View Full Version : new folding purchase advice

18-Mar-2012, 18:23
I have been using a Sinar F1. I love it. But I am going on a trip to Eastern Europe and want to take my camera with me. Therefore I want to purchase a 4X5 folding field camera. I found a walnut Zone VI which has great eye appeal. But again, I was wondering if a Wista 45n or Wisner Traditional might be more rugged or useful. So it comes down to beautiful and attractive wooden camera versus rugged and useful metal/composite. Any opinions or experience travelling with folding cameras? What about weight? Any other choices fit the bill? Thanks a bunch!


Gem Singer
18-Mar-2012, 19:23
Hi Alexis,

Darin Boville has a Toyo AX metal folding field camera listed for sale on this forum.

That camera is ideal for your needs. Check the stats on www.toyoview.com

It is priced very reasonably, and Darin is a reliable seller.

Welcome to the forum, and best of luck with your search.

Frank Petronio
18-Mar-2012, 19:50
Perhaps one of those 6x7 Fuji-Voightlander-Bessa 667 roll film cameras would make a better compliment to your Sinar? Or one of the other quality medium format cameras like the Mamiya 7 or Fuji GW690-series... not only would there be less to carry, they would be quicker, faster in lower light, less painful to your companions!

The image quality is quite good, not quite large format quality but definitely superior to any snapshots people would make with a 35mm or DSLR. Certainly professional or gallery quality. So why burden yourself with a 4x5?

adam satushek
18-Mar-2012, 20:13
I would second the opinion the Mamiya 7's are awesome for travel. I recently got back into this system, ( traded in my folder, a Canham DLC to help fund it). With Portra 160 handheld in the Mamiya I am very pleased with the results.....comes close to rivaling my F1 setup, though admittedly I do miss movements sometimes. Using my 7ii recently (with 65mm and 150mm) I've pretty much come to the conclusion that for travel where its not reasonable for me to lug my Sinar F2 8x10 I might just pack the Mamiya system. No need to carry film holders, extra rail, extra bellows, heavy tripod, 6 lenses, or changing tent like ive done when traveling with my F1 4x5.

That being said, I have traveled a lot with my first 4x5 a Korona, and with a Canham DLC, and a fair bit now with my F1 4x5. It can definitely be done, but just wanted to echo Franks opinion that a nice MF system can be a really good option.

Have fun in Eastern Europe!

MIke Sherck
18-Mar-2012, 20:20
Which 4x5 camera depends in part on how much bellows draw and what movements you need. The Wisner and Zone Vi will have more bellows than a Wista, and all may (or may not) have different rear movements (depending on model.) I have an older Zone VI with 18" bellows and it works fine for me; I used to have a new Wisner Technical Field and it was fine, too, and very pretty. A Wista never tempted me because I gravitate more toward longer lenses and the Wista's bellows are too short to focus a 300mm lens very closely, or a longer lens at all. With my Zone VI I can use my 420mm Artar easily, or lenses down to 90mm and that's pretty much the range I want.


18-Mar-2012, 20:22
Going through an airport security is the real test.

Frank Petronio
18-Mar-2012, 20:23
One factor is whether the camera folds onto the attached lens, which saves one more thing to carry and fumble with. The Wistas will close around a 135-150 normal lens, not sure about the others.

Frankly if you like the way the F1 sets-up, you may prefer the extra weight of the Toyo Field or Wista VX-SP (metal) folders. They are nice and solid. However only the Wista folds with a lens attached.

Merg Ross
18-Mar-2012, 20:41
I want to purchase a 4X5 folding field camera.

Hi Alexis,

Darin Boville has a Toyo AX metal folding field camera listed for sale on this forum.

That camera is ideal for your needs. Check the stats on www.toyoview.com

It is priced very reasonably, and Darin is a reliable seller.

Welcome to the forum, and best of luck with your search.

Gem speaks from years of experience. This camera would be a good choice. I have used the Toyo AX for ten years, without complaint.

Doremus Scudder
19-Mar-2012, 02:58
I'll add my two-cents worth here too, since I "standardize" on light and portable.

First though, do make sure, as Frank points out, that you want a 4x5. If you need the movements then by all means, but if not, medium format will maybe be a better choice.

I have a Zone VI later model camera, which is very similar in size and functions to the Wisner technical field. For me, both these cameras are just too big to carry around a lot. I do use it, but on shorter excursions and the pack and all the accessories is twice as big as the kit I carry with smaller 4x5 field cameras.

I have small wooden folders: two Wista DXs and a Woodman (very light) at the moment. Tachihara cameras are also in the same size category. This size wooden folder is a lot smaller and lighter, but has appropriately shorter bellows draw (300mm). My Wistas fold up with a lens in them, a plus when space is at a premium.

Here in Vienna, I cruise the city on my bicycle with the tripod strapped on the luggage rack and my gear all in a small combination backpack/rolling carry-on. I get the Woodman, five lenses, 6 filmholders, the Pentax spot meter, two sets of filters, etc. in it. I've traveled with this on airlines all over Europe no problem (I do load all my filmholders in the carry-on and often put the camera and filters, well-padded in my checked baggage till I arrive at my destination. Never had a problem with security except to unpack-repack on occasion. Don't bother asking for hand inspections in Europe though, just smile and put your film through the hand luggage scanner.)

In the States, a Wista and several lenses goes into a fanny pack, other stuff in pockets and the tripod in my hand. Both my kits are a lot smaller than most medium-format kits.

Maybe one of these methods would work for you. I could certainly envisage a small folder, a 90mm f/8, 135mm f/5.6 and small 210mm plus holders and accessories fitting into a typical over the shoulder camera bag and not being much bigger than the stuff an enthusiastic DSLR shooter carries. Also, with a lighter weight camera, you don't need as big of a tripod.

Bottom line: my recommendation is a light wood folder with limited bellows draw and small lenses (I like the Fuji A series 180/240mm lenses, and my Ektar 203mm and WF100mm for their size. A regular 135mm plasmat is not too big, and I often carry my 90mm SA f/8. Typical for me here in Europe is a 90mm SA f/8, WF Ektar 135mm, 180mm Fuji A and 240mm Fuji A). The trade off is fewer movements and a bit less coverage from the lenses. But I do a bunch of architectural work with that kit just fine. Do get a gridded ground glass if you plan on a lot of architectural shots.

Best and happy shooting,


20-Mar-2012, 17:47
Many thanks to all of you for good advice. I scoured the internet doing as much research as I could and decided in the end to take Gem's and Merg's advice. I liked the Toyo 45AX so I contacted Darin and bought it. He has shipped it out today. I should have it by the end of the week. I can't wait to start playing with it. Thanks again!