METAL field camera recommendation

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by todd_phillips|1, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Sorry, no time to read ALL the archives...I leave for the PPA
    convention in Vegas in a day. My Zone VI just broke. Wont go into
    the story now (didn't fall over on tripod). Anyway, this is the
    second wood field camera that I've had thats broken, so I'm going the
    metal route.

    I need to shoot 75mm lenses without a recessed board (hate them) and
    the longest lens would probably be 240mm. I DO NOT want a monorail
    camera...I do very little studio work in 4X5. Most shots are
    interiors-exteriors of buildings and some landscapes.

    I'm probably not going to find much at the convention trade show, but
    I may be able to order something at a "show" price. The Horseman
    sounds good.....the Toyo's need a recessed board for the 75
    (correct?). A bright screen would be nice....the weight issue is not

    So, fellow LF'ers....what are your thoughts???

    Thanks for all oppinions (and, yes, the Zone VI is insured for
    replacement value).
  2. Some folks I know speak very highly of the Wista metal fields. The specs say 50-300 of draw, $1700 at BH. Worth a look.
  3. Todd, For years I owned a Meridian 4X5 Model B. This camera is an English copy of the Linhof Tecknica series. I recently sold it only becuase I realized that I was never going to shoot that small anymore. As a landscape photographer it always servd me well, never a situation I couldn't shoot. Camera has a drop front bed so when shooting wide angle lens the bed did not vignet the lower portion of the neg. I only shot with a 90mm and above, however knowing the camera as I do I am quite certain that 75mm is doable without recessed board. Camera has all the movements, front swing, tilt, geared rise and even shift. Rear standard does rock backward and also pulls out of the camera housing to allow for another 2" of bellows draw. I believe the camera can handle a 12" lens. Camera on the used market goes around $500.00, Model B is a later version which has a 4" square lens board while the Model A is earlier and uses a circular lens board. Great, great camera if your on a budget. Happy hunting. Steve Sherman
  4. Though I haven't used it, the Toyo 45AII or similar model would be a great match but for its need for a recessed lens board below 90mm as you correctly surmised.

    There's also the Linhof Technika IV which can, I believe, go down to 75mm, barely, with a flat lensboard.

    I'm not sure if the Crown and Super Graphics can go down to 75mm without recesed boards. If they can that would be another suitable solution, and most likely the cheapest of your options.

    Good luck on your quest. Be sure to fill us in on what happened with the VI when you find more time.
  5. The Linhof Tech IV/V/Master requires a recessed board for a 75mm lens.

    The Tech 2000 might be able to take a 75mm on a flat board on the inner rails, but I'm not sure about that.
  6. The metal Canham is the only one I would think you'd get down to 75mm without a recessed board and still have good movement. The Horseman might but it's pretty short on bellows extention. BTW if you don't have time to read the archives how will you have time to check back and read the responses?
  7. If the wood field style has worked well for you, you might look at the Walker Titan in addition to metal cameras. It is ABS plastic with steel hardware, which probably makes it as tough as a metal camera and maybe more impact resistant. It handles lenses as short as 65mm without a recessed lens board, according to the website ( I've never seen one, but owners seem to like them. Comes with a fresnel, can take a wide-angle bellows and weighs 6.4 lbs.
  8. The Linhof Technikardan 45S with a bag bellows is a breeze with my 75mm Rodenstock and the price of the camera is as low as I can remember. This camera is a real hybrid and is very easy to use.

    Bellows come off and on with two quick levers and the precision of movements and a real joy. When it says Linhof, you know that it not only works, it will last for a lifetime. Good Luck
  9. Curious about the nature of the damage to the two wood cameras. Perhaps there is something we can learn from your experience.
  10. I want to know that too.
  11. Ok....just back from dinner with the in-laws! Jeez, that took alot of wine! The first wood field camera I had was a Tachihara (actually a Calumet "wood field"). I was shooting in the studio on some products straight down and this required the camera to be on a horizontal bar mounted on the tripod with the back leg set shorter than the front two legs. Well, the back leg wasn't set short enough, and the whole thing went forward onto the camera. My fault, of course!

