View Full Version : An Arca-Swiss user looking for another compact field camera

Wisawa S.
6-Aug-2004, 20:09
I have used an Arca-Swiss 45FC Field for many years and found that it's too bulky especially when hiking though I love its smoothness and rigidity very much. Now I have a plan to buy another field camera that can be fit in a small backpack like Lowepro Mini Trekker AW. After a long searching and reading the archives, I narrow down my choice to Ebony 45S, Canham DLC45 and Walker Titan SF. Would you please share your comments? Please keep in mind that my priority are below in order;

1. For a man who get used to the smoothness/rigidity of Arca-Swiss, the camera should not be far behind it in this aspect. I don't know which one comes closest to my Arca.

2. Compactness is my second important factor. I think all three cameras are comparable in this aspect.

3. The camera must be usable with 75-300mm lenses at least. The longer lens are preferable that I think the DLC wins.

4. Durability. Since I live in Thailand that is very hot and humid, this is also an important factor that makes me sway from Ebony.

If you were in this situation, which camera would you buy? Keep in mind that I still use my Arca-Swiss and looking for another camera for hiking. Are there other cameras I overlooked? Maybe a Toyo 45AII.

Any comments would be appreciated.

austin granger
6-Aug-2004, 20:43
Although it's not on your initial 'finalists' list, I've happily used a Toyo 45AX (same as the AII but without the rotating back) for about three years. This camera is now deceased (see post two below this one) through no fault of Toyo's. Anyway, it fits nicely in a smallish Lowepro street and field rover awII (fairly similar to the pack you mentioned), has smooth movements, is rigid, reliable, easy to use, and is I think, a bit cheaper than your other choices.

I use a 90 lens with ease, but for a 75 I think you'd have to go with a recessed board. On the long side, a 300 or a 360 telephoto is max.

As far as "negatives" go, I wouldn't mind a front axis tilt (it has only base tilt), it is sort of heavy (around 6lbs) and is generally not the most glamourous camera to look at (if that matters to you), but in all, as I said, I have been quite satisfied with it and would recommend you consider it.

Ellis Vener
6-Aug-2004, 20:55
The DLC. because simplicity of design and ease of maintenance as wel las abiity to use it wit ha wide range of lenses. It is very rigid when actually making photographs..

Steve Hoffmann
6-Aug-2004, 21:11
I second the Toyo AX or AII. I looked at the Canham DLC but the back seemed quite mushy when locked up. I don't think it even comes close to your requirement for 'smoothness and rigidity'... My AII handles my 300 Nikkor in to about 12 feet and my 65mm works fine with a 12mm recessed board and can be used with the back in horizontal position without dropping the bed. A 75mm should work without a recessed board. The AII folds up into a very bullet proof box. The back has a flip up hood that protects the ground glass. I took it to Death Valley with two lenses film and Quickload holder in a Mini Trekker...It does have base tilts but the front locking system is fast. With a little practice you can unlock the front and adjust tilt, shift and focus nearly simultaneously using both hands and then lock it up with only two locking levers and adjust fine focus.

Brian Ellis
6-Aug-2004, 22:55
If the Arca is the equal of a Linhof Technikas that I've owned in terms of smoothness and rigidity, and if the Ebony 45S is no better in those terms than the Ebony 45 SVTe and the SvTi that I owned, then I can tell you that the Ebony 45S is going to be a pretty long way from what you're used to with the Arca. I think you're going to have a lot of trouble finding a wood camera that is the equal of a good metal camera in terms of smoothness and ridigity. Wood cameras have many good features and I'm not knocking them, it's just that for smoothness and rigidity alone I think a good metal camera will always be better.

I've owned six wooden cameras in various formats including the two Ebonys. I've also owned two Technikas. The Ebonys were very fine cameras in many respects but strictly from a smoothness and rigidity standpoint they weren't the equal or even very close to the equal IMHO to the Technikas. Actually when I look at the four specific points that you say are important to you I wonder why you haven't bought a Technika by now since it fits perfectly with all four of them.

Frank Petronio
7-Aug-2004, 06:18
Get a Linhof Technika. Or a Wista VX, which has several small improvements and is more versatile, although the Linhof is probably slightly better made than either the Wista or the Arca.

