View Full Version : Is Reduced Weight Worth An Extra $1500+ for 8x10?

Robert M
18-Jan-2004, 22:51
Hello everyone,

I'm making the leap to large format photography (from medium format) and have done a fair amount of research , including poring over this forum, and asking colleagues at my local photography school their opinion. There are a fair number of large format converts at the school, but the vast majority (98% is conservative) have gone to 4x5.

Basically, the reason I'm jumping straight to 8x10 is because of my interest in alternative processes and working with large negatives, and one of my former teachers is the resident expert in that area and encouraging me to do 8x10. However, he says I should spend the money on a Canham or Phillips, because he claims that if I go with a more reasonably priced and heavier Tachihara or Wista or other brand, I'll never use it after the initial honeymoon. He did, however, approve of buying an old Deardorff if it was in good condition. My other B&W professor, on the other hand, is much less of a brand snob and thinks the more expensive cameras are overkill (though he shoots 4x5 primarily).

I envision using the camera heavily for environmental portraits, a little studio work, and some landscape work (depending on how onerous the weight really is). Weight is certainly crucial along with price, but it's also important for me to have a camera that doesn't require a lot of extra tuning and tweaking related to maintenance...I understand that large format is a different animal, and I'm ready to immerse myself in the Zen of the process, but I want to spend my time getting better pictures, not hunting around for parts and screws and varnish and glue in order to keep the camera in one piece. So rehab jobs to save a penny don't work for me...I'm just not that handy.

I think I've found a refinished Deardorff with new bellows in decent condition for a little under $2000. The Canham, by contrast, is priced at $3500, which takes the purchase into the category of real financial pain. I can't seem to find out much about Phillips other than it looks like it will take quite a while to get the camera from the time the order is placed, and they don't seem to come up used at all.

Will I regret purchasing the Deardorff? Is a $3000+ camera really worth the premium? Though I did say that I don't want a fixer upper, I'm not into carrying around a camera for status or museum display purposes either...I do have these tendencies at times when it comes to other product categories, but I don't need a BMW caliber camera, unless the friendly folks here feel that's the way to go when it comes to getting a useable camera in this category..

Sorry for the longwinded post, but I'd appreciate any quick feedback on the price-feature tradeoffs with the brands I've mentioned. Thanks in advance to anyone who can reply.

David A. Goldfarb
18-Jan-2004, 23:01
First off, I also went straight to 8x10" when I purchased my first LF camera. Now I shoot 4x5" as well, but I can understand the appeal of the larger camera, and if that's your intuition, then go with it.

These are all good cameras, and it really depends on the specific features you're after. How important is weight to you? Getting a lighter 8x10" isn't the only option--you might decide that when weight is a prime concern, you'll shoot 4x5", for instance. Deardorffs are great cameras, and they hold their value, so if that's the camera it makes sense for you to buy now, you can likely sell it for the price you bought it for. A new camera will depreciate immediately, so if you decide to sell it, you will most likely lose money.

John Kasaian
18-Jan-2004, 23:17

IMHO, for 8x10, you can't go wrong with a 'dorff! If you want to go extreme with this wieght thing, Peter Gowland builds the lightest 8x10 I know of. Keep in mind though, the camera usually isn't going to be the "back-breaker"---all those 8x10 film holders and the heavy duty tripod are!---------Good Luck!

CP Goerz
18-Jan-2004, 23:21
BMW around here means 'Broken Most Weekends'.

CP Goerz in LA

Jim Galli
18-Jan-2004, 23:23

I spent yesterday from dawn to dusk in Death Valley scrambling up and down rocks and in and out of canyons with primarily the Deardorff 8X10. I couldn't afford anything lighter and the $800 'dorff is wonderful to use. I've seen some spiffy one ownerish later 'dorffs going on Ebay lately for $1300. I prefer an un-restored camera to one that's been through someone's restoration mill. My feeling is that the Deardorff is todays best bargain. And I have had 3 other 8X10's to compare it to. I have a "green monster" (Calumet C1 magnesium) that I keep because it's strong enough to hold up 6+ pound cooke portrait lenses but I doubt if it will ever go into the field like the Deardorff. I began with a Cambo 8X10 and it is simply to heavy for anything but studio use. If you fall in love with the field work and decide you can't live without a Phillips or Canham you can sell a used Deardorff for what you got it for.

