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civich
6-Jan-2011, 13:41
I've read with awe some of the strong opinions about Ron Wisner and his cameras on some old threads. Being on the search for an 8x20 camera for the last year has led me to salivate over the gorgeous Technical Field 8x20 which KEH has had listed for the last eight or so months:
www.kehblog.com/2010/05/8x20-wisner.html
So, taking into account all which has been said about Wisner and his cameras and paraphrasing what Glenda the good witch of the north asked:... Is it a good Wisner or a bad Wisner?....I know w/out the camera in hand any opinion would just be an educated guess but opinions, particularly of those who have owned or used this camera, are what I am looking for. Thanks.
-Chris

Lee Hamiel
6-Jan-2011, 14:47
Hi Chris

I'll throw my two cents in

I owned a Wisner Technical 4x5 - serial number 375 - was a very nicely made camera with no issues

I've read all the complaints - it appears a number are legit - I'm guessing mine was made before all of the issues started

My thought is that with the larger format cameras that they made were done with more care perhaps than the usual formats as they needed to be sized/fit perfectly for smooth operation

Loading the large image from KEH the camera looks to not have even been used or sparingly

The Wisner bellows are very nicely made (I have made bellows & know what it takes) so with that said if the camera is the format you're looking for I suggest you can't go wrong

With all that said - I also suggest you contact Richard Ritter for his opinions regarding any future service or otherwise

I've also had no issues with KEH in the past

Regards

Brian Ellis
6-Jan-2011, 14:49
Since Wisner is no longer in business you don't have to worry about his business practices. And KEH is good about accepting returns. If you want the camera why not give it a try, making sure ahead of time that KEH will give you a refund if you don't want to keep it for any reason.

William McEwen
6-Jan-2011, 14:56
I have the Wisner 8x10 TF, which I bought new in 1993. I use it constantly and it has never let me down. It's the best camera I've ever owned.

Michael Kadillak
6-Jan-2011, 17:36
I have a Wisner Tech Field in 11x14 and acquired the conversion kit to go to 12x20/8x20.

I will tell you that the Technical Field cameras are heavier than other non technical field cameras. Further, the attributes of the Technical Field are rarely if ever used in this format. If the holders that come with the camera are Wisner holders I would check on the specs that the camera was build to and if other holders could also be used. I was also told that Wisner holders were a brief venture and because of problems few were made before the business was folded.

If it were me I would take the time to call Richard Ritter to talk over this subject in detail. Richard can tell you about repairs that he has regularly made with Wisner cameras.

A while back I found an inexpensive Canham 8x10 wooden traditional camera and had an 8x20 conversion kit made so I could quickly go from 8x10 to 8x20. This 8x20 camera comes in at about 15 1/2# and is a dream to shoot.

Good luck with your decision. If you get the camera let me know because you are going to need 8x20 sheet film and I have some ideas on how you can make that happen.

Cheers!

JC Kuba
6-Jan-2011, 17:57
I owned a Wisner 8x20 until a few years ago when I made a decision to sell it for about the same reasons Jay has done recently with his 8x10. Its a really beautiful and functional camera. I sold it and kept my 8x20 Korona. Now I wish I did it the other way around. Compare to the Korona, the Wisner is steady as a rock. The digital camera I bought with the proceeds is now relatively obsolete and I'd be lucky to get half of what I paid for it. The lens I bought with the digital camera have retained their value pretty well however.

civich
6-Jan-2011, 18:39
Thanks for the replies. William, watching you work your 8x10 is part of why I'm even considering the Wisner. Contacting R Ritter is a good point and KEH's solid rep is part of what attracts me. I don't think weight will be too much of an issue but the point about the film holders is an excellent heads-up...thanks. JC - a specific question - did you ever have any qualms about the tripod connection? I've seen that some Wisner cameras experienced failures at this connection and with the extra leverage force from the 8x20 wide rear standard and long bellows I would think that it would be a very securely braced fitting. Thanks.
-Chris

Michael Kadillak
6-Jan-2011, 18:46
I owned a Wisner 8x20 until a few years ago when I made a decision to sell it for about the same reasons Jay has done recently with his 8x10. Its a really beautiful and functional camera. I sold it and kept my 8x20 Korona. Now I wish I did it the other way around. Compare to the Korona, the Wisner is steady as a rock. The digital camera I bought with the proceeds is now relatively obsolete and I'd be lucky to get half of what I paid for it. The lens I bought with the digital camera have retained their value pretty well however.

