View Full Version : View Camera vs. Field Camera

2-Oct-2006, 10:26
I want to get a 4x5 camera but I am not sure what to get....
Ansel, talks about a view camera where everyother person i've met say that view cameras are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Whats everyones take?
Also there is a Kodak masterview with a ziess 135 4.5 and a decent tripod for $599 everything looked in order, is this a deal? what do you think?

Peace OUT

steve simmons
2-Oct-2006, 10:48
If you are interestede in large format go to


and to

Free Articles

also, get one of these books

Using the View Camera. User's Guide to the View Camera, or Large Format Nature Photography. Check your library

steve simmons

Leonard Evens
2-Oct-2006, 10:48
You should understand what the terms mean. You can find out about these matters in several places. One good source is the book by Steve Simmons, Using the View Camera.

But let me briefly go over it. A view camera is one in which you can open the lens for viewing and observe the scene on a ground glass to compose. You then set shutter speed and aperture, insert film, and take the picture. View cameras also allow you to move the front of the camera holding the lens in relation to the back in a variety of ways. This gives you greater freedom in framing the picture or in selecting just what will be in focus.

View cameras come in a variety of sizes and in different forms. The most common ones are designed for 4 x 5 sheet film, but you can get a vew camera for use with a small format digital back and the sizes go up to 11 x 14 inches and beyond. There are a variety of backs for using these cameras with sheet film, roll film holders, digital backs, etc. View cameras generally allow mounting a variety of lenses on the front.

The two basic forms of view camera are the monorail and field cameras. A monorail mounts both the back and front on a rail with a flexible bellows in between, and generally allows more flexibility, but may be more difficult to transport. Field cameras are more like the film cameras you are familiar with in that everything is in one case which folds up. When open, the camera works similarly to a monorail except you often have fewer possible adjustments of the back.

Although this describes the basic dichotomy, some view cameras are intermeidate between field cameras and monorails. There are also a few cameras which use 4 x 5 film but which are not meant to be used only as view cameras. Examples are the Speed Graphics and similar cameras or technical cameras such as the LInhof. These cameras do have some movements, usually only in front, but they also have rangefinders, so they can be used without having to view an image on the ground glass.

I don't know anything about the specific camera you describe or if it is worth the price. Maybesomeone else will comment.

Ron Marshall
2-Oct-2006, 10:55
The front page of this site reviews many current models of view and field cameras:


Alan Davenport
2-Oct-2006, 11:37
Leonard's right -- they are all view cameras. The difference is between studio cameras (monorails) and field cameras, based on where the particular camera architecture is best suited. Which brings us all to the question you need to answer: what is your intended use?

If you plan to do landscapes or anything that requires maximum portability, then a field camera is probably the most rational choice. OTOH, if you will be working in a studio environment, or if you need the maximum versatility in movements, then a monorail camera may be a better idea. Having carried a Calumet 540 monorail in a backpack, I can state with some authority that there are easier cameras to haul around; it's why I now use a field camera.

Also keep in mind that most field cameras don't have quite as many movements available as do monorails, which typically offer all possible variations of tilt and shift.

2-Oct-2006, 13:30
I don't need a lecture about what they are, I want opinions on which one you'd get and if that kodak is a good deal!
Peace OUT

Kevin Crisp
2-Oct-2006, 13:48
People are giving you general answers, not lectures, because they can't do more than that with the information you've given them. What do you want to take pictures of? Where are you going to use it? Indoors, next to the car, or 10 miles from the nearest road? Nobody here would presume to tell you what you ought to get without knowing what you want to do. And, no, that is not a good deal in my opinion. You can either learn something about this, with a basic book such as Using the View Camera or you can go ahead and buy something that isn't right for what you want to do with it. Or you can give people enough information to help you make a good choice.

Kevin Crisp
2-Oct-2006, 13:50
Temporarily suspending my belief in the existence of trolls...

Ron Marshall
2-Oct-2006, 14:12
I don't need a lecture about what they are, I want opinions on which one you'd get and if that kodak is a good deal!
Peace OUT

The link I listed below has reviews of many view cameras. It discusses their pros and cons, and which conditions they are most suited for. You should take the time to read it.

Only you can decide what best suits your needs.

Jorge Gasteazoro
2-Oct-2006, 14:32
LOL..... Did you by any chance write the book "How to make friends"? You seem to have a knack for it.... :rolleyes:

I don't need a lecture about what they are, I want opinions on which one you'd get and if that kodak is a good deal!
Peace OUT

Kirk Gittings
2-Oct-2006, 16:07
You basically asked the question: which is better a view camera or a view camera? So some clarification was in order.

Ken Lee
2-Oct-2006, 16:33
Some factors to consider, not necessarily in any order:

Portability (size, weight)
Movements: How many different kinds of movements, and range of each
Durability and finish of materials
Suitability of controls to your hands and to the way you work
Ability to accommodate short and long lenses
Resistance to weather and extreme climate
Modular, interchangeable parts
Availability of parts or components

Choices affect one another. If you want small and light, you may sacrifice in rigidity and the ability to accommodate short and long lenses. Or you might choose a camera with all of these, but discover that it's outside your price range.

What do you plan to photograph ? Where ? If you intend to make photos of mountains in the Andes, the recommendation may be different than if you need to shoot indoor architecture.

The Kodak Masterview may be too heavy for you to carry, unless you plan to travel with it in the car. The lens may be great for portraits, but it may not give you much coverage for view camera movements.

