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Thread: Considering a Wista SP 4x5

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I just recently sold my Toyo 45CF on ebay in favor of a higher grade 4x5 field camera. I'm strongly considering the Wista SP metal field. Another consideration would be the Toyo AII. I was wondering if anyone had any experience with the Wista SP or the VX and if they would recommend one for me. Is the lack of front fall on the SP a disadvantage? I shoot landscape, architechure within the landscape and environmental photography. Thanks


  2. #2
    lazy retired bum
    Join Date
    Sep 1998
    Lake Oswego, Oregon

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I cannot comment about the Wista but do have the Toyo 45A, similar to the AII without the revolving back. It's a fine landscape camera which I have used for over 20 years. It's strengths are rigidity, ease of use, and reasonably light weight. It has sufficient movements for most landscape and nature work. Its weaknesses are lack of an interchangeable bellows, and not a super long bellows. Currently my longest lens is a 210 and shortest is a 90 and I do quite well with both. I think it is a great compromise camera for the price. As I understand it, the main difference between it and the CF are in the construction, the 45A is more sturdy, and precise, and the lack of back movements on the CF.

    I would carefully analyze my realistic needs. One has the risk of focusing (pun intended) on theoretical rather than realistic requirements. Cameras don't make images, lenses matter most. I am not certain I know what you mean by "higher grade" camera.

    Good luck on your quest.

  3. #3
    Ted Harris's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    New Hampshire

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    Eric's comments are right on but I would underscore that the difference in the feel of the AII (or the AX) and the CF is night and day. The AII is one of the tightest, solidest, smoothest operating cameras I have ever used. Allmetal with a smooth teflon coating on allmoving parts to make them slide with ease. The AII also has a Toyo 'brightscreen' (read (their bright fresnel) standard which is not on the CF. It's most important chracteristic, which it shares with the Horseman 45FA and HD, the Walker Titan SF and the Linhof Technika, is its 'feel' of precision. The feelis very different from that of the wood fields, which, of course, are just as capable. I did not mention the Wista's in the litany because in my limited experience with them they just haven't felt quite as tight as the others mentioned. In fairness, I have only handled other people's Wista's at workshops in the field and never a new one in a store and not very often at that so it could just have been the specific samples I was using.

    I have found I can use a 75mm lens on a flat board with limited movements on the Toyo AII and up to a 300mm with no problem. The most important difference in specifications I swee in the two cameras is the interchangeable bellows on the Wista and if you aren't going to use a lens shorter than 75mm then that should not be a factor. If you already own several lenses mounted on Toyo boards then that should also be a consideration. You should also look at the Walker Titan SF and the Horseman FA. The Walker has a slightly larger form factor but is a hugely capable camera for a field camera in terms of the available movements and bellows extension. I used one for awhile and the only reason I no longer use it is that the folded size jsut didn't work for me for extensive air travel. The Horseman FA is the smallest and the lightest of these offerings but also the most limited in terms of bellows extension. You should look at these before you make your final choice.

    A final point on the AII versus the AX. I bought my AII used and was specifically seeking the AII-L (the model that comes from the factory with the front standard for the Linhof/Wista boards (a model that is very hard to find in the US). The 'L' front standard allowed me to keep my standardization on these boards without the available adaptor. The adaptor, I am told, also adds a few mm to the front thus detracting ever so slightly from the ability to use my 75mm on a flat board. Having said all that if I were starting from scratch and didn't have several other cameras to consider I am not sure I would have sprung for the AII instead of the AX for the significant difference in price jsut to get the folding focusing hood and the rotting back (although I would likely have sprung for the hood).

    Some more food for thought.

  4. #4
    Big Bend
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    San Antonio, Texas

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I have both a 45CF and Wista SP. The Wista is a little heavier of course, but it gets two to three times as much use as the 45CF.

    If you are in Central Texas you can try my wista and see for yourself.


  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I had the Wista SP and it was a fine camera, better constructed and designed than the Toyo IMHO. In fact, I think it is an improvement on the Technika and every bit as high quality (although with different material and manufacturing techniques that make it lighter and more versatile while still being quite sturdy.)

    If I wanted a 4x5 folding camera it or the VX would be my choice.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    The 45SP has always been one of my favorite folding cameras. Well made and very versitile. The only limitation for me would be the 12" bellows.

    Not having front fall is an easy work around. I would not that lack persuade me one way or the other.

    steve simmons (www.viewcamera.c0m)

  7. #7

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I used to have a VX and I am very familiar with the Toyos, also. The Wista wins hands down in versatility and ease of use. To me, it was a poor man's Linhof, and superior in some ways, I know this as I have owned a Tech III, Tech V, MT2K, and have used a 5x7 Tech V on occasion. The only downside is the short bellows, but there are ways around that with various accesories available for the camera.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Considering a Wista SP 4x5

    I'm VERY pleased with my SP. Richard Ritter cleaned it up a while back and got it back to where it needed to be. It's been alot of fun since then.
    It's sturdy and easy to use. I agree with it being a poor man's Linhof. It has the same kind of quality.
    I would also consider the VX. I've never used the Micro swing/focusing feature on the SP.


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