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Thread: A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users

    I have a Toho FC-45X view camera.

    Because I was having trouble doing architectural photography in tight quarters, even with a 90 mm lens, I got myself a 75 mm lens. I also decided to splurge and get the Toho eccentric lens board with it. As Kerry Thalmann has noted, it is a neat device. It functions as a lens board, and you can just leave the lens centered in it and use it that way, but it does extend possible shifts significantly. Be that as it may, I discovered that it was not actually that useful for my 75 mm lens. That lens has an image circle of 195 mm, and because of light fall off and other problems that seem endemic to wide angle lenses, one has to be careful about large shifts. It seems impractical to use much more that 15-20 mm in most cases, and that can be accomodated by the Toho's normal movements, even at 80 mm from the lens, which is the rear flange distance for the lens. My 90 mm lens, on the other hand, has a very large image circle, but I was finding that a knob would hit the bellows with large vertical shifts. That together with bellows stiffness prevented my making full use of the 90 mm lens's image circle So I've mounted that lens in the eccentric lens board and I expect it will solve some of my problems using the lens. I put the 75 mm lens in a standard lens board, and it seems to function well there. All told, I am glad I got the eccentric lens board, but it turned out it is not very useful for what I intended. For focal lengths even shorter than 75 mm, I suspect the problem would be even worse.

    I wonder if the same quandary arises in using a bag bellows. Short focal length lenses tend to have quite small image circles, and so the potential movements possible with a bag bellows may not be particularly useful. Perhaps such measures are more useful for moderately short, but not very short focal lengths.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco

    A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users

    Yeah, I had similar disappointments with my SA 65mm. I can't even use hardly any back tilt, as the rear element slams into the ground glass. Bag bellows don't make the image circle any bigger, unfortunately. ;-) They are great with my SSXL 110mm, on the other hand. I'm thinking of picking up the SSXL 80mm, to give my bag bellows a good workout.

  3. #3

    A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users


    I have to admit, I hadn't previously considered your suggestion of using the Eccentric Lens Panel with a 90mm lens. I don't shoot architecture, and the 90mm lens I usually use on the Toho (90mm f6.3 Congo WA) doesn't have much coverage either. So, I get all the movements I need/can use without it.

    As you noted, many lenses less than 90mm have rather small image circles. Depending on the lens, and it's coverage, the Eccentric Lens Panel may or may not be useful. However, there are some notable cases when the Eccentric Lens Panel will allow you to take advantage of the coverage of your lens.

    The first is the 72mm Super Angulon XL. Due to the large size and rather heavy weight of this lens, it may seem like an odd choice to combine with the ultralight Toho. However, you mentioned architectural photography, and this lens with it's huge coverage is a favorite of those who shoot architecture. I haven't tried it, but based on other wide angle I've used, I would expect the bellows of the Toho to bind before running this lens out of coverage. To use the full capabilities of this lens, the Eccentric Lens Panel would likely be a big help.

    Another possibility is shorter lenses used in combination with roll film backs. While your 75mm may run out of coverage before hitting the limits of the bellows when shooting 4x5, what about on 6x12, 6x9 or 6x7? This becomes even more of an issue with shorter lenses as the bellows become more compessed. Something like a 55mm APO Grandagon or a 47mm Super Angulon may not allow much movements on 4x5 before running out of coverage, but on roll film it's different story.

    Finally, there is the Toho Mini. This is Toho's lightest model and it has NO movements. When it first came out, I shook my head and wondered what market they were targetting with a monorail camera with no movements. Heck, without a rangefinder and viewfinder, it's not even hand holdable. That's when I realized, with a lens mounted in a Eccentric Lens Panel, the Toho Mini suddenly has rise/fall and shift movements. This makes it similar in function of the "pancake" cameras (like the Cambo Wide and Sinar Handy)" and the dedicated roll film shift cameras (Horseman SW612 Pro and Linhof Technorama 612) , but for a LOT less money (lighter wight, too). Even though the Eccentric Lens Panels are expensive compared to a plain lensboard, hey are dirt cheap compared to dedictated helical mounted lenses in proprietary mounts. While something like a Horseman SW612 Pro may be more user friendly, for the cost of a body, roll film back, viewfinder, ground glass and a single lens, you could buy a Toho Mini, roll film back, and several lenses and Eccentric Lens Panels.

    While I don't have a Toho Mini, I have used my Toho FC-45X with a roll film back and my 55mm APO Gradagon mounted in the Eccentric Lens Panel and it works great.

    It really is a cool device, and since it mounts to the camera just like a regular board and takes up no more room in my pack, I greatly prefer it to a bag bellows for my occasional wide angle use. I'm not a huge wide angle user, but if I was, I'd probably be using a camera with interchangeable bellows and lenses with more coverage. For my modest needs, the Eccentric Lens Panel works well, but I can see why other may prefer other solutions based on their needs. To be honest, if you only shoot 4x5 and are using a lens in the 75mm - 80mm range, you may not need, or benefit from, the Eccentric Lens Panel. As Leonard mentioned, you can get a fair amount of movement with a 75 before the bellows bind up. The best way to be sure is to try it without the Eccentric Lens Panel first to see if you could use the extra rise/fall/shift. If so, buy it. If not, you just saved yourself $225.


  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2003

    A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users


    Having just mounted my 90 mm lens in the Toho eccentric panel, I am really impressed with your doing that in the field. The problem is putting the registration screw, which the eccentric board needs, back in the lens. It took me almost an hour to do it, in good light on my desk, with all sorts of tools. Do you have some tricks to (1) make sure you don't lose something so tiny in your kit, and (2) putting it back into the lens without losing it in the field?

    Where is a good place to get such registration screws, anyway?

    Your point about using the Toho as a medium format view camera makes sense. Right now I'm not tempted to do that because I have a Horseman Technical camera. That camera won't take lenses shorter than 65 mm, but even a 55 mm lens in medium format is relatively speaking longer than a 90 mm lens in 4 x 5. As a bumbling amateur, I can restrict my wide angle work to the Toho. As far as 6 x 12 and such are concerned, I'm afraid I have a lot of other more conventional things to master first.

    Perhaps I should have got the super angulon XL 72 mm. I can't remember all the considerations I went through, but I think I rejected it because of the weight, despite the larger image circle. Also, I didn't think I would use such extensive movements because I wasn't sure I could deal with the light fall-off. I seem to have managed to figure out how to compensate digitally with my 75 mm lens, and so far I've avoided getting a center filter.

  5. #5

    A tip for Toho (not Toyo) users


    I don't swap lenses on the Eccentric Lens Panel in the field. Lately, I've just left the 55mm APO Grandagon mounted on it, as it's the only lens I have that really needs it. If I was going to try to swap lenses in the field, I wouldn't remove the little locator screw from the shutter. Personally, I never remove lenses from their boards in the field. Too much dirt and grit and the possibility of dropping something.

    As far as installing the little locator screw in the shutter, I just use a regular jeweler's screwdriver. If that doesn't work for you, a magnetized screwdriver would probably make life easier. There are also a few specialized screwdrivers designed to hold screws (some have a split tip that can be used to lock into the slot in the screw head, others have little spring loaded sliding clamps on the sides of the shaft that grip the screw from two opposing sides).

    WRT to the 72mm SA XL, I passed on it as I don't need the coverage for my modest landscape use. It's bigger, heavier and takes much larger center filters that the other 75s, or the 80mm SS XL. The cost of the center filter alone was enough to scare me away (sounds like you've found a way around that problem). Still, if I was shooting arcitecture, it would be the lens I'd probably own.


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