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Thread: What is heavy?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    What is heavy?

    I've seen so many queries for a "light" camera that I am puzzled. Please help me out. I am designing a new specialized camera which is rather unusual. The prototype is almost seven pounds. Too heavy?

    What, in your experienced opinion, is a heavy camera? One that weights 4 pounds, 5,6,7, what?

    Please believe me. I am not bragging; I'm a normal, wearing-out sixty year-old but a 15 pound camera with lens (and ten film holders) doesn't bother me. B(ut the survey-tripod is beginning to.)

    Thank you,

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    What is heavy?

    "Heavy" is surely subjective, but I do know that the Linhof Technika III 5x7" I used to carry was heavier than the 5x7" Gandolfi Traditional I carry now. The "backup", an antique 13x18cm folding plate camera, is a little heavier than the Gandolfi, but not enough to matter. On the other hand the 15 kg 30x40cm Rusian plate camera IS heavy.

  3. #3
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    What is heavy?

    Hard to define. I think it largely depends on how one works.

    For example, I'm a hiker. If I carry less weight I can hike farther. Or, I can be less tired when I get there. I've found a direct correletion between how tired I am and photo quality - I do better work when I'm not so tired. I suspect that I'm not alone in that.

    Now if you are not hiking, as in working within a hundred meters of your vehicle, camera weight isn't so important. And if you are working in a studio with your camera mounted on a camera stand, camera weight means very little.

    There are plenty of people out there hiking with 10x8 rigs in their backpacks. But me, if it weighs more than 2 Kg, I'm not likely going to be interested in it. I'm sure I'm several standard deviations out on the light weight end of the curve however.

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    What is heavy?

    For me, for a hand-held camera, anything more than about 2.5 pounds is pretty heavy, and more than about 3.5 is essentially unusable.

    For a 4x5 field camera, anything more than about 4 pounds is "heavy", and I'd need a really, really good reason to justify it. (My current 4x5 wood-field weighs less than 3.) I'm proportionately stingy with larger formats as well, at least with any camera that I intend to lug around in the field in a backpack.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jul 2005

    What is heavy?

    impossible question to answer accurately. Each to his own.

    Personally if I'm hiking I take the medium format system because I don't like hiking with large "heavy" rucksak full of camera gear. Then again, when I eventually get a more compact field camera then I might change my mind. I think the compactness counts because its easier to backpack with 20 pounds of very compact gear than it is with 20 pounds of bulky kit.

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Blue Jay, CA

    What is heavy?

    The answer for most people depends, of course, on the format. Assuming you're talking about a 4X5, I think most people would consider cameras in the Ikeda/Tachihara range "light." (2.9-4 lbs.) Maybe the Canham DLC at just under 5 pounds qualifies too. Then you move up to the common 5 to 6+ pound range, which is probably average. A huge variety of field cameras fall in this range. If a 4X5 starts weighing more than 7 pounds, I'd consider that relatively heavy for a 4X5 field camera, but then all this is all relative.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    San Francisco

    What is heavy?

    Of the cameras I've owned, the Sinar P2 was definitely heavy, and the Graphic View was somewhat heavy.

    But I've always felt that bulkiness was more important than weight, and again the above two cameras have problematic bulk, along with my Toho 5x7.

    And you are right, that the secondary weight (and bulk) of the tripod can be more significant than the camera itself.

  8. #8
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    What is heavy?

    I guess it depends on the format and context. My 4x5" Tech V is about the same as my 8x10" Gowland, and I think of the Linhof as being on the heavy side, and the Gowland as being light, both around 6-7 lbs. My 11x14" American Optical is about 15 lbs., so that's pretty light for an 11x14" camera, but I don't plan on doing anything more than day hiking with it, and I haven't done that yet. When I want to go really light I carry a 4x5" Gowland that weighs less than 3 lbs.

    I think for a 4x5" camera to be considered "light" it should be under 5 lbs.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Newbury, Vermont

    What is heavy?

    When you also consider the weight of your other gear (tripod, lenses, holder, meter, case, etc.) you may find the extra two pounds of this "heavier" camera means relatively little. But what this "relatively little" extra weight can allow in terms of a truly sturdy (at all extensions) smoothly functioning, highly intuitive, non-finicky camera - can make this little bit of extra weight more than worthwhile. Consider also the investment you might make in state of the art lenses - and that to realize the potential of this investment you need a sturdy camera which also behaves well in a breeze. To me, as a puruser of these forums, it often seems that people are so concerned about a little extra weight, or a few extra dollars for that matter, and too little concerned about the quality of the actual experience of using a view camera, from the time its mounted on the tripod and onwards - which is where its really at. Something to think about.

  10. #10
    Abuser of God's Sunlight
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    brooklyn, nyc

    What is heavy?

    "When you also consider the weight of your other gear (tripod, lenses, holder, meter, case, etc.) you may find the extra two pounds of this "heavier" camera means relatively little."

    And consider the weight of all your other hiking/backpacking gear. There may be much cheaper weight savings to be had elswhere.

    I also agree with veryone who says heavy is subjective. One of my climbing partners weights 105 pounds. Small differences in the weight of gear make a much bigger difference to her than to me, so she's willing to make big sacrifices to save weight. She'll buy critical climbing gear that weighs a couple of ounces less, even it's harder to use, because she can really feel it. I find the balance between light enough and good enough in a different place.

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