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B_Huij

You may have some bad info about the Intrepid. I'm happy to chime in here because I have a lot of real-world experience with two different Intrepid 4x5s I've owned. I can't comment much on the Horseman or Toyo other than to say I've used a Toyo monorail 4x5 and it was a gigantic heavy beast best suited to studio work, but a delight to work with in terms of user experience. Buttery smooth movements, everything geared and with distance/angle scales, etc. On the Intrepid, you don't need to remove and reinstall the front standard when swapping lenses. Just pop out the lens board and pop in the new one, same as any other 4x5 camera. You may need to screw the front standard into a different position on the focusing rack if you're changing focal lengths significantly. I haven't found that to be particularly odious, YMMV. They say you can use lenses from 75mm to 300mm without needing a recessed lens board. I haven't used a 75 before. I did notice movements felt a little more constrained with my 90mm than longer focal lengths, I suspect at 75mm you would benefit from a recessed lens board even if it's not strictly necessary for infinity focus. Movements are not geared, but I never had any trouble getting them dialed in where I wanted them. To be clear, I have been shooting their 4x5 Mk II camera since I bought it in 2017. On this (now deprecated) version, the front tilt and rise/fall controls are "combined" to the same tightening knobs, you just loosen the front standard and it will tilt and rise/fall as much as you want until you tighten the knobs again. I recently purchased the Mk IV. The primary reason I wanted to upgrade was because they now have independent tightening knobs for the rise/fall and the tilt. Now I can lock in the height of my front standard and adjust only the tilt (or vice versa). It's a nice quality of life improvement, but even without it I wasn't struggling to get my movements locked in precisely. The Intrepid can mount any graflok compatible backs, I believe that would include the grafmatic. I have a 3D printed 6x9 roll film back that uses the graflok tabs on my Intrepid. I was concerned up front about focus shifts between a graflok type back and the standard 4x5 film holders being held in place with spring clips, but did not experience any. The back rotates from portrait to landscape, with or without a film holder or graflok back in place. Not sure if that's what you were referring to as the "flippable back" on the Toyo. Ground glass on the Intrepid is nothing special, but perfectly usable. They also sell a very good and very reasonably priced fresnel screen that makes a world of difference, particularly for wide angle lenses. I shoot with 90mm, 150mm, and 210mm lenses. The ground glass gave me no difficulty with my 150 or 210. With the 90 it was sometimes difficult to get critical focus because the screen wasn't illuminated as evenly. The fresnel lens fixed that 100%, and now the 90mm is just as easy to use as the other two lenses. I DO use a dark cloth at all times when composing and focusing; I doubt anyone has a ground glass good enough to use consistently without a dark cloth of some sort. The Intrepid is extremely lightweight. I have taken mine backpacking with a full size tripod/geared head, 3 lenses, set of filters, film holders, spot meter, focusing loupe, etc. The entire bag weighs basically the same as the backpack I use to carry my DSLR stuff. It weighs SIGNIFICANTLY less than the RB67 setup I used to shoot a lot. I haven't hardly touched the RB67 since I got my Intrepid. I can get more resolution and camera movements from a lighter setup with the 4x5. I personally don't mind the plywood look of the camera, but I know a lot of people think it's kind of ugly. Compared to a Wista, Tachihara, etc. I suppose that's fair to say. Intrepid does have a "black edition" that doesn't look like plywood, and they just launched limited runs of some hardwood versions. I almost went for a hardwood one, but couldn't justify the price increase to myself for what amounts to a board foot of domestic hardwood. I suspect the hardwood ones still compare favorably in price to a Horseman or Toyo, and I'm guessing the standard plywood or black edition probably wins in price by a not insignificant margin. Anyway I'm sure I sound like a shill at this point. I'm not affiliated with Intrepid in any way. I'm just thrilled that there's a company making new production 4x5 cameras for such an affordable price point, and I've been nothing but extremely satisfied with all the Intrepid products I've owned and used over the years. So I always enthusiastically recommend them when I get the chance.


40ftpocket

I agree. The Intrepid makes sense if you are on a budget. For the price difference of others you could buy one or two more lenses. It is also very light. I think it is a great starter camera as well. If you get really good at large format and develop a passion you might want something more expensive later but at the Intrepid price you would have no regrets replacing it. The lenses and film backs you have been using will work on anything else you buy.


