View Full Version : Need 4x10 film holders for Wisner TF

Brian Vuillemenot
30-Jun-2004, 11:15
Hi all,

I've just aquired a Wisner 4x10 TF camera that only came with one film holder. I need to get some additional holders for it. I could order some from Wisner, but that could take many months before I get the holders. I've heard that other holders, such as Canham and S&S, won't fit the Wisner cameras without the back being modified. Has anyone had Canham modify their Wisner back to fit his holders, and, if so, what is the cost and the waiting period? Are there any other options out there for 4X10 holders? Thanks for your advice!

Michael Kadillak
30-Jun-2004, 14:08
If it were me faced with these facts, here is what I would do.

1) Sell the single Wisner holder. Be thankful that you only have one. I have never heard anyone make a favorable comment about a Wisner film holder and the production delays are unacceptable to anyone that has reasonable consumer expectations. I can tell you that S&S holders are outstanding products that you can get your hands on on your schedule.

2) (Assuming your camera was built to Wisner film holders) - send your camera and an S&S holder to Richard Ritter in Vermont to have the back modified to fit these holders.

3) Call Quality Camera and purchase all of the holders you need.

4) Get out and make some photographs.


Michael Kadillak
30-Jun-2004, 14:13
Call Richard and he can answer your question about cost and timing. My apologies for over looking this item.

30-Jun-2004, 15:07
S&S can make you a 4x10 holder if you send in your Wisner to them as a template. If you need some new 4x10 Wisner holders I can get them for you too, very quick. They are $95.00 ea. Best regards, Emile

Brian Vuillemenot
30-Jun-2004, 16:42
Thanks for your advice, Michael and Emile,

How much are the S&S holders? How much does Richard Ritter charge for the modification? I assume that I could just send in the camera back, without having to send the whole thing- is that correct? Thanks!

Brian Vuillemenot
30-Jun-2004, 17:01
One more thing- What is the contact info for S&S, or do they just deal through Quality Camera? Thanks!

30-Jun-2004, 17:49
Hi Brian,

Contact me directly about the S&S holders at sanking@clemson.edu. We deal primarily through Quality Camera Company but for custom holders such as this we will alo work directly with the customer.

Michael Kadillak
30-Jun-2004, 18:30
Richard is working on a 12x20 F&S for me as we speak and can be reached during East Coast working hours at (802) 365 7807. I feel that his work is priced very reasonably and I have heard good things about him from satisfied customers. I would think that you could just send the back to him for the work, but he will be able to tell you what his work load and costs are.

One thing about this rather ecclectic group of LF and ULF shooters that I know for sure. When someone falls short of customer satisfaction, the sound of dissatisfaction can be heard around the world.

Can't say enought good things about Sandy and his holders. When I had a minor problem with one a short time ago with a light leak at the folding flap, he got my situation remedied as fast as was humanly possible. The fact that his holders are at a very competitive price threshold is an added bonus. I am buying several more this week in 11x14 and 12x20.

When we support the customer oriented specialized photographic support community, we make an investment in all of our futures.

Hope you get yourself up and running ASAP!

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Jul-2004, 11:50

You actually have several options - none of them likely to be inexpensive.

4x10 Fidelity/Kodak/Lisco X-Ray Holders - Evidently these were popular at one time in the ancient past for x-raying animal paws and infant limbs. The medical/veterinary industry switched to a different style x-ray cassette decades ago. I spent YEARS trying to track some of these down, calling all my local vets, x-ray supply houses, manufacturers, begging another photographer to sell me his, etc. Finally, someone at Fidelity searched through some old catalogs and said they'd discontinued their 4x10 x-ray holders over 30 years ago. In over 14 years of looking, I've only seen three of these for sale (4x10 Lisco X-Ray Holders). Unfortunately, this was the standard Ron Wisner chose to use when he introduced his 4x10 camera. As you are aware, this makes the Wisner 4x10 cameras uniquely incompatible with the Canham style holders that everybody else uses.

4x10 Mido II Holders and Clamshell - When I bought my 4x10 Wisner Technical Field in early 1992, these were the holders Wisner was selling with the camera. I bought the camera, five holders and a clamshell. The holders leaked light like a sieve. I was losing more shots to light leaks than not. I sent the holders back to Mido multiple times to be reworked/repaired/replaced. Each time they came back, there were incremental improvements in the failure rate - but it was still too high to be acceptable. Mr. Mido seemed determined to make the holders work. His concept was a good one, but quality and consistency of the construction of the holders was lacking. In August 1996, I gave up and sold my entire 4x10 outfit (4x5/4x10 Wisner Tech Field, Mido holders and several lenses). The Mido II holders do occasionally show up on the used market. They may have improved the quality after I sold mine, or with some patience and skill, it may be possible to rework the holders and/or clamshell to improve the success rate. Unfortunately, I learned a year or two after selling my camera that Mr. Mido had become ill and eventually passed away.

