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Thread: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

  1. #1

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    Nov 2011
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    Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Hello,

    I am looking for some advice on buying my first large format camera. It will be 8x10 since I aim at contact printing and alt processing. Price matters but is not my main concern as I am more interested in making the right long term investment.
    What I am looking for is a versatile camera that will mainly be used in the studio but I still would like to carry it around easily if need be. So I am definitely more inclined toward a folding camera.
    Main subject of interest will be portraits, nudes, still lives (but not commercial work that require a lot of twisting of the bellow), as well as eventually some landscapes and cityscapes. And I will be doing 1:1 close ups, so I would need a system that doesn't make it to complicated or annoying to fine tune.
    I would mostly use a normal lens but I don't want to cut myself from the possibility of using wider or longer lenses.
    The possibility to change bellows would be important, I think...
    How easy it would be to adapt the back of the camera (not damaging it) for use with tin plates will be important as well.
    This will be my first LF camera so a "friendly" system would be nice .
    Also, if lenses will probably be second hand, I would rather buy a new camera. After wasting WAY too much time, nerves and money in the hell of ebay and other second hand equipment reseller crooks, I don't want to take that chance with such a cumbersome and expensive piece of equipment.
    And last but not least, I have no clue if I should choose wood or metal. From what I read, and for personal aesthetic reasons I tend to prefer metal, but my opinion is very poorly argued.
    After some research a few cameras got my attention:
    1. Toyo 810 MII
    Up to now this would be my main choice in spite of the weight, simply because it seems to be the most versatile choice I could find. And versatility is what I'm looking for. I would love some opinion on how smooth or not the camera knobs and controls are, and how easy it would be to do some 1:1 close up work. And how generous/sufficient movements are.
    2. Shen Hao FCL 810 A
    Less sexy but way cheeper, lots of movements, and the camera seller here in Paris says it's great... What I don't like is that controls seems pretty rough but it's hard for me to judge...
    3. A Canham
    Basically the metal one is so light and soooo beautiful. But I don't like what I've read about it so far. Almost no back movements, and apparently not very sturdy and the knobs are kind of loose.
    The 8x10 lightweight field camera seems like a more elegant version of the Shen Hao but according to the camera shop with less features and a much higher price. And I guess it would have the same looseness as the metal one... Any comment on this would be nice.

    I would really appreciate any direct experience with any of these models, recommendations or suggestions about others.

    Thank you very much for your time!

    Vania

  2. #2
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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    The Canham Traditional 8x10 (not the lightweight) is actually a metal camera that folds into a beautiful walnut wood box. Best of both worlds.

    Has metal rails and uses Sinar metal lens boards. Solid as a rock.

    I have owned the Canham all metal JMC810 as well as the Traditional 8x10. Prefer the Traditional.

  3. #3

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Get a used Deardorff in decent condition. It has 30" of bellows and all the movements you'll ever need, as well as a historical cachet that will allow you to sell it on and at least get your money back, possibly make a profit.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  4. #4

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Get a good used Deardorff. Look around for one under $1500 and it'll be cheaper and (ah-hem) better than any of the others your looking at (pardon me while I duck and take cover!) The Kodak Masterviews and Century Universals are also swell cameras, as is the Agfa/Ansco Unversal, but that one is a little more bulky for packing in the field--of course that didn't slow down Ansel Adams!.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  5. #5
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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    "I would rather buy a new camera".

  6. #6

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    "I would rather buy a new camera".
    Yes, we're trying to talk him out of that so he can save money and get a better camera in the bargain.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  7. #7
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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Saving money doesn't appear to be his first concern. Purchasing a used Deardorf is a gamble.

    Also, the OP states that he "prefers a metal camera".

  8. #8

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Gem Singer View Post
    Saving money doesn't appear to be his first concern. Purchasing a used Deardorf is a gamble.

    Also, the OP states that he "prefers a metal camera".
    He doesn't know what he prefers until he's had one and used it for a while.

    "I am looking for some advice on buying my first large format camera. It will be 8x10 since I aim at contact printing and alt processing".
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

  9. #9

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    Thanks. It's interesting that Deardorff should pop up as there is an option for a new one (for the time being, and due to systematically horrible past experiences, I'd rather stick to new...). The reason why I excluded this option is that it appeared to me to be more of a collector's item than a camera that would fit my bill : No possibility to change the bellow and according to the reseller only a limited array of lens can be used and wide angle would be a problem. Also, still according to him, there are almost no back movements compare to the Toyo or Shen Hao. In short he was saying that if it's a beautiful piece of equipment it's technically inferior and more expensive that a Shen Hao... I'm in a very annoying position in the sense that since I have no experience in LF, it is hard for me to judge what movements I would need or miss. It doesn't feel like I would need much but I don't want to end up missing some... So I'm in a kind of better safe than sorry attitude right now. But again maybe I shouldn't. On the other hand the camera is such a piece of art in itself!
    Any comment from users on a recent V8 model? Especially considering smoothness and precision of movements.
    Thanks!
    V.

  10. #10

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    Re: Choosing an 8x10 folding camera

    What sort of pictures do you plan on making?
    My V8 was made in 1950, it is smooth and precise. It has, as I said, all the movements you will ever need - unless you are doing architectural work; for that get a monorail.
    One man's Mede is another man's Persian.

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