OR, get an inexpensive "beater" like an old Crown Graphic - something that you don't mind using in the rain or the worst conditions. They are very durable cameras that will make just as good a photo as a $5000 Arca or Linhof.

Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 08:30
Take a look at Jack Dykinga's book "Large format Nature Photography". He has solved the exact problem you are facing. He uses an Arca Swiss F and a Wista wooden field camera. Jack lives and photographs in Arzona. A very warm climate, but without the extreme humidity of Thailand.

The Walker Titan SF (made of ABS and stainless steel) would probably withstand the conditions of heat and moisture in Thailand better than a wooden field camera. However, it is slightly bulkier and heavier than the wooden Wista that Jack uses.

A metal folding flat bed field camera, such as the Toyo A, the Wista SP, or the Linhof Tech Field, are durable, compact, smooth operating cameras, but they are not exactly light weight cameras for backpack hiking.

If I were in your situation, I would choose the Walker.

Frank Petronio
7-Aug-2004, 09:26
If you look at the corner joints of the Walker compared to the Ebony you'll see a huge difference in quality and strength of construction. The Walker uses triangular, glued blocks to reinforce the joint, whereas the Ebony has a very clean and strong joint. Neither camera will give you strength and precision of an Arca though.

Why not adapt the Arca with a 2x3 front standard and special bellows? Dykinga and Kerry Thalman manages to backpack with their Arcas, and it would make more sense than getting into another camera system.

tim atherton
7-Aug-2004, 09:40
Check my recent thread here and on photo.net where I asked a similar-ish question - titled something like

I'm assuming you are using the F Compact 4x5 with both standards the same size? (not the F Field?) As Frank mentioned, you could do the conversion yourself to the F Field -


tim atherton
7-Aug-2004, 09:41
that shopuld have been - titled something like "Canham DLC vs. Arca Swiss Basic - dump the arca?"

George Hart
7-Aug-2004, 10:42
Hi Wisawa, Ebony doesn't seem to be doing well so far, so here's a contribution from a 45S owner! I think that my camera fulfils all of your 3 criteria rather well. Smoothness/rigidity -- no problem, equal to AS in the field, and I suspect better than the DLC. Compact, yes, coupled with greater ease of set-up compared to the DLC. Lenses, 55-270 on flat panels at infinity. I use a 300mm lens on a top-hat panel, with no problem. Longer lenses would have to be telephotos on this camera. Durability, I'm not familiar with Thailand but I can assure you that the minor inconvenience of wood swelling and contracting with temperature and humidity swings can be easily sorted with the help of a no 0 Phillips screwdriver. It's only the changes that bring about a need for adjustment; if your country is hot/humid all the time, then there's no problem! Unless you need really long lenses, you may be best served with the 45S. My fellow Brit and LF photographer Paul Owen could give you his experience with the Ebony 45SU, which does have longer extension than the 45S.

Jean-Louis Llech
7-Aug-2004, 10:48
in order to respect your priorities, I'll take them one by one :

1. For a man who get used to the smoothness/rigidity of Arca-Swiss, the camera should not be far behind it in this aspect. I don't know which one comes closest to my Arca.
About smoothness and rigidity, the Linhof Master Technika is second to none. Focusing and movements (Front rise and fall is geared, very interesting for heavy lenses) are very smooth, but, once locked, rigidity is unbeatable.
The rigidity of the triple extension bed (400mm) with a Schneider Apo-Tele-Xenar 5,6/400 Compact MRC (weight : 1kg, length : 11,6cm) is the best I've ever seen.

2. Compactness is my second important factor. I think all three cameras are comparable in this aspect.
About compactness, the Master Technika folds like an Ebony 45S or a Titan, but with the smoothness of metal cameras.
The overall dimensions (folded) are 18cm x 18cm x 11 cm, and once opened, the extension of the bellows is 430mm. The weight is 2,6 kg without lens and back.
Opening the camera lasts about 20 seconds.

3. The camera must be usable with 75-300mm lenses at least. The longer lens are preferable that I think the DLC wins.
The Master Technika can be used with lenses from 72mm to 400mm on the focusing rail. You can use also 58 and 65mm wide angle lenses inside the housing.
The total extension of the Master Technika is 430mm.

4. Durability. Since I live in Thailand that is very hot and humid, this is also an important factor that makes me sway from Ebony.
The durability of a Linhof camera is also second to none. Metal cameras are sturdier and more solid than wooden ones. Atmospheric factors have less influence on them. You don't even need to lubricate it !
A Master Technika is a camera bought for a lifetime. Metal components (Aluminium cast alloy and high-precision machined parts) will always have less reactions to humidity than wooden cameras, even if I consider that the teck is a very solid wood.
When a wooden camera falls down, (it happens...) it bursts and is practically always broken. The wood joints never resist to a violent shock.
When a metal camera falls down, an alloy piece may be broken, and can be repaired or changed, but the whole camera will never be totally destroyed!

I've been using the Master Technika for several years, and in my opinion, you should not neglect this solution, even if, after all, you buy another one. It would be an error that you would regret in the future.
If you work very often with wide angle lenses, look at the Technika 2000, and also the Technikardan 45S.

The Linhof website is here. (http://www.linhof.de/english/index.html)

Gem Singer
7-Aug-2004, 13:27

With all due respect, the Ebony 45S and 45SU are designed for wide angle photography and do not fold. They are faster to set up, but not as compact or rugged as a wooden or metal folding camera for backpack hiking. The Linhof was not on Wisawa's list of camera choices


The Walker has the reputation for being a wet weather camera. That's why I recommended it for use in the climate of Thailand. As much as I like the camera, I don't believe that my Ebony SV45TE would hold up as well as the Walker under conditions of extreme moisture and humidity. Even though it's corners are reinforced with titanium.

Frank Petronio
7-Aug-2004, 15:11
Probably breaking some rule but I feel victimized ;-)

There is an Arca Field 4x5 with the smaller front end. You could purchase this and use the front standard for your field camera. I'd be interested in purchasing the remaining standard for my own use, and I'm sure the other parts would be useful or easy to resell on eBay. Contact me off-list if this is interesting.


Wisawa S.
8-Aug-2004, 04:39
Thank you all of you guys.

Actually, My Arca is a field model (69 front+45back) that I still think it's too bulky and force me to use Nature Trekker AW instead of Mini Trekker AW. The difference weight of these bag alone is 1 kg. or so. I forgot to tell you guys that I intend to use this camera with Horseman 612 rollfilm back only. That leads me to think about buying another compact field camera. Unfortunately, the Linhof Master Technika is out of my budget and not easily found used here.

Now I'm only interested in metal field camera because of humidity concern. That leads me to Toyo 45AII, Canham DLC45 and Walker Titan SF. Canham seems to be most interesting because of lighter weight and excellent bellow but I've also read some negative comments about its rigidity. Toyo 45AII is also good to me since I can buy it here at lower price than in the US and there are only a few comments on Walker Titan so I don't know much about this camera - maybe it's not a popular camera in the US. I would have made my mind easily if I could try all these cameras hands on.

Tim, I already read all posts on your thread.

All in all, thank you very much.

Frank Petronio
8-Aug-2004, 07:21
Buy a USED Technika. The biggest problem you're going to have is switching lensboards, as I doubt there is a 110mm to Linhof tech adapter. Same for the Toyo and everything else too.

FWIW, I've had the Technikas and the Crowns in a Lowe Mini-Trekker. If you're only using 6x12 and few lenses, it is a nice kit.

Brian Ellis
8-Aug-2004, 09:54
"Probably breaking some rule but I feel victimized."

Frank - Can I quote you on that?

Bob Eskridge
8-Aug-2004, 13:10
How about a Horseman FA? Weighs about the same as the metal Canham but faster to set up.

I have a friend who uses a 300 on his with an extended board of some sort.

Wisawa S.
8-Aug-2004, 18:23
Bob, the FA is more expensive here than 45AII without any better features IMO.

Now I would like to ask a few questions.

1. Is a Toyo recessed board necessary for 75mm lens if I only need a few movement, mainly tilting?

2. Can I modified my Arca 110mm boards to fit Canham/Toyo boards? Or is there anyone have already done this?

3. Are Toyo and Canham board interchangable? Which brand is better? I know that a Canham board is cheaper.

4. I've read an review of DLC45 on this site. The reviewer said that both standards will be pushed apart causing both them unpalarelled by compressed bellow when using a short lens. The problem is I don't know how short is short enough. Will my 75mm lens with slight movement cause this problem?


