Show Us Your Camera

A

Anthony

Guest
Here's mine. One of them - the 8x10 Arkay Orbit (Same as the Calumet).

Orbit 8x10.jpg

This camera is very reassuring to use. The design is simple. There isn't much to think about. I tried a Toyo 8x10G - a superb instrument, but a little like a spacecraft. I guess when you're simple minded, a simple camera is best, yeah?


This guy used one, so they can't be too bad.

B Weston w 8x10.jpg


You can see that my assistant approves of this 8x10 as well,

IMGP0169.jpg


Carry on.
 

Alan Clark

Active Member
Registered User
That's a very rugged looking camera Anthony. Does it have front tilt? (Can't quite see how it can have...) Or is the tilt just on the back?
I have been thinking for a while about making a wooden 10 x 8 camera, and could well take some design features from this camera.

Alan
 
A

Anthony

Guest
Hi Alan,

The large knobs at the side of the front standard are the tilt knobs (axis tilts). Front rise and fall is controlled by a spring loaded, geared knobs on the right (as you stand behind it - operator's position). This movement locks with a knob on the front of the standard. The front also swings and shifts, as does the back. In fact, except for the lock knob for the front rise and fall, the controls almost exactly mirror those of the 4x5. I use one of those too.

These cameras were originally built by Kodak here in Rochester, and called the "Master View." They were made to sell film - like all the cameras Kodak made - but these also reflected the best of American manufacturing: tough, durable, simple, functional. It's hard to imagine nowadays the scientific and technical know-how that Eastman Kodak embodied back then.

At RIT there were dozens of these view cameras in "the cage." If undergraduates needed something for a class, they could check equipment out of the cage. I never went near it. I felt like they kept us all in a cage. If it hadn't been for Alan Ross, I'd have left that brick gulag after a few months . . .

Anyway, to their credit, when Kodak designed and engineered products, they also overbuilt them. Year after year, ham-handed students just couldn't kill these things.

Trivia time: who invented the first digital camera - in 1975? (It was a large as a toaster, and took 1.5 minutes to download an image onto magnetic tape).
 
A

Anthony

Guest
Eighteen pounds . . . a bit more than the 5x7 Plaubel.

I just don't like most wooden cameras. I may need my head examined, yes . . .
 

Alan Clark

Active Member
Registered User
Eighteen pounds......Do you actually venture outside with this camera, plus hefty tripod, assorted film holders etc etc ? Or is it a studio camera?

Alan
 
A

Anthony

Guest
Yes, I use it outside, carry about 10 holders and another lens. The tripod is a heavy Ries - about 12 pounds. Now don't go making me out as some kind of hero Alan. It's an established fact that all good pictures exist 100 yards and less from the car. :)

My father-in-law used to say that a sharp blade is what cuts; it's more important than the horsepower. I find that most of the hassle involved with big view cameras is directly proportional to the tripod. If you can set up and level a good tripod quickly, all the hard work is done.

But a pack mule would be nice too . . .
 

Alan Clark

Active Member
Registered User
Anthony, I have heard about 10 x 8 camera users and the 100 yards distance. I think it was Brett Weston who said if the subject is more than 100 yards from the car "it ain't photogenic!"
Photographers must have been tougher over a hundred years ago. Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, one of my favourite photographers from the 1880s, once described how he carried his whole plate camera kit, weighing over 32 pounds, over 4 miles to photograph a vicar at Fylingdales. Then 4 miles back to Whitby. He did this sort of thing regularly, apparently, and felt he was getting away lightly because in the wet plate photography era of the 1860s he had to carry double this because he also needed a darktent, silverbath, developers, fixers and water bottles as well as the camera, lenses and tripod. He said some photographers stooped to pushing all their gear around in a wheelbarrow. But he was too proud, and carried it on his back.....

Alan
 
A

Anthony

Guest
Imagine that . . . And with wet plates, you had to make the exposure immediately while the plate was wet or it would de-sensitize. I'll be they were very good at estimating exposure too. It's almost unimaginable.
 

Ian Grant

Well-Known Member
Registered User
Anthony, I have heard about 10 x 8 camera users and the 100 yards distance. I think it was Brett Weston who said if the subject is more than 100 yards from the car "it ain't photogenic!"
Photographers must have been tougher over a hundred years ago. Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, one of my favourite photographers from the 1880s, once described how he carried his whole plate camera kit, weighing over 32 pounds, over 4 miles to photograph a vicar at Fylingdales. Then 4 miles back to Whitby. He did this sort of thing regularly, apparently, and felt he was getting away lightly because in the wet plate photography era of the 1860s he had to carry double this because he also needed a darktent, silverbath, developers, fixers and water bottles as well as the camera, lenses and tripod. He said some photographers stooped to pushing all their gear around in a wheelbarrow. But he was too proud, and carried it on his back.....

