View Full Version : Foul Weather Wood or Metal ?

Bill Barnack
27-Jun-2000, 22:58
Hi I am about to purchase my first 4x5 field camera. I am planning to use it to pho tgraph Central Park in NYC during and right after snow storms. My question is a m I better off with a wooden camera or a metal camera (Wisner or Toyo) Do metal cameras tend to rust if used during foul weather? Thanks for helping with this novice question.


John Lehman
28-Jun-2000, 01:40
My 1960 Supergraphic (for which Toyo purchased the tooling and which for some reason seems to have almost the same specifications) has not rusted yet, and it has been used in alot of foul weather.

28-Jun-2000, 01:42
Hi bill,

I shoot in central park all the time and another factor you should consider in a camera is if you can operate it with gloves on. That not only means opening and closing the camera but also the ability to actually shoot lf in those cold conditions. Most cameras wood and metal won't be a real problem in nyc type bad weather if you clean them off after shooting. Lens and Repro and fotocare rent large format cameras which may help you decide which camera is right for you.

Take into account the type of knobs that control major movements: Location of knobs, spacing, size, shape and texture. It may sound silly but in cold weather any metal surface that your skin is in contact with will act like a heat sink. A great deal of movements will probably not be your major deciding factor but real field usability under the conditions you mentioned should.

If you will only be using LF for before and after storms you might as well just rent it for 30-50 dollars (with lens) for the times it snows. Central park however offers a TON of photo opportunities so I'm sure you will enjoy yourself.

I've personally seen everything from a Tk45 to a ToyoCX in the park so everything works for the most part it just matters more on how you operate.

Something you might consider would be to get nice padding for the tripod legs and a set of ski glove therma inserts, they are very flexible as well as keep your hands reasonably warm while working in cold. I think REI in the city sells something similar (it's near canal and broadway). Another item i find very useful are the Chemical packs that heat up when they contact oxygen, they were an ENORMOUS help to me when I was shooting two winters ago in the freezing cold where only photographers and hard core joggers were crazy enough to be out in.

Let me know if i can be of more help.

Charlie Stracl
28-Jun-2000, 16:00
I own a Ries (woodenb)tripod and a Bogen/Manfrotto.

If it's cold out (even just cool or chilly) I will always pick the Ries because wood doesn't suck the heat out of your hands and fingers. The Ries is a pleasure to use, fast and easy to setup. They are expensive, but worth the investment. For outdoor use I heartily recommend them.

I bought the Bogen after I got the Ries for indoor use, mostly. I like the Manfrotto designs, but the aluminum is cold on your hands.

I haven't tried them, but carbon fiber tripods would also be warmer to the touch. They are, however, as expensive as the Ries. By the way, for a given tripod weight, a wooden tripod invariably supports more camera weight than an aluminum tripod. Mostly, I think, this is beacuse of the clamping. A tubular tripod leg would be distorted with too much clamping pressure, but the wood is resilient, and you can clamp down with more force without damage than on aluminum. At least that is my theory.

Good luck! Charlie

N Dhananjay
28-Jun-2000, 16:54
Re how cold aluminium is to the touch on a cold day. I put black tape on the legs and find it helps immensely. Good luck. DJ

Kevin M Bourque
29-Jun-2000, 11:32
This is slightly off track, but for many years I have kept pieces of foam pipe insulation on the legs of my Bogen tripod. It not only provides thermal insulation, but provides padding when you carry it on your shoulder.

You can get the stuff at any hardware store, and its cheap. I think I still have the same pieces (and duct tape) from ten years ago.

- k

John Lehman
29-Jun-2000, 21:38
Come on guys, New York City never gets cold ;-) I thought you only wore coats there to be fashionable! (LOL from Fairbanks Alaska, where fashion means your fur hat is dead)

30-Jun-2000, 19:44
Why wood or metal? Why not try plastic? Checkout the Walker Titan - it's made out of stainless steel and industrial glass-filled resin. You won't find any other materials that are more stable of weather- resistant.

Urs Bernhard
7-Jul-2000, 15:39
The only camera to try is the WALKER TITAN, a superbly built camera, made from h ighimpact ABS and stainless steel. A marvelous tool. Good luck , Urs