For some 20-odd years I’ve been hauling around an old but serviceable Sinar F 4×5 view camera, complete with extension rail, groundglass, two bellows, and three lenses in Sinar boards. It has followed me through eight homes in four states (you gotta move a lot in Witness Protection), and endured the waxing and waning of my large-format attentions. I always liked it, but I never really loved it. A monorail view camera is a fabulous photographic instrument, but is rather a pain to carry with you. It should probably live only in a studio, or within twenty yards of a vehicle.
On the strength of numerous glowing online reviews I have ordered a Chamonix 4×5 folding field camera. This is a Chinese-made 4×5″ field camera that should be much easier to transport to, and use on, location. It’s made of dark walnut/carbon-fiber composite and has a “bed” (the bottom that holds it all together) of carbon fiber composite material, which lends the camera its strength and rigidity, and its light weight. And a bonus: like all view cameras, it is pretty much “modular”. I can remount my 3 large-format lenses and their shutters (getting CLA’ed by SK Grimes) in Chamonix (Linhof-style) lens boards and they are good to go. Very handy, for while the camera is fairly inexpensive, the lenses and shutters are not. There is even an adapter available that will allow me to mount the Chamonix lens boards with their lenses into the Sinar front standards—if I were keeping the Sinar.
I shoot a lot of portraiture, and I have been wanting to do more of it in large format. I don’t need the extensive movements afforded by a monorail view camera; a smaller, less cumbersome camera is more a priority.
The Chamonix should be here by mid-February. In the meantime, the Sinar is for sale. If you’re interested, give me a shout.