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Thread: Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

  1. #1

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    I read the Toho (NOT Toyo) reports earlier and just wanted to know if there was any follow up reports from actual Toho users -- My goal is to find a 4x5 versati le enough for studio and lightweight and easy enough to use for backpacking. Ri ght now I use several 4x5s for different pruposes, including backpacking. I hav e a Toyo field for backpacking and think it's too heavy. I am very sold on the Toho for both studio and BP, but want to hear more before plunking down the cash . Also interested on users preferences with 8x10 for BP or at least luggable. Has anyone got any experience with the Peter Gowland 8x10.


  2. #2
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    I have an early version of the Gowland 8x10". It's a versatile and ultra-light camera, but isn't for everyone. To shave off weight, there are no geared movements, and some movements have combined tightening knobs (e.g., front rise/fall and tilt; front shift and swing). You can gain independent control over these, however, once you get a feel for setting the tension and the sequence of movements.

    Mine is not the most rigid camera out there, but it looks like he has made the standards a bit heavier and improved the tripod block in the latest version. He's always tweaking, so every Gowland is a bit different, it seems. He's also a very accessible guy and will personally respond to your inquiries.

    Another attraction of the Gowland is that it is very adaptable. You can have fine-focus on the front or rear standard or both if you want. All the screws and knobs on mine are 1/4"-20 screws, so I added some large flat fender washers to all the adjustments and very substantially improved the rigidity of the camera. I've also made an adapter to replace the rail with a pistol grip so I can use it as a handheld ultra-wide camera, like an 8x10" version of the Sinar Wide or a Hobo. A potential advantage over the Toho is that the current version uses Sinar sized lensboards, making it easy to rent lenses on boards if you need to. Mine came with a thinner board than the current type, so I have to make a small adjustment to get my new boards to fit properly.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Dec 2001

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    If you are so desperate to get a light weight 8x10 the get an EASTMAN magnesium 8x10. The gowald is too flimsy for any 8x10 work. Petere was just joking when he made these. His twin lense is fantastic, I have a 4x5, I would suggest that you hire an assitant to carry a better 8x10 or go to the gym and build up some muscles so you could carry a 10 LB 8x10. Seriously, The weight of the camera is JUST THE BEGINING!!!!, what really hurts is the ten holdres the BIG GLASS and the TRIPOD!!! I have a light 8x10 AND A LIGHT TRIPOD AND EVEN THEN... I weight the magnesium 8x10 and the light 250 fuji and five holders at 25LBS!!! If you want light weight and SERIOUSLY sharp negatives then pop for a Hasselblad with the APO lenses. I have tested this against the 4x5 and UNLESS the 4x5 uses the SINAR special holders the the Hasselblad is as sharp or sharper. I didn't think the move to 4x5 was worthwhile so I moved to 8x10. I know I will get ALOT of heat from this but my testing found this to be true!!!!

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    TIA, By all means give the Gowland a close look! The best source for info is Peter Gowland. Give him a call as he can tell you what his 8x10 would or would not be suitable for, and is a great source of other photographic information as well. I have an 8x10 Aerial and am very happy with it. IMHO the biggest drawback to back packing with the 8x10 isn't the camera. I have a Deardorff field camera and its slick, light wieght and rugged. I traded a Kodak Masterview for it. Masterviews are great cameras but broken metal is difficult to repair unless you have access to a skilled machinist, and even then it may be too costly to be worthwhile. With the 'dorff, I figure I can make most field repairs with gaffer's tape, a Swiss Army knife, some pliers and elmer"s glue. The problem is all those filmholders and a sturdy tripod. They really put on the pounds! On skis, I limit the number of film holders I take(4 max) and struggle with the tripod lashed to my pack.The rest of the year, for longer trips, I use a pack mule for 8x10(no joke!) Shes great company, always in good humor, and never seems to be in a hurry. Good Luck!
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  5. #5

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Paul, I too am interested in the Toho; the movements, weight, and price are all appealing. But the lack of replies from anyone experienced with it makes me a little nervous...

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Knoxville, Tennessee

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Very, very extensive review here:



  7. #7

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Paul and Christopher,

    I assume both of you have seen my online review of the Toho FC-45X. If not, check it out at:

    Also, you might want to check out Toho's own web site at:

    The site is mostly in Japanese, but there is some English text (and the pictures and specs are universal).

    WRT to the Toho FC-45X for backpacking, I have personally used several lightweight 4x5 cameras, and IMHO none of them come close to the Toho for this application. It offers a very unique combination of ultralight weight, reasonably long bellows extension, extensive front and rear movements and surprising rigidity. They also offer some very clever accessories (Eccentric Lens Panel) to make the camera even more versatile. No one camera is right for all users or all applications. Beyond the specs are issues like peronal preferences and ease of use. A much as I like the Toho, I will be the first to admits it's not for everybody.

