View Full Version : Which 4x5 cut film holders?

25-Feb-2007, 01:49
I'm sure this would have been discussed before, but I can't find much about it.

I'll finally be making the transition from Polaroid to cut film in the next few weeks, but I need to get some more 4x5 film holders...

Of those readily available on the second-hand market, which is your favourite brand/model?

Thanks for any advice!

Ted Harris
25-Feb-2007, 09:00
The "plain vanilla" holders from Lisco, Fidelity, Riteway are all liley to come out of the same platn and behave about the same. Shopping on the used market I would tend to go for those that are the current design .... that is plastic holders with the white plastic tabs on th top of the darkslide. You cna usually find ths at Midwest at pricrs that are oftrn no more than what you will pay on eBay and Jim's are usually like new.

Moving upscale you have the Toyo holders which many swear by but are somewhat more expensive; the Linhof holders which are a good bit more expensive if in excellent contition and also weigh more but are worth the price if you don't mind the weight (IMO). There are also holders from a company called Mido which are slim and light but hav had a number of reported problems.

Bottom line, this is a real simple machine, buy Fidelity/Lisco/Riteway and mak sure thy are latr model and in like new condition, you can find 'em like that for 10 bucks each or a bit more.

Michael Graves
25-Feb-2007, 09:12
I had some Midos. I didn't even try to sell them, they were so bad. They were very difficult to load correctly and a pain to use. Fidelity and Lisco are pretty much identical. Riteways are my favorites (although I've never been blessed with a Toyo), and they come in two flavors. The standard holders with the wire handles are the easiest to find and the cheapest. The locking holders are very nice and you can't accidenly pull the dark slide out. You have to push a button to release it. They also have these slick wide grips that make them easier for those of us with CDS (Coordination Deficiency Syndrome) to handle. They show up from time to time and generally bring a premium price.

25-Feb-2007, 10:15
I have some lisco regal IIs that I picked up on ebay for a steal ($10 for a lot of 6!), but I also have two toyo holders that I bought new from badger when I bought my camera from them. No doubt the toyo's are higher quality construction, but the fairly old and worn (though well maintained) liscos perform identically. I therefore don't see any real reason to buy expensive new holders if you can find used ones in good shape; just test them for leaks before you do anything serious with them.

BTW, if you're bidding on holders on ebay it seems best to be patient and lowball a few until you get the deal. Sometimes people come along and bid a lot up pretty high, and if you just wait for the next auction you'll get a way better price.

Frank Bagbey
25-Feb-2007, 22:50
Starting out with ragtag holders of various descriptions, I accidently discovered a Toyo 4x5 and 8x10 holder. Although, I have not replaced my 8x10 holders because of the expense, I got rid of all my 4x5 holders and replaced them with Toyo ones. They are SO SMOOTH. Several friends were converted instantly upon using my Toyo holders. You will be, too.
Frank Bagbey

25-Feb-2007, 22:55
All my holders are Toyo. I see no reason to use cheap holders that may or may not leak.

brad martin
26-Feb-2007, 00:42
I use the Fidelity film holders. I buy them new from Badger Graphic but out of a dozen I haven't had one issue with them.

26-Feb-2007, 00:54
As with most shooters I also had a variety of different holders. Then, I discovered the Linhof and Toyo versions. They seem to be a bit heavier than the Lisco/Fidelity varieties. However, they're much, much better built than any of the others... and, of course, a bit more expensive!

But, they're worth the additional cost! :)


Per Madsen
26-Feb-2007, 01:03
I would also recommend Toyo. Much better build quality than the Fidelity holders.

The only two Fidelity holders I ever had was so loose that the dark slide slid out, if you turned the holder upside down.

Sal Santamaura
26-Feb-2007, 08:38
...They seem to be a bit heavier than the Lisco/Fidelity varieties....Can't speak about the Linhofs. Toyos, however, are heavier than Lisco/Fidelity in 8x10 but lighter in 4x5.

Brian Ellis
26-Feb-2007, 08:40
I'd avoid the Linhof holders. I had several for a while. There may be different models but the ones I had were the same ones I see for sale on ebay occasionally. They're designed to accomodate plates as well as film so they're a good big bulkier and heavier than "normal" Lisco/Fidelity et al holders. I also found them more difficult to load and unload because of the way the base was designed (from memory, it's been several years since I used mine). There is a moving plate inside that many people seem to think is a pressure plate designed to hold the film flat but that isn't its purpose, it's movable so that the holder can accomodate the thicker plates as well as film and AFAIK doesn't hold the film any flatter than any other plate (in fact may be worse since it moves).

I've always enjoyed buying old wood holders from Kodak/Graflex/Ansco and others. Many of them were painted black. If you remove the paint you often find very beautful wood that you can stain and wax or just leave as is depending on what the wood looks like, then replace the hinge tape at the base, paint the top of the dark slide black, and you have a thing of beauty often for only $5 or so since most people prefer the newer plastic holders. The wood holders do weigh a little more than plastic.

Ole Tjugen
26-Feb-2007, 08:48
There are two kinds of Linhof holders: The older "Universal" type for film and plates, and a newer "standard" type. Both are very good, but the Universals are quite a bit heavier and a little thicker than other holders. I guess that's the price one has to pay for holders with pressure plate...

26-Feb-2007, 19:08
Thanks for all the replies - much appreciated! I'll keep looking around and see what I can get my hands on...

26-Feb-2007, 19:45
The Toyo 4x5 holders are very nice-I have no complaints. They may be somewhat more expensive but film and color processing is not cheap these days either. Mistakes are expensive. Their 8x10 holders are also very solid.
Dave B.

Bob McCarthy
26-Feb-2007, 19:53
Check out your local pro dealer. If your lucky, they haven't dumped their pro film gear yet.

I bought original Graflex holders (made in Rochester NY) like new (they were in original box) for $10 each and pristeen toyo's at $5.

Look around, they're out there.


26-Feb-2007, 21:57
There are two kinds of Linhof holders: The older "Universal" type for film and plates, and a newer "standard" type. Both are very good, but the Universals are quite a bit heavier and a little thicker than other holders. I guess that's the price one has to pay for holders with pressure plate...

Hi Ole,

I believe the Universal holders that you mention are the ones with the "retractor" lever on the side?

Had a bunch of those and they were much more of a challenge to load than the regular / standard Linhof type. I ended up getting rid of them because they were a much tighter fit in my cameras.

Stay with the standard versions and you should be fine.