    Today, I was shooting exteriors of buildings and when I was loading the Zone VI while mounted on a tripod into the trunk of my car (back seats folded down as I've done MANY times before), I took hold of the camera to raise it a few inches and the top of the camera broke off of the bottom. I now have splintered wood on focusing rails and on the bottome of the top of the body. This wasn't abnormal pressure by any means....the wood simply looks like it has dried out (dry rot?).

    In any case, Zone VI and their lifetime guarantee is no more (thanks alot!) and Calumet will not honor Zone VI's promise so it's on to metal....

    FWIW...this was a Zone VI from the 1980's, serial number 19xx. It's the laquered mahagony that turned darker with age. I always assumed it was built like a tank, but it has proved so brittle that I am really shocked.

    So far, four different recommendations! I think the Linholf is probably to expensive as I don't use 4X5 on a day to day basis.
    No way will I be able to see a Walker or Canham unless they will ship one on a money back guarantee.

    Many thanks for the answers so far!
  12. Todd,

    I'd recommend the Horseman, either the FA or the HD. I use an FA and anHF. No
    recessed lensboard needed fir 75mm and you get all the movements you will want. I
    use a 75 SA 5.6. Alsio no problem with a 240, I use a 240 Fuji A. Another bebefit of
    the Horseman is that it is relatively light at around 4 lbs. and the most compact 4x5
    that I know of.

    Good luck
  13. "No way will I be able to see a Walker or Canham unless they will ship one on a money back guarantee."

    I was thinking about a Walker before I bought my Toyo and e-mailed Mike Walker. I had not seen one before. He said if I bought a camera from him and didn't like it I could send it back to Bromwell Marketing in the US for a return if I didn't like it. So you might like to talk to him and see if this is still the case.
  14. Was it a total loss, Todd? Richard Ritter can work wonders with these cameras. After all, he assembled them in the first place.
  15. Hi Todd

    I also wote for the Horseman FA very fine camera much smaller then the Technika and if you will not go shorter or longer with lenses then you stated then you will like it very much.

    Good luck!
  16. Todd,

    Further to Steve's comments about the Meridian, the most common British Linhof copy is the MPP Microtechnical. The Mk 7 looks like a S/Tech mk 3 bu has much the same facilities as the S/Tech mk 4. The MPP 8 looks a bit better and adds front forward tilt. After WW2 US and UK took some spoils of war home with them and the UK took the Leica (the Reid), the Compur shutter (Epsilon shutter) and the Linhof (MPP microtechnical). I think the US as usual thought bigger and took the V2 rocket and Werner von Braun. Anyway the MPP 7 or 8 is readily available secondhand (see ebay) and at a very reasonable price. Weight is about 6.5lbs and I regularly use a 65/8 Schneider Super Angulon. As on the Linhof these wide lenses are difficult to get at on a flat board and little movement is available mostly due to the stiffness of the bellows. I have made a special flat board with inset rising panel to overcome this problem. I expect the modern metal field cameras may be better in some ways but in my view the MPP 7 or 8 comes out as best value.


    for pictures and detailed descriptions.

  17. Current makers of wooden cameras have a problem. The available wood just isn't as good as that used in the best century old cameras so many of which remain in nice condition.
  18. Well, the century-old cameras that remain in good condition were well made and well cared for, but we don't have the poorly made century-old cameras around to compare them to.
  19. Todd
    Your camera can be fixed and brought back to working order. That is one of the good things about a wooden camera no matter how badly you break then they can be repaired. Metal cameras on the other hand become parts cameras.
    Richard Ritter
  20. This one's made for you-
  21. Another vote for Horseman metal fields. if you can find one, the
    Horseman HF may be the smallest, lightest metal field available.
    It has no revolving back, but verticals work fine with the camera
    mounted with the side tripod socket. The front movements are
    adequate for almost all landscape work.
  22. As mentioned above- check out the Wista SP. I use one with a 75mm on a recessed board, but it can handle the 75 on a flat board as well. I like the recessed board because it allows greater movements and it is well designed. The other advantage of the Wista is it's interchangeable bellows- the bag bellows is almost mandatory if you want to use movements with a 75mm.

