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Thread: Drilling a Masterview

  1. #1

    Drilling a Masterview

    Back in the 70's and early 80's some cyclist weight fanatics used to drill holes in bike components in order to lighten them. Sometimes they got quite ingenious and artistic. I'm wondering whether anyone has tried anything like this with some of the older metal cameras, in particular a Kodak Masterview. Seems like there is a lot of material (particularly in the base) that's not necessary either for structural integrity or rigidity. I don't have the drill out yet, but I'm curious whether anyone out there has gone for it.

  2. #2

    Drilling a Masterview

    reminds of the old factory dragsters pontaic put out in the 60's.

    they earned the nickname "swiss chesse catalina's"

    drilling holes in a effort to lighten things is a old hot rod trick dating back to the late 40's.

    swiss cheese masterview's- you could start a new trend hot rodding view cameras of the 1940's and 1950's.

    just hold back on the flames.......

  3. #3

    Drilling a Masterview

    Legitimate question. The response I have comes from two divergent perspectives.

    My first concern is differentiating the scenarios where weight makes the difference between winning and coming in second. Bicycle racing it makes perfect sense because the objective is all about being the first to cross the finish line. Large format photography is a whole different ball game where time is at the other end of the spectrum - it is the result that justifies the process. The Kodak Master is already at the lower (mind you I did not say the lowest) end of the weight scale (12-13#) compared to other 8x10 offerings and was designed to be a balance between size, functionality and portability. Being metal as compared to wood it is naturally a bit more durable and resistant to the weather to the degree necessary. I also feel that these are "classic" cameras and consideration should be given to maintaining their appearance as they can perform their intended designed function for many many years in the future.

    Secondly, I start to think about the risk and reward relationship. Lets say for purposes of this discussion that you could get 2# off of the camera and it now weights 11#. Now you are the proud owner of a relatively worthless camera in the resellers marketplace and my experience has taught me that the owner will more than likely replace the camera weight with the addition of a couple of film holders or another lens and be back where the project to take the load off of your shoulders started. Been there - done that.

    If weight is where the buck legitimately stops, so yourself a favor and look at the new Canham 8x10 lightweight cameras. While you are giving up back movements with this camera, you are at nine pounds and Keiths fresnels are sweet to focus on. An alternative is to get one 8x10 lens - a tiny Fuji 450C and resist the urge to take the kitchen sink with you on your excursions and you will be miles ahead. At the end of the day it needs to be singularly about image making - nothing more.

    Good Luck!

  4. #4
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Drilling a Masterview

    A Masterview with new bellows, 5x7" back, and a few lensboards recently sold for $1475 on eBay. A brand new 8 lb. 8x10" Gowland costs $1200-1400 (depending on whether you get the 24" or 32" bellows. If weight is the prime concern, I'd sell the Masterview and buy a Gowland. I have an older 8x10" Gowland and a newer 4x5" Front Moves Gowland. I think I paid around $500 for the 8x10" used.

    Info at

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Drilling a Masterview

    Having been an engineer for over 30 years now, and having seen holes drilled in nearly everything for the proposed purpose (cars, guns, airplanes various forms of cycles, ect), I am very skeptical that you will make any significant weight savings. Most people are usually sorry they did it some time later. The thing starts breaking before it should, it becomes totally unsafe, or, in this case, the value of thing is ruined.

    In the example you cite, you use the term “fanatics”. Did the “fanatics” ever win a race because of the few ounces they trimmed off with their holes? Before you start hacking up a nice Masterview, do a simple calculation. Look up the specific weight of aluminum, figure out the size of your holes and the volume of material you will remove, then calculate the weight of the removed material. Bet it won’t be but a few ounces. If, by chance, you manage to squeeze a full pound out of, ask yourself if it’s worth it. After all, are we photographing or running marathons carrying 8x10 cameras?

    As David alludes to, the only real way to significantly change weight is to use a camera of a different design. The Masterview is about as light as is reasonable for the way it is built.

    Please don’t take this the wrong way. Just trying to save someone some grief later on down the road.

  6. #6

    Drilling a Masterview

    actually to be more serious than my previous post, and add on to the above views.

    I mentioned drag racing before.....when people reached the point where they started drilling holes it was due to the fact that they did everything they could obviously do already to the design and were now dipping into the esoteric.

    drilling holes will only lose x amount of the aformentioned drag racer knows. he will then do 15 other "minute" esoteric things. the sum total of 15 minute things equals something substantial. one by itself does not really accomplish much.

    being that cars is my hobby (photography is kinda like life- it is my profession at this moment) I tend to make a lot of stupid automotive analogies...just bear with me please!!!

    there was a cult automotive writer, who I know personally and only found out later he was a cult icon until later....and I feel his philosphy on drag racing also applies to photographic equipment.

    "Don't look for one place to lose 100 pounds, look for 1600 places to lose an ounce."

    stop looking at just the camera, and look at everything INCLUDING your equipment bag. if it is some kinda domke/tenba/lowenpro thing- weigh it one day with nothing in it....I think you will be surprised. weigh it when it is will probably never look at shrinking weight on your camera anymore.

  7. #7

    Drilling a Masterview

    James is right about looking at weight savings other than on the camera. Film holders, for example are really heavy. Anyone tried drilling some weight out of their dark slides?

    But seriously, folks. As I said in my original post, I'm not really ready to attack my Masterview, but I've been curious about whether it's been tried.

  8. #8

    Drilling a Masterview

    I saw one once that had many large holes drilled, not in the bottom, but in the front standards. I must admit it looked cool, but made virtually no difference in the weight.

    If anyone is interested, Paula and I recently had Master View lens boards made recently--better than the originals--finally, after 35 years of trying--and we have them for sale. Will be posting something about this soon.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Drilling a Masterview

    That's the sort of thing I was talking about Michael. It winds up being purely cosmetic and typically destroys the resale value. I'd hate to see that front standard if it got dropped, bumped hard, or a little too much pressure applied. Back to the bicycle example, I can remember several cyclists who drilled out their handbrake arms, only to suffer head injuries when the brake mechanism collapsed around itself as they tried to stop.

    Chris, if you must reduce camera weight, by all means, get a different camera.

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

    Drilling a Masterview

    you'll probably save more weight by putting on a shorter bellows...
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

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