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Thread: 5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

  1. #1

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    A couple of days ago I posted a response to "Suggestions for a cheap 5X7" in which I promoted the 5X7 Ansco as possibly meeting Ron Marshall's needs. I know there are newcomers to LF who don't have access to dealers or camera swap meets and must buy their first LF camera sight unseen, likely off eBay. Some reading my comments might think the Ansco sounds like the camera for them - and it may be, but I want to add a little more information. Again I will mention the weight - 9 3/4 pounds. Go to the grocery store and grab a 10 pound bag of sugar to give you an idea what this feels like. A 1929 catalog I have gives the weight of a 5X7 Eastman no.2 as 7 pounds. My no-front-swings 5X7 Deardorff weighs 6 1/2 pounds. Then there is the size of the Ansco when folded - 10 1/4" wide (across the focusing knobs), 11 5/8" tall, and 7 3/4" deep. I'll guess the 5X7 Eastman is somewhat less in height and width, and a lot less in depth (my 8X10 Eastman is only 6" deep). The 5X7 Deardorff is 10 1/8" wide, 9 1/4" tall, and 4 3/8" deep; much handier to carry. Comparing an Ansco with a Deardorff may seem silly since the Deardorff costs four or five times as much. However, I never used my Ansco as much as I should have, mainly due to the size and weight. In hindsight I feel this was a mistake. The stock car racers say "Ya gotta run what ya brung", and I should have used the Ansco much more rather than being put off by the size and weight. If you want a 5X7 for hiking and use far from your vehicle, you may find the Ansco just a little too much. An Eastman or Korona may be enough smaller and lighter to make you happy, although the additional movements of the Ansco could be important enough to justify the extra weight. Another Ansco limitation is use of short focal length lenses. Mine at minimum extension measures 4 3/8" from ground glass to front of lensboard. At this extension there are essentially no movements, although a more flexible bellows than mine might allow slight movement. For 5X7, this may not be a huge problem, but if you also want to use a 4X5 reducing back (maybe for color) think about whether or not you can live with this. I have 4X4" metal recessed lensboard that looks like it can be adapted to the Ansco with a reducing lensboard. If you don't need to do a lot of wide-angle work, this may be a workable option. WA is where the Deardorff really shines. Mine measures 2 7/8" minimum extension, and the wonderful sliding front panel allows rise and fall movements even at this extension. Deardorffs aren't expensive cult cameras just because they look pretty. A place I feel the Ansco is superior to the Deardorff is set up speed. Once on the tripod, dropping the Ansco tailboard and spinning the lock knob tight takes almost no time. With the Deardorff, you must raise the rear body up and lock a knob on each side, then raise the front up and lock four knobs. When shooting landscapes in changing light or urban landscapes when you want to get a shot and get away before the panhandlers spot you or do a spontaneous portrait, these few seconds may be important. I bought my Ansco in the late 1970s largely because Art Kramer who wrote the wonderful Large Format column for "Modern Photography" magazine had one and wrote about it. If I had to do it over I'd do the same thing. However, I wouldn't go through several years of trying to find a smaller, lighter, prettier, whatever camera (which is what I did). But, if the limitations I've mentioned seem serious to you, an Eastman or Deardorff may be better for you. Finally, there is something endearing about the clunky, chunky, not really beautiful Ansco. I plan to make a 4X4 adapter board so I can start using it again. But I'll keep the Deardorff too.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    La Quinta, CA

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.


    Interesting your comparison between the Ansco and the Deardorf. While I don't have the Eastman, I do have the "Improved Empire State" which I believe is just about the same camera as the Eastman.

    Comparing sizes - I don't know about the weight as I don't have an accurate scale to compare. Sizewise - these are the dimensions:

    Height = 11"
    Width = 9 3/4"
    Thickness when folded up = 4 3/4"
    Minimum extension = 3 3/4"

    It sounds like the Empire State set up is essentially the same as the Ansco. It is smaller in size and weight than the Ansco. It might also not be as sturdily built (hence the differences in size and weight) however, I have never had any problems.

    I do have two "gripes" if you want to call it that.

    1 - The lens board size is only 3 3/4" square and you have to be careful getting lenses/shutters that aren't too large. However, by modern standards, a Copal #0 and #1 both fit fine with Scheider lenses.

