Burke and James 8x10

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mfratt, Dec 28, 2010.

  1. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I'm planning on buying a Crown Graphic later this week from a reputable older couple who sell photograpic equipment of all sorts ("Joe and Karen" in Quincy, MA; highly recommend them - send me a PM for their email). I bought my Rolleiflex off them and they are a pleasure to deal with and only sell top notch equipment.

    Anyway, they also have a Burke and James 8x10 camera I have the option to buy. Not too many details on it as of yet, but they say its a really clean black metal model with both 8x10 back and 4x5 back, and they're asking $425 for it. Its not exactly even in the same category as a Graphic, I know, but I've wanted an 8x10 for a while now.

    Does anyone have any experience with these cameras? I found hits all over the place on a google search, but nothing as to the quality and usability of this camera. My main concern is that it is something thats reasonable well built (not expecting a Deardorff at this price, but reasonable), and that its something I can hike with. I know they're heavy, but I'm young and the weight isn't a huge concern, as long as its something that can be fit into a backpack.

    I already have an Ilex 12" 8x10 lens, not in the best of shape but reasonable and it will do for now.

    Would it be silly of me to rush into 8x10 with a B&J? Should I just get the Graphic for now and get a nicer 8x10 when I can afford it?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2010
  2. Christopher Walrath

    Christopher Walrath Subscriber

    Messages:
    7,129
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2005
    Location:
    Two inches to the left
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Why not look at the camera before deciding. Given the opportunity I would probably jump at it.
     
  3. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I do plan on looking at it and making my decision on the spot, but being someone who likes to overthink things beforehand, I like to gather as much information as possible. :wink:
     
  4. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

    Messages:
    1,030
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    Black metal? Hmmm.
    The only B&J 8x10s I've seen were wood flatbeds. Could it be a version of the Calumet Metal Monster? Is it a monorail or clamshell?
    It could be quite a nice camera---make sure it has a lensboard if it dosen't take a common size.
     
  5. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

    Messages:
    1,030
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    If you want to shoot 8x10 then shoot 8x10. I prefer 8x10 so I'm terribly biased:whistling:.
    If it comes with holders, thats all the more incentive. You'll likely need a heavier tripod as well. Since you have a lens, if they can fix you up with a package that comes with what you'll need, thats a very good price!
     
  6. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My only issue with shooting 8x10 is that I'll probably enjoy it too much. Problem with that is the cost, especially when it comes to color.

    I don't imagine the price includes film holders, but these people have so much stuff I'm sure they have some holders they'll give me a nice price on.

    The thing with shooting 8x10, for me, is that theres something really nice to me about contact printing. The problem with 4x5 is that, in many cases, its too small to make a contact that suits the image. Plus, I find that, even with 4x5, I'm a little too trigger happy. I'm sure that the cost of 8x10 film would solve that problem reeeeally quickly.

    I have a quite nice tripod. I'll have to see if it will support the heavy B&J or not, but its a Manfrotto CF leg setup with a Manfrotto magnesium 3-way pan-tilt head. The entire setup cost me some $550, but I figured it to be a long-time investment. It seems to support my monorail, quite well, so long as I secure the levels properly. I've got bopped in the face under the darkcloth a few times from the tilt lever not being secured properly.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 29, 2010
  7. Jose LS Gil

    Jose LS Gil Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I don't have experience using a B & J 8X10, but from what I have heard and read, if it is one of the metal ones they are heavy and hard to lug around. Some have also complained that the camera does not lock down very well after focusing. 8X10 is nice, but yes the cost goes up considerably versus 4X5. Looking at the camera won't help you any, if you are like me, you will buy it and later wonder if you made the right choice. Depending on what you are planning on using it for. If you plan on using it to shot architectural photography, it may not have enough movements if it is the older painted grey wood camera. If you plan on shooting architectural, I would suggest a monorail camera like a Toyo or Calumet, that are not too expensive. There are others, but the price is twice or three times what the B&J is selling for. To be honest, $425 is kind of high if it does not include a lens and at least some film holders. To give you an idea, I paid just around $700 for my Kodak 2D 8X10 with a lens, two film holders, a wood tripod, a 5x7 and 4X5 back and some film. I have also seen the sell for less than what I paid. Good luck with your final decision.
     
