You will probably need to try some stuff out and see what works for you. I tried a couple different monorails, and found that they were cumbersome for me. The weight was not an issue, it was packability and ease of setup. I now use a wood field camera and love it. The beauty of buying a used camera is that if (when?) you decide the camera isn't for you, you can just sell it and recoup most of your expense. I think that starting with an inexpensive monorail might be a good choice, since they are usually available for somewhat less money than a field camera.
I've recently had the same quandry. I bought a Horseman LX monorail for studio and outdoors. After a few years shooting motorsports and carrying around two big SLR's with 500mm and 300mm lenses I thought the weight would be more than manageable.Two trips with it and I started looking for a field camera to supplement it. It's heavy, doesn't fit in my backpack plus I found that I didn't need all the movements for landscape work. I still use it for architectural work where I can park the car close to the location. For field use I picked up an old MPP for £50, replaced the front standard with a later model (more movements) and stripped off the rangefinder. For under £100 I've ended up with a solid, portable camera that fits into a backback along with a TLR and film holders. I then built a lens board adaptor that lets me use the MPP lens boards on the Horseman.
Judicous buying left me with a top class monorail plus a field camera for a total of less than £300. This left plenty of budget for decent lenses and a De Vere enlarger.
So many drummers, so little time.
[QUOTE=leeturner]. For field use I picked up an old MPP for £50, replaced the front standard with a later model (more movements) and stripped off the rangefinder. QUOTE]
Lovely cameras but check the light sealing carefully: the groove to accept the film-holder ridge is parlous close to the side-rails. As they age and lose their blacking, you can get light-strike. I never saw this on my last Mk VII in the UK but in Greece the bright sun showed it up. There's a piece on it in one of the old MPP Users' magazines (I assumer you joined the MPP Users' Club).
Solution: blacking paint or (better) extend the side-rails a little with Araldite-plus-black-pigment.
My preferred camera for LF travel: Toho ultra-light monorail with full movements; www.toho-machine.com, I think, but Google will find it.
I use a monorail 'cause I'm cheap
I've used both wooden fields (Wisner Technical 4x5 and Ansco and B&J 5x7) and what I have now is an old Calumet CC400 monorail. Of these cameras, the Wisner was a lovely camera, the lightest of the lot, with plenty of movements for both landscapes and portraits. It was also, by far, the most expensive. The Ansco and B&J cameras were heavier and much bulkier but also much less expensive and are no-nonsense 'get the job done' cameras which were extremely durable and not terribly expensive. I currently use a Calumet CC400 monorail purchased dirt cheap via E-bay and will probably continue using it (at least, until I win the lottery!) I'm not a fan of the less expensive folding field cameras since 12" to 14" of bellows extension isn't enough for me. That said, I actually sawed a few inches off of the Calumet's rail, since it was 28" long and that was 'way more than I wanted. It has more movements than any of the field cameras I've used (but all of them had plenty for what I do,) and weighs about what the Ansco weighed (about 8 1/2 lbs., I think.) It's big fault is that it doesn't fold into a compact, easy to carry object. I usually just screw it firmly onto the tripod and carry it over one shoulder that way. It works for me.
For me, price was the ultimate arbitrator and the old Calumets are really pretty good cameras: solid, well built, and reliable. And cheap, often less than US$100. Oh, and that rotating back is just incredibly convenient!
For your own use, it would probably be very helpful to you if you could manage to use candidates for a day or even an afternoon. Or at least see them in person, practice folding and unfolding them, etc. We each want something different and it's hard to made a decision with so little information. Good luck!
Roger, I must be quite fortunate as I made some exposures in bright sunlight at midday and they appear fine. I suppose one good thing about the British climate is that the light is never that bright, certainly compared to my previous home in South Africa.
I have to agree that if you buy an MPP then the users club is invaluable.
So many drummers, so little time.
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There is one relativelly unknown camera which where manufactured by Linhof and not many people knows about it! The babys name is Linhof kardan Standard! Thay had been manufactured in two different sizes 4x5 and 8x10! I never heard of any 5x7 but it may exist! This is a very simple light weight and versatile mono! I beleive this would be a good choice if you find one! I have seen those on Ebay time to time cheap and if something goes wrong you can repair it your self! Now if you need good lenses to this one (because as I told you that this camera knows a lot) so get some lenses which is oversize like if you get a 4x5 camera than get lenses which cover at least 5x7 and there you go! You can manufacture a very simple device to hold you Toyo bellows type of lenshade and the best lenses are one wide angle and one longer lens. I had a 121mm Schneider SA and the covertible Symmar! Never got any problem in any situations! This camera is weight less than say 80% of the field cameras. It has reversable back too!
Last edited by uraniumnitrate; 07-18-2006 at 12:46 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I am very interested in LF photography, and I have been shooting MF and 35mm for some time. I am interested in venturing into the world of LF and I am debating between a field format 4X5 or a Mono rail. What are the benefits, if any of a mono rail vs. field?
[COLOR=Red]well if you want easy portability then field is the best way to go. Monorails are heavy to carry around..[/COLOR]
I know a field camera is lighter and more mobile, but lack some of the adjustments of a mono rail. Also, is there a difference in the lenses for each? I understand that the standard lens work well on both, but is there a functional difference as far as dof between a field and mono rail camera?
[COLOR=Red]the field camera has the adjs you need to use on the filed, tilt, swing and raise (ususally for front lens plane). For landscape and portrait photos that is all u need. Some are geared some are not, but it does not make much difference. [/COLOR]
[COLOR=Red]depending on what type of photography you do, outdoor vs indoors, I will say get a field camera. LIght one (3lbs) approx like my cherry wood wista DX[/COLOR]
[COLOR=Red]Cartman[/COLOR]: How long till I get the pictures back?
[COLOR=Blue]Photographe[/COLOR]r: It will be four days
[COLOR=Red]Cartman[/COLOR]: Four days! oh my god I cant wait that long
-- South park
My last Mk VII was the only time I had problems, and then only in Greece, but you can imagine I was well pissed off when it happened 1000 miles from home. It was clearly a design/manufacturing fault, not just wear and tear, though I suspect it was masked for the first 10-20 years of the camera's life by good blacking. I'd hate for anyone else to have the same problems, even if it's only a slender chance. Earlier non-International models may, I suspect, be safer, as may the Mk. VIII.
Originally Posted by leeturner
The model I bought was the old Mk.III with the non-International back. I had an engineering shop (they skim engine heads) take off a sliver of the ground glass pegs to give me the correct spacing. The front standard and bellows were off a Mk. VII so that I could get front swing, or tilt when placed on it's side as I added an extra tripod mount. Thanks for the heads up on the problem Roger, as there are a lot of Mk VII's on Ebay and I was tempted a couple of times.
Originally Posted by Roger Hicks
The nice thing about this old camera is that it was cheap enough to modify to my own needs. As to the original post I still think that you will find a monorail too cumbersome in the field, unless you look at something like the Arca Misura.
So many drummers, so little time.
Sounds like a nice camera. You found the register wrong, eh? What was it before the mod?
The Misura is big, bulky and heavy next to the Toho FC45X, which weighs under 1.6 k. The cunning part is that the rail-and-standards are one unit, the bellows-front panel-and-back another. Movements are necessarily off axis but to me that's a small price to pay for an ultra-light, full-featured monorail.