    2 - The camera does not have a sliding tripod block and when using a 90mm lens, you have to slide the whole camera towards the front of the extension rail so the rail isn't in the picture. This leaves me with a somewhat uncomfortable feeling with the whole camera (and expensive lens) hanging way out over the tripod.

    I think that all in all these old types of cameras are very workable in the field and I have enjoyed my very much. As you mentioned, the cost is much less than a Deardorf. You can normally find these on Ebay for easily less than $200 in pretty good condition.

    If anyone else out there is looking at getting into LF and is concerned about the initial cost, many of these old cameras are still very workable today. I hope that this information along with Leonard's helps.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    Is the Ansco actually that heavy? I've never weighed mine but I that sounds heavier then it feels.

    The main issue I'd say is with wide lenses. OTOH it's a 5x7. Unless you intend to use a 4x5 back how much of an issue is this?

  4. #4
    Scott Davis
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Washington DC

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    Yes the Anscos are that heavy. I also have one in the 4x5 configuration(the only difference being the back). Darned thing weighs a ton, but it is very rugged. It is intended for primarily studio use, therefore the extremely limited movements and limited minimum extension. It's a great toy to play with though, and learn on.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    I knew I was going to have to weigh mine.

    5x7 is just under 4kg so 8.8 lbs.

    8x10 is just over 6kg so 13.2 lbs

    The 5x7 has a home built back in place of the stock back with the slider for 2 images on 5x7 film. This back let me use wider lenses then the stock back would have. The stock back IIRC made anything shorter then 150mm impossible.

    My 8x10 has the front modded to allow full movements. Nothing fancy just a little chisel work.

  6. #6

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    I weighed my Burke& James 5x7 awhile back and without lens it is a trim 7Lbs has full movements on the front and rear standards and I can collapse the bellows far enough to get my F8 SA to work on it. They are usually quite inexpensive .

  7. #7

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    Thanks everyone for the additional information. Nick - sorry I made you realize how heavy your 5X7 is, although it's about a pound lighter than mine. I seem to recall these Anscos were made of maple wood. Maybe mine was an especially dense tree. My 8X10 Ansco weighs the same as yours (and yes, if anyone is keeping count, I have way too many cameras. The darn things follow me home somehow.). Dan - You confirmed what I thought that the Eastmans are somewhat smaller and lighter. Your lensboard does sound small. I wonder if the later Eastmans were much larger? But, I have several lenses mounted on Pacemaker Graphic boards, which are about the same size as yours. I believe a #4 Ilex shutter will mount on a Pacemaker board, and that is a pretty large shutter. Ron - I remember my B&J was a well featured camera and way lighter than my Ansco. I hope this discussion inspires many new people to buy 5X7s and keep the format alive.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    Actually I started out with a Calumet CC400 long rail. So the Ansco was the light weight easy to pack camera -)

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: 5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    I'm holding my 5x7 Eastman 2D in my lap now. I just weighed it a 6lbs 12oz. That's without the sliding tripod block, and extention rail, which you may not need. I love the camera. It's 6x9x11 inches for depth, width, height. The lensboard is 4.5 square. I've used it with lenses from a darlot CDV to a Dallmeyer 3D. No front movements except rise, but I like the camera a lot.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Feb 2001
    Blue Jay, CA

    Re: 5X7 Ansco - futher thoughts.

    The Ansco is well made, it has generous movements, it is reliable, it is sturdy and it is relatively inexpensive. It is a pound or two heavier than other cameras. It seems much better made to me than the ubiquitous B&J tailboard cameras and the third extension is built in. It would not be my first recommendation for a backpacker, but it could be carried that way and if you pack a light lunch or leave your binoculars in the car it all works out the same. If cheap and light and small (but not nearly so versatile or sturdy) is the goal, then the Ikeda 5X7 is a good choice. Hard to find, but every now and then available. The Anscos have become pretty hard to find for that matter. Now if you're thinking Deardorff then we are drifting a bit from "cheap" since even a NFS model (what I use these days) is going to run $700+. Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought a lot of the eastmans didn't have front tilt. I couldn't live without front tilt. I can live without front swing.

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