View Full Version : Blackjacket

Richard Schlesinger
27-Jul-2005, 10:18
I purchased a Blackjacket from Keith Walklet following the review here. While it didn't work ou for me, it is a relly well made intelligently designed focusing cloth and, I think, well worth the money. Blackjacket and Keith Walklet are superb to do business with I can't recommend them too highly!

Dan V
27-Jul-2005, 10:57
After trying the (for me, too bulky) BTZS cloth, and the Gnass Gear cloth I settled on the BlackJacket which gives a better light seal than the Gnass cloth. For backpacking purposes I got the lightweight BlackJacket which, unfortunately, doesn't breath.

Leonard Evens
27-Jul-2005, 11:37
I agree that the blackjacket is well made. I've also figured out how to use it with my Toho, which is not easy, and to accomplish what I want, which is to be able to focus and also read the distance scale on my focusing knob (with the help of a small flashlight) without leaving the darkcloth. But the basic model, which I have, is too hot to use in warm weather, so I will stick with my dark teeshirt for normal use during the warm seasons and restrict the blackjacket for cold seasons or special situations. I'm sure I will use it often enough to justify its cost.

Jeff Moore
27-Jul-2005, 13:26
I bought the original Blackjacket myself. And like many others, I like everything about it except it doesn't breathe. During the summer, after only a few seconds, it's like a darn sauna under there. I noticed on their website, they now offer a "hybrid" model, which they say is made from "1/2 coated and 1/2 breathable fabrics." They are the same prices as the original. I am tempted to give it a try. Does anyone out there have any experience with this new "hybrid" model?

Daniel Geiger
27-Jul-2005, 16:00
I have the hybrid cloth for my Arca F-line 4x5. I have been shooting in Southern California, in The Valley, think tripple digits/ 35-40 deg C. It does get steamy, but like some, I like it hot. I do like the BJFC, though don't often use the arm sleaves, just fiddle around through the main opening. The one thing that is cumbersome is to adjust tilt/swing, because with one hand I hold the loupe, and the swing/tilt control are on one side of the rail, while the focus is on the other side, so I do all kinds of arm contortions. Switching the loupe hand is a a bit more tricky, as you have to thread your arm somehow into the cloth.

BUT: the bottom line is, it is a HUGE improvement over the horseblanket. I can wholeheartedly recommend the Black Jacket. Quick service and friendly people on the phone as well.

I recently used it as a windbreaker as well. Did a 20 minute exposure in Monterey in drizzle, and the BJFC performed beautifully.

Peter Collins
28-Jul-2005, 06:59
I received my 4x5 Blackjacket Hybrid yesterday, 6 days after sending a postal money order. I find it to be a huge improvement over the well-made, large (and heavy) darkcloth I have used. That darkcloth, even though comfortable due to the white exterior layer, was always difficult to manage.

And, it had velcro tabs to maintain fit around the camera, and these did not work very well--a lot of light still got in. I am glad to be done with it. The Blackjacket is a breeze to get on my Tachihara and to use.

Eric James
13-Sep-2006, 15:22
I purchase a 4X5 Hybrid BlackJacket a few months ago. I tried to use it on my camera but it wouldn't fit around the bed. Recently I went to the QuietWorks website and learned that I should have ordered the "tweener" size. I was a bit bummed that I would have to invest another $75 but I liked the design, materials and workmanship enough that I call them up to order another.

After one ring: "Hello the is Keith."

I explained my situation to make sure that the "tweener" would work. First, Keith suggested that I send the other one back. I didn't really want to ask this of him because I had delayed for so long - even though mine is as new, I've had if for months; I just didn't want to jerk around a small business that helps our LF community.

Then I asked to order both versions, just to have a look at the Original because the Hybrid is a bit heavy. Okay he said. I try to pay over the phone and Keith ask that I just send the others back when I have made my decision - "that way you won't owe me anything."

I am amazed. I can't really be a loyal, returning customer because I only need one of these thing - and that's all they make - dark cloths. I can, however, recommend the company to others for their supreme customer service.

Mike Boden
13-Sep-2006, 17:13
I own the hybrid versions for both 4x5 and 8x10. As much as I like the design, I never use the sleeves. I find that it simply takes too long to find the sleeves and slip my arms up in them. Besides, I never have both hands inside anyways...only one to hold the loupe, and that's always my left hand. So I think these could be redesigned for left or right-hand use and it would save a little weight.

Furthermore, I feel that the 4x5 is designed way better than the 8x10. For some reason, the 8x10 has a different design to it that adds extra fabric up around the ground glass that always hangs down in my way and blocks the ground glass. Even with a slight breeze, this is a total PITA! At first I thought it was a mistake made during manufacturing, but I spoke with Keith and he said that it was intentional to allow more room for focusing in the corners.

At this point, I'm real close to cutting the sleeves off of both of these and sewing up the holes. A simple tube that's tapered would probably work a lot better for me. I don't need it 100% dark, just dark enough to see and focus.

As for the hybrid versus normal version, I can't really compare. The hybrid does get warm, but it's not that much of a problem unless it's a really hot and/or humid day.

So with all this said, I still prefer it over a typical black cloth. Furthermore, Keith is an upstanding person and a pleasure to talk to. Hightly recommend!

Keith S. Walklet
13-Sep-2006, 22:31
Thanks Eric and James...

It has been a pleasure to work with you both, and the entire LF community. An amazing bunch of people.

In response to your observations Mike, it is true that one need not use the sleeves. I often work the same way as you, on calm days. The trunk is designed to be oversized to permit louping without using the sleeves if necessary. But since I tend to be out in some pretty wild conditions as often as not, the sleeves are essential for my own happiness and workflow.

As you suggest, I even contemplated going with a single sleeve on one side or the other, but decided that such a design would make it useful for fending off the fabric only when the wind was blowing from one direction. In addition, having a "lefty" and a "righty", it would only add to my inventory challenges, which continue to become more complex as I work to meet the needs of the whole community. ;-)

Your observations with the 8x10 design should be resolved when the second generation based on the new ULF patterns (which are in testing phase) go into production. I learned a lot when I attended the View Camera Conference in June. In addition to meeting the manufacturers, I had the opportunity to play with a lot of different makes and models of cameras, and got a better understanding how photographers work with the larger cameras, and I have a few innovations as a result of that experience. But, R&D has taken much longer than I expected. Talk about failed projections! I expected to have those on line by the first quarter of this year. But things are moving, even if slowly.

Thanks for your honest feedback, continued support, and patience.