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Thread: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

  1. #1

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    Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    Developed my 1st 4x5 negs on Sat. They are stupendous. Now, I'm already craving a nice folder. I am interested in a Zone VI Field I've seen. It's mahogany w/ balck anodized fittings. The seller assures me it was made Zone VI and is not one of the several permutations of this camera. So, firstly, what is the value of this camera w/ two matching lens boards in Mint condition? What features does this camera offer that make it worthwhile? would I be better served by purchasing a Shen-Hao? ANy users of the Zone VI able to comment or offer caveats?

  2. #2

    Join Date
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    Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    Developed my 1st 4x5 negs on Sat. They are stupendous. Now, I'm already craving a nice folder. I am interested in a Zone VI Field I've seen. It's mahogany w/ black anodized fittings. The seller assures me it was made Zone VI and is not one of the several permutations of this camera. Can this be correct? Did Zone VI ever produce their oen cameras? So what is the value of this camera w/ two matching lens boards in Mint condition? Is it over valued due to the Zone VI mythology? What features does this camera offer that make it worthwhile? would I be better served by purchasing a Shen-Hao? ANy users of the Zone VI able to comment or offer caveats?

  3. #3
    lenser's Avatar
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    Tim from Missouri
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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    Steve,

    My understanding is that Zone Vi did produce many of their own cameras after splitting with Wisner. Richard Ritter has been mentioned many times on this forum as being the go to person since he once was with Zone VI and services them now.

    If you go to Cameraeccentric.com and open their info section, scroll about half way down (on the left) to find a copy of the old Zone VI catalog. If you click on it, it will open to the full catalog including a large primer about the Zone VI Classic camera.

    I have used the camera for about 15 years and am still thrilled with it. I use it for many of my architectural assignments as well as some of my studio needs. It is my choice for all of my field shooting when I am out for pleasure. Light weight and very, very reliable.

    I would check what they have been going for on ebay to get an idea of current market value. In mint condition, it should still hold it's value quite well. Also check KEH.com in their large format section. First click on 'camera store', then open large format and look for folding cameras.

    Calumet sells the light weight version, so you can check the current retail of that version on the Calumet site. Jose in their repair department still has parts for the Classic version including bellows frames, knobs, etc.

    The only other wood folder I've owned was the very old Toko, so I can't help with comparisons except to say that I don't feel the need to upgrade.

    Good luck.

    Tim
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  4. #4

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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    I was always under the impression that Zone VI cameras were generally undervalued in the market. This seems especially true of those NOT essentially mechanically identical to the contemporaneous Wista field camera. I think the only ZoneVI cameras that might be considered over valued are the very early ones but, these are rare and, in any case, the one you describe is not oen of the early ones.

    By the time Calumet took over the brand, the Zone Vi wood filed cameras sold at very reasonable prices new too. The one you describe sounds like it may be one of the later models sold by Calumet and marketed as the "Ultra Light".

  5. #5
    Eric Biggerstaff
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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    Steve,

    Both Richard Ritter and Bruce Barlow who worked for Zone VI and who built their cameras are regular contributors here and I am sure will chime in.

    Zone VI did build their own cameras and they are very nice. I have a black walnut version and it is VERY well built and solid. They can be a bit heavy but not horribly so.

    Bruce and Richard may correct me here but I believe the versions made with the black anadozied parts were made after Zone VI was purchased by Calument and are the light weight version. I understand they are nice but I have never used one.

    A folding field camera is, well, a folding field camera. They all function basically the same. I used a Tachihara for many years prior to getting the Zone VI and it still is a great little camera. I think it comes down to what features you want and need. I like my Zone VI as I can use lenses longer than my 300mm and it is just very solid. The pre-Calumet versions are still selling used in good condition for upwards of $900 so they seem to be holding their value well. Also, it is nice to know that Richard Ritter has parts and can repair them in the event damage occurs.

    Not sure if there is a Zone VI mythology, perhaps there is and I just don't know it.
    Eric Biggerstaff

    www.ericbiggerstaff.com

  6. #6

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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    I've owned a Zone VI 4x5 since the late 80's. I waited months to get mine due to difficulties, I believe that were out of Zone VI's control. The wait was worth it. I really like it. I'm sure there are cameras that others also like as much as I like mine. I've found that the view camera movements my camera has are more than adequate for my landscape photography. It is really a pleasure to use. I think you would enjoy it. I've heard complaints about the weight, which I find to be silly, my wooden tripod weighs much more that the camera.

  7. #7

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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    I think your reference to mythology may be over rated. I haven't noticed a cult forming around these cameras. I've owned 2 Z VI's, a Wisner, and a Nagaoka. I was searching for the perfect camera. So I had one of the walnut Z Vi's and decided I'd be better served by a Nagaoka because of weight issues and back packing etc. The Nag drove me nuts with it's limitations. No bag bellows, short normal bellows, teensy knowbs, etc. So I sold it and bought a mahogany Z VI outfit. Later a Wisner camera was available cheaply so I sold the Z VI and bought the Wis. Bottom line, the Zone VI was better quality and more user friendly than anything else I tried. I sold the Wiz and just used the Deardorff 5X7 with it's 4X5 back for a time, then the other day I got one of the Christmastime Chamonix' 4X5's. It'll be my keeper. I only use 4X5 on occasion anyway. Turned out the old Kodak 2D 8X10 was to be my most used camera. It's my old broke in pair of shoes now.
    He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep..to gain that which he cannot lose. Jim Elliot, 1949

  8. #8

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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    You guys are really increasing my "need" for the ZV. Jim, do you feel the Chamonix is any way superior to the ZV?

  9. #9

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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    Just checked Calumet. Didn't see any wooden folders listed.

  10. #10
    Kirk Gittings's Avatar
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    Re: Zone VI 4x5 Field: Function v Myth....

    I don't own the Chamonix, but I do own a Phillips which is similar in design and had a couple of versions of the ZVI including the one manufactured in house. The black anodized one though is definitely of Calumet manufacture, which are now discontinued. The advantages of the Phillips design is lighter weight and more rigidity at the small cost of being slightly slower to set up and align. I used ZVI's successfully for many years.

    To my mind the only ZVI's which have any mojo are the ones made in house by Ritter et al. I suppose that is why I can't sell mine.
    Thanks,
    Kirk

    "When did photography become a desk job?" Kirk Gittings 2009

    KIRK GITTINGS
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