View Full Version : Portable 4x5 for use with 450 lens

Ken Lee
8-Jul-2004, 08:40
I am re-phrasing an earlier question. What camera would you recommend, which would allow me to use a Fujinon 450A in the field, but would also allow the use of a lens as short as 150, with the same bellows ?

I am aware of the Canham, but one reviewer suggests that at its maximum extension, it can be unstable, or strained.

Some have suggested that even though the 70mm bellows is long enough, an Arca Swiss becomes unstable at the same extension, because the rail design is not robust enough.

Would it be better to get a 5x7 camera, and use a 4x5 reducing back ? Are they built with enough rigidity, or would this length exceed their intended use anyhow ?

I would like to avoid having to use more than 1 tripod. I would prefer it if the camera were really steady enough to begin with.

Pete Roody
8-Jul-2004, 08:45

The Arca F-line will be stable and secure with a 450 lens. I use it with a 19" lens with no problems.

Danny Burk
8-Jul-2004, 08:56

One of the Ebony line will fit the bill beautifully. I have an SV45U2 with Universal bellows, and it easily accomodates all of my lenses from 47mm to 720mm (telephoto) with no bellows changes. I have a Fuji 450 "C" (non-tele) and it has a lot of room to spare beyond infinity. With the 720mm tele, I can focus down to about 20 feet; its nodal point is around 480mm.

It is extremely rigid - more so than any other wooden camera I've seen. When using long lenses, if it's breezy I use an umbrella to shield the bellows. There is no reason whatever to use two tripods; I shoot mostly long lenses and obtain very sharp results.

I'm not as familiar with some of the other Ebony models, but there are several others that will also accept a 450 non-tele lens. Specs are listed on Ebony's and Badger's websites. I have a short review of the SV45U2 on my site; feel free to ask questions if you need more info.

Regards, Danny www.dannyburk.com

8-Jul-2004, 09:41
Here are some specs for the Wisner Traditional and Technical Expedition 4x5 models, cut from wisner.com:

Minimum focus, normal bellows..... 115mm

Maximum focus, normal bellows...... 30" (762mm)

Beware delayed delivery times if you deal directly with Wisner.

Gem Singer
8-Jul-2004, 09:42
Hi Ken,

The Fuji 450C is mounted in a Copal 1 shutter and only weighs 270gms. Since it is a compact, lightweight lens, it doesn't put very much strain on an extremely extended front standard. My Ebony SV45TE allows the use of the 450C with the standard bellows. I have added the 34mm. extension lensboard to allow more close focus versatility. It works for me.

Take a look at the 5X7 Tachihara. Jim is expecting a shipment of them in the near future. He can probably get the 4X5 reducing back for the 5X7, if you decide you want to use one. It would certainly solve the longer bellows problem. The 5X7 Tachi is probably a very rigid camera at an extended bellows configuration, judging from my 8X10 Tachi. From what 5X7 owners say, you may learn to love the 5X7 format.

Frank Petronio
8-Jul-2004, 11:05
Switch to Sinar - it's all dirt cheap on fleabay and you can build it as long as you want. I like Arcas better too, but it's hard to beat the wide availability and price of used Sinar gear.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
8-Jul-2004, 11:31
I have had no problems using my wooden Canham with a 19" Apo-Ronar, which was a much heavier lens. In fact, I found my Canham to be much more solid at those extensions than a friend's 8x10 Deardorff. However, in my experience, no field camera will be as solid as a good monorail.

Jason Greenberg Motamedi
8-Jul-2004, 11:33
Sorry, I forgot to say that I was comparing the wooden 5x7 Canham, not the 8x10.

Kevin M Bourque
8-Jul-2004, 13:22
Hi Ken Ė

I use a 450mm Nikkor on my Canham DLC, no problem. It focuses a lot closer than you think it would, too.

On the short end, I can use a 90mm with some movements. Iíve even used a 65mm with no movements with the same bellows.

Iím a big fan of the DLC. Not everyone likes them, though.

Ken Lee
8-Jul-2004, 15:17
- Wow - What wonderful information !

Peter: May I ask, how is your camera configured ? I presume you have the 700mm bellows, but which rail are you using ?

Eugene: According to Tuan's article (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/tachihara.html" target="_blank), the bellows draw on the Tachihara 5x7 is 450mm, just barely enough perhaps. I had a Tachihara 4x5, sold it "on my way up".

Frank:Thanks - I forgot about Sinar. I will definitely have a look.

Kevin: Thanks - It puzzled me that the Canham DLC would allow the long draw, but not "deliver", as it were.

Another consideration is the Shen Hao 5x7, which gives a 600mm bellows draw. Getting a 4x5 reducing back, is perhaps another question.

Ernest Purdum
8-Jul-2004, 16:12
Ken, you don't have to worry too much about getting a reducing back for a 5" X 7" wooden camera. Graflok 4" X 5" backs show up on eBay quite often and any competent woodworker can adapt one to a larger wooden camera.

