View Full Version : Cambo 8x10s: the best bang for buck?

Frank Petronio
22-Aug-2008, 11:32
After trying some lightweight 8x10 options I realized that I really prefer a heavier, metal camera, a studio monorail really. I like using a heavy tripod and beefy camera that doesn't move when I insert a holder -- something that will take my hamfisted brute force technique without shuddering... Besides I'm not backpacking the damn thing - I don't even expect to fly with it. So I've been patiently waiting for a nice 8x10 Sinar to come along...

But just for the heck of it, I started looking at Cambos and did a completed auction search... and most of the Cambo 8x10s have sold in the low $300 range!

Now I know the Sinars are excellent, but what is so shabby about a geared movement, 15-year old Cambo Legend for ~$500 or a friction model for $315?

When Sinars are pretty much a grand no matter what.

Jan Nieuwenhuysen
22-Aug-2008, 12:01
I would opt for a Cambo with geared movements. The legend plus has yaw free base tilt. I am not sure they made that in 8x10, my only experience has been with the 4x5 model.
They are good, sturdy, dependable cameras that will get the job done.
Hamfisted and Sinar is not a good combination!

22-Aug-2008, 12:39
Like Jan I only have experience with Cambo in 4x5, but I've had more than 25 years good luck with friction drive. I'm probably just as much of a hamfisted brute as you are. If I were to do it all over again I wouldn't think twice about choosing friction over gear movement... and spend the "saved" money on film.

Allen in Montreal
22-Aug-2008, 12:40
......... and most of the Cambo 8x10s have sold in the low $300 range!

Now I know the Sinars are excellent, but what is so shabby about a geared movement, 15-year old Cambo Legend for ~$500 or a friction model for $315?.........


Great minds think a like! :)
But you are touching a bit of a raw nerve!

As I sit on the fence about reentry to 8x10, I have watched the last two Legends go for 5 to 600 as the Deardorff I would really like, go for 1200 to 1800.
So, I pulled the trigger on a Cambo basic for $315.00 (was that the auction I won that you were watching?) to hold me over until I decide for certain which format and camera I want and will enjoy most. :)
The seller sent me a nasty note saying I got the Camera "dirty cheap" and that it was "unexpected" by him that is would sell so low.

I had a Cambo years ago, it is a workhorse, but no glamour.
A Ford pickup compared to a Cadillac Escalade maybe??
At the time, I hated my Cambo because the insurance replaced a stolen Arca with a Cambo and I had no say in the matter. Made worse by the fact they replaced the 4x5 element with a Sinar! So I went from an amazing system to 2 different cameras!
I swore at my gear a lot in those days.

In retrospect, it was not such a bad camera at all, in fact, it was a really tough camera that deserved more care than I gave it. I kept the Cambo to Tech 5 lens board which will suit me well now. What is driving me nuts now is the high price of 8x10 to 4x5 backs!

All that to say, for the price, it can't be beat, $315.00 for a solid 8x10 !
I will either dump mine one day when it feels right for the next camera, or keep it forever as a back up. I wish I had kept my anger with insurance crooks in check and kept the last one.

Shall we do a print swap of our first Cambo 810 exposures??

Frank Petronio
22-Aug-2008, 12:48
Actually, 3.5 years ago I got a 8x10 Inka? Italian camera for only $200 and it was a pretty nice. Then I upgraded when local studio photographer sold me her 8x10 Arca-Swiss A for only $600 -- that was the best, but myself and others have talked so glowingly about them that they now sell in the low thousands (they are light yet sturdy and not TOO expensive compared to anything else in their class.)

When I started doing more portraits I dropped back to 4x5 so I could "learn" and burn a lot of film. Now I am ready to go back to 8x10 ;-)

Yes I saw your auction Allen - congrats!

Now I've just driven the price of Cambos up ;-) but I will be patient, lol.

Walter Calahan
22-Aug-2008, 14:18
Frank, back to 10-8, good for you. Grin.

Frank Petronio
22-Aug-2008, 16:52
Not an Inka - a Fatif -- a really oddball camera, kind of Italian futuristic deco...

Yes I will ask the store to order some 10x8 film and it will take forever...

Darryl Baird
23-Aug-2008, 08:48
Frank, I've got four Cambos at present and love the interchangeable features. The 2x3 front can be mounted on the same rail as the 8x10 (all Legend stuff is backwards compatible with the Master and SF model monorails). The 8x10 Legend is great, heavy and a joy to use under a darkcloth. I used to work in a Sinar-only studio and got to appreciate the workmanship, quality, and precision. The Legend reminds me of that system... only heavier. It requires a serious tripod. I use an old Cambo studio stand.

I paid about $800 for mine a year ago and have added several rail extensions, bellows, conpendiums, extra standard for extreme bellows extension and other accessories as they appear on the auction site we all hate. I also have an old 8x10 SC model that I started with gathering dust... so I think it's a fine way to go, IMHO.

25-Aug-2008, 12:48
Another kudos for the Cambo Legend; because the front standard and the smaller backs are common to the 4x5 line, things like lensboards, shades, and backs are fairly common. It seems that the 5x7 reducing backs were never imported into the US, however, since they don't show up in old Calumet catalogs and were, when I was looking for one, a little more than twice as common as hen's teeth.

This is not, however, a camera well suited for transportation, unless you want to disassemble it first. I built a storage case for mine, allowing about half an inch of clearance all 'round; because the knobs are fully outboard from the rear standard, the case ended up about 32x18x24 inches and is fairly awkward to carry.

Another thing that might or might not matter to you is that in spite of the nominally 6x6 lensboard, the clear opening in the front standard is only about 5 inches. The camera will easily handle the weight of lenses that are too large to mount normally. Anything in a #3 or smaller shutter is no problem; a big Verito in a Studio shutter is problematic, although it can be done.

25-Aug-2008, 14:58
Not the Legend, but in the 70's Cambo made an 8x10 SC IVB (on the old fashioned square rail) with no rear rise, fall or shift, much like some wooden field cameras. It may be a bit smaller and lighter. I have seen one for sale on eBay with no recognition that it was not the full featured Cambo camera. I thought that it would have sold for less than the full featured camera.

Jim Galli
25-Aug-2008, 15:35
IMHO the Cambo 8X10 is only viable in a studio where it's locked permanently to a rolling stand. They are nearly impossible to use in the field. I bought one years ago, actually I've had 2. First one I sold because it was just too damn heavy to be a viable camera. The second one I got on one of those dream ebay deals where it's listed all screwed up. Said it came with a 355mm Schneider f8 Dargon lens. That's when it pays to know your lenses. I knew the only 355 f8 Schneider ever made was the Kern Dagor and Dargon was close enough to finish the clue. Bought the outfit for $430 and promptly sold the Cambo for $430. So the moral is unless it's got a Dargon lens, fuhhgeddaboudit. I'd take the venerable Calumet C2 over the Cambo any day. About half the weight, and they're considered too heavy.

26-Aug-2008, 17:39
IMHO the Cambo 8X10 is only viable in a studio where it's locked permanently to a rolling stand. They are nearly impossible to use in the field.

Can't argue with that. On the road next to the car is about as close to the field as you want to be with an 8x10 Legend. And since there is nothing good to grab near the balance point (except for the tripod block) getting it on and off of a tripod isn't fun either.