View Full Version : movements but able to travel on trains and planes

james silverman
10-Oct-2005, 10:13
A year ago i put a post out asking which 5x4 camera was recommended to a complete beginner of 5x4..

I ended up buying a toyo view +75/90 and 150 lenses and a 6x9 mamya roll back..

anyway what this leads me to is - I like the results of 5x4 and have achieved some wonderful images... but didnt think I would have a problem travelling with it nor had i considered or thought about it when i bought the camera...well about travelling on a train or a plane..in a car with the big black magic box is fine but take with anywhere else forget it...


I am back at the old drawing board

I will start to photograph specialist hotels in a month and need to travel on a plane with equipment..which means new camera body all over again...i want to make the right decision this time and i dont want money to be an obstacle as I will pay for it longterm...

the options that have been provided to me are

1/Toyo vx125 5/6

2/Ebony sw45

3/Arca swiss metric range with geared movements

4/Arca Misura

5/Linhoff Tecknikarden

most important that it can

1/pack up into a dedicated bag or a lowprow style bag .

2/ be useful for architecture possible geared movements but not essential

3/rise and fall is important

so all advice welcome

10-Oct-2005, 10:25

10-Oct-2005, 10:43
1/pack up into a dedicated bag or a lowprow style bag .
2/ be useful for architecture possible geared movements but not essential
3/rise and fall is important
and the first one said : technika, is it a joke ?
While technika are very good camera, when it comes to "be useful for architecture" and "rise and fall is important" they are just the worst ones !

If you have the money for it, i will go for the Arca misura or the new arca Fline 140... without hesitation !
I used to have a technikardan S45, but i fount that this camera wasn't stable enought !

Did you consider to shoot roll film with an arca Fline 69...

ronald moravec
10-Oct-2005, 11:14
What is wrong with the Toyo? If you tell what is unacceptable, we may be able to offer an alturnative instead of just throwing out names of our current favorite.

Canham 4x5 DCL comes with a dedicated bag, but it is so tight you can`t even get a film holder in with the camera. Now you need a second one for film meters etc.

You probably need something with wide angle capability and movement, so we are talking bag bellows and cameras don`t fold up with bags.

If you don`t care for movement, get a Pentax 6x7. Much easier to work and there is on shift lens made for it. Should go in an attache case easily.

Jorge Gasteazoro
10-Oct-2005, 11:21
A cheaper solution might just be to buy a wheeled Pelican case and just check it in. That is how I used to travel with my 4x5. Before I forget, dont forget to buy good strong locks to secure the case.

Armin Seeholzer
10-Oct-2005, 11:57
Sinar F1 or F2 or more compact Linhof Technika 2000!

10-Oct-2005, 12:11
" Before I forget, dont forget to buy good strong locks to secure the case."

You can't lock checked baggage if you're traveling in the United States. The security personnel will break the locks off the luggage if they need to inspect it, or drag you back to a search room and make you open it while you miss your plane. While nearly all US hold baggage is being x-rayed, the security people will look inside luggage if they determine something needs additional investigation.

The best bet would be to look at the metal cameras from Wista, Canham, or Horseman (FA). I use a Horseman FA specifically because it is the smallest package in a 4x5 that I could find. It does have some drawbacks (short bellows and limited opening in the front standard).

I have done architectural work with the camera as the front standard swings / tilts; as does the back (like a Linhof on posts). While not the equivalent of a monorail, it also doesn't weigh as much (3.5 pounds), and can easily be carrier on-board an aircraft.

Jorge Gasteazoro
10-Oct-2005, 12:16
Fortunatelly I did all my traveling before 9/11. At that time there was no problem locking bagagge. I can just imagine the nightmare it is now a days.

