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Walker Titan XL 4x5

Mike Walker's unique Titan 4x5inch cameras, built of ABS plastic and stainless steel, have acquired a significant following since they were launched in 1996. There are three cameras in the family the original Titan SF, the Titan Wide, and now the Titan XL, designed (as its name suggests) for the Schneider XL family of lenses from 38mm upwards In fact, it can be supplied complete with any XL lens, whether Super Angulon or Super Symmar, at a significant savings over purchasing camera and lens separately.


The camera is designed to address the inevitable problem that afflicts all extreme wide-angles, namely, parallelism of the front and rear standards; depth of focus declines as focal length diminishes, as does the need for swings and tilts. In the interest of maximum parrellism. these movements may be simplified or omitted.


Taken to its limits, this line of argument leads to rigid-bodied wide-angle cameras such as the Cambo Wide. But a bellows camera can be made more compact and versatile. The XL is designed for lenses up to 150mm. without accessory cones or panels and will take a 180 mm lens at a pinch.


Essentially, the XL is a simplified Titan Wide, with an even shorter bellows; a different bellows construction, for maximum flexibility, and no back movements whatsoever. Instead, the back is braced with a very substantial triangular plate or gusset, eliminating all movement except for focusing Like other Walkers, the XL has nested focusing rails, the outer set for rear focusing, and the inner set for front focusing Maximum extension is approximately 190mm. the minimum flange-to-film distance, with a flat plate, is 53mm. allowing infinity focus with a 47mm XL. The camera weighs 2kg (4lb 6 ozs.) without lens or panel but with ground-glass protector Along with a generous 70mm of front rise and 20mm of fall - available even at minimum extension - the XL retains front tilt and swing.


Because of the way the Walker is built, these can be both zeroed, by touch, with extreme accuracy, then locked firmly no camera that the reviewer has ever tested has less "creep" on locking focus or movements, though a few others are as good. To special order and at no extra charge, the camera can be supplied with the front swings and tilts bolted up solid and Loctited but there is no need for this. Swing is 15° degrees each way (total 30 degrees) and bit is 15° degrees each way (total 30° degrees).


There is no front cross Like the Titan Wide, the camera is not folded for transport. Rather, the two standards are racked together, and the camera is transported more or less ready for action, needing only to be focused. Most of the rest of the camera is similar to the other Walker cameras. There is the same international back (with an excellent ground-glass protector) the lens panels are again Linhof pattern, with a proper "dog leg" cutout on the lens panel lock, bellows are interchangeable, though there is no need for them to be on this camera, most metalwork is stainless steel with light alloy for the knobs and brass for the focusing rack (stainless steel would be very rough)


The finish is a tough, matte black, though the effect is more of a charcoal grey; and swing and tilt locks are by tommy bars. The spirit levels on the back (one on top for roll, one on the side for pitch) are clear and well positioned. All parts are robust and substantial the camera has an almost -mil-spec" feel to it.

There is no such thing as a universal camera, and there is no sense asking a camera to do things for which it is not designed. The original Titan SF or a Titan Wide, or another camera entirely, may suit a particular purpose better than the Titan XL But with wide-angle lenses especially with extreme movement, the XL would be difficult or impossible to better

Roger W. Hicks © 2000


View images of the Titan XL wide 4x5 - or - go back to camera reviews