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Thread: Film field camera advice, please

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    Film field camera advice, please

    I've got a couple of view camera lenses, the Rodenstock 45 and 150, that I want to use on 6x9 and 6x12 film backs. I prefer using bellows over purchasing lens-specific cones and helicoids and accessory tilt/swing adapters. For this solution, I only need a minimal amount of tilt, swing, and rise on the front standard. The ability to use my two existing lenses is critical. The ability to pick up a 210-240mm lens if I get the itch without having to purchase anything beyond a lens board is good. I am not invested in any particular lens board, but availability of lens boards, replacement bellows, and film backs is critical. The ability to adapt a digital back is not a concern. This lark is about film. 6x9 and 6x12 are required, 4x5 is a nice to have (and really only useful with the 150). Ground glass for focusing. The ability to change the perspective from landscape to portrait for 6x9 is critical. Budget tops out at $1500 for the camera, which will leave cash for film backs and lens boards.

    So with those requirements in mind, I'm thinking the Toyo Field 45AII is the best bet. It has a drop bed for the 45 and can extend 300mm, which will more than cover me if I decide I want a longer lens than the 150. Recessed and standard boards are available. It's got a Graflock interface on the back, so film backs shouldn't be an issue. The back rotates without vignetting (according to the marketing) and the ground glass has frame marks for both 6x9 and 6x12. It's all metal, and the suitcase design should be rugged enough to drag along anywhere and it's light enough that I think I can get away with using my current tripod and just adding some found-counterweight (rocks) to its hammock. Used prices seem to run between $800 and $2000 depending on condition and location.

    Good choice? Bad choice? Please feel free to post affirmations or tell me I'm crazy for not looking at a different camera. User experience with the Toyo will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Brad

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    If you don't need much in the way of movements, would a Crown Graphic be a cheap option? The Graflex back doesn't rotate, but the camera has a tripod screw on the side as well as on the base. The bed can drop, though I'm not sure if it will do so far enough for a 45mm.
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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    A 45mm lens is very wide for a field camera if you can't go to the option of using bag bellows rather than the usual concertina bellows. If the Toyo field camera can take bag bellows (which compress up as far as the camera is physically possible to do to attain the short register distance), then go for it. A Crown Graphic is unlikely to be able to do this if the bellows can't be changed.

    Using a 45mm lens is beyond the crossover point between 'normal' and needing an even more specialist camera. I bought my Shen Hao 4x5 field camera (second hand) and it came with a bag bellows accessory (but still sealed), but it is pointless because the camera simply can't adjust any closer than using the conventional bellows to focus anyway. This means 65mm is the limit for wides. So as 4x5 isn't far off 6x12 for the coverage that you need you would have to question the actual camera adjustments for very wide lenses (wider than 90mm), not just look at the coverage of the lens even if it covers the format.

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Quote Originally Posted by freaklikeme View Post
    I've got a couple of view camera lenses, the Rodenstock 45 and 150, that I want to use on 6x9 and 6x12 film backs. I prefer using bellows over purchasing lens-specific cones and helicoids and accessory tilt/swing adapters. For this solution, I only need a minimal amount of tilt, swing, and rise on the front standard. The ability to use my two existing lenses is critical. The ability to pick up a 210-240mm lens if I get the itch without having to purchase anything beyond a lens board is good. I am not invested in any particular lens board, but availability of lens boards, replacement bellows, and film backs is critical. The ability to adapt a digital back is not a concern. This lark is about film. 6x9 and 6x12 are required, 4x5 is a nice to have (and really only useful with the 150). Ground glass for focusing. The ability to change the perspective from landscape to portrait for 6x9 is critical. Budget tops out at $1500 for the camera, which will leave cash for film backs and lens boards.

    So with those requirements in mind, I'm thinking the Toyo Field 45AII is the best bet. It has a drop bed for the 45 and can extend 300mm, which will more than cover me if I decide I want a longer lens than the 150. Recessed and standard boards are available. It's got a Graflock interface on the back, so film backs shouldn't be an issue. The back rotates without vignetting (according to the marketing) and the ground glass has frame marks for both 6x9 and 6x12. It's all metal, and the suitcase design should be rugged enough to drag along anywhere and it's light enough that I think I can get away with using my current tripod and just adding some found-counterweight (rocks) to its hammock. Used prices seem to run between $800 and $2000 depending on condition and location.

    Good choice? Bad choice? Please feel free to post affirmations or tell me I'm crazy for not looking at a different camera. User experience with the Toyo will be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks.

    Brad
    The camera is great and it does say it manages a 45mm lens but you'll need a recessed lens board and getting it square could be difficult (ish).

    The alternative is something like

    http://www.walkercameras.com/XL_4x5.html

    Which will probably keep square better.

    Personally I would prefer the Toyo but have only used it with 70mm (ish) lenses (actually 65 and 75)
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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Shen Hao makes an Ebony replica for wideangle 4x5 called TFC45-IIB:

    http://www.badgergraphic.com/opencar...roduct_id=3165

    You'd still need a recessed board for a 45, but once you have that setup you can tilt and shift all you want.

    I use an Ebony 45S with a 47 XL in a recessed board, works well.

