View Full Version : The Ultimate Portable LF cameras . . . . . . .

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Ian Grant
10-25-2008, 04:22 PM
Andy, one problem of being an ex-pat and living abroad is weight on air flights, and so I weighed what I was carrying here to Turkey carefully 2 weeks ago, I reckoned 3 sets of 3 film holders & cases weighed 1.3 kgs, I had to leave them in the UK, along with the film & dev tank, and my Jobo in Turkey is fixed reels for 5x4 anyway, so all I have is the Kamera !!!

I've seen McKeowans, but I'm a user rather than a collector :D so it doesn't really interest me that much, but perhaps I should buy an older copy. My education and training is to always find the primary, original sources, these seem to be harder to find with companies like KW, unless you live in Germany of course.

You made a comment about build quality & 9x12 cameras, and many I've seen and the 4 others (non Etui's) I own have a far higher build quality compared to the Etui but they are also grossly over engineered in comparison. The Etui's are excellent.

I suspect that the 135mm Tessar / Dial-set Compur on my Etui is significantly better than the 135mm Tessar / Rim-set Compur I've been using on my Crown Graphic, I posted a separate thread about Tessars yesterday, both are in excellent condition but the Tessars in Dial-set Compurs always seen to have more smnap, contrastbcall itbwhat you will.


11-04-2008, 09:49 AM
Ian, reference books such as Mckeowns can be usefull for the either a ,user’ or ,collector’.

In today’s age of the net and forums they are not as necessary to own because communication amongst others, that already have the information is easier to obtain from those that share, providing you are willing to accept the information freely given.

Source information is choice I agree, however from my experience obtaining this is more difficult (near impossible at times), expensive overall (particularly as your tastes in camera evolve or change; I unfortunately or fortunately as the case may be can attest to that as I have many original brochure and information) and I would suggest places you/me/others in the more collector category. Many of the authors of the reference books have simply done the collecting of ads and info and compiled it for our convenience. Not always complete or the best, but to the ,user’ of vintage camera they may well be the most viable resource rather than seeking out and buying rare brochure or adverts---a practice (obtaining brochure-for free) many of us, if we are old enough would do when weighing up the differences between new model cameras to purchase…not so long ago either!

I can’t say I care much for the common internet distinction between ‘users’ or ‘collectors’ among the photographic internet community. It rather reeks of similarities in terms of class distinction, which if one is labeled a collector by unwitted peers then that person’s value as a ‘user’ or photographer is somehow devalued …when in reality the opposite may well be true. I don’t mind saying I am both, because although I can not pretend to use all the camera I have; Some camera I like to use regularly, others not so regularly and still others I don’t use at all and simply purchased them to compare build quality and features, and a broader knowledge ect. Seeing how they didn’t cost much to me its better than the brochure at times….if you have 5-7 camera of this type already then I would suggest even though you are unwilling to admit, then you are a collector as well, as its likely you have your favourite cameras to use and a few don’t get used for whatever reason.

However that can be a semantic or philosophical discussion.

Back to the Etui; my thoughts are that yes there are much better built camera of this type but my feeling is perhaps this company was going for light weight as a feature which compromises the sturdiness of any camera. Having said that however, KW received acknowledgment from the press and industry for its strut design in relation to its weight for this camera.

This is only speculation on my part but I think that the Bentizin plan-primar is a direct off-shoot (inspired) from the Etui design, same kind of thickness but much sturdier built (heavier too) but unfortunately only available in 6.5x9. the Balda Nizza 9x12 (steal or aluminum) and Venus in 6.5x9 is also comparable in thickness to the Euti. Also my thoughts are that KW was inspired by the early Contessa designs from as early as 1910 and perhaps some Ernemann designs I have seen. Particularly the contessa designs have many similarities with strut design, lightweight and thickness. Some of the 6x9 size only weigh around 175g-300g depending on model and vary in thickness from 1.5cm-2cm, the 9x12 not much thicker which may well make them the thinnest and lightest folding plate camera

df cardwell
11-04-2008, 10:36 AM
John Noble's story is a little more eventful than has been discussed. Here is his obit:


Ian Grant
11-04-2008, 12:55 PM
I remember reading also something about John Noble a few years ago, and it was indeed an interesting and eventful story. How very different things might have been if the Nobles had continued to Run KW after WWII instead of being imprisoned.

Andy, I'll clarify the term user for a camera, it was a term I came across long before the internet existed. A user camera is mechanically sound but often with minor dings or dents and one a Collector would usually not be interested in. It was a Leica dealer who introduced me to the term, and I bought a superb M3 from him about 22 years ago with 2 or 3 slight dings.

Of course any collectible camera can be used, but with far more care than would be needed with a user camera.

So when I say I'm a user rather than a collector I'm talking about cameras that aren't pristine that may pick up a few more battle scars in use.


11-06-2008, 10:57 AM
I appreciate your clarification Ian.

The term user is a term used to describe either a camera or a person. When the term user is applied to a camera, it is as you say a description of the cameras condition relative to a more pristine camera (collector quality, which can of course can still be used).

However, when the term user or collector is applied describing, or relating to a person, as you did in post # 41 with the words ‘I’m’.

I've seen McKeowans, but I'm a user rather than a collector
Then the term user or collector is describing a person (in this case you described yourself), then you are making a distinction between people; one is strictly a user of camera that a person has, as opposed to a collector that does not use the camera. In this latter instance depending on its context I often find it a rather pedantic, judgmental comment that assumes a great deal. Not that there is anything wrong with a persons endevours at either end of the pendulum.

Anyway thanks for your clarification. To reword, I assume you mean that you prefer to purchase a camera in user condition rather than collector condition. Either way, reference books such as mentioned before can still be quite handy as a buyer guide (that’s part of its design) and have a more accurate grading system of condition, which gives suggestions to a relative price as well.

John Shriver
01-07-2009, 08:34 PM
Hunt's Photo in Melrose, MA does stock E100G in 9x12cm, even though Kodak doesn't want to sell that size in the US. I bought 5 slightly expired 10-sheet boxes from them for a song on eBay. It's not on their website, or really properly in their computer, so you'll have to call them.