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Thread: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

  1. #1
    Eric Woodbury
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    Dec 2003
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    Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    I've been shooting LF from 4x5 to 8x10 for 25 years. I've used many different cameras and many different styles, including 3 different homemade cameras. Now I'm looking for a 4x5 that isn't such a pain to use. For my work, I figure all I need is front rise/fall, rear swing, rear tilt, rear fine focus, front coarse focus, bellows enough for lenses from 58mm to 450mm (about 500mm of bellows), about 4 pounds, strong, and non-folding.

    I don't know about the rest of you, but folding a conventional field camera seems like a big waste of time. And because cameras fold, they have a hard time accommodating short and long lenses. Using a 58mm or 65mm lens requires major contortions from the camera. And using a 450mm lens is out of the question except for a few cameras.

    I had a metal Canham that could handle many of these requests, but it is such a puzzle to set up that I find it troublesome to use. It is a nice camera and beautifully done, but it is not for me. I want to concentrate on the photograph and not assembling and contorting the camera.

    I know the weight requirement seems tough, but I know too that cameras are over-designed in some ways and under-designed in others. I have an Ebony: a very nice camera with many features. Why do I need titanium knobs? This is wasteful and heavy. There are many places on these cameras where titanium is used to no advantage.

    If the camera folds, maybe like a Kodak 2D, then that is okay, but unnecessary. Most any camera will have more movements, but maybe they could be removed for weight reasons. I you all have any ideas, I'd love to hear them. Thanks for your help.
    my picture blog
    ejwoodbury.blogspot.com

  2. #2

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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    You could get a Gowland Pocket View and get a longer bellows for it. Since it's a mini-monorail camera it doesn't matter how far apart the front and rear standards are, as long as the bellows are long enough, it's fine. Weight under 4 Lbs is definetly not a problem for it- I think mine weighs in at barely over a 1 pound. Conventionally they have coarse rear focus and fine front focus, but they can be designed in reverse I'm sure.

  3. #3

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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    Chamonix 45N-1 with the extender and universal bellows. I shoot with a 47mm XL on mine often. It can also accommodate a 400mm with the extender bracket.
    Will Wilson
    www.willwilson.com

  4. #4
    Clement Apffel's Avatar
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    I'll second the Chamonix 45N-1. A very light, versatile camera and easy to set up.
    Though one point won't match your requirements : the fine front focus.

    But get your hands on one, it worth the try.

  5. #5
    deadpan's Avatar
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Woodbury View Post
    Why do I need titanium knobs? This is wasteful and heavy.

    For the record, the knobs on Ebony cameras are actually Aluminium - unlike the rest of the metal.

  6. #6
    joseph
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Woodbury View Post
    Now I'm looking for a 4x5 that isn't such a pain to use. For my work, I figure all I need is front rise/fall, rear swing, rear tilt, rear fine focus, front coarse focus, bellows enough for lenses from 58mm to 450mm (about 500mm of bellows), about 4 pounds, strong, and non-folding.
    Quite a wide ranging set of parameters-

    Part of the difficulty, I suppose, is that everyone's requirements will be different-
    that camera might not suit me very well at all-
    although my F-line nearly meets your specifications. After a fashion.

    I'm not shopping for a 4x5 at the moment,
    but I am thinking about making one-
    less bellows, accommodate a 47mm, but only out to a 300mm at about 10m-
    slightly different movements, not sure about the folding thing, but it will have to be compact- light and strong would be good too-

    So sorry, can't help you with your camera choice, but since you've made some already,
    how about making another one?

    I take your point about the titanium, but surely the knobs don't add that much weight?
    I've never even seen an Ebony,
    but aren't the sum of the details and the materials choices part of the reason why so many Ebony users profess so much emotional attachment to their cameras?

    Although the plastic looking ones on the Chamonix look very nice too-

    Love is not a rational thing...

  7. #7
    Eric Woodbury
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    jb7

    I've been designing this camera for about 9 months now, but before I commit (or am committed), I thought I'd check one last time.

    I realize that manufacturers have to please most people most of the time and this is what drives the cameras designs we have. And, as you say, love is not a rational thing and I might add that camera love is an irrational thing.

    I love my 5x7 Deardorff, but it is for sentimental reasons more than convenience of use. Setting up the 'dorff for a 72mm lens is torturous. Even the 110mm requires some contortions, but from there out to 800mm it is fine. It has more knobs and adjustments than I have ever used and thus more weight than I want.

    I will review the F-line. (What is the F for with this camera?)

    Thanks, EW
    my picture blog
    ejwoodbury.blogspot.com

  8. #8
    joseph
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    F? Field?

    I dunno, not sure if I ever questioned it-
    Although Arca is meant to mean All Round Camera...

    Open to correction on both of those statements,
    maybe I'm just making it up-

    It exceeds your movements requirements, but also your weight requirements-
    and the standard bellows on mine are only 38cm, 40 at a straight stretch-

    One thing you don't mention is bulk-
    something I'd definitely need to improve on...

  9. #9
    Moderator
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    A Sinar F fulfills all your requirements except that it's about two pounds heavy, maybe.

    The extensible monorail and easily interchangeable bellows are both very useful features for accommodating a 58-450mm focal range. Mine would accommodate that range on flat boards. And these days they are cheap on the used market.

    Rick "and in the case of Sinar, F is for Field" Denney

  10. #10
    Dave Karp
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    Re: Does this 4x5 camera exist?

    Sounds like my WP Improved Seneca.

    Front rise and fall, rear swing, rear tilt, front and rear focus. You would need the extender rail for the rear to get the extension you need (I don't know for sure if it would be enough for a 450mm in the 4x5 version). Seems like they made what you want in the early 1900s! http://fiberq.com/cam/seneca/sennew.htm

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