  8. Jose LS Gil

    Jose LS Gil Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Just re-read your original post. It is one of the black metal frame cameras. This would be a monorail type, but it still does not have the amount of movements that a Toyo or the later Calumet. If I recall correctly, the later Calumet was a Combo design.

    Like I stated before, if you are like me..... you are going to buy it :D
     
  9. Whiteymorange

    Whiteymorange Member

    Messages:
    2,384
    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Location:
    Boston area
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    This auction listing shows a camera that might be something you can carry in a specialized backpack, but what are you doing about a tripod? Just asking, since I would love to go out with an 8x10 as well. I have an old Rochester Universal that fits, with lenses, holders and wooden tripod in a backpack cooler that I picked up at a yardsale. The whole system only weighs about 25 pounds - but the camera is fragile and the holders are specialized (non-standard) and difficult. I've yet to have a very satisfying outing with it all.
     
  10. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Nicholasvill
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    You will definitely need a stronger tripod than the CF you have for a large and heavy 8x10 you describe. I had one of the B&J wood field cameras that came in with lens around 18 pounds. Even my 13 pound Kodak Master needs a very sturdy tripod. I wouldn't use CF for anything 8x10 because the weight is all on top. An aluminum Manfrotto 055 is the lightest and smallest I would ever consider for that format, and even then only for a lightweight one. Personally I use a Manfrotto 161, which is their biggest. It is rock solid, even my Ries A series seems wobbly after using this thing.
     
  11. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    My tripod is something I don't mind carrying by hand.
    Greg, isn't CF stronger than Aluminium? Mine is actually an 055, just a CF version.
    That said, if I were to get another tripod, it would almost definitely be a wooden one.
     
  12. Toffle

    Toffle Member

    Messages:
    1,859
    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2007
    Location:
    Point Pelee,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have had an 8x10 B&J Grover (with 8x10, 5x7 and 4x5 backs... I call it "the beast with thee backs") for just about a month now. The case (a huge Calumet soft-shell) is large enough to be considered furniture in our house. I can't imagine lugging it anywhere, but it goes fine in the trunk of my car. Check the front standard, mine is a little buggy, but other than that, I am having a blast with 8x10.
     
  13. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    So I just heard back from them about the B&J's. Apparently, they are both folding field camera types, not monorail. This means that it should fit into a good sized backpack. I'll check them out in person tomorrow and see what happens.
    I feel like the Crown makes more sense from a logical standpoint, but logic can be boring sometimes :smile:
     
  14. Greg Davis

    Greg Davis Member

    Messages:
    2,055
    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2004
    Location:
    Nicholasvill
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    It's not that CF tripods aren't strong, but they are too light for a heavy camera since it raises all the weight to the top and creates an unbalanced combination. I find the camera wobbles too much using one, but heavier tripods keep them still, particularly in strong wind.
     
  15. M Stat

    M Stat Member

    Messages:
    111
    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2010
    Location:
    Columbia Riv
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I happen to own, and photograph with, a wooden B&J 11"x14" camera. It is a monster of a camera, but I have no problems with it at all, as long as the photograph which I intend to shoot is nearby (if I have to hike out any distance, I opt for my Toyo 4"x5" CF, which is much smaller and lighter than the B&J). However, if the rising cost of 8"x10" film is an issue, I would suggest photographing with the Graphic 4"x5" and then enlarging the negative in the darkroom. If alternative printing processes appeal to you, you should check our Bob Herbst's web site wherein he describes an excellent method of negative enlargement utilizing APHS film (available from Freestyle Photo sales in Los Angeles, which is much cheaper than standard film) and pryo developement for Alt processes. I have been using this process for years now and I find it to be far better than resorting to the infernal gizmo-ator (aka the computer) for enlarging negatives. I will state, however, that nothing quite matches the joy that I get from working with the big camera.
     