Gary J. McCutcheon
10-Oct-2005, 12:17
What model Toyo do you have? You may be able to slide the whole camera onto a short rail and pack it very compact. If you cut your own rail and want to leave the tripod mount attached, you can end up with an 8 in thick package. My Toyo G will do this and end up about 11 or 12 inches high by 10.5 inches wide by 8 inches thick. If you can find a six inch rail, 150mm, you could go even thinner without the tripod mount attached. You could use a bag that just holds the camera and carry the lenses etc. in another carry on, most airlines allow two, or possibly find a bigger bag that just may hold it all. That might be rather tight under a seat. You may end up with two bags anyway. With your setup, a bag bellows, and 250 mm rail, you should be able to conquer any architectural assignment. The Toyo's are tanks if a bit bulky.

The Toyo VX 125 would be a great solution because everything would be interchangable with the Toyo monorail you have. Many on this forum who have it have expressed that it is the ideal architectural camera, and it can be used on longer rails and expanded.

I would think the next best thing (only next best because you already have a Toyo) would be the Arca Swiss. Then you are starting all over again with lens boards, etc.

Good hunting.

Mike Butler
10-Oct-2005, 12:43
Might consider a Fuji GX 680 pro, too. Roll film. Lots of movements. Interchangeable bellows. That would be a beastie to lug around, too, but lots of commercial photographers manage it.

John Kasaian
10-Oct-2005, 12:46

I don't get it. What keeps you from taking your Toyo on a plane or train? If all you need is a case there are plenty of options---all more cost effective than a new camera. There are used military surplus fiberglass cases with pressurization valves on the surplus market for $40-70 you can customize the padding and they're tough as nails (like, drop one out of a C-130 onto the runway some time!).There are plenty of other options as well

OTOH if you need a more specialized camera, or one that you can break down at set up more easily (I don't know a thing about Toyos) thats another matter entirely.

Good Luck!

Michael S. Briggs
10-Oct-2005, 14:27
Any field camera can be packed to fit into carryon luggage. Because of their value, I much prefer to take my camera and lenses with me in my carry on. Usually I just use a small rollon. If you decide to use some case and check your equipment, check your insurance coverage. The airlines don't cover photo equipment in checked baggage.

Mostly you are going to get people telling you about the camera they use. Probably no one will have used all of the cameras that you have ask about. Be sure to think about the full range of focal lengths that you might eventually use. Some cameras are inconvenient with short lenses. Others have shorter maximum extensions. For architecture, I would look for a camera with interchangable bellows.

My current camera is a Linhof Technikardan 45S, which I find to be precise and plenty rigid. It is much more rigid than the popular Canham DLC, but also heavier. It has close to the most direct front rise that you will find in a field camera. Beyond a certain amount of front rise, you will need to use several movements to gain more: tilt the camera upwards, then bring both standards back to plumb.

10-Oct-2005, 14:50
What would be the problem in arriving in enough time to have your cases inspected and then locked? Once they are checked through they are not opened again.

10-Oct-2005, 15:13
Michael, Once I moved to ULF I had a rider put on my homeowners that covers all my camera gear whether or not it is in the home or on location. That is replacement costs. Also you may want to check with an air frieght carrier for shipping your gear in advance but this doesn't become an issue normally when your dealing with smaller formats such as 4x5. Of course 8x10 is my smaller format now and logistics and mobilization can become an added expense when dealing with this larger equipment.

Al Miller
10-Oct-2005, 16:31
I routinely fly with my Wisner 4x5 field camera in a LowePro MiniTrekker backpack as carry-on luggage. It contains the camera, Polaroid film holder, 2 lenses w/boards (135mm & 210mm), a few filters, cable release, loupe, light meter, 1 box of Readyload film, a small notebook, and a black pillowcase slit open on the end that serves as my darkcloth. The tripod and any other rugged accessories go in checked baggage.

This backpack is marketed toward 35mm users, but it makes a good, compact, pack for a limited 4x5 field kit. I don't see the exact version I have on their web site, it is about 5 years old and the design has changed slightly, but it looks essentially the same.

It is a tight fit, but I haven't had any issues with security, and the pack fits easily in the overhead bin.

I usually ask for hand-inspection of the box of film, but have not noticed any ill effects of film that has been x-rayed by the passenger screening line. The x-ray machine in the checked baggage area will destroy film.

james silverman
10-Oct-2005, 17:55
lots of answers..

I think I will fill the picture in a little more..

