View Full Version : 8x10 metal field camera -- suggestions?

chris jordan
3-May-2005, 09:30
Hi guys, and Calamity and Ellen, happy Tuesday. I have a request for suggestions from the 8x10 crowd. Lugging around and setting-up/tearing-down this Toyo 8x10 studio monorail contraption is starting to wear on my vertebrae a little, so I'm thinking of switching over to a field camera. The Toyo 810MII seems to be about as solid and bombproof as they come, but the prices for new ones are outrageous ($1400 more than I paid for my Miata). Does anyone know where I could find a good used one? I'd also welcome suggestions for other similar cameras. My basic requirements are extreme stability and rigidity, reliable 90-degree angles everywhere, click-stops on all the movements so you can start out aligned in all directions, and smooth movements that can be micro adjusted (but don't have to be geared).

Thanks for any thoughts or suggestions,



Ken Lee
3-May-2005, 09:46
Why not get an affordable used wooden one, and put it in an affordable used metal case ?

Juergen Sattler
3-May-2005, 09:52
The Wehman 8x10 is as bullet proof and light as it gets. I just got this camera 4 weeks ago and I am really impressed with it. I wrote up a preliminary review which you can find on this forum - just do a search for Wehman. The camera when folded up is completely covered by two aluminum shells which protect it from any harm. When you only shoot lenses up to 300mm you can leave one of the shells at home which reduces the weight even more. With my 300mm Fujinon C lens the entire outfit (minus one shell) weighs a mere 8 pounds. Call Bruce and discuss your needs with him - I think it'll be worth your time.

Gem Singer
3-May-2005, 10:33
Hi Chris,

I recently received my second 8X10, a new Canham, all metal, JMC810 from Jim, at Midwest. I've been playing with it, but haven't had an opportunity to take it out and field test it, yet. My first impressions of the camera are excellent. It's kind of like a lightweight monorail, with a sliding collapsable rail. Simple to operate. Focusing is done by means of a single knob. Unfortunately, that knob is located on the left side of the camera. However, I'm slowly getting used to focusing with the left hand and holding the loupe with the right hand.

The viewing screen is a Maxwell--outstanding brightness- lights up like a television screen. The standard bellows is what makes the camera. The best one I have ever seen, and I've seen quite a few.

All in all, I think the Canham JMC810 is worth putting on your list to consider.

Henry Suryo
3-May-2005, 11:40
Sounds like the Toyo 810MII IS the camera for you. I had one once and it is a well built precision machine. Rock solid and the movements, even the non geared, friction-fit ones, are smooth. Locks down tight and rigid at all extensions. But...I love using the Deardorff and have my lenses on DD boards, so couldn't justify keeping it. They are fairly uncommon used, but if you come across the earlier model, it will probably be more affordable and very similar save for cosmetics and I think one feature with the front standard. I can't remember what, but it's something you can work around. I think the other metal field that comes to mind is the Master View, it has a similar design for the telescoping racks and front standard shift /swing lock and folds up even more compactly. Good luck, hope this helps.

Michael Kadillak
3-May-2005, 11:46
You need to find a used tan Toyo 810M. Using your criteria of a solid metal camera, this one is a tank. A bit heavier than its counterpart from Canham, but it is solid. Whoever designed the Toyo field 8x10 had to be a LF shooter as it has features like a bail back and a fail safe for reversing the back from horizontal to vertical that are welcomed features. Focusing is gear driven and silky smooth and if you are patient can be had for about $1,200 to $1,500 in the used market. Plus they are still supported by Mamiya in New Jersey and I believe take the identical lens board that you already use with your monorail Toyo.


Martin Miller
3-May-2005, 18:09
Hi Chris,

It will not improve on the Toyo 810MII price problem (it's even a little worse), but you may want to consider the Arca-Swiss F models. I have an 8x10 F-metric which means the front rise, front shift, and rear shift are geared. This gearing costs you a little weight (about half a pound over the F-classic without the gearing) but it is worth it not to have to use one hand to hold the front frame is the desired position while locking with the other hand, especially with the long extensions of the 8x10. Even with the metric feature the weight is about 9.5 lbs, about 2/3 the weight of the 810MII. The engineering quality on the Arca-Swiss is legendary and deserved. I have no way of comparing its rigidity to the Toyo but I have no complaints and I couldn't find any in the archives before I purchased mine. The drawback that concerned me was compactness, but folks in this forum put me onto buying a 15cm rail unit and sliding both standards onto that rail, then removing that rail from the extension bracket that attaches to the tripod. In this state the camera is only 6in. deep and easily fits in a number of backpacks (I use the Lowepro Pro Trekker as I only have one lens). The Arca-Swiss system is extensive and all interchangeable so you have lots of possibilities for customizing a system to your needs. Of course none of this is cheap, but if it saves your back and gets the job done efficiently, the cost is probably worth it over the long haul. If you have specific questions about the camera and system, I will try to answer them. Also, there are several posters here with experience on this camera.