    WRT use in the studio. It will certainly do in a pinch, but it would not be my first choice for that application. Other cameras with geared movements, rotating backs, etc. will be faster and easier to use in a studio situation. The Toho COULD handle MOST studio situations, but certainly would not be the most effecient tool for the task. That said, I have used my Toho as a "studio" camera on occasion (to photograph products for magazine articles), but that is not my primary applicaion for the Toho and something I only do a few time per year.

    WRT the 8x10 Toho, I have no personal experience with this camera. I have used the now discontinued FC-45A, which is somewhat similar in concept. Although the FC-45A was lighter than the FC-45X, I still prefer telescoping rail and zero detents on swings and tilts of the FC-45X. The 8x10 does not have a telescoping rail like the FC-45X. Instead, it uses a two piece rail with a connecting block. Not sure about the detents on the 8x10 (can't tell from the pictures, and I haven't seen one in person).

    "A potential advantage over the Toho is that the current version uses Sinar sized lensboards, making it easy to rent lenses on boards if you need to."

    This statement is incorrect. The 8x10 Toho (and the 5x7) accept standard Sinar boards. So, no inherent advantage or disadvantage there. One advantage the Toho does have is the lensboar adapter they make that accepts the circular lensboards for the 4x5 Toho. Not only does this adapter allow you to use the cheaper, smaller round Toho boards, but is also allows you to use the Eccentric Lens Panel with ultrawide lenses (pobably only significant if you use a 4x5 or 5x7 reducing back, since there are few, if any wideangle lenses that cover 8x10 and come in #0 shutters). Finally, this adapter also allows you to use Linhof/Wista style lensboards. Of course, this adapter MAY also work with the Gowland or other cameras that accept Sinar lensboards (not sure, you'd have to try it to see).

    WRT to the lack of response from Toho owners, keep in mind that the Toho is not actively marketed or advertised in North America. It is aimed at a specific sub-niche (ultalight large format - a bit of an oymoron) within the niche market that is large format. The FC-45X is a relatively new model (by large format standards). So, there aren't a LOT of users out there, but there are a handful and our ranks are growing. I seem to get email from everyone who buys a Toho, and so far the feedback has been 100% positive (of course, these buyers are aware of the Toho's "uniqueness" before hand). It is NOT as capable or as elegant as a 15 lb. Linhof or Sinar, but then that's the whole point. It's not supposed to be, and if it as, who'd want to carry it far afield? If you do a Google advanced groups seach on "toho" in the newsgroup, you will get over 250 hits. In adition to my comments, you will also find very positive comments on the Toho FC-45X from several other contented Toho owners (Roger Clark, Peter DeSmidt, Scott Walton, Chis Eastwood, etc.). So, while there haven't been a lot of reponses here, there are other happy Toho owners out there, several who are active online, and most seem willing to share their opinions and experiences.

    Finally, in the US, the Toho is sold by Badger Graphic Sales. They are dealer that knows their products and stand behind what they sell. Based on the service I have received, I recommend them without hesitation. You can check Toho prices on their web site:


  8. #8

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Thanks everyone for your great and helpful answers. Kerry, yes, I did go and check your site and it was one of the biggest reasons that I have such a strong interest in the Toho. I actually sent you email from your mailto link on your website. I guess you have answered most of my questions here. As for using the Toho in studio, since most of the time my use would be in the field I am basing my research on that premise. As I do not make a full time living as a photographer, a dedicated studio 4x5 or 8x10 of the likes of a Sinar are not in the cards now. But I do some studio work and so far have managed with a much less respected brand of studio 4x5 and have managed to make it work (or it's managed to make me work!). Space challenges are also another issue, and I have to constantly remind myself to keep things simple, and therefor, versatile. At any rate, your website was incredibly detailed and precise and I was just wondering about any further follow up to that. I certainly will search the newsgroups for opinions also. Of course, one can become "opinioned" to death at some point. The design of the Toho looks elegant and reasonable for it's purpose and I think it just might be the nearest thing to an impossible compromise of intended uses.

    Thanks for everyone's help and opinion.

  9. #9

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Oops, just wanted to correct a typo in the Badger Graphic URL in my earlier mess age (not to mention the one in my own name - darn keyboard). The correct URL, o f course, is:


  10. #10

    Follow Up on Toho and lightweight 8x10 Advice

    Thanks everyone, your ideas and pointers are all very helpful. One last question: What is the maximum lens diameter / shutter size that could be used on the Toho? I realize that in backpacking I would be looking at the smaller / lighter lenses, but once back in the home studio, I would like to use my larger lenses: 12 & 14 Commercial Ektar in Ilex 4 & 5, Schneider Symmar-S MC 240mm in Copal 3, Imagon 250 in Copal 3, Wollensak Velostigmat II 240 in something like a Ilex 4 and Wollensak Velostigmat II which must be about 300mm in a huge Compound shutter, etc, etc. These and some more I haven't yet mounted in shutter are HUGE and heavy lenses and I would never backpack them (well, maybe the Imagon) but I am still using them, testing them in studio or easy walking distance from the car and if I went to the Toho 4x5 I would want the freedom to use them, so Lensboard limits are a consideration. The Badger site doesn't give details and the Toho site was mostly in Japanese.


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