tim atherton
18-Jan-2004, 23:32
Your one prof certainly has a point. I had a Deardorff, which got me hooked on 8x10, but quite frankly it was a slog to drag it out and lug it about (fine if you are a "car boot" phtographe..r). Now, however, with a Phillips Compact II, it really is that much more easy and convenient - basically it just isn't so goddam heavy! Unless it's very windy, I use a much lighter tripod (gitzo 1325) and you can also get by with a ligther tripod head, like the acratech. Apart from the 8x10 holders (which are a bugger) it makes the whole setup lighter. For me, that ,eans I'm a lot happier carrying it over my shoulder around towns and cities, or over a bit of tundra and I probably just use it more. I'ts going up to the diamond mines on the Barren Lands next week for a shoot - I don't think I would have done that with the Dorff.

The Phillips (waiting list and lightest of the bunch apart from the Phillips Explorer and the Gowland), Canham (wood or metal) all seem to have satisfied users. Another option is the Gandolfi Variant 8x10 - only a touch heavier than the Phillips and quite versatile (at least one user on here). The Gowland is an ultralight and cheaper option, but perhaps not quite as convenient or versatile? - but users on here too.

Again, horses for courses, but if I was starting again with an older camera, I'd find a semi-decent Kodak Master 8x10. About the same weight as the Dorff I think, but tough as old boots - and Michael Smith and Jock Struges seem to do okay with them.... "-)

18-Jan-2004, 23:46
Keep in mind that lenses can make up a significant portion of the weight of your kit. You can save quite a bit of weight by paring down the number of lenses you carry. Depending upon your preferences you can also find some fairly lightweight lenses on the market. The difference could overshadow the difference in camera weight.

While I fully believe in supporting the folks who support our madness, I cast my vote for finding a clean Deardorff or Master View and saving what money you can for lenses and film. As Jim pointed out, you can always get your money back out of it should you decide that a modern camera is what you want.

Kerry L. Thalmann
19-Jan-2004, 00:05
Have you considered a Wehman? It's lightweight (8.7 lbs.), reasonably priced, very rugged and folds up nice for transport? Just another option to consider (given your budget and desire for a reasonably light camera).


Jorge Gasteazoro
19-Jan-2004, 00:34
YOu might also want to consider the Gandolfi, it is light weight (little over 6 #) and I think Bromwell is selling them for $2700. For $700 more you get a new camera, I have one and I am pleased with it, like all cameras it has it good and bad points, but overall it has given me very good service and I am a bit rough with my equipment, but then I have hiked pretty good distances with this camera.

The Deardoff is definitly a good camera, an 8 pounds is no big deal, the weight is mostly in the lenses and holders, so IMO spending an extra $1500 to save 2 pounds is not worth it, specially if this would mean a financial sacrifice. If it was me, just beguinning and money was an issue I would go with Kerry's recommendation, the Wheman seems to be a great camera for a very reasonable price.

Ralph Barker
19-Jan-2004, 01:48
I went the other direction, opting for the less expensive, but new, Tachihara double-extension model (about 9#). I just couldn't see spending $2K for the cult status of a 'Dorff. Weight is certainly an issue, but for me, it was secondary to the overall investment. I've taken the Tachi on several trips, and it is usually accompanied by a Toyo 45AX and a Leica M6 TTL for casual shots. While I don't usually take both LF cameras to a location at the same time, it has been a workable solution to shooting both formats. I only do contact prints with the 8x10, but enlarge the 4x5 work. There is, however, a growing itch to get an 8x10 enlarger.

Francis Abad
19-Jan-2004, 03:14
I use an 8x10 Wisner Expedition (bought new 8 years ago from a dealer who had it in stock). I can hike with the camera, two lenses and six holders for one hour before I need a rest (around 3-4 km). One other reason I love doing this masochistic exercise is the fact that I love looking at this camera when it is set up. It is quite simply beautiful to use (tastes vary of course). I love having big negatives, but I am spurred on by the knowledge that I will be using a lovely camera to make those big negatives. Some cameras, like your prof suggested, have a honeymoon period, the Wisner Exp for me does not. It makes me forget the load on my back.

