View Full Version : Lightweight full-movement cameras
Can anyone recommend a monorail-type camera with full movements, but that folds into a compact size? Something along the lines of a Toyo VX125? I'm sure there are others out there, I just don't really keep up on gear all that much. I currently use a Toyo 45AX metal field camera, but I'm looking for something that offers easier movements while still being compact enough for field work.
They don't come much lighter than Peter Gowland's cameras.
Have a look here (http://cgi.ebay.com.au/Gowland-8x10-ultra-lite-light-camera-The-lightest_W0QQitemZ280299624044QQcmdZViewItemQQptZFilm_Cameras?hash=item280299624044&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=66%3A2%7C65%3A10%7C39%3A1%7C240%3A1318)and here (http://www.petergowland.com/camera/)
A number of ARCA Swiss F-Line cameras fall into this category.
David A. Goldfarb
Technikardan, depending on what you think of as "light" (about 6 lbs., if I'm not mistaken).
Toho Shimo and Gowland PocketView are probably the lightest monorails with extensive movements, though some of the Gowlands have only front movements.
MY Toho FC-45X weighs a little over 3 lbs and you can reduce its weight further as described by Kerry Thalmann in his review at
Also, it comes apart into two pieces and is very easy to transport. It has full front and rear movements. The bellows is fixed, but there is a a special eccentric lensboard which, to some degree, serves the same function as a bag bellows. I can get adequate movements using that lensboard with my Rodenstock f/4.5 75 mm Grandagon-M lens. You can buy it from Badger Graphic,
IMO a Galvin 4x5 is the best, if you can find one. Otherwise a Toho or a Gowland monorail are nice (I've owned all three cameras). The Toho has a different style of collapsing and use, which didn't appeal to me (but others love the camera). The Gowland is a bit clunky, but easy to modify, and available new (also available used for reasonable prices). The Toho is uncommon and expensive when found used.
The Toho is uncommon and expensive when found used.
The reason Tohos are uncommon on the used market is that people love these cameras, so seldom sell them. I know I'm not selling mine anytime soon!
Excellent camera, full movements on both ends. Not enough for full blown architectural use probably, but easily enough for all types of landscape work.
Fits nicely in my backpack too. Take a look at Mr. Thalmann's review of the Toho that Mr. Evens referenced. That's about as good a camera review as you'll find for a view camera.
If you want the best compact monorail it should be Technikardan or another good "field" monorail camera, which have a very good degree of control and precise settings which is the Sinar F series (where the "F" means Field). Not the most compact, but that camera, i.e. a Sinar F2 is my current choice.
I recon that if you want to use a monorail in the field, it's a matter of balancing usability vs. compactness. The most compact and light camera is the Toho, which meets the desire for lack of weight etc. On the other hand, the movements of the Toho are "wiggely" and unprecise when compared to the Sinar or Technikardan. Then again, if you are experienced with using all the movements that are useable in the field, a Toho might be the right choice for you. But if you value ease of use, you might want pay the weight and size penalty for the comfort of a Sinar (which I still do, even though I'm thinking about a Chamonix every now and then :) ). Now, for most of my LF shooting, it's within say half a mile away from the car, else it spells Hasselblad. (Sorry, but I'm born in Gothenburg, Sweden... and proud of it. :) )
The Toyo field camera is pretty good already and not particularly heavy. So I assume that your emphasis is on specs that improve on the Toyo without greatly increasing weight. So I think cameras like Gowland and Toho would not meet the criteria. Those that would include the Toyo VX series, Arca F-Line, and Linhof cameras. For the money, a used Arca F-Line classic with 141mm rear standard, 110 mm front standard, with a collapsible rail (F-Line 4x5 Classic compact model) would be a good place to start.
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