In the last year I bought a 5x4 Toyo View with 75/90/150 lenses


a fuji 680 roll camera with 50+110 lenses

I often drive with my car to a shoot and set up 2 tripods with a camera on each..I try and shoot exteriors with the 5x4 and the occassional interior but mainly shoot with the fuji for interiors -well smallish interiors...

It is certainly true that you can not by 1 camera and it does everything...

I went in July to Egypt and photographed a hotel with my fuji 680 however It does not compete in any way to the 5x4 and has minimum movements that get cut off with the 50 lens..the framing does not get what i need in well not enough ..

i left the toyo behind as I find transporting a nightmare

and airlines are stressful when you get to the check in...(being English I have learnt not to use Ryanair when travelling with photography equipment as I have been charged 70-100 for my luggage and was made to put my equipment in the hold once or not allowed on the plane -So I have every reason to hate travelling with equipment.

I left the toyo behind because the magic box is huge and I dont see the point to having a hundred different bags to carry different camera parts and rails and dark slides. It seems ridiculous ...

I dont want to start building a camera looking for all the hidden pieces, having all these extra bulky bits..you end up travellling with camera gear and not having any room for a suitcase with clothes..it has all your extras in there..what a nightmare....

I want a camera with built in rail that packs up easily and safe without rattling around and has good movements.not to start searching for all components when i get where ever..

no one has mentioned the Ebony sw45 -I take it no one has one?Reccomended by Robert White

the Toyo vx125 apparently takes forever to order says Robert White so may not be an option unless someone knows how to order and deliver with in 2weeks time

there is no information anywhere about Arca Swiss as they have no website and no images of there cameras...

I like the idea of a ruler/rail built on the camera but not a field camera as has limited movements for what I need it for...for example I went up in a skylift the other day 18metres high and had to use extreme front fall to capture this house..

I bought 30 dark slides so as not to stress on location as I read a hundred posts on the LF forum with all you lot moaning about how you cant use fuji and Kodak readyloads and quickloads- mixing them together or polaroid backs with them...So when shooting i have a racksack full of darkslides -I shoot trany so load 2 and shoot both sides the same exposure and decide if to change the other in the process.. so basically I get the chance of 30 shots...If any of you can convince me that I should have quickloads or readyloads and that they are releliable and i should bring only the quickload film as it is so much lighter then fine.but just too many complaints doesnt make me want to invest in the quipment then Im stuck with heavy darkslides...besides that I bought the blackjacket aswell and a shneider 4x loupe which I havent checked out yet actually..Its really fustrating that I am in London for the week and am on the internet as I cant go to any camera shop and check out these cameras the only shop to stock anything is far away Robert White and some of these cameras are to be ordered as they dont even have them in...so the days of looking in a shop and getting the feel for a camera has vanished..its order the thing and then maybe its the right thing for you maybe not...by the way my toyo has a 6inch rail...

SO travelling on board with me comes-my loweprow bag that carries the fuji 680 body with a lens on-which just about fits an extra back in but no extra lenses and my meter squeezes in+ A small 35 mm shoulder bag that would normally hold a 35mm camera,I put in another lens for my Fuji 680.My 55pro Manfrotto normally gets checked in. How am I supposed to travel with all the 5x4 gear aswell.

My Plan is to bring fuji 680 and 5x4 on the plane but just the 1 tripod that way I can shoot 5x4 stuff for exteriors and if i need to be quick or take several shots the fuji 680 will come out..so if possible to put 5x4 in hold would be good..I would not put the fuji 680 in the hold-it would not feel safe..

anyway so i hope this paints a clearer picture for you..

any advice welcome...

David A. Goldfarb
10-Oct-2005, 17:58
I often fly with my Technika and lenses, film and most accessories on board, tripod and empty filmholders checked. Any folding 4x5" camera will do this or a compact monorail like a Technikardan or Arca-Swiss F-line, if you prefer. A Sinar F-series camera can also be made quite compact in a few different ways.

