Feedback on Lotus 8x10 field camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have only been able to find one short reference (which was positive) to the European Lotus field cameras. I'm interested in an 8x10 and have found good info on other models but nothing much on Lotus. Their web site is Any comments about the quality/operation of their 8x10?

Mike Todd

-- michael todd (, December 17, 1999


I believe Michael A. Smith as well as Dan Smith, have some familiarity with Lotus products. They have both posted on this forum. Dan is I believe. Michael A. Smiths website is

-- Sean yates (, December 17, 1999.

I was told that Lotus was no longer being imported into the USA because they were not selling well. Any info?

-- jt (, December 17, 1999.

I'm not really sure what you need to know. I had an opportunity to try one. In point form, here are some things I found: - very stable, long extension - extremely good range of movements - more than you need, really - precision manufacture - reasonable weight - smooth movements (with low friction materials) - exceptional woodworking - beautiful materials, aesthetic appeal - fast, logically positioned controls - sets up rapidly - front standard was an adjustable tilt after it has been locked dowm, so tilt can be adjusted while looking through the gg, as long as the extension is not too long to reach. No need to fuss with tilt while trying to keep the lens from rising and falling at the same time. - shift and swing movements are very nice. - rear swing - tight reach to controls due to knob placement between the bottom of the rear standard and the baseplate. - Reasonably lightweight for its class. - Slightly high priced compared to the competition. - does not fold up as compactly as a Wisner or a Deardorff. May be a consideration when backpacking. Slight bulk added to protruding parts when folded up. - Controls are easy to use, with four-cornered star-shaped ends. The ends protrude slightly, even when the camera is folded up. - If folded up without the lens, it would be advisable to put on a blank, uncut lensboard to keep dust out of the inside of the bellows. With the open design, the camera should also be stored and carried in a dustjacket of some sort. - The baseplate is nicely designed, with a weight-saving design.

- This is one very nice camera! It is expensive, but well worth the price. It has the traditional appeal of most LF designs, with modern technology added to improve functionality.

-- George Huczek (, September 27, 2000.

I have tried many wooden cameras before I decided to sell my Sinar P2 and Horseman cameras. Finally I have settle for a Lotus 8x10 and 12x20 with a reducing 8x20 frame and as well an 8x20 conversion back for the 8x10. I can honestly say, that although there are many fine large cameras, nothing comes close to the quality of the woodwork of a Lotus. Forget whatever you have ever seeing; you will be pleasantly surprise by the quality of Lotus cameras.

Another thing is service, if you call them up they are always there to answer your questions and if a rare case arrives and you camera needs service, they would do it fast.

I believe they ship around the world.


-- Alejandro López de Haro (, April 01, 2001.

My experience comes from a two year relationship (off & on due to my borrowing the cameras rather than owning them) with 8x20 and 11x14. Then a four month loan of one of the smaller ones. I still have to write my full review for this forum, just have been snow doing so. I think the Lotus is a *pretty* camera. Not rugged enough for use in the field if you are like me & put it in the back, back seat, pickup or rear of a VW Rabbit & drive 70 miles on crap eating roads, dust & dirt and occasionally get airborne when not watching carefully enough. I don't beat my gear on purpose, but when you are driving 140 miles on dirt, clay & old streambeds to get to the Newfoundland Mountains to photograph Robins Arch on the South West shore of Great Salt Lake, you have no choice but to vibrate the hell out of everything you own. Packed or open on the seat with a dust cover over it, all gets battered. The carrying it a half mile up an alluvial fan & rock ledge, it gets bumped a bit at times. I wouldn't (and didn't) feel comfortable with the Lotus like I do with the Deardorffs, or my lighter Ikeda. (a real sleeper in LF... workmanship, light weight & details a lot of other makers could learn from) The 8x20 I borrow has had the gears stripped out twice. Nice, buttery smooth delrin gears. They don't hold up to use by High School kids. The wood scratches easily and the metal isn't up to what I have used on the Canhams I have also borrowed. (Yes, I do own my own gear, lightweight Ikeda Anba, Deardorffs & Linhof--- all hold up well for me in the field) I would term it a *Doctors Camera*, and those familiar with LF in the field will understand the term. Nice, pretty & it works well, but needs to be babied. Some may disagree but from experience none of the seven I have used felt solid enough for me to want to buy them. If you gave them to me I would take them, but on some would trade for a Canham or a Philips, and on others would sell them & buy another lens or two for the Deardorff.

When racked out with a 30 inch lens the bigger cameras act like playground teeter-totters. They really have to settle down before one trips the shutter. A dark cloth or jacket helps a lot here.

At any rate, they are nice but for me there are both new and old cameras on the market that are better in the field. Please understand I am NOT attacking them nor their maker. It is just that I have not found them solid enough, especially after using other makes of the same size. As I said, they are pretty. But I want more than that with a camera I am going to use a lot.

One reason you can't find many positive references is simple. There aren't many of these cameras out there. The LF market is a small one and new cameras, even excellent ones, have a tough go of it when competing with the dollars thrown into advertising, especially when certain brands spend more on advertising than qualitiy control and service combined. (at least it seems that way with this outfit, especially considering the major names who get blown off when they need the expensive wood camera merely brought up to minimum usable standards)

Names we know get the sales. New names seldom do unless you see one personally... not easy for most to do. So, what choice is made? Brand W, or Z or L or whatever. One that you have seen ads for or seen a famous photographer use. Not always the smartest recommendation as many who get good learn not on the best gear, but what they could afford & then are so used to it they don't move to another one.

Take my review of the Lotus as written (again, I will shoot to have it to the list within the next two weeks... as well as an 'advertorial' on the upcoming Mammoth Camera Workshop in Utah the last of June where you can use these cameras hands on). I am not the be all nor end all on LF gear. I know what works for me & what I like and have owned a dozen or more LF cameras I have used. Others I refinish & then sell. A lot have nice features I like, but you can't photograph with them all and be comfortable as you need in the field. Fumbling for a control that isn't where it is 'on the Deardorff' means a missed opportunity when going from one camera to another. No camera is perfect & maybe you are a lot more careful than I am. But, even with the rough treatment it sounds like I give my stuff, it was just last year that I broke the first ground glass since 1973 and that was due to a tripod leg that gave way on rocky terrain.

Again, the Lotus is nice, just not what I would personally buy. If it were my own money I would buy one of two brands... Philips or Canham, for excellent value in field cameras.

-- Dan Smith (, April 01, 2001.

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