Ebony or Gandolfi ?

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by George Papantoniou, Jul 28, 2005.

  1. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Athens
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    In the following months I hope to get the 8x10 folding I have always dreamed of. Can someone give me some advice about which camera would be best for landscape and portrait use ?

    I have once worked with a friend's Gandolfi (+ germinar 300) that I found great to use outside but haven't tried to do a portrait. I have only done 8x10 portraits with a Linhof monorail and it was OK. A bit heavy when I took it outside, though. The lens was as heavy as the whole Gandolfi outfit...

    I like Ebony when I see it advertised on the net.

    Both the Gandolfi and the Ebony are expensive. There are cheaper solutions, but are they any good ?

    Should I use the (cheap) Nikon 300 or the Germinar ? I don't want a big and heavy lens...
     
  2. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Either I am sure would be wonderful and I only have experience with Ebonies, which are both beuatiful and exceptional in use. If you can afford the Ebony 10x8, I cannot imagine that you would be able to get a better camera. The Gandolfi traditional is arguably even more beautiful, but is it as practical - I could not say?
     
  3. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

    Messages:
    4,532
    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2002
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Which Gandolfi, the Ttraditional or the Variant? I have a variant and it is a love hate relationship. I like it that it is light weight and very well made. I hate it that it has a zillion knobs one has to screw and unscrew to set up/fold and the front standard in the case of the technika design is absolutely worhtless for swing movements. If you decide on a Gandolfi Variant, get it with the Sinar front standard (one more mistake I made, I did not know the tecnika standard would cause bellows vignetting) the assembly is better than the tecnika one and you do not get bellows vignetting.

    Since I bought my Gandolfi, the firm has changed hands, so maybe the design has improved, you better drop them and line and ask them to send you more info. www.gandolficameras.com.

    I have never used an Ebony, but depending on the model they can cost as much as $8500, given the price ratio I doubt an Ebony is 2 times better than a Gandolfi.....

    PS. If you get the Gandolfi, tell them you want big knobs on the camera, I hate them little suckers like mine has.
     
  4. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    I have a GANDOLFI (big surprise..) Traditinonal 8x10.
    I have it fir the sole reason, that it is the most beautiful camera ever made!
    (don't argue - I know I am right..)

    it is easy to use - fantastic for portraits.

    it is a field camera, so the movements are limited - but who cares..
    the results are good.
    maybe we could make a GANDOLFI club?
    jorge (I don't know if the Variant will qualify as a "real" gandolfi..:wink:)
    I also know Ole has one.

    who else?
    I've seen these beauties several times on Ebay - for next to nothing (go figure)
     
  5. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have two... Gandolfis, that is. A 5x7" Traditional which is just great, and an 8x10" Traditional that is still in parts. I have the wood and the bellows now, just waiting for the metal.

    I can find no fault with the Traditional - except possibly the lack of front swing. But that is optional, I just don't have it on mine. It feels incredibly sturdy, even to me who learned LF on a Linhof Technika III 5x7"!
     
  6. Emile de Leon

    Emile de Leon Member

    Messages:
    96
    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2003
    Location:
    Middletown c
    You might want to look for a camera with a big lensboard just in case you want to use the older portrait lenses. Right now I have a 340mm f3 Dallmeyer on my Deardorff 8x10 and it lights up the GG like a TV screen. Make sure you have a strong front end too to support these. The Deardorff is clearly stressed by a 5 lb lens. Probably just do some good research on all the makes then make your decision. I like the Phillips for portability, the Deardorff for venerability, The Ebony for luxury, the Wisner for gearing, the Shen-Hao for savings, the KMV for toughness. There are others. If you are interested in the Wisner or Shen-Hao or Ebony or a new Deardorff, I can order these for you. I'm a dealer. Emile/www.deleon-ulf.com.
    PS....Just a thought...if you are going to spend a bizillion bucks on an Ebony why not just go all the way and get an 11x14 Wisner or similar? Maybe a 12x20/11x14 w/11x14 or 8x10 reducing backs? These will provide the ultimate contact prints and 2 ulf cameras in one purchase. If you decide on ULF I can talk to you about Wisner/Deardorff and Shen-Hao which BTW...will release a 7x17 and 12x20 in the next 3 months if not sooner.:smile: Good luck!
     
