When it comes to large format photography, you have several options when it comes the kind of 4×5 camera to buy. Large format cameras are simple devices without so much technology in them, so it is not an easy undertaking.
The main idea behind this article is to help you get beyond the brands and models but understand what every camera under review can do. By the time you reach the end of this article, you would have found the best 4×5 camera.
How Large Format Cameras Work
A large format camera has a provision for and a compartment of placing a film, a lens, and a bellow between the two. The film is located on the rear standard and the lens on the front standard. When using the large format lens, you can use any large format camera as long as there are a fitting board and enough coverage to illuminate the film on the scene.
To make things easy to follow, the table below offers a quick review of selected 4X5 cameras highlighting their features, advantages, and disadvantages of each model.
5 4X5 Field Cameras 2021 – Comparison Chart
|1||Shen Hao TZ45 IIC||9.41 x 4.45 x 7.48 inches||3.09 pounds|
|2||Shen Hao PTB45-B||0.39 x 3.94 x 5.12 inches||0.13 pounds|
|3||Toyo Field 45A||8.2 x 7.4 x 4.2 inches||6 pounds|
|4||Graflex Graphic View||–||–|
1. Shen Hao TZ45 IIC
Shen Hao TZ model is made of a wooden walnut structure that is foldable. It allows for a wide range of movements and has a solid and refined feel. However, the camera is light and compact with the less folding mechanism. A single switch controls the front standard using lateral movements and also controls the unintentional swing when using the camera
- The knobs have rubber grips
- Light and durable aluminum material
- Poor build quality
- Knobs are made of low quality plastic
- The rear panel moves even when locked in
2. Shen Hao PTB45-B
The PTB45-B is 4X5 camera with a wooden structure and a folding capability. Its body construction is made of black walnut and aluminum allow. This camera comes with a Copal lens board and an aluminum hard case. It has a center-mounted rack on which the front standards mount along the length. A one central knob at the back of the camera controls all movements. The rear standard rests on two brackets and can extend along the rack as the front standard attached to any of the bushing running along the central rack.
- Made of walnut and aluminum alloy
- Has a Copal lens board and aluminum casing
- Unwanted movements controlled by a single knob
- Lightweight camera
- Removing the focusing frame is tedious
3. Toyo Field 45A
Probably the only large format camera built from carbon fiber and has the general layout of the technicality found in all Toyo cameras. It has the trademark G reversible back with a rear back tilt passing through the drop bed. Easy to get the forward movements that makes it an easy to seat up and offers more flexibility while shooting.
- Made to reflect the classic precision
- There is no need for using bag bellows
- You can use a 90mm lens of the flat lens board
- Does not have a user manual
4. Graflex Graphic View
The Graflex Graphic has limited movements than most other large format field cameras. The front movements are full, and the rear tilt takes place the drop bed. You can use the rotating back something other models may not achieve because of its stability and the wider movement. Graflex chassis is made of cast metal making it more compact and durable.
- Has a shutter release cable
- The glass is free from fungus, scratches, and dust
- Bundled with one lens
- The shutter may stick at times
5. Winsta 45N
Winsta is a wooden design like most large format cameras and is available in a cherry case and bed. The camera is also available in ebony and rosewood. The 45N has a rear base tilt; rear swing moves along the pivoting plates. The design of these movements is standard in all Winsta wide field format camera. They do not have a rear shift and are available in spring and backs or international G backs. The rosewood models have interchangeable bellows.
- Sold with two lenses with caps
- Good design
- Comes with a manual
- Available in a variety of designs and colors
- It has film holders and a tarmac bag
- No geared movements apart from the lens
- No Levels provided for drop
The camera model and lens type used on these 4X5 cameras are unique, but the process of picking one that you need is more or less the same as you would for any other digital camera. Here are some few considerations looking at both camera and lenses
Sticking your hand on the best brand for a large format camera is not easy because people who have had an opportunity to use them are few and they may have encountered one or two models. The best way to approach this is to look for a trusted dealer and ask him about the best in the market. Remember that your best rely on situation and budget.
Knowing the camera that will suit your needs depend on the nature of work. If you intend to get a rise and fall to counter perspective, you need a camera that supports tilting. One with a rear tilt can be good when you want to exaggerate foregrounds.
To get the focal length, you need to use the regular DSLR lens dimension (35mm) and multiply by 3, and you will find a closer range to what you need for your 4X5 lens. In simple terms, double the focal length to get a similar angle of view.
Not all lenses can cover the entire film area. A lens that can cover the 4X5 film must have an image circle of 153mm. This information will help in situations where you have a small lens or ones not designed for that camera.
That is all I could share today on choosing the best 4X5 camera. From our review, you will realize that Shen Hao TZ45 IIC is a model that would work for you due to its wide range of movements. You will also enjoy handling the camera because of the rubber grips.