View Full Version : Zone VI Camera Questions

31-May-2005, 14:20
I just purchased a Zone VI camera and have at least four questions right now:

1) How in the #%&#@# does this camera fold? The place where I bought it showed me but it is a PITA?
I've loosened all the knobs, removed the lens, lifted the front of the camera off the standard, but it still doesn't fold. I did fold it once accidentally. I've spent several minutes over two days trying to fold this contraption.

2) Don't know if anyone can date it. The plaque says it was made by "Zone VI Studios, Inc. Newfane, VT 05345." There is no serial number. Don't know if the wood is mahogany or cherry wood as I'm not a tree expert. The fittings are chrome not brass plated.

3) There is only 12 inches of bellows extension. Will I have to buy a recessed board for a 90mm/f8 Super Angulon with a SC shutter.

4) KEH is selling Zone VI lens boards but I don't know what size to get as they list them as 36 hole, 42 hole, etc. not as 0, 1, 2, or 3. And the lady never heard of a spanner wrench!!!!??

Thanks for your time.

Juergen Sattler
31-May-2005, 14:58
Oscar, I don't know how to fold a Zone VI, but I might be able to help with some of your other question.

Bellows draw is a limiting factor for long lenses. Your 90mm is a wide ange lens and you will need very little bellows draw to focus it. In fact you ight find that the bellows is so compressed with these short lenses that it becomes difficult to use movements.

Here is a website that has all the mounting hole sizes for most shutters - that'll give you the answer for the lesnboards. http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lensboard_hole_sizes.html

You can buy spanner wrenches on eBay, at Micro Tools or at SK Grimes - just to name a few.

I am sure someone else from this forum will be able to help you with your Zone VI specific questions.

Louie Powell
31-May-2005, 15:32
Oscar -

Sounds like your Zone VI is an older model. I assume that it folds the same way that my newer models fold - here are the instructions that came with my "lightweight".

"When not using your camera, it should be folded up into its "clamshell" closed configuration. In order to fold the camera, remove the lens and lensboard, slide the locking clips back into the "closed" position, adjust the focusing rack to where it is flush with the front of the camera bed and loosen all lock knobs on all movements. Then, pull the front standard to the top of the rise/fall slots and flip it down against the bed of the camera. It should rest just behind the metal plate. Finally, fold the rear standard down until it comes in contact parallel to the front standard and clip the hinged metal lock into position. "

Its really much easier that it sounds - practice a few times until it becomes second nature.

A point that is not obvious from the instructions is that you are trying to avoid dragging the metal supports against the edges of the bellows as your fold the camera. Likewise, when you open the camera, you should slide the front standard to the top of the support as you lift it out of its "nest" to avoid abrading the bellows.

The description of your camera seems to match either the original Zone VI, made by Tachihara, or the second generation (1980-85) models made by Wista. Subsequent cameras had either 16" bellows (mid-1980's Wisner) or 22" bellows (post-1988 made in Vermont by Zone VI).

The 90mm f8 Super Angulon is PROBABLY in a Copal 0 shutter. That requires a 36mm (1-3/8") hole in the lens board.

Michael S. Briggs
31-May-2005, 16:40
As the others have said, the max bellows extension of 12 inches implies that your camera is one of the earlier Zone VI versions. These were minor modifications of Japanese produced cameras. For more information on the somewhat complicated history of Zone VI cameras, see http://www.largeformatphotography.info/lfforum/topic/500335.html and http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=00921a.

One important difference is the lensboard. The "Zone VI" lenboards at KEH are probably wooden boards for the later cameras. I had one of the Wista-produced Zone VI models, and it took a metal board with same dimensions as the Linhof Technika board. Boards of this type are available in several brands from various retailers. The generic versions are much cheaper than the Linhof brand. There is a database of lensboards at http://www.skgrimes.com/lensboards/index.htm. If your camera is a Wista, the lensboard should look like the "Technika 4x5" board instead of the "Wisners 4x5" board.
I think that the 4x5 Tachihara cameras take the same lensboard, but I have never used one of these cameras.

As to whether you need a recessed lensboard, try and see if you can position the lensboard 90 mm from the ground glass. You will likely need to use a trick necessary on most wooden folders to use short focal length lens -- probably the standards can't directly be positioned close enough. Instead, position the front standard as far back as it will go, then tilt it backwards to move the lens close to the ground glass. This will also drop the lens, so apply some front rise to center the lens. Probably the bellows will be too compressed to allow movements.

Bill McMannis
31-May-2005, 19:57

You can find a manual for the current model here:


Keith Pitman
31-May-2005, 22:11
You probably have a Wista that Zone VI rebadged with their name. If so, it doesn't use Zone VI boards, but Linhof/Wista type boards. On the one I had, the ground glass (if yours is original) showed the Wista name.

Folding the camera is pretty easy once you get the hang of it and it's somewhat similar for all wooden folding cameras. You should be able to set up and take down in less than a minute with practice.

29-Jun-2005, 20:45
All the wooden folding cameras are tricky to figure out but as was mentioned, avoid abrading the bellows and go slow- don't force anything. The "trick" to most wooden folders is to raise the front standard up high so it clears the bellows. It doesn't hurt to leave a folder open as long as you don't rack the bellows all the way and/or twist the camera into unusual positions and leave it that way. You DO need to know how to open and close the camera for real world use like traveling or back packing. Many 4x5 and larger shooters carry their camera from location to location open and mounted on the tripod. Even Fred Picker does that in his videos. Don't forget to remove the lens when closing the camera and don't misplace the ground glass protector!