Edward (Halifax,NS)
19-Jan-2004, 05:35

Do you find the double extension limiting? The triple extension puts the camera out of my price range unless it is used. I ocassionally shoot 1:2 with my 4X5, although usually at infinity, and was considering upgrading to a field camera. The Tachihara would also let me upgrade to 8X10 for the same price as many 4X5 field cameras and still be smaller/lighter than my CC400. I will be picking up a 240mm G-Claron, whether I upgrade the camera or not, and have a 127mm that I would use for macro and 4X5.

Michael A.Smith
19-Jan-2004, 05:36
I recommend a Kodak Master View. Sturdier than a Deardorff, usually less expensive, and it has more movements. Very easy to carry over your shoulder on your tripod.

The tripod and, as someone mentioned, the lenses, will make up most of the weight. If you get old Dagors and Artars you will keep the weight of the lenses down. And you can get by with one of the Ries tripods made for 4x5.

No need to spend $3,500 for a camera. That's insane unless you have very deep pockets. All a view camera is, after all, is a light-tight box with a place at one end for a lens and at the other for a film holder.

Ed Burlew
19-Jan-2004, 06:49
My thoughts are to get a camera you canafford adn one or twolenses then to actually use it. The Doff will be readily resaleable if you find it too heavy adn the money you make with the portraits will soon allow you to move into a lighter set up if that is where you want to go. There ae other light cameras out there, like the old Kodak magnesium, at 7 lbs plus a small lense like the 240 adn a couple of holders you will stay under 15 lbs overall. If you can get an Arca Swiss F you will find it very versatile and light. I find the arca rail very easy to quickly set up because the quick mount is built in, the camera is light but rare to find cheap. The Kodak Masterview is expensive by your standards. I would rather you bought another lense than go to the more expensive camera or you buy top quality lenses. Because this is you first 8x10 you need to get one and do the shooting first and then see how you adapt, there is alot more to 8x10 than weight. It is bigger and more affected by wind than a 4x5. and you have to consider the print you want. If you are doing contacts then the 8x10 or larger is the way to go, If you are enlarging up to 30x40 then you could use a 4x5, If you are going larger then you will need an 8x10.

19-Jan-2004, 07:34
Canham's a nice guy, very helpful, and builds a great camera. He showed me the new metal 8x10 at the last PhotoPlus, and I fell in love with it. One day I'll buy one, when I have the money. If you plan on doing a lot of hiking, definately get the lightest camera you can. You'll be much happier. But I must say, I don't consider Wisner's cameras to be heavy. His Expedition and Traditional 8x10's weigh 11 lbs. (10.9). The 8x10 which I now use, and hike with, weighs 18 - slightly more than his lightweight 11x14.

Yeah, it helps to have a light camera. It's easier to carry, and you'll go farther and more often. But if budget doesn't allow it, it's not the end of the world.

If you're planning on doing a lto of stuff within reasonable distance of the car, go with something that's a bit heavier but has full movements.

On a final note, if budget is a big concern, as long as you care enough, you can make anything work. Oh, and remember that the lens is what matters, not the camera.

Michael Kadillak
19-Jan-2004, 07:41
I agree with Michael concerning the Kodak Master 8x10 as it was my first entry into large format. It is extremely reasonable in weight for a metal camera (about 12#), has a full compliment of movements and is a joy to use in the field or studio. I would also recommend that you acquire the 5x7 back for the camera as it would provide you with another perspective that is capable of contact printing that is less expensive than 8x10. 5x7 film is diverse (transparency, B&W and color negative) and available from a myriad of sources. Any lenses you use for 8x10 will be more than adequate for 8x10. Forget about maintenance with this camera. You can acquire a fabulous condition Master with a 5x7 reducing back for about $1,600.

I have three of these cameras (two more than I really need) and use them regularly. Good Luck!

John Kasaian
19-Jan-2004, 08:55
The Kodak Masterview is a very good option, but I haven't seen any bargains lately---the word must be out! FWIW, in a worse case scenario, tough as they are, I'd rather deal with glueing together busted wood than metal alloy. I think around 1K will still get you a "user" 'dorff though. I agree with Jim Galli in that theres no point in taking a piece of "furniture" into the field.