  7. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The Gandolfi Traditional 8x10" has a 14x16.5cm lensboard, which should be enough for all but a very few lenses. I haven't used one of these myself, but at least my 5x7" has no problems with any of my lenses. I haven't tried the 500mm f:6.6 Aerotar, but that is only because the lensboard is too small. At least the 360mm f:5.5 Tele-Xenar causes no difficulties; that is the heaviest lens I crrently use.
     
  8. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I am lucky enough to have a Gandolfi traditional 5x4 and an Ebony 45SU which I use outdoors for landscape, but have had a single go at portraiture. Both are beautiful cameras in their own right. However the Ebony is far easier to use and has a much brighter GG. Consequently this is the one which I use all of the time. There are problems getting the rear element of several of my lenses through the front standard aperture on the Gandolfi.

    I have seen and had a quick familiarisation with a Shen Hao 8x10 with a 300mm lens. This was a nice camera at a fraction of the price of an Ebony; where the large bright GG was quite seductive. I have no need or much desire to change to the bigger format; although I can see why many do keep moving to ever bigger formats.
     
  9. JHannon

    JHannon Member

    Messages:
    969
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Boston, MA
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I would choose Gandolf over Ebony as he is a much more powerful wizard. :smile: sorry, just a bad joke.
     
  10. mikewhi

    mikewhi Member

    Messages:
    808
    Joined:
    May 22, 2004
    Location:
    Redmond, WA
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
  11. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Athens
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Mike, the problem is that I don't live in the USA so most of the US sellers won't accept to do business with me... The Canham looks OK and it might be sold at an interesting price, too... Too bad for me...

    Emile, I would love to buy my Ebony from you (if, finally I decide for the $$$$$$$$ solution), but we'll have problems with the greek customs (who'll want to tax it)... except if you can send it to me from a European spot. But I guess you're not situated inside EU territory...

    That leaves only Ole, who might want to consider selling me HIS Gandolfi (hahaha)... Maybe he will, if I promise him to let him meet my beautiful mediteranean-beauty sister... For a yellow-haired Viking, this might be very tempting... The problem is that I don't have a sister, but if Ole agrees I can arrange to find one...

    I agree that the Gandolfi traditional is a BEAUTIFUL camera. If I get one, I'll have to find a place in the living room to put it so I will be able to admire its beauty every day. Then I won't use it to shoot pictures, being afraid that I might scratch it. This is maybe not such a good idea... Are Gandolfis made in Britain ? Are they so much cheaper than Ebonys ? I saw the price list, but it didn't mention the currency (there were only some numbers). If it means US$, then they're cheap. If, however, it means GBP, then they're not...
     
  12. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Athens
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Hey, if you see another one, please let me know. Especially if it's a EU based seller...
     
  13. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    9,281
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2002
    Location:
    Bergen, Norw
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Mediterranean beauties excepted, the problem is still not solved. I'm not inside EU either!

    They're made in Britain, yes. And the currency on the website is GBP, so they're not exactly the cheapest cameras.
    But they're not all too beautiful to use, my 5x7" is a second-hand former government model: http://www.bruraholo.no/Cameras/Gandolfi/Gandolfi.html :D
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I have not seen the 8X10 Shen-Hao but I have a 5X7 model. Having seen an Ebony SV 5X7 I will admit that the Shen-Hao is not an Ebony, though the design seems to be more closely based on it than on any other camera I have seen. The Shen-Hao is, however, a very beautiful and well-made camera in its own right. I would roughly calculate that the Shen-Hao has has about 99% of the features (movements, bellows draw, etc.) of an Ebony, 95% of the quality of construction, but is available at about 1/5 the cost ($1088 for Shen-Hao versus $4900 for the least expensive version of the Ebony SV 57). The Shen-Hao is slighly heaveir than the Ebony, but both are very sturdy and rigid. In fact they are the most stury and rigid of all folding field cameas I have seen, and this is true with the front and rear extensions racked out all the way. Both are far superior to Deardorff in this respect.

    Sorry, I know this thread was Ebony versus Gandolfi, but since a comparison was made to Shen-Hao I am just adding my two cents worth.

    Sandy
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 29, 2005
  16. Tom Stanworth

    Tom Stanworth Member

    Messages:
    2,027
    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2003
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I agree with Sandy on the sense of a Shen Hao. Once you move above the base 5x4 models, Ebony prices get crazy. I would have loved one for 5x7, but got a walker XL5x7 at a fraction of the price. It is also incredible in its own right, esp as I realise there is not much long lens photography in the UK. From what I have heard of the Shen Haos (seriously considered the 5x7 Shen) there is a mighty fine argument for one in 10x8 vs the pricey Ebony. One nice things about the Shen Haows and Ebonies is that you rearely if ever hear of anything being under-engineerd or lacking in robustness. I know the Ebonies will last more than one lifetime and susepct the Shen Haos would too. You don't hear of weak locking mechanisms on rear stds like some Canham models.

