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Thread: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

  1. #1

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    8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    Recently, I acquired an 8x10 Kodak Master Camera, or as everyone seems to call it, a Kodak Master View (“Kodak Master Camera” is on the camera’s nameplate). It belong to a camera collector on the Olympic Peninsula who died recently. His son, who is a friend of a friend, passed it along to me for a very good price in exchange for my help this winter sorting through his father’s collection. It came with a 12 inch Commercial Ektar, the 8x10 back, the 5x7 reducing back, and the original case. The original bellows were riddled with pinholes, so I’ve removed them and ordered new bellows, and the 8x10 ground glass was not original, so I ordered a better ground glass to replace it. Otherwise, the camera is in fantastic condition.

    I would like to hear from anyone on the forum who has any information to offer on the history of these cameras. I assume that plenty of them were produced, but they don’t appear to be all that common. At the moment, there’s just one up for auction and none for sale on this site as far as I can see. The production dates seem to be a mystery. I have variously found threads claiming that they were produced for 10 years between 1946 and 1956, or that they were produced for seven years between 1954 in 1961, or that they were produced from 1950 until the late 1960s. No one seems to know how many were made each year. I’m also curious about the metal that they used to make the clamshell. I’ve seen it stated with absolute certainty that it’s made of aluminum, and I’ve seen it stated with equal certainty that it’s made of magnesium.

    Obviously, I haven’t use the camera yet, but I’ve been putting it through its paces in dumb show and I think I like the design. I’m taking a trip to France and Ireland next summer for five or six weeks. I was planning to bring my 5x7 Pony Premo, but the sturdy, compact design of this thing has got me thinking about bringing it along instead. With the studio camera as my primary 8x10 up to now, I’ve been limited to shooting 8x10 only in places where I can go in my car.

    I’m interested to hear opinions on the camera’s drawbacks from those of you who have used it. Any reason it wouldn’t be a good traveling 8x10?

    And as Randy suggested that I ask, who has one?

    Thanks.

    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    www.analogpprtraiture.com
    Last edited by Cameron Cornell; 21-Oct-2018 at 06:04.

  2. #2

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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    I used an 8x10 Kodak Master Camera on the job at Kodak, and owned one for some years. I could never find any data about production dates, but 1946 might be a bit early and 'late '60s' would be too late. I think that they were designed to replace the Eastman Commercial 8x10 (the magnesium 2-D), which was made into the early '50s. Kodak was discontinuing LF lens production by the mid-1960s, too, and it's unlikely that they would be making view cameras and not the lenses for them. (I always assumed that they were made of aluminum, but never thought to check.) About production, I think that relatively few were made, but a large percentage of them have survived.
    I would ask Todd Gustavsson at the George Eastman Museum, as they have EK's patent museum and a lot of the data about Kodak's cameras there.
    Michael A. Smith and Paula Chamlee might be a source for the KMV's rather unusual lens boards.
    They are fine cameras- best of luck with your search.

  3. #3
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    Why not also ask how many here have one.

    I canít add to your data search but they are rare.

    I waited a long time to aquire one.
    sin eater

  4. #4

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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    One of the aspects of this camera that I find fascinating is that it’s clearly a product of Kodak in its Golden Age when the company had a vast budget for research and development of new products. I can sense the ghosts of the Truman- and Eisenhower-era engineers in Rochester who designed this thing down to its last detail. They didn’t cut corners because perhaps they didn’t need to. It isn’t a sentimental piece of equipment; that is, it doesn’t seem like a piece of equipment that is meant to harken back to the old days with mahogany and fine leather or whatever. It’s an industrial object that feels like it came whole from the minds of those engineers, unimpeded by sentiment. They were designing their top-shelf camera for their modern world.

    These are just my impressions from handling this thing as I take it apart for cleaning and put it back together.

    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    www.analogportraiture.com

  5. #5

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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    I originally got a non-functioning beater; but fortunately another person was selling his piecemeal on epray; so I acquired the parts I needed. I've purchased lensboards from Michael Smith, and they are of excellent quality.

