Getting back into large-format photography after a forty-year hiatus has its unexpected twists and bumps in the road. One of these sneaked up on me whilst getting geared up. Having succumbed to the desire to give 8 x 10 a serious try this time, but not wanting to put all my eggs in that challenging basket, I've wound up with a dogs-breakfast of miscellaneous equipment, most of it with a lot of photographic potential. I like the 8x10 I was able to find and afford (thanks to eBay) -- a Toyo/Calumet. It isn't a monorail and isn't really a flat-bed either, call it a double-rail for lack of a better term. A sturdy workhorse of a camera. It mounts a lensboard that measures 5 31/32" square with radiused corners and 3/16" stepped edges. I have only the one lensboard for it, which is actually a recessed adapter board; recessed as for a WA lens, it has a square non-radiused opening that takes a 3 31/32" square lensboard with 1/16" stepped edges, secured by a Graphic-style slide lock. Looks like a good arrangement. Potentially, at least, one could use one's 4x5 lenses on the 8x10 that way, and vice-versa.
Well, speaking of 4x5 (which I'm sure I'll use a great deal more than 8x10, especially in the re-learning phase when I'll have to burn a fair bit of film): 4x5, yes, thereby hangs a tale! It has a lot to do with the dynamics of eBay, to tell the truth. I spend over a week watching a Linhof Kardan Color 45S outfit with three excellent lenses (Super-Angulon 90/8, Sironar 180/5.6, Symmar-S 210/5.6); it attracted less bidding interest than I feared it might, and I got it for not much more than the reserve: $732, which would have been a good deal just for those three lenses alone (one could easily pay more than that for them). That was the FIRST view camera I picked up; the 8x10 came afterward.
Well, silly me. Linhof brand, and one thinks "Technika lensboard." In this case, wrong! The Color 45S sports its own peculiar lensboard (well, it may be common to other models or, for aught I know, other brands as well) that measures 6 3/8" square with radiused corners. The three lenses I'd bought in the package deal were all on such boards.
Then along came (on eBay of course) a Linhof Kardan Super Color ST, camera only, going for a silly low price, probably because the bellows was suspect. I succumbed to temptation and bought it. When it arrived, I was glad I had done so, because the bellows, though it had apparent cracking, was perfectly light-tight, it was only the exterior finish that was crazed. The camera itself is a dreamboat, nicer still than the Color 45S with calibrated adjustments and a square monorail. But -- would you believe that THIS one DOES take Technika lensboards?
Finally, to prove to myself what an utter sucker I seem to be for orphan cameras, along came a sweet little Kodak Master View 4x5 that nobody wanted at all. For $71 I rescued it. It's a classic. The bellows in this case need a little bit of patching, a pinhole here and there, but otherwise just fine. Interestingly enough, the Toyo/Calumet's 3 31/32" square lensboard is a PERFECT fit on the Kodak Master View.
Of course, I've managed to acquire a few other lenses along the way, some in shutters, some in barrel mount -- without lensboards. Decision time! WHAT KIND OF LENSBOARD to use? If I use a full-size Toyo/Calumet board, then that's good only for the 8x10. If I use the smaller Kodak Master View type board, it will serve both for that camera and the 8x10, but not for either Linhof. If I choose a Technika lensboard, that'll do for the Super Color ST only. Presumably I should be able to find a Kardan 6 3/8" lensboard carrying a Technika-board adapter, though I can't recall seeing one yet.
I'm now becoming very heavily aware that MOST of the different view camera brands seem to bear unique lensboards. Oh, yes, the Wista and Technika are compatible, apparently. Others may be, too, but who KNOWS who hasn't had years of experience with a wide variety of view cameras? What other brands accept a Sinar lensboard, for example? I certainly don't know that handy fact! How many other view camera models mount the venerable Kodak Master View lensboard, other than my Toyo/Calumet recessed/reducer board? A pity, but there never seems to have been any kind of standard for view camera lensboards. Has anyone seen a chart of lensboard compatibilities anywhere? I'm starting to comprehend how expensive lenses sometimes wind up jammed into a rough-cut hole in a piece of cheap hardboard...