    Hope this helps.
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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Wista VX or SP models would make a really good camera for you. I had the VX technical camera. They are metal. Well built. You would need a recessed lens board. The camera take Linhof and Wista lens boards.
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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Thanks for your responses, everyone. I greatly appreciate them. I got to handle a Toyo (both the AII and a CF) as well as an Ebony SV45Ti and I can't say I'd be unhappy with any of them. All of them were able to handle the 45, and I actually didn't mind the Toyo recessed lens boards (at least they recess the entire thing, instead of just a circle within the board). Even the plastic-fantastic CF is nice and solid on a light but counter-weighted tripod. The Ebony was a thing of beauty, probably the best-looking and highest functioning work of art-meets-engineering I've ever had my hands on, and didn't require a recessed board for the 45.

    So, with most functionality being equal, I asked myself which one would be the least devastating to watch fall off a cliff and into a river. Losing the Ebony would sting quite a bit. Losing one of the Toyo's... eh, I'd be more concerned about the lens. So Toyo it is. Now I just need to decide if I want an all-metal body and rotating back that can take a good deal of abuse, or the lightweight that needs a little more care.

    I also got to shoot my first 4x5 frames, and now I'm really wondering if I might not be better off skipping 6x9, picking up a 75 or 90 Grandagon, or maybe going with Schneider on the 80XL ASPH, which has a great size/weight advantage, and just shooting 4x5 with the camera. The roll film backs aren't going to give me the size and weight advantage I thought they would and... actually I could name every excuse here, but the truth is, the APO-Sironar-S 150 is freaking gorgeous on 4x5. Once I looked through that lens, I was hooked. I may not even need a wide with a normal that good.

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Quote Originally Posted by chrism View Post
    If you don't need much in the way of movements, would a Crown Graphic be a cheap option? The Graflex back doesn't rotate, but the camera has a tripod screw on the side as well as on the base. The bed can drop, though I'm not sure if it will do so far enough for a 45mm.
    I did look at the press cameras, but age and availability of replacement parts were enough of a turn-off that I didn't bother to delve deeply into compatibility. Most of them seem to be made to suit 100-135.

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Quote Originally Posted by 250swb View Post
    A 45mm lens is very wide for a field camera if you can't go to the option of using bag bellows rather than the usual concertina bellows. If the Toyo field camera can take bag bellows (which compress up as far as the camera is physically possible to do to attain the short register distance), then go for it. A Crown Graphic is unlikely to be able to do this if the bellows can't be changed.

    Using a 45mm lens is beyond the crossover point between 'normal' and needing an even more specialist camera. I bought my Shen Hao 4x5 field camera (second hand) and it came with a bag bellows accessory (but still sealed), but it is pointless because the camera simply can't adjust any closer than using the conventional bellows to focus anyway. This means 65mm is the limit for wides. So as 4x5 isn't far off 6x12 for the coverage that you need you would have to question the actual camera adjustments for very wide lenses (wider than 90mm), not just look at the coverage of the lens even if it covers the format.

    Steve
    45 is wide, no doubt, but I'm very impressed with the IC on the Grandagon. The minimum extension on the Toyo's is 51mm and shorter on the Ebony (though not by much). The Grandagon has a 55mm flange, so it works out well. It allowed for plenty of movement for 6x9, and none of the cameras with their standard bellows had problems moving to the maximum the lens can cover. The worst part was focusing. The gentlemen showing me his cameras doesn't shoot anything wider than 135, so he doesn't own any screens appropriate for wides. Every shot I took with the 45 was slightly out of focus.

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    Quote Originally Posted by timparkin View Post
    The camera is great and it does say it manages a 45mm lens but you'll need a recessed lens board and getting it square could be difficult (ish).

    The alternative is something like

    http://www.walkercameras.com/XL_4x5.html

    Which will probably keep square better.

    Personally I would prefer the Toyo but have only used it with 70mm (ish) lenses (actually 65 and 75)
    Thanks and I'm right there with you.

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Quote Originally Posted by Lars Vinberg View Post
    Shen Hao makes an Ebony replica for wideangle 4x5 called TFC45-IIB:

    http://www.badgergraphic.com/opencar...roduct_id=3165

    You'd still need a recessed board for a 45, but once you have that setup you can tilt and shift all you want.

    I use an Ebony 45S with a 47 XL in a recessed board, works well.

    Hope this helps.
    Thanks, Lars. I hadn't seen that. I like the open-face design eliminating the need for a drop bed. Still, I think I'll start with a Toyo and see how it goes. If this turns into lasting passion, then I will probably move to an Ebony. That's something I wouldn't mind having around long after I'm capable of putting it to use.

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    Re: Film field camera advice, please

    Quote Originally Posted by Shashin View Post
    Wista VX or SP models would make a really good camera for you. I had the VX technical camera. They are metal. Well built. You would need a recessed lens board. The camera take Linhof and Wista lens boards.
    Thanks, Will. The SP has a minimum extension of 80mm, doesn't it? That's why I had eliminated it, despite the number of reasonably priced and well-maintained cameras available. And I read the VX can handle the 55 Grandagon, but no mention of the 45.

    Of course, now I'm unsure how much it matters, but it would be nice to have the option to use the 45, even if I primarily use the camera for 4x5.

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