PS - obviously my Ebony is a folder. The nonfolding ones are prized by certain architectural photographers and will take wider lenses, while giving up longer focal lengths unless you add an
extender back. If you are working all the extremes, something like the metal Sinar monorail system
is more convenient because you can configure it with all kinds of rail lengths and different kinds of
bellows; but the kit is generally quite a bit bulkier than in either a collapsing or folding Ebony wood
camera of the same format. There are plenty of nice cameras out there worth owning. But Ebony
just might be the best of the wooden ones.
Never had one until a year ago. I bought wood Burke and James 5x7 on Ebay for $150. It's an amazing camera. I put it in my old RZ bag with one lens and 2 film holders and it weights about 6 pounds. It doesn't have the precise scales and movements like my Sinar 4x5, but its a perfect field camera. I make my own lens boards too. I"m going to take it to Yosemite this winter.
"Photography, like surfing, is an infinite process, a constantly evolving exploration of life."
I think if I could afford one the 45SU (non folding) seems like the one that would work best for me. I really like non-folders.
Originally Posted by DREW WILEY
I have a beaten up Burke & James. I LOVE my beaten up Burke & James. You can pry it out of my cold, dead hands. The format is nice (5x7), I have the complete camera with extension bed so I can shoot a relatively large range of focal lengths, the back rotates pretty easily so I can shoot either portrait or landscape at my leisure. and the amount of movements I have, while not quite as awesome as a monorail in most cases, is nothing to shake a stick at. I'm pretty happy with it. Once I get a 4x5 reducing back, I'll probably never look at another view camera again...unless a Kodak 2D shows up at my doorstep for a song.
No idea what's going to happen next, but I'm hoping it involves being wrist deep in chemicals come the weekend.
I use a Linhof Bi-Kardan for 4x5. I keep looking for rear standards to make it a 'convertible' rather than carrying 2 separate cameras. Over the years the 'prices' on gear I was looking for seemed to keep increasing out of my 'affordable' range and instead decided to get an 8x10 B & J. Not a 'bad' looking camera when it arrived... but I am afraid that the surplus US Navy WWII battleship grey paint was a bit of a turn-off... and it was soon decided that that paint would come off nice and easy with the aid of a tin on "1860 Furniture Stripper"... to reveal some well put together Maple. The wood did not need any re-sanding whatsoever. It was then given a few of coats of Tung oil as a 'natural finish' and now looks kinda 'proud' sitting atop a nice wooden tripod. I did however install a new 3/8' tripod bushing such that it 'sat' better balanced on the tripod head.
Quando omni flunkus moritati (R. Green)
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Michael - the nice thing about the non-folding Ebony is not only the slightly lighter wt, but the fact
you can operate it very quickly just like a monorail, and can often leave a favorite lens in place, provided there's not a lot of rear projection to it. You won't have that extra length option by tilting
front and rear standards themselves. But if you plan to stick pretty much to wide angle work or
modest "normal" you should be fine. In a pinch you can use a tophat board for a little extra extension, like a 180. Ebony wood itself will be a lot heavier than mahogany; but any kind of wood
needs inspection for scuffs and drying out if the oil is worn off - for me, about a once-a-year
maintenance routine, fairly simple.
I agree. I've always liked the way a non-folder sets up without all the fiddling with the front standard, less moving parts etc. In fact the SU model even offers enough extension for a 300mm (the only lens longer than 150mm I've ever needed), and also has asymetric tilts. It's nearly the ideal camera for me except it probably doesn't allow much rise with a 72mm XL (my shortest lens), not because of bellows but just the fact the front standard ends up almost inside the rear standard when focused at infinity. I might be wrong about that though. Hard to tell. In the end though, for lenses 90mm and shorter with lots of coverage there doesn't really seem to be any way around a more dedicated wide angle camera like the Ebony SW45 in the case of field cameras, or a monorail.
I notice that the new triple-extension version of their non-folder is actually quite a bit heavier than
a folder with equivalent bellows length. But you might not need triple extension (you can always add
an extension back to a shorter camera later). And I don't know just how much realistic extra coverage you'll get with the 72mm lens either. You can fudge rise a bit by custom drilling the lensboard with the hole a bit high. True monorails handle short lenses with bag bellows, and in the
case of an Ebony folder, one can simply bring things closer together using front and rear base tilts,
then correcting the lens and back to vertical. I do this with a 90 not because I need to shorten things, but to engage as much of the geartrain as possible for max rigidity. I'm more of a long lens
than wide-angle guy, and when I have done commercial architectual shots in the past simply used
the Sinar system. The Ebony is lighter wt and much less bulk, so would have been very tempting if
it had been around back when I first got into the game.
True. I think the camera that Michael is looking at right now, though, the Ebony, has metal parts made of titanium, which of course are very corrosion resistant.
Originally Posted by Len Middleton
My old Osaka 4x5 camera had metal parts made of nickel plated brass, which is also very good with respect to corrosion.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh