View Full Version : I need a 4x5" aspirin

23-Dec-2007, 20:46
Is it me or my imagination?
A friend gave me this 4x5 Gowland Pocketview maybe 10 years ago.
So I bought a graflok back for it recently and I am trying to get used to it BUT:
this camera just seems so light and finicky and loose.
It's my guess that maybe this camera is made to throw in a back pack and go hiking,
but I just want something that I can throw on a big tripod, that can be locked down tight and stay in place without flexing and moving. In other words, the exact oposite of what this camera is. I dont care how much it weighs or if it's ugly as sin. Any recommendations for something for a VERY budget conscious person?
thank you!

David Karp
23-Dec-2007, 20:51
A used Cambo Legend or Toyo G monorail camera will work for you. These are workhorse studio cameras that have been around a long time. Used versions are available at unbelievably low prices, and used accessories are plentiful. Sinar P or P2 and Horseman monorails are also options, but probably more expensive.

23-Dec-2007, 21:01
What you are decribing that you want sounds like my Gowland Pocketview, so I don't quite know what to suggest. Good luck in your search!


23-Dec-2007, 21:13
My first 4x5 was a Sinar F1. A great camera that fit in a f64 backpack with some holders and a lens, was solid, and had all the movments I needed. KEH has some ranging from 365(bgn)-399(EX). Check them out!!! I have never been disapointed by KEH.
Happy Holidays

John Kasaian
23-Dec-2007, 21:54
How about a Calumet 400 series, or a B and J?

Matt Blaze
23-Dec-2007, 22:11
Ditto on the recommendation for KEH. Their prices are reasonable and they tend to under-grade stuff.

I also am a Sinar fan; my first true LF camera was a Sinar P that I got last month. (My primary camera had been a Fuji 680, which is not quite L enough to be LF, though it does have limited movements).

An advantage to Sinar is that you can start with an F or F2 (the lightweight Sinar monrail, with geared fine focus but all other movements are friction) and slowly turn it in to a P (heavyweight and with all geared movements) by replacing the rear and front standards. Also, they are very common commercial photography cameras, so parts and accessories are readily available on the used market.

There are, of course, many other good camera brands (ArcaSwiss, Toyo, Horseman, Calumet, etc), and I'm sure you'll get many good recommendations.

23-Dec-2007, 22:31
And I am certainly glad I learned on something more stable. The Pocket is a backpack camera. You throw it in a pack and hike 2 days to a location where you can spend the next two days fighting the instability of the camera. If I continue to use it, I will make a few modifications. First, a gear strip and wheel for the front focus, instead of the friction wheel with no lock. Secondly, no hex wrench. Actual welded handles on the movement locks so they can really be locked down. It is light however.

I started 4X5 with a Graflex Graphic with the graflok back and a 127 ektar lens. That camera is a complete package with fair movements. I've had monorails and field cameras with full movements and I rarely find myself in a situation, even now, which exceeds the capabilitys of an old Graflex press camera in good condition. A good operating Graflex should be available for from $200 to 300 and that may include a period lens. It sounds like you must already have one lens with the Pocket??? A Graflex would be a low risk ($$$$) starter. If it turns out you need more movements, that camera should sell for what you paid for it, or nearly so. The tripod mount on a Graflex is on the main body, so extended, they can be a little front heavy, so your heavy tripod is a good idea. They do lock down nicely, and the focus is geared.

Most of the people I know who do pack into remote locations use the Tachihara. It's about as light as they get without spending huge dollars. A new Tachi sells for around $600 last time I looked, and the down side is that a used one brings almost new prices in good condition.

Monorails in my estimation are a second choice for field use, but they offer maximum movements.

It might be a good idea to figure out a few things beforehand. What type of photos do you want to take... studio, street work, architecture, nature and landscape. If you plan on getting outdoors, how far do you want to wander from the car? The distance I might work from the car precludes a monorail in my usage. But, I've seen some people pretty far afield with monorails. Their pack mule was nearby however.

I really like the look of the new Chamonix that everybody is hooting about on this board. It looks like an incredible piece of equipment for $700, flexible, plenty of movements, and lots of extension (draw). I'm thinking about getting in on the next run.

It might be a good time to sell the pocket. They have been going for some real significant prices on eBay when the auction is set up right. I've seen a couple lately sell for upwards of $500 without lenses. That should put enough money in the kitty to buy a nice field or monorail camera.

