View Full Version : Field Camera vs. View Camera

20-Nov-2003, 12:05

I am interested in making the move to 8x10 and see that there are differences in the cameras just the same as 4x5. The images I would like to be taking are like that of photographer Jim Cooke.


Here is a link for reference.

I do not know the differences in the Field cameras abilities to the View cameras. I know the range of movements are going to be greater in the view camera but is it needed if I want to be taking these kinds of landscape images?

I do tend to find myself taking more pictures in city enviornments than open nature, be it with homes or buildings rounds me, so will I need to have a greater range of movents than a Field camera offers?

Thank you for your time.


John Cook
20-Nov-2003, 12:37
I believe that view cameras are much easier and more instinctive to operate. While not that much heavier (as a total package), they are bulky and therefore difficult to carry long distances without a wheeled hand-cart of some kind.

It seems that most 8x10 shooters are fine artists and serious hiking amateurs these days as studio pros turn digital. Therefore as a practical matter, demand for ultra light weight field cameras is up. The 8x10 monorail market is very soft.

Should you decide on a field camera, you will pay top price. But if you go with an 8x10 monorail you will take a bath when you try to sell it.

If you work close to your car and/or stay on pavement where a cart can travel, you can probably get a wonderful deal right now on a used Toyo GII. But plan to keep it.

Jan Pietrzak
20-Nov-2003, 13:16

8X10 field or view, Mr Cooks' advice is well given and should be well taken. The other side of the film base, is that you should look at the work of other photographers that you like or fit your style. Then find out what cameras they use, you might find that a good used Toyo 810M or a Kodak Master View may work for you.

For along time Morley Baer worked commercialy shooting architecture with an old Ansco flat bed, with old lenses and a Packard shutter. The same camera was used in the landscape. It is the matter of using the tools, and making them work.

My personal work and commercial are all/mostly done with Linhof tk, Kodak MV and and 11x14 Deardorff, they all have the movments I want.

Johns background is sound, If, I can read into his e-mail responses it sounds like he went to Art Center some time in the late 60's/70's. Back when you did the work, with 4x5s.

hope this helps Jan

David A. Goldfarb
20-Nov-2003, 13:18
These images don't involve extensive movements--maybe a little front rise/fall and front tilt. Most flatbed cameras can handle this easily.

All such cameras might be called "view cameras" by the way, and a lightweight monorail camera is considered by some to be a "field camera," so it's clearer to distinguish between them by calling them "flatbed" and "monorail" cameras.

Michael Chmilar
20-Nov-2003, 14:59
To further confuse: not all flatbed cameras are folding cameras. Ebony makes both folding and nonfolding wooden flatbed cameras, including both types in the 8x10 format.

20-Nov-2003, 15:04

Does it make a difference if you use a wood flatbed camera vs. a metal one?



Frank Petronio
20-Nov-2003, 15:36
Search the old forum (and photo.net) for exhaustive discussions of wood vs metal, etc. Any "brand name" camera will do a good job, and you should look to balance the price/quality/stability of your entire outfit - a good tripod is just as important, although you can get by with a mediocre lens if you are only contact printing. To me the best value is one of the high quality monorail view cameras that so many studios are dumping for digital equipment. But deals on 8x10 abound, especially once you get into the $1000 range.

Peter Free
20-Nov-2003, 15:57
Yes, there is a difference between wood and metal flatbed cameras. Wood is generally lighter. It is also often makes for a less rigid, less precise camera. Rigidity/stability are important, for example, with long bellows extensions or under windy conditions. Very generally speaking, however, landscape photography doesn't require great rigidity, especially when you learn how to shield the camera from wind.

For landscape use, many photographers prefer wooden flatbeds, though durability can be problem under some circumstances. My wooden Tachihara 8x10 started losing screws, due to the flexing of my internal frame pack, after only 3 hikes. I saw no point in protecting it with a rigid container, since by then it would have equalled the weight of a metal Toyo M. I was confined to internal frame packs because I backpack off trail and on very steep, usually dangerous terrain in the Rockies. Around town, the Tachihara was great, and I recommend it

You will find that experience will probably modify your preferences in large format equipment. Therefore, I recommend beginning with used cameras, inexpensively purchased. A review of the archives will give you pointers on what to look for.

Ernest Purdum
20-Nov-2003, 16:51
If by "city" you mean architectural views, yes, you will need considerable movement capability from both your camera and your lenses.

I think it would be well to start with a relatively inexpensive camera, find out all its weaknesses and strengths, then look for a camera that suits your personal needs, selling the first along the way unless you should discover that you really like it, which is a possibility. It would be good to start with one that has all the movements, so as not to frustrate yourself too much, and to let you sample the capabilities. The least expensive cameras that I think of as "learner" 8" X 10" types, were both made by Burke and James, the B&J View, a flatbed (be sure that it comes with an extension rail, many have been separated along the years) and the "Grover", a monorail.

