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katcons
2-Jan-2010, 05:17
Is there a "light weight" large format camera, preferably 8-10kg including the lens, holders, and tripod? I also posted this question to other fora, and your responses as dedicated LF users will certainly help me a lot in choosing. :)

I'd like to explore some options, as I hope to travel a lot in 2010 for work and hopefully insert some R&R time in between. During these trips, I prefer not to be chauffered around/accompanied when possible (I don't want to impose on the local representatives who will do the escorting, and I will be occupying their weekends, the only time they can really rest), and discover nice spots on my own when I can.

However, I hope to do some portraits with it as well, but I guess this will depend on the lens already. Understandably, with the weight considerations, I'll be exploring the 4x5 or 5x7s first.

Something light and all-around. Is this possible? I've been walking around my province more and realizing the need to go large already.

Been reading up on Shenhao cameras here:

http://www.kgcphoto.com/Reviews_&_Tutorials/shen-hao_and_lf_lenses.htm

And Speed/Crown Graphic:

http://graflex.org/speed-graphic/which-model.html

Still, I'd like to ask your opinion and recommendations. Many thanks, and Happy New Year!

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
2-Jan-2010, 05:59
Technikardan 45S

Leonard Evens
2-Jan-2010, 07:46
I use a Toho FC-45X. With one or two lenses, it might weigh between 7 and 9 kg, depending on the lenses. You are highly unlikely to find a tripod (including head) adequate for large format photography weighing less than 2.5 Kg. My film holders weigh just under 0.15 kg each. Remember also that you will need an exposure meter, a dark cloth, a cable release, probably a loupe, and other miscellaneous items.

I used to put a kit including my Toho, three lenses, an exposure meter, a dark t-shirt to use as dark cloth, and a few additional accessories in a small backpack designed for use with a 35 mm camera. The total, including back pack, weighted less than 30 kg. I carried six film holders in an insulated lunchbag hanging from my waist, which added another 1 kg, and I hung my Tiltall Pro tripod, weighing about 2.5 kg, over my shoulder with a strap. I was able to go pretty much wherever I wanted without too much trouble with that equipment.

I got the Toho because I have spinal stenosis and am limited in how much I can carry on my back. Unfortunately, the stenosis has progressed, and i can no longer do that wiithout paying a price in pain a discomfort later. So I usually carry things in a Baby Jogger, which would be impractical in your situation.

You can find a review of the Toho at
http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/toho.htm

Laurent
2-Jan-2010, 07:46
Tachihara 45. I could even fold it with an Angulon 120 inside.

Weights 1.5kg alone. My kit (bag + camera+2 lenses + meter + 5 holders) is about 7 Kg (depends obviously on the bag, lenses, etc... you choose).

Bruce Watson
2-Jan-2010, 08:26
I use a Toho FC-45X. With one or two lenses, it might weigh between 7 and 9 kg, depending on the lenses. You are highly unlikely to find a tripod (including head) adequate for large format photography weighing less than 2.5 Kg. My film holders weigh just under 0.15 kg each. Remember also that you will need an exposure meter, a dark cloth, a cable release, probably a loupe, and other miscellaneous items.

I used to put a kit including my Toho, three lenses, an exposure meter, a dark t-shirt to use as dark cloth, and a few additional accessories in a small backpack designed for use with a 35 mm camera. The total, including back pack, weighted less than 30 kg. I carried six film holders in an insulated lunchbag hanging from my waist, which added another 1 kg, and I hung my Tiltall Pro tripod, weighing about 2.5 kg, over my shoulder with a strap. I was able to go pretty much wherever I wanted without too much trouble with that equipment.

I got the Toho because I have spinal stenosis and am limited in how much I can carry on my back. Unfortunately, the stenosis has progressed, and i can no longer do that wiithout paying a price in pain a discomfort later. So I usually carry things in a Baby Jogger, which would be impractical in your situation.

You can find a review of the Toho at
http://www.thalmann.com/largeformat/toho.htm

That 30 Kg number seems high to me. My entire kit, Toho camera, five lenses, 10 film holders, tripod, ball head, meter, dark cloth, etc. IOW, everything needed to make photographs including 3 liters of water, maxes out at 16.5 Kg. I'm not by any means a big (or young) guy, but I can comfortably carry this kit all day hiking up and down the mountains.

The right pack can make or break one's ability to carry weight. I use an Osprey back that's designed for "winter sports" like skiing. It has a really comfortable suspension system that does an excellent job of distributing the weight of the pack properly (nearly all of it on your hips, and as close to your spine as possible for balance). Highly recommended.

Ivan J. Eberle
2-Jan-2010, 08:29
Travel with LF and the continued hand inspection of film is probably a great unknowable at this point. But with the imminent demise of Fuji Quickloads, I'd be looking to a camera with a rangefinder and a Graflok back in order to use 120 roll films instead of sheet films. If you're looking at Crown Graphics, also look at the Baby Crowns and especially the Super Graphic (SG has a rotating V-H back, very useful for portraiture).