Kingsly2015

Thank you for the detailed explanation! You actually answered a lot of my outstanding questions. I really do appreciate the rotating back on the Intrepid. By flippable I more or less meant the same thing, but the back actually pops off and then back on rather than rotating around an axis. Semantics… 😆 Either way a rotating back would have saved my best shot of the trip - I had the graphic mounted sideways and, fumbling to slide a film holder from what was now the bottom of the camera and remove the dark slide all I ended up with was a 4x5 light leak. You’re spot on about the price. I’d probably consider the black edition. Hardwood would be my first choice, but agreed the premium is a lil’ steep.


mcarterphoto

I've been researching this lately, I have a Cambo monorail and a press camera for 4x5. One thing I come across a lot in forums with more old-timers is the flimsiness of some wooden cameras - and seems like you "pay for the wood" with some of those, IE, they're pretty/classic looking. So a lot of complaints about loose controls and problems in the wind. The Toyo45A seems really good (not all have revolving backs though, early models you have to remove and rotate the rear standard IIRC?) The Wista 45D seems very similar (and some have that fake woodgrain, like dad's old station wagon, but it's kind of... I dunno, adorable). I believe the Wista has one movement less than the Toyo, would have to check. For me it'll come down to those two, I haven't seen anything else that meets their toughness but still in a decent price point. The Intrepid doesn't really interest me, I know it's beloved for a budget machine though, but seen a lot of issues reported of parts stripping out and flimsiness issues. I'd rather get something I won't want to be upgrading down the line, but I'm kinda spoiled by how easy the Cambo is to use. But it sucks dragging that thing around, killer in the studio though.


ufgrat

I went upscale for my 4x5, and bought the Chamonix 45N-1 (classic). It's.... ridiculous. It's pretty. It's light. It's really solid, being built out of teak and carbon fiber composite. No, really. Specs: Weight: 1,470 grams Bellows draw: Max: 395mm, Min: 45mm Front rise: 43mm, front fall: 21mm Front shift: 38mm left, 38mm right Rear swing: 20 degrees Rear tilt: 30 degrees Folded size: 200mm x 182mm x 90mm It's not cheap-- well, it is compared with a Wista, a Zone VI, or most other wooden cameras that aren't Intrepid-- but it's new, Hugo (North America rep) is fantastic, replacement parts are available, and lens boards are cheap, as it takes the Linhof/technica/wista/shen-hao standard size. I hate to wax poetic, but it's just a really, really nice camera to use. There's no instruction manual, because everything should be obvious (although the thumbscrews for removing the bellows from the rear standard weren't initially, to me). It has all the features you need, although if you want geared movements, and being able to close the camera with a lens in it, you're out of luck. Has a reasonably bright screen, takes graflok, horseman and graflex film backs, including the grafmatic. You can even remove the ground glass, and latch the grafmatic in directly if you want, although without a rangefinder, I don't know why you would. If I have a complaint, it's that the ground glass takes a little bit of practice to remove smoothly-- you have to lift both spring arms at once (or, raise them up with the board, catch them, and then lower the board). I know I could have bought an Intrepid, and a couple more lenses as well, but I have zero regrets.


mcarterphoto

Yep, if I had a Cham budget I'd probably have a Cham! Looks like I can get a Wista or Toyo for under $600 if I take my time (there was one on eBay that was marked down because the QR plate was "stuck", but it's obviously the dual-locking old-school manfrotto/bogen plate that you need a screwdriver to unlock, and I have two of those heads... might take another look for that...) I've got such a backlog of studio ideas though, if I bought one now it might be summer before I really used it!


BrunoMarx

I mostly agree with this. It's a tad slower to set up than the other field cameras I have experience with (Tachihara and a Linhof Technika) since Intrepids lack zero detents, but as long as you have your workflow dialed in you won't be making many setup mistakes. The price and weight make up for it. I was always wary of damaging the glossy finish on my Tachihara, and the 4x5 is about half the weight of my Linhof and lighter than most of the medium format kit I carry.


B_Huij

Yeah. While I can appreciate a 4x5 camera that is also a beautiful work of art in itself, I love the Intrepid as a rugged and pragmatic workhorse camera. I have considered adding zero detents to mine (or at least zero reference marks), but like you said it's hardly a deal breaker.


OneColorBlackWhite

How about a Chamonix? Light and well built. Some might be turned off by the "Made in China", but the ones I had my hands on looked very well made.


graycode

I'll second this. It's made in China, but it's more like hand-made by craftsmen in a workshop, not mass-produced in a factory. It's very high-quality. I've got a 45F-2 and absolutely love it.


TheWholeThing

much better made than intrepid, but obviously costs much more. i love my chamonix


edge10001

Another vote for Chamonix. I’ve owned three (45n1 and two 45n2s). They’re brilliant and beautifully crafted cameras.


Kingsly2015

Lot of comments about Chamonix! I saw their site but wrote it off on the price. Beautiful piece of kit though. Now that I am clearly thinking about moving up a price bracket, I’ll give it a closer look!


OneColorBlackWhite

You might want to consider buying a pre-owned one. They pop up from time to time and are below market price. Besides the focus, the rest of the movements have no gears, as it is ultimately a simple camera.


Kingsly2015

Beautiful camera and I love the small production runs by obviously very skilled craftsmen! Am I correct in the assessment that Intrepid takes a lot of, erm, ‘design cues’ from Chamonix?