Jason Antman also brought up an excellent point: 8x10 is an exercise in logistics. You can certainly get more than 100' away from the car with one, --if Dick Arentz can hike the Appallachia(sp?) Trail with an 11x14(or was it 12x20?) you can figure out how to move your gear around to where ever you want it---you just have to "want to" bad enough and make your plans.

8x10, at least for me, is more like ULF than 4x5. I carry only one lens (rarely a second) and three holders(rarely a fourth, five is the absolute maximum) Any more is simply too much for me to carry, although these limitations are anything but---I spend more time looking and thinking about what it is I'm trying to catch on film---it forces me to do things differently and my 8x10 negatives have a very different feel to them compared to my 4x5s---IMHO, an improvement.

Welcome to LF and 8x10....Good Luck!

Ernest Purdum
19-Jan-2004, 08:57
Choosing a used camera just now would allow you to decide you have made a mistake without severe financial penalty. On the other hand, you might find out it is just what you wanted.

ronald lamarsh
19-Jan-2004, 10:02
I've never let weight be the most improtant factor. like others have said the tripod, lenses, &film holders are what is really going to hold you back. I think the most important thing is to get a camera that fits you; that is to say the controls and setup etc. work for you then go from there. If you happen to save that extra $1000 or $2000 you can always get a bender 8x10 kit I think they weigh in at about 6lbs. Like all other weight questions I lean towards saving the money and using to get a club membership, workout regular and an extra 10 or 15lbs to carry won't matter and you'll stay healthier. Have Fun

Sam Crater
19-Jan-2004, 10:24
I think you shouldn't have to pay close to $2000 for a Deardorff in good working condition - at that price I think you're paying for a pretty finish. Beat-up-looking but fully functional ones go for less than $1000 on EBay.

One other thing to consider though - you may need more weight in your tripod and head to support more weight in your camera. That's been my experience at least.

Brian Ellis
19-Jan-2004, 10:46
I'm surprised that someone would say in one breath that weight is critical so buy the Canham or Phillips rather than the heavier Tachihara but then in the next breath say buy the Deardorff if you can find one in good shape. Good or bad shape, the Deardorff weighs 12 pounds, I've owned one and it isn't any light weight. Your question of weight vs. cost is very much a personal thing. As I'm sure you know, nobody will be able to tell you what to do. FWIW, I owned a Deardorff for several years, loved the camera, loved the format, hated the weight so my usage of it was limited to things within a very short distance from the car. I finally got tired of seeing it sitting in the closet and sold it. I've thought of getting back into 8x10 because it is a terrific format I think but if I did it again it would definitely be with one of the 8 lb Phillips or Canhams. While it's true that the holders and other things add a lot to the weight, there's still a big difference between carrying an 8 lb and a 12 lb camera when you're walking any distance at all.

With respect to the Deardorff, you can find Deardorffs in very nice shape for a good bit less than near $2000 but you have to be patient. I see Deardorffs all the time on e bay described as excellent condition, then you look at the pictures and they're loaded with dings, nicks, scratches, dents, and gouges. I ended up paying $1,400 for mine on e bay and it was in very nice condition, not ready for a museum but with only a few minor nicks and scratches. One nice thing about 8x10 for contact printing is that you can buy very inexpensive lenses. So while the camera may cost a lot you can buy lenses in the $300 to $400 range that will produce beautiful contact prints. I used two old Wollensak lenses, a triple convertible and a 159mm wide angle. The cost of the two was about $600 and they were great for contact printing.

19-Jan-2004, 11:34
If you want new and light, I think this is hard to beat.


Toho 8x10.

Good luck.

Alan Davenport
19-Jan-2004, 12:13
Is Reduced Weight Worth An Extra $1500+ for 8x10?

