View Full Version : 8x20 Vertical Options

Bruce E. Rathbun
15-Feb-2005, 15:46
So I have been thinking lately that some vertical 8x20 shots would be nice. For the past year I have been shooting nothing but the dependable horizontal images. Then came an a vertical 7x17 image that I saw taken of a tree in a field. Very nice composition. Last weekend I found my golden opportunity to take a try. This was after setting the 8x20 up in the garage to get used to the idea and see how it worked. The 8x20 (Wisner) was set on my heavy duty Zone VI tripod with a Gitzo head. The head has a deeper base plate for larger cameras so I was able to attach the camera rotated 90 degrees on the tripod plate.

The image was of a lonely tree in a field with no background clutter (very rare in this day when houses are planted in fields instead of corn). Now the hard part. I was forced to tilt the camera so far up that there was no way to even come close to any sort of leveling of the back. The bottom of the ground glass was way too far down to even begin to see. Not to mention that the overall configuration of the setup was nerve racking. Needless to say I pulled the camera off the tripod and opted for a shot on the 11x14. This after a 20 minutes of fighting the camera. So now on to the question. As I see it there are two choices. The first is to plunge into a vertical conversion back. That would solve the problem although my wallet would take a hit. Not too mention the wait for the actual back to be built. The second option is to try the VMD from lotus. I had a friend that used one on his 7x17. He told me that the camera was so light that there was no need for it anymore. The VMD would solve the problem of camera stability.

My big concern is this. Would the use of the VMD on an 8x20 give me the flexibility to control the perspective as well? Working sideways seems to be fundamentally confusing. If the shots taken with the vertical conversion back worked, the price would be worth it. Using the VMD to get a shot that was "good enough" is not the purpose. As an example I know of a waterfall in North Carolina that would be perfect for a vertical composition on the 8x20. Imagine if I used the VMD on this waterfall (after a 1.5 mile round trip hike) and the image suffered from lack of perspective correction. That would be one more negative in the "close but no cigar" pile. I do admit that I suffer from a certain level of over the edge control freak syndrome when shooting. This is why the VMD may not work. At any rate has anyone else had any experience with hanging an 8x20 on a Lotus VMD?

Michael A.Smith
15-Feb-2005, 17:38
I made a vertical 8x20 by buying an old Korona and rearranging it. Not terribly expensive as I recall.

16-Feb-2005, 10:50
I would make bloody sure that I wanted to make LOTS of verticals before undertaking this project. Otherwise, for the OCCASIONAL tree portrait, maybe you could get by with the 14" available from an 11x14, designed from the start to provide verticals.

16-Feb-2005, 11:52
Bruce, Michael has a good point . I can see where an old korona would be easy to convert. The hardware on a korona is pretty simple. Youe could easily pull the hardware off the back and move both sides in to meet the narrower format. It still would attach to the rear standard with no problem. You would probably have to cut the rear axis tilt rod down to meet the vertical's width, nothing a hacksaw couldn't handle. But this would also give you movements. you could even cut down the rear standard bed to match the width of the camera bed and it would fold up nicely. Turning an 8x20 on it's side can cause me enough worry that my composition could be effected. (nightmares of the standards ripping out of their tracks) You may need to tilt the bed a little to get that front standard into the sweet spot on the ground glass but that is a hell of a lot more stable than turning it on its side plus you have all the normal camera movements. But with the price people are paying for the old koronas now you may be better served with a conversion back made for your camera.

16-Feb-2005, 12:08
Bruce, Maybe because I've been doing a lot of 8x20 portraiture lately my 8x20 stays with the vertical back on it. The horizontal back has actually become my " conversion" back. Now when the weather gets better here in northeast ohio that may change. But it is really nice to have them both especially in this format. I'm sure it is a matter of perspective but I enjoy shooting 8x20 in vertical more than i do in horizontal. Then again guys who buy 8x20 cameras are probably walking to a different beat anyway....lol

Bruce E. Rathbun
16-Feb-2005, 16:56
All good suggestions. I will keep working with the 11x14 and see where that goes. The 8x20 is such a unique format when vertical. I would love to see some of the portrait work Robert.


