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View Full Version : Wehman 8x10 - first impression



Juergen Sattler
21-Apr-2005, 19:20
I thought some of you might be interested in my first impression of the Wehman 8x10 camera. I have had the camera now for a little over a week. The lens I use with it is the Fuijon 300-C f8.5. It is a very light and compact lens that is very sharp and has an image circle of about 380mm which is sufficient for landscape photography so far I have not run out of coverage.

What I like about the Wehman 8x10:
The camera is absolutely bullet proof. Folded it is completely surrounded by a metal clam shell. You really can take this camera and throw it in your backpack without any concern about scratches or damages. The little Fuijon lens can stay attached when the camera is folded that makes it a very neat, light package.
The camera comes with two sets of ground glasses one is glass, the other one is plexiglass. I installed the plexiglass, because it is lighter and I dont have to worry about braking it. If only using lenses up to 300mm you can leave one of the metal clam shells at home and instead just put a film holder over the GG saves weight. With that configuration, including the lens, the weight is just 8 lbs.
The beauty of this camera lies in its simplicity and its low weight. I dont think you can make a camera that is simpler in its construction and still gives you the rigidity of the Wehman. It is solid as a rock. The back has a little spring that holds it open to make it easier to insert the film holder- - I found that feature very helpful. Setup is quick and easy. The back folds up, you slide the front standard forward, lock it and youre good to go.

What I dont like or miss:
There are no levels on this camera at all and there is no scale on it to help with hyperfocal distance focusing. The lensboard fits very tightly and you almost have to rip it out of the front standard, I talked to Bruce and he assured me that this would get better with useage if not, Ill have to sand it down just a little.
The Wehman comes without a fresnel lens installed. The zero detends are not pronounced enough and I always have to double check to make sure that the standards are parallel.
The rear swing mechanism takes some time getting used to it is very unique to this camera it would take too long to explain it just take a look at the Wehman website to get an idea how it works (this is not necessarily a negative point its just different).
Front swing, shift and movement of the Standard are all controlled by one single knob it is almost impossible to get this right. You unscrew the front standard, lift it and then position it to either the swing or shift position, or both.
There is no provision to clip on a dark cloth, which would come handy.

Overall I am very pleased with this camera it is really hard to beat for the price, but I do think there is room for improvements. This is my first 8x10 camera and I am still at the bottom of a steep learning curve. I realized that DOF it is a very different beast with this larger format. I have been shooting 4x5 for about three years now, but this is a different world.
I would be interested to hear from other Wehman owners if they concur with my observations or if I am way off here.
I would recommend this camera to folks who focus on the functionality of a camera, not the looks and who look for a practical backpacking solution.

Geary Lyons
21-Apr-2005, 20:22
" The rear swing mechanism takes some time getting used to it is very unique to this camera it would take too long to explain it"

I believe that the rear swing is very similar to my Kodak Master Camera. I looked very closely at buying the Wehman. I just could not swing the extra $$$. I think that Bruce very eloquently designed & built the camera. I would be the natural, modern upgrade from the KMV.

Cheers,
Geary

CXC
21-Apr-2005, 21:50
I agree that front shift or swing is fussy. However I never use any shift, and prefer to use rear swing, where I appreciate the fact that it is geared. So for me these shortcomings don't come into play.

Front rise is modest, maybe it could be more. Some might miss center tilt (not me, I prefer base). If you use lenses longer than 600mm, the bellows will be too short (not me, I wish I had a 600!). An accessory shoe somewhere on the back would be nice, so you could put a level in it. I can imagine the three little plastic nubbins that hold the front bed in place might wear out, I wish they seemed more substantial.

These are all minor nits, overwhelmed, IMHO, by the significant advantages: cheap, lightweight, bombproof, fully functional, easy to use. I'm happy with mine, can't really imagine any reason ever to trade up.

jose angel
22-Apr-2005, 04:46
Thank you for your comments. What about materials? Looking at the images seems to be made with somekind of coloured fiberglass, and thin aluminum for the standards and rails. Are the shell made also in aluminum?

Some thoughts: Im afraid about the curvature of the plexiglass screen (specially at the 8x10" size!). Levels are not an issue to me, I never use the levels installed on my cameras (they are useless bulls eye or diminute vial levels!). I always use a spare hardware vial level.

It seems to be a very intelligent&practical design; congratulations for your purchase. Enjoy it.

Brian Ellis
22-Apr-2005, 10:59
"The rear swing mechanism takes some getting used to - it is very unique to this camera."

I was under the impression that the Wehman had an asymetrical back like the Ebony SU line of cameras. Is this what you're referring to? If so, it should be a positive for the camera, Ebony adds about $1,000 to the price of its cameras to get the asymetrical back.

Juergen Sattler
22-Apr-2005, 15:23
Jose, yes the material is some kind of fiberglass - there is actually no wood at all on this camera. The shells are made of aluminum and so are the standards - they look thin, but they are actually very rigid. Thanks for the advice on the plexi glass - I'll see what happens to it.

Brian, I don't think the back of the Wehman is really asymetrical. You loosen two knobs and then you move the standard and at the same time hold on with one hand so that the focus rack doesn't move. I am sure that with time it wil become 2nd nature to use it, but for now it is weird.

As I said, I think it is a great camera and an even greater value.