9-Aug-2004, 00:54
1. For a man who get used to the smoothness/rigidity of Arca-Swiss, the camera should not be far behind it in this aspect. I don't know which one comes closest to my Arca. THE NEW AND LIGHT ARCA SWISS MISURA

2. Compactness is my second important factor. I think all three cameras are comparable in this aspect. THE NEW AND COMPACT ARCA SWISS MISURA

3. The camera must be usable with 75-300mm lenses at least. The longer lens are preferable that I think the DLC wins. THE NEW AND VERSATILE ARCA SWISS MISURA

4. Durability. Since I live in Thailand that is very hot and humid, this is also an important factor that makes me sway from Ebony. ...ARCA SWISS MISURA ?

Actually, i've just bought a seconhand ARCA SWISS F LINE COMPACT 4X5, and for my needs, it's more desirable than the misura (more movements for architecture and a lot less expensive !), but the camera you describe looks like the Misura with is great orbix system !

And it take the same lens board as your previous camera !

Jean-Louis Llech
9-Aug-2004, 04:03
A late answer to Eugene Singer :
I know that the 45S and 45SU are non-folding cameras. When I use the word "fold" I mean the operation which consists in transforming a camera from its transport position to its operational position in order to make photographs.
On another point, I know that the Linhof was not on the list of Wisawa. Nevertheless, I consider he might explore the Master Technika solution before choosing a camera.

To Wisawa :
About the article on the Canham DLC45, the lens with which the bellows can
interfere with rise, and push on the standards is a 75mm lens.

Michael Mutmansky
9-Aug-2004, 07:26

The 72/75/80 mm lenses are in the focal length where the standards can be pushed apart by the bellows when some rise is applied.

This does not happen too much, as substantial rise is often not required in landscape work. If you have a lens with lots of coverage (like the 72mm Super Angulon or the 80mm Super Symmar XL) it is posssible to apply enough rise to get the problem described before the lens runs out of coverage.

I just put my 80mm SS XL on the camera and focused at infinity. It appears that I was able to apply about 3/4" to 1" (approx. 18 to 25mm) before the bellows pushed out on the standards. The 75mm lens is a little tighter, and I don't have one to try, but my estimates based on the infinity distance of the 80mm seemed to suggest that it could do about 5/8" (approx. 16mm) before the bellows starts to apply some pressure to the standards.

Once the bellows applies some pressure to the standards, you have to be careful of your focus, because it can shift a little as you apply the rise. However, it is possible to correct for the pressure and continue shooting. Most 75mm lenses, the 72mm, and the 80mm all have enough coverage to out rise the camera, but I doubt that most people will be using the lenses out this far, unless you do architectural work, or similar work that uses those types of movements.

There are two options in this situation. You can get the wide angle bellows, wich eliminates the problem, but raises it's own list of problems (another thing to carry, more expense, you can't fold the camera with the WA bellows on). Aonther option is to get a blank board and have the hole drilled for the shutter with a small amount of rise (built into the board). This only works with lenses that have a reasonably small rear element (the 72mm may cause problems, some of the 75mm lenses may also, but the 80mm should easily accommodate this).

If you do that, you will have to remember that you applied a rise to the lens when you center up the camera. I think you could probably put about 15mm or so rise in the lensboard without any problem. Add that to the camera rise, and you will effectively be able to out-rise the lens.

Let me add one more note about smoothness. If you want the smoothness of the Arca, the DLC is not going to be a suitable camera for you. In fact, I don't think there are ANY field cameras that come close to the smoothness of the Arca (other than the Arca!). If you want a more compact camera for field work, you are going to have to sacrifice some smoothness to obtain that.

All in all, I stand by the statement I made last week in another thread that I think the DLC is one of the best all-around field cameras, and is only bettered (for shorter focal lengths only!) by a few of the Ebony cameras. If I had to live with only one camera for all my work, it would be the DLC without question. No other camera does it all better.


tim atherton
9-Aug-2004, 09:29

But doesn't it completely lack any rear tilt or swing, but has only rear rise? Not exactly that versatile? Along with only about 30cm extenstion (in practice, less I think)

Kerry L. Thalmann
9-Aug-2004, 10:23
There are two options in this situation. ...