For lenses, consider these factors:

Image quality
Circle of coverage
Filter size

Again, the choices you make are inter-related.

2-Oct-2006, 16:52
I like rail cameras (Toyo 45GX, 45D, 810G) in the studio but I have used them in the field. Heavy and slow to set up.

I like field cameras (Toyo 45AII, 810M, Wisner DX) in the field but I have used them in the studio. Light, fast to set up but limited movements. Good choice for location portraits when I need to work fast and don't need movements.

There are also hybrid cameras like the Toyo VX125 and Arca Swiss That give many features of both types of cameras. Compact, good movement east set up but usualy high priced. As my son uses my AII more I am useing the VX125 in the field more. Not as light or small as the AII but tons of movement, Great for wide angle closeups.

There is no one magic camera that will do it all. Rent or borrow different cameras. Take a LF class, attend a workshop or LF gathering. Get your hands on as many cameras as you can and decide what camera will best fill your needs. You may need more than one camera to fill all of your needs.

I started with a Toyo field camera then found a good deal on a toyo rail camera, with an adaptor I can use the same boards on each camera.

I think it is more important to get somthing and just start shooting than finding the "right" camera. You can change later or buy a second one, or two, or three, or four.......

Frank Petronio
2-Oct-2006, 16:55
Besides the arguements and miscommunications, $600 is about 2X what it is worth.

Andrew O'Neill
2-Oct-2006, 23:09
If you tell us what kind of photography you do, we could guide you better...but if you just want opinions...well, here is mine. I hate packing my view camera out in the field because it is not designed for that. I love packing my Canham field camera though as it is designed for back packing.
So, what kind of photography do you usually do?

Ole Tjugen
3-Oct-2006, 02:35
There is no one magic camera that will do it all. ...
There is. But it's expensive, out of production, and almost impossible to find.
I didn't believe there was one until I got hold of a Carbon Infinity, but if anything is "the magic do-it-all camera" that's it. Expect to pay at least $2000 for one, though...

John Kasaian
3-Oct-2006, 04:44
Just buy the darn thing and play with it awhile. You'll soon learn what you want and what you don't want in a view camera, then you can go find the camera that suits your needs better.

BTW Frank is right---it is 2x what you should be paying for that set up.

Leonard Evens
3-Oct-2006, 08:22
As I noted previously, because of different innovative designs, whether a given camera is usable in the field or not is more complicated than whether it is a 'monorail' or 'field camera'. Certainly many monorails designed for studio use would be awkward to carry around. But my Toho FC-45X is essentially a full monorail camera, while it is lighter than most any field camera, and it comes apart easily for transport. There are other monorails which also would be relatively easy to carry and use in the field. Moreover some 'field' cameras have most of the flexibility of a standard monorail. So always look at the features of the specific camera without worrying about what it is called.

Ron Marshall
3-Oct-2006, 09:23
There is. But it's expensive, out of production, and almost impossible to find.
I didn't believe there was one until I got hold of a Carbon Infinity, but if anything is "the magic do-it-all camera" that's it. Expect to pay at least $2000 for one, though...

Ole, I have never seen this camera. What makes it so special?

Ole Tjugen
3-Oct-2006, 09:36
Ole, I have never seen this camera. What makes it so special?

It's portable, relatively lightweight, packs into it's own "tortoise shell", has more movements than most monorails, takes lenses from 65mm to 550mm without changing bellows... It is also way over-designed for most practical uses, but perfect for nature photography in areas with vertical landscapes. Like around here.


Ron Marshall
3-Oct-2006, 09:56
Thanks Ole, fascinating design and materials. It would look great mounted on a Gitzo CF.

Seems perfect, with the exception of weight, 8.25 lb, and price, $6500 (when sold).

Oren Grad
3-Oct-2006, 10:03
relatively lightweight

At 3.75 kg??? That's about as heavy as a 4x5 field camera ever gets.

Don Hutton
3-Oct-2006, 10:13
At 3.75 kg??? That's about as heavy as a 4x5 field camera ever gets.

It is indeed... In fact, I just bought an 8x10 with 30inches of bellows which weighs less. Anyway, the important thing is that Ole really likes his camera. I almost bought one a couple of years ago and I'm grateful I passed - I think they are heavy and clunky and big - in fact my 7.5 lb 8x10 is very little different in overall dimensions. Not that they are comparable, but different strokes for different folks...

3-Oct-2006, 13:43
It's portable, relatively lightweight,


At 3.75 kg I would call rather call it - relatively heavy... Well, I said it's relative...

3-Oct-2006, 13:46
Uhm, I didn't want to call it twice - just relatively heavy, uhm...

Ole Tjugen
3-Oct-2006, 13:54
"Relatively heavy" is a relative term :)

It's relatively lightweight compared to other cameras with similar capabilities, and easily portable thanks to the clamshell design. Did I mention that it also folds up with a 210mm f:6.1 Xenar inside?

I think he must have weighed the whole camera complete with the oxhide bag - the one Christophe is describing is the same camera I bought from him, and it's just not that heavy. Or maybe I'm biased by my previous experiences with the 13x18cm Technika...

3-Oct-2006, 14:25
Thank you,
Finally we are talking. this is all i wanted was discussons on which is better for which and such.
Peace OUT,

3-Oct-2006, 14:45
No Ole, you're not biased, you're just used to your heavy camera. That's what happens when you lugg 3.75kg...
Peace IN and OUT, on the LEFT and on the RIGHT...