View Full Version : Sturdy 4x5?

9-Nov-2013, 11:12
I've been beginning to love large longer lenses. These are vintage and historic optics and I really like the look they give. However, they are heavy. Probably too heavy for my Chamonix 045n. The Chamonix is easily my favorite LF camera and I love using it: it's lightweight, folds up nicely, very well made, and looks super! However, it's struggling with my bigger lenses. I have a Cambo 45nx in a closet somewhere that's about as sturdy as they come, but it just has no panache at all. It has that efficient modern industrial look to it, and I'm really into "vintage." It's also a pain in the butt to use in the field, and I'm strictly an outdoor photographer. I've been thinking of buying a Gundlach Korona in nice shape as that will match my other lenses--mostly vintage 1900-1930 (Heliar, CZJ Tessar, Dagor, etc. in Compound or Compur.) The Korona looks pretty solid, and has a much higher "cool factor" than the Cambo. Will it hold my older lenses OK? I've decided to stay with 4x5 as that's a convenient size for me, scans easily, and film is plentiful. The lenses are: 1) Voigtlander Petzval 1865 2) Velostigmat 12" 3) Voigtlander Petzval 1849 4) E. Wood pillbox c.1855 5) Annie the Cat.

Jon Shiu
9-Nov-2013, 12:27
Probably, a Ansco/Agfa is a sturdier camera than the Korona.


Regular Rod
9-Nov-2013, 17:57
If you were in the UK I'd recommend an MPP MkVII View Camera. Very strong. Closes up with a 150mm lens and board fitted. When closed the glass is covered by a steel fold out shade. Not expensive. Beautifully engineered. Easy and quick to set up. Can be hand-held and most come with a built in range finder that works well as long as the correct cams for the focal length of the lens are fitted.


If you can get one in your location it would be a fine contender, although you would have to remove your long lenses before folding it all away.


Alan Gales
9-Nov-2013, 20:05
How about a Sinar Norma? They are kind of a vintage industrial look. I think they are gorgeous but they definitely don't look like antique furniture if that's what you are looking for.

Maybe I'm kind of weird but I think my Sinar P looks just as beautiful as my wooden Tachihara, but in a different sort of way. ;) Wink!

Jim Jones
9-Nov-2013, 21:21
MPP, the poor man's Technica, a fine camera indeed. My MkV1 has up to 15" between lens board and GG, back swings and tilts, front swings and back tilt, and front tilt if you lower the bed and use the rising front. It appears more rugged than a Speed Graphic, and built better than a Burke & James. 4" lens boards ought to work on it.

Kirk Fry
10-Nov-2013, 00:09
Sinar P of some sort. Built like a bank vault and about as heavy. More on the serious side a Calumet CC401 would be strong enough but not very sexy. You could try one out for less than $100

10-Nov-2013, 02:09
I'll second the norma! Classic beauty in a very stout package. With all the easy to find accessories you can pretty much shoot any lens in any format pretty easily, and relatively cheaply (within reason). I just put a nice set of vintage ries junior legs under my 4x5 Norma; it makes for quite a nice aesthetic.

Steven Tribe
10-Nov-2013, 05:02
I really think that you will find no better (really tough!) camera than the Cambo 4x5 you already have - especialy if it is the Cambo Master.
The lenses you have will appreciate the large lens board.

David A. Goldfarb
10-Nov-2013, 05:37
For classic portrait lenses, you need a fairly large lensboard, so the folding technical cameras like the MPP and Linhof Technika generally won't do, except for smaller lenses, and even those may require non-standard mounting arrangements, like a custom retaining ring that mounts to the rear lens threads (I've had SK Grimes do this for an 11" Verito). I have all of my large portrait lenses mounted on Sinar boards, and I use them on a Sinar P (4x5 or 8x10) or my American Optical 11x14, which I've modified to use Sinar boards. Those are good for lenses up to around 14" f: 4.5, but for anything bigger, you'll need an even larger lensboard.

David Lobato
10-Nov-2013, 06:17
Consider a 5x7 or 8x10 wooden field camera with a 4x5 reducing back. Many of those cameras have large enough lens boards, sturdy front standards, and plenty of bellows draw. Who knows, you could even try the 5x7 or 8x10 formats with those lenses.

Ken Lee
10-Nov-2013, 10:25
Low price, lots of features, portability, strength, vintage appearance: we want them all but there's no perfect camera.

A Canham DLC 2 (http://www.canhamcameras.com/DLC2.html) (a 4x5 metal folding camera with lots of features and true rigidity) will accommodate big lenses. It's not made of wood, but it's got everything else you're looking for I suspect, especially if you loosen up your definition of panache.

If you don't need a lightweight folding field camera, then I second David's recommendation of the Sinar P (http://www.kenleegallery.com/html/tech/index.php#Sinar).

10-Nov-2013, 11:17
There are several ways to stabilize and support a heavy lens on the Chamonix 045n.
Want to take that direction?

David A. Goldfarb
10-Nov-2013, 11:23
But the Chamonix uses Technika-style lensboards doesn't it? They're too small for most big portrait lenses.

10-Nov-2013, 12:14
There are several ways to stabilize and support a heavy lens on the Chamonix 045n.
Want to take that direction?

Possibly. I've been trying and got it to work by having some spacers made that allow the larger flanges to clear the front standard. Still, it's awfully heavy for the lightly built Chamonix. Of the cameras mentioned so far, the Ansco Universal type is most interesting. It has the 1900-1920s vintage styling I'm after. I had always thought that the Anscos were cheap cameras, but after reading more about them I'm finding that isn't true. These are very sturdy full featured cameras made for the pro market. They are old but still take my modern 4x5 holders. The only real downside to them is I would have to have lensboards custom made for each lens, but there are plenty of wood workers where I live that could no doubt do it. As someone said, there is no "perfect" camera. I have seen a couple of very nice 5x7 cameras on ebay that come with 4x5 back, and those are a possibility. My Epson v700 will scan them at fairly high res, and I could get some vintage 5x7 holder cheaply enough. I'm not really eager to start yet another format though, and really want to avoid the bulk and expense of 8x10! I'm in no hurry, and will continue patiently watching for a great old camera to show up, somewhere. One thing I'm starting to realize about myself is I love those big brass studio lenses but at the same time greatly prefer small & light field cameras. Not a good combination!

10-Nov-2013, 12:23
One way to support the lens is with a block with a large V notched into the top. It could simply rest on the bed. Made of a nice wood it would even look good.

David Lobato
10-Nov-2013, 13:15
She also appreciates an old cameras' cat-che. (Sorry, couldn't help it) And some brass color showing in a few places.


11-Nov-2013, 11:32
See this for an example of large lens support.