There is a third option you might want to try - a recessed board. This was the solution I used when I had my DLC. I bought a Toyo recessed board, which fits the Canham, to use with my 75mm Nikkor SW. Mounting the lens in the recessed board allowed enough additional separation between the two standards that they didn't push out at the top even when applying fairly substantial (for a 75mm) rise. I don't remember which limited the total rise, the coverage of the lens or the amount of rise before the standards started to push out, but I found this solution more than satisfactory for my landscape shooting needs. New price for the Toyo recessed board is less than $80 - a lot less than a bag bellows. I bought mine used from a local dealer for half that price. They show up on eBay occasionally.


Michael Mutmansky
9-Aug-2004, 10:35
Kerry's right, of course.

The recessed board is a third option (and a mighty good one at that). I have a hate/hate relationship with recessed boards, and discounted it as an option because I personally wouldn't consider using one unless as a last resort. In fact, initially, I purchased the DLC specifically to avoid having to use recessed boards for the wide angle lenses, unlike many other field cameras.

It seems that I am often in situations where I cannot get around to the front of the camera to see the settings on the shutter, and a recessed board can obscure the view of the shutter settings when peering around the camera from behind.

It is a very good away to go if you don't set up the camera on the edges of cliffs all the time, however. I suppose carrying a small compact mirror would help to relieve this problem as long as the front lens element is not too large.


Ellis Vener
9-Aug-2004, 11:01
I looked at the Canham DLC but the back seemed quite mushy when locked up. I don't think it even comes close to your requirement for 'smoothness and rigidity'...

Having actually used one for a few years, sometimes alongside of an A-S F-line camera, there was no "mushiness" when actually using the camera. It was rigid and smooth. My one complaint is that I weished the zero detents were not quite as subtle in feel. I recognize that camera choice is and should be a personal preference but I wanted to relate my experiences. The camera was mainly used for cityscapes, portraits and some macro work in a studio, with lenses from 65mm to 300m and once or three times with the longer focal length Nikkor T lenses, with Quickload, Polaroid and rollfilm holders.

Kerry L. Thalmann
9-Aug-2004, 11:18

Yes, recessed boards can be a pain. The Toyo board is just big enough to allow me to get my fingers at all the controls Viewing the settings was not as easy as a lens mounted on a flat board, but I could see them. With a larger lens, like a 72mm SA XL, it might be harder to get at the controls and view the shutter speed and aperture settings. Also, I left a cable release mounted on my 75 in the recessed board. The fit was so tight it would have been a majot hassle to try to install the cable release in the field.

The saving grace is that I'm not a huge wide angle user (the 75 was my least used lens when I had the Canham). Also, when I did use it it was usually to include something of interest in the foreground - rarely on the edge of a cliff. Most of my cliff-edge shots are taken with longer lenses.

Too bad somebody doesn't make something similar to the Toho Eccentric lens panel for other cameras. This is similar in concept to the off center lens mounting you mentioned, but variable in magnitude from 0 - 15mm, and variable in direction 0 - 360 degrees. Hmmmm, I wonder if it would be possible to mount the Toho Eccentric Lens Panel on a Canham board. I think it would work, but for the same amount of money you could have a bag bellows.


Paul Shambroom
9-Aug-2004, 12:44
I agree with Bob Eskridge- the Horseman metal field cameras are the most compact and light 4X5s I know of (especially the HF if you can find one) and are precise and well made. Yes, there are some compromises in movements and the HF must be mounted sideways for verticals, but most landscape photography does not require the contortions of studio work. You people stop down to f/64 anyway, you could use a box camera for most work of this type. By the way, the Horsemans WILL work with a 75 at infinity, and a 300 tele in an extended board.

Michael Mutmansky
9-Aug-2004, 13:39

I can't speak for everyone else, but I NEVER stop down to f64 for 4x5 shooting unless I have absolutely no choice. The 4x5 format is an enlarging format, and f64 is small enough that diffraction is rearing it's ugly head in a big way.

I try to keep my apertures to about f22 and f32 at the absolute smallest to avoid major diffraction effects. If I can shoot with a slightly larger aperture, and use a bit of tilt to get the DOF needed, then I will do this rather than stop down the lens.

I have found over the years that about 2/3 of my shots are verticals, and that would be an unsuitable situation for a horizontal-only camera. If your shooting style is mostly horizontals, using a camera flopped on it's side may not be an issue for you, but it is for me.

