View Full Version : More Q. Best 4x5 camera?

Chris Bitmead
6-May-1998, 03:59
Perhaps I should clarify my question even further.

Yes guys, I know there is no best 4x5 camera. When I say best, I mean best for m e, given what I want to do. And even then of course I am asking opinions.

Perhaps it would be more helpful to tell me all the things I should be looking for. What feature should I look for that I'll be sorry later I didn't get, but f or asking you experts who know?

Let me state my requirements again.

(1) Small/light/compact and quick to set up is a big priority. I want to cart th is thing out and about. (2) Of course the extra movements of a monorail will be nice as long as it it fi ts in with point (1). (3) I like really wide angle lenses. The 47mm Schneider looks mighty interesting . How should this affect my decision? (4) I don't have money coming out of my ears but I am willing to pay for quality or better features if I can see the value. I don't think in terms of the total price, but rather what extra benefit to I get for additional cost. (5) I want something useful rather than beautifully crafted. I'd probably rather have a Bronica or Rollei than a Hasselblad. Obviously something strong and well made is a priority. Classical looks like the Linhof is irrelevant.

So feel free to advise on either a particular camera OR which features I should look for in a camera. I'll worry about the lenses later. For now I'm just resear ching. I won't buy for at least 3 months.

What is the fealing about taking monorails into the field? I have seen some comm ents that in some ways they are actually easier to use in the field. What are pe oples thoughts on that?

Also what is the revolving back some cameras have? Is that to take portrait orie ntation? Which cameras have that?

I've taken note of the Toyo 45AII and the Arca-Swiss FC advice. The Toyo looks v ery compact and the Arca-Swiss looks very interesting and flexible too. I'm lean ing towards something like the Arca if I can be convinced it is convenient enoug h in the field.

Alan Gibson
6-May-1998, 07:10
My requirements sound very similar to yours. I first chose the lenses (Schneider Super-Angulon XL 47, 58 and 72mm), and then the camera (Calumet Cadet Wide-Angl e).

Why the Calumet? It's cheap (I got it for #300 in the UK), fairly light (about 2 .2kg), and fits easily in a rucksack. Setting up is trivial: take it out of the rucksack, put it on a tripod, remove the lens cap, and there we are. It's got al l the movements I need, and can be operated with gloves in filthy weather. Of co urse, it has disadvantages: tightening the clamps tends to move the standards, i t doesn't have screw-thread movements (but I don't want them on top of a wet and windy mountain), the monorail is too short for a lens longer than 180mm (but th is helps the portability), it doesn't have bubble-levels (which is a shame). But , for me, the main advantages are cheapness and lightness, so I can take it plac es where I would hesitate to take a beautiful but heavy mahogany and brass monst er.

It has a "hidden" feature: it doesn't even look like a camera. Having a bag "bel lows", to the uninitiated it looks more like, say, a handbag than a camera. This opens up interesting possibilities for pictures around town.

Rob "John Henry" Rothman
6-May-1998, 10:14
Have you considered one of the collapsible monorails such as the Technikardan? I've never used one (I'm a woody-phile myself), but they seem to be quite well m ade and well-designed and may well balance your need for lots of movements with that for portability.

Stuart Goldstein
7-May-1998, 09:06
Check with Calumet. In the US (and I would assume worldwide), they have a policy that if you buy a Cadet and within 5 years (?) decide that you want to purchase a more expensive view camera, Calumet will credit the cost of the Cadet (curren tly around $400US) toward the purchase of your new camera. Of course, you would have to buy the new camera from Calumet.

I have used the first version of the Cadet and found that the back standard DID shift if I locked it down. I have been told by Calumet that this problem has bee n resolved. (I ordered the "normal" unit, not the wide angle camera). I haven't reordered yet (but will if I can't find an affordable, relatively light, monorai l camera).

I won't tell you to rent, but have you called photography departments at your lo cal universities and vocational schools? I took an LF course at a community coll ege. Included in the cost of the course was the use of an LF camera for 10 weeks . The course gave me a chance to decide if I liked LF or not and to figure out how to use the camera (with the assistance of the instructor).

Frank Armstrong
10-May-1998, 15:50
Chris: I don't go in the field without my 4x5 WA Ebony. By far the best most c ompact wide-angle camera I've ever used. Folds up smaller than a Wista 4x5, has a wooden Grafloc back, very soft leather bellows, will focus and give max moves to the 47mm S-A lens, and will also focus a 135mm down to about 10 feet. I don 't know who imports them currently, I think that Lens and Repo use to. Ebony al so make an amazing "normal" 4x5 field camera, also. Both models are of ebony wo od and titaninum through. Frank