If you save some money by buying an inexpensive camera, you'll need it anyway for lenses. Good 8" X 10" lenses are expensive.

Besides, or perhaps preferably before, buying a camera and lenses, buy a book. Leslie Stroebel's "View Camera Technique" is a very good one.

tim atherton
20-Nov-2003, 18:36
Mark - I think you probably mean more urban landscape/cityscape work rather than "straight" architectural photography?

In which case, unless you are trying to include skyscrapers, field camera movements are probably fine - and as has been pointed out - the lens can limit your movements as much as the camera. And 8x10 lenses with big image circles also come with big tickets... They also tend to weigh a tonne.

If (looking at the sort of photography that attracts you - which seems pretty close to what I like and do) you are more likely to be wandering around the city, suburbs, extra-urban areas, camera and tripod over shoulder (rather than photographing 10 feet from the car), then a field camera is probably the thing. You are unlikely to also be wanting to cart around a 165 super Angulon, 200mm Grandagon, 120 Nikkor SW etc - not unless you have a Sherpa as well. My guess is you would plump more for a dagor 165 WA, G-Claron or Kowa 210, Fuji 240 or Fuji 250w etc. Smaller image circles but lighter.

I think if you are looking at the sort of urban and landscape photography done by Jim Cooke, Geoffrey James, Joel Sternfeld, Basilico, Nick Nixon, George Tice, Robert Adams or even Misrach etc - the field set-up is most suitable in 8x10. But if you are going to concentrate just on buildings - more Architectural Record style you might want to look at a view/studio camera. But it's most likely going to be cumbersome - and 4x5 may be best for that sort of work anyway. That said, while I use and Arca Swiss 4x5 for architectural stuff that pays the bills, I've also taken plenty of architectural shots with a Toyo 4x5 field and an 8x10 field.

New there are a good few choices - Phillips, Gandolfi, Canham - to the more traditional Wisner and ebony - and plenty more others might mention.

Used - I doubt a good Kodak Master 8x10 can be bettered (there are of course, Deardorffs by the dozen and many swear by them - my first 8x10 was a Deardorff - I wish I had bought a Kodak Master... :-) ). The Toyo metal field is nice, but I think it's pretty heavy. (you can always go ultralight minimalist and get the little Gowland 8x10 monorail).

Francis Abad
20-Nov-2003, 18:57
If you can stand the hassle, the lightest full-movements 8x10 field camera in my opinion is the Wisner 8x10 Expedition. I have had mine since 1995 and it is perfect. It always feels lighter than my long lenses. Easy to unfold and easy to manipulate. And if you like that red bellows look, then this is the one. I am aware of the Wisner threads but that is not my experience.

tim atherton
20-Nov-2003, 19:11
the Wisner is pretty close to the same weight as the ebonys isn't it? Though not as many doubloons?

Francis Abad
20-Nov-2003, 19:19
The Wisner Tech Field is but not the Expedition.

tim atherton
20-Nov-2003, 19:56
what's the weight of the Expedition?

Francis Abad
21-Nov-2003, 03:07
Expedition 8x10 weighs 10.9 lbs. The Ebony SV810UE weighs 14.3 lbs and the SV810U weighs 11 lbs. You are right Tim, the Mahogany version of the Ebony 8x10 is the same weight as the Expedition. And definitely more doubloons.

Steve Hamley
21-Nov-2003, 08:49

There are two folding mahoghany Ebony 8x10s, the SV810U and the SV810. Yhe "U" model has an asymmetric back swing and tilt and costs about $2,000 more according to badger's site. The Wisner Expedition is 10.9 lbs and costs $4,195. The Ebony SV810 costs $5,695 and weighs 11 lb.

IMO, the difference isn't that much, considering that most 8x10 users who would order either would keep the camera a while.



Francis Abad
21-Nov-2003, 09:42
Are the available movements of the SV810 comparable to that in the Expedition (not that one will need all of them in the field, although you never know of course)?

Christopher Condit
21-Nov-2003, 11:07
Monorails are often overkill for landscapes, but can be crucial for architecture.

Flatbeds are easier to transport and deal with, especially in 8x10.

A camera that sits in your closet, because it is too much trouble, is useless. So, if you expect to work more than 100 yards from the car, make dang well sure you can put up with the bother before buying an 8x10 monorail. If you can put up with it, a monorail is definitely more camera.

Steve Hamley
21-Nov-2003, 12:29

The Expedition, TF, traditional and the Ebony SV810 are very similarly specified. The movements are typically 5 degrees or less difference. The Ebony has about an inch more front rise, and the Wisner about 3-1/2 inches more front fall. The Ebony edges the Wisner by a tiny bit on most of the rear movements but IMO the difference is insignificant for a field camera. The Ebony miniumum bellows draw (standard bellows) is 70 mm with rise and tilt (125 mm w/o), and the Wisner is 90mm. Both are near 1000 mm maximum draw.

