View Full Version : Toyo CF underwhelming

John D Gerndt
31-Aug-2005, 16:04
Hi, all you field camera users.

I am slipping down (from 8x10 and 5x7) the large format ladder, as I get more mobile. I shot again with a Hasselblad this year and really liked the convenience but the negs are just so tiny. I have a 1938 Speed Graphic. It measures up square and true but it is heavy. I went to a store to check out the Toyo CF, which is not heavy. It seems about the same build quality as my Graphic, just lighter. I am thinking I may as well just cast off the shutter guts and rangefinder from the Graphic and come pretty close to that Toyo, up a pound or two maybe. Am I way off in my perceptions here?

Mark McCarvill
31-Aug-2005, 16:22

I used the Toyo CF for a while but found it lacking in the movement department, especially when using a 65 or 90mm lens, so I went with a Shen Hao. The Shen Hao is comparable in terms of weight but far superior in terms of movements (it also takes a wide angle bag bellows, while the Toyo does not).

Here (http://www.shutterbug.net/features/0104sb_entry/.) is how one reviewer compared the two cameras.

31-Aug-2005, 16:23
Quite interesting. I'm sure recommendations are forthcoming if you tell us what is too heavy to carry.

Oren Grad
31-Aug-2005, 16:34
John -

One of my quarter-plate Graphics has had the rangefinder and shutter removed. I've used it out in the field. It works, of course, and it definitely saves a noticeable amount of weight compared to the factory-issue Speed Graphic, but I'd much rather use a more versatile camera. In 4x5, where there's a huge choice of cameras available, I'd take an inexpensive, lightweight wood-field like a Tachihara or a Nagaoka over a stripped-down Graphic any day.

If you know you're comfortable working within the limitations of a Graphic, you could give it a try. In that case, it's really an economic decision - is the tradeoff for destroying the resale value of the camera worth it to you?

Brad Rippe
31-Aug-2005, 18:19

I use a Toyo CF for multiday backpacking trips, and I think its a perfect compromise. It has most movements, back tilt is achieved by dropping the bed. Its light, 3.4 lbs, and is very compact (folds up with a small lens attached) and perfect for what I use it for. It does seem a bit toy(o)-like, but I've found it to be quite sturdy when everything is locked down. It sets up fast and is very easy to use. I only use it for backpacking, or when weight is my primary concern. When it comes down to it, all you really need is a dark path between the lens and the film.

The CF is nothing like my regular camera, an Arca Swiss F-line field camera, which is in a whole other world as far as everything but the weight. I would decide if weight is a primary issue for you, and realize the associated compromises. I know several people on this forum use a Toho. Check out Kerry's page for a review of the Toho camera.
Good Luck, let us know what you decide.


Craig Wactor
31-Aug-2005, 18:36
I found the Toyo CF we bought here to be very lackluster. The few movements it has are anything but precise. You can't use a lens shorter than 90mm without jerry-rigging it. It does not feel well built. It is fairly light, though. And with the educational discount, it is the cheapest new 4x5 out there.

paul owen
1-Sep-2005, 02:52
Toyo CF? In my opinion and experience ... Don't bother! Get a Shen Hao! (Yep you heard right!) I rate the Shen Hao MUCH higher than the CF - and I don't rate the Shen Hao that highly :)

Scott Davis
1-Sep-2005, 11:05
When I first heard about the CF, I got all excited... a sub- 4# 4x5 field camera? Wow! and so cheap too!!

Well, cheap was the operative phrase, after I got it in my hands. It has very limited movements, it feels like it will snap apart in your hands at any moment, and to close the camera you have to dismount the front standard from the focusing track. Closed, it will only accomodate very small lenses (they were marketing some Rodenstock f6.8 and f8 lenses with it when it first came out, Geronars I believe, which would fit on the camera when closed. The downside of those lenses aside from the dim gg image, was that they have VERY small image circles - maybe 10-15mm of movement). I ended up getting an AGFA tailboard model (weighs a ton, but it has almost 24 inches of bellows draw), and then replaced that with a Shen-Hao. For comparable money, the Shen-Hao has far better movement, equal if not longer bellows draw, and cheaper accessories. The Shen-Hao is heavier- about 6#, not 3.4#. It is solid teak, which explains a lot of the weight gain. It folds up into an equally compact package, and it will also accomodate small lenses in collapsed mode (I have a 4 3/8" WA Dagor in a Rapax shutter that fits quite nicely).

I think the only reason I would ever even consider the CF would be if weight were such a premium that I couldn't get what I needed if I had to carry an extra 2#.

John D Gerndt
1-Sep-2005, 18:22
Thank you for all the good data. I will try first to make what I have work. If I find that frustrating I am liking the Techihara at almost the same weight and better movements. I wonder if one can fold it up with a small lens like the 135mm Symmar in a Copal 0? I will post the results of my experiment and Oren, I only paid $40 for the Graphic so there is not much resale to loose, I still don't like ripping up a camera but hey, it is for art, no?