View Full Version : Durability of wooden field cameras

Roger Rouch
6-Jan-2000, 22:53
A number of posts ago I received some much appreciated advice about field camera options. I'm becoming serious about getting a Tachihara to replace my Graphic. Most of my photography is done from a backpack and often in adverse conditions. I still have some concerns about any fragility of a wooden field. My Graphic is build like a tank, and I've taken few precautions to protect it. With some r easonable precautions, can I expect a wooden field to provide durable field serv ice? Is there special handling I should plan on to avoid camera damage? Thanks for the help. Roger

Ray Dunn
7-Jan-2000, 00:11
Best advice is don't be a klutz. And, from hard experience, don't put the camera down on the tripod without fully centering it within the legs on a windy day. My wooden Toko (Wista with rear-focus rack) blew over while I was taking my pack off, and I almost had a heart attack. It got very small crack near a joint, but otherwise was fine. I've hiked a lot with mine both in the backpack, and attached to the tripod while walking with it slung over my shoulder. Just got to be careful about those trees, rocks, etc.. The cameras are nowhere near as fragile as people lead you to believe. Sure, the glass can be chipped, lens rings dented, and wooden standards can be cracked. But you just have to be carefull and mindfull of the potential dangers and you will be fine. The camera is probably tougher than your body, so don't worry too much. Good luck!

Scott Bacon
7-Jan-2000, 11:21
I did four +25 mile backpack trips and numerous daytrips with my wooden field last summer without a problem. The only special precaution I have taken with my 4x5 has come in the event of poor weather. I am more likely to use my EOS1n in a driving rain storm. I found this to be a common problem during my recent trip to New Zealand, so I would be interested in hearing other's responses on the use of wooden fields in foul weather.

N Dhananjay
8-Jan-2000, 02:11
I wouldn't worry terribly about the ability of wooden cameras to perform in the field. Plenty have rendered yeomen service in this regard. The primary advantage of metal, in my opinion, is greater rigidity (although well desinged wooden cameras might well be more rigid than poorly designed metal). Just how much and in what ways do you plan to abuse your equipment? If you put your mind to it, you can hurt metal cameras, too. I've damaged metal monorails - dragged one through thickets and got swiss cheese for bellows, mounted it on a tripod and leaned it against a wall to get something from the backpack only to see it fall and crack the monorail rider. Sensible precautions should see you through most of the time. To an extent, I think lighter, more convenient systems are less susceptible to damage due to laziness - if your system pulls off the tripod easily and packs easily, you're less likely to wield it at the end of your tripod like a club. If you can fold it into a box, your bellows aren't exposed to thickets. Most of my accidents have occured because I was too lazy to remove my ancient 10lb monorail from the tripod and disassemble it when I knew there would be another shot around the corner. Moisture might well be an issue with wooden cameras, though I've found plastic ponchos a good solution for this. I would look for a design that satisfies your criteria for use since a/ whatever it is, you will probably want to exercise care and good sense in its use and b/ odds are, whatever your camera, at some point you will hurt it trying to get a picture, in some unforeseen way. If you are extremely concerned about wood not standing upto your usage, a metal one might be the way to go. DJ

andrea milano
8-Jan-2000, 05:27
A good answer to your problem could be given from a quick wisit to a photographic museum or one of those shops which offer ancient but in working order cameras. The cameras still look (and feel) in spectacular conditions after years, some bellows might make crracking sounds ( my joints do too!a little, after 40 years of life). Do not worry, there is very little which can go wrong with a field camera and everything can be repaired by several good mechanics throughout the world. Have lots of fun! Thachiara is good for its price and will serve you for years unless you outgrow it.

N Dhananjay
8-Jan-2000, 12:29
Oh, and I forgot to add, when you're out in the field and far away from machine shops, should something go awry, odds are a wooden camera will be easier to fix than a metal. DJ