View Full Version : Non-folding 4x5 with rangefinder choices?

13-Nov-2013, 03:24
Anyone have any suggestions for a non-folding portable 4x5 camera with a coupled-rangefinder?

I'm not looking at the more common Polaroid-conversions as they require opening and closing. The Chamonix Saber is OK but they're very hard to find and take non-standard holders, AFAIK. The ideal camera would be something like a Ebony RW45 with a rangefinder... if there's no such thing, what would be the most straightforward way to do it? Are there external rangefinders that can be coupled more easily than others?

Any suggestions? Thanks in advance.


13-Nov-2013, 06:16

I've gotta ask... why not a Crown/Speed Graphic? They are 4x5 and have coupled rangefinders. Why reject them simply because they fold?

13-Nov-2013, 06:22
Printex 4x5. (https://www.google.com/search?q=printex+camera&client=firefox-a&hs=Qzb&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=JH2DUsStJaacyQH9oYCICg&ved=0CDQQsAQ&biw=1155&bih=563)

Rangefinder. Aluminum alloy body. Tube rather than bellows. Light, rigid. Perfect for infrared, too.

Alan Gales
13-Nov-2013, 06:56
I have to second the Crown/Speed Graphic suggestion. I own a Tachihara wooden folder and it takes a little bit to set up. I wanted something quick for portraiture so I bought a Crown. Just pull down the bed, pull out the front standard to the infinity stops and lock. Very fast!

I also use a 210 lens besides the 135 that came with the camera so I added an extra set of infinity stops. My 210 Caltar (Rodenstock Geronar) will also fold up into the camera.

13-Nov-2013, 07:35
The crown or Saber are great choices. Saber will take any graflok type of holder, e.g. a grafmatic. Probably the best/lightest/most compact 4x5 for handheld use, ever.

Otherwise maybe something from Fotoman or other cone-lens camera makers?

Regular Rod
13-Nov-2013, 09:12
Why must it have a coupled range finder? A Travelwide will be ideal if you can bear to set the focus yourself after either using an auxiliary rangefinder in one of the cold shoes or else for free use a human range finder http://tomchuk.com/misc/rf/


13-Nov-2013, 09:36
I have a non folding Speed Graphic wide angle special. It's range-finder is set for a lens wider than a 90mm. While mine was custom made from new parts before WWII it would be easy to convert any Speed/Crown Graphic in a similar way. I've seen a similar customised MPP Micro technical. In both cases the top of the body is cut away to allow front rise with a WA lens.


Over the next month or so I'm going to build a similar camera but wider to allow a 6x17 back using the rails/track from a Paccemaker Graphic and a Super Graphic front standard to give me movements. I've already modified the Super Graphic standard and it'll fit on the rails of any Speed.Crown Graphic inc pre-Anniversary.


13-Nov-2013, 12:04
I would suggest a Combat 45 https://www.pinterest.com/pin/295971006731340859/ but they never made many and they don't have a rangefinder. They are, however, calibrated and you can use an external rangefinder to get the distance and set the focus that way.

I'll mirror other comments here in that the Graflex models are really very fast to get open and operational, it's literally one button press + a lever twist and pull until you're ready at infinity to shoot. And nothing says that you can't roam around already open and always open, you don't have to fold it up you know :)

If you want to move down to the 6x9 to 6x6 range your options become numerous and easier to find.

13-Nov-2013, 12:31
I built this from a cambo passportrait camera - it came with a kalart coupled rangfinder that worked for closer distances and the lens supplied.. I took that off and replaced it with a finder/focus deal from a polaroid big shot -


14-Nov-2013, 00:01
Thanks everyone for the replies. To answer some questions...

Why not a Graflex-type press camera? I have nice Speed Graphic with a fully accurate shutter. The problem is opening+pulling out... I want to minimise this step (e.g. Saber) or eliminate it (e.g. RW45+RF) ideally.

Why not the Saber? One more issue that I left out is the lens being non-interchangeable. I'll look more in to the holders... thanks for this info.

Jac@stafford.net: The Printex looks very cool! I will look this camera up more.

IanG: Nice find! The cutting of the base is not a bad idea but I know if I try to do it myself it's going to look pretty bad.

DrTang: Very nicely done!

Thanks again for the replies, everyone! You've given me some inspiration to go and make something.

14-Nov-2013, 01:38
The Saber cannot use other holders except a) the specially ones from Chamonix, or b) you drill some holes in the regular 4x5 holders. Otherwise, you risk light leak and all that.

I enjoy mine a lot...

14-Nov-2013, 07:10
re: Saber and holders: it can use anything that attaches via Graflok, so, Grafmatics, Polaroid backs, etc. The specialty ones from Chamonix are very nice too, if you like DD holders. Personally I think it works best with a Grafmatic. Super compact and fast to use that way.

15-Nov-2013, 01:14
re: Saber and holders: it can use anything that attaches via Graflok, so, Grafmatics, Polaroid backs, etc. The specialty ones from Chamonix are very nice too, if you like DD holders. Personally I think it works best with a Grafmatic. Super compact and fast to use that way.

Well, it works but not ideal. Because of the compact size, the Saber uses two thumbscrews to keep the film holder from sliding around. They can hold a plastic holder in place with a little tightening (i.e. puncturing or indenting the plastic holder slightly).

15-Nov-2013, 07:34
yeah, but they were designed with a grafmatic in mind, that's the best solution, really. I use mine a lot with a horseman 6x12 back also.

16-Nov-2013, 04:19
I don't care for grafmatic, but it's just me. I just converted 4 regular holders to "Saber holders" by drilling suitable holes :-)

16-Nov-2013, 16:01
understandable. personally I love grafmatics. ;-) I don't think I have ever used the DD holder that came with my Saber. (nor the GG back except once...)