Sometimes the lessons that one learns are not fatal and one can recover quite effectively. The best road to stay on is one that is paved with hard experience.

I know guys that have sold cameras and lenses and within three years later have re-purchased the identical cameras and lenses because they found that their decision was short sighted. Hey, it happens as we all make mistakes sometimes.

JC Kuba
6-Jan-2011, 19:47
JC - a specific question - did you ever have any qualms about the tripod connection? I've seen that some Wisner cameras experienced failures at this connection and with the extra leverage force from the 8x20 wide rear standard and long bellows I would think that it would be a very securely braced fitting. Thanks.
-Chris

I attached a plate(3"x4" or something like that) to the bottom of the camera and screwed a Hexagonal Quick Release Plate to the bottom of that. I used a Zone VI heavy duty tripod with a Majestic 1000-E head with a hexagonal clamp on top of that. Setting the camera onto the tripod setup was a little troublesome, but once the camera was clamped down I never worried about it failing. My largest lens is 450mm so that's as far as I ever extended it.

civich
6-Jan-2011, 21:11
"I attached a plate(3"x4" or something like that) to the bottom of the camera and screwed a Hexagonal Quick Release Plate to the bottom of that. I used a Zone VI heavy duty tripod with a Majestic 1000-E head with a hexagonal clamp on top of that. Setting the camera onto the tripod setup was a little troublesome, but once the camera was clamped down I never worried about it failing. My largest lens is 450mm so that's as far as I ever extended it."

....Was the 3 x4 plate fastened to the camera base with wood screws?If so it sounds like you may have had your own doubts about the security of the camera's tripod screw socket.

Michael Kadillak
6-Jan-2011, 21:17
On my Canham 8x20 camera, I use a Bogen hex quick release plate screwed manually into the base plate of the camera head on my 410 Bogen tripod and it is very solid.

My heavy Wisner and my Deardorff V11 goe on the 6x6" Ries A250 head on my A100 tripod.

civich
6-Jan-2011, 21:42
Michael, I also have the A250 Ries head. You are apparently satisfied with the robustness of the Wisner tripod screw socket supporting hardware. Would I make a mistake in assuming the 8x20 set-up is the same? I have not seen any views of this component but your info is very much to the point.

JC Kuba
6-Jan-2011, 23:00
....Was the 3 x4 plate fastened to the camera base with wood screws?If so it sounds like you may have had your own doubts about the security of the camera's tripod screw socket.[/QUOTE]

It was just a rectangular plate the screwed in the camera's tripod screw socket. Maybe it was only 2x3. I can't remember. I wasn't concerned about the camera's tripod screw socket, I just thought it would give it more stability than the hex plate alone.

CP Goerz
6-Jan-2011, 23:33
Hey there,


I have a couple of Technical 8x20 Wisner's and the tripod stability is the weakest link I found, not the camera. Since you have a large flat surface to land the camera on don't worry about the tripod screw thread mounts, the head itself will take a lot of the load.


I tried the Bogen adaptor plate thingies and found them useless, the surface area the plate has to grab is tiny in comparison to the weight/physical size of the camera. What ends up happening when you pop in the film holder is that you add a lot of torque which ends up 'spinning' the camera a bit and makes you recompose again which is a real time waster. I 'used' to have that issue till I switched to a larger head.


The rear rise I never used, I have used it in all the other Technicals but somehow never found the need arise(excuse the pun ;-) for me to use it, perhaps the shape of the format makes it easier just to tilt the camera up/down a few degrees.


Its a great camera, very stable under conditions that the Korona 8x20 flounders in. Its a false economy to buy an 8x20(holders/lenses etc) and hiking about with a camera that weighs 10Lbs less and but delivers fluffy negatives.

civich
7-Jan-2011, 09:27
As an update: somewhere between yesterday and today someone bought the Wisner. Wasn't me. No regrets - saved me somewhere north of three grand. Maybe KEH owes me a discount on my next purchase for moving that turkey that had sat on their website for the last eight months.

Mark Sampson
7-Jan-2011, 09:36
Believe it or not, I saw an 8x20 camera on the Cape Cod Craigslist. It was at Thanksgiving but it may still be there...

