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I am considering purchasing a used Wista/Zone V1 4x5 Field camera. I haven't shot large format since college, and am a bit unfamiliar with the technical specs of this camera. Is it a Wista or a Zone V1? If a hybrid, what modifications have been made? I am also wondering about the range of lenses that can be used. Can I go wider than a 90mm and longer than a 240mm? The camera is being sold with a Wollensak Raptar 162mm f4.5. for $1,000. Is this a good deal to get back into 4x5 landscape shooting? Any comments much apprecia

-- Jon Dodson (dodsonz@aol.com), September 01, 1999


Are you sure it's a "Wista" Zone VI? I know that years ago there was a connection between Wisner and Zone VI so that some of the earlier Zone VI cameras might be called "Wisner/Zone VI" but I've never heard of a connection between Wista and Zone VI. Then again, there's lots of things I've never heard of. If it's a Wisner/Zone VI then I think it has to be pretty old, as is the lens. This doesn't mean either are necessarily bad but I would try to buy with the right to return for any reason within ten or so days and then give both the camera and the lens a thorough test. If the lens is any good, and if the camera is in good shape, $1,000 doesn't seem out of line. If I remember correctly I've seen used Zone VI cameras alone offered for not much less than that.

-- Brian Ellis (beellis@gte.net), September 02, 1999.

Fred Picker only swapped out the nameplate when he purchased Wista 4x5s for his then company, Zone VI.

$1000 for one of those and that lens is too way too much. $600 maybe.

Better to stick it out and find a Wisner-built Zone VI or the current Zone VI model. Korona 4x5s can frequently be found in great condition and priced somewhat low. Current Zone VIs have a bag bellows for lenses shorter than 90 (I think it can go as far as 58mm??) and it should allow a 450mm. Wisner built models are VERY similiar to his own 4x5 Traditional line and probably accept his bag bellows and have the same range.

A new Tachihara can be a steal as well and you get some kind of warranty. The Calumet Woodfield and the Osaka are the same exact thing.

At any rate, be sure to get a quality lens. Current Schneiders and Rodenstocks are high quality. Schneider Symmar-S models are really juts as sharp as the APO versions currently made. Older Goerz Artars and Dagors are also in demand, but obviously using them in barrel mode is a pain and mounting them into shutters can be costly.

Check http://www.ebay.com I have seen many Zone VIs, Koronas, Kodaks, etc.....up for auction.

CH The Ansel Adams Gallery-Yosemite http://www.anseladams.com

-- Carlos R. Herrera (orders@anseladams.com), September 02, 1999.

I bought a new Wista DX (wooden field) with an older Carl Meyer lens and some accessories from E-Bay, in March, for $800. So the $1000 price tag may be a bit high. I have a 120mm and a 210mm, so I don't have any experience with the wider or longer focal lengths. I've been very happy with mine this summer. I do a lot of backpacking in the Colorado Rockies and it has performed well.

-- Scott Bacon (sbacon@naturalorderphoto.com), September 02, 1999.

Fred did some modifications to the Wista cameras before he put Zone VI on them, so they are not bad cameras, by any means. For instance, he said he installed a larger, more substantial square base-plate on them. Does this camera have that?

According to my catalogs, these cameras were sold up to 1987 when Fred began selling the new Zone VI cameras. As I recall, they were limited to about 10-12" lenses so you probably can't do any close focusing with a lens longer than a 240mm. I would suspect you could use shorter lenses, e.g. 75mm with that camera since the bellows compression looks pretty flat.

As others have said, with that lens, I would negotiate for a lower price. If it is in good shape it should be a good useable camera. Fred sure did a lot of work with one.

-- Alec Jones (alecj@bellsouth.net), September 02, 1999.

I owned a Wista 45DX back in the mid 80's and it was a very nice camera. Only change I made to the camera was to purchase an after-market cast aluminum base plate ($40) that replaced the thin metal plate that comes on the factory Wista. I used the camera for 12 years with no problems. I have now upgraded to a Linhof Technika which I consider to be a more robust and precise camera. $1000 seems a little high since I purchased mine new in 1984 for $600. The Raptar lens may be worth another $150. Being a Zone VI does not add any value to me. Even Fred Pickers base plate was poor.

-- Ron Lawrence (leica@interpath.com), September 03, 1999.


I would just buy a new Wista DX in Rosewood from Badger at $995.00. I would definitely get the rosewood model for it's strength and beauty. The Zone X1/Wista model is fine but old. A new camera which means new bellows is the way to go. I have used a Wista DX for 11 years and can say it is a great camera.

-- Ken Osborne (photo@osbornephoto.com), November 07, 2000.

I just recently purchased a Wista Zone VI in excellent condition for $600.00. The problem I'm having is - I can't seem to find lensboards for this camera. Is there a more modern lensboard out there that will fit? I'm afraid to buy anything, even "Zone VI" lensboards, due to the fact that they might be different dimensions. Can anyone help me on this? Jon, if you bought this camera, did you have the same trouble? Much appreciated....

-- Tim Fillpot (tpot5150@msn.com), February 03, 2001.

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