I'll second the weight issue!! The weight of the camera becomes a non-issue if you then pile on the pounds with additional lenses etc! The "super lightweight" cameras remain so only when combined with a lightweight system! My Ebony is VERY light, but add the combined weight of even necessary accessories and the weight rises dramatically!! My full system is a nightmare to even contemplate taking out into the field in its entirety - and I consider my system fairly lightweight compared to others!!
I vote for the Horseman FA a small and light and very presice folding metall camera. I use the pre version of the FA the HF. I work with lenses from 75mm to 300mm but for the 300mm you need an extention tubus or you only go to a 270mm tele version.
The FA is around 2 kilo and it is a much smaller thing then a Linhof Technika wich is also a very fine camera.
But I had the chance to move to a Linhof but i dicided to stay with my Horseman. You can use the Horseman also handheld for that I take a Linhof viewer and it works well for me!
I agree on the weight issue, but think the bulk one is more of a problem. I use a Bender 4x5 when hiking, and have found that if I leave it on the rail, then it requires a large bag and is too bulky, and if I take it off, the process of dealing with a floppy camera gets to be frustrating, since the field is full of (surprise) dirt. The issue for me has mainly been that I need a bigger bag, which gets ungainly on uneven terrain. I find that dealing with the bulk and setup time once there (reassemble, and reorganize the bag so that what I need it near the surface, rather than compactly packed) gets to be a bit daunting when deciding whether it goes out.
This being said, I've packed that camera from the NJ coast through Canyonlands in UT, and continue to do so. One of the best decisions I made about it was to get small lenses; a 203 Ektar and a 135 symmar weigh less than the camera bag, were relatively inexpensive (less than $400 for the pair), and are very sharp.
What about a quasi-modern, flat-bed, Burke and James, if the Tachihari or Calumet doesn't fit your budget?
A comprehensive answer is difficult here, unless the poster knows what photographic image he/she will be addressing. If architectural, or tabletop, a monorail, with its modular capabilities, is the answer. If you're going to shoot macro, remember that the bellows will have to be extended up to two times the standard focal length (or more).
Once again, a monorail may be neccessary. If landscape imaging is what you're interested in, a QUALITY folding, lightweight field camera is the solution.
Remember that this is, in its essence, an engineering question. You are designing a system that will perform a specific function. To a certain extent, the more specific the use, the narrower the scope.
I haven't yet seen an ad for a large-format camera that alleges "This one can do it all!"
The manufacturers won't... because they can't.
If you can live with limited movements, and some restrictions on the focal length of the lenses you plan to use, then go with a Field. If, however, you suffer from the vice of greed , then hop on a monorail.
Lots of good suggestions. Iíll add my two cents worth: Wista SP metal field.
Solid, locks down MUCH more solidly than any woodie Iíve seen/used.
Closes up into a pretty darn near indestructible box.
Good front and back movements, including front AXIS tilt (which I prefer).
Iíve used a 65mm lens (recessed board) with no problem.
Available used (ebay, various dealers) at about 1/2 price of new.
A bit heavier than a woodie. The Wista SP is ~6 lbs.
Bellows limited to 12Ē in normal configuration. Supposedly a longer track is available, but Iíve never investigated that.
Iíve never felt limited by this camera for the type of shooting I do (landscape).
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I would like to approach this from an other angle. NZ like Aus has a rather spasmodic offering. One year this or that is gleeming in the window, the next it's forgotten mysteriously reappearing some years later even so a differnt brand. The intention being an immediate $'s rather than a long term commitment to the cause. US folk are quite lucky with their choices. Sinars commitment to digital (spit,spit) ensures a more resellable outfit should the unthinkable eventuate.
To that end I have ended up with an F2. Initially it was picked because of the back up service offered by the Sinar dealers. Looking back I am more than happy with the choice. One advantage of a monorail is the ability to do what you want. I extend the rail and carry a third standard to use as a compendium support. Prices may be high but then so are some of the other marques. Sinars great win is the ability to retro fit just about any old superseded item to the current camera. Some thirty years plus. This is a great help when sourcing used stuff. Some one mentioned earlier his way of packing. I use a 6" rail and squeeze up tight folding the tripod mount up out of the way. The finished mass is not too much more than any other.
As for too much in the field? Too much?? Never too much By the way, Sinars dont need a 3D tripod head. Only a tilt head. Chech out what models you can hire/try and after stressing over the flop and drop wonders available the smooth non slip controles and focusing aids you'll find a blessing.
It's your call in the end, but do consider well. It may well be a lifetime commitment which with the right purchases will keep you going for years. (30+) and once you're bagged up with accessories you don't want to be changing marques.
I'll add a post agreeing with Paul Owen. The Ebony is a great camera, and there's a moderately priced RW45Mk4 and RW45E, available from Robert White, and maybe Midwest Photo. The mahogany camera is cheaper, lighter than the ebony model, but I do like those levels on the standards. Some of the RW45 series now have the universal bellows. I do know Midwest had a 9+ camera w/universal bellows advertised at $1,349 in the box (gone now). This camera uses lenses from 65mm to 340mm - 410 with rise and tilt, (500 tele), although 75mm to 300mm would be more like it with movements.
I have the triple draw SV45U (can use the nice small Fuji 450 C f/12.5), and if you can possibly get one, you'll love the asymmetrical rear movements. Really makes short work of setup.
You need to think about what type of subjects you are wanting to photograph. If you think that you may what to do some architectural work then you will need a camera with more extensive movements and lenses with more coverage. If you have no interest in photographing buildings as a subject then you don't need as much coverage or movements. But if money is not an issue then I would go with the best quality that you can get rather than just getting something cheap to start with.
</span><table border='0' align='center' width='95%' cellpadding='3' cellspacing='1'><tr><td>QUOTE (Steve Hamley @ Oct 14 2002, 01:02 AM)</td></tr><tr><td id='QUOTE'>I have the triple draw SV45U (can use the nice small Fuji 450 C f/12.5), and if you can possibly get one, you'll love the asymmetrical rear movements. Really makes short work of setup.
I do own a SV45U2 and I love it. But in my opinion, the implementation of the asymmetrical tilt and swing feature is not yet perfect. Since applying tilt or swing to the rear standard does change perspective, it would be desirable to transfer the adjustments to the front standard. For me, perspective control is an important feature of a view camera. However, the Ebony does not have the required degree scales to do this easily. You will have to apply a protractor, which sometimes is difficult to do.
I have had my Tachihara for years - I just mounted a 47mm XL on it - WHHHHOOOOYYAAA! That is a good trick - and a trick it is. I have backpacked with it. It goes with my on business tripss all over the US and Mexico. It is my first choice for non hand held work. Weight is always a bigger factor than you realize.
My photos are always without all that distracting color ...