23-Dec-2007, 23:13
Thanks a lot for all the replies:
Right now I am shooting still lifes. I am using a 150mm F:9 G Claron and a Graflok back.
I am trying to shoot tabletop objects up close at around F 9.5 at one second.
The Pocketview bellows are long enough but the focus rail isnt, so I need to buy an extension tube now and try that or extend the bellows with a longer rail.
I guess I am crazy as I was hoping i could find an old camera for maybe $200-250.00 that I could slap my lens and back on and be in business.
Something that would look at home on an old Majestic tripod. If what I am thinking of doesnt exist, maybe I can make a camera out of a safe because movements are not real important right now- I just want something that wont budge. The ultimate non portable camera.
In my mind its the equivalent of a photographic farm tractor. All bulky metal with gears sticking out maybe.
I'll be researching your replies.
Thanks again,

23-Dec-2007, 23:31
Look at Calumet monorails... the old style with the revolving back. They don't have Graflok, but you can surely switch to film holders. The camera's are a bit bulky, but there are usually quite a few of them out there on eBay and otherwise. They are very sturdy and lock down tight. Would be good for the use you describe currently. The standard model has a fairly long draw.

Be sure you don't get the short rail wide angle model with the reversed front standard.

Here is a link to a standard on eBay with a case:


And here is a link to the short rail wide angle. Notice the krinkly bellows. It's that way because it has no stiffeners and folds flatter. Stay away from this one for the photography you describe. Notice the reverse of the front standards to bring the lens board closer to the ground glass:


Also, look at the later Calumet monorails. Another model to look at is the early Graphic View... not press. View. Sometimes they sell in that range.

23-Dec-2007, 23:48
Thanks for the heads up, Kuzano.
That first link - Calumet Standard looks like JUST the ticket. Now I just need to watch the prices. My eyes are open on this one.The Graphic View looks real nice but might be too pretty!

Tony Lakin
24-Dec-2007, 01:41
For studio use I have found the Horseman LX to be the most solidly built and easiest to use with its silky smooth geared movements they go for bargain prices on the UK Ebay, don't know what you would need to pay in the US.

Good luck

Merry Xmas:)

Walter Calahan
24-Dec-2007, 06:06
Take two 8x10 cameras and call me in the morning. Ha!

Good luck, there are plenty of cameras to pick to solve your situation.

Michael Graves
24-Dec-2007, 07:05
I see Toyos go for under $200.00 quite frequently on eBay, and would recommend them over the Calument 400 series any day. They're solider, have more available accessories and easier to use. I have had both, so I am coming from a basis of comparison.

erie patsellis
24-Dec-2007, 09:26
I'd tend to agree with michael, I have several toyo's (and a 45E and 45F that are for sale) and while I have been forced into the F system due to a customer I shoot for (they have a stable of sinar's and when I do any shooting for them, they provide lenses and other bits) I still use a toyo for my personal shooting.


Alan Davenport
24-Dec-2007, 11:37
One of the newer Calumets, with a 1" square rail. Rock solid, Graflok back, everything is interchangeable with any modern Cambo. Prices are so depressed on used monorails that buying a 40 year old camera, when you could have a much newer one, is hard to justify.

Brian Ellis
24-Dec-2007, 11:49
"Now I just need to watch the prices."

Don't base your bid on the prices you see. The action on ebay doesn't usually start until the last minute or so of the auction and you'll never see those bids. Rather than trying to base a bid on the prices you see, decide the maximum you want to pay and then sign up with a sniping service. I use esnipe but there are plenty of others around. Once you tell them your maximum bid they'll submit it 5 seconds before the end of the auction. If it isn't high enough for this one, try again. Eventually you should be able to get an old, heavy user Calumet/Cambo for about $250.

24-Dec-2007, 11:50
I'd say your answer is a Calumet CC404 long rail. Shouldn't be much more then $100 to $150.

The other option might just be a big 8x10 monorail with a 4x5 reducing back but the CC404 will be cheaper.


One of those if the Graflok isn't a deal breaker

25-Dec-2007, 11:38
The Horseman L series was what I used in undergrad. I see them rather cheap on that auction site ~ $200 every once and a while.

