View Full Version : "New" Zone VI 4x5 Instructions

18-Mar-2014, 15:23
I have a favor to ask from my fellow members. Fed Ex delivered my "New" Zone VI 4x5 today (pre bail back).

After searching online for the instructions, I find that they are unavailable for download or for sale. If anyone has a copy of the instructions that they could scan and post, I would be very appreciative. This would be for the Zone VI made camera, not the Wisner version.

Thank you in advance.

Dave :)

18-Mar-2014, 16:46
Here you go: Zone_VI_Manual.PDF (http://stevemidgleyphotography.com/Zone_VI_Manual.pdf)

Gem Singer
18-Mar-2014, 18:16
The camera shown in that old manual is not a Zone VI made camera. Probably a Tachihara or a Wista.

They were Fred Picker's original Zone VI cameras.

Later Zone VI cameras did not come with instructions.

MIke Sherck
18-Mar-2014, 18:19
Amazing! I never saw one of those...

Keep in mind that your Zone VI might be slightly different from the one in the instructions. Zone VI cameras went through several different manufacturers over their lifetimes. Nevertheless, operation of all of them (and pretty much any view camera, for the most part) is very much similar. Feel free to ask questions but please note that a picture says a thousand words... In other words, we can be of more help if we see what part of the camera you have questions about.


18-Mar-2014, 18:22
You're mostly right, Gem, it isn't the Picker Zone VI but it's a Wista (second generation Zone VI) not a Tachihara. That's what I get for trying to scan the manual while doing three other things, I just saw Zone VI on it and scanned away!

Jon Shiu
18-Mar-2014, 18:40
You can also get videos on youtube


Doremus Scudder
19-Mar-2014, 03:19
I never needed a manual for mine... If you've used a folding field camera before, everything should be pretty straightforward. One thing to be aware of is that the lens retaining clip (the sliding bar that holds the lensboard in place) needs to be returned to "locked" position for the camera to fold up properly. Other than that, the YouTube videos and general camera handling brochures, etc. should get you going. If you have specific questions, just post here.



Bruce Barlow
19-Mar-2014, 04:22
Here you go:

Take the camera and sit in your easy chair with the camera on your lap, sans tripod. Tune on junk TV, and spend an hour or so just working everything on the camera - focus, tilts, swings, shifts, if you have shift. Open it and close it. Work everything on the lens. Which lever position closes it? Opens it? Can you learn to set an approximate f-stop by feel, for when you want to check depth of field without coming out from under the darkcloth? Spend plenty of time to get totally familiar with everything you'll need to touch on the camera.

Develop a lens ritual for when you want to make an exposure and practice it: Close the lens, set the shutter speed, set the aperture, cock the shutter, test fire the shutter (ensures both that the speed sounds right and the shutter is closed). Recock the shutter. Now you're ready to put in as film holder and pull the slide. Practice your shutter ritual 100 times. Keep track. Watch junk TV while you do this, to alleviate a little of the boredom.

I call all this "Camera Cuddle." Years ago, Richard Ritter and I did a workshop where we had a dozen or so photographers doing this. They did it for a while, able to see what they were doing. Then, we had two lovely college coed assistants go around and blindfold the students, and we had them cuddle (their cameras...) in the dark, so to speak.

Instructions are fine, but you want to be totally familiar with how the camera works, so that you don't have to think about it in the field. I did this once with my Sinar Norma as a refresher - I was going on a big trip and hadn't used it in a while, so I spent a half hour recommuning with Norma. It was well worthwhile a week later at Schoodic Point.

Ansel had about two minutes to make "Moonrise." Imagine if he'd had to say "Wait! I want to use a little swing! I think that's page seven..."

Do a little cuddling. It will pay off big time.

Cheers! And enjoy! It's a fabulous camera!