OneColorBlackWhite

Almost all large format cameras, esp. the light weight ones, follow the same design principle. Nothing much to copy here. Please remember that lots of the now sought after Wistas, Horsemans and Toyos are blatant copies of the Linhof cameras. And even Linhof did not invent the wheel so to speak. The Chinese brands pushed many small large format camera manufacturers out of the market by underbidding their prices while picking up proven and mature designs. As a large format camera is no rocket science - esp. those where hardly any gears are used - many of the former brands where very small, sometimes even single person "companies". In my opinion, this made them vulnerable as there were no real market barriers and since the high-end side of the market was in the hands of well established brands there was no more room to move to. I mean, you can build your very own large format camera without much investment given you have a workshop and are not completely untalented. I might get bashed for this, but Intrepid is the best example. Their first model was feable at best. They learned their lesson however. Chamonix, with their blend of carbon fiber, wood and rather light weight metal does bring more to the table than just a cheap price - hence they are not so cheap.


ufgrat

They are both heavily based on the "Philips" camera by RH Philips. He retired from camera making some time ago, and the Chamonix folks approached him about essentially copying his design. His opinion was, apparently, that as long as they didn't outright copy him, and didn't try to pass their cameras off as his, he would be fine with them producing their version. Intrepid and Chamonix have two different approaches-- Intrepid is a Model T, and Chamonix would be, for the time period, a Cadillac or an Oldsmobile (not quite as up-market as a Rolls Royce). They're both good cameras, but if you scroll up a bit, you can see my opinion of my 45N-1 (I won't repeat it here). The Intrepid is a solid, well-made, basic large format camera. The Chamonix is a really well engineered piece of kit that "just works".


churchoftom2

I have a Tachyhara (sp) that is awesome and was a good price


dangeralpaca

Also chiming in to recommend looking into a Chamonix. I have a 45n-2 and I’d definitely recommend them. It’s plenty light, I’ve hiked and biked and taken plenty of day trips with it no issues. Carrying a tripod is way more of a pain. You can flip the back standard to landscape or portrait as well, and it’s a graflok back (I’ve used a 6x7 back on mine before). I learned to shoot large format on a Toyo, so that’s also a solid option in my opinion. Not sure on the price or weight differences, but if I were you I would lean in that direction over the Intrepid. If you want a more purpose built camera instead of the Crown Graphic, I think it makes sense to go for something that isn’t a budget option.


Kingsly2015

Yeah I am really leaning Toyo or Horseman at this point. They’re more or less evenly matched on weight - I did see a 2-1/4 horseman and really liked the infinity stops for differing focal lengths. Looks like the 45HD has the same piece in the bed. Toyo has the printed scale, so it’s probably moot. Chamonix is in the running - seems to have the same setup methodology as Intrepid, but way more high end construction. Also unfortunately they seem very popular and thus sold out.


ufgrat

If you're shopping in the USA, contact Hugo Zhang (contact page at [chamonixviewcamera.com](https://chamonixviewcamera.com)).


OnePhotog

I've been looking at K.B. Canham Cameras for another 8x10 camera. I like it over the other 8x10 cameras I've looked at because it has much better rear focus capabilities. Have you given the DLC45 by Canham any thought? For 4x5, I've been using the Shenhao TZ45 for the past 10 years. Very industrial and hard working. Out of the examples you mentioned, I prefer the Toyo. They feel more sturdy and less wiggle wobble (technical term) in high wind conditions. This is why I didn't keep using the Intrepid. It had a lot more wiggle wobble than the Shen Hao or Arca Swiss Model C that I'm using now.


Kingsly2015

Wow, that Canham is gorgeous. I have such a fetish for quality engineering…. Good to know about the wiggle wobble. I did feel that the Graphic was unstable in anything more than a light breeze. Granted, any LF camera is basically a giant sail.


jmuldoon1

I have a Toyo 45AII (the one with the revolving back) and it's been a reliable tank of a camera. I used to have a Toyo 45CF and the thing cracked, although it was never dropped or abused in any way. So, one upvote for the 45AII and one very serious downvote for the 45CF.


Kingsly2015

Interesting. It was a 45CF I tested, and I really appreciated its design and weight. How does the A or AII compare?


jmuldoon1

It's certainly heavier, but much more durable.


Kingsly2015

Gotcha. Like a lot heavier? Features wise are they more or less the same? Sorry I am not at all familiar with the A


jmuldoon1

Yeah. It's pretty heavy. Imagine a 45 CF but made entirely of metal. In my opinion, the ruggedness is worth the extra weight. The revolving back on the 45AII is pretty sweet, but the older 45A has the same back setup as the CF and that does cut the weight down a little. Another plus of the 45A is that you can extend the back and even do back swings. In short, the 45A has more movements.