Here's the short answer: It depend upon who will have to carry the camera. :oD

Robert M
19-Jan-2004, 13:17
Wow, 20+ replies in less than 24 hours...thanks everyone for chiming in with such helpful (and thoughtful) responses. The Wehman, Master View, and Toho all sound interesting, and I'll do some further research. I expect that I'll be doing contact printing for a significant percentage of the time, since my school doesn't have 8x10 enlargers, and contact printing processes are what interest me anyway. (That Gowland 8x10 really intrigues me, but I just haven't seen many first hand accounts from people using them)

As much as I'd like to believe I can overcome the issues of weight, the reality is that I'm in my sixth month of physical therapy for shoulder tendinitis, so I'm going to be very much a "short distance from the car" type of photographer...and with one or two lenses max. Even when I do environmental portraits these days around urban areas with medium format, I usually have some sort of bag with wheels to lug equipment around city streets. So I won't be hiking heroically long distances with 11x14s anytime soon, even though it sounds very inspiring.

Why my prof says the Canham, Phillips, or Deardorff is OK but not any camera whose name starts with a "W"...I wish I knew. He adores Sally Mann (for that matter, so do I), so maybe that's why the Deardorff gets a pass. Plus many folks here make a great point...the resale value seems to be decent, which may not be the case for the Asian brands.

Anyway, profuse thanks again to everyone, and I'll keep people posted when I eventually obtain the equipment, and attempt to crawl and eventually walk with large format.

Christopher Condit
19-Jan-2004, 14:12
A couple of apparently non-owners have mentioned the Wehman, so I thought I would chime in as a happy Wehman owner. The thing is light, bomb proof, cheap, readily available, and easy to use -- much easier than you might guess from glancing at the funky Rube Goldbergesque design.

I also have a Gowland, though admittedly only a 4x5. It is astoundingly light, and rather fussy to operate. I also have shoulder problems, and the Gowland comes with me when no other LF camera can. I'm sure the 8x10 is very similar, but maybe better: with the larger ground glass, it is probably easier to get movements right, and the weight savings is more important in the larger format.

I believe that the main problem with the Wisners is obtaining them in a timely fashion. There are many enthusiastic users.

For me, it is the big, heavy, and above all bulky tripod (and 3-way head), required for 8x10, that I find most hampering.

Don't buy the wrong camera because it has the highest resale value.

8x10 LF equipment is a highly subjective issue, and human nature is such that people tend to be cheerleaders for what they have, so take any one opinion with a high dose of NaCl.

John O'Connell
19-Jan-2004, 14:36
At least two contributors here use the Gowland 8x10. I'm one of them.

It's a quirky camera, but extremely light -- a little heavier than the Phillips Explorer.

What makes the Gowlands so different from the other cameras is that you operate them with an allen wrench. I like it -- I can lock it down securely -- but I'd imagine most people find it bizarre.

Movements are the standard for an axial tilt monorail, including the typical problem with back tilt when the back is horizontal: you can get about 15 degrees back tilt before the filmholder won't go in. There is no back rise or fall. On the front, tilt and rise/fall are locked by the same knobs, so beware.

There are no levels. I carry a pocket level which is frankly a better solution than built-in levels, which never seem to be in the right place. There is likewise no built-in solution for bellows sag, which is a fact of life above 4x5.

The basic Gowlands must be partially disassembled and then reassembled in order to switch from vertical to horizontal orientation. I recommend the V/H model that does not require this, as I find that the smaller 8x10 bellows (as opposed the the 10x10 bellows on the V/H) is tough to position to prevent vignetting with long extensions.

Focusing is on the front standard. This will only matter to you if you do a lot of close-up work.

There are no scales or markings of any kind for alignment of the standards.

There's not a lot more to it other than that mine is quite light for a 32" bellows camera, and that I've made many fine exposures with it. I can't say I'd be likely to replace it unless I got very, very, obscenely rich.

I like how basic the camera is, quite frankly -- seeing what I can do with it makes me think of my yearnings for a Sinar seem quite unnecessary and luxurious.

19-Jan-2004, 14:43
I have one more thing to add. As to John's comment about front focusing.

Not having rear focusing is no big deal with your normal 300-360mm lens. But when you start getting above that - like, for instance, my 537mm - it becomes a problem. I find that I have trouble reaching around two feet of 12x12" bellows to focus, and lock the focus. I mean, it can be done, but it's not comfortable. And it becomes amlost impossible if I try to also use a loupe when focusing. Then again, I'm not the largest person.

Really, what I'm trying to say, is to be sure that you try out the camera or one like it before you buy it. If you can't find the exact camera, find one close to it and when you try it out, note the differences.

