View Full Version : Wisner 4x5 Technical Field

13-Aug-2016, 14:58
I have the opportunity to purchase a used Wisner 4x5 Technical Field camera. Still negotiating the price, but before I agree to purchase the camera, I am hoping for a little information on wisner cameras. Does anybody have experience or opinions on this camera? All comments/thoughts are appreciated.

Peter De Smidt
13-Aug-2016, 15:38
They're nicely built wooden cameras.

Barrie B.
13-Aug-2016, 15:43
I have the opportunity to purchase a used Wisner 4x5 Technical Field camera. Still negotiating the price, but before I agree to purchase the camera, I am hoping for a little information on wisner cameras. Does anybody have experience or opinions on this camera? All comments/thoughts are appreciated.

I haqve owned one from new , Excellent camera however 90mm difficult to manage , 65mm almost impossible without bag bellows (which I have ); no problem with long lenses, plenty of movements possible in fact too many for landscape use.
I can recommend this camera , excellent build quality, a little on heavy side.
Cheers Barrie B., Australia.

13-Aug-2016, 15:51
Agree the Wisner and similar field cameras are a pleasure to use. For me, I have switched to Chamonix views. Much lighter and the bottom focusing knob for the front standard in the rear of the camera just a pleasure to use. If I want more stability, I just switch to using a Sinar Norma. 4x5 Normas are to be had for great prices all the time.

Ken Lee
13-Aug-2016, 17:58
Lovely camera, excellent build quality. I had one and sold it to get into larger format at the time. As with other cameras, now I wish I'd kept it. I sold it back to the fellow from whom I purchased it, who himself regretting having sold it :rolleyes:

For me the most compelling attribute is the built-in long bellows draw and base extension: enough to accommodate a 450mm non-tele lens at closer than infinity, or a 210mm lens at 1:1 distance. No special attachment or procedure required.

AJ Edmondson
13-Aug-2016, 18:23
Had one for years... they are indeed well made but can be somewhat "fiddly" in use and, as Barrie stated 90mm and shorter are difficult to use. The film-back springs are really strong and Richard Ritters' bail back is very useful to prevent displacing the back upon insertion of the film holder. If the price is right you could certainly make a worse choice. I think Richard still does repairs and modifications and is a great source of information.

Steve Barber
14-Aug-2016, 10:56
This is the 2nd large format camera I bought and I still have it. There are some compromises, but, overall, it has a lot of capability. The bellows length allows for the use of longer lenses, up to 19 inch, but limits the use of shorter lenses without a bag bellows. It will accomodate a 90mm Schneider Super Angulon XL without having any interference with the rear element, but, for that and anything shorter, you will have to have a bag bellows to get full movements due to compression of the longer bellows preventing getting the full movements the lens is capable of. Also, the front standard support will have to be tilted back to focus a 90mm or shorter lens at infinity. That said, having a bag bellows and the slight inconvenience of having to tilt the front standard suppport back for the shorter lenses gives a field camera that has a maximum focusing length of 23 inches and a minimum of 0" and there are not many that can match that, never mind give the range of movements it has.

If you do get it, be sure to learn to open and ciose it properly and always tighten the rear standard adjustments when it is closed to keep it from flopping open when you picik up the closed camera by its handle. It has spring clips to keep it closed, but they may not completely secure it if the rear standard support knobs aren't tightened .

Robert Brummitt
14-Aug-2016, 15:15
I have mine still after so many years. I've enjoyed it for 20 plus years and now I'm thinking its time for someone else to enjoy it. But I just can't quite pull the trigger to sell it. I probably should. All the pain!
You'll really enjoy the camera!

David Schaller
15-Aug-2016, 08:21
I bought the Technical from Ron fifteen years ago, and it's great. As others have said, the advantage is a long bellows, which hinders the use of the 90mm. But having the axis tilt on the rear standard is a very useful feature.

27-Aug-2016, 18:35
everything has already been said. I love mine and shoot with it all the time both with film and collodion.

M Harvey
7-Sep-2016, 10:13
Just going to chime in and agree with the praise for the camera here-- I've been using one for three years now and it's a wonderful machine. Most of what I use the camera for is full-length portraiture, and rarely in a studio, so I appreciate that it travels pretty well. Also means that I rarely use movements other than rise and fall. My Cambo monorail was also fantastic-- much more precise to use--, but it mostly stayed in the cabinet once I got the Wisner.

I rarely use a wide angle, but it's pretty amazing that my 90mm was actually usable on a camera that could also easily take a 300. Found it easy to work with a borrowed 110. (I have bag bellows as well, but never wound up using them.) There may well be better cameras if your focus is wide angle work-- but this one is nonetheless capable, and extremely capable with a bag bellows.

The one real dissatisfaction with my Wisner is that it's prone to a little misalignment, and so on a few occasions I've wound up with a little unwanted rear tilt, resulting in an out-of-focus foreground. (Slight tilt can be difficult to detect when focusing due to illumination fall-off at the edges of the ground glass.) This is despite all movements resting at their detents. It is not an issue 90% of the time, of course-- but it's an unpleasant surprise when it is. Does my camera need service, or is this simply a common issue with any wooden camera that offers significant movements?

If I had a wishlist, I'd also probably like 1) to switch out the back for a bail back (thanks for the suggestion on this one above from Mr. Edmondson), and 2) to be able to rely on a little more rigidity when using a longer focal length (210mm or 300mm) for closer work, such as a head-only portrait-- a little slipping of the focus in this situation is magnified, so I have to be extremely careful in tightening before I load the film. Even then, I often find myself nervously pulling out the film holder to re-check framing. I think that both of these issues are common to field cameras-- and those are the advantages of a monorail, of course.

All that said, I've occasionally considered whether it would be worth it to move to what I'd imagine might be a more rigid or precise 4x5 field camera-- a Linhof (IV or V) on the vintage side, or an Ebony or Canham on the newer. I know what I lose-- money probably better spent on a more film! Any experiences to share here?

David Schaller
7-Sep-2016, 11:01
Having just tried to use my Wisner Tech. for architectural work, I have to agree that it does seem to go out of alignment! Sigh. I plan to have Richard Ritter give it a tune up soon. But for landscape work, my main concern, I've been very happy with this camera for fifteen years.

AJ Edmondson
7-Sep-2016, 18:26
I would say that you are right... spend the money on film! I am no expert but I have used Kodak, Calumet, Graphic, Wista, Wisner and Canham 4x5 and 5x7 cameras and each of them had good and bad points. The Wisner Tech Field was one I held on to for a L-O-N-G time because, despite some shortcomings it is indeed versatile, well-made and robust. The levels are large enough and visible enough to allow a quick check before tripping the shutter and, even before the bail back I could still get a film holder in without disturbing the rear tilt. Now if you had your heart set on a monorail, that is a different story. I have gone both routes - monorail and field camera - and I just didn't care for a monorail in the field.

8-Sep-2016, 08:46
Better search older posts about Wisner quality. You might be better served getting both sides of the story as quality varied a lot through the years.