View Full Version : Traveling with 4x5: Gowland Pocket View?

25-Jun-2011, 15:35
Ater reading a few threads here, I'm seriously thinking of getting a Gowland All-Move 4x5 for traveling around Europe with my wife and daughter.
I figure it won't add much to what I'm already carrying, and I really need the camera's full movements (for architecture).
And strangely enough, my Toyo G doesn't seem to be getting any lighter or smaller.
Any practical advice?
Anyone have one that they might consider selling?
Thanks in advance.

25-Jun-2011, 17:40
Yes I'm about to head to south America with mine... It fits in the same pocket as 2 of my canon flashes with 1 graphmatic holder

25-Jun-2011, 20:50
I got one on here in one of the great ridiculously cheap buys of all time (can't remember but I think it was $50?). Honestly I found it very fiddly and not precise at all. Never actually took a picture with it. Nicely made and designed but the movements are all kind of out in the wild west. If I had the money I'd go with a shen-hao or chamonix or something like that. I passed it on.

25-Jun-2011, 23:54
Fiddly is correct. Locking down the movements takes great care, and they are all friction with smooth surfaces... focus and bump... focus again. Only one of the bars has a slot for the friction wheel to track in, and getting the screws set to a tension where the friction focus wheel to grip in the slot is slippery.

Bellows is stiff, so focus with short lenses does not facilitate movement up and down, on either of the all moves. The stiffness also has an effect on long lenses, because as you stretch the bellows on long lenses, it tries to retract, and the focus wheel is just weak enough for the bellows to move the front frame if expanded to the size of a 210, 250 or longer.

I used one and it served my purpose as a very light 4x5, short lenses (using only one of the monorail rods and very limited movements.

Common complaints all. In addition, no detents for centering movements, and no scales for precision settings on any of the movements. I tried two of the Gowland Pockets and the camera they branded for Calumet... also a Pocket. Every camera had different standards and various methods of locking down and performing movements. It seemed to me that all were handbuilt and went through many different types of pivots, rises, etc.

While I appear to be really knocking the camera, I really enjoyed mine for a lightweight camping/hiking camera. However, expectations must be quite low to be happy with this camera. The camera that I would probably pick up if I wanted a fairly light camera, that locks down better and has more reasonable movements would probably be a Calumet Cadet in the same price ranges I have seen for the Gowland Pocket. Not made any more, but many were used by schools for LF classes and they come up on eBay frequently in quite good condition.

I have to say regarding the poster who paid $50.... what a steal. They normally sell for anywhere from $150 to as high as $250 when I see them on eBay, and that's naked... no lens. The backs are typically graflok and made like the Cambo backs.

26-Jun-2011, 02:16
Bought one this spring, not for the bargain prices mentioned above (on this forum I have seen them in 200-300 usd range). I basically agree with above post. Allen screws are a pain, and fidely is the word. I could replace all Allen screws in the end.

Setting it up is not everybody's cup of tea, takes time (but you are on holiday right?).

Having said that: I took it to Malta with a 150 G-Claron and a 90mm Angulon..well we are talking light and compact now! Together with an ancient Linhof aluminium tripod.

In the end I came home with some technically fine negatives, used forward tilt quite often, so I am convinced about this option. Next holidays I take it along again, another benefit is that I did not put too much money in the set, so it is little bit less painful when it would be stolen..would really hate to lose my "daily" set (a Linhof Tech III and 7 lenses etc) like that..

Good luck,


Oh one more thing: on my version swapping from vertical to horizontal (or vice versa) is a pain: unscrew both the lens and film standard, and turn the whole thing 90 deg, tighten the thing again.. Some Gowlands have rotating backs: a bit more bulk and weight

26-Jun-2011, 05:18
It's not a Technikardan but it is a good camera. This was my outdoors LF camera and i used it always with a 120 back. Now i have a Technikardan 23 and don't need it anymore. It is the one on the left which has separate controls for rise and tilt unlike the simpler model on the right.


I am not sure if i want to sell it or not. It is such a beauty better to keep instead of selling for a few hundred bucks. I can always use it as an art deco item. BTW 2~3 years ago I had a few mail exchanges with Mr. Gowland regarding the bag bellows. He gave me the number of a guy in CA who (then) still had standards to put bag bellows on. If anybody needs the contacts i believe i can dig it out.

PM me if you really have a passion with these.

26-Jun-2011, 07:58
Thanks, everybody.
Although there are some positives there, overall I'm hearing a lot of hand-wringing over finer details of the camera's working mechanisms and stability.
I think perhaps I should just bring my metal Wista RF; it, too, has its downsides, but it is a solid camera. I can use a 75mm no problem, and a 65mm with some difficulty.
Other thoughts and opinions are most welcome.

