View Full Version : How many wooden cameras use certified wood?

19-Apr-2005, 11:56
The sawing thread got me wondering... all these wooden cameras... how many use responsibly harvested tropical hardwoods (FSC certified or equal)?

Do any manufacturers mention it? I haven't seen it on their websites before. Seems that with the majority of photographers also being environmentalists, it should be a concern.

Hmm... Shen Hao, Gandolfi, Wista, Horseman, Ikeda, Ebony, Canham, Wisner, Lotus, Philips... who else?

tim atherton
19-Apr-2005, 12:07
I don't think Phillips uses tropical hardwoods?

Armin Seeholzer
19-Apr-2005, 12:15
Hi Francisco

Lotus dosn't take any tropical woods it is so stated on there homepage somewhere! One point more why I'm not a woody!

Al Seyle
19-Apr-2005, 12:20
LOL...Well I'm absolutely CERTAIN all my metal cameras use metals which are mined responsibly! 'Tis why I'm a metal guy.

19-Apr-2005, 12:30
Well if they claim it's real wood then that's good enough for me.

Eric Woodbury
19-Apr-2005, 13:15
...and don't forget tripod wood.

Many of the cameras are cherry or black walnut (Canham). These woods are raped from North American forests.

...and you don't want to know where the gelatin in film comes from.

Arne Croell
19-Apr-2005, 13:17
Lotus uses cherry wood, and Canham walnut . Those are hardly tropical woods, so these would be the "eco" choice? Phillips uses some composite I think. Wisner uses both cherry and mahogany, so there is a choice. Gandolfi uses composite as well as mahogany. The others mentioned use tropical hardwoods exclusively.
Of course there are Walkers ABS "Titan" cameras but then they are a product of the oil industry? ;-)

Gem Singer
19-Apr-2005, 13:24
No matter what kind of wood is being used, multiply the amount of wood that goes into building a wooden flatbed field camera by the actual number of cameras sold, and you will find that it is a miniscule amount. We have had this discussion on this forum in the past, and I refuse to be baited into another argument as to whether the type of wood that is used to build a wooden field camera is environmentally correct.

Think about all of the furniture that is made from wood, and draw the same analogy. Plastics start out as crude oil. Perhaps we should avoid any articles made of plastic. Trees are a renuable resource. I, for one, am not going back to sitting on a rock and sleeping in a cave.

Donald Brewster
19-Apr-2005, 13:51
Phillips uses composites and wood from 19th century timber salvaged from the bottom of Lake Michigan (really).

Jim Rhoades
19-Apr-2005, 18:01
All my field cameras and my Crown Graphic are made of mahogany. Well ok, and a cherry Korona. You got a PROBLEM with that?

Herb Cunningham
19-Apr-2005, 19:35
and a pox on the eco police-we used to get wonderful carving wood from the shipyards in Houston-they used it for scaffolding.

19-Apr-2005, 20:51
Eco police are great when they're not distracted by the wrong issues.

I suspect most of the damage done by us involves water use (depending on what we're up to and where we live) and gas guzzled while driving the big cameras around.

My biggest sin comes from attempting to heat the civil war era hayloft that constitutes my live/work space. My attempts to keep it a toasty 60 degrees last winter have contributed significantly to the current price of oil.

If you're really worried about the impact manufacturing your camera makes, then buy a used one. It's called recycling.

19-Apr-2005, 20:55
I do think that if I was going to buy a new camera, I'd rather buy from someone who who uses wood from sustainable sources exclusively. I don't think it's cool for anyone to use rainforest wood--it's not enough for them to offer non-rainforest options.

19-Apr-2005, 21:31
Selective harvest in the rainforest is sustainable. I spent a couple weeks on a shoot in the Brazilian Amazon basin with a crew that did some selective cutting as part of their business.You could never convince me they were doing anything damaging to the rain forest.

The problem was giant factory barges that could clearcut several thousands of acers quickly and mill the wood on the barges, tossing the refuse over board. Most of these were from Japan, but I bet there were other culprits as well.

19-Apr-2005, 23:29
I must correct my self on a point. First sentance should read " selective harvest can be sustainable".

adrian tyler
20-Apr-2005, 00:11
i do think that given the overwelmig sientific evidence as to the effects of our over-use of natural resorces that we should be as careful as we can to avoid compounding the problem, we all face resposibly and i am heartend to see a thread like this.

all those who pox the "eco police" are undoubtedly poxing thier own children, are not we the ones who love to shoot those ansel-eque landscapes and wildflowers, do we really think that this is what the world now looks like?. just a little bit of responsibility, you can still drive your hummers, for a little while longer anyway!

Struan Gray
20-Apr-2005, 01:18
My grandfather trained as a cabinet maker. It was two years in the shop before he was allowed to touch a large piece of mahogony, and even then he had the boss standing over him like a guardian angel. Trees of that quality don't exist any more. They're gone. Friends who make string instruments say it's harder and harder to find good blackwood for the fingerboards. They, like camera makers, are not large users, but they're large enough. The problem does exist, the question is does it matter.

I'm no eco policeman, but it pains me to see mature teak trees turned into single-use plywood boards for casting concrete. If certification and activisim can stop that kind of waste I am happy to buy from suppliers who comply.

