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Camera compare: Nagaoka 4x5 and the Toyo 45CF

Tim Gilbert

Two cameras couldn't be more different and still perform the same basic functions.

First, let me state that I love both cameras (though I love one a bit more than the other, I'll tell you why later.)

Technical details:

weight size bellows extension
Toyo 45 CF 1.6 kg/3.6 lbs 180x200x100 mm 90/350 mm
Nagaoka 1.15kg/2.5 lbs 180x200x70 mm 75/300 mm


As you can see, they really aren't that different in size. Sure, the Toyo weighs a pound heavier but that's not a major factor to me since I generally don't hike more than about two hours away from civilization. As for the 30mm difference in thickness, unnoticeable in most camera bags.

So without repeating everything from the video, let me summarize:

  • It's tricky but not impossible to use wide angle lenses with the Toyo. The Nagaoka has a clear advantage in the wide angle arena.
  • Long and/or heavy lenses will push the limits on the Nagaoka; the Toyo has a significant advantage here.
  • If the wind blows over your tripod (it happens) or you drop it in a mountain stream (also happens), the Toyo has a much better chance of surviving.
  • The Toyo has a Graflok back! This means I can use my roll film adapters.
  • Most, but not all, of my favorite lenses will fit inside the Toyo when closed up. This makes setup quicker and protects the lens.
  • The Nagaoka uses the more standard "Linhof/Technika" 96x99mm lens boards. The Toyo uses a unique lens board.
  • The Nagaoka has rear swing and tilt; the Toyo does not.
  • The Toyo does have front shift (left/right); the Nagaoka doesn't.
  • Pricewise the Nagaoka is the clear winner, averaging around $600 vs the $800-$1200 price of the Toyo.

For me, the Toyo wins, even at the higher price (granted I found an incredible deal on one.)  Why?

  1. I tend to shoot longer, heavier lens that the Nagaoka struggles with.
  2. For me, the Toyo is more ergonomic. The knobs are bigger, front movements smoother and I appreciate keeping the lens installed and ready to go.
  3. The weight difference isn't important to me and the size difference is insignificant.

I expound on this in the video; see the link below.

Don't forget to slide the rails forward before closing the Toyo. Otherwise they'll bind up with the housing.

Just about every Nagaoka I've seen has a crack in the middle of the bottom frame. Doesn't seem to hurt anything but it is a bit annoying.

Here's a video with more exciting commentary:

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