Marshall Arbitman
3-May-2005, 19:00
Hi Chris:

You might also consider a Kodak Master. About a pound and a half heavier than the Wehman. A few hundred bucks cheaper. Plenty of movements and loaded with retro goodness. They have the same kind of lensboard rise as the Deardorff--differently implemented, but functionally similar. They lock down solid and they're just way cool. For a lump of cast aluminum alloy, they're surprisingly soulful and handle great. Cheers.

Jonathan Brewer
3-May-2005, 19:57
$4500 is ridiculous, I've seen them not too long ago at Midwest Photo Exchange, in the $2900 range which I dont think is too outrageous a price for a mint 810MII, you don't see a lot of them for sale these days, I don't know why, but I'd like to think that once folks get them, they don't want to sell them. What about some of these folks who travel to Hong Kong?

You'll be able to shave plenty off of whatever you pay for the camera with your negotiating skills, like when you got that fabulous deal for your Nikon 450M from that really cool guy you bought it from.

Tom Perkins
3-May-2005, 20:07
I got a Wehman and it works good. Light and rigid. But I agree with Marshall that a Kodak Master View would be the thing if you wanted to save a few bucks and get the same kind of rig.

Lars Åke Vinberg
3-May-2005, 20:55

I have been using a Toyo 810G in the field for the last six months (including around Australia). When packed in my backpack it sits on a 150mm extension rail which just precisely holds the front and rear standards. That way it packs really well and is reasonably easy to set up: Connect one 250mm rail, extend the camera, mount it in the mounting block which always stays on the tripod, and if necessary add one more extension. It works really well, no hassle with assembling and disassembling the camera. The camera packs flat in my Supertrekker backpack. I'll send you a photo of the camera packed if you want.

Gary J. McCutcheon
3-May-2005, 21:54

What is your current method for carrying and setting up your 810G? Do you hike with it?
Do you work from the car? Is it in a case assembled? If it is in a standard view case then it is a matter of pulling it out and attaching to a tripod. The 810MII must be unfolded and zeroed. This takes longer although 5 pounds lighter. I can't think of a sturdier camera than either of these Toyos. I've used the method Lars uses and it is very workable, especially for excursions away from the car.

Good luck and let us all know the outcome.


tim atherton
3-May-2005, 22:50
"What is your current method for carrying and setting up your 810G? Do you hike with it? Do you work from the car?"

I think Chris's modus operandi often includes wandering around urban/industrial sites and areas with it assembled on tripod over his shoulder (among other ways of doing it) - darned heavy those things

chris jordan
3-May-2005, 23:03
Hi guys, I used to work only out of my car, and when I do that it is fine to set up the monorail and leave it ready to go in the back seat. But lately I've been travelling with it on airplanes, which makes the monorail contraption much more challenging to keep safe. It would be really nice to have a foldable field camera that I could throw in my carry-on without worrying about all the little knobs and levers that hang out unprotected on the monorail. The Toyo field 8x10 seems the way to go; now I just have to find an affordable one. Glazers here in Seattle blew out a a NEW one for $1500 a couple of months back-- I could just shoot myself for not having grabbed it!

Nice to hear from you Jonathan-- your beautiful 450M is going strong as ever. But I have to admit that my new Rodenstock 360 Sironar S has just replaced it as my favorite lens. That thing is just STUPID sharp.


Mark Sawyer
4-May-2005, 00:00
Chris- I've had a Kodak Master 8x10 for a few months now, and will confirm what others have said; it's a great camera and I have no regrets in getting one for very-long-term use. You mentioned click-stops for centering the movements, though, and the KMV has none on the front swings and tilts. It's quite easy to line them up square, but also easy to get them slightly out of square if you don't pay a little attention during rough focusing or changing lenses. Not a huge deal, but one to be aware of. (I've caught myself off-center slightly a couple of times, but am adjusting to doing a last-second check...)

4-May-2005, 09:02
Per your requirements, I think Toyo, Kodak MV, and Wehman are your best choices. I bought a Wehman, for its bomb-proofness, low price, reasonable weight, and instant availability. It's main limitations are the 30.5" bellows and sliding movements: only rear focus and rear swing are geared. I don't go long, nor need the nth degree of precision, so it suits me fine.

Since you don't backpack the thing, the Toyo's substantial weight, its only downfall, is presumably not an issue for you. Maybe you should sell the Miata and buy the camera you really want... ;-)