Paul Butzi
20-Apr-2005, 10:49
"The sawing thread got me wondering... all these wooden cameras... how many use responsibly harvested tropical hardwoods (FSC certified or equal)? "

Forest and forest product certification programs vary wildly. I'm highly skeptical that it's possible to really equate them as in "FSC certified or equal".

A page which compares several (ATFS, CSA, FSC, SFI) can be found at www.certifiedwood.org/search-modules/compare-systems/comparison-of-systems/comparison-of_systems.htm (http://www.certifiedwood.org/search-modules/compare-systems/comparison-of-systems/comparison-of_systems.htm)

Several points of interest - ATFS has no chain of custody requirements, no product labeling. On the other hand, this is because the average ATFS forest owner is a private owner with a relatively small holding, and the documentation requirements for something like FSC can be utterly impossible for the small owner to comply with. I don't have hundreds of salaried staff to handle paperwork, and neither do most members of ATFS.

Read the descriptions carefully. Note that, for example, FSC standards are "developed through consultation with stakeholders and members from environmental, economic and social sectors. " What that really says is that the standards were developed based on input from a lot of folks, some of whom were presumably professional silviculture folks, and some of whom have only passing familiarity with forest management issues. You might like to ponder why 'social sectors' should have input on the forest management practices I follow. I know that I would like to know why I should follow standards set by someone who has never written a forest management plan.

FSC standards address "environmental, silvicultural, social and economic issues. Most indicators are mandatory." What are the social and economic indicators? Does this mean I must hire only union labor, or what?

On the other hand, look at CSA's assessment program - "Hybrid performance-based and systems-based assessment incorporating elements of ISO 14001 management systems and assessment of on-the-ground practices." Does this mean that no 'foot in the forest' audits are done?

I'm sure that everyone would like it if it was as easy as only buying "certified wood", but as with all things it's just not that simple, and it never will be.

I'd like to caution people about gross categorizations about harvest techniques as well. It's perfectly possible to have a clearcut be the appropriate action from a forest managment point of view (for instance, when a stand is infected and the only reasonable action is to replace the stand with a different, resistant species). Likewise, it's perfectly possible to have selective harvest techniques be not only non-sustainable but be utterly destructive to forest health. High-grading, the practice of taking out only the largest, most successful and healthy trees (which generate the highest short term profit), comes to mind as a bad choice which is destructive to the gene pool but would still be called 'selective harvest'.

I'm all in favor of people learning about sustainable forestry and making decisions on wood sources based on forest management practices. But it might not be wise to simply abandon the education process and just look for a label stapled to the end grain of the board.

21-Apr-2005, 00:04
Some sort of labeling or certification can be a useful tool for those who are intersted in trying to purchase wood products harvested in a more enivronmentally friendly manner. Besides wooden view cameras and tripods what about the paper we print our images on? Seems like a lot more wood is used for that.

For those of you who make light of this issue we all do have a responsibility for the resources we use and waste we create. Photography's contribution to adversely affecting the environment may be small comapred to the rest of what goes on in the world, but when you put all those small contributors together it all adds up.

As Chief Seattle (1786-1866) so well put it: "Continue to contaminate your own bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste."

21-Apr-2005, 05:51
As an environmental studies major it is great to see peoples concern about the products they use and buy. Human impact on the environment seems of more concern to some people than others. Selective cutting of our eastern hardwood forest is the only thing that has saved these stands of hardwoods. The people at Georgia Pacific or Davey Tree could probably explain their practices in detail better than I. But Keep in mind when they cut that black walnut all those little saplings around it came from that gene pool. Without selective cutting practices there would be no eastern hardwoods left. What should be of more concern is what we're allowing the current administration to do. They walked out of the Kyoto talks, they have lifted emission regulations from our midwestern coal fired plants that will cause 100,000 premature deaths in New England over a period of the next ten years. As an MDC ( more develope country) we need to take the lead in regulation not walk out of the talks. The ignorant thinking of the current administration is " If the LDC"S (Lesser developed countries)don't comply then we won't." It is ignorant to think that the peasant that is building the wood fire on his dirt floor to survive should be held to the same standards as the American that gets up in the morning and turns up his thermostat. Has anyone noticed the smog hanging over The Great Smokie Mountains? Now if you're willing to breath that to save a few pennies on a kilowatt hour . Then so be it. Personally I would like to see them use the scrubbers that are in place to improve air quality and pay a few cents more for power. That smog over the smokies will damage or kill enough harwoods that selective cutting will seem like a godsend in comparison. Now we can go into a lot of detail about solutions and trust me there are think tanks doing just that. This stems from one major problem... population growth. The greatest thing you can do for the environment as an American is Vote! If St. Louis and Kansas City would properly use the scrubbers ( emission controls) that they already have in place but are not using, it would save enough hardwood trees in The great Smokie Mountain National Park alone to build every wooden field camera on Earth. What needs to be certified, are the certifiable idiots in Washington. They will tell you that the air quality has improved. All they did was eliminate a couple of green house gases from a toxin list and tell you the air is cleaner. My God America wake up!

Matt Mengel
21-Apr-2005, 07:18
How about using that limb you cut with the saw you keep in your trunk, to build your own camera. ;-)

adrian tyler
21-Apr-2005, 07:20
lord save our children, gonna be another hot summer...

Paul Metcalf
21-Apr-2005, 12:37
I know my 100 year old Conley isn't from a responsibly harvested forest. Didn't have those back then...