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Thread: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

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  1. #1

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    May 2007
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    Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    Hi all,

    Does anyone have any 'real world' experience with the Toho FC 45X?

    I just read Kerry Thalmann's review which sounds very positive.

    Some questions..

    1. Is the Toho screen bright enough? Is a replacement screen such as Maxwells necessary?

    2. I use the 72mm Schneider XL as my widest lens and use this a lot. Is this camera suitable for such a wide-angle. My lens range is 72-240mm.

    3. How sturdy is the camera in comparison to say the Shen-Hao?

    4. Are there enough movements for street architecture?

    Thanks.

  2. #2

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    one more thing...has anyone used the Toho 5x7 camera who could provide any feedback?

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  4. #4

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    I thought you were looking at Ebonys. They are a little different!

  5. #5

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pigeon View Post
    Hi all,

    Does anyone have any 'real world' experience with the Toho FC 45X?

    I just read Kerry Thalmann's review which sounds very positive.

    Some questions..

    1. Is the Toho screen bright enough? Is a replacement screen such as Maxwells necessary?

    2. I use the 72mm Schneider XL as my widest lens and use this a lot. Is this camera suitable for such a wide-angle. My lens range is 72-240mm.

    3. How sturdy is the camera in comparison to say the Shen-Hao?

    4. Are there enough movements for street architecture?

    Thanks.

    I've used a Toho FC-45X for over almost seven years, and I am very happy with it. I chose it initially because it is very light and comes apart easily for transport. (I have spinal stenosis, which limits how much weight I can carry.)

    1. Initially I found the screen bright enough, even for my f/6.8 90 mm Grandagon-N, at least in normal daylight. But I use that lens quite a lot and sometimes in relatively dim situations, so I switched to a Maxwell screen. I have become such a fan of the Maxwell screens that I think I would get one for any view camera I had.

    2. Currently my widest angle lens is a 75 mm f/4.5 Grandagon-N. I checked once and, if I remember correctly, the rear flange focal length of the 72 mm XL and the 75 mm Grandagon are similar, so you may be able to use my experience with the latter lens lens as a guide. I have no trouble focusing at infinity with my lens, but movements are quite limited because of stiffness of the bellows. Also, the design of the camera rise mechanism limits how high you can go with short bellows extensions. I eventually got Toho's eccentric lensboard which substitutes for a bag bellows by allowing you to raise the lens relative to the front standard without raising the standard. That together with the usable rise/fall of the standards allows me to make full use of the image circle of my lens. But the 72 mm XL has a significantly larger image circle. Even with my arrangement, I wouldn't be able to make full use of the 72 mm XL's capabilities. There was a previous discussion of just this issue, and the conclusion seemed to be that to make full use of that lens, you need a camera which can focus in close and which with a bag bellows allows significant rise/fall.

    I have no significant problems using rise/fall with my other lenses in the range 90 mm to 300 mm, although things can get tight with the 90 mm lens and a large rise.

    3. I have no experience with the Shen Hao. My Toho has stood up under regular use for seven years and I don't have any problems with wear. There are some minor problems which I have learned to work around. It is not as rigid as some more expensive cameras, but I've never had a problem with camera shake. I've added a scale to the focusing knob which allow me to focus to a few tenths of a mm. Geared rise/fall or tilt/swing would save some time, but I can make the movements I need without a lot of trouble.

    4. Architectural photography has been one of my main interests and I've been concentrating on it for the past several years. For the most part, the Toho serves my needs quite well. But, sometimes I can't get back far enough even for my 75 mm lens. I would do somewhat better if I had the 72 mm XL, but even with it, I wouldn't be able to take pictures of some building facades. So I've been experimenting with panoramic photography, using my Toho, which I have yet to master. If you are going to be doing a lot of such photography, I would suggest getting a full featured monorail camera which would allow full movements for your 72 mm Xl with a bag bellows. Such a camera will cost considerably more than a Toho FC-45X or Shen Hao.

    I haven't used the Toho 5 x 7 camera, but it seems to be built essentially the same way except everything is larger. It might be less rigid.

  6. #6

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    I have used the Toho FC 45X for two years and I am fully satisfied with it. I concur with all that Leonard has said. I use it with lenses from 75mm to 450mm.

    It was my second camera after a Sinar F1. When I began to use the Toho I used it only for backbacking. I liked it, but I wasn't comfortable with it, mainly because I kept comparing it to the Sinar. However, after putting about 30 sheets through the Toho I retired the Sinar, except for architecture. I would buy it again without reservation.

    I have no experience with the Shen Hao.

  7. #7

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    One other minor comment about the Toho. The circular lensboards allow you to position the lens easily so you can see the aperture and shutter speed scales and attach the quick release cable in a convenient position.

  8. #8

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    Thanks for all your responses and links. Very helpful.

    A couple more questions..is there a Bino Reflex Viewfinder that could be customised for this camera? Also, has anyone tried wider than 75mm, say 65mm with a recessed board?

  9. #9

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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Pigeon View Post
    Thanks for all your responses and links. Very helpful.

    A couple more questions..is there a Bino Reflex Viewfinder that could be customised for this camera? Also, has anyone tried wider than 75mm, say 65mm with a recessed board?
    I don't know anything about such viewfinders.

    You could in principle rig up some way to attach a 65 mm lens or shorter to a Toho, but because of the circcular opening in the front standard, you would have to have it custom made for you.

    My impression is that lenses with focal lengths 65 mm and shorter have such little coverage that they would not be of much use for the many large format (4 x 5) applications, which require at least some rise or fall.. They can of course be used with a roll film holder and a smaller format such as 6 x 9 or 6 x 7, but there would be little room for movement on the Toho even if you somehow managed to attach them with a recessed lensboard.

    Again, I would say that if you really want to use such short focal length lenses on a 4 x 5 camera, you would be better off getting a camera which is designed to accomodate such use with an appropriate bag bellows. Of course, such a camera would be a lot more expensive.

  10. #10
    Peter J. De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Toho FC 45X. Any advice?

    I used a Toho FC45x for a number of years. It is exceptionally light weight. This means that you can use a lighter tripod and head than usual. (I used a Gitzo CF 1227 with a $20 Bogen head. This combo weights about 1/3 what my usual LF tripod and head does.) It's a joy to arrive at a photo destination without being completely knackered.

    I agree with Leonard's comments above. While the Toho screen is usable, the Maxwell is much more so, although it should be for how much it costs.

    The camera works well, but there are a couple of infelicities. First, my sample was not "square" with the standards in the detent positions. Second, levels are difficult to use with the camera. In other words, getting everything aligned is something of a pain. Third, construction quality would be about a 5 on a scale of 1 being horrible and 10 being perfect. It's well made, but it's not in the same class as Linhof, Arca Swiss..., nor should it be for it's price.

    If you main interest is architectural, I'd highly recommend an Arca Swiss F-line with a bag bellows.

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