View Full Version : Shooters from wet and windy countries

8-Jan-2015, 12:55
I'm currently based in Scotland, and looking to purchase my first LF camera.

I have heard that getting a wooden camera is a bad idea for wetter countries. But what of countries that are regularly windy? Does this affect camera choice?

Drew Wiley
8-Jan-2015, 13:21
Not necessarily. It all depends what the camera is made of and how the wood itself is sealed, and of course, how you care for the camera once you come back in from the weather. I'm here on the Calif coast where it's generally drippy with fog. Othefwise I'm out in all kinds of weather, including heavy rain in our Northwest mountains, dry dry deserts (humidity changes can be just as bad as one extreme or another), in mtn snowstorms frequently, right under waterfalls ... all with the same gear. My 8x10 Phillips is made from an epoxy-impregnated cherrywood/fiberglass composite largely immune to weather, and is exceptionally
stable in our constant coastal wind. I use a Goretex darkcloth. My little Ebony 4x5 folder is mahogany, but I religiously reseal any worn areas of wood if needed with true marine sealers. But there are all kinds of pros and cons. Generally, more modern and more expensive cameras hold up better, but there are exceptions. The type of bellows material is also relevant. I wouldn't let weather dictate your choice of wooden folder versus metal monorail, but operational distinctions and preferences. I shoot both kinds of camera in bad weather.

Drew Wiley
8-Jan-2015, 13:28
Should follow up that wind request. Get a good heavy wooden tripod with spike feet. More mass, the better. I use Ries. Yeah, I've got a couple of really nice
carbon fiber tripods too, for when lightwt or compactness is the priority. But out in the wind, there is nothing like a good wooden one. I put the cameras right atop the tripod platform too - no "head" at all. That helps stabilize the rig in wind - less vibration risk. And you can have a little hook below the the platform, to hang a mesh bag full of rocks to add temporary extra weight if needed. Metal tripods are not convenient for a couple of reasons. If it's really cold, your skin can get frozen to them. They are also higher risk of literally getting the leg sections frozen up (with ice, or moisture swelling the seals). Even some wooden tripods have that risk. That's why I stick with tried-and-true Ries tripods. You kinda get what you pay for in that respect; or stated another way, any bargain is rarely a bargain in the long haul.

Richard Wasserman
8-Jan-2015, 13:36
The best wet weather camera I have ever used was a Walker Titan SF. It's made of ABS plastic and stainless steel and is basically weatherproof. I used it in rain and snow, in temperatures down to -20F without a complaint. From the camera that is, the photographer was less happy...If you hurry you can buy the last one Mike Walker is going to make. http://walkercameras.com/

8-Jan-2015, 14:26
From a wet-and-windy shooter in drizzly Seattle...

Plastic bags for my Tachi 4x5 for rain, sleet, and mist (i.e., a K.I.S.S. approach)

And like Drew, a Ries tripod for the wind.

If you have time, be sure to read the thread about "Vibration resonance."

8-Jan-2015, 15:49
Thanks for the replies guys. I have a mega heavy (yet metal) gitzo from about 300bc, but I would definitely like to go a little bit lighter if possible. It doesn't even seem to have a model number.

The reason I asked about wind was mainly because of reading comments like 'takes the wind like a sail' - thought perhaps some camera types might be more prone to this.

Maris Rusis
8-Jan-2015, 16:14
View cameras with extended bellows are subject to wind buffeting. I take along a big golf umbrella to act as a windbreak for the camera, the photographer, and sometimes the subject matter.

8-Jan-2015, 16:23
Ahhh, thanks Maris - nice tip.

Kirk Gittings
8-Jan-2015, 18:50
I use a light disk for same-it also is useful for a reflector on occasion

John Kasaian
8-Jan-2015, 21:41
You can hang a bag full of locally collected rocks from the bottom of your tripod head to add weight. An empty canvas bag and some paracord doesn't add a lot of weight or bulk to your kit.
That said, I prefer my Ries.

9-Jan-2015, 00:58
As a final backup against the wind I always take a digital camera when I just can't keep the large format camera still.

Probably obvious,but a 5x4 catches a lot less wind than a 10x8, and I'm expecting to use 5x4 the most in Glencoe in a couple of weeks time.


9-Jan-2015, 07:00
Yeah, I've been thinking that I will still need to carry a digital as backup. I guess the real reason I want to go large format is that I have a couple of images in my head that I would like to construct, and having the best quality for these in terms of tonality, potential printing size, etc, is paramount. I've been burned already by having nice images that just won't scale well beyond a computer screen.

And Bruce, I wish you the best for Glencoe. Fantastic place - it seems to have a different mood each time I visit. Make sure you come up from the Tyndrum route (presuming you haven't visited before) - more atmospheric in my opinion.