MIke Sherck
19-Mar-2014, 11:06
My triple-extension Zone VI camera is serial # 1602. Some time ago there was a chart of who made which Zone VI cameras but I can't find it now. At any rate, it's a very fine camera that takes a 90mm lens at the short end to a 420mm lens on the long end, with the standard bellows and a flat lens board and that covers my needs just fine. If anyone still has the link for who made which Zone VI cameras, I'd enjoy finding out who made mine.


19-Mar-2014, 11:16
This is a link to a guide on eBay that seems pretty complete:

Zone VI Studios Wooden Field Camera (http://www.ebay.com/gds/Zone-VI-Studios-Wooden-4x5-Field-Camera-/10000000018080898/g.html)

19-Mar-2014, 13:42
Thanks for all the responses. I'm sorry that I was unable to respond sooner today.

I probably should have been more specific. I'm looking for the actual Zone VI instructions for the cameras made by Fred Picker between 1989-1993. This would be after Fred had his falling out with Ron Wisner over Wisner's failure to deliver on camera orders. My camera has a serial number placing it in 1989 or 1990 from what I can find online.

Although I do know how to use a field camera (I have an early Zone VI Tachihara), I like to have as much documentation for my cameras as I can find. I still have my original manual for my Yashica Electro 35 and I have most of the manuals (photocopied or downloaded) for most of my other cameras. Probably I'm just being anal, but I enjoy reading the manuals.

Again thanks.


Gem Singer
19-Mar-2014, 15:00

AFIK, the actual Zone VI cameras made in Vermont did not come with instruction manuals. At least, mine didn't.

I also had two new Wisners. They did not come with instruction manuals, either.

19-Mar-2014, 16:05
There is a Wisner manual, of sorts, but it's pretty minimal and I've only seen one.

Wisner Manual (http://stevemidgleyphotography.com/Wisner_Manual.pdf)

john borrelli
19-Mar-2014, 16:48
Might not be in an instruction manual, but mistakes can happen when you close a woodfield camera.

I have a Wisner and have had a Tachihara never used the zone VI, however when closing your camera never come close to forcing anything, if the camera is not closing smoothly, not snapping shut, stop, open the camera and try to understand what is wrong. I have been out in the field and after shooting, I brought the camera back to the car and drove it home sitting open on the seat next to me because I couldn't figure out why it wasn't closing smoothly. Normally the problem is that the camera has not been completely zeroed out correctly. I eventually added a few little dots of black paint which has helped with the problem.

Another little thing is to check that all the screws are tight from time to time.

Incidentally, if anything is wrong with your camera, I can definitely recommend Richard Ritter for servicing.

Best of luck with the Zone VI

Jonathan Barlow
19-Mar-2014, 17:58
I subscribed to Fred's newsletter back in the early eighties, and I'll always remember the one from 1984 where he talked about the recent death of Ansel Adams. I owned a lot of Zone VI darkroom equipment, but never any of the cameras.

19-Mar-2014, 19:47
Thanks to all who have responded.

SCM: Thanks for the Wisner info.

John: Believe me, I know the problems that can happen w/ a field camera and closing. My Zone VI/Tachihara has wrinkled bellows from a previous owner trying to force the camera closed. Really makes it impossible to properly close the camera. If I don't sell it, it will probably be sent to Richard for new bellows and other service.

Jonathan: Unfortunately, I have never read one of Fred's newsletters. I understand he had some interesting views. Maybe with the Calumet bankruptcy, someone will get permission from the trustee to electronically distribute them. After all, from Calumet's standpoint, Zone Vi Studio assets are probably not very valuable except for the name.

Again, thanks all for the help.


Terry Christian
24-Mar-2014, 09:13
I have the Zone VI Tachirara as well. Great camera, and can be identified by it's having chrome color knobs instead of gold/brasstone.

Keith Fleming
24-Mar-2014, 19:11
If I remember correctly, the Zone VI catalogs of the Picker era had at least a couple of pages devoted to using the view camera, with the color photo illustrations being of the 4X5 camera. It was something of a mini instruction book. Perhaps one of those catalogs could be found on the auction site.