  16. Jose LS Gil

    Jose LS Gil Member

    Messages:
    147
    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2010
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    mfratt,
    If you are planning on purchasing a wood tripod for the 8X10, look into the Zone VI surveyor's type tripod. They are heavy and very sturdy. Most Zone VI tripods sell for a lot of $$$, but you can find surveyor wood tripods for much less. You would just need to get the camera adaptor, if it doesn't already have it. If you really want to spend some money, find a professional video/movie tripod. They are very sturdy, and you will get a good workout just lugging it around. Some field photographers prefer the wood tripods over aluminum or CF, as the claim is that the wood cancels out high frequency vibrations and is thus a better tripod for those long exposure, pin-sharp photos. This could be a myth or an old photogs tale.
     
  17. mfratt

    mfratt Member

    Messages:
    124
    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2010
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well wood tripods also look really nice with a wood camera :wink:
    Hey, You've got to have something nice to look at while you're waiting for a 10+ minute exposure.
     
  18. mjs

    mjs Member

    Messages:
    1,125
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2005
    Location:
    Elkhart, Ind
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I use a B&J monorail 8x10 camera. I've had two of them over the years; the first one had a shorter rail and weighed only about 8 1/2 lbs; this one has a longer rail, looks like it's brand new, and weighs 12 lbs, or about what an average wooden 8x10 camera weighs. Both of mine were gray; I've never seen or heard of a black one. Make sure the camera you have been offered isn't a Calumet C1; they're good cameras but heavy, heavy!!! It has plenty of movements for most people, I would think, and isn't difficult to carry in the field. I screw it to the tripod and carry it over a shoulder with lenses, filmholders, etc. in a bag over the other arm. It isn't my favorite 8x10 camera, to be sure (Wehman!!!) , but it's definitely the least expensive I could find and that's important to a po' boy like me. :smile:

    I use two lenses: a Red Dot Artar of 16 1/2" focal length in an Ilex #4 shutter, and a Fujinon 210mm (the older one with 352mm coverage.) For several years, until I got the older Fuji lens this spring, I used a newer 210mm Fuji lens which just barely covered the format. I like the perspective of this focal length on 8x10! :smile:

    It makes a very nice first 8x10 camera if you can get it for the right price. I paid $150 for my first one and a few years ago bought this one on Ebay with a bunch of other stuff; after selling what I didn't want I think the camera came out about free. :smile: Just the luck of the draw but I think that $300 is a fair price for one of these in good shape. Make sure it has the tripod block/clamp! That's the widget which clamps to the monorail and has a tripod screw socket in the other end, so you can attach it to the tripod!

    I'll be selling mine, if I ever manage to save enough to buy another Wehman 8x10 camera. Should never have sold the first one: stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

    Mike
     
  19. jp498

    jp498 Member

    Messages:
    1,463
    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Location:
    Owls Head ME
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have a wooden B&J field camera 8x10. It does fold up, but not as compactly as a deardorf or other clamshell style field cameras. The short bed stays on the bottom of the front and rear standards when stowed and is probably 6-8". While very functional, it probably wasn't made for backpack use.

    see http://www.camerapedia.org/wiki/Burke_&_James You can see the hinges between the two bed pieces.

    The built-in extension bed folds up over the back to protect the groundglass from impact. There is yet another 12"ish extension bed for use with real long lenses but that is often missing. If it is missing, you might be able to get the sale discounted slightly, and that's OK as long as you are not using mega-mm lenses.

    The lensboard is about 6" square which is plenty for most shuttered lenses. If you go for monster barrel lenses, you may need a packard shutter that is bigger than 6". In such a case, there is the B&J rembrandt 8x10 which has a fixed front standard and a bigger lensboard.