Gem Singer
8-Jul-2004, 17:14
Hello again, Ken,

Sure enough, to my surprise, the specs. for the 5X7 Tachi show 45cm. as the maximum bellows extension. It would require the use of a 34mm extension lensboard in order to properly utilize the Fuji 450C on that camera.

There aren't many 4X5 field cameras that are capable of handling a 450mm. non-tele lens. The Ebony SV45Te can handle it, but I realize that it is out of your price range. I suggest that you ask Jim for his opinion of the Shen Hao before you decide to purchase it.

Perhaps the only practical solution is to look for a previously owned, relatively light weight, 4X5 monorail.

Pete Roody
8-Jul-2004, 20:49

I have both 4x5 and 8x10 Arca's.

I use a 40cm telescopic bench (extends to 60cm). I also have a 40cm rail for longer extensions.

For 4x5 I use 70cm bellows and for 8x10 I use 50cm bellows with the 19" ronar in Copal 3.

Ellis Vener
8-Jul-2004, 21:24
I am aware of the Canham, but one reviewer suggests that at its maximum extension, it can be unstable, or strained.

Having used the Canham DLC with the long and heavy T-Nikkors , I disagree. I also own an Arca-Swiss F with a 40cm optical bench, which extends to about 60cm. To get the length you want you'll also need an extra long bellows. Same with a Sinar or any other 4x5 view camera.

What you should do is try to find a dealer who will let you shoot some test images with the 450 and the DLC. That will answer all of your questions.

Kerry L. Thalmann
8-Jul-2004, 23:49

Seems like you've been going round and round on this. Here's a couple observations from somone whose used both a Canham DLC and and ARCA-SWISS (F-Line).

First, regarding the Canham. It's not as smooth, precise or rigid as the ARCA. However, for ACTUAL use, it does just fine with a 450mm Fujinon C. I used that combo for years. ALL cameras become less rigid as you near maximum extension. The Canham feels a bit "springy" (even at short extensions), but give it a couple seconds to settle down after inserting the film holder and everything will be fine. The Canham offers a nice combination if reasonable weight, compact size and the unequaled ability to accomodate a very wide range of lenses without additional accessories. I used mine with lense from 75mm (in a recessed Toyo board) - 450mm (and occasionally 720mm telephoto) with just the standard bellows (one the the Canham's best features). If I could own only one camera for all my field camera needs, it would be a Canham DLC.

ARCA-SWISS is very conservative with their specs. For example, they rate the maximum extension with the standard bellows and the 30cm telescoping rail as 380mm. With a FLAT board (not the standard 13mm recessed board), I get 440mm of extension. That's actually enough to focus the 450mm Fujinon C at infinity with about 15mm to spare. Not ideal, but it gives you an idea how conserative they are in their specs. I also have the 70cm long bellows and a 40cm rail section. With these two accessories (combined with the 30cm optical bench and a 15cm rail section), I can get over 650mm extension). Likewsie, they are conservative on their minimum extension. With the 70cm bellows fully compressed and the standard (13mm recessed) board the actual minimum extension is 85mm. With a 150mm lens focused at infinity, I can get about an inch and a half of front rise before the bellows bind. I also have the leather wide angle bellows. Between the wide angle bellows and the 70cm bellows, I can use lenses from 55mm - 600mm (non-telephoto) with full movements. There is enough overlap between the two bellows that I don't even need to carry the standard bellows if I don't want to.

The ARCA system is extremely versatile. Talk to a dealer who knows ARCA. You should be able to configure your camera with whatever bellows and rail you desire. I'm pretty sure you can swap the standard fixed length rail on the Discovery with a telescopic bench at the time of purchase. You might be able to swap the bellows, too. Talk to a dealer.

If you do decide to go with an ARCA, given your needs, it might be best to start with the F-Line Field model with a 50cm tapered bellows (in place of the tapered wide angle bellows that is standard on this model). You'll probably still want add another rail section (20cm or 25cm) to get the full 500mm of extension (it comes standard with the 30cm bench and two 15cm rail sections). Given the amount of rise I can get with my 70cm bellows with a 150, you would likely have no problem with a 150 and the 50cm bellows. If you ever get any shorter lenses, the wide angle bellows will handle them with ease.

I guess the whole point is if you really want an ARCA-SWISS, you should be able to get one configured to meet your needs - and consider the ARCA specs to be very conservative. On the other hand, if you want one lightweight. compact camera that meets all your needs without additional accessories, the Canham DLC is certainly up to the task. I think you'll be happy with either camera. Just buy one or the other and get out and do some shooting.

P.S. I think buying a 5x7 camera with a 4x5 reducing back just to shoot 4x5 film with a long lens is overkill. In addition to the two camera mentioned, there are several other 4x5 models that can handle lenses from 150 - 450 (Ebony, Wisner Expedition, Linhof TK45S, Lotus, etc.).


jose angel
9-Jul-2004, 02:36
I often use a DLC Canham with a 420 Apo-Ronar (Copal 3) for head portraits at my homeīs flat roof (outdoors). Even at its maximum extension (focusing up to two or three meters), the camera is stable and rigid enough, -prints are absolutely sharp-.