Alan
Reminds me Alan of when we met up in Goathland, I'd just hiked a few miles across the moors with my 10x8 Agfa Ansco :D

Ian
 

Alan Clark

Active Member
Registered User
Yes, I remember that Ian. I was looking out for you and suddenly saw a man walking towards the pub with a bungalow on his back. You parked it just inside the pub doorway and nobody could get in the pub! I did buy you a pint though.....

Alan
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
About the only thing that Berenice Abbot seemed to know about Atget's methods was that his pack weighed sixty pounds. It seems odd that a Frenchman would reply in pounds and very odd that she should ask. She did say she'd seen his plates lying in dishes under a red safelight.
If we are only familiar with her portrait of the withered old man in the outsize overcoat, this seems unlikely, but Atget had served in the Navy and an earlier photograph shows a much sturdier young man.
Ben Horne discusses the weight equipment and says:
"If I'm shooting from my truck and I'm not backpacking in, I'll carry about 50-55lbs. That's with more lenses and film holders, and that's the normal weight that I am accustomed to carrying. I will say that the first backpacking trip I went on, I carried way too much weight, roughly 80lbs."
(19 Dec 2017 www.onlandscape.co.uk)


The Victorians were much more accustomed to walking than we are. Bob Cratchit walked several miles to and from work every day and Wordsworth walked long distances over rough terrain while his sister (some say) was doing most of the poetic work. At one end of Piccadilly, there is a curious shoulder-height platform where porters were accustomed to rest their burdens as they carried heavy loads, that would nowadays be delivered by a motorbike or van courier, all over London.
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=2ahUKEwiqhIH3_rbuAhUkwuYKHfYrBx4QFjABegQICBAC&url=https://www.onlandscape.co.uk/2017/12/interview-ben-horne/&usg=AOvVaw1MMZAqsidggvD_4hQ6svWI
 
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Paul Kay

Member
Registered User
Carleton Watkins carried a ton (as in weight) of photographic gear into Yosemite using mules in the 1860s (there were no roads as such then). He is said to have been happy if he managed with two photographs taken in a day. Samuel Bourne shot wet-plate at an altitude of 18,600 feet in the Himalayas in 1865 using a 12" x 10" camera and processing the plates despite the snow. And all this without modern sophistication such as shutters. I think that the entire mindset was different and solutions to problems which we see as pretty insurmountable had to be found. I've often though that using a mule would be a very effective way of becoming well known as a large format photographer these days!
 
A

Anthony

Guest
I like that Ikeda . . .

You know about these. Kodak made them from 1946 to around 1953, sold the dies and tooling to Calumet.

PXL_20210207_201411624.jpg

Kodak never made any money on these, they cost too much to build; but they're a little better built than the Calumets. That may not matter - you can't kill those Calumets. Kodak made the rail out of stainless steel - very expensive to machine the drive slot. They also used expensive-to-machine knobs on the standard locks with a brass key in the slot to lock the standard. Calumet reworked the lock with a simpler knob and a nylon key - cheaper and just as good; and they made the rail out of a hardened aluminum - Duralum or something. Those are just as good too.

But these old Master Views are nice. Someone up here always has an uncle who worked at Kodak and had one. I found this, took it apart, cleaned and lubricated it. The keys in the slots were worn - you couldn't lock the standard on the rail. I made new keys out of 1/16" aluminum and now they lock. Bellows are fine - light tight, look nearly new in fact.

A while ago I cleaned and lubricated a gray-on-gray Calumet. I've been using that up to now, and it's highly satisfactory; but this KMV is just a little nicer. Everything is about 10% better: the finish, the focus and movement action, the revolving back. And the stainless steel rail is very posh. I'm insufferably pleased with myself over retooling this thing.

This design was always my favorite 4x5. I just never trusted another camera design as much as this. For many years I used an old black Arkay Orbit that I bought in . . . a long time ago. Fred Picker always disparaged these cameras, calling them "old shakey" with the "curtain rod monorail." Rubbish. Fred was always selling, it made him happy I guess. I've used these in every condition imaginable - 10 degree cold, snow, salt water, rain, wind - everything except the desert and I've never had a problem.

