Does anyone have experience using a Gandolfi Variant Camera? I would like to hear how you like the camera, and what you think of it, and of using it. Thanks.
The traditional Gandolfi looks absolutely beautiful, but quite a few dollars. It looks worth it though.
jmcd I have a Gandolfi Variant and have been using it for a couple of years. It has some good point and some bad points. On the good side it is very rigid, the focus bed is a solid piece of wood not a frame. The controls for shift, raise, swing, are very good and tight though a bit too small, if you are going to use gloves this is not the camera for you. The lock levers in the back for focusing and swing are a joy to use almost like my Linhof, very tight and easy to use.
The problems...well not problems but things I did not like are the lock for the front focusing, it is tied to the front focusing knob and when you tighten the front bed sometimes you move the focusing, very annoying!!
The other thing is the zeroing of the standards, it is kind of weird and sometimes it does not fall right in, specially the bed tilt in the front standard, you will definitly need a bubble or some way to measure parallel standards. I have a horseman level wich works great but I feel for $2500 I should not have had to buy a $40 piece of equipment to zero the camera.
Another thing which is very important is for you to order it, if you are going to order it, with the SInar lens board. I made the mistake of ordering the Technika board because all my cameras use this board. But with the Gandolfi there is blocking of the image by the bellows with this small lens board when you use raise or fall more than about 3 or 4 cm. I actually had to make a wire contraption to move the bellows out of the way.
The manufacturing is excellent as far as the wood and metal pieces is concerned, but in my case the fools glued the bellows to the front standard crooked, not a big deal but kind of unsightly. It was not worth it sending it all the way back to England for them to fix this. BTW the bellows is removable what I mean by the front standard glue is the little board piece that attaches to the wood standard.
The machining of the wood standard to fit the technika board was not very good either, the board was loose and moved from side to side about 2 mm, I had to fit a little piece of wood to keep it tight.....again not a big deal but for the price not something I expected. Definitly not as precise as the machining done by Grimes, who just made a Korona to Linhof lens board for me and the board fits like a glove.
Bellows extension is great you can use most of the lenses you can find out there, I only have up to 450 mm so I dont know if a 600 or longer would be a problem.
The ground glass is very nice, easy to focus and no hot spots.
For the price I think the camera is a good deal and overall I give it a rating of 8 out of 10...if the camera had bigger knobs and the attention to small details had been better I would have rated a 10.
Thanks for such a thorough review, Jorge. Does the front standard of the Variant have any physical reference for clicking into vertical, or is it completely visual, as aided by your level?
On the axis tilt it is visual....no other way but to use a level. On the base tilt it is supposed to "click" but rarely does......you have to set all the front tilt movements by eye and level.
It sounds like the design of the Variant is great, and the attention to detail is very good on most particulars, but spotty here and there. I was hoping for better, of course. I was even considering the traditional, as it looks like a beautiful classic design, but I would expect meticulous attention to detail on either camera. $2800 or $4000 is a lot to spend for a camera that would have to be sent overseas for a quality tune-up. Thanks so much for the report, Jorge.