View Full Version : Ebony SW810 (and sw45) bellows flexibility

Chris Gardner
31-Aug-2005, 22:56

I was recently fortunate enough to acquire a second hand Ebony SW810 camera to replace my Deardorff. While second hand the camera may as well be brand new. My question is to anyone with SW810 experience in particular.

My main 8x10 lens is a Schneider 150 xl and I was a little suprised at the SW810 bellows' stiffness. I am reluctant to immediately start distorting the bellows' pleats for maximum front rise. I found that if I rise first at a greater extension and then draw back I can attain rise more easily, but do get some pleat distortion regardless. Of course I understand this will happen since it is not a bag bellows, but compared to my SW45 the 810 bellows are much less supple. The 4x5 pleats are just leather while the 8x10 pleats seem almost like they have traditional cardboard stiffeners in comparison.

God knows I don't want my camera to look like this guys (at the auction site:Item number: 7542203896), especially when his is "barely used". I'm joking, but seriously that just looks sad.

What have been others' experiences, if any? Do you just go with it and gently reform the pleats when back at zero rise? Should I assume that after enough pleat distortion I will lose bellows rigidity and 'gain' sag at full extension? Alternately, does anyone have experience with the SV-model bag bellows, and if so, what is it's max extension?

Thank you in advance.

Frank Muscroft
1-Sep-2005, 02:29

I don't have an SW810 but a SV45U2. However I found that I had to purchase one of their wide angle belows to use with an SA 90 and shorter focal lengths in order to maximise the movements. I would suggest that you get onto their web site send and send an e-mail with the question; they have always been prompt and helpful with my questions.

paul owen
1-Sep-2005, 02:49
Can't comment on the SW810 (more's the pity!!) but with the SW45 the bellows did need careful "reshaping" after contorting them! This was simply a matter of ensuring that the bellows were collapsing correctly whilst "closing" the camera. I should imagine that the bigger 8x10 bellows need som esort of stiffening to prevent them "drooping" at long extensions! Enjoy using your 8x10!

Eric Leppanen
1-Sep-2005, 09:22
I presume the SW810 bellows is similar to the bag bellows on my SV810U. The bellows pleats are designed to be distorted when performing a full range of movements, you just need to reshape them afterwards. The bellows is strongly constructed; don't be afraid to give it a good pull or two! The stiffness allows the pleats to be quickly restored to their original registration, so that the bellows can easily collapse when closing the camera. The nice thing about the Ebony bag bellows is that, unlike a traditional pancake-style bellows, the Ebony bellows allows the Ebony cameras (both folding and non-folding) to completely close with the bellows installed.

My only caution is when the pleats are distorted (or when you are restoring them afterwards) be sure they do not bunch inwards upon themselves, thereby vignetting the image area. I learned this lesson the hard way when I first used my RSW45: my first wide-angle shots suffered from bellows vignetting.

If you have any further concerns about this, try emailing Ian Wilson of Ebony directly via the Ebony web site.

Chris Gardner
1-Sep-2005, 13:18
Thank you for the quick responses. Some of my conern has been allayed, but I will follow up with an email to Ebony.

I was mostly surprised because focused at infinity with a 90mm or 75mm on the Sw45 I can go straight up with rise, and with the 15omm on the SW810 I can't go right up. The bellows felt too stiff to go up even half the avalaible rise when focused at infinity. My work around, as I said, was to go up first at a greater extension and then rack the standard back in to infinite focus. Right, it makes plenty of sense that an 8x10 bellows would need to be more rigid, but...

Anyway thank you again. If anyone else has more to add please feel free.