Phillips 8 x 10 compact II - Has anyone used one? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I am considering purchasing a Phillips 8 X 10 compact II camera, because of its light weight and sturdy construction.

Has anyone used one, and what was it like to use?

The only way I can get to see one, or use one is to buy one... I also have never used a wooden flat bed camera to compare it with.

Thank you


-- Leonard Metcalf (, May 11, 2000


I believe Phillips has suspended making 8x10 cameras for a while and is concentrating on 4x5 cameras. The 8x10 Phillips cameras are supposed to be very nice machines however. Have you looked at the Canham 8x10? Nicholas Nixon said in an interview in "View Camera" that it is the best he's used.

-- Ellis Vener (, May 11, 2000.

Oooooh but Ellis, Nick has a fickle fancy - he's switched to a Wisner Pocket Expedition and says that's his favorite - at least that's what it says at

-- Sean yates (, May 12, 2000.


according to the Jan/Feb issue of View Camera,

"R.H. Phillips is launching a new series of mammoth cameras in the 8 X 16 size to provide a slightly more square format compared to the more common 7 X 17....Production of the Phillips 8 X 10 Compact II will begin shortly with cameras being made available in June 2000. The 8 X 10 Explorer horizontal cameras will begin another production run in 2001 and the 11 X 14 Explorer horizontal cameras will begin another production run in June 2000."

-- Sean yates (, May 12, 2000.

Check out the previous post. I received spec and price sheets from Phillips a while ago, but there is a long waiting list and you'll have to wait at least one year.

-- Masayoshi Hayashi (, May 12, 2000.

in the last mail I receive from R.H Phillips He told me that the compact II will be avaible in june 2000 and the explorer in january 2001

-- nze christian (, May 12, 2000.


I don't have a Compact II, I have the Explorer camera, which is similar in most ways, but without the rotating back, and has a shorter bellows. I purchased it used recently because Phillips has told me that the delivery time for my Compact II order is sometime next year,

I feel very positive about the Explorer, and the Compact II (which I spent some time with at Photo Expo + East last fall) The best way to see these cameras is to see where Richard will be showing them, and then make a point to attend.

I actually didn't expect to like the Phillips design until I had a chance to see them in person. What I was most impressed with is the overall rigidity of the cameras. These two cameras are certainly more rigid than the Canham, and also the Wisner. The rear focus U-joint is a very nice innovation, which makes the process of final focus very comfortable because your hands can stay right near the back, instead of fumbling about on the side or front of the camera.

Phillips has designed rear shift into the camera in an unusual way, and I think it may take a bit to get used to, but I almost never us shift or swing on the rear, so I haven't used it much. However, the way it has been designed does not compromise the structural rigidity of the camera in any way. This cannot be said for many other field cameras, where the linkages for swing and shift pile up under the rear standard, compromising the overall rigidy of the standard.

The bellows on the Compact II maxes out at 26", which may be a problem if you like to use longer lenses. I use long lenses on 4x5, but I don't see doing the same type of photography in 8x10, so I don't expect to buy a lens longer than 600mm. (I shoot color almost exclusively in 4x5) 26" will provide 2" to spare on a 600mm at infinity.

So, I have an order on a Compact II, and I will probably sell the Explorer when I get my Compact II. The main reasons are:

I shoot a good deal of verticals, which the Explorer can do, but with some difficulty,

I want the longer bellows, so that I can use a 600mm lens (I can use a 450mm on the Explorer)

The Explorer I have is just to hold me over until a Compact II is available, but by that time, my emphasis may have shifted enough that I may just stay with it, instead of getting the Compact II. Only time will tell.

One good way to see and use his cameras would be to attend the Waterford Institute Mammoth Camera Workshop in late June. Richard Phