View Full Version : anyone ever heard of a Dick Phillips Compacta II 8x10?

chris jordan
30-Jun-2004, 11:03
A friend on the other side of the country has one of these for sale and I'm wondering what it is, and whether it's what I'm looking for (a rock-solid 8x10 field camera that I can travel with), and how much it might be worth. Anyone know anything about these?



30-Jun-2004, 11:14
..."I'm wondering what it is, and whether it's what I'm looking for (a rock-solid 8x10 field camera that I can travel with)..."

Yes, I think it is what you're looking for. If not, it's what I'm looking for! Dick Phillips makes some of the most highly regarded field cameras available. The Compact II is, I believe, an earlier version of the Explorer (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/phillips.html). Its only major criticism, if I recall correctly, is that the bellows is only about 21 inches. I did have one for a while and it was a pleasure and joy to use.

Dick could certainly answer any of your questions, but I'm sure others will chime in here, too.

tim atherton
30-Jun-2004, 11:21
The Explorer is the lightweight (5+lbs as opposed to 8+lbs) version of the Compact II The compact II is the "current" model. The Explorer is made in batches every few years. Main difference is the Explorer has no removable back (horizontal only with extra tripod socket for verticals) ands so the back is only 10"x10" instead of 12"x12" ,and shorter bellows to save all that weight and make it smaller.

There is at least a years waiting list for either, and the Explorer is also only made every few years.... (and this year was one)

chris jordan
30-Jun-2004, 11:32
Do you guys happen to know what kind of lensboards these cameras take? I'm wondering if I can go back and forth between the Phillips and my Toyo?

I'm also trying generally to decide between this Phillips and a Toyo 8x10 field, which is about the same price. I have seen the Toyo in person and it is beautifully solid.



Sal Santamaura
30-Jun-2004, 11:36
Compact II maximum extension is 26 1/4 inches. If that's long enough for your purposes, you will be completely pleased with the camera's solidity/rigidity, weight (7.8 lb.) and ease of use, even when wearing gloves. I've had one for five years, so don't know the exact current new price, but seem to remember hearing recently that Dick asks in the high $2k range for them. Used samples on eBay go for roughly the new price, and they don't appear very often.

Roger Hein
30-Jun-2004, 12:45
Traditionally the Phillips 8x10s took Sinar boards but I heard Dick will use a smaller board (Technica?) for the next batch of Explorers. Speaking of 'next batch' you'll have a long wait. He is swamped - the 7x17 delivery has been delayed with 8x10s to follow next year sometime. If you have a line on a used one, grab it fast.

Michael Mutmansky
30-Jun-2004, 12:48

The Phillips camera uses a Horseman/Sinar board, and the Toyo uses a Toyo board (obviously!). So, they are not directly compatable. Also, I am not aware of a commercially available adapter to convert Toyo to Horseman, although someone like SK Grimes could certainly adapt a board for you.

If you have a Toyo that uses the small 110mm board, it's a simple matter to get a wooden Phillips board and make an adapter for it. If you have the larger Toyo boards, you may run into some trouble because they are similar in size.

Personally, I think anyone who wants to really use the camera in the field would be close to loco to choose the Toyo over the Phillips. I think the Toyo comes in at about twice the weight. Of course, using the Toyo may have distinct advantages, like the lensboard compatability issue that could tip the scales towards it, but based on a comparison of specifications, the Phillips wins hands-down in my book. If the camera is intended for work out of the back of the car, then the weight difference is much less important.


tim atherton
30-Jun-2004, 12:57
Sinar Boards, though the Horseman boards and Dicks own are slightly lighter.

Chris, did you get my off-list messages?

Ted Harris
30-Jun-2004, 13:19

I own the Compact II and use it extensively. I have also owned Wisner 8x10's and Wista 8x10's both of which weighed substantially more than the Phillips Compact II. Somehow or other I see that the posts above got shifted over to a discussion of the Explorer rather than the Compact II you asked about. The Compact II weighs about 8.5 pounds, is rock solid and sets up rapidly and with ease, much solider than the two heavier 8x10 fields I owned. Moreover, it is a dream to work with in any sort of weather. Dick Phillips lives on Michigan's Upper Peninsula and knows what it is like to shoot in subzero weather, this camera makes it easy (as easy as anything can be when it is cooooollllllld).