The DLC will also work very well with a 75mm lens on a flat board. If fact, it will go down to about a 58mm lens on a flat board with no problems. The issue with the 75mm lens is a limitation to the amount of rise that the camera will easily permit, and I suspect that the Horseman will fail this same test in a similar manner, due to the stiffness of the bellows.

The DLC does not require a tele lens at 300mm, or even at 450mm, nor does it require a tophat to work properly.

It is these reasons for my contention that the DLC is possibly the best all-around field camera made. Some cameras are better for shorter focal lengths (like the Ebony 45s) and others may be better for longer focal lengths (there are many that might be it's equal for longer lenses), but few come close to it's ability to handle both ranges with reasonable adpetness.


Paul Shambroom
9-Aug-2004, 13:49
Michael- Sorry, I was being a wise guy about f/64. Must have gotten up on the wrong side of bed. Fact is, we all like to think the camera we have is the best solution, period. For me, a compact and light camera that I have with me is always better than any other camera that I haven't brought with me because it was too big and heavy. I bring my Horseman HF (and a few compact lenses in a small shoulder bag) with me to places I surely would have talked myself out of with larger gear. BTW, side mounting for verticals isn't so bad with a Manfroto 3D tripod head (also light and compact) that is contorted to keep the center of gravity over the tripod.

Kerry L. Thalmann
9-Aug-2004, 14:12
Actually, since Wisawa stated he plans to use the camera ONLY with a 6x12 roll film back, the Horseman HF might not be a bad choice - if you can find one. Although I shoot a lot of vericals (pretty close to 50/50) on 4x5, when it comes to the panoramic formats (6x12 and 6x17) nearly all my compositions are horizontal (>95%). The one reason I didn't recommend the HF earlier is the rather short bellows that limits the use of long lenses - a 300mm will either have to be a telephoto or require a tophat lensboard.

Personally, I've been using a stripped down, refinished Crown Graphic with a reversed front standard as my main 6x12 camera. It's cheap, lightweight (after the rangefinder, etc. have been removed), fast and easy to use, handles lenses from 55mm - 300mm without recessed boards or tophats and is nearly indestructible (and if it does get damaged, a replacement body costs than a bag bellows, or in same cases a recessed lensboard). It lacks the movements and cachet of some of the more expensive names bandied about in this thread, and may not be as sliky smooth as an ARCA or Ebony, but for my 6x12 needs, I find it gets the job done - and that's all that maters to me. I find the horizontal back and lack of rear movements too limiting for general 4x5 use, but for 6x12 I have no complaints.


Frank Petronio
9-Aug-2004, 14:47
Kerry - what do you do with lensboards - or do you dedicate lenses to the Crown?

Michael Mutmansky
9-Aug-2004, 15:10
I forgot about the 612 back issue in the time it took me to get through the entire thread. That changes everyting.

The problem is that you will have enough coverage with the 75mm lens that you will easily be able to hit the bellows with the DLC (and most other cameras, for that matter) before you run out of coverage. The 75mm lens is more like a 125 or so on the 612, so it really isn't terribly wide, and acceptable movements will become larger.

I think you would be best served with an Ebony, either the 45S or the 45SU camera. They will both easily cover the requisite shorter focal lengths, and the 45SU will cover the 300mm focal length without a tophat needed. I think they will also both easily permit rise with a 75mm lens, and if you choose to go wider, they will accommodate that in a shorter focal length, also.

The DLC will work down to 58mm, but the bellows is pretty tight at that point, and you would not be able to make any substantial movements, even though the lens has plenty to cover a 6x12 image with substantial rise.

I would consider talking to Ebony about building a 45S that has the hybrid bellows of the 45SU. I think that would be the best possible arrangement for a 612 camera with room for movement.

I don't shoot 6x12, but I do shoot with a 7x17, and I am suprised at the number of verticals I make with that camera. If I did shoot 6x12, I'd probably make a substantial number of verticals because I don't see it as a terribly wide format.

I can't comment on the wood issue with the humidity, but your own knowledge on this will probably be the best guide.

Good luck on your decision. Whatever you choose, please let us know and give us a field report on how the camera is working out for you.


Wisawa S.
9-Aug-2004, 15:41
Again, thank you very much for all of your comments.

Horseman FA/HF are out of my list because I love using my Nikkor M300 very much and I think that an extender is not a good solution. The Misura seems to be interesting but there is a few info about it even Arca catalog doesn't list it and it's also beyond my budget.