David Flockhart
16-Feb-2005, 19:09
I use an 8x20 Korona a lot in vertical position. But I stripped off the wobbly Korona base and adapted the back and front to fit onto a Sinar P base. Now I have a camera with more stable movements. To get vertical I simply rotate the camera on the Sinar rail and can still retain all the movements the Sinar offers. I also use an 11x14 but the formats are very different animals and I find no substitute in the 11x14 for what the 8x20 offers (and vis a versa). Early on I tried the Korona as it originally was and had things happen like the front detaching from the focussing rails and dropping to the ground - not a pretty sight or sound - especially the gnashing of teeth.

Jorge Gasteazoro
16-Feb-2005, 19:15
David, care to illustrate how you did this conversion? I kind of like the idea, god knows the Korona base is worthless!

David Flockhart
17-Feb-2005, 01:10
I submitted some pictures of this to the following website: http://www.mamutphoto.com/ULF/other.html

My 11x14 uses the same base so really you can interchange as many cameras as you wish using this system.

If you need more detailed pictures I'd be happy to supply them. Really the process amounted to creating an attachment for the front and rear camera bits. On the rear I simply attached an aluminum(on the 8x20) and wood (on the 11x14 Korona) piece to the bottom of the camera frame. To this I attached the Sinar piece that is designed to attach a fixed back camera like a 35mm to their rear standard. All that is needed to make the camera work is to turn the screw that drives a pin to firmly attach the camera to the standard. On the front I did the same thing with one exception. On the 8x20 I made a metal channel to drop the lensholder frame (the front of the cmaera) to a similiar attachment as the rear. In the end this was overkill so on the 11x14 I simply attached a metal plate and then threaded this for screws. A wood extension piece was fitted between the standard and the camera base to 'lift' it up to the middle of the camera since, of course, the standard doesn't have enough extension to lift it high enough for an 11x14. I then simply put metal screws through the attachment piece and the wood binding it all together. If everything is cut square the job is straight-forward. The description is probably harder to grasp than the concept demands. Let me know if you want better or more detailed pictures.

Incidentally, the Sinar standards are designed for the 8x10 as I understand they are more robust than the 4x5 standards. Furthermore, I have found that the 8x20 doesn't overstress them and they have worked now for several years of heavy usage. I've gone to extreme locations with the camera and it isn't too much bother to cart it around. And anyway, it changed picture taking with the Korona from a frustration to a pleasure.

Best regards,

Jorge Gasteazoro
17-Feb-2005, 01:34
Thanks very much for your response David, if it would not be too much trouble can you post or send me a picture of the front standard? I see what you did on the back, you attached the back standard to a piece of aluminum which then was set on the Sinar support, but I cannot see how the front was attached. Sinar Ps at Ebay are going for a song , I might just try your trick.. :)

17-Feb-2005, 10:12
Check out http://www.glennview.com/sinar.htm for more Sinar conversions, 4x10, 11x14, 8x20. Too expensive, but interesting to look at.

George Losse
17-Feb-2005, 10:27

I know exactly what your feeling. My first 8x20 started out as a Korona 8x20 but I got rid of the focusing bed and replaced it with an 8x10 focusing bed off a raja 8x10. I could shoot verticals with that camera because I had drilled a hole in the bottom of the camera that I would insert a small bolt/nut through to secure the camera to a second point on the tripod head. I was using a majestic head and it has a long slot on the top. It worked the camera was secure but I only had limited movements on the gear head.

I sold that camera off when I bought my Wisner, but I have never been able to bring myself to drill a hole in it. So I have tried a couple of times to make verticals but it usually ends up with me getting frustrated at the camera and myself.

I'm about to make a bracket that will bolt onto the top of a spare Majestic head which will hold the camera in the vertical position and still allow for the crank to be used to adjust the camera. My brother is going to have one of the guys in his fab shop make it up for me. I'll try to fire off a scan to you when its done. I'm looking forward to being able to shoot verticals again soon.

Jorge Gasteazoro
17-Feb-2005, 11:08
Check out http://www.glennview.com/sinar.htm for more Sinar conversions, 4x10, 11x14, 8x20. Too expensive, but interesting to look at.

Too expensive is right....it is a shame, if he lowered his prices a little bit I would go for it, but $3500 for a Korona/SInar conversion is just out of the question.......he seems to sell them though, he has been in bussiness for years...