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View Full Version : 4x5 for the city - a monorail or .. ?



Matus Kalisky
30-Dec-2008, 03:30
Hello,

when I entered the realm of 4x5 photography some 2 years ago , my main was landscapes so I got a Tachihara 4x5 mainly because of the weight and enjoyed a lot (and still do for that purpose). But nowadays I tend to photograph architecture more. I also found out that usage of my recently acquired Grandagon N 75/4.5 is rather limited with the Tachi.

My current lense are : 75, 125, 210 and 400 tele (Osaka). I would like to replace the last one at some point with some non tele 400 - 450 but this is a distant future.
I use Benro copy of Gitzo 1227 and LInhof 3D pan-tilt head.

So here I am - considering two ways - would love to get bellow $500 of expense wither either of them. Would be very thankful for your insights.

1) Selling the Tachi and getting some other field camera that would to be much heavier, would allow the use of 75/4.5 with full movements and would be a bit more precise than the Tachi. Maybe Chamonix 4x5 comes to my mind (I do not want to start a Chamonix thread here, I just want to give an example) Maybe a lightweight monorail would be an option here too (if anything like that exists :p apart from the Toho).

2) (do not tell my wife) getting one more camera - some simpler monorail that should not be too heavy (definitely under 10 pounds, preferably under 8) as I would like to get the small geared Manfrotto (410 I guess) later. Some more geared movements would be nice, but not the main requirement - as long as the movements are smooth and well adjustable. I have to admit that I do like the Arca Discovery with the small(er) standards (like the one Jack Dykinga is using) though they are not very abundant on the used market.
Please, try to mention approximate weights (if possible) along with your candidates.

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Solution (1) would be preferable as I think one 4x5 camera is enough, but the (2) may just be more flexible ....
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and last but not least ... A Happy New Year :)

Bjorn Nilsson
30-Dec-2008, 04:08
A Sinar F is a sturdy camera which can be set and adjusted in precise movements. They are also cheap to get these days. You can either get an older model F or a newer F1 or F2. Try to find an adapter plate so that you can use your existing lens plates on the Sinar.
With at least the F2 the back is made to facilitate the use of a film plane light measuring probe, like the Sinar Booster 1 which is used with a Minolta light/flash-meter. (There are equivialent devices for Gossen meters.) This can come in quite handy for architecture.

//Björn

BrianShaw
30-Dec-2008, 08:18
I'd go with option 2. While Sinar may be coming down in price and offer precise movements there are other options that might work out just as well. The Cambo/Calumet SC series is what I use... and I haven't "outgrown" its capabilities since the 1980s. For architecture I'd suggest getting one with a revolving back for maximum convenience. Also invest in a bag bellows and recessed board. I bought a short rail (11 inch) but prefer using the longer rail even with short lenses. You can get all of this, and maybe even a carrying box, for your $500. It weights 11 pounds (I think) and is friction drive, not gear drive... but that has never been an issue for me.

If I were you I'd keep the field camera. There will be times when you'll want a lgiht-weight camera, I'll bet. You might regret getting rid of it.

Get over the guilt of owning more htan one LF camera! :)

David A. Goldfarb
30-Dec-2008, 08:44
A Sinar F/1/2 with a bag bellows is great for architecture in terms of functionality. Field cameras are a bit easier to transport and quicker to set up. If you're driving to your locations, have time and space to work or an assitant/companion to watch your back, then the Sinar will do fine. If you travel by public transportation and shoot in busy areas or potentially dangerous areas where you need to keep your eyes open all around you and work quickly to get the shot, then a field camera or dedicated architectural camera, ideally with infinity stops, is easier.

In New York I tend to use my 4x5" Tech V when I'm on my own. If I've got someone to help keep an eye on things, then I'll use my ultralight 8x10" Gowland PocketView, which is a monorail, or possibly a larger camera.

dwhistance
31-Dec-2008, 11:17
I'm not sure whether you can get one for less than $500 - probably not - but I think you should look at the Linhof Technikardan. They are not to everyone's taste, however it does everything you want, folds up small and is not too heavy. I've had mine for three years now and am still delighted with it.