Kerry and Michael, your tips on preventing the DLC's standards unparalled are very good. I will need no more than 10mm. rise since I intend to use this camera on landscape so the problem will not occur.

To clarify my need a bit, I already know that there shouldn't be any compact field cameras as smooth/rigid as Arca-Swiss 45 - maybe except MT2000. I want the around $2000 camera that come closest in this term, not so far behind that I feel uncomfortable to work with.

The close candidate now are TOYO 45AII and Canham DLC45. So far there is no comment on Walker Titan. It is very hard to decide, huh. Below is my comparison about both cameras based on the archives;

DLC45 (VS 45AII)
1. Longer bellow
2. Lighter weight
3. More negative comments especially on rigidity and mushy standard
4. Spirit level, though not nice but still have it.
5. More expensive (comparing to TOYO price here)
6. Slower to set up - I'm not sure about this

Are there any other cameras that I should consider besides these twos? Thanks

Wisawa S.
9-Aug-2004, 15:49
To Michael and Kerry,

Both of you have used the Arca and DLC, do you feel uncomfortable to switch using them both? Do you think the DLC is very different from the Arca in terms of operation/rigidity?

Wisawa S.
9-Aug-2004, 15:58

I also consider the Ebony 45S but the humidity here make me worried. Since there are many photographers (Paul Owen came to mind) using them in England where I guess is also very humid, right? Maybe I will take a risk and buy this one.

Harley Goldman
9-Aug-2004, 17:01
Hi Wisawa,

I also shoot an Arca. I had the same dilemma. I used to have a Wista as my lightweight camera, but I was not happy with the way it operated or felt. I recently bought the Toho and I am very pleased with it. It is not as smooth as the Arca, but it is very lightweight and a pleasure to use. I use the Toho on backpacks and long hike and the Arca when I am near the truck. I used lenses from 80mm to 240mm with the Toho. Per Kerry Thalmann's website, I could use up to a 360mm, but I leave my 360mm at home on the longer ventures. If you like the monorail operation of the Arca, you will be very comfortable with the Toho. Another option to look at.

Michael Mutmansky
10-Aug-2004, 21:05

They are different cameras, and each has it's strengths. wWhen I'm out using the DLC, I don't wish that I had the Arca, because I made a decision to bring the DLC for its advantages.

I am not one to be too hung up with the operation of a camera. I adapt pretty easily, and I think that I probably adapt more easily then many people. However, I think that it is that case with any equipment, if you use it enough, you will get comfortable with both of them.

This whole rigidity issue is somewhat of a red herrring in my opinion. I don't understand what people want to do with their cameras that might result in a camera like the DLC being unsuitable for normal LF work. I don't touch the camera when I snap the shutter, and I generally avoid shooting in the wind, and I always wait for the thing to settle down once pulling the darkslide (just a second or two, about the time necessary to pick up the cable release and check the wind conditions). These are good field practice, and really should be done with any camera used, even an Arca or other robust studio camera.

Smoothness is an issue, and if you have only used an Arca, then you will probably find the movements of the DLC, and all the other field cameras mentioned in this thread to be somewhat crude by comparison. If this is a real problem for you, then you probably would be best served by sticking with Arca, and seeing if there is a slightly more compact arrangement that you can make with it. (using a shorter rail, or switching to the split rain and only using one haf of the rail, etc.)

The somewhat loose tolerances in most field cameras are somewhat intentional, since it permits the camera to operate with a certain amount of grit or other material in the workings of the camera. I don't think that the Arca is a terribly good field camera because the tolerances are tight enough that a bit of grit can cause problems with the operation of the camera, so it may require a bit more maintenance to keep it running smoothly.

Someone above mentioned swelling causing freezing in a wood camera. This happens with all wood cameras, but most are designed to have enough play to accommodate all but the most severe swelling and shrinkage through loose tolerances and a somewhat intellegent design approach.


Ellis Vener
11-Aug-2004, 12:48
DLC45 (VS 45AII) issues

3. More negative comments especially on rigidity and mushy standard.

I'm sorry I never had any mushiness or problems with rigidity and I'll wager I used it at least as hard as anyone here has and with as heavy of lenses.