David A. Goldfarb
19-Jan-2004, 14:43
I have a Gowland 8x10" and 4x5" and quite like them, but they're not for everyone. I've posted some comments here and in the "comments" section on the review page for the Gowland 4x5", so do a search and they should turn up.

I think of the 8x10" Gowland as my "main" LF camera for portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and architecture. For travel lately, I'm favoring the 4x5" Tech V for sturdiness, ease of setup, and the ability to function as a handheld rangefinder camera. When weight is at a premium, the Gowland 4x5" is outstanding. Mine takes my Linhof lensboards, and it's so light and compact that I can easily carry it in the side pocket of my ScopePack for impromptu landscapes and macros when I'm otherwise doing bird photography with 35mm and a long tele.

David A. Goldfarb
19-Jan-2004, 14:48
All the Gowland users seem to be posting at once.

On my 8x10" Gowland (probably older than John O'Connell's), the focus can be moved to the front or rear standard. You can mark the neutral positions on the camera, if you want marks (I have). You can also add loops to gather the bellows to the front standard to reduce the problem of bellows sag. Peter Gowland is a genial and pleasant fellow, and if you need some non-standard feature, like focus on both standards, he can probably do it for you. He'll also upgrade older cameras.

Bruce E. Rathbun
19-Jan-2004, 17:35

I once owned an 8x10 Deardorff. After 10 years of restoration work I decided that I was better off with a new camera. The Deardorff was a great camera for the studio. When I took it in the field there were more problems then it was worth. I ended up with a new 8x10 Wisner traditional model. The Deardorff was 14 pounds vs. the 13 pound Wisner. With the Wisner I picked up a far better camera for around the same weight. From the very start I hiked many miles with the deardorff. I now hike those miles with the Wisner. I also had a 5x7 that was only 7.5 pounds. That was a fantastic format to take on a hike. Nice contact print as well.

There have been many good suggestions. I would say you would be better off maybe looking for a slightly used model. I found a one year old used 11x14 that I snagged off the web. The price was very reasonable. There are also many sources for used LF gear. Just some food for thought as you can generally find good used deals.

Ralph Barker
19-Jan-2004, 19:37
"Do you find the double extension limiting? The triple extension puts the camera out of my price range . . ."

Edward (Halifax, NS) - Yes, and no. The double extension Tachihara racks out to about 550mm, so it is a little limiting for use of longer lenses in close proximity. Most of what I use that camera for, however, is landscape work with wide lenses (150mm, 240mm), so it hasn't been a practical problem. It's still long enough to use the 450mm to pull in distant subjects. For studio work where I need more extension, I also have a Toyo monorail that will stretch out to around 750mm or so with an extension rail, or 1200mm with a long bellows. Simple close-up lenses on the 450mm lens are also an option for close work with the Tachihara.

Brian Ellis
20-Jan-2004, 07:14
Just to keep the record straight, the Deardorff factory literature I have says the 8x10 with front swings weighs 12 pounds, not 14. I weighed mine and it came in just a shade above 12 pounds. Maybe the 14 pound number is with lens board and film holder in place but bare bones I'm pretty sure the camera weighs 12 pounds give or take a couple ounces.

Ed Burlew
20-Jan-2004, 13:44
There is alot of comment on the Wisner, I have one, Bought it used and I know other people who are on the forum who have them, they are good cameras. Do not be dissuaded by those people who have a personal dispute with Ron Wisner. I have never met him and I do not need to, I use the camera, the Traditional 8x10 is 8.5 lbs and it has knobs that are big and easy to use. I like the interchangeable bellows and the reducing backs. I was able to buy it used so I had no waiting and it works fine. these cameras also seem to hold their value adn many people treat them very well so you can get a mint condition Wisner used. The wait to get a new one keeps the used market high. Do not regect a camera that you can use.

Ron Bose
20-Jan-2004, 15:54

I was in the same position as you a couple of months ago. I was eager to fax in my order to Dick Phillips.

Then I happened upon a 8x10 Ansco, paid around 600 bucks for it. I figure that this way I can see if I like the big, big neg enough to splash out on a Phillips, Canham or a Wisner (I already have a 4x5 Wisner Trad).