Michael S. Briggs
10-Oct-2005, 18:18
If you are a pro, then you need to do what it takes to get the job done. My approach as an amateur is to take one camera. More than that becomes a big hassle. Maybe also a very lightweight "minature" camera as an extra, but not MF and LF systems, each with multiple lenses. One camera, even a LF camera with several lenses is easy to take as a carry on (but not including the tripod). Or, as I said, if you are a pro and you think the job demands several camera systems, you will be carrying the weight. You will need to check some of your camera equipment. Be sure to have cases up to the job and check your insurance. Why not get a roll film back for whichever field 4x5 you pick and leave the Fuji behind?

Arca Swiss is known for not providing information. Apparently they sell all they can make and the buyers are happy.

The Technikardan has a built-in ruler for the rear geared focus. It unfolds to function much like a monorail.

james silverman
10-Oct-2005, 18:29
I have a 6x9 mamya slider/roll back that works with the toyo however I prefer to shoot on the fuji 680 less complicated and quicker easier viewing in tight spaces and lower light. and no room to carry it let alone the camera...

thats why I am saying that I would normally go away without the Toyo and just bring the Fuji680 ..However I want to get some wow images aswell that I feel I need the 5x4 to satisfy me..

Airports try the 1 or 2 bags handluggage rule now aswell to complicate things..

Dave Henry
10-Oct-2005, 19:33
Hi James,

I travel regularly with my Sinar F, rail, 4 lenses, a bag bellows, meter , loupe etc. and box of readyloads all in a standard day-trip style backpack. I also throw in the 6x9 back. Everything is wrapped in lens wraps, the body is wrapped in the dark cloth and fits just fine. I think photographers worry too much about cases and things in general. I've worn out several back packs in the last 18 years but the equipment still works just fine. As mentioned above, the Sinar does fold flat and is very portable.

Generic back packs don't attract attention and leaves my hands free to carry my laptop bag. It goes everywhere I go and I don't worry about anything. Camera dedicated back packs are too heavy and I've found the equipment just doesn't need isolated compartments.

I pack the tripod, a spare bag bellows, numerous boxes of Readyloads and 120, Gaffers tape and everything else you need on a shoot in a standard suitcase and check it. The second suitcase gets clothes, more film etc.

I throw my Canon digital over my shoulder and I look like any other tourist boarding the plane. After almost 35 years of traveling, I've learned to not worry so much, keep it simple and allow enough time to relax along the way.

Try to get away from compartmentalized cases as it also tends to influence the mind.

Frank Petronio
10-Oct-2005, 19:37
If you stretch to the limit, and get a maximum legal carry on like the Think Tank Photo Backpack ($400!), you can get a compact 4x5 system and a small 35mm system onboard along legally, with reading material, a laptop, and toilitries - but it is very difficult. I did it with a Technika, 60 sheets of Readyloads, a second lens, Pentax meter, etc. a Nikon D70 and a couple small primes, all crammed into a Lowe Compu-Trekker (like the Mini Trekker but thinner to allow for a laptop compartment.

In the 80s I used a lightweight maxiumum legal carry on that was larger then. I really could pack a full 35-120-4x5 system. Gary Regester of Chimera and Plume fame used to give lectures and demos of how he did it. I used to haul a complete 3 body - 5 lens Nikon set, a Fuji GS690, and a Wista SP with three honker big lenses. But nowadays it is impossible to get all that onboard, unless you're talking about something radical like:

A Kerry Thalman style Toho 4x5 set up
A compact 120 rangfinder like a Mamiya 645i
and either Leica Ms or similar

None of these maximum carry-ons are any fun to carry or load onto a luggage bin.

For fun, I would simplify and take my FAVORITE camera and maybe a compact - and stop worrying and start shooting! The format is never as important as actually making the photo, and a good 35mm photo beats a mediocre 4x5 everytime.

james silverman
10-Oct-2005, 19:47
everything is wrapped in lens wraps?

what are lens wraps..do you mean bubble wrap

firstly the fresnel screen is pretty vulnerable I just had one that broke the other week through not protecting it enough and not carrying it in my black mamouth magic box...

when I get to a shoot I normally put what is neccesary into a regular bag that has 2 shoulder straps so I can easily move around and bubble wrap lenses putting them in there but I am always a little concerned about the safety of the quipment..travelling through airports andputting equipment on the plane you dont know if someone will open the cabinet and itll fall out..

keep the comments coming...