25-Dec-2007, 13:37
I recommend a Graphic View II with Graflock back. I got my first one in 1953, and while I have a nice Linhof monorail, my old GV will do everything it does (except change the bellows for a superwide lens, which I don't want, and couldn't afford, anyhow). They seem to be made of Indestructium.

25-Dec-2007, 14:00
Many thanks to you guys' comments.
Here is the list I have compiled with your help.

Calumet 4 x5 Standard
Calumet with square rail (newer)
Cambo Legend
Graphic View II
Horseman L
Toyo 45 D or G

As people seem to be charging up to $40.00 for shipping,
I hope I can find an ugly one of these for $200.00.
Do I have a chance?

25-Dec-2007, 18:59
That list should easily yield a $200 camera, including shipping, AND the possibility of a period lens (graflex Ektar or Optar or similar).

TIP If shopping eBay auctions. Flag (watch list) auctions closing Sunday PM or late evening, or auctions closing between midnight to 6 in the morning. That doesn't mean there won't be other auctions to watch. But bidding is very weak at those times.

Scott Kathe
26-Dec-2007, 14:09

Maybe I missed something, but why don't you sell the Pocket View here? I just checked eBay and in the past couple of weeks there were two sales: one for $365 and the other for $450. There was a time when I wanted a Pocket View for hiking but my hikes are shorter these days and the Shen Hao I have works just fine.


Tony Karnezis
26-Dec-2007, 14:35

I'd check out the Calumet 45N (removable & rotating back) or 45NX (revolving back). There's a flood of them on the used market since they were used in art/photography schools as entry level view cameras. One recently sold on eBay for $165, and another one with a lens and several lens boards sold for only $315. I picked up one in like-new condition with a lens & some lens boards & other accessories a few years back for ~$350. The camera is simple, sturdy and has big knobs. For what you're looking for, I can't think of a better inexpensive monorail. You can read a comprehensive review at http://www.largeformatphotography.info/calumet/calumet-45nx.html


26-Dec-2007, 17:13
Depending on where you are, Craigslist can be good too.


26-Dec-2007, 17:31
The pocket views have been selling for quite a bit more than the money you want to spend to buy a view camera. I saw the ones mentioned and I also saw one sell a few weeks ago for right around $500 with no lens.

Ed K.
26-Dec-2007, 17:42
Ethan - a couple of thoughts -

The Pocket View does have the ability to put an additional rail extention on it - you might not have it. Peter Gowland could even make you a longer one if needed. Peter still has parts.

Often, the friction wheel on the bottom simply needs to have its screws tightened a little bit and then it works just fine. In addition, some of the hardware can be replaced with something a bit more robust, to get rid of the hex key. It actually locks down pretty well. The pocket view was designed to be inexpensive and very light weight above all else. You could probably sell it for what an entry level Toyo would cost used, provided that someone else wants less weight.

Anybody want to trade him a nice hefty boat anchor camera for an ultra-light camera? That would really be cool. Each would have their new treasure.

Did anyone mention the plastic Toyo 45cf field camera? It's not a bad camera at all, and it is very inexpensive, especially used. For studio use, Sinar F1 cameras are dirt cheap these days, and quite capable. If you don't need much for movements, a Crown Graphic can sometimes appear for 150 - 200 in superb shape.

Don't forget the various helical mount, non-bellows type large format cameras if you really need something rigid and can sacrafice movements. Fotoman, for example.

You do have thousands of choices available to you.

erie patsellis
26-Dec-2007, 19:44
I have both a Toyo 45E and 45F, as well as a Burke & James Press that I'm in the process of deciding to sell.


27-Dec-2007, 12:15

What should be my top bid on this monster?

27-Dec-2007, 12:18
That's the normal model. Thought you wanted a long rail?

As is sale? Basically fair value now.

Camera is worth a bit more but not as is and with the seller talking about "high shipping"

27-Dec-2007, 12:24
A) I live in New York City

B) Thanks and I am aware I can get a longer rail for my PocketView, but I just feel like
I'd be trying to mow a hayfield with a moustache trimmer with that thing. Maybe I just need a monster camera to make monster pictures!

C) A trade could work, but I am not sure if I should sell the PocketView, as it was a gift. Maybe I need a second opinion on this.

D) I really appreciate all of your help with all this!


27-Dec-2007, 16:52


David Karp
27-Dec-2007, 16:54