Vick Vickery
2-Jan-2010, 09:34
Ivan mentions the Super Graphic...thats my "light" 4x5. Its the zenith of Graphic's press camera development even without a focal plane shutter (handy at times...I have a Speed, also); its an all-metal camera with more movements than previous Graphic press cameras, a revolving Grafloc back, a fairly long bellows, and is still light enough to hand-hold if you want to, though I wouldn't swear that mine has even been shot hand-held. I've even made or bought lensboard adapters for my Speed and Cambo to take the Super lensboards so the same lenses can be switched between the cameras. And they're usually not too expensive! :)

Steven Barall
2-Jan-2010, 09:53
I have that Shen Hao HZX-45II and I can tell you that it is not a lightweight camera. The thing weighs a freakin' ton. If I was buying a camera today I might get the Chamonix. I do like the all metal Chanham but it's relatively expensive. Good luck.

SamReeves
2-Jan-2010, 10:25
Tachihara 45. I could even fold it with an Angulon 120 inside.

Weights 1.5kg alone. My kit (bag + camera+2 lenses + meter + 5 holders) is about 7 Kg (depends obviously on the bag, lenses, etc... you choose).

Another vote for the Tachi. What a relief on my back! ;)

Louie Powell
2-Jan-2010, 11:07
Is there a "light weight" large format camera, preferably 8-10kg including the lens, holders, and tripod?

Nope.

Seriously, the weight of the camera is not significant - it's the weight of the other stuff that matters.

My LF kit weighs about 27 pounds. That includes the camera (a Zone VI lightweight), two lenses (big glass is heavy), a meter, a CD case with some Cokin filters, half a dozen holders, darkcloth, and a Tiltall tripod.

My camera itself is about 4 pounds - if I could cut that in half, and the total would still be 25 pounds. So its the kit that counts, not the camera.

ki6mf
2-Jan-2010, 14:59
Shen Hao; had one for the past three years. Also own a Speed Graphic and a Cambo. The Shen Hao itself is fairly weight. It folds into its own wooden box which is why it is heavier than a Chamonix. I recommend them highly and they have more movements that a press style of camera. In terms of popularity Shen Hao almost never comes up for sale in the used markets.

venchka
2-Jan-2010, 16:15
Bruce is right. Proper backpacks from backpack companies carry a load better and are much lighter than camera backpacks. I use an Osprey pack from the 90s that handles a 4x5 Zone VI camera, fly reel case with 3 lenses, all the other stuff needed for 4x5 AND a Leica and 1 or 2 lenses. I don't have a clue what it weighs and don't want to know. I'm old and I can carry the load. That's all I need to know.

Photobackpacker has all the goodies for hiking with big cameras. Careful shopping for lenses can reduce weight better than the camera.

Eric Leppanen
2-Jan-2010, 17:44
Here are my thoughts on a lightweight 4x5 kit:

Camera: Shen Hao or Chamonix. If you can, you may want to wait for the next generation Chamonix (45N-2, reportedly available in 8-10 weeks) before making a decision here. A folding field camera is bit more compact for packing and travel than a monorail such as the Toho. Weight: 1.7-1.9 kg (Shen Hao) or 1.4 kg (Chamonix, although weight of the 45N-2 has not been published yet).

Lenses: A common lightweight lens set for field work is the Nikon SW 90 f/8 (0.36 kg), Rodenstock Sironar N 150 f/5.6 (or its cheaper but otherwise equivalent Calumet-badged version, the Caltar II-N; weight of either version is 0.22 kg), and Fuji 240A f/9 (0.23 kg). For portraits any one of the 210mm f/5.6 plasmats would be good (the larger maximum aperture makes focusing easier in the studio) or, for even more fun, try getting a classical portrait lens (there are a lot of posts about these lenses here, particularly by Jim Galli). The portrait lens you could keep in reserve for studio use only, so it would not count toward the weight of your field kit.

Backpack: Photobacker P1 or P2, depending on whether you plan on hiking significant distances or not (the P2 has a superior suspension system). Weight: 1.84 or 2.12 kg. For the Photobacker system you'd also need to add one or more lens cases (something like the LS-1150-4 multiple lens case might work, it weighs 6.7 ounces or 0.19 kg. I haven't really studied this so if you go this route definitely talk to Bruce Laughton, the owner of Photobackpacker).

Film holders: approx. 6 ounces or 0.17 kg each.

Dark cloth: I use an original Blackjacket 4x5 cloth (8 ounces or 0.23 kg).

Loupe: A Toyo 3.6x is a good basic loupe (3 ounces or 0.09 kg).

Cable releases: I use Gepe 20 inch cable releases with disc lock (1.5 ounces or 0.04 kg).

Lens boards: Generic metal Linhof style (approx. 2 ounces or 0.06 kg each).

Tripod: Gitzo (if money is no object) or another brand of carbon fiber tripod (such as Feisol). A Gitzo 1-series (1541) weighs 1.12 kg. A Gitzo 3-series (3541XLS is very popular) weighs 1.97 kg.