Obviously, any 4x5" camera spreaded to 450mm (or more... bear in mind that with 450mm of -real- focal lenght, you will need more bellows if you want to focus closer, -How closer do you want to focus?-) , and fastened to the tripod with a 3/8" screw, in a relatively small cork-covered plate, is more capable of vibrations than a closed one, specially if are not arm-supported with an auxiliary device (like the Manfrotto 359 -note that it could be the solution to your concern-, I never needed it) or with non centered base plate field cameras (5x7"ones included).

At your disposal,

jose angel
9-Jul-2004, 03:09
My recomendation:

1. If you really need longer than 450mm bellows, Arca (or Sinar) system. You will need additional accesories.

2. If you want to be confortable, with all reasonable lenses, go for the lightest 4x5" camera with enough bellows to use with the lenses you like, and adapt your needs to the most practical equipment (If you need a longer focal lenght, use a 6x9 back or crop the 4x5" image, or use telephoto lenses). The Canham DLC or Arca Swiss would be my choice. I wouldn`t buy a 5x7", unless you want that format.

3. Adapt a Manfrotto 359 or similar arm-support (an attachment fitted to the tripod leg and to the lens or camera extension to add rigidity) if you need it.

Doug Pollock
9-Jul-2004, 08:37
I sometimes use an old 450mm Zeiss process lens (1.3 pounds) on my Canham DLC 45. I added an AWB Enterprises Wind Stabilizer Kit to the camera (mentioned elsewhere in this forum) which locks the whole system up like concrete.

Ken Lee
9-Jul-2004, 08:45
Thanks so much for your help, esteemed LF dudes. I will contemplate these options and if I can make something nice with the 450, I'll let you know !

Michael S. Briggs
9-Jul-2004, 08:58
I used to use a Canham DLC with a 450 mm Fuji-C. It worked, but I thought it was borderline -- when focusing I had to be careful not to press the loupe against the ground glass because it would move the back too much. If low weight was very important, it might be the camera to use. Again, my experience with the DLC is that it could take photos with the 450 mm Fuji-C -- very short focal length lenses are actually more of a problem because the universal bellows isn't as univeral as claimed. Since you are considering buying a 5x6 camera to use with 4x5 film, weight isn't critical to you. I don't recommend buying a 5x7 camera since for this purpose since there are 4x5 field cameras that will do well with a 450 mm non-telephoto lens.

One that I have experience with (already mentioned by Kerry) is the Linhof Technikardan 45S. The older non-S model should work too. This handles a 450 mm non-telephoto lens well and can focus with the Fuji-C as close as a few meters. It isn't absolutely rigid like some much heavier monorails might be, but it is plenty rigid, and certainly more rigid than the DLC. Of course, it weighs more than the DLC.

The regular Technikardan bellows will work well with both a 150 and 450 mm lens. From about 110 mm and shorter the bag bellows is better. Exchanging bellows is easy to do, so if someday you might want to use shorter focal length lenses, the Technikardan can handle them also.

Alan Davenport
9-Jul-2004, 15:04
Tachihara offers a bellows extension for the 4x5; it would allow infinity focus with up to 600mm lenses. I'd be concerned about rigidity of the resulting system, though.

Jeffrey Scott
9-Jul-2004, 21:06
One camera not mentioned is the Linhof Technikardan, that should also work for your needs.

Struan Gray
20-Jul-2004, 15:26
I have just come back from a family trip to Scotland during which I spent the evenings yomping around the local scenery with my Sinar Norma. My most used lenses are a 150 mm and a 18". The 150 works well on a 6" rail, which makes the camera as compact as it can be. I carry a 12" basic rail which I add for close ups and when using the 18" lens. With everything extended I can focus down to thirty feet or so with the 18" lens, and past 1:1 with the 150. The standard bellows (mine is a modern one) allows this but is fairly tight which might promote flare. The bellows also comlains a bit when using more than moderate movements with the 150 mm, but I've not had a problem in the field.

Sinars aren't light, but the bulk of mine bothers me more than the weight. They are rigid, and I don't bother with a second tripod, although I have been known to loop the handstrap of my Leki pole around the rail in strong winds to provide a makeshift monopod. I have a 5x7 back and bellows, but haven't bothered to get a reducing back so I can use it with the 18" lens. For a 600 mm it would be useful, as it eliminates the need to pfaff about with two bellows and an intermediate standard. My 5x7 back and bellows allows a 150 to be focussed on infinity, but movements are pretty restricted.

Ken Lee
20-Jul-2004, 19:42
I spoke to Jeff at Badger Graphics, and he advised me to simply get the Arca 700mm bellows, and use my existing Discovery along with my 25cm extension. Concerned with rigidity, I had thought of aquiring new rail brackets, but Jeff insisted that the rails and existing bracket are already quite rigid, even when the camera is at fiull extension.

Upon closer examination, I see he is right: any further bracing would contribute nothing more, unless I was trying to use the camera as a crowbar or tire iron. Such is the quality of Arca Swiss, for which I am grateful.

Many thanks to all the sages on this list. Whatta resource !

If I make any keepers, I will post one, once the money arrives and gets quickly converted to equipment.