View Full Version : Zone VI 8x10 camera - likes dislikes

Daniel Grenier
1-Jul-2004, 19:37

As I am about to switch from an 8x10 Wista to an 8x10 Zone Vi (second from last model from Z VI - not Calumet) I am wondering what users of this camera like and dislike about it. Weight, strenght, movemenets, etc...

Comments from actual users most welcome.


1-Jul-2004, 21:00
I bought a Zone VI Ultralight from Calumet in December, and have but 400 sheets through it since then. I purchased it to replace a Toyo 810G (a monorail camera) and have been very pleased with it overall. I am not sure what the model differences are in specific, but here are a couple of the likes and dislikes:

Likes: Light weight, good stability (I use it often with a close-focused 450mm lens, and it is surprisingly stable, ample movements, even with the 150mm XL lens.

Dislikes: The lens board lock - stiff and sometimes hard to slide (having to use two hands to lever it out of the way can be a pain...and sometimes it just won't go from one angle, and the whole camera needs to be shifted to get it to move. The Toyo lens board lock was very fluid and spoiled me I guess. The lack of interchangable bellows for wide-angle work. The attached bellows does work for some movements, but it does bind up well before I run out of coverage with the 150mm XL lens.

Other then those things (both good and bad) the camera is a good workshorse. I do wonder how well it will put up with the hard use I put it through, but only time will tell.

mark blackman
2-Jul-2004, 01:54
Daniel, Why are you dropping the wista - what do you expect the Zone vi to do that it can't?

Martin Reekie
2-Jul-2004, 03:44

I bought my Zone VI about 7 years ago and it's one of the last of the pre Calumet cameras. Like it a lot, no manufacturing problems and few real dislikes.

Likes Ease of use, to get it up and ready for use and folded way again is no problem (as long as you remember key things like closing the lens panel locks before folding away). Very stable platform. Has lots of movement Ė Iíve never been stuck. Lots of bellows, I use mine with everything from 120mm up to 1200mm. Focusing is good with the original ground glass. The reducing back to 4x5 works very well. Looks great!

Dislikes You can run the front and back off the rails, as there are no mechanical stops. Iíve marked where the limits are and remember most of the time. The locking knobs rotate as you move the front and back so they can lock up as you focus. Again not a problem once you know whatís happening. There is a single locking knob that controls the rise and tilt on the front panel. If you have a heavy lens it can rotate when you try and raise or lower the panel Ė more of an irritation than a problem

Iíve run candle wax over the moving parts and it runs very smoothly.

Iíve had real problems getting parts in the UK but that is more to do with Calumet than the camera. Recently I bought at new lens panel and got Richard T Ritter in the US to make it. He used to work for Fred Picker and did a great job.

Enjoy the camera.

Daniel Grenier
2-Jul-2004, 05:46

I am dropping the Wista due to lack of shift, bellows too short, back too weak and awkward focusing for 300mm or lower. Other than that, its OK.


Steve Williams_812
2-Jul-2004, 10:00
I bought an 8x10 Zone VI about a month ago. It is about 15 years old and in stellar condition. After sorting out some problems related to me, I have to say it is everything I thought it would be and more.

I moved up from a 4x5 Ebony RW45. I have also owned a 4x5 Zone VI for many years and liked it too.

I find the big camera slower to use but I expected that. The lenses do change slower and I have to use two hands but I did the same thing with the Ebony so I don't notice anything different.

Great camera, not perfect, but won't impede my work.

Bruce Barlow
3-Jul-2004, 08:03
Richard Ritter and I used to build the Zone VI 8x10s.

You can adjust the tension on the lensboard slides with a screwdriver. Experiment a little -- it's like setting the drag on a fishing reel. I'd still probably use two hands for everything with expensive 8x10 lenses, because I know my own clumsiness. A quarter turn of the screws is often all that's needed, sometimes less. Be careful!

We also used to back out the two screws that hold the brass racks on the back edge of the front focusing rail just a half turn or so, which will still hold the track in place, but then the screws interfere with the gear attached to the focusing knob enough to act as a stop that keeps the front standard from falling off. Focus the rail IN so the rear of the front focusing rail sticks out the back. See the two little screws? Again, experiment a little to see how much you need.

Bruce Barlow

Brett Wylie
21-Dec-2004, 17:47
I puchased a zone VI 8x10..overall happy..easy to use...but for these caveats..

I really wish the camera was made of another wood other than mahogany. Something with interlocking fibers. Body back was split on rabbited seam, right where camera film back fits over, and on to the body back. Also, film back is not totally flat to body. Mahogany tends to split on grain..it would not be my pick to make a camera out of.