David Whistance

David Karp
31-Dec-2008, 11:42
I agree with Brian. On a budget, you can pick up an SC and a bag bellows and probably make a case for keeping the Tachi too. A great accessory would be a Cambo/Technika lensboard adapter. This keeps the boards small and allows you to move back and forth between cameras. (But this will not work with the wide angles you use for architecture.)

An even nicer, if somewhat more expensive, alternative is a Cambo SC, whose virtues I have been singing lately to another member. You would not need to buy recessed boards with this camera, and could use all of your lenses on flat boards, including with the adapter board mentioned above. When these show up on the market they are usually priced quite reasonably. Sometimes so reasonably that you might still be able to keep the Tachi.

Matus Kalisky
31-Dec-2008, 12:33
Hmmm, I knew that you all will puch me to buy another camera ;)

I have been thinking about the Sinar F/F1/F2 - any idea on the size and weight?

I am living in relatively paceful part of northerh Germany so I do not have to worry to go shooting alone with some more delicate gear (though once unde the darkcloath I do feel sometimes a bit "blind" and try to keep the rest of the gear underneath the tripod)

-- dwhistance --
What is so particular about the Technikardan?

-- David Karp --
David, you mentioned twice the Cambo SC - once as a relatively cheap camera and once as a more expensive one. Didn't you mean some different model in the latter case (I guess the 45SF after searching a bit on your posts)?

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Nobody to comment on the Arca Swiss Discovery? For some reason I like the design of that camera - especially with the very small front standard (or is it the 4x5 F ? - should be relatively light)

aduncanson
31-Dec-2008, 12:58
Contrary to BrianShaw, poster #3, I suggest that if going with the Cambo SC or the newer, simpler & cheaper Calumet 45N, you should consider one of the non-rotating back options. They are cheaper, lighter, and, I believe, less bulky than the rotating back. They still let you switch between horizontal & vertical orientations, but provide no intermediate positions.

My Calumet 45N on a 12 inch rail is bulky, but weighs less than 6 lbs. I would guess that you could equip yourself with the camera, short rail, Technika board adapter & bag bellows for less than $500.

BrianShaw
31-Dec-2008, 13:19
Contrary to BrianShaw, poster #3, I suggest that if going with the Cambo SC or the newer, simpler & cheaper Calumet 45N, you should consider one of the non-rotating back options. They are cheaper, lighter, and, I believe, less bulky than the rotating back. They still let you switch between horizontal & vertical orientations, but provide no intermediate positions.


I'm embarrassed... I recommended that based on personal experience. I only have a revolving back. If I knew the non-revolving backs allowed swtiching between landscape and portrait I never would have said anything about the back. I'm sure that you are correct about the price and weight difference. I've never shot a picture in whatever one calls the positions between horizontal and vertical. Perhaps Buzby Berkeley would, but not me. :o

dwhistance
31-Dec-2008, 13:40
Matus

You asked what is so particular about the Technikardan.

I like it because it can take a huge range of lenses on flat boards - I use 58mm to 360mm - and has all of the movements on both standards you could possibly want. You will run out of lens coverage long before you use all of its movements with the majority of 4x5 lenses. It is also very easy to switch between the normal and bag bellows, the latter being necessary if you want to use all of the movement potential of wide lenses. I believe that it was originally designed with architectural photographers in mind and it works outstandingly well for that purpose, however it is of course pefectly usable for landscapes and other areas suitable for LF photography.

Negative points are the control levers, which take some getting used to but are great once you do, and the difficulty in folding it up, which again takes practice but is easy once learned. There are also no geared movements which would be a nice addition, however Linhof have engineered it to their usual high standards so everything works well.

As you are in Germany I suggest you find a Linhof dealer and have a look at one, even borrow one if you get the chance, as it is different enough from most other LF designs to polarise opinions, however if you like its controls then I don't think there are many better 4x5's.

Have fun choosing your new camera.

David Whistance

Ed Richards
31-Dec-2008, 14:07
One nice thing about the Sinar F/1/2 is that the bag bellows is good for a normal bellows for up to a 180mm and even a 210mm if you are not trying to focus close. I almost never take the bag bellows off and replaced my 210 with a 180 to make it easier to use it all the time. I mostly shoot buildings and use a 65, 90, 120SW for most shots.