4. Spirit level, though not nice but still have it.

The DLC has spirit levels. I'm not wild aboutt hem or their placement, but they are there and they are accurate.

6. Slower to set up - I'm not sure about this

How fast do you need to set up your cameras? 30 sec? A minute? 2 minutes? I never did speed tests but from opening the case to first exposure the DLC was not noticably slower than an Arca-Swiss or a Linhof TK45s.

16-Aug-2004, 14:12

I hope I am not too late to contribute to this thread, but I have been out of the country, in Iceland, using my Walker Titan. Earlier this year I used it in Burma. I'm quite happy with it.

The ABS plastic is lightweight, absolutely rigid, and completely impervious to weather. The design is a typical flatbed/folding design; noteworthy are a nice triplet of levels, locks down like a vice (all fittings stainless steel), both center and bottom tilt in the front, knobs and levers are different, making it easier to distinguish them by feel from under the cloth, comes with a ground glass protecter. All in all it is a very fine camera, and less expensive than many. One design flaw, IMHO, is that instead of a clasp, it is held closed only with a magnet, which is not really adequate. Mike W. told me to lock down the rear tilt controls to hold it closed, which works, more or less. Pretty minor issue.

I've used it with lenses from 65mm to 355mm. The latter is the humongous G-Claron, in a #3 shutter, which is a hassle, and tests the rigidity of the camera -- I do not recomment this combo. With my 65 and 110, the bag bellows helps out when you need big movements.

No folder is going to be as firm as a nice monorail, so be careful that you don't set yourself up for disappointment. You might want to consider the Toho and Gowland, two monorails that pack down small, but require disassembly to do so. Both are fussy, especially the early Gowland models. If you can be patient with them, either one will pay off in extra rigidity in the field.

Wisawa S.
17-Aug-2004, 18:25
Thank you for all ryplies.

Finally, I choose the DLC45. Does Canham GG protector come with the DLC? Or do I have to buy it seperately?

Wisawa S.
29-Aug-2004, 16:35
This is a follow up on my decision. I've used my Canham for a week now. In a nutshell, I agree with most comments by Michael Mutmansky, the reviewer of this camera. Below are my observations.

1. The lack of swing detent doesn't bother me because I hardly use it in the field.

2. There is a slight (by 0.3mm) movement of lens boards when locked down. I use original Canham board. It's easy to fix this problem by attaching a piece of sticker to the front standard. It works nicely.

3. The focusing screen/Fresnel combo is very pleasing, a bit better than my Arca-Swiss 45 FC field.

4. There are a few updates comparing to older DLC.
- Now there is also a circular level on the front standard though I don't think it is useful. It might cause confusion because sometimes the two level are not the same even when the camera is in neutral position that makes you think that both standard unparalleled. I think that this will not affect final result, just annoyance for someone who get used to higher precision cameras like Arca-Swiss.
- Another update is a protruding bar to prevent overtightening the focus lock lever.
- The focusing gear tracks are black instead of yellow (brass). I'm not sure whether the material was changed or how it will affect focusing.

5. Graflock machanism is very crude and this is the most important for me since I bought this camera to use with Horseman 612 back only.

6. As for the problem that the back of bellow will fall out when rotating the rear frame, the solution is double-sided adhesive tape but it only works if you don't use bag bellow.

7. I also bought a GG protector. It's really nice but a bit hard to remove. To solve this problem, I used a piece of abrasive paper to rub it.

8. Canham lens boards are 1mm. thicker and slightly heavier than Arca-Swiss 110mm. boards.

All in all, the DLC is a nice camera for field use and as with any cameras there are some compromises. I think it takes time to love this camera and use it effectively. I didn't return this camera though Jeff at Badger Graphic allow me to do so. The more I use my DLC, the more I love it and the more I love the excellence of my Arca-Swiss at the same time. Now I can pack my DLC, five lenses and 612 back inside Lowepro Mini-Trekker AW.

Keep in mind that the above comments are from someone who have just used the DLC for a week or so. You might disagree with me.

Wisawa S.
30-Aug-2004, 17:25
I forget to tell that I can setup my DLC pretty fast, about half a minute but I don't unlock both swing levers when folding down. I don't mind that these levers protrude from the main body.

7-May-2006, 02:31
update : now arca swiss produce a camera that fits perfectly the request : arca F line compact field orbix in 140 !