Seeking View Camera Suggestions
I have an MPP monorail which I don't use for landscapes. I also don't use it for anything else. Great movements, but too big, and too heavy. Consequently, I have decided to sell it on, trade in, whatever, and get a field camera that I'm likely to actually take outside and use.
My heart wants wood and brass. I know the sheet of film at the back doesn't care about this, but I do. (I'm open to persuasion, however.)
It should work with standard 5x4 film holders (like Fidelity Elites) and be okay with a Fujinon SWD 90mm f5.6. If it can fold with the lens fitted, all the better, although I suspect it might be a bit big. If it doesn't, I can live with taking the lens panel off for transporting the kit. The camera needs to be fairly lightweight. It will probably be carried in a backpack along with the glass and other stuff. My tripod is a Manfrotto 055PROB with the in-between ball leveller gizmo and a 410 junior geared head. It's reasonably substantial, great for my Bronica ETRS kit, but not man enough for the MPP - I'd rather not have to change it as a result of changing to a view camera.
Use is for landscapes, mostly with the 90mm, possibly sometimes with a 150mm. Some architecture is a possibility (pretty pictures of castles, cottages, bridges). No interest in close-ups or using longer lenses (so big bellows draw not a major factor).
Budget is somewhere around £500-600. Less is better, of course, but I don't know how low the prices can go for such kit.
Currently, I'm considering the Wista 45DXII. Looks nice and traditional. 3.5lbs seems like a good weight. The little infomation I've found so far suggests that it's quite well made - would those that have used this model agree with that? Is there likely to be a problem with the fixed bellows and 90mm - will tilt and rise/fall be compromised? Are the adjustments easy to make and is everything nice and stable when locked? Does it have detents at the centre points?
Given my criteria, is there any particular reason not to go for a Wista?
What other makes and models of a similar ilk and likely second hand price would be worth considering?
I've just ordered a Wista DX, but it's not arrived yet. I've seen one in a shop though, it looks beautiful, and well made. I say it *looks* well made, I can't comment on how well it is actually built just yet.
Finding with that 90mm is going to be an impossibility with every 4x5 camera I know of. That said you're describing a tachihara, wista DX, or a zone IV. A gandolfi precision would also fit the bill.
Originally Posted by Nomad
“The contemplation of things as they are, without error or confusion, without substitution or imposture, is in itself a nobler thing than a whole harvest of invention”
I'd probably go with Shen-Hao or Chamonix. Great price (within your range - second-hand) and great cameras, from what I hear. Both should handle 90mm - 250mm lens without any problems...
For myself, I started with a Speed Graphic, moved to a wooden old B&J 5x7 beater, and ended up with Horseman Woodman 4x5 It's like Tachihara, only better (Graflok back, a bit sturdier perhaps). Light as a feather, compared to a Speed Graphic (or an MPP). Don't regret the choice, but would have also jumped on a Shen-Hao at a comparable price (£300-400).
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I now use a Chamonix for 4x5 and I highly recommend it. It's light weight but very rigid. I don't know how it compares to the Wista. You can't leave a lens on it when you fold it up. It will comfortably use the 90mm lens without a recessed panel or a bag bellows, and has reasonable movements even with the non universal bellows I have. The universal bellows has even more movements.
I have a Wista 45DX - The same as your consideration but with modest rear shift. It handles a 90mm lens just fine and can provide plenty of movements (on the front stand). You won't get it to fold up with a 90mm or any other lens unless it is very small and compact, even then, you'd probably want to reverse it before packing up... A common fault on the Wista is badly creased bellows as a result of a user trying to fold it up with a lens attached - You should be able to pick one up for under £400.
Originally Posted by Nomad
I sometimes use a 300mm lens, but it is getting close to the limits of bellows draw - Also not particularly rigid at these limits, but that is the trade off for a lightweight camera. At times, I wish for a Graflok rather than the regular spring back, but that would add to the weight.
One thing to watch for - The ground glass is fragile and very easy to break and nigh on impossible to find a replacement (in the UK). Ended up buying a bulk quantity from a specialist glass supplier as it worked out cheaper than ordering just one from Japan.
A 90mm 5.6 will be bellows limited on the Wista. A slower lens with a smaller rear element will get you a little more. That said, I have hit the bellows only once with my 90mm Caltar HR when using a lot of front rise. The 24 inch extension will limit you to something under 300mm unless you use a top-hat lensboard. Mine has rear swing and shift, which is handy sometimes.
Otherwise it is a decent camera. The only detents on mine are the rear tilt/baseboard neutral position. Everything else is friction lock.
My other 5x4 is an MPP VII technical. That is very limited for movements with a 90mm Super Angulon f8, but it has the bellows draw for a 400mm lens. Different tools for different jobs. It's about twice the weight of the Wista.
I feel, therefore I photograph.
I own a couple Wista DXs. I like them very much. A small lens will fold up inside the camera, cutting down on the size of your kit a bit. I would not get the DXII without the rear shift. I find shift very useful. I use 90mm and 75mm lenses on recessed lensboards just fine and up to 300mm on a top-hat lensboard.
I also own a Woodman. Also a fine lightweight camera. It won't take the recessed Technika-style boards, but it handles the 90mm lens on a flat board just fine. It folds up without lenses.
I've heard good things about the Shen-Hao and the Chamonix cameras. If I were shopping for another field camera, I'd seriously look at the Chamonix.
Like others I use a Wista 45DX, I've had mine for 27 years now a great workhorse. No problems with a 90mm lens except the camera won't lose with most 90mm lenses, but movements are OK with a 90mm.