Michael Kadillak
7-Jan-2011, 10:13
Sometimes things happen for a reason. You will find one that will work for you. My advice would be to get the dollars ready because now it is just a matter of time. There are many gracious people here that will keep their eyes open for you.

Fabulous format that I absolutely love to use in the field. Let us know how it works out and when you need sheet film for your 8x20.

civich
8-Jan-2011, 17:34
Thanks to all for the info and encouragement - Wisner is on the short list because of it. A list of 8x20 cameras is de facto a short one but I'm leaning more to cameras of more recent fabrication now.
-Chris

Michael Kadillak
10-Jan-2011, 11:53
I had an 8x20 Korona a couple of years ago and while it is acceptable, there were some things that it was short of. I find the capability of using long focal length lenses fits my current style and the Canham can get me out to 35" which I personally like. Other 8x20's only have just past 24" of bellows so that is something to consider. Consistent with finding a camera is finding holders that work with it. I have six 8x20 S&S holders that I find work very well. Wisner only made a few of his holders for a reason. AWB are also great. I have heard positive and negative comments about the Chinese holders. My point is to make sure that your holder dimensions are consistent and fit your camera correctly at the T lock or you will end up with some dimensional "slop". You may find a deal on a 7x17 and I would not hesitate going down that road if the opportunity presents itself.

John Bowen
10-Jan-2011, 18:17
On my Canham 8x20 camera, I use a Bogen hex quick release plate screwed manually into the base plate of the camera head on my 410 Bogen tripod and it is very solid.

My heavy Wisner and my Deardorff V11 goe on the 6x6" Ries A250 head on my A100 tripod.

Ouch!!! My back hurts just reading that.

May I suggest a Ritter ULF. I have a 7x17 and due to the camera's light weight, i've been able to "downsize" my tripod to a Ries J-100-8 (I'm 6'6" tall) and the lighter J class tripod head. The combined weight savings are significant! Not to mention the ability to shoot effortless verticals. Anyone considering ULF owes it to themselves to at least consider a Ritter.

Good Luck,

Joe Forks
14-Jan-2011, 06:54
I don't know anyone that would not love to own a ritter ULF, myself included, but sometimes it just comes down to money. as much money in many cases. There are an awful lot of ULF out there sitting on shelves, and if you rattle the bushes in all the appropriate venues those ULF's fall out like fruit from a tree.

civich
14-Jan-2011, 20:47
I don't know anyone that would not love to own a ritter ULF, myself included, but sometimes it just comes down to money. as much money in many cases. There are an awful lot of ULF out there sitting on shelves, and if you rattle the bushes in all the appropriate venues those ULF's fall out like fruit from a tree.

I like your imagry Joe. Being a retired (til next season) pecan picker I can envision grabbing a tree with the shaker and being bombed by all the ULF cameras falling out. If you hear of any 8x20 bushes awaiting harvest let me know.
-Chris

Joe Forks
15-Jan-2011, 07:19
Here's what I would do; I love Pecans!

1) WTB Here
2) WTB Ads on photo.net, Azo Forum,, RFF, and Fred Miranda
3) WTB on Craigslist, largest towns closest to you - just be careful to screen respondents and meet in public places
4) Put out feelers with MPEX, KEH, and few other choice LF dealers out there, and even ULF manufacturers because sometimes they get first dibs on folks that want to move out of a format

The key here is being in a position to buy as soon as you see your deal. If you have all those bases covered, one will appear in a matter of time.

Brian Ellis
15-Jan-2011, 09:09
. . . . I know guys that have sold cameras and lenses and within three years later have re-purchased the identical cameras and lenses because they found that their decision was short sighted. Hey, it happens as we all make mistakes sometimes.

That's a syndrome I know well, it's why I've owned two Linhof Technikas, two Tachiharas, two Kodak 2Ds, and two Deardorffs! Also owned two Ebonys but for somewhat different reasons. Some of us make more mistakes than others. : - )

Bob Kerner
15-Jan-2011, 09:22
That's a syndrome I know well, it's why I've owned two Linhof Technikas, two Tachiharas, two Kodak 2Ds, and two Deardorffs! Also owned two Ebonys but for somewhat different reasons. Some of us make more mistakes than others. : - )

Me too! I'm gradually re-purchasing all the LF gear I had in 1992 and sold, albeit now I'm smart enough-and the market favors-buying used.