The downside of any monorail is that you are going to want a more sturdy tripod and head, which is going to be a bigger weight issue than the camera. (Unless you want to send $700 for a nice carbon tripod and Mg head.)

David Karp
31-Dec-2008, 15:54
David, you mentioned twice the Cambo SC - once as a relatively cheap camera and once as a more expensive one. Didn't you mean some different model in the latter case (I guess the 45SF after searching a bit on your posts)?

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Nobody to comment on the Arca Swiss Discovery? For some reason I like the design of that camera - especially with the very small front standard (or is it the 4x5 F ? - should be relatively light)

Oops. Sorry about that. I did mean the 45SF.

Regarding the Discovery: It is a very nice camera. The Discovery is discontinued. It was a version with the 171 size frames. There was a version of the F-Line with the smaller 110 size lensboards on the front. I think it was called the F-Field or something like that. These are more expensive than the Cambos, Sinar F2s, and other cameras discussed by the rest of us. I think under $500 with this setup is pretty unlikely.


. . . I suggest that if going with the Cambo SC or the newer, simpler & cheaper Calumet 45N . . . .

Just to make sure that we are all on the same page, The designations 45N, 45NX, and 45NX-II were for various versions of the Cambo SC that were sold in the USA by Calumet as a lower priced monorail after the model called the SC was replaced by cameras like the Legend, etc. The camera was, and I believe still is, sold in Europe and elsewhere as the SC, SC-II, or something like that. Minor differences between the various versions include whether or not they have the rotating back (a really nice feature), the length of the monorail, and things like that. I have had a 45NX and a 45N (for just a while). I recall that the 45NX was nicer, and not only because of the revolving back. There was something else, maybe it was that the shift and swing control were combined, or something like that. I can't remember exactly.

aduncanson
31-Dec-2008, 21:01
I have older 4x5 & 5x7 Cambo SCs plus a Calumet 45N. The 45N is missing calibrations for any movements which I believe the 45NX does have. Mine certainly lacks the revolving back but I did not buy it new. Also the swings and shifts do share a lock, which are independent on my my 5x7, but not on my 4x5 SC.

I have just been on the Cambo web site and they are currently only selling an SC-2. It looks like my 45N, but seems to have the calibrated movements mine lacks. The current SC-2 does not have the rotating back, only a reversible back. Calumet seems to now sell that camera as the Calumet 45NXII and to no longer sell either the 45N or the Cadet. (Did anybody ever buy a Cadet?)

Matus Kalisky
31-Dec-2008, 21:17
Concenrng the prices - the $500 limit would remain valid if I decide to keep the Tachi. If I wold be selling it the money recovered (could be another $500 or so here in Germany) would go into as well.

I had a lookat the Technikardan - an interesting camera indeed (looks cool indeed). The folding and unfolding seems to be a bit more delicate, but I would not see that as a problem. As the Technikardan seems to be rather hard to find - how are the prices on the used market?

Yes - I meant the Arca Swiss F field with 110/141 standrads. But I guess even used would be beyond reach (I would expect the price somewhere at $1500+) - would love to hear that I am wrong :o - Anybody wants to trade for a Tachi ;) ? .

Now as I got some more idea about the weights the Sinar F1/F2 are reasonable and the Technikardan is even lighter (6.6 lb) - how would these two camera comapre? I like about the Technikardan that it folds so small. Sinar seems to be easier to find and indeed cheaper.

About the Cambo/Calumet cameras - I need to have a closer look - many of them seem rather heavy. Any more opinions and commets are most welcome.

What about the Toyo125VX? Any opinions?

Harry v. Loon
3-Jan-2009, 08:57
Matus.

I was wondering how far you want to travel for a kamera.
I just found two Cambo SC kamera's on www.fotoapparatuur.nl

Last year I found my Cambo SC including lenses, filmholders,extra bellows and carrying case on this website.
For only 700,--

Viel Gluck

Harry v. Loon

Matus Kalisky
3-Jan-2009, 09:22
Hello Harry,

I have returned from Enschede :-) from a shot trip. Though the Voorburg is relatively far away and the price of 700 euro for Cambo SC seems relatively high to me (though there are some accessories included), but thank your for a tip. I will have a look what more do they have. I do plan a trip to Amsterdam sometimes in the spring so I could check out (or is there some good shop in Amsterdam itself?)