Michael S. Briggs
10-Oct-2005, 20:02
Lens wraps are padded squares of fabric that wrap around a lens or similar size object and fasten with velcro.

The typical rules allow one carryon luggage and one personal item, which can be a briefcase. I use a smaller than normal rollon as my carryon luggage and fit a field camera and several lenses wrapped in lens wraps, light meter, etc. Arrange something sturdy over the ground glass, or a piece of corrugaged cardboard. I've never broken anything this way. The briefcase can hold the other items that you want during the flight -- book, snacks, etc. If you check photo equipment in baggage, it has to be packed better, because the luggage will get rougher handling.

In the city, the rollon works well, Outside, a backpack works better. If one bag is too big to carryon, you can alway check it filled with cloths and transfer your camera to it at your destination.

I don't use Readyloads etc because the film I want isn't available in that format, but most of the complaints that I've seem are from the earlier versions of the Kodak holder, or from mixing brands (one brand of film with another brand of holder).

james silverman
10-Oct-2005, 20:24
I found this link with LF equipment in Loweprow and Pelican bags...would it be possible with monorail or nonfold cameras?


Henry Ambrose
10-Oct-2005, 21:18

The Ebony SW45 would be wonderful for your situation. It will handle the three lenses you have with more than enough movements and it is --very-- light and compact. Add a 6x9 rollfilm back and a 58mm lens to your outfit and leave the Fuji at home. Or just carry more 4x5 film to make your life really simple!

I carry my SW45 in a Pelican 1550 with 5 lenses, 10 filmholders, filters, meter, darkcloth - everything but a tripod. If you really want to travel light you can carry the camera, three lenses, meter, filters and some filmholders in a LowePro OmniPro model case without the Pelican as a carry-on bag and save a lot of weight. Or check it in the Pelican case and leave the case when you are working.

Look here:
www.lowepro.com/Products/Hard_and_Soft_Shell/classic/ (http://www.lowepro.com/Products/Hard_and_Soft_Shell/classic/)

Dave Henry
10-Oct-2005, 21:21
Hi James,

As I mentioned earlier, the Sinar folds flat when the rail is removed and gets wrapped up in the dark cloth. Still has the original focusing screen. I have replaced the fresnel a couple times because it is plastic and scratches over time from dragging a loupe over it for many years. If you broke the ground glass, which is under the plastic fresnel (on my camera), it really must have taken a beating. Calumet makes an inexpensive plastic sleeve for protecting focusing screens that might work for you.

When I wrap up the body I put the readyload holder (in its case) next to the focusing screen to protect it in transit.

What I like about carrying my stuff in a generic back pack is that I blend in with the general public and don't tend to attract attention. I also know that the stuff is being well cared for and watched by ME.

Good luck in your pursuits.

David Crossley
11-Oct-2005, 08:37
James, another vote for the Ebony SW45.

With similar criteria to yours, i picked up the slightly heavier non folding 45S and it fits the bill perfectly. Like Henry, my kit gets thrown into a pelican and into pack boxes on horseback for a part of the year, the hold of my sea kayak for another,and i have yet to see how it holds up on a pulk backcountry skiing as soon as the snow flies....

David Crossley/Crossley Photography....

Tony Ilardi
11-Oct-2005, 13:40
I recently started using large format again. About a dozen years ago, I had a Sinar a1, a Zone VI tripod and a large Bogen head. Mostly, it stayed in the closet because of the weight and bulk. Now I am using an Ebony RW45 and a lightweight carbon fiber tripod with Acratech head. I pack it in a Lowepro Mini Roller, having concluded I am not the backpacking kind. The case has enough room for the camera, 3-4 lenses, Fuji Quickload holder plus film and everything else I need, with the tripod strapped on the outside. I have not flown with this setup yet, but it looks promising as carry-on, with the tripod packed in a separate checked bag.