (among them the Technika and the two you mention in your post) have more capability in the movement department. Due to the fact that they are metal, they are rather heavy in comparison to a wooden field camera (6-8 pounds). Many use these cameras in the field however. They are rugged and precise. It is a personal decision based on weight vs portability whether the extra weight is worth it or not.

    Wooden field cameras come in basically two sub-groups as well. There are the full-featured, long-bellows cameras that can do everything and accept long lenses and the more "bare-bones" wooden cameras. (I'm oversimplifying a bit here, but you get the idea.)

    In the first group are the Ebony cameras, the newer Zone VI cameras, the Wisner Technical Field camera, etc. You recognize these cameras because they have long bellows (20 inches or more often), a full range of movements and, often, interchangeable bellows, etc. My Zone VI camera can take lenses from 65mm to 450mm, is rather large (the camera body is significantly larger than many lightweight wooden cameras) and weighs just a bit more than 6 pound.

    A "lightweight" folding field camera is smaller, weighs in the 3-4 pound range, has shorter bellows (12 inches or so) and usually fewer or more limited movements (not as much shift, etc.). However, the lighter weight makes these ideal for packing around and the limitations don't bother many photographers much, especially if they are not doing specialized work like close-up or architectural work where you really need lots of movements (and lenses with lots of coverage as well). In this category are the Tachihara, Shen-Hao, Wista, Woodman, and Chamonix (more full-featured) cameras.

    I carry Wista DX and Woodman cameras in the field for the most part. These about 3-pound cameras and compact lenses let me do a lot of hiking without tiring. I don't carry the larger Zone VI on extended hikes and use it mostly when I anticipate needing longer lenses.

    I use monorail cameras for studio work and tabletop work. For architectural work, I'll take the lightest camera I can get away with.

    I think you need to assess your needs, do a bit of searching around on the Internet and reading specifications before you decide.

    FWIW, if I were shopping for another field camera, I would look closely at the Chamonix 45n-2. It is lightweight, but has more bellows draw and movement capability than most cameras in its weight class.

    Hope this helps,

    Doremus


    www.DoremusScudder.com
     
  4. Graham1952

    Graham1952 Member

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    Thanks guys for the advice i will do some more searching the net before making a move.
     
  5. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have the Toyo you speak of and very much enjoy it.

    Starting out fresh though, I'm sure you would do fine with either, the advantages of one over the other is about truly minor stuff.
     
  6. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

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    You might consider a decent tripod also.

    Jeff
     
  7. Alan Gales

    Alan Gales Member

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    Google Large Format Photography Forum. Click onto Home Page at the top of your screen. There is a wealth of free information on there for you.

    Google Ken Lee Photography and look at Ken Lee Gallery-Photography in the Classical Tradition. Click onto Tech at the top of your screen. Ken is a moderator at Large Format Photography Forum. He is also a wonderful photographer and has a lot of free information on his site as well.

    Do some research before you buy your camera but don't worry if you end up buying the wrong camera for you as your first camera. Most of us no longer own the first large format camera that we bought for one reason or another. I suggest buying used so you can resell your camera later for close to what you initially paid if you decide you want something else.

    After you buy your camera I suggest becoming a member of Large Format Photography Forum. A lot of us APUG members (including me) are also members there.
     
  8. fotch

    fotch Member

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    Hi Graham and welcome to APUG.
     
  9. DannL

    DannL Member

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    I can't really speak as to which "modern" 4x5 camera would be best for a particular type of shooting, but having gone through a number of 4x5 cameras over the past several years I found one of the biggest obstacles to having an "enjoyable experience" is carrying gear that is too heavy. I wouldn't hesitate to trade up to a camera that weighs less, should you discover your first choice is too painful to carry. My current "modern" 4x5 comes to about 1.7 kg. Then there's the additional weight of a lens, six film holders, a meter, a bulb, a rangefinder in the shoulder bag, and then possibly a tripod in the other hand. That's about my limit when it comes to pain. The Wista SP was at the top of my list, but I eventually wimped out, going with camera that weighed less.
     
  10. Graham1952

    Graham1952 Member

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    thanks to everyone for all your replies and a warm welcome to this forum
    Graham
     
  11. ac12

    ac12 Member

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    I'm a bit further ahead than you.
    I was not sure of what I REALLY needed, so I got a somewhat lower cost Omega/Toyoview monorail, just to get me going.
    I figure it was low enough in cost that, if I wanted to change to a different camera, I would not be out that much $ after I sell it.
    Most of the stuff is movable to a new camera. The only camera specific parts are the body and 2 lens boards. Everything else can be used on another 4x5.

    BUT the Toyo monorail is not a field camera, or at least I have not figured out how to pack it compactly for travel. So it is limited to home or close to the car.