Oddly, B&H still lists 4x10 Mido holders and clamshells on their web site. They are listed as a special order item. I wonder if that means there are some new, old stock 4x10 Mido holders still in existence somewhere, or if they have just neglected to update their web site in the last six or seven years. They list the clamshell (focus spacer) with one holder at $159.95 and additional holders at $79.95. I've been curious what would happen if someone attempted to order some 4x10 Mido holders from B&H (but not curious enough to try placing an order as I no longer have the Wisner 4x10 camera).

4x10 Lotus Holders (Wisner Form Factor or Canham form factor) - I sold my 4x10 Wisner outfit to a gentleman from Austria named Burkhardt Kiegeland. He immediately shared my frustration with the Mido II holders. Mr Kiegeland had the resources and commitment to do something about it. He had a craftsman make some 4x10 holders to fit the Wisner camera and formed a new company, Lotus View Camera to manufacture and sell these holders. Lotus immediately became a supplier of holders to Wisner. In November, 1996 I saw one of these Lotus 4x10 holders at a Wisner dealer in Sacramento. The quality appeared to be quite good. and at $95 the price was competitive. Lotus also began manufacturing 4x10 holders in the Canham form factor, as well as other banquet and ULF sizes. Soon thereafter, Lotus also introduced their own line of cameras from 4x5 - 20x24. I'm not sure when the official Lotus/Wisner holder relationship dissolved, but if you can find some of the Lotus holders in the Wisner size, they should serve you well. Lotus will still custom make 4x10 holders in the Wisner form factor, but the price is considerably more than the original $95 retail price. The dollar is much weaker now than it was in the late 1990s, and this would now be considered a special custom made item, not something normally in stock.

Wisner 4x10 Holders - I have not used any of the Wisner wooden holders, but the ones I've seen did not look nearly as well made at the wooden holders I've seen from S&S, Lotus or AWB (Alan Brubaker). Of course, thay also cost a LOT less. The Wisner holders have the advantage of being, by far, the least expensive of the wooden 4x10 holders. If Emile can get them for you without delay at $95 each, it may be worth a try. As I haven't used them, I can't specifically recommend them one way or the other. Perhaps somebody who has used Wisner holders could chime in with their experience.

Custom Made Holders - As I mentioned above, Lotus will still custom make 4x10 holders in the Wisner form factor. As they were once an official supplier to Wisner, you are assured the holders will fit your camera properly. I haven't used any 4x10 Lotus holders in the Wisner size, but I am fortunate to have fifteen of their holders in the Canham form factor and can attest that they are light tight, beautifully made, and smooth to operate. Others have mentioned the S&S holders supplied by Sandy King and Sam Wang. I have seen these holders in person, but not used them. They appear to be of excellent quality, and other photographers I know who've used them are very satisfied. The nice thing about S&S is they seem very willing to make custom made holders in any size you desire at a reasonble (for custom made holders) price. I have also not used the AWB holders, but they also come highly recommended.

If you do get custom made holders, I'd recommend getting them made in the Canham form factor and getting your camera modified to match. The Canham standard is the more common of the two. In addition to the Canham 4x10 camera, cameras in this format from Lotus and Patrick Alt also use the Canham style holders. Holders in this size are more readily available, both new and used. The cost of getting your Wisner camera back modified will be, IMHO money well spent. The REAL key to shooting a non-mainstream format, like 4x10, is the availability and cost of holders. Getting your Wisner modified to accept Canham style holders will increase your options.

4x10 Canham Holders - This is probably the most practical option. Canham holders are made from parts he gets from Fidelity. They look and feel just like regular Fidelity holders. At $95 each, they cost considerably more than standard, off-the-shelf 8x10 Fidelity holders, but in the oddball world that is 4x10, they are a relative bargain. I have never heard of any problems with light leaks from anybody using 4x10 Canham holders. If you're looking for the lowest cost, least hassle option, this would be the way to go. Some people may prefer the elegant look and feel of fine wooden holders over the plastic and aluminum of the Canham holders. I can't say I blame them - like a fine wooden camera, fine wooden holders are pleasing to the eye and to the touch. However, if you're just looking for holders that are reliable, attainable, durable and affordable, it's tough to beat the Canhams. I have no idea what it would cost today, but 8 years ago before I sold my 4x10 Wisner, Keith Canham quoted me a price of $100 to modify my Wisner camera to accept his holders. Even if the price has tripled in the last 8 years, I still think it would be worth it in the long run.

I'm now on my second go around with 4x10. My first attempt ended in frustration over the lack of quality holders to fit my camera. I got tired of sending my holders back to Mido for "tune-up", wating a few weeks for them to come back and still losing a large percentage of my best shots to light leaks. It just wasn't worth it. In hindsight, I should have taken Keith Canham up on his offer to modify my camera, bought five or ten of his holders and gone happily about my business. Rather than face the same frustration, this time around, I bought the holders FIRST, before I even started looking for a 4x10 camera. I told myself I didn't care what camera they fit, I was going to snap up the first quality 4x10 holders I found at a reasonable price, and then buy a camera to match. This strategy worked much better. I was fortunate to find fifteen 4x10 Lotus holders at an extremely agreeable price. I snapped them up, and haven't looked back. They happened to be the Canham form factor - all the better. If I need additional holders to fit my camera at some time in the future, I know I can get them from Canham at a reasonable price.