26-Jun-2011, 08:51
I have no trouble with the movements... I glued two bubble levels to screw heads and screw that into the unused top screw (used only when switching to portrait) that's for centering... As for the movements I use washers and bought knobs that are bigger so they clamp down tight and do not move... Just a little ingenuity and it's completely useful and not at all finicky

26-Jun-2011, 12:20

Let me say here in defense of the Gowland Pocket....

I might have been happier with the camera shown in this post for a couple of reasons. It has better lock down knobs on the movements at the sides, and the long handle on the hex bolts in the bottom relieve one from having to carry the Allen Hex wrench that was the method on all three of mine for swing and shift movements at the rail.

This is a good pic of the camera using only one of the monorails. The long version has two monorails that join by virtue of the block in the middle. However, you can slide the slotted single front rail through the block and have a short rail camera.

I still keep my eyes out for one of these and this one is the one I would like to try.

There is a Gowland Pocket with a lens currently on US ebay, and it's been listed a number of times with a "too high" Buy It Now" for me.

26-Jun-2011, 16:50
Too high for me, too.

26-Jun-2011, 16:53
Man so glad u guys weren't around when I was selling mine... I'm glad I had sellers remorse and kept it...

What I've been looking for is a gowland 8x10... Can't find those anywhere so I'm thinking of making my own

26-Jun-2011, 18:04
Maybe try to track down an Anba Ikeda or Nagaoka? They come up from time to time.

I have a 5x7 Anba Ikeda with a 4x5 back and while it is not the most rock-solid field camera it is extremely light and easy to travel with. Not fiddly at all.

John Schneider
26-Jun-2011, 21:29
I've played with all three (AFAIK) lightweight monorails, and I found the Toho and the Galvin (my personal fave) to be less fiddly than the Gowland.

Since I aleady have a 4x5 Gowland, I converted my Toho to 5x7 (since there won't be any more made). So I imagine a Gowland conversion to 8x10 would be straightforward; I'd just be concerned with flex in that skinny rail.

27-Jun-2011, 00:00
I currently have the original Gowland Pocket View (marked Calumet), Toho, and Chamonix 45N-1. The Pocket view is the most fiddly to set up of the three. The Toho is the least, and quite fast after a bit of practice. Standards that need extensive attention to align in the field in fast fading low light are slow to setup, and the Pocket View requires the most adjustment. But it is the most compact of the three to pack; I've taken it to India in the front pocket of a small backpack, with a TLR, 90 & 120mm angulons, and readyloads inside. Where the Gowland and Toho excel are as compliments to another camera system since they pack so small. I've taken some of my best images with the Gowland, but today I think the Toho or Chamonix are much better options.

John, It would be great to see a picture of that Toho 5x7!

27-Jun-2011, 00:20
..mm, maybe my review was too negative.. After replacing the Allen screws with good thumbscrews, and after practising A Pocket View is reasonably quick to set up, and perhaps important, can stay on top of the tripod, it is verry easy to carry around in that set up!

For me the price (I payed roughly in total around 230 euro) is an big plus versus a Chamonix (I live in Holland so the supply of relative cheap LF stuff is low, shaping and customs are high). After all I use said camera at a leisure speed at holidays, not as my main camera..



Oh and I should add; I marked the lens and film standard to zero them, and my ground glass has nice grid lines, I use these to align the composition. A 90mm Angulon barely covers 4*5, so the lens should be in the dead centre, but stopping down to f32 helps a lot, and there is some leeway with that lens anyway, it's imge circle is relative hughe, its critical sharp circle is not, so there is so some room for movement at the expense of soft corners..but I disgress

27-Jun-2011, 08:29
Ummm...how about a handheld 4x5 camera, which does not require tripods etc?

Drew Wiley
27-Jun-2011, 09:03
I've seen quite a bit of high country work from a Gowland printed up to about 16X20.
Definitely sensitive to wind vibrations, as one would expect from the tiny master rail.
I'd expect nearly as bad an issue with the Toho. Hard to get really crisp exposures.
I'd rather have something just a little heavier but more rigid (hence I use an Ebony

27-Jun-2011, 15:26
Ummm...how about a handheld 4x5 camera, which does not require tripods etc?

He wants movements.

28-Jun-2011, 12:20
He wants movements.

That's right, plus I no longer believe in handheld 4x5 cameras.
Folks, looks like I'll live with my rough-and-tough Wista RF; it's not perfect, but no camera can do everything.
It does have very extensive movements, though, and is pretty solid.
Thanks again to all.

Robert Crigan
28-Jun-2011, 17:36
Yes I'm about to head to south America with mine... It fits in the same pocket as 2 of my canon flashes with 1 graphmatic holder
That's an impressive pocket: A 45, two Canon flashes and a graphmatic holder? What sort of trench coat is that?