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View Full Version : Buy used Toyo w/accessories or brand new Chamonix



prestonedavis
6-Jun-2019, 14:30
I hesitated posting this because there is so much information out there comparing different models. But without having anyone one else to really help sort this decision out I figured I'd come here.

A little background: I've been shooting LF for about 2 years now. I started out with a Sinar Norma 4x5 but recently sold it because it was just too heavy for my use. I did a couple hikes with it and boy is that thing a beast!

So now I'm in the market for a field camera. I've always had my eye on the Chamonix. It's just so nice to look at. I could buy one and not feel bad about it. But there is a Toyo 45ax for sale in my area for a couple hundred dollars cheaper that has given me something to think about. It comes with accessories (tripod, camera bag, loupe, lens holders and a Fujinon W 150 w/lens board). I know I can also get great results with the Toyo, but I'm not sure how it will feel on an all day hike. I wonder how it would compare to the heft of my Sinar Norma.

I do know it's not as pretty as the Chamonix.

So if anyone can help me brainstorm the decision process I would appreciate it. So in a nutshell, what's important to me are ease of use, weight savings, durability and money savings.

Here's a link to my flickr album of LF shots to give you an idea of the kind of things I shoot: https://flic.kr/s/aHskYRdhaX

ETA: I already have accessories and don't really need the ones coming with the Toyo. I have film holders, a tripod, camera bag, lenses and all the other important stuff.

Oren Grad
6-Jun-2019, 14:39
FWIW, the weight of the 45AX is specified at 5.8 lb. The various current Chamonix 4x5 models range from 3.2 lb to 4.3 lb. I think a 4x5 Norma is in the ballpark of 7 lb, but you could weigh yours to be sure. Of course, the field cameras will pack more compactly and will be a bit easier to set up and take down when you're on the go.

jnantz
6-Jun-2019, 14:50
If in a year or 2 you decide you want a wider or longer lens which will accomodate the 65 or 90 or 210 or 370 you might buy?
its not necessarily what you have and use tomorrow but the day after tomorrow. then again probably in a few years these 2 cameras or one
nicer will cost even less than you can get them for now ... IDK a couple of pounds difference probably isn't going to make that much of a difference..
personally, id buy the toyo. its a tank compared to the chamonix.

Tin Can
6-Jun-2019, 15:07
Buy old used.

I bought a bigger Chamonix new and it was lovely.

Too lovely, as I didn't want to use it in the real world.

So I sold it and got something used.

prestonedavis
6-Jun-2019, 15:54
One thought I had is that if I buy the cheaper, used Toyo I could invest in some filters, which I need.

Peter De Smidt
6-Jun-2019, 16:19
Well, my main camera for the last 20 years has been a Toyo AX. I've also used a Chamonix.

The Toyo is a solid camera, with easy to use controls. It has enough movements for most things, and it works fine with a 90mm.

The Chamonix is lighter and a bit more fiddly. For instance, if you use the xtra back extension, you have to be careful you don't create unintentional rear swing. It might have more rise, and is a bag bellows available? That would be important if you want to use superwides.

In your situation, I'd buy the Toyo for a good price. The only real way to know if it's too heavy is to use it. For me, it's fine for day hikes, but if I was doing multiple day backpacking trips, I'd want something lighter. At one point I had a Toho FC45x, a much lighter camera, but it was a pain to use. If you pay a good price, odds are you can sell it for little loss down the road. I bought a Chamonix just to try out, but I ended up sticking with my Toyo.

Roger Thoms
6-Jun-2019, 16:29
Tough Call, although I would certainly lean toward the Chamonix. I own a 45N-2 and it's a great camera, light, plenty of movements, will handle a wide range of focal lengths. I don't have any problem with it being to nice to use and I there are plenty of other users who have no problem taking their Chamonix cameras out in the field. Support is also very good if you ever need parts for it.

I checked out the ad for the Toyo, looks like a good deal and the Toyo's certainly have a good reputation. Plus you could get the Toyo right away. I would take a close look at the bellow, as they look a little wonky. The camera was probably folded up incorrectly at one point.

Roger

prestonedavis
6-Jun-2019, 16:35
Tough Call, although I would certainly lean toward the Chamonix. I own a 45N-2 and it's a great camera, light, plenty of movements, will handle a wide range of focal lengths. I don't have any problem with it being to nice to use and I there are plenty of other users who have no problem taking their Chamonix cameras out in the field. Support is also very good if you ever need parts for it.

I checked out the ad for the Toyo, looks like a good deal and the Toyo's certainly have a good reputation. Plus you could get the Toyo right away. I would take a close look at the bellow, as they look a little wonky. The camera was probably folded up incorrectly at one point.