Tripod head: A lot of options here. For a Gitzo 1-series tripod, choices include the Acratech (0.45 kg), Really Right Stuff BH-40 (0.37 kg) and Photo Clam PC-33NS (0.31 kg). For a Gitzo 3-series tripod, there are many options; I personally might lean toward an Arca Z1 quicklock, which weighs 0.64 kg.

Box of 4x5 sheet film: I don't have an unopened boxes lying around, but I do have a nearly full 25-sheet box of Ilford HP5+, which weighs about 4 ounces or 0.12 kg.

These are of course a variety of other small knick-knacks (lens brush, cleaning cloth, filters, etc), but these are the big ticket items weight-wise. Add up all the items mentioned above, and you end up with a weight range of 8.1 kg to 10.1 kg, depending upon which combination of gear you get (assuming you carry 10 film holders). So your goal is definitely attainable.

Note that a major source of weight savings is the selection of backpack. Traditional photo backpacks like the Lowepro line are rugged and provide excellent protection, but they weigh a ton. Real backpacking backpacks offer much better weight/comfort, and the advantage of the Photobackpacker line (you don't have to buy their backpacks, by the way; you can use their cases and backerboards in many existing third-party packs) is that they have modified a popular lightweight backpacking backpack for photo use.

Photobackpacker
2-Jan-2010, 20:54
One other observation may be helpful. Weight that is devoted to the backpack suspension system (the backpack spine, lumbar support and waist belt) is weight you will not notice. I know this sounds crazy but a good suspension efficiently transfers the weight of your equipment to your skeletal frame so it is carried by the the large muscles of your quadriceps.

If you want to carry a load easily, put your money into the suspension and use foam protection only where it is needed.

katcons
2-Jan-2010, 21:07
Thanks you, everyone for your responses, really helpful. :) I have also read some Osprey backpacks that are really great for carrying. However, can you recommend any North Face/ Lowepro/ Tamrac systems where I can store and carry my kit? Of the local options, these bags came top-of-mind.

Thanks again!

venchka
2-Jan-2010, 21:53
Where are you? What can you buy locally? As several of us have mentioned, camera backpacks are heavy and don't have good suspensions. Most are made for small format large zoom lenses and cameras. They may not be designed to hold 4x5 hardware well. I do know many people who do like Lowepro for their digital gear and zoom lenses. I own North Face tents and they have held up well.

katcons
2-Jan-2010, 23:08
Where are you? What can you buy locally? As several of us have mentioned, camera backpacks are heavy and don't have good suspensions. Most are made for small format large zoom lenses and cameras. They may not be designed to hold 4x5 hardware well. I do know many people who do like Lowepro for their digital gear and zoom lenses. I own North Face tents and they have held up well.

Hi, Wayne! I live in the Philippines. I house my other film gear in Lowepro and I'm very satisfied with its performance. I noted North Face for its performance in trekking and mountaineering. I'm sure there are other brands but these are the ones that popped into mind.

rugenius
3-Jan-2010, 20:45
I recently put together a fairly light weight 6x12cm/ 4x5in package using the following major items:
1) 3.1 lbs - Chamonix 045N
2) 0.7 lbs - PhotoClam 33NS ball head
3) 2.2 lbs - Feisol CT-3341S Traveller series tripod
4) 0.5 lbs - 150mm Fujinon, lens board, cable release
5) 1.3 lbs - 210mm Schneider, lens board, cable release
6) 1.5 lbs - Horseman 6x12 roll film back
7) 4.5 lbs - RPT/ Kelty Redwing 3100 (P2)

There are a number of other items that start to add up in weight.
The ball head-tripod-camera setup works very well even though the head is probably at the smallest useful end for payload.
You can quickly realize that depending on how "barebones" a person wants to go,... you can get off very light.
I wanted a pack that would accommodate other personal items, food, camping essentials, etc,...
So the backpack could be much lighter/ smaller... but,... I got what I wanted...:)

gregvds
4-Jan-2010, 06:59
I went for the Chamonix 45N-1, special order for fresnel position out of GG, not inside the camera. Maybe this will be available standard in the 45N-2). No change of weight though. 120 Schneider, really lightweight, and Fujinon 210, bigger. Other bits and stuff, everything packed into a Billingham Packington, really lightweight. I just come back from Holidays in the Pyreneans, where I used the system and transported it during a 2hours walk without problem. My tripod is heavy, but should be soon replaced by a Gitzo 2531, and an Arca-Swiss P0, much more lightweight.

All the best,

Bruce A Cahn
4-Jan-2010, 07:49
No problem, you can even get an 8x10 under that weight. If you want a 4x5 the lightest high quality cameras is an Ebony RW45 in mahogany. With an apo sironar s 135 or 150 lens and a carbon fiber tripod you will be very light. (If weight is still a problem, you can save weight by having wooden holders made, but they are very expensive.)

Mike1234
4-Jan-2010, 09:04
Good idea to save weight with wooden holders but why have expensive new wooden holders made when one can buy old 8x10's fairly cheaply? You can site leakage issues and warping but those are not as common as has been touted by a few people. Testing will find those problems... just toss the very few bad ones and buy more. Yes, they'll probably need to be re-taped but thats easy. :)