The Ebony uses a standard Sinar board and comes with a Sinar to Linhof Technika board adapter. A seemingly insignificant (but not) difference is the rear flip-up mirror on the Ebony's two-way rear levels: they're always visible unless it's dark.



21-Nov-2003, 21:15
Hi Everyone,

Thank you so much for all of the helpful information provied. It has been a great help to read these things.

Kind regards,


Jerry Greer
22-Nov-2003, 22:11

I have a great 8x10 Burke & James Grover for sell and it is in great shape, for its age I would have to give it a 8.5 or 9 out of 10. If you have an interest let me know. It is a wood and metal monorail with a beautiful red bellows. I can post some pix for you to look at if needed.


Michael S. Briggs
23-Nov-2003, 03:20
As others have said, if you intend to wander around on foot you will find a field camera vastly more convenient than a monorail.

Since you are asking specifically about 8x10, having a camera that supports extreme movements is less important compared to 4x5 -- if you intend to buy "reasonable" price lenses, only long ones (relative to the format diagonal) are likely to allow substantial movements. For lenses with focal lengths similar to the format diagonal, there are a few reasonable ones that will offer significant movements, e.g., the G-Clarons. For moderate wide-angles such as 200 to 210 mm, it is much harder to find light-weight, reasonable cost lenses that will allow significant movements than it is for equivalent focal lengths for 4x5. The point is that there is no technical reason to buy a camera that is capable of large movements if your lenses aren't capable of the same. (There is a cost reason -- a monorail offering extensive movements might be cheaper than a folding field camera.) So another way to think about what capabilities you want an 8x10 camera to have is to think about what lenses you might use.

The movement that is easiest to run out of is front rise. With virtually all LF cameras you can get additional front rise with a combination of movements, by tilting the camera up and bringing both standards to plumb (vertical). While not as convenient as direct front rise, this works well if you occasionally need substantial front rise.

Looking at the photos of Jim Cooke that you have linked, I would guess that many were done with modest movements, up to an inch or so of front rise and perhaps some front tilt for focus. There are a few that look to me as if fairly significant front rise were used, perhaps several inches, for example, some of the photos of tanks on the second page. These are landscape orientation and the rise looks to be less than half the vertical dimension, so maybe 2 or 3 inches. I would guess these to have been taken with probably with a moderate wide, perhaps with a normal focal length.

John Kasaian
23-Nov-2003, 09:18

It sounds like either type of camera would suit your purpose. You have all kinds of options. If the 4x5 field or monorail camera you're using now is a camera you enjoy using, I'd suggest getting a like camera in the larger format since you'd already know it's modus and would be comfortable with it. OTOH, if your coming from 35, MF, or digital, get something used, inexpensive and in good condition. You'll need a sturdy tripod, a lens on a board, light meter, and film holders---spend the money you've saved on those items and on film(BTW, I certainly don't want to sound discouraging, but do you want to work in color like Jim Cooke? Have you seen the prices of color 8x10 film? Yikes!) then go out and play. If it is something you want to continue, you'll either learn to love what you have or learn what you've found lacking---then you can look for a camera that will come closer to the ideal one for you(caution: I worked with a guy once who tried to use the same line of thinking regarding his wives---not recommended!) Fortunately, the prices for used 8x10 cameras seem to be low right now, Calumets, D2s, B&J, Agfa Anscos and the like aren't much more expensive than good used 4x5s, just make sure you get one in good condition or your new learning experience can quickly become a frustrating. I hope this helps---Good Luck!

tor kviljo
26-Nov-2003, 03:03
If money is an issue (it is for most of us) a easy packable monorail may be a better bet than trying to find a nice priced 8"x10" field/folding at the moment - they are extremely sought after. I have only used 8"x10" monorail: Sinar P/P2, but that one were very heavy (could allways see the car from where I was using that one). I sold it when I had the oportunity to buy a Sinar Norma 8"x10" conversion set at MXV in England. This set were priced inexpensively, and using the tapered Sinar bellows & Norma 4"x5" front + 20" rail it is a quite portable & very stable system. With standards slid of the rail, the 4"x5" front standard (attached to bellows) rest on the 10"x10" bellows attached to the rear standard and secured together by rubber-springs during transport = reasonably compact. Rail standing in back-pack main compartment, rail-holder permanently attached to tripod-head. Set-up time about a minute - but who is in a hurry using 8"x10" anyway? MXW ( at http://www.mxv.co.uk/ ) have several times sold the Norma 8"x10" set at niceprice. Recommended shop!

Good luck