4x10 is a wonderful, neglected format. Unfortunately, there are two competing standards for the film holders and that adds to the confusion (can you imagine what it would be like if different brands of 4x5 or 8x10 cameras required custom made holders of differing dimensions). When I owned my 4x10 Wisner Tech Field, I never had a single complaint about the quality or usability of the camera. It was actually a beautiful camera that was a joy to use (except for the Mido holders). It is also the most affordable of the full-featured 4x10 cameras - by a fair margin. I assume you bought your camera used (I think I saw it up for bid on eBay recently). If so, you got a great buy on a great camera. Don't let the holder situation scare you off. Bite the bullet and get some good holders (even if it means modifying the back of your camera). You'll be glad you did. Welcome to the 4x10 format. There aren't a lot of us out there shooting in this beautiful size - so you can consider yourself part of an exclusive, elite group of photographers determined to do something just a little bit different than most.


Brian Vuillemenot
1-Jul-2004, 14:00
Thanks very much for your comprehensive answer, Kerry. You could use it for one of your next articles in View Camera! I think I am going to have Sandy King make me some S&S holders, and may pick up some of the Wisner holders from Emile. The holder I have is a Lotus holder, with the Wisner form factor. Once I have everything up and running, I'll let you know how the different holders are working out. I did get my 4X10 on E-Bay, and it's a real beauty- in near mint condition for much less than new, without any wait. I agree with you about 4X10 being an under appreciated, neglected format with lots of potential. I have been experimenting with it with cut dark slides on an 8X10 for about a year, but the huge size of the 8X10 has limited what I can shoot. The smaller 4X10 will let me hike much farther in search of images. I would like to have a 4X5 back made for the camera- do you know if Ron Wisner or someone else can make this? One other question, is there any standard size for 4X10 film (the only emulsion I've seen that comes in this size is Berger 200)? I plan on cutting 8X10 film in half, so I think it will be 9.75X3.875 inches. Thanks again for your thorough reply!

Kerry L. Thalmann
1-Jul-2004, 15:49

You're welcome. Keep me posted on your progress. Us 4x10 guys need to stick together. I'm actually planning to eventually write an article (most likely a two parter) on the 4x10 format for View Camera. As you can see, just covering the different holder options could fill up a couple pages.

As far as film goes, I've always cut my own from 8x10. In addition to the Berger, last time I checked Ilford still had some 4x10 film listed in their catalog. It was special roder, but at the time I don't believe there was any minimum quantity requirements. Photo Warehouse will also cut their black and white film to any size you desire. Reasonably priced, too (last I checked). I shoot color, so I just slice Velvia and E100VS 8x10 in half.

I'm sure Ron Winer would make you a 4x5 reducing back for your 4x10 - in fact there was a 4x10 Wisner for sale on eBay a while back that included a 4x10 to 4x5 reducing back. When I had my Wisner, I bought it as a 4x5 Tech Field with a 4x10 conversion kit. This meant I was hauling around two rear standards, two bellows, etc.


Brian Vuillemenot
1-Jul-2004, 19:04

I look forward to reading your article!


Keith Pitman
1-Jul-2004, 20:06
I had Keith Canham convert my Wisner 4x10 back to use the film holders he manufactures. This was after a long, long wait and many promises from Ron Wisner. The price was quite reasonable for the conversion. The price of the film holders is pretty high, but they are unique and well made. He was very prompt in getting the back and film holders back to me. Give him a call to get current prices, etc.

William Blunt
10-Jul-2004, 16:18
Just got in from the road so a bit late but... I use a 4x10 Wisner Tech that I had Keith Canham modify for his holders, no problem what so ever. Took about a week maximum turn around time and very reasonable in cost. William Blunt

27-Apr-2009, 05:36
Where can someone now buy 4x10 cut film holders?

I have a new never use Fotoman 4x10 and want to use it.

27-Apr-2009, 05:54
Kerry will Photo Warehouse still cut to 4x10? Where can I buy 4x10 film holders at a reasonable price (new or used)?


As far as film goes, I've always cut my own from 8x10. In addition to the Berger, last time I checked Ilford still had some 4x10 film listed in their catalog. It was special roder, but at the time I don't believe there was any minimum quantity requirements. Photo Warehouse will also cut their black and white film to any size you desire. Reasonably priced, too (last I checked). I shoot color, so I just slice Velvia and E100VS 8x10 in half.

I'm sure Ron Winer would make you a 4x5 reducing back for your 4x10 - in fact there was a 4x10 Wisner for sale on eBay a while back that included a 4x10 to 4x5 reducing back. When I had my Wisner, I bought it as a 4x5 Tech Field with a 4x10 conversion kit. This meant I was hauling around two rear standards, two bellows, etc.


Oren Grad
27-Apr-2009, 06:09
Check with Midwest Photo Exchange or Badger Graphic to see whether they can still supply new Fotoman or Canham 4x10 holders.

Photo Warehouse isn't cutting sheet film to order any more. However, the annual Ilford special order period for odd sheet film sizes is now open, and they are including 4x10. See details here: