View Full Version : My first LF field camera, Ebony SV45Te

Gary Suitter
6-Feb-2007, 11:17
First of all I would like to thank this site and its many contributors for providing such a wealth of information and opinions.

Being new to large format I've spent countless hours pouring over the numerous posts, on this and other sites, comparing the various features, quality and prices of different field cameras and their owners likes and dislikes of each varying model. More often then not, Ebony came up on top.

While viewing the various cameras and comparing all the specs, it was love at first sight when the SV45Te first appeared on my computer screen. The beauty of the Macassar ebony heartwood contrasted with the titanium hardware I thought was a beautiful sight to behold and with all the movements I'm thinking I will ever need. The beauty of the camera, its features, versatility and build quality I hear so much about convinced me this was the camera for me. Then after the sticker shock, it was back to realty and the search continued for a more affordable camera with adequate movements and quality, till I found a used SV45Te at an affordable price.

Though others have suggested beginners should start with a entry level camera and work their way up, I'm feeling a high quality camera with longer then average bellows and full features (minus Asymmetrical tilts) will be easier to use and more versitable allowing me to concentrate more or my image then equipment. Also the total cost, in the long run, of working my way up would be considerably more then the used SV45Te (I'm sure this would hold true ever at the price of a new one if one could afford it). In the event the Ebony, or large format photography, may not be right for me I'm sure I'll have no problem finding an eager buyer without having to take a financial loss on the camera.

Ebony may or may not be the end all of cameras, Gods gift to photography as some photographers may preach. And I realize that the quality of my images depends so much more on my abilities as a photographer then the equipment I use. But I'm feeling and hoping that the SV45Te will be a camera that offers me reliability,ease of use, versatility of movements and years of service. We shall see!

Dave Parker
6-Feb-2007, 11:38
Make no mistake, you got your self one heck of a camera, I am sure it will provide years of good service..

Have fun.


Gary Suitter
6-Feb-2007, 16:54
My Ebony just arrived this afternoon and I couldn't be more pleased. There are two minor issues:
1 Though the bellows are in great shape they seem a bit dusty and lack luster. Ebony recommends a periodic coating of mink oil for maintenance.
2 The wood on the top side of the bed seems a bit lack luster and may not be sealed suffeciently. Ebony recommends an occasional coating with candle wax for maintenance.
I think that with a little cleaning and buffing the camera should look good as new. Mechanically the camera is in excellent condition. I'm sure I'll be very happy with my purchase.

John Kasaian
6-Feb-2007, 17:17
If it looks like you'll enjoy it, you probably will which means you will use it more than if it is a camera you dread, and using your camera is IMHO the best way to improve----enjoy that Ebony!

Ben Hopson
6-Feb-2007, 17:37
Congrats on acquiring a fine camera. You are right on the money when you say that your photography depends on much more than the equipment you use. The camera only needs to be a light tight box to be functional, but it doesn't hurt a bit to be a beautiful light tight box. I have the SV45U2 and love using it. I have used mink oil on the bellows and it seems to do a good job of keeping the leather in good shape. I think I have only treated the bellows twice in about three years and that has been sufficient.

Enjoy the Ebony and make lots of beautiful images,


6-Feb-2007, 23:08
Hi Gary...

Have a great time with your Ebony!

I have a 45s non-folder that I love. It's beautiful to look at and is a workhorse as well. Yes, there are other cameras that will perform just as well in the field, but it's a nice bonus to have a wonderful instrument to help make your visions a reality.

Mark Sampson
7-Feb-2007, 06:22
Candle wax?? The makers of my wooden camera recommended Renaissance paste wax. You can find it at art supply stores. A bit expensive but a small tin will last a lifetime; it's really top-quality stuff.

Gary Suitter
7-Feb-2007, 09:48
Candle wax? My first thoughts exactly. But the Ebony site say:
"a simple but effective way to maintain, lubricate and water-proof the wooden parts is to give them a rub with a piece of candle wax from time to time"

Mark, the Renaissance paste wax sounds much more appropriate. I curious as to what other photographers use on their Ebony or wood cameras in general.

Thanks for the input.

7-Feb-2007, 09:56
Congrats! Have fun with the camera!

7-Feb-2007, 19:56
What about bees wax. Will that accomplish the same without doing any damage?

Ling Z
7-Feb-2007, 20:30
I would suggest you use teak oil for ebony wood maintenance. One quart teak oil at Home Depot costs about $10. Here's the quote from ebonycamera.com:

"the ebony wood parts are soaked in wood oil (a special kind of "teak oil" blended in person by Ebony's Master wood craftsman)"

"The finish on the ebony cameras is very easy to maintain. Even relatively severe scuffs and scratches can be removed with the application of a high-grade teak oil."