I know Ansel Adams used one of these in the 50's. I've seen pictures of him with it. And the 1958 NET documentary film shows him using it. He was no slouch, knew a thing or 2 about cameras.

PXL_20210207_211230795.jpg

Always liked the Calumet/Orbit 8x10 also. The only 8x10 I've ever really liked. I wish I'd had one way back, instead of that Deardorff copy.
 

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thronobulax

Member
Registered User
I dunno. I had the Calumet. Got it as a new "kit" system with a 210mm f/6.8 Caltar-II (a re-badged Rodenstock) . The camera was very well built and worked great, but it was a PAIN to carry around in the field. I switched to a Wisner 4x5 Technical Field and never looked back. I rarely use most of the features of the Technical but it has one thing I love - huge bellows draw. I can focus a 19" APO Artar with that camera, which most field cameras cannot. With a little ingenuity, I can also focus a Schneider 72mm f/5.8 Super Angulon XL without mounting the bag bellows. That's a pretty amazing range of focus for a field camera.

And the Wisner - being wood - works just great in the cold. I went for a little deep snow in the woods stroll today in -18C/0F weather. The camera was flawless. Sadly the batteries in both my Zone VI/Pentax spot meter and my new Revini Labs were having none of it. Although both were in my padded pocket, it was just too cold, so they took a nap.

I still have that 210mm Caltar-II and use it regularly. It is tack sharp, contrasty, and produces very nice images.
 
A

Anthony

Guest
I find that a Ries tripod makes using this 4x5 easier in the field - especially in the cold. I have an even bigger one for the 8x10. I've always thought that difficulties with view camera handling stem from poor tripods - for me.

I have a 5x7 Tachihara - works very well, but I just prefer the Plaubel. There's no question wood is nicer to the touch than metal in cold weather - no question. That's why I always use wood tripods. But I just never could warm up to wood cameras, especially the Deardorff designs. They're lighter, easier to carry, and in the field you don't need extreme movements usually, and your camera has plenty of bellows draw, eh?

And I'm not saying I possibly need my head examined . . . thoroughly examined.

Was the Zone VI the same camera as the Wisner? I know Picker and WIsner had a huge falling out, and Picker's company manufactured their own cameras. I knew some people at Zone VI, but then heard some others claiming that the Zone VI cameras weren't very good. I've handled a Wisner, but never a Zone VI.
 

David M

Well-Known Member
Registered User
There were several 5x4 cameras sold by Zone VI. A friend has one that’s a rebadged Wista, with ebonised woodwork and chromed metal. Quite handsome.
I have one labelled “Made by Zone VI Studios Newfane Vermont USA”
It’s a robust mahogany camera with generous bellows extension, but it’s not as fastidiously made as a Gandolfi. The bellows are interchangeable. The knobs are larger than most wooden cameras that I’ve seen. It won’t fold up with a lens in place, but this isn’t a really a problem; many other cameras don’t. The brass work is lacquered on mine, but later models were gold-plated.
I’ve seen pictures of the Wisner and there are strong resemblances. The Wisner’s rear standard has more movements and there may be other differences; I’m relying on memory. There was some dispute over the design, later documented in View Camera, I think.
It might be kindest to suggest a common inspiration.
 

thronobulax

Member
Registered User
As I recall the story, Wisner did the original design for Zone VI. After some disagreement or another, Wisner went off and built/sold cameras directly to his own customers. Later on, there were complaints of non-delivery of pre-paid Wisners and outright accusations of financial mismanagement. I have no first hand knowledge of what actually happened and this no opinion on the matter. What I do know is that Wisner's camera business went under and he sort of disappeared.

I've seen Wisner cameras in various configuration. I was in a workshop in Zion National Park and someone brought an 11x14 Wisner field camera for the activty! (You had to walk back to front to get the focus approximately right.) They are marvels of fine engineering and good ideas. They were beautifully made, elegantly simple, and - at least with cameras made with quartersawn mahogany like my 4x5 Technical, gorgeous to look at.
 

Paul Kay

Member
Registered User
New bellows now fitted. Still need an adapter for a shutter which I'm working on, and film holder (has been ordered) and lastly of course some film and the right conditions ..... The lens is a Grubb C which was one of the lenses used by Carleton Watkins, although his perhaps perished in the earthquake along with many of his photographs.
10x8 Gandolfi © Paul Kay.jpg
 
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