    The Shen is Soooo cheap for what you get. You could kit it out with (roughly) a used 150/165, a used 210/240 G claron and a used 305 G claron along with 10 x DDS and a super trekker ....and a Berleback tripod before you hit the cost of an Ebony.....
     
  17. Baxter Bradford

    Baxter Bradford Member

    Messages:
    772
    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2004
    Location:
    Lymington, S
    Shooter:
    4x5 Format
    I wasn't trying to hijack the thread away from the two particular options, it seemed to make sense to include a mention of the Shen Hao which probably would fit the bill as Sandy and Tom have suggested.

    A long thread here http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=13338 where Ebony vs Shen Hao was discussed.

    Inevitably everyone has their own preferences, which is really the beauty of LF - once you've found a camera that suits!
     
  18. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

    Messages:
    1,030
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    George,

    Deardorff! Either a new or used one. IMHO, for a lightwieght 300mm, go with the 305 G Claron---It'll allow for greater movements than the Nikkor M even though its single, not multicoated. A 12" Goerz Dagor would be an excellent choice as well.
     
  19. gandolfi

    gandolfi Member

    Messages:
    1,804
    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2005
    Location:
    Denmark
    Shooter:
    Large Format Pan
    GANDOLFI!

    (just because it is more beautiful :smile:)
     
  20. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Just for the record, the Ebony vs Shen-Hao comparison in the above thread is based on 4X5 cameras. 5X7 and larger Shen-Hao cameras are very different from the Shen-Hao 4X5, in that 1) they are double extension cameras, and 2) the hardware is of titanium metal (as it is on the Ebony).

    Sandy
     
  21. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Athens
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    So, Sandy... where are Shen Haos manufactured ? Of course I'll look it up in a Google Search, but I have to say that I'd prefer a Japanese or European camera. Japan is my favourite Asian country and Europe is where I live (my home-continent).

    Ole, Norway should enter the European Union. This way, you'll be paying for other countries debts, and I'll be able to order tax-free stuff from Norway. I hear you have good quality Mackerel.
     
  22. sanking

    sanking Member

    Messages:
    4,813
    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2003
    Location:
    Greenville,
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Shen-Hao cameras are manufactured in a fairly small shop in Shanghai, China. The web page is www.shen-hao.com.

    I purchased my camera directly from the factory in China and did not have to pay any duties or additional taxes on it on arrival to me in the US.

    Sandy
     
  23. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    Hi,
    If you are going to spend the price of an Ebony. Check out the new Arca Swiss...EC
     
  24. sattler123

    sattler123 Member

    Messages:
    31
    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2004
    Why not look at a Wehman 8x10 - yes, it is a US based company, but I am sure that Bruce Wehman will do business with folks in Europe. The Wehman is a very lightweight (8 pounds) yet very sturdy camera. It folds into its own aluminum shell and is therefore very well protected. It is one of the best values in 8x10 Field cameras. I own one and am very happy with it. www.wehmancamera.com
     
  25. John Kasaian

    John Kasaian Member

    Messages:
    1,030
    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2002
    George,

    There are a lot of greeks living in Chicago (where old 'dorffs were built)---does that make Deardorff a cool camera or what? You can probably get a professional studio used 'dorff through Mid West Photo Exchange or Lens and Repro(these places seem to get several in at a time from professional studios that are succumbing to digitalis) It'll probably cost a lot less than either a Gandolfi or Ebony.

    Oopa!
     
  26. George Papantoniou

    George Papantoniou Member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2005
    Location:
    Athens
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    Sandy, if I travelled to Japan or China, I would definitely grab the opportunity and buy a camera there (where it'll be cheaper). Then I would not declare it when entering my country and so avoid paying the tax. If ever a customs inspector opened my bag and found the brown box, he would never understand that it's a camera and not a folding oriental breakfast table (that I would tell him it is).

    Deardorffs look OK, they're on my list. I am a bit afraid of buying second hand though, because of the possibility of buying a "loose" camera...

    The Wehman might be a good tool, but you have to admit it's not beautiful...