Hi All, a while back I was asking advice on used cameras. Now it appears I will be able to buy new so am asking advice from those who have used the following 5 X 7 cameras. The Wisner Technical Field, Canham Wood Field, Gandolfi Variant Level 2, and the Anba Ikeda. I will be doing landscape work for the most part. I am leaning toward the Wisner but would like advice and words of wisdom from those of you that have used these cameras. Thank you.
Second hand info, the general consensus is that the Ebony is the most elegant, rigid wood camera you can buy, but very expensive.
What criteria did you use in the evaluation?
I bought and used a Canham wood 5x7 for over two years after comparing it with the Wisner. Some of this comes down to styling. the wisner and canham cost about the same the wisner is more traditional (brass, red leather) in appearance, the canham equally elegant in a more modern way. in side by side comparison the canham was more rigid at long bellows extension. it seemed to me to be better built. it was also less complicated to set up or fold up. At the time of purchase, I spoke to Keith Canham on the phone - he answered all my questions, and seemed completely honest and straightforward - the kind of person I'd like to buy a camera from.
the canham was easy to backpack and an excellent landscape camera.
I only sold the camera when I realized I'd be happier with a metal monorail camera.
hope this helps, I'd be glad to answer any questions you might have.
I was thinking along the same lines a while ago, in an attempt to find a lighter camera than my Technika III.
Unlike most landscape photographers, I find that I really need front swing as well as tilt, shift and rise. So that simplified things a bit for me...
My top candidate was Ebony, as the only one which could accomodate my massive 300mm/f:4.5 Xenar lens.
Next on my list are Lotus, Gandolfi and Shen-Hao.
But I decided to stick with my Technika, and rather look into 8x10" when I can afford a new camera ;)
I have a Wisner Technical 4x5 and a Canham 8x10 and rented a Canham 5x7 (wood) camera for a while.
Unlike Tom Duffy, I find the Wisner easier to fold up and maybe a little more ridgid at long extension, at least until you move the front standard off its geared track, it's a little less rigid in its fully extended position, but not worse than the Canham (this is comparing the 4x5 Wisner with a 5x7 Canham). The Canham has lots of levers that are easy to pinch fingers if you are not careful. The Wisner does tend to rub the front standards on the belllows as you fold it.
The Wisner is a pain to use with short lenses. With the 4x5, anything shorter than about 120mm requires moving the front standard back using the base and axis tilts to get the lens close enough to the film to focus at infinity. The 5x7 probably has this problem with longer lenses. Even a 120mm on 4x5 really needs the bag bellows.
The Canham, on the other hand, easily handles my 120mm on the 8x10 with the normal bellows. I think I could mount a 58mm on the 8x10 and focus at infinity with the normal bellows.
If you like wide angle lenses, the Canham is a much better design. If you don't use any wide angle lenses and like really long lenses, the Wisner may be slightly better, though not by much.
We did a very complete article on new and used 5x7 cameras in our Sept/oct 03 issue. We will post this on our web site in the next day or so.
I would check out the archives on Photo.Net with regard to Wisner before I ordered one of his cameras directly. If you are looking to buy one, better to get it from a distributor that actually has stock.
5X7 is such a nice format. A little more than a year ago I ordered a 5X7 from Wisner and paid him half. After months of not shipping the camera when he said he would and multiple phone calls about unkept promises I finally canceled the order. There was a little problem getting my money back but I did get it back finally and I got the Ebony instead. I have to thank Wisner for that because I love the Ebony. It's as good as people say - if you can, buy one. Note also it has assymetrical swings and tilts on the rear standard which is the only field camera that has them...you can live without them, but they are useful...
I use both the wood Canham and the Wisner tech. both are great cameras but very different. I find the Wisner quicker to set up and pack up but the Canham seems more stable. Keith Canham will take your calls and answer questions, great service.