View Full Version : Please advise on a suitable field camera

Ron Marshall
1-Aug-2005, 22:30
My Sinar F1 is great near the car but I must lessen my burden in order to venture further afield.

I don't have lots to spend and I want to go as light as possible.

I am considering: Wista DXII (3.4 lb), used Wista VX (5.3 lb, heavier but more stable and bag bellows possible), Toyo CF(3.4 lb). I will use 90mm to 300mm lenses.

The only back movement I need is tilt so that limitation is not a problem.

Would those with experience please let me know the relative merits of these cameras and any others that they feel are suitable.

steve simmons
2-Aug-2005, 11:47
I suggest a camera with a bellows at least 25% longer than the longest lens you want to use. I also suggest a bag/wide angle bellows for anything less than 90mm

steve simmons

Harley Goldman
2-Aug-2005, 12:08
I had a Wista DXII. It was a nice enough camera, but I don't think it was worth the money. If you are looking at a wooden field camera of that style, you might consider a Shen Hao or a Tachihara instead. Pretty close to a comparable camera for a lot less money. I have seen and played with the Toyo CF. I was not very impressed at all. My $0.02 worth.

2-Aug-2005, 12:55
Wista DXII has 12 inches of bellows extension, compared with 13+ inches with comparable (and less expensive) cameras such as Tachihara and Shen Hao. Non-tele 300mm will probably focus but only at infinity, which to me is a major limitation of Wista. You might feel the same given your priorities.

I don't know much about VX but am also curious to know how it fares as a "poor man's Technika."

Ron Marshall
2-Aug-2005, 13:13

The 12 inches of bellows on both the Wista VX and DXII was a concern for me, since my longest lens is a 300mm. There are 17mm and 33mm extension lensboards available. The 17 will allow me to focus to 4 meters, close enough for what I want in the field, but short enough so there will not be any reflections from inside the extension tube to reduce contrast.

From what I have read the VX seems like a well made camera and reasonably light at 5.3 lb. But I leaning towards a camera below 4 lb, which is why the Shen Hao is out and the DXII sounds good at 3.3 lb, as does the Tachihara.

Bruce Watson
2-Aug-2005, 13:35

Lighter than anything you are considering, plus full movements for both standards. Might be worth a look. I've been very happy with mine for the last three years. Of course, YMMV.

Bob Salomon
2-Aug-2005, 14:07

Wista makes extension beds and bellows so more then 20" of extension is possible on the Wista VX, SP and RF as well as on some Wista wood cameras. All Wista cameras also accept extented lens boards with extension rings to add a few inches of extension if the extra bed and bellows is not an option for you.

Wilbur Wong
2-Aug-2005, 18:05
before I finally gave up on my Sinar F, I had put an adapter lens board on the Sinar to allow use of Linhof Technika boards on my 5 lenses. I am sure that lost a couple of pounds and defintely a whole lot of bulk versus the Sinar boards!

Frank Petronio
2-Aug-2005, 18:43
Ha, I'd keep the Sinar and adapt it with a shorter rail and Wilbur's Technika adaptor board. Or swap it for an Arca or Norma and have the best of both worlds. Better to have one all arounder than two incompatible systems...

Ron Marshall
2-Aug-2005, 18:45
Wilber, thanks for the tip, I've done that also. Definately a step in the right direction since now I can use a small Gnass lens case and a smaller pack. The pack I had weighed 10 lb alone. But there are a few long hikes I want to take so I hope to find a used camera less than about 4.5lb.

The Wisner expedition also looks good at 4.5 lb and 20" bellows.

I am very happy with all aspects of the Sinar except the weight, it will do until I can find a used Wista or Wisner.

Brad Rippe
2-Aug-2005, 19:52

I have seen and held the Toyo CF, and like Harley, was not very impressed. However, I am considering buying a used one for backpack trips because they're light, cheap and very compact. You can close the camera with a small lens on it as well. It seems sturdy enough, easy to use, movements are a bit funky, but when everything is tightened down, seems quite rigid. You mentioned you want back tilt. There is no back tilt but you can drop the bed to get implied back tilt. The Toho seems a little more bulky to bring backpacking, but its lighter than the CF, and many on this forum use them. Also, if you drop it off Half Dome by accident, you're only out less than $500 for a used one. That is, if the lens wasn't yet attached. I say that because a few years ago, I slipped and almost fell with my camera and tripod into a raging Tuolomne River. If I did happen to fall into the river that day, I wouldn't be needing another camera.
Let us know what you get.


M Brian Mills
4-Aug-2005, 10:31
I, too, started with a Sinar view camera and hauled it around in my truck. I got to where I was trotting farther and farther away from the truck with it and decided I needed something different. With my view camera I had 5 different lenses that I was switching out all of the time. Now I have a Toyo CF that I use nearly exclusively with my Nikkor 90mm f4.5. Since I have a lighter camera I am able to get closer to my desired image by actually walking up to it instead of using the longer lens to get me there.
I have been very pleased with this camera for about 3 years now and while making about 500 images with it, I have only had a couple times that I wished I had something with more movements.
Being able to haul the camera more easily has made ALL of the difference in my work.

Edward Mast
4-Aug-2005, 11:17
I recently bought (on ebay) a Zone VI with a Caltar 150mm lens and 30 4x5 film holders for $1150. A bit pricey, I guess, but I do enjoy using it . While it's larger than the early Zone VI (Wista) I was using, it is at least as light. Bellows are interchangeable and extend to about 18". It's the first 4x5 I've used that has a bail for the ground glass, making inserting and removing the film holder MUCH easier. Has swings and tilt on back, and a choice of axis or bed tilt on front. When controls are tightened down, it is very stable. You can get one new from Calumet (more pricey) or check out ebay. Since Ron Wisner designed it, I guess it's quite similar to his cameras; but they're a bit more money and you may have to wait to get one. . . Edward

Ron Marshall
8-Aug-2005, 15:24
Thanks very much to everyone who contributed. After much thought and indecision I decided two cameras is the way to go. I will keep my Sinar for near the car and today I bought a Toyo fc-45c for backpacking. I packed the Sinar for only three miles on the weekend, but that was enough to convince me to open my wallet.

Ron Marshall
10-Aug-2005, 12:18
Anyone looking for an ultralight full featured backpacking camera should look at the Toho FC-45c. It is well made quick to set up and handles well. I am completely satisfied with my purchase.