View Full Version : Newbie looking for 1st 4x5 in Tokyo

11-Jan-2012, 00:25
I am so happy that I found this forum and I have already gleaned a lot of useful info about view cameras and their technical functions from a week's reading.

Anyway at present I use a Fuji 690 rangefinder (which I am completely satisfied with) but am looking at beginning with a 4x5. Not only for the larger image size but because I would also like to start working with tilt/rise/fall functions.

I currently live near Tokyo and will be here for the remainder of the year. I have a bit of time but I plan to take a camera home with me that I will use for many many years into the future. I believe in buying quality used gear when it is possible and there seems to be plenty of examples available here. I have seen plenty of Horseman LF's for example and some HD's. They cost between 50,000 and 80,000 Y ($600 to 1,000) and seem to be in very nice condition. I assume with more time I will come across used examples of the other Japanese models; Tachihara, Toyo and so forth. I am not sure if I can buy any of the Chinese models (Shen Hao and Chamonix) here but they seem to offer good value even when new. Anyway if you were in Tokyo and looking for your first 4x5, what would you look for?

Mostly I shoot landscapes and portraits but other topics may grab my interest in the future. I guess I will start with 2 lenses - a standard / wide and a short telephoto lens. Any advice welcome

thanks :)

Oh and I wanted to say I am looking for a fold-up style portable camera that can take a 6x12 back without any issues

Edward (Halifax,NS)
11-Jan-2012, 08:46
The Horseman technical cameras will meet most of your needs but the maximum extension will make portraits limiting and difficult. The 45FA is considered a better camera than the 45HD and it can be bought used in the US for $600 to $900. You would be limited to a 210mm standard type lens for focusing significantly closer than infinity. I don't know what telephoto lenses would be possible to use.


11-Jan-2012, 22:09
Thanks a lot for that link Edward - that clears up a couple of things. At this stage I am seeing what's available in the second hand camera stores and will continue looking this weekend.

Both Horseman cameras sounds like they are solid and simple camera with the HD having some limitations for movement and use of longer lenses being a problem for both. A 210mm lens will be OK for portraits although I would prefer to further away from the subjects for their comfort - after all it is a pretty large camera to have bearing down on a subject.

But overall the FA is not bad value if you can get a good one for around $750, right?

If so then the only one I've seen so far is somewhat overpriced at about $1,000...I should be able to do better than that.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
12-Jan-2012, 06:56
If the one that you saw is in pristine condition and includes the folding focusing hood and a lens board it would be worth $1000. If you find one for $750, make sure it comes with the folding focusing hood. If it does I would consider it a very good deal.

FA vs HD - For the way I shoot landscape I would need the FA. I use back tilt a lot. I will frequently tilt the whole camera to arrange my composition and then use back tilt to bring the back standard to vertical.

Other options for portraits. If you are doing studio portraits you can pick up a monorail for $100 to $200 and use that for your portrait work. This will allow much longer lenses.

Tim Meisburger
12-Jan-2012, 07:05
search 4x5 camera on ebay. Go to advanced search (right side of search box). go down to "location", click "show only items located in Japan". Lots listed. I bought an Ikeda Anba from a fellow named Astrosmith22 a few years ago, and later a lens (I forget which one). Good service.

good luck. Tim

Edward (Halifax,NS)
12-Jan-2012, 08:08
Astrosmith22 has a lot of cameras listed. What is the Horseman HF like? There is one listed at $650

12-Jan-2012, 09:03
I suggest a Toyo 45A or 45AII. I have an AII and am completely satisfied with it as a first entry into large format. I use it for landscape, still life and portraits and enjoy the camera. I use an 11" (about 280mm) lens with an extension back due to the maximum bellows extension, as noted with the Horseman. I also use a 58mm wide angle with a recessed lens board and am happy with the images I have made.

Good luck with your search.

12-Jan-2012, 12:07
Astrosmith is a very good seller, btw, I can heartily recommend him.
I've bought a number of LF items from him, his stuff is as described, and he's a very pleasant person with which to deal.

ps: I am not Astrosmith.

12-Jan-2012, 12:16
Will second what Ari says, you can definitely trust Mr. Sakai.

falth j
12-Jan-2012, 14:53
To paraphrase and old popular wag on this site:

" boy's with little girlie fingers, can make do with xxx brand cameras",

" men with a man's real burly fingers, not the itsy-bitsy one's, will always fall in love with the Toyo 45 a models and their big knobs, comparatively speaking'....

I guess 'size' count's for something, after all?

Joe Wright
13-Jan-2012, 07:02
My first 4x4 was the Toyo 45AII, imho highly underated, a great piece of engineering with the best back (rotating & bale arm) and incredibly robust for the field. It's also extremely quick to setup and pack away, easy to operate in cold weather and the geared focus is a pleasure to use.

I would imagine you could pick a mint one of these up at a bargain price in Tokyo. Here in the UK they retail for $2500+.

I shoot intimate (tight) and view (wide) landscapes. Using a Nikkor M 300 f/9 with the 324 bellows draw gets me to within 3 metres of my subject and a Fuji 250 f6.7 to less than a metre which allows me to shoot straight down from a standing position. I've used a Nikkor T 360 on the Toyo, similar working distances to the Fuji 250, but any longer will require either the 4" extension back or Top Hat.

The extension back is a snip to use but it is bulky, as big as the camera itself, probably not a problem in the studio, etc, but cumbersome/heavy to add to a backpack (it is hollow so you could always put your packed lunch in it!).

I've occassionally used a 75mm on a recessed board with adequate movements.
The latest material on my flickr stream was with the Toyo without extension and the lenses I mentioned, so that may give you an idea of what's possible with those combinations. Hope that helps...

13-Jan-2012, 09:22
Hello Mr. Redgrave. I suggest you look for a Toyo view camera on Yahoo Japan auction.

In Japan, you can find used Toyo cameras for a much better price than in the U.S.

Toyo has been the most popular view camera manufacturer in Japan. You can find many of them in the used market.

Also, you can find used Horseman cameras for a good price there.

Yahoo Japan auction is NOT famous at all in the U.S. However, it's one of the best places to buy used Toyo cameras, Horseman cameras, and Nikkor and Fujinon lenses.

These products are usually more expensive on Ebay.

14-Jan-2012, 05:32
Here you are.


15-Jan-2012, 03:26
thank you so much! Great resource... I will have a friend with a Japanese credit card help me with any potential future transactions. ;) BTW can the Toyo Cameras take a horseman 6x12 filmholder any without issues?

15-Jan-2012, 08:54
Here are a couple of shops where you can find used large format gear in Tokyo:
Sanpou Camera near Gakugai Daigaku, my favorite shop for high quality bargains. Always has a couple of 4x5 cameras, they always seem to have Toyo monrails at good prices.
Fujiya Camera in Nakano, my second favorite shop. Not a lot of 4x5 cameras (although they usually have a couple of used Ebony), but nice deals on lenses, and lots of tripods and other accessories. LF is on the second floor, tripods is across the street from the main store.
Lemon-cha in Ginza and Shinjuku, more expensive and more high-end stuff. Occasionally really good deals.

16-Jan-2012, 02:08
Here are some stores in Tokyo.

Sparrow Photo


Map camera


Media Joy


Shinbashi ichi camera