The Toyo 45AII is a 4 x 5 inch format field camera made by Toyo. http://www.toyoview.com It’s a nice, heavy duty, precision engineered camera. The first impression that strikes me when I pick up this camera is how robust it feels. When folded up it reminds me of a turtle withdrawn into its armored shell.
Unfolding the 45AII reveals a finely-crafted instrument capable of a wide range of easily-controlled motion and adjustments. In addition to the usual tilt and swings, it has a rotating back that makes it a breeze to switch between portrait and landscape view. It supports front rise and fall and the back extends to accommodate long focal length lenses.
If you’ve never used a view camera you’re probably wondering what they’re good for. Good question. They’re good for taking photographs that require precise lens positioning to achieve your desired photographic vision. Many of the adjustments offered by the Toyo45AII or similar camera are simply impossible with fixed film plane cameras.
The use of a field camera lends itself to a different mindset from that of a digital SLR. The former requires time and contemplation while the later offers convenience and speed. I tote my Toyo 45AII around in a backpack along with lenses, filters, focusing cloth, ground glass magnifier, and film holders. If it has been a while since I last used the camera, I give it a thorough inspection and practice loading and unloading the film holders with a sheet of ruined film before committing to a live run. I also review my system for keeping track of exposed and unexposed film.