    For what it's worth, I also have a Super Speed and had a Crown. The Super Speed can handle a 65mm by using the rails inside the body, but focusing is not geared, you must slide the standard manually. It does not work for a 75mm because the focus point at infinity places the lens standard between the bed mounted rail and the in-the-body rail. Since you must also drop the bed of the camera there is no way to fix the standard to either rail. The Crown solves this problem because the rail inside the camera body is linked to the focus rail via a flexible connector and can therefore be moved and used for focusing. The problem I had with the Crown is that the back is fixed in the horizontal position, so if you want to shoot a vertically oriented shot, you must tilt the tripod head 90 deg., which is a strain due to the weight of the camera, lens and filmholder.
  23. Todd: Wooden cameras with specialized movements got for between $1,700 - $2,000. The Linhof Technikardan is selling now for $2,300 and for years sold at the $3,500 price level and there is always the used market for which if you are patient, you can still find many deals. My Linhof I acquired used and it was more than reasonably priced given the fact that it was in new condition. I have a Canham 5x7 with a 4x5 back and I dearly love it, but the stability and flexibility of the Linhof is in a class by itself. I will make the point that when you find a camera that is precise and as flexible as the TK45S is, the percentage of your shooting that it represents will increase exponentially. I find it accompanying me just about whever I go as the movements and the small package are simply marvelous.

    Good luck in whatever direction you proceed. Cheers!
  24. cxc


    I have a Walker, and it isn't really usable with my 65mm without at least the bag bellows, though hopefully that will be enough, without a recessed board. I don't have a 75mm, but I assume it would be pretty restricted. And it is absolutely bombproof. The design is like wood, so it would be totally familiar to you.

    Sticking to non-monorail metal, I would next consider a Canned Ham, and a Tech. If I could afford them.
  25. Wista makes a "wide angle" lens board that is much more convenient than a recessed board, allowing easy access to the shutter. Combined with a bag bellows, it is a superior solution for wide angle lenses.
  26. "Current makers of wooden cameras have a problem. The available wood just isn't as good as that used in the best century old cameras so many of which remain in nice condition."

    I'm not sure this is strictly true, yes there are certain timbers that are in short supply or no longer commercially available (such as the really wide mahogany boards from the West Indies) but there's still plenty of fine timber out there for musical instrument makers, cabinet makers, and antique restorers. And if anyone insisted on using vintage wood it's not that difficult, at least here in the UK, to source centuries old salvaged mahogany, yew, lignum vitae, ebony, teak, boxwood, or pine in ample quantities for camera construction.

    What I'm not particularly impressed with is the quality of craftsmanship I've seen on some modern wooden cameras (and modern dark slides, contact frames etc), it seems that joinery standards of fit and finish have replaced the fine cabinet making or even musical instrument making standards that are needed for cameras. But there's some practitioners, such as Gandolfi, that produce wooden cameras every bit as fine today as the very, very best from the 19th century.
  27. Todd, As a former owner of the Horseman FA, I would highly recommned it to anyone needing a compact, rugged, folding metal technical camera. While it doesn't have the generous movements of my Wisner or Deardorff cameras, it is very durable. I've even dropped mine (in a canvas bag with camera wrapped with the focusing cloth) on rocks and it came through with absolutely no damage. I had a 65mm f7 Horseman lens on mine and it was mounted on a flat 80mm lens board. On the downside, as mentioned, limited movements, short bellows draw and tiny and expensive lens boards that will not acommodate larger shutters (which are typically what you need when using older graphic arts lenses, as I do). But, I do have to say that I made some wonderful negatives with mine and it was a pleasure to hike with. With the lens requirements you have, you should be satisfied. I would say the movements might be the only shortcoming for architectural work.
  28. Hi Todd

    Just curious
    Did you try to lift the camera + tripod via the handle on the camera
    or did it disintergrate just on the weight of the camera only ?

    The canham has no handle for you to lift, so that would solve one problem : )

    But seriously, even a metal camera when taking a tumble might not survive any better than a wooden one, the parts can get bent beyond
    fixing .... only thing is that they don't rot


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