most compact 4x5 kit?
OK, heres a challenge:
Put together the most compact 4x5 kit you can think of.
This should include the camera, meter, 3 lenses, film holders, tripod, and any other acessories you think are neccesary. This does not have to be the lightest kit available, but instead the most compact.
I will be taking my wife to hawaii probably next year. I would like to spend some time shooting 4x5. My current kit includes a zone vi 4x5 and various lenses. It's quie bulky and occupies an entire backpack. I'd like to cut the volume in half. I'm not going to go on any long hikes so weight is not an issue. Any advice will be appreciated. thanks!
Well if a large amount of movements is not an issue, I would probably suggest a Linhof or a Graphic style camera, they fold up into a pretty compact package and really are not that heavy, I carry 5 holders, my crown 3 lenses, meter and darkcloth in a package a little bigger than a six pack cooler, also another camera that is pretty small is the Calumet field, I had one of those for a while and it worked quite well and folded into a small package.
My "compact kit" is 5x7", not 4x5".
It consists of a Lowepro S&F Rover Light, filled with a Gandolfi Traditional 5x7", ten holders, changing bag, extra film boxes, Pentax (analog) spotmeter, and six lenses. I can cut down to two lenses - 165mm Angulon, and 240 Symmar. Both convertible if needed.
Most 4x5" cameras are not much smaller than the 5x7" Gandolfi. My 4x5" Speed Graphic is both larger and heavier.
Just about any tripod will do, with a good head on it. I use ballheads - one HUGE for big cameras, and I sometimes borrow my wife's medium sized one for smaller cameras (5x7" and smaller).
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
I would go with a Crown Graphic or similar press camera (e.g. Burke and James, Busch Pressman). The Speed Graphic is a little bulkier, but still pretty compact. You can also cut bulk considerably by getting a Grafmatic. As for the rest, I can easily fit three or four lenses on boards, darkcloth, filter wallet, and three holders in a musset bag. Also picked up a magazine case at the army surplus that holds three holders nicely and fits on a belt. Combined with my Anny Speed or B&J it is a pretty compact package.
I'm sure many will disagree, but if you are willing to use faster film you can skimp on the tripod and primarily use it as a composition tool rather than a means of making the camera steady. Press cameras are pretty light and don't demand much support - after all, they are designed to be used handheld.
I'm in Hawai'i at the moment, and I travel here regularly, and lately I bring my Linhof Tech V kit with 6 lenses, 4 Grafmatics, Tiltall, 6x7 back, and all the usual accessories in a Crumpler FuxDeluxe bag, and if I'm hiking a long way, I just don't carry it all.
My ultralight 4x5" backpacking kit, which is at home for the most part, is usually the Gowland Front-moves PocketView with folding hood, 90/6.8 Angulon, 135/5.6 Sironar-N, Linhof 42mm drop in filters (both lenses can either use these or 40.5mm threaded filters), a couple of Grafmatics, Gossen Digisix, and Linhof Report tripod (the little one from the 1950s that folds flat) with a Linhof small ballhead.
If you'll be spending time in Honolulu, you can call ahead to Imageworks in Kaimuki for 4x5" film--(808) 735-0755.
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I use a "compact" kit compared to most:
4x5 Tachihara, 150mm F5.6, 210mm F5.6, 90mm F8, six holders, Gossen Multipro, 4 filters (yellow, gree, blue, grad nd) filter holder, cable release all carried in a lowepro photo trekker, Bogen tripod over the shoulder.
My most compact kit was my 150mm attached and the camera mounted to the tripod, a domke f2 held the holders, filters, and meter.
Not quite the lightest system out there but very compact is my Horseman HD. 6 3/4 high 7 wide and 3 1/4 deep.Very solid, all moves are on the front It's a lot smaller than my Crown Graphic. For a compact three lens outfit I keep a 135mm Rodenstock N lens on the camera and carry a 90mm Optar and 203 Ektar in a Epsilon shutter. Even lighter is a 150mm Xenar instead of the 135. All of those lenses when mounted can fold inside the camera. The Horseman only has around 9 inches of bellows. I though that would be a problem because I'm mostly a longer lens guy. A Fuji 300mm tele works fine and someday I may buy a 400.
I bought the camera on a whim, to replace a Crown Graphic for motorcycle travel. I wanted full movements up front and a tough bulletproof camera for cross country travel abuse. Much to my suprise I no longer use my Deardorff in 4x5 mode. This tough aluminum box is now my most used camera. I never though it would get so much use. Everything but the tripod can fit into a Domke F-3X bag. That's pretty damn small for a 4x5 outfit.
Either the Horseman HD or HF or a Gowland Pocket View will be the most compact camera. For lenses I would think a Fuji 240A would be a must and would also consider most any modern 135. The third lens ... in terms of compactness and useful ness for a range of optics would likely be an 80 SSXL. There is a spotmeter out there smaller than the pentax digital but I forget its name. For film a Quickload or Readyload holder is the answer. The most compact tripod you will find that will hold a 4x5 comfortably is the Linhof Profi Port (it folds to 17 inches) or a Stabil from Sweden (he can make you one that small but very pricy).
I think the meter you're thinking of, Ted, is the one made by Metered Light of Metrolux fame. It's called something obvious like the "Pocket Spot" or some such.
By the way--the reason I don't bring my Gowland to Hawai'i is because it's very windy here. First trip out I brought my 8x10" Gowland Pocket View and it was a box kite. Second trip I shot medium format (Bronica S2a). The Tech V turned out to be just the right compromise--LF neg, handholdable with cammed lenses, and sturdy enough to stand up to the wind.
I'd recommend not bringing the lightest camera you can find (Gowland/Toho/Ikeda Anba and other super-light wooden cameras).
I'd say stick with the Zone VI, go for some more compact lenses like the ones recommended here and by Kerry Thalmann in his backpacking articles, and maybe acquire some Grafmatics to reduce the filmholder volume.