It's a real beauty, heavy yes, but I won't be trekking with it.

Many posts have mentioned this, but remember to consider your glass, this can cost and weight a lot too. And assuming that a Dorf' or an Ansco or a B&J is light-leak free, the lens is gonna give you the image. The camera is there to hold the film and move it around a bit :-D

Also, the beauty of this route is that if you love 8x10 enought to order a new one, when the new one is delivered you can probably sell the old one with no loss in value.

Lars Åke Vinberg
20-Jan-2004, 16:10
I can vouch for the Gandolfi Variant. At about 4 kgs it is well-built and more rigid than any other wood 8x10 that I have seen, and a breeze to use. It is double-extension, so the longest lens practical to use is a 480 - but for wide-angle work it shines (can focus my 47XL, but of course it won't cover 8x10).

As for weight-saving, you need to think about the whole system. My camera weighs four kgs, but my packed backpack with the whole system weighs in at no less than 20 kgs. So the camera is probably not the cheapest item to save weight on.

Kerry L. Thalmann
20-Jan-2004, 17:39

Does your 8x10 Wisner Traditional L really weigh 8.5 lbs? The weight for the 8x10 Traditional L is listed twice on the Wisner web site. Once at 10.5 lbs. and once at 10.9 lbs.


Kerry L. Thalmann
20-Jan-2004, 18:00
There ae other light cameras out there, like the old Kodak magnesium, at 7 lbs

I assume you are referring to the Eastman Commercial View (All Metal). I have one of these, and while it is a very usable camera and a good value for the money, it weighs quite a bit more than 7 lbs. My camera in it's lightest configuration with no rear extension rail, no sliding tripod mounting bracket and no front tilt/swing add-on weighs 9.9 lbs. I don't have the exact total in front of me, but if you include all the mentioned items (that are really needed to get the most out of the camera), it's in the same 12.5 lb. range as the Deardorff.

The good news is that it costs about 1/2 as much (or less) than Deardorff or Master View in comparable condition. And, being made from metal, it's quite durable. I'm not implying that it's a better camera than a Deardorff or Master View. It's not. It is a usable camera and a good value (but not an ultralight).


P.S. If you're interested in an 8x10 Toho, Badger Graphic has a used on listed on their web site for $1595.

20-Jan-2004, 23:20
Sounds like you will use the camera more if it comes in at a lighter weight. Probably the nicest and highest valued one in this regard is the Phillips. He has been taking orders recently for his 6lb model. Not a ton of bellows though.If money is an issue then buy a recent wooden camera (e**y) used in mint and let the original owner take the depreciation hit. I wouldn't spend too much money though until you are really sure about this format. More money spent is not going to make much dif in the contacts you create. You will really be amazed at what you can do with an older camera in good cond. and an older lens..... but a lot of passion and creativity. Good luck!

John Kasaian
21-Jan-2004, 09:23

Getting back to your original question about maintenance, in my experience there is really very little involved---check out Ken Hough's Deardorff Historical Website for maintenance info that would apply to nearly any wood field camera and probably many metal cameras too. Unless you're a skilled mechanic, you'll probably send your shutter out for a cla when needed, but depending on how fast it gunks up, could be years.

All things being equal, any of the cameras mentioned here are capable of taking fine photos if you do your part. Remember too, you'll need to buy a lens, loupe, holders and a sturdy tripod with a head and that could add up to a lot of $$$ ---BTW, your Negative isn't likely to know the difference if Its been exposed in a used camera and one that smells new, so why not save your $$$ for all that additional stuff you'll need to buy?----Cheers!

jonathan smith
22-Jan-2004, 04:00
I would also have to chime in for the Wehman, I have the previous model which is 12 pounds, and I think that gives extra stability. I use a big Manfrotti tripod with no head and it's quite stable. I do a lot of long exposures and have had none spoiled by the wind.

I have a bicycle set up which can take everything, or if I walk I can carry what I need in shoulder bags. As others have said, the weight of the camera is the least of it. I just got a second, smaller tripod which works but has to be babied. I try to plan my shots so I know which lens to take, and usually just take one holder. I like my camera to be solid; if I didn't have the Wehman I would probably get a Toyo Field.