The camera takes the 140x140 Sinar/Horseman lensboards as mentioned above. I always thought I had more bellows draw than Sal mentioned (I recall measuring it at 30") but I could be wrong as my longest lens is 450 mm. I had mine slightly modified when it was built so it could handle the Super Symmar 110 XL at the wide end. Overall it is a carefully thought out camera designed by a first class craftsman who is also a first class LF photographer (I've seen his work and done a bit of shooting with him).

Several years ago when I bought mine they were selling for $2900. Phillips' always sell used at a high price so if you are paying anything like a few hundred dollars off the current price, which i assume is up a bit, then it is a good deal. Dick makes each camera virtually by hand and travels a lot as well, hence the long delay and and waiting list for his products.

He does not have a website. When he can he responds to eamil but is often not near a computer for weeks on end while traveling. I recall seeing that his email has recently changed so no sense in posting it. Check View Camera Magazine. I am privately emailing his phone number to you.

Sal Santamaura
30-Jun-2004, 14:22
"...it's a simple matter to get a wooden Phillips board..."

For the last few years Dick has been fabricating boards for his 8x10 and larger cameras from a resin material, since he can no longer source the plywood he was using previously. Dick says the resin boards are a bit heavier but probably flatter than the plywood.

Michael Mutmansky
30-Jun-2004, 14:43

Most recently, I purchased a plywood Phillips board a few years ago. a while back I went to my local modeller's shop and got some baltic birch plywood and made some boards of my own. I recall I may have had to laminate two sheets together to get the correct thickness.

Regardless, the resin will probably machine just as easily as the wood (with a router, jig saw, etc.), but it may be somewhat flimsy when a large hole is cut out of the middle. My homemade adaptor for the Phillips to Canham/small Toyo boards works quite well, and was designed to fit in the camera while it is folded, so I leave it there all the time.


Jay M. Packer
30-Jun-2004, 15:22
Toyo manufactures a Toyo/Sinar adaptor lensboard (also works for Toyo/Horseman)that can be ordered through B&H; see


I have one that allows me to use lensboards from my Phillips cameras on my Canham. Having said that, I much prefer the Phillips; the combination of light weight and rigidity is hard to beat.

Chris Gittins
30-Jun-2004, 15:52
I'd love to have a look at either an Explorer or Compact II. Anyone in the Boston area (within 100 miles) have one they'd be willing to show off?


Ted Harris
30-Jun-2004, 16:00
Hi Chris,

Yes to your question .... look for my email.

21-Jul-2004, 13:42
After using 8x10' s from Linhof, Wista, Tachihara and maybe some others I ordered a Compact II from Dick Phillips. I didn't know more about this camera than what was written in this forum, but the feedback seemed so good and logical that I bought it without seeing one.

I have nothing but good to say about it. It's been in hard use for over three years now, and I can't imagine of moving to any other brand. One benefit is also the "not antique look" as I use it in urban conditions and was tired to explain to people what I was doing.

I made some samples from true situations in my gallery : http://www.janeerala.net/gallery/ Look for Phillips.

Jan, Finland

21-Jul-2004, 14:09
Jan, I believe that this is the first time I've ever seen a gallery on computer which clearly shows the quality from 8x10 images (or at least 10" wide images). Some of the pictures are magnificant!

tim atherton
23-Jul-2004, 09:26
so Chris - did you buy it?

24-Jul-2004, 16:37
The Gandolfi Varient Walnut 8x10 only weighs 8.8 pounds, also. Price seems competative with the 8x10 Phillips Compact II. (www.badgergraphic.com)

17-Aug-2004, 09:23
I want to buy a Compact II camera,but I don't know how to cantact R.H. Phillips & Sons .Who can tell me his email? thanks!