View Full Version : Walker titan 45 or Gandolfi 45 variant level II?

T. Hartman
17-Mar-2005, 14:02
My search for a field camera narrowed down to the Walker titan 45 SF and the Gandolfi variant level II. Both cameras seems durable (but heavy). But which one is the most easy to set up and operate?

Theo Hartman

Richard Littlewood
18-Mar-2005, 02:04
I have a Titan SF and I love it. Before it is taken out 'in to the field' to make photographs it appears like an attractive (although not the lightest) innovative, yet conventionally laid out camera with plenty of movements. Out in the field it comes into its own. It dosn't mind getting wet, it works fine when it's really cold, and it dosn't mind baking sun light and getting hot. I've tweaked mine in a few ways - silicon sealed the ground glass frame, glued 2 more 'tabs' so I can use a tunnel dark cloth, and a few more not really worth mentioning!
If you get one I'd ask for the bag bellows. There are about 3 normal pleats at the rear of my bellows that accomodate without any problems whatsoever, lenses from 65 to 210. Setting it up is something that comes naturally with time and use - I had an old Arca F line before the Walker, and initially I missed a certain 'type' of setting up, and how complex setting up a field camera can be. Now I dont mind at all, I'm used to it and can do it dead quick.
As for the Gandolfi - havn't a clue!
Hope this helps.

Ted Harris
18-Mar-2005, 06:59
I think you will find that setting up a flatbed folding camera is pretty much the same from one camera to another. There are differences to be sure but once you are used to your camera I doubt them make much of a difference. I have ownded and used a number of different ones over many years and have not found major differences in setting them up. The metal clamshells all setup faster but taht is about the only general statement I can make.

I use a Walker SF and it sets up fast with no particular quirks that I can think of. It also operates easily and smoothly, again without any particular quirks that I can think of. IMO (and this is at least part subjective) the materials used in the Walker make it feel somewhat more precise and all ow it to lock down easier and faster than most wood fields. BTW, the "tommy bars" as Mike Walker calls them that are used in place of standard locking knobs for some movements may take a bit of getting used to but once done they are very intuitive. The fact that you can literally wash the camera in the sink or shower sounds funny but if you are working in harsh weather it has its advantages as does the ABS body which you appreciate in very hot or very cold weather. One example, a month or so ago I was shooting an old covered bridge right after a major snow storm. 4 madmen in snowmobiles came by paying no attention at all to me or my equipment. I put my hand over the lens to protect it and that was that ... snow all over everything else but no damage or operating problems at all.

As for the Gandolfi I have only handled it at a shop and didn;t like it well enough to test it out. It seems a nice mix beteween traditional and high-tech construction with more-or-less traditional operation. It is still basically wood.

In terms of image making functionality the two cameras have very similar specifications witht he Gandolfi having just a bit more bellows draw. Using my 450 Nikkor M on my Walker requires a very small bit of fiddling to get the extension needed at infinity and there is no extra to use it closer; but, how often do you want to use a 450 lens on 4x5? The Gandolfi is also somewhat heavier. The biggest difference is price with the Gandolfi costing significantly more. They are both departures from the mainstream and wither will do a good job for you.

18-Mar-2005, 09:06
I must disagree slighty with Ted. I use my Fuji 450mm regularly on my Walker 4x5. It can focus as close as maybe 15 feet, by my casual testing. Going in the opposite direction, around my 110mm I start considering switching to the wide angle bellows (requires removing back of camera), though this last weekend I shot with both the 110 and my 80 with the standard bellows, with very limited movements.

I'm quite pleased with my Walker; that makes three of us checking in, vs. zero Gandolfi cheerleaders. Therefore, between those two, since the G costs more and maybe is not as popular, I think it needs to be positively better in some way that matters to you personally, to win the contest for you.

And to agree with Ted this time, both are fine, somewhat innovative cameras that will do the job just fine.

Any Gandolfi users out there want to put in their 2 cents/pence?

Jorge Gasteazoro
18-Mar-2005, 09:40
I have an 8x10 Variant and it is a PITA to fold and unfold. Way too many knobs...I least IMO. I havent used or seen a Walker, but it could not be any harder to open and close than the Gandolfi. So, if a fast set up is your thing, the Gandolfi is not for you....

Neil Miller
18-Mar-2005, 10:51
Same as Jorge, basically.

I have a Gandolfi 5x7 Variant and it is a real pain to fold/unfold. Other than that it is a sleek looking camera, a more than capable performer and has an enormous amount of movements. When I got it I was seriously considering a Walker Titan, but I couldn't get a 5x7 model, so went for an ex-dem model straight from Gandolfi (Edward Norton of Gandolfi is a really helpful person!).

The weather is not much of an issue with it - it can take a lot of extreme weather and extremes of heat and humidity and cleans easily. It is a very traditional style and quite heavy, but apart from the opening/closing I can't really fault it.

If you look at the gandolfi website ( http://www.gandolficameras.com/ ) you will see that you can order virtually any spec and movement you require - at a price!

BTW, I have tried an older wooden Gandolfi (which all seem to have fewer movements) and it was significantly lighter than mine!

Ted Harris
18-Mar-2005, 11:21
One more thought while I sit here and get my brain ready to go back to work. First, thanks CXC, I gave it some thought and myabe I have spent most of my time with the 450 at distances ~ 15 feet and less from the camera. OTOH a lot of my shooting this winter was in fairly close and with a bi tmore extension for less than infinity work the 110 becomes much less of a pain. OTOH, we should point out that while switching to the bag bellows requires taking the back off it is not a big, time consuming deal and the front standard bellows catches on the Walker are vry intelliigently designed.

Finally, if you are in the UK, call Mike Walker and buy the camera from him directly. You will get a good deal.