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Thread: Field Camera vs. View Camera

  1. #1

    Field Camera vs. View Camera


    I am interested in making the move to 8x10 and see that there are differences in the cameras just the same as 4x5. The images I would like to be taking are like that of photographer Jim Cooke.

    Here is a link for reference.

    I do not know the differences in the Field cameras abilities to the View cameras. I know the range of movements are going to be greater in the view camera but is it needed if I want to be taking these kinds of landscape images?

    I do tend to find myself taking more pictures in city enviornments than open nature, be it with homes or buildings rounds me, so will I need to have a greater range of movents than a Field camera offers?

    Thank you for your time.


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2003

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    I believe that view cameras are much easier and more instinctive to operate. While not that much heavier (as a total package), they are bulky and therefore difficult to carry long distances without a wheeled hand-cart of some kind.

    It seems that most 8x10 shooters are fine artists and serious hiking amateurs these days as studio pros turn digital. Therefore as a practical matter, demand for ultra light weight field cameras is up. The 8x10 monorail market is very soft.

    Should you decide on a field camera, you will pay top price. But if you go with an 8x10 monorail you will take a bath when you try to sell it.

    If you work close to your car and/or stay on pavement where a cart can travel, you can probably get a wonderful deal right now on a used Toyo GII. But plan to keep it.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Santa Fe, NM

    Field Camera vs. View Camera


    8X10 field or view, Mr Cooks' advice is well given and should be well taken. The other side of the film base, is that you should look at the work of other photographers that you like or fit your style. Then find out what cameras they use, you might find that a good used Toyo 810M or a Kodak Master View may work for you.

    For along time Morley Baer worked commercialy shooting architecture with an old Ansco flat bed, with old lenses and a Packard shutter. The same camera was used in the landscape. It is the matter of using the tools, and making them work.

    My personal work and commercial are all/mostly done with Linhof tk, Kodak MV and and 11x14 Deardorff, they all have the movments I want.

    Johns background is sound, If, I can read into his e-mail responses it sounds like he went to Art Center some time in the late 60's/70's. Back when you did the work, with 4x5s.

    hope this helps Jan

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

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    These images don't involve extensive movements--maybe a little front rise/fall and front tilt. Most flatbed cameras can handle this easily.

    All such cameras might be called "view cameras" by the way, and a lightweight monorail camera is considered by some to be a "field camera," so it's clearer to distinguish between them by calling them "flatbed" and "monorail" cameras.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2001
    Culver City

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    To further confuse: not all flatbed cameras are folding cameras. Ebony makes both folding and nonfolding wooden flatbed cameras, including both types in the 8x10 format.

  6. #6

    Field Camera vs. View Camera


    Does it make a difference if you use a wood flatbed camera vs. a metal one?



  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    Search the old forum (and for exhaustive discussions of wood vs metal, etc. Any "brand name" camera will do a good job, and you should look to balance the price/quality/stability of your entire outfit - a good tripod is just as important, although you can get by with a mediocre lens if you are only contact printing. To me the best value is one of the high quality monorail view cameras that so many studios are dumping for digital equipment. But deals on 8x10 abound, especially once you get into the $1000 range.

  8. #8

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    Yes, there is a difference between wood and metal flatbed cameras. Wood is generally lighter. It is also often makes for a less rigid, less precise camera. Rigidity/stability are important, for example, with long bellows extensions or under windy conditions. Very generally speaking, however, landscape photography doesn't require great rigidity, especially when you learn how to shield the camera from wind.

    For landscape use, many photographers prefer wooden flatbeds, though durability can be problem under some circumstances. My wooden Tachihara 8x10 started losing screws, due to the flexing of my internal frame pack, after only 3 hikes. I saw no point in protecting it with a rigid container, since by then it would have equalled the weight of a metal Toyo M. I was confined to internal frame packs because I backpack off trail and on very steep, usually dangerous terrain in the Rockies. Around town, the Tachihara was great, and I recommend it

    You will find that experience will probably modify your preferences in large format equipment. Therefore, I recommend beginning with used cameras, inexpensively purchased. A review of the archives will give you pointers on what to look for.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Harbor City, California

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    If by "city" you mean architectural views, yes, you will need considerable movement capability from both your camera and your lenses.

    I think it would be well to start with a relatively inexpensive camera, find out all its weaknesses and strengths, then look for a camera that suits your personal needs, selling the first along the way unless you should discover that you really like it, which is a possibility. It would be good to start with one that has all the movements, so as not to frustrate yourself too much, and to let you sample the capabilities. The least expensive cameras that I think of as "learner" 8" X 10" types, were both made by Burke and James, the B&J View, a flatbed (be sure that it comes with an extension rail, many have been separated along the years) and the "Grover", a monorail.

    If you save some money by buying an inexpensive camera, you'll need it anyway for lenses. Good 8" X 10" lenses are expensive.

    Besides, or perhaps preferably before, buying a camera and lenses, buy a book. Leslie Stroebel's "View Camera Technique" is a very good one.

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

    Field Camera vs. View Camera

    Mark - I think you probably mean more urban landscape/cityscape work rather than "straight" architectural photography?

    In which case, unless you are trying to include skyscrapers, field camera movements are probably fine - and as has been pointed out - the lens can limit your movements as much as the camera. And 8x10 lenses with big image circles also come with big tickets... They also tend to weigh a tonne.

    If (looking at the sort of photography that attracts you - which seems pretty close to what I like and do) you are more likely to be wandering around the city, suburbs, extra-urban areas, camera and tripod over shoulder (rather than photographing 10 feet from the car), then a field camera is probably the thing. You are unlikely to also be wanting to cart around a 165 super Angulon, 200mm Grandagon, 120 Nikkor SW etc - not unless you have a Sherpa as well. My guess is you would plump more for a dagor 165 WA, G-Claron or Kowa 210, Fuji 240 or Fuji 250w etc. Smaller image circles but lighter.

    I think if you are looking at the sort of urban and landscape photography done by Jim Cooke, Geoffrey James, Joel Sternfeld, Basilico, Nick Nixon, George Tice, Robert Adams or even Misrach etc - the field set-up is most suitable in 8x10. But if you are going to concentrate just on buildings - more Architectural Record style you might want to look at a view/studio camera. But it's most likely going to be cumbersome - and 4x5 may be best for that sort of work anyway. That said, while I use and Arca Swiss 4x5 for architectural stuff that pays the bills, I've also taken plenty of architectural shots with a Toyo 4x5 field and an 8x10 field.

    New there are a good few choices - Phillips, Gandolfi, Canham - to the more traditional Wisner and ebony - and plenty more others might mention.

    Used - I doubt a good Kodak Master 8x10 can be bettered (there are of course, Deardorffs by the dozen and many swear by them - my first 8x10 was a Deardorff - I wish I had bought a Kodak Master... :-) ). The Toyo metal field is nice, but I think it's pretty heavy. (you can always go ultralight minimalist and get the little Gowland 8x10 monorail).
    You'd be amazed how small the demand is for pictures of trees... - Fred Astaire to Audrey Hepburn blog

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