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Thread: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

  1. #1

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    Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    What are my options in terms of a good 4x5 camera that is lightweight and compact? In Alaska, I biked 20 miles with my Horseman monorail along with 20lbs of other equipment on my back. It was a bit painful to say the least. I'd be interested in getting a nice compact and sturdy camera for these situations.

    Also, I don't want to spend more than $500.00 used so those Arcas are out of the question

    Just interested in knowing what you guys are using and what I should look for or avoid.

    THANKS!

  2. #2

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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    There is a deal on a 4x5 Gowland in the classifieds right now, one of the lightest 4x5s ever.

  3. #3

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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    Yeah I've been looking at that, but it doesn't seem like it would be very sturdy on the top a mountain with 20mph winds. Something with a stationary rear standard and a front standard that moves on a guide would be better for me.

  4. #4
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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    Quote Originally Posted by corgan4321 View Post
    Yeah I've been looking at that, but it doesn't seem like it would be very sturdy on the top a mountain with 20mph winds. Something with a stationary rear standard and a front standard that moves on a guide would be better for me.
    I've owned three different Gowland Pocket View cameras over the years. If it's in good condition, then properly tightened down it's going to be at least as rigid as a $500 wood-field camera, if not more so.

    Of course, you might prefer the wooden camera for other reasons. For one thing, most of them will be be quicker and less fussy than a Gowland to set up and adjust for basic landscape use. If you're sloppy, a Gowland is easier to knock out of whack. But if you're a careful and deliberate worker in the field, a Gowland will deliver the goods.

  5. #5
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    I agree with Oren ... the Gowland is small, metal, and easily sheltered from the wind ... just stand next to it. I think it is steadier than a lot of the wood folders. And, the weight trade off is substantial.

    They are fiddly ... no question about it ... there are always trade offs for any gains ... there are no zero detentes and when you change lenses the front tilt/rise has to be reset ... but they have every movement on both standards (tilt, rise/fall, shift, and swing) and once you get used to them they are exceptional cameras for the price/weight.

    I have two, one with a graflok back and graflex GG shade and one without (like the one for sale) ... I back pack with the lighter one and use the one with the graflok back around town. An Ebony is precise and locked in ... but a Gowland will go anywhere with you ... and with a little extra effort will return the same caliber of pictures (and some you would have never taken with the Ebony because you would have left the Ebony at home on that trip.)

  6. #6
    Jim Graves Jim Graves's Avatar
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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    I just read Vaugn's post on this camera in the "For Sale" section and went back and re-checked both my cameras.

    I need to correct a comment in my earlier post. My lighter camera (a "Calumet/Gowland" branded) (with a rear standard similar to the one in the sale section) only has tilt and swing in the rear ... but not rear shift and rise/fall (unlike my heavier one which is labeled "Gowland.") I am unable to tell from the pictures which version the For Sale camera is ... but it definitely appears not to have rear rise/fall.

    Gowland was a small manufacturer and made several different versions of his cameras ... so it's important to ask specifically what movements there are.

  7. #7
    Vaughn's Avatar
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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    Jim and all, I bought my Gowland new in 1984, give or take a year. The photo does look like that time period or older -- perhaps right before Calumet put their name on them.

    Only swing and tilts in the back of these early models...but both just about on the axis, as are the same moments in front (with the addition of rise/fall and shift). I never seemed to miss those rear moments.

    I rode 2000 miles on a pushbike with my PocketView for 5 months or so in New Zealand...that would be about 23 years ago. It did a great job in all sorts of conditions. While there, I took it backpacking with me through some of their temperate rainforests and beaches, and took day hikes to the top of a volcano or two. It also did a nice job for me in Aussie using a 6x7 roll back for color negs (visiting in-laws), and in a backpack for a few weeks of public buses around Costa Rica (4x5 B&W for that trip -- about 17 years ago).

    It even made a couple 11-day backpacks down into the Grand Canyon when its owner's knees were much younger!

    But it is not a very "manly-looking" piece of equipment. Not much of a chick magnet, but it might interest some of the smarter ones, though While I have not used it much since moving to 5x7 and then 8x10, I plan on using it more this winter for a project. In the 25 years I have used the PocketView (and it has seen some heavy use!) the only thing I have had to do to the camera was to re-glue on the bellows in a small section on the front standard.

    Instead of a camera weighing 3 to 5 pounds more, one can carry a few more holders...and a bag on a string that one can load with rocks/dirt to weigh down the pod.

    Vaughn

    PS...but there are some sweet wood field cameras, though!

  8. #8

    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    Go for an Anba Ikeda. My first 4x5 folder and I find it easier to deal with than my Zone VI camera. The only drawback maybe the smallish knobs which may be a problem with gloves.

    Eric
    Dad, why is the lens cap on?

  9. #9
    Michael E. Gordon
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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    I'd find some way to come up with a little more money and get a Chamonix 045n-1 or 045n-2. Incredibly lightweight, compact, and sturdy. I own two, and sold my Ebony to buy them.

  10. #10

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    Re: Options for a lightweight folding 4x5 Camera

    Yeah I've been looking at the Chamonix as a possibility.

    Do the Toho Shimo FC45x cameras ever go cheaply or no? I'm guessing they are way out of my price range. Or maybe the Canham DLC?

    And what about all those other Japanese wood cameras like the Wistas and such.

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