The Toyo 45A field camera

A review by Tom Nicinski for the Large Format Page

Back movements: There are rear swings and tilts but no shifts. Swings (sideways), as well as the back tilt, are very restricted, only a few degrees. Because the camera is folding type, you get forward tilt as much as the bellows gives space. Technically 90 degrees, 20-30 dg in reality... Likes:

Mediocre: Dislikes: As for short lenses, 90mm is about the practical limit for the 45A without resorting to a recessed lens board. The problem is that the bellows is scrunched up too much. Since the Toyo 45A does not offer interchangable bellows, the only route is to use a recessed board. I vaguely remember that you get a bit over 20mm relief and you can use a 65mm lens???

I'm not sure if the offer is still there, but recently, MAC (distributors of the Toyo line in the U.S.) were offering the compendium shade as an incentive to buy the 45A. This shade is quite nice and useful. You may want to look into getting the longer extension bars (rails) for this hood if you have a large (not necessarily just long) lens. This will allow you to easily flip the shade up and down over the lens. But, they're expensive (about $50 (US)).

When I shopped around, I compared the Toyo 45A against a Horseman and a Zone VI. For backcountry use, I'd pick the metal camera over the wooden camera because of the protection it affords (unless I want to go ultralight and use the Tachihara). I didn't like the Zone VI's front movements -- the swing and shift are very sloppy -- not that tight and positive feeling of the 45A. I didn't like the Horseman because of its controls -- they're way to small, especially if you do any winter photography (I like to keep my hands in my gloves). I also didn't like the Horseman back, which combined the tilt and swing movements. Using one reduced the other.

The Toyo 45AR is the same as the Toyo 45A, both field cameras. The AR was imported by someone other than Mamiya, thus the different name (I asked one of the Mamiya vice presidents a few years ago). I know the A-II is more expensive than the A, but there's no difference other than better knobs. Foam-rubber tape looped around those blasted shiny melmac knobs does the trick in my experience, and A's aren't all that uncommon,

For more info, check the Toyo site

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