I'd be interested to find out if anyone out there has hands-on experience with either the Toyo VX125 or 125b? I presently use a 45AX and have 4 lenses on Toyo boards so I expect could make full use of my investment in them. I'm primarily attracted by the full array of studio camera swings and tilts in a relatively compact and light field camera package.
Thanks in advance!
Bob in San Francisco
Keep in mind that the VX125 uses a different Toyo lensboard than the 45AX (158mm "studio" boards, not the 110mm "field" boards). Is it your intention to replace the 45AX with a monorail? (I get that impression from your post) If so, swapping lensboards is a simple matter and I wouldn't limit my choice of camera to the lensboard - you may also want to also consider field monorail offerings from Arca-Swiss, Toho and Linhof (Technikardan) among others.
You can get an adaptor board which will allow you to use your current lensboards on the VX125 (I used a Linhof Technika adaptor board on mine). It's an excellent camera - very well suited for architectural work, but perhaps slightly restrictive in the field as a 300mm is really the limit of the camera. The only improvement I could think of to the design would be geared tilt. That said, it is still a fabulous tool - very fast to set-up, easy to use and very precise. I just sold mine recently when I was offered a deal I couldn't refuse on an Ebony 45SU. I sold my VX125 for more than I paid for it and it performed flawlessly. If you can live with the limitation of bellows and can afford it, it really is a fine camera.
A somewhat less convenient alternative would be the 45C, and an added 150mm rail. Just transfer the standards to the short rail, and you're set to go with short lenses. Then, you still have the option of longer lenses with the longer rail.
Toyo's 110-to-158 adapter board is quite convenient, as well. With a 45AX, a 45C, an 810G, and a Tachihara 810 wood field, I've standardized almost all of my lenses on the 110mm boards. I made my own adapter for the Tachi.
[COLOR=SlateGray]"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus." -Mark Twain[/COLOR]
Rio Rancho, NM
Last year purchased a 125VX, I love it! With the adaptor board from toyo I am able to use the lenses from my 45AII with no problems. It is not the best field or rail camera made but it will do both jobs VERY well. Some after market full size lens boards that fit my other Toyo cameras (45D,E 810G,M) will not fit the tight tolerances of the 125VX but all Toyo made boards work. When I am out shooting with my family My sons use the AII and the D, my daughter uses her E my wife shoots a Wista and I shoot the VX or the 810M. I have had no problems with lenses from 65mm to 300mm, at 480mm I can focus no closer than about 15 or 20 feet due to the short bellows. But I seldom use 480 on a 4X5. Besides I love when we have the VX and the Wista out together. Classic cherry wood and ultra modern duraluminum alloy freaks people out when you tell them they are both working 4X5 cameras.
DIGITAL IS FOR THOSE AFRAID OF THE DARK.
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Thanks to all for their responses. My current group of 4 lenses range from 65 to 300 and I have been using them as a group for about 5 years now. The lens board adapter board sounds appealing if only because I won't have to screw with my lenses any more than I have to (pun intended).
I have not come across the need for anything longer than a 300 —but you tend not if you don't have one! Being an architect I do have a weakness for urban settings and shorter focal lengths though I regularly find myself exploring more far-flung natural settings and reaching for my 210 and 300. While admitting to weaknesses I might as well confess to greatly admiring the extraordinary design, fit and finish of the VX125. I can just visualize the VX125 (green) placed next to my Leica IIIf. An interesting technological tableau.
Now if just talk the one who must be obeyed into it...
Although I have no hands on experience with the VX125, I did spend a weekend with the Canham DLC45 and I can heartily recommend it. Really an amazing design and your current set of lenses should mount on the DLC unmolested (the Toyo field boards are supposed to be compatible). Try to rent one and give it a try.
Thanks for your comments Brad.
I have only been peripherally aware of Canham's and never paid much attention to them in detail. It's remarkable how many camera choices there are for such a relatively small niche of the analog photography market!
After visiting the Canham website I could see that it's a remarkable design, lighter and cheaper than the VX125 to boot. It didn't say what the metal was but I suspect aluminum(?). I also see that it doesn't have geared rise and fall and it's rise/fall/tilt limits are less than the VX125 though still significantly greater than what I am used to with my 45AX.
How did you feel about it's stability and smoothness, particularly when extended? I would think that the unique extension bed design must be assembled to very close tolerances if it is to avoid any twisting. How was the fit and finish?
Bob, the metal Canham and the VX125 are such wildly different designs that I don't think it even makes sense to try to split hairs about features, stability, etc. between them. I suspect that many people who love one will hate the other and vice versa, because the way they work and feel is so different. For my taste, the handling of the metal Canham is far too fussy, and if I had to pick between the two I'd take the Toyo any time. (It does help that I don't use long lenses at all.) But YMMV - the usual advice about trying to find a way to get your hands on both to see for yourself is especially important in this particular comparison.
Hmmm, what can I say about the DLC (that hasn't already been said...)?
Originally Posted by RGyori
I should, perhaps start by admitting that although the one I rented was seriouly beat (it had a gouge in the rear frame!) and ridiculously dirty, I fell almost immediately in love with the camera. I spent almost two hours in the kitchen,field stripping it down to the screws and cleaning it....and this was a rented camera! The engineering and craftsmanship is simply nothing short of amazing. Every little detail just made me think..."geez, this is a brilliant design". The lone exception was the little catch on the back that holds the ground glass protector in place. That looked and worked like an afterthought but, this may have been due the the rough life the camera had already seen.
Much has been written about the DLC. In my estimation, most of it is fairly accurate. It is very light weight. It folds up into a nice, compact little box like a wood field camera. Once set up, it works much like a monorail. It's like a field monorail.
My lens kit consists of: 90mm Grandagon, 135mm Symmar and 210mm Geronar. The DLC had no problems with any of these. In fact, it has a very clever mechanism for setting the "rough focus" as well as the fine focus - again, much like a monorail in practice. This feature was a "surprise and delight". The camera handled the 90mm as easily as it did the 135. In fact, there was really little difference operationally between the two. Certainly no need for a bag bellows. The 210mm really doesn't tax the bellows extension of this camera either.
The back....many a negative comment has been made concerning the rigidity of the rear standard. It is true, the rear is not absolutely rigid. With everything locked down, pressing on the top of the rear standard will cause it to flex. In practice however, this is simply not an issue. The back always springs back to position. It is a minor "loss of confidence" issue that you soon get over. Again, it is quite simmilar in use to the Toyo 45F monorail.
All in all, I really think this is one of the best all around values in field cameras going....well, OK, there is the Shen and the Tachihara...those are in a different league. Both represent an excellent value but I'll stick my neck out and say that the shen is heavier (by almost 50%) and the Tachihara is not as flexible. Comparing the low cost wood field camera - any of them to the DLC is like coparing an apple to a Buick really. The DLC is a fantastic camera. I'll buy one someday.