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Thread: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

  1. #1

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    Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Hi all,

    So my current 4x5 is a Linhof Technikardan 45S and it has been serving me well, save for the fact that it's sort of heavy and takes quite a long while for me to set up once I get it out of my camera bag. I can't really work with it in a spontaneous way. Folding it and unfolding it does still take some time for me. Nonetheless, I do love this camera.

    That said, I've been thinking about semi-retiring the Technikardan 45S, saving it for solely for studio/architectural work and getting a lighter field camera since landscape photography constitutes 90% of my work.

    I wanted to ask you experts, first, if you think relegating my Technikardan 45S to studio/architectural work and getting a dedicated 4x5 field camera for landscape photography is a good idea or really would be just a waste of money since the Technikardan 45S obviously can do landscape photography. (My budget for this is roughly $2K.)

    I'm not an expert in field cameras, but from a cursory glance these seem to be well-regarded and are at a comfortable price point (used, of course):
    -Linhof Master Technika 2000 (since all my current lens/lens boards would fit it)
    -Toyo 45AII (with a Linhof board adapter)
    -Horseman 45FA
    -Intrepid 4x5 (or possibly some other wooden camera)

    Anyway, I hope you guys can give me some good recommendations. Much appreciated!

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    Calgary, Canada
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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Any of the Chamonix 4x5 offerings should work with your existing lensboard collection and are excellent, lightweight field cameras. The 45F-2 is a great all-rounder (and my personal choice), the 45H-1 has advantages if you tend to shoot wide.
    Trevor

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2018
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    457

    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    If you find yourself not going out to take photos because of the "hassle factor" of the Linhof, then by all means you should find a camera that will be more user-friendly in the field.
    I have no recommendations, however, I'm using a Burke & James 5x7....

  4. #4
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Dec 2011
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    16,634

    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Buy a lightly used wood 4X5 that takes Linhof Lens Boards

    I prefer VGC Made in Japan
    2022

  5. #5
    Andrej Gregov
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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Since you like to shoot architecture, I'd recommend considering one of the Ebony non-folders. There are several models depending on your lens/bellow extension needs. The 45S will allow you to cut nearly half your weight. Who knows, might be the only 45 you need. Note, Ebony is out of business but you can find them in For Sale occasionally or the big auction site.

    https://blogantiguo.files.wordpress....alog-ebony.pdf

  6. #6

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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Which of your current lenses is used most often. This would be the primary consideration as it is possible the camera choices listed could have difficulty with the lenses used most often. From there, alternative camera choices could be made.

    Technikardan is listed at 3.5Kg or about 7.7 pounds.

    Ligher weight field folder like a Canham DLC, about 4 pounds.

    Less weight yes, but with any view camera there are not negotiable trade offs. What it really comes down to is a camera that meets your needs knowing what the trade offs for losing that about 3 pounds would be. In the overall scheme of view camera stuff, 3 pounds is not that much
    once the weight of the total system is considered, case, tripod, lenses, film holders, dark cloth, light meter and....
    Could that 3 pounds be reduced else where?


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by manfrominternet View Post
    Hi all,

    getting a lighter field camera since landscape photography constitutes 90% of my work.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    I like the idea of the non-folders, also. No one makes a decent one for 5x7 (very subjective), but you may wish to look at this one:

    http://www.shen-hao.com/PRODUCTSabout.aspx?i=949&id=n3
    "Landscapes exist in the material world yet soar in the realms of the spirit..." Tsung Ping, 5th Century China

  8. #8

    Join Date
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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    From your description and list of cameras researched so far (three of four are very precise, relatively heavy metal field cameras), I'll assume that set-up/ease of use is your primary objective, with reduced weight being nice but secondary.

    Non-folding field cameras offer the fastest setup time available and are wide-angle friendly, at a cost of reduced extension and somewhat greater bulk than folding designs. They are also wood cameras and will be less precise and more fiddly than a metal camera. The Chamonix H-1 and HS-1 are currently in production as are a couple Shen Hao models (which appear to be Ebony clones). As already noted Ebony Camera is no longer in business but several non-folding models with varying specs are semi-regularly available on the resale market. The Ebony 45S and its downscaled cousins SW45 and RSW45 have limited extension but are very fast to set-up and tear down. The Ebony 45SU offers more extension and also asymmetric rear movements, but it is heavier and more of an architectural camera and probably overlaps too much with your Technikardan.

    In terms of materials technology, the carbon fiber-based Chamonix cameras are arguably the most advanced field cameras in production right now, offering a combination of decent precision and stability with relatively low weight. The Chamonix non-folders require some additional attention when locking down focus, there are threads discussing this on this forum. Also, I'm not sure if the Chamonix has a zero detent for setting up the rear standard. The Ebony cameras are heavier, have detents for most movements, and feature ebony wood and titanium components for increased durability.

    The Intrepid is the lightest 4x5 field camera in current production. It is also a non-folder but is more fiddly and less stable than Chamonix and Ebony, as would be expected for its much lower price point. It is really targeted at entry level and ultra light users.

    Folding field cameras trade off slower setup with reduced bulk and longer extension. IMHO the Chamonix cameras derived from the Dick Phillips design (45N-1 and 45N-2, 45-F2) offer the best combination of decent extension and precise operation. However, they do require more setup time, one must unfold the rear standard then screw in the front standard to the baseboard, which some folks find objectionable. Other folding field cameras in current production include Canham, Wista, and Shen Hao. Out of production options include Ebony and Tachihara.

  9. #9
    Small town, South Carolina, US
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Eric has about covered everything except the old metal press types such as the Technika's, Meridians, Horsemans etc. They are very fast to set up, compact, rugged, have ample movements in the field and can be stored with certain lenses installed. However, they can be almost as heavy as the Technikardan. Only the Linhof takes the Linhof style boards.

  10. #10

    Re: Any Suggestions/Recommendations For A Lighter Field 4X5 Camera?

    Quote Originally Posted by Vaughn View Post
    I like the idea of the non-folders, also. No one makes a decent one for 5x7
    Vaughn, have you ever checked out the Walker Titan XL line? They're a bit bellows-challenged like other non-folders, but they've always made a lot of sense to me, especially for us who go yomping through temperate rain forests.

    Otherwise, to the OP: given that you already have a highly compact and versatile camera in the TK, I might encourage you to borrow/rent some of the other options that have been mentioned and put a stopwatch to both. The reason I mention this is that I have both a Horseman technical camera and a Sinar Norma, and have been surprised to find that with a bit of practice the monorail doesn't take that much more faffing about.

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