View Full Version : BURKE & JAMES SATURN 75 4x5 Rail Camera View

9-Mar-2005, 19:18
I just purchased a Burke & James Saturn 75 and was wondering if anyone might know where I can find an owners manual online. I'm just starting in photography and after using my friends Omega 4x5 I was hooked. Any insight and suggestions are greatly appreicated.

Ernest Purdum
9-Mar-2005, 20:10
Congratulations. I can't furnish an owner's manual, but I don't think you really need one. I can tell you a fair bit about the camera which, by the way, in my opinion is the best of the lower-priced view cameras commonly available on eBay. You'll find all the controls quite self-exp;anatory. Getting one of the books commonly recommended to beginning users here on the Forum will take you tghe rest of the way.

Shaman, "The View Camera"

Simmons, "Using the View Camera"

Stone, "A User's Guide to the View Camera"

My favorite is Stroebel, "View Camera Technique" but it is often criticized as being less readable than the others.

The camera is based on a design by Kodak. B&J, and also Calumet, marketed the camera under their own names with almost no design change. Later, both brought out modified versions. The Saturn 75 was a considerably modified version. The original rail was round, solid, and used friction focusing drives. B&J provided a longer rail which was square and had an integral rack for focusing drive. The teeth on the rack appear rather frail, but they apparently get the job done, and the friction drives don't always. The camera back was enlarged to 5" X 7" size, hence the "75" in the name. If you got the camera I think you did, the description was ambiguous as to whether or not a 5" X 7" back was included or just the 4" X 5". If you don't receive a 5" X 7" back, keeping your eye out for one would be a good idea. Being able to use more than one film size is a way to get more use out of your expensive lenses. By the way, the 210mm f6.3 lens I assume you are getting is a very good choice for a lens to start with, and the Saturn has a long enough rail and bellows to make good use of it.

The negative factors are quite minor. Like any old camera, yoiu need to check the bellows carefully when you receive it. The long and skinny shafts for the focusing knobs require some extra care in handling. Some B&J cameras use a lens board which is harder to find than the board you can still order from Calumet. I'm not sure that the Tiltall tripod would be up to the job of stabilizing this rather large and heavy camera.