Roger

I noticed that about the bellows as well. I did mention to the seller that if he decides to sell at a cheaper price without the accessories I would seriously consider it. We'll see what he says. An even cheaper price for the Toyo would probably trump the Chamonix. Or at least that's how I feel right now.

Kiwi7475
6-Jun-2019, 19:02
I was in a similar conundrum some time ago and opted for the Chamonix.
I donít think you can make a bad decision here but I value the lightness because I hike a lot and 2+ lbs make a difference on top of everything else. Iíd say think about how youíd use it, whatís important to you, and make a decision accordingly.
I am not worrying about using it. Itís a tool, and tools needs to be used to do stuff with them. The Chamonix is not a delicate flower, itís built to last if you treat it with the care it deserves, like anything else.

peter schrager
6-Jun-2019, 19:19
Used a wista for 30 years and loved it but it got sold
I just picked a like new as in from the factory Calumet metal and I'm having s blast with the precision
Buy the toyo...those were fine cameras

rdeloe
6-Jun-2019, 19:34
I visited your web site. You should treat yourself to a good camera! You'll clearly put it to good use.

The thing about bellows is they are basically consumables. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to consume one... but often not. I went through three sets of used bellows for Toyo cameras (a rail camera -- not the one you're looking at). All had light leaks that made them unusable. I also went through the whole "cycle of bellows repair"; in my experience, the cycle begins with hope and optimism and ends with sadness and frustration. After a huge effort I was able to "repair" the best of the Toyo original bellows, but it ended up a somewhat goopy mess with poor long term prospects. I bought a new bellows from the Hong Kong bellows maker on eBay; the second version is great and I now have light proof bellows on my camera.

All of this is to say there's a chance the bellows on any used large format camera are leaky and may need to be replaced. Does the seller "guarantee" it's light proof, and will he/she take it back at seller's expense if it's not? Are you willing and able to replace the bellows yourself? One thing a Chamonix camera has going for it is it's new (or newer), so too the bellows.

prestonedavis
6-Jun-2019, 20:15
...You should treat yourself to a good camera! You'll clearly put it to good use.

Now if somehow I could get my wife to say this.

I was nearly burned when I bought my Sinar Norma from ebay but the seller was kind enough to send me a brand new one. Thankfully, because I don't think i would have had to patience to try and mend it.

The Chamonix being new and still in production making replacement parts easier is a point in it's favor.

Oren Grad
6-Jun-2019, 20:28
The Chamonix being new and still in production making replacement parts easier is a point in it's favor.

The Toyo 45AX is still sold new and is AFAIK is still serviced in the US by its distributor here, MAC Group. Whether it's still in production I don't know, but it hasn't been discontinued.

prestonedavis
6-Jun-2019, 20:36
The Toyo 45AX is still sold new and is AFAIK is still serviced in the US by its distributor here, MAC Group. Whether it's still in production I don't know, but it hasn't been discontinued.

Yes, I’ve seen them sold new. Not sure about the production part though.

B.S.Kumar
7-Jun-2019, 06:26
Toyo cameras are still produced, though on a much smaller scale now.

Kumar

cuypers1807
7-Jun-2019, 06:29
Can't go wrong with a Chamonix. I have the 045N-2, 8x10, and 11x14. Love them all.

robbiemcclaran
7-Jun-2019, 08:37
Just chiming in with 2Ę. I am a regular user of a Toyo 45A, an older one, probably 20 years old. It is a sturdy workhorse, solidly built, rugged and takes the abuse I put it through. It's easy to set up and has a reasonable amount of movements. My only complaint, and it's possible this is just mine, but the front swings are difficult to align square to the rear. I use a caliper to check it. Other than that, I am pleased with it.

prestonedavis
7-Jun-2019, 09:53
I think I'll pull the trigger on the Chamonix. Beauty and weight seem to be winning out. Now I have to decide between the 45f-2 or the 45H-1. To be honest, it's hard to tell what the real differences are and how they would impact me when I'm out shooting. :confused:

Jim Noel
7-Jun-2019, 12:33
By all means get the Chamonix! You will be much happier over time.

prestonedavis
7-Jun-2019, 13:16
I just bought the Chamonix 45f-2. Thanks for all the input. I consider this case closed. :)

Peter De Smidt
7-Jun-2019, 14:05
It's a great choice. I look forward to seeing what you do with it.

Peter Collins
7-Jun-2019, 18:12
Just get the one you like better. Forget the price difference. You have to feed the soul and its muse more than handling your wallet prudently.

--from an owner of a 45N-2....