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Thread: Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

  1. #11

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    New Berlin, Wi

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    Hi Ken,
    They are oretty cryptic in their naming conventions. It is still F-metric, F-classic, etc. You need to check it thoroughly to make sure it is the new one. There is a ProII on eBay right now which looks like a good one. This camera has a channel and a monorail as the rail setup. I split the monorail on mine so the camera can be racked onto a 5 1/2" section of rail for easy storage, works like a charm. I mount the rail/channel on the tripod, slide the camera in place and go!!...EC

  2. #12
    Marco Annaratone's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    I have an Arca-Swiss 8x10 F-line and I bought the extender from B&H. The A-S product number is 069000. It fits nicely between the front standard and the function carrier and the whole setup stays rigid (I put pretty heavy copal 3 lenses on without any problem). This way the front standard is centered with the rear standard without having to lock the front standard and the two can be really pushed close together big time, making it easy to carry the system around. The only drawback is that since the rear standard has no rise/fall, if you have to lower the front standard you have to either take the extender off (a pain, in the field) or tilt forward the camera and tilt the two standards backward (this is much easier). I do no regret having bought it.

  3. #13

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    Hey thanks, Marco, for that report! The rigidity of the front standard with the extender was a concern of mine, as my favorite lens is the Nikkor 360W and with many cameras' front standards, that weight really makes for some drooping and readjusting.

    Having no "front fall" below the center point of the rear standard without the "angle down and re-level" method isn't ideal (I wish A-S had designed in the kind of front rise/fall range that many field cameras have!), but it might be worth the tradeoff in light of how often I use front "rise" compared to how rarely I use front "fall." Those who routinely photograph down from atop high buildings may feel otherwise, of course. . . .

    Thanks again for your help.

  4. #14

    Join Date
    Dec 1997
    Baraboo, Wisconsin

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    What do you consider "light weight?" What do you consider to be a "full range of movements?"

    Deardorffs weigh 12 pounds, I've owned two and I wouldn't consider then to be "light weight" but then I didn't come to them from a Sinar or whatever your present system is. Deardorffs are plenty sturdy and have respectable movements though maybe not as many as a Sinar or Arca Swiss monorail. Still, as someone else pointed out, Hedrich Blessing has done pretty well using Deardorffs for architectural work. My understanding is that's what they still use today though they've switched to printing digitally. Deardorffs are also very easy to carry around, set up, and take down. Canham's "light weight" 8x10 might be a better choice given the importance of "light weight" to you. It weighs about 9 lbs I believe but I've never owned one so I don't know about its other attributes.

    I can't imagine paying for an 8x10 Ebony given the availability of other very comparable cameras that cost much less. I've owned two Ebony 4x5s, they were nice cameras but grossly overpriced IMHO and the 8x10 seems even worse to me. But Ebony makes them and people buy them so obviously others disagree.
    Brian Ellis
    Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you do criticize them you'll be
    a mile away and you'll have their shoes.

  5. #15

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    Hi Brian,

    Well, in my original post I wrote of "my quest for a precision 8x10 that is light enough to carry around." So yes, I suppose a 12lb. camera is light enough to carry around, although I have found that when one is carrying something in-hand, the difference between, say 9 lbs. and 12 lbs. can be significant after two or three miles of walking (I usually carry the camera in my left hand, tripod in my right, and have a backpack with holders, lenses, etc.).

    It seems to me that when people in this and similar forums refer to "lightweight" 8x10 cameras they are talking about cameras that are generally less than 10 lbs. or so, and that's probably the range I had in mind.

    As far as defining "full range of movements," in shooting architecture I've found that having on both the front and rear of the camera as many of the usual movements as possible (I don't think I need to list them here) and not having controls do double- or triple duty can save time. That may not sound important in what is by definition a time-consuming format, but "painstaking" doesn't mean "leisurely" and if better controls mean it takes two minutes to set up a shot instead of five that adds up when the light is changing. (I'm used to using large view cameras [both 8x10 and 11x14] with less-than-full movements on the back and am open to that if it means more rigidity and/or less weight.)

    Cameras with "a full range of movements" are often also more likely to have more-flexible or even interchangeable bellows, and for example when shooting 8x10 with a large-coverage 150mm at full-rise that can be helpful.

    I'm also struggling to explain what I mean by "precision," but I suppose it means that if a knob is turned only a very tiny amount it both changes the position of something on the camera very slightly and keeps it in that position. True, I've seen great photographs made using cheap, beat-up view cameras with really loose or vague control knobs, but again, shooting architecture when every millimeter matters seems to *benefit from* -- even though it doesn't *require* -- controls with more precision than is needed, for example, to photograph a distant mountain. That's partly why I gravitate toward monorails.

    I have nothing against Deardorffs and am glad to see you and John K speaking up for them. But I'm guessing that they would sometimes not be the first choice of 21st-century photographers who shoot architecture almost exclusively and who have a choice -- H-B's photographers included.

