View Full Version : Gundlach Manhattan Optical Co "Criterion View"

25-Nov-2006, 17:48
Hi All,
i just joined this forum because of a camera i came across in an antique store that i can't seem to find a whole lot of very good info on. It's a Gundlach-Manhattan Optical Co. "Criterion View" 8x10 camera. Initially I was drawn to it because it seemed rather old and still in pretty incredible condition for the price of $325. But before thinking about buying it i thought i should get some more info on it. The wood and hardware and body look great. The bellows is torn slightly but doesn't seem to be torn all the way through. The ground glass looks totally fine. The lens looks okay-- pretty dirty but not too bad. there's no shutter so i assumed it was one in which you simply remove the lens cap (which is with the lens). i couldnt figure out the lens too well but you can see it in the picture.
i didn't want to mess around with the camera too much in the store in case i were to break anything so i figured i'd take a few shots and see what i could find once home.
could anyone tell me if this seems like a good value? or anything else that would help let me know if i should get this camera? if there's something i left out please feel free to ask, and thanks for any info and opinions!

Glenn Thoreson
25-Nov-2006, 19:00
My guess is you're going to have to replace those bellows if you plan on using that camera. They look pretty bad, to me. I doubt taping the rip is going to make them usable. Not for long, anyway. That will add a good couple of hundred to the equation. For whatever it's worth, I just bought an 8X10 Conley of the same vintage with brand new bellows, 3 film holders and a box of J&C film for 250.00. You could probaly do better by looking somewhere other than an antique store, where everything is "rare" and higher priced.

Edit: The camera was made from 1909 to the '30s. Price, as a usable camera in good condition seems to be 175.00 to 200.00.

25-Nov-2006, 19:45
Here is some backgroun info on the maker and some of the models they made.


It looks like this camera has a somewhat limited bellows length due to the way the hinge is situated. I have an 8x10 Korona Field camera that has a rear extension allowing me to really extend the bellows, but you would not have that option with this model, so consider what type of use you will be putting this to. Long focal length lenses may not work for you due to the limited extension. Also, this model does not have front tilt, which is something that may be handy under certain circumstances.

As a comparison for you, I bought my camera in near new condition, with a Turner-Reich triple convertible lens, also in near new condition, with a hard case, rear extension rail, and two film holders for $600 US. It features full frontal movements and all rear movements except rise/fall - somewhat more movements that this model offers. If you choose this camera you'll be looking at needing one or more film holders and a new bellows, if you can get the lens cleaned up, and at least one lens to boot if not.

All things considered, I would say that the asking price is a bit high, all things considered. If you think the lens is in working order, and the bellows is not torn all the way through, you might be able to shoot with it after using some tape to patch up the bellows. Then, when you can, replace the bellows and start looking for other lenses. The up side is that you will have a new knwon-good bellows that will last a hell of a long time if you care for it well, but the down side is that there will be some considerable cost involved.

I would suggest looking around a bit - this one will likely still be there when you come back - and see if you can't find something in a bit better condition for a bit more money. Gundlach-Korona cameras are regular items on ebay and run around this amount or more typically. For $350 I thing that you might be able to find something with a more servicable bellows and at least a film holder or two - maybe even a lens mounted in a shutter. Keep in mind that the lens is not the most important aspect when considering a camera because you will want to consider how *you* are going to be using the camera and then look for a lens (or two) that fit your specific needs. If you find a camera that has a lens that you don't need/want, you can sell it to finance it's replacement.

- Randy

25-Nov-2006, 20:17
What a lovely camera you have there sir. If you want to get using it right away, what you need to do is to use some kind heavy tap e to tape the bellows up and you can get using it right away. the bellows will need to be replaced anyway. If you're good at crats, there are several places on the net where you can wrestle up some instructions on how to make a bellows yourself. That said, you didn't buy that camera to get the best in technical perfection, because if you wanted technical perfection you would buy new. You bought it because it looked good, which is understandable because they do look good polished up, et cetera. Another bright thing is that it's not some weird size like full or half plate. 8x10 film is readily available. You'll need to clean the lens, and since the lens does not have delicate multicoatings like modern lenses, you can use stronger solvents. Enjoy.

Ernest Purdum
25-Nov-2006, 20:21
Moving into large format involves many factors that are often not considered even by those quite familiar with smaller format photography. If you go back to the homepage and scroll down you will find several articles that can be helpful. Even better is one of the several books on this subject: "The View Camera" by Shaman, Using the View Camera" by Simmons (a frequent contributor here), "A User's Guide to the View Camera" by Stone and "View Camera Technique" by Stroebel are the well-known ones. Stroebel is the most comprehensive but also the most expensive and many complain more difficult to read than the others.

Books are relatively inexpensive, cameras and lenses much less so.

25-Nov-2006, 20:56
Wrapping the bellows in an opaque dark cloth will let you use it as is. Probably want to put some black tape where the back connects to the camera as well, and keep the back covered with a dark cloth when pulling the dark slide. A really big really dark dark cloth will let you just about get away with murder.

Ole Tjugen
26-Nov-2006, 02:53
I can just make out " x 10 W. A. SYM..." on the lens. I guess that would be a 8x10" WA Symmetrical - in other words a wide-angle Rapid Rectilinear type lens. Money value - about $10. Value in use - you may be surprised!

Rafael Garcia
26-Nov-2006, 05:57
You have received the information you asked for. All I can add is my own experience with my 5x7 Gundlach Korona View. It has performed very well for me. I made a lensboard that adds swing and tilt to it's front standard to compensate for that limitation. Since I mostly shoot landscapes, the tilt has been of some use, but not essential.

I bought my camera, in near-mint condition, with a 7 1/2" Wollensak Raptar in an Alphax shutter, rear extension frame, several filmholders, a Premo film pack holder (useless) and a glass plate holder, two additional lensboards, one extra lens retaining ring, and a partially used pack of 5x7 b&w film for $300.00 on eBay. My bellows are in great, healthy condition.