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Thread: Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

  1. #1

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    Jun 2002
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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    Been lurking for awhile, so this is my first post. Here goes...

    I currently have a friend/mentor's 4x5 Burke & James field camera on loan for the summer, so I can try my hands at shooting large format. So far so good! This brings me to my question. I'm interested in purchasing a wooden field camera at the end of summer. Given the possibility of me uprooting myself and moving to the tropics sometime in foreseeable future, I wanted to know how well a wooden field camera will stand up with the high humidity of the tropics, both short and long-term. I'm contemplating a Tachihara because of its price, but lusting for a Wisner. However, if wood cameras don't hold up well in an extremely humid environment (think Southeast Asia), maybe a Toyo metal field camera or something similar would make more sense?

    Would appreciate any advice you could give. Thanks!

  2. #2
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    I don't really know much about this, as all my cameras are metal, but perhaps you should consider Ebony? Think tropical wood...

  3. #3

    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    Ebony's are made of aged hardwoods and titanium. If you're planning on going to a humid climate, I would recommend these cameras. The metal won't rust and the wood would probably be less susceptible to the elements. Check out www.ebonycamera.com

  4. #4

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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    Badris, Wooden field cameras will hold up under tropical conditions,if they are properly maintained. Moisture on the bellows is probably the greatest problem. I have owned a Tachi and two Wisners , and recently purchased a Shen Hao HZX 45-IIA for my wife. It is in the same price range as the Tachi and about 1/3 the price of the Wisner Tech Field. The Shen Hao is built with teak wood. The Tachi is made of cherry wood. Wisner Traditionals and Tech Fields are made of mahogany. Boat builders use teak and mahogany. Draw your own conclusion.

  5. #5

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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    If the cost of a Wisner seems steep, you don't even want to look at an Ebony. I live in Florida where the humidity is usually in the 90% range for three or four months a year and where it rains every day (well, it used to rain every day) during those months. I owned a Tachihara for several years and never had any problems with it. Friends own various other brand wood cameras and I've never heard any of them mention a problem with the humidity.
    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.

  6. #6

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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    It occurred to me after posting the previous message that rust might actually be a bigger problem with a metal camera than warping, etc. would be with a wood camera. A friend of mine who lives near me in Florida has a Linhof Master Technika and it's developed rust spots in quite a few places in just the three or four years since he bought it new. I don't know whether that's because of the humidity or not (my Technika V doesn't have any significant amount of rust) but it's something (else) to think about.
    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.

  7. #7

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    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    Hi Badris, I'd think any of the cameras mentioned could take far more abuse of humidity than the lens and shutter. It seems the finely polished tiny metal pieces in the shutter would be the greatest risk. Or your lens could turn into a fish bowl. As far as woods, any wood used in a camera is probably heat dried to insure stability - after that procedure make your choice on your favorite color they are are the same. Best, David

  8. #8

    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    Hello, In The 70s, I was living in Ivory Coast(for ten years), I was too young to shoot in LF, but I remember humidity was incredible. I think the wood of your camera should not be damaged but my concern is about the bellows. Moisture can appear in less than one month if you store it in a cupboard. In your case, I would think Teak, humidity is over 90% in the air, depending of the country. Lenses could also be damaged with fungus, if storage is too long! I hope this could help you. Regards

  9. #9

    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    I have just something to add to my previous post. Brian, you are living in Florida and I think almost everybody in the US has Air conditionned so that humidity and storage are not problems. In Africa or south east Asia, you should keep those problems in mind. Aside that detail, I completely agree with all the posters. Best regards

  10. #10

    Wood field cameras and long-term effects of humidity

    I'll second the suggestion for the Shen Hao. I've had one for over a year, and it's been great. I've had no problems in a St. Louis summer or a soggy Olympic Peninsula winter. The teak is beautiful and stable, and I think it's the best bang-for-the-buck camera out there. It is heavier than a Tachihara, though.

    You may want to consider some sort of storage case for the camera and especially the lens. I would probably look for something air tight that you can put a dissicant in.

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