    Almost any camera can be used to make strong photographs, but that doesn't mean it is the best tool for the job. My question involved trying to identify the best 8x10 tool for the job of "carrying the camera around" during long walks and "shooting architecture."

  6. #16
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)


    the main problem is all these things - full range of movement/precision/lightweight (possibly add "rigid") are beginning to get mutually exclusive.

    More movements on the front and rear standard usually means more weight. Precision - i.e. possibly geared in places, or individual controls for different movoements/functions (rather than relying on one knob with several functions) usually = more weight. Again, more rigid often = more weight.

    With some of the limitations mentioned, the Arca probably starts to come closesr to what yu are looking for.

    Many of the lighter than 10lb cameras make compromises in the above areas to reduce weight - Phillips, Wehman, Canham metal etc - some more in one area than the other. In 8x10, reducing the rear movement options for example seems a standard way to reduce weight and increaserigidity . The Phillips takes a one knob does it all approach among other things . The Phillips and the

    Most other monrails apart fromt he Arca will give you what you are looking for, but will weigh much more...

    If you really want lighter, you are going to need to compromise on some of the other things - you are going to have to decide what you are willing to compromise on and then see which camera or two fits the bill - the Canham Metal for plenty of rise but less precision, the Gandofli Variant for a bit more precision but less rise, The Canham Traditional for a bit of both, the Arca for plenty of precision and rigidity, but with the limitations mentioned - etc
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

  7. #17

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    Thanks, Tim; like others here, you speak with extensive experience and I appreciate your input. I know there are always tradeoffs (especially if one tosses "price" into the list of factors), and of course somewhere in the middle I hope to find a camera in the 9-10lb range with decent, but of course not ultimate, precision, rigidity, and versatility. (If I sell a bunch of stuff I can at least not be too limited by "price.")

    I hadn't considered the Gandolfi recently (I did last time I bought an 8x10) and should probably have another look at it. Right now I'm thinking the Arca F-Metric with the extender will be the ticket. Ebony looks good, but except for the non-folding Ebony (max 380mm bellows) the 8x10 Ebonys all weigh 11lbs or more (the Ebony-wood versions weigh more than Arca's M-Line 8x10!). Most owners rave about them, though others like Brian say they're not enough better to justify the price premium and he may be right.

    Also, Brian, I just found your own assessment of your 'dorff in a 2002 post (in fairness, I'll point out that everything else you said about your camera was laudatory):

    "My one minor nit about my Deardorff 8x10 is that front rise and front tilt are controlled by the same locks, which isn't a real problem but I've always thought that each movement should have its own lock so that you can move the thing you want to move without moving the thing you don't want to move. My one major complaint is the weight (about 12 lbs). 8x10 has become my favorite format but when I add three lenses and three or four film holders, plus the usual other accessories and tripod, it really isn't practical for me to hike any significant distance with it."

    So it goes. I've had numerous friends with Deardorffs, I chatted with Ken Hough at a Howard Bond talk in Indiana, my computer tech used to shoot for Hedrich, I know L.F. ("Large Format"?) Deardorff's great-granddaughter Julie Deardorff (she's a reporter for the Chicago Tribune), etc., etc., so I've always had a warm place in my heart for the cameras. I'm just not sure they're the best mix of the various factors I'm weighing right now.

    Thanks again to all for your wisdom. . . .

  8. #18

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    You can also spend a few hundred dollars and build your own Bender. I don't have one, but from what I have seen online, it seems like a very light monorail with full range of motion and extension. Apparently, it is rather easy to knock down and set up.

    As far as I can tell, the only serious limitation is the lack of geared focusing. Perhaps someone who has one can tell us how hard it is to focus "by hand". If they can convince me that it's a breeze, I'll be much inclined to get one.

  9. #19

    Join Date
    Apr 2004

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    Ken: You can also spend a few hundred dollars and build your own Bender.

    I've built two Bender 4x5s. One for myself, and one for another chap. IMHO, it is not a camera for serious work unless, maybe, you make some modifications. The most grave issue is with the lock-downs. They don't lock down well. Standards, etc will slide, nudge out of place. To solve this, cut some narrow strips of #240 wet/dry sandpaper and glue them to the wood under the locks. That works very well.

    But it remains that it is just way too light to be useful in a breeze. That's MY HUMBLE OPINION of course. There IS such a thing as being just too lightweight.

    It's a very pretty camera, a lot of fun to make (the first time), but it might evantually fall apart in the field... then you can enjoy putting it back together again.

    Jay Bender might rip me a new one for writing the above, but hey, he's never going out of business. One thing I recommend - Follow Jay Bender's directions. They are a model of making do perfectly well. Amazingly resourceful piece of literature. You don't need to run out and buy jigs and stuff.

  10. #20
    tim atherton's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 1998

    Lightweight 8x10 architectural camera (A-S?)

    of course, not quite light weight at 12lbs, but with plenty of rise, some rear movements, reasonably sturdy if in good condition and almost bombproof, is the Kodak Master 8x10...
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

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