  6. #6
    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    I don't have one now, but have had two at different times (the last of which was Mark Sampson's). It's a lovely camera with a wonderful design. Lots of front rise, especially when you include the fine adjustment which adds another half inch or so. The biggest issue with that camera (IMO) has always been the odd proprietary lensboards. They were stamped out of a very soft aluminum alloy which does not mill cleanly and which bends easily. They are rather large, but the benefit of a large lensboard is negated by the light trap which is a gutter around the perimeter of the board, limiting the size of the lens which can be mounted. I had a few of the the MAS-produced lensboards and they were very nice. But at about $100 apiece (then), that got expensive quickly. I eventually modified the second camera to take Sinar boards. That was great, but it was an expensive solution.

    As with almost everything in LF, there is no free lunch. I would recommend the camera in a heartbeat. But keep your lens kit limited and plan to invest in enough MAS lensboards to cover the basic kit. In fact, basing a lensboard adapter to Sinar utilizing a MAS lensboard would be the best solution, IMO. That can be done by most any semi-conscious machinist easily enough.

    Bellows replacement is a little tricky as the rear bellows frame is attached with 16 (I think...) fine-pitch machine screws. That's not so bad, but the bellows material wraps around the rear bellows frame necessitating that holes be punched in the material to allow the multitude of screws to pass. A little unnerving on a brand-new $300 bellows. But also painful on the fingers.

    The camera itself is very basic, but with good movements which are easy to use and lock solidly. I will advise that the metal gets cold if shooting outdoors in the cold months. Goes without saying. But it's a point always driven home each time you grab that frigid camera to adjust it. But I'm getting old and grumpy and tend to complain a lot anyway.

  7. #7

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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    Quote Originally Posted by William Whitaker View Post
    Bellows replacement is a little tricky as the rear bellows frame is attached with 16 (I think...) fine-pitch machine screws. That's not so bad, but the bellows material wraps around the rear bellows frame necessitating that holes be punched in the material to allow the multitude of screws to pass. A little unnerving on a brand-new $300 bellows. But also painful on the fingers.
    I was going to be asking about this later, but since you brought it up, I am going to be required to fabricate something to act as a rear frame for the bellows, as the original frame which was glued and screwed to the original bellows, was broken in one of the corners. Stupidly, so stupidly, it went into the bin still glued to the bellows. This was after work one day in my classroom. On my drive home, I realized with a start that I ought to have kept the broken frame either for repair or as a guide for making a new frame.

    Obviously, Iíll just be using the dimensions of the rear standard to knock something together, but if anyone has any recommendations or suggestions or warnings, Iím all ears. I have all of the original screws and the new bellows should be here in a week or two.

    Cameron Cornell
    Washington State
    www.analogportraiture.com

  8. #8
    Tin Can's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    I bought mine here. A few loose screws perhaps from transport vibration. I went through the whole camera and snugged many up. Found replacements at McMaster. Then I adapted a Sinar to Linhof Technika lens board directly to the OE board with bolts. Most of my lenses are on Technika boards.

    The 12" Symmar Dagor type is always ready inside the folded camera.

    A KMV sets up very quickly and fit inside a C1 aluminum case with a few film holders.

    The OE GG is a useful thing of beauty, with a unique coating. Irreplaceable.

    Nobody will ever copy a KMV.
    sin eater

  9. #9
    Mark Sawyer's Avatar
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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    The KMV was a great camera from Kodak's golden age, when they were making the Commercial Ektar lenses, the 35mm Ektra camera, the Medalist, etc. I converted my KMV to take a standard 6x6-inch board:
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails IMG_6108.jpg  
    "I love my Verito lens, but I always have to sharpen everything in Photoshop..."

  10. #10

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    Re: 8x10 Kodak Master Camera Questions

    I had one.
    A very good, rugged camera but finding lens boards is tough.
    IIRC, Michael Smith had a bunch of lens boards made up for resale.
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

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