View Full Version : 5 x 4 view camera for Landscape

luuk veltkamp
26-Sep-2004, 02:54
I am looking to purchase a 5x4 camera for landscape photography. I am looking at a toyo view, view camera. Is a monorail view camera ok to use out in the field as most of my photograph is on the other side of a 2 or 3 day work. How heavy would this sort of gear be? I am looking at a view camera over a field camera because of the price.

Ernest Purdum
26-Sep-2004, 06:38
There are several factors to consider in making your selection. Will you be going far from your car? Will you be using the camera for other types of subjects? Do you tend to use very short and/or very long lenses?

The Toyo is a versatile camera, but few people are happy carrying this sort of camera far from their cars. It is difficult to work out a good method of packing them, their shape as well as the weight being a consideration. Most people find landscape work not very demanding in terms of camera movements. By contrast, architectural subjects can require extensive adjustments, as do tabletop subjects. Most field cameras are rather limited in exension for very long lenses. Using very short lenses requires careful selection of either monorail or field cameras.

I would think that, with patience, you could find a decent field camera for the price of a typical Toyo, should you decide to go that direction. You will very likely receive a number of specific suggestions here.

Leonard Evens
26-Sep-2004, 07:47
You don't say how much you intend to spend or whether you are looking at new or used cameras. Or which specific cameras you are comparing. That information might be helpful in advising you.

As a matter of technology, both monorail and field cameras are view cameras.

Prices vary significantly in each category. There are several moderately priced field cameras, somewhat fewer moderately priced monorails. Monorails tend to be heavier and take up more space for transport, so generally field cameras are easier to carry for landscape photography. Monorails allow for greater movements, but that is probably less important for landscape photography.

Other factors to consider are the maximum bellows extension, which will limit the longest lens you can use and the minimum bellows extension, or the possibility of using a bag bellows, which will limit wide angle possibilities.

But you really have to look at the specifics for any camera. For example, my Toho (not Toyo) FC-45X is as light as any field camera, and it comes apart easily for transport. It can accomodate lenses from focal length under 70 mm to over 300 mm (or longer for telephoto lenses). But it has a fixed bellows. I find it an exceelent camera for landscape work. It is available in the US from Badger Graphics and they also sell a less expensive Chinese copy under their own brand name. A flexible moderately priced field camera, which is well liked by its owners is the Shen-Hao.

When I was considering getting a view camera, I looked at the Calumet Cadet which is a very low priced monorail. I was advised against it, and I opted to spend more and get the Toho, and I'm glad I did. The Cadet would have been too awkward to carry around, and it would have been less flexible in use.

Andre Noble
26-Sep-2004, 07:48
"as most of my photograph is on the other side of a 2 or 3 day work"

Did you mean 'as most of my photograph is on the other side of a 2 or 3 day WALK'?

In that case, you need a lightweight field camera. People such as Kerry Thalmann haved named the Toho monorail view before is this kind of case.

Gem Singer
26-Sep-2004, 12:19
Hi Luuk,

Presently.Toyo manufactures five different 4x5 monorail view cameras. They range in weight from 2.55 kg. to 6.4 kg.(see: www.toyoview.com). They are all excellent cameras. You did not specify which model you were considering, but a monorail view camera is not the best choice to take on a 2, or 3 day hike, due to it's weight and bulk. If you insist on using a monorail, and money is no object, the Toyo VX 125, would probably be your best choice. It folds into a relatively small package and only weighs 2.55kg.

However, Toyo also makes three folding flatbed field cameras that are designed for use as backpacking cameras. Look at the Toyo 45AII, or AX models. If money is an object in making your choice, you can always find a good previously owned Toyo "A". Steer away from the 45CF, even though it is much less expensive than the Toyo "A" models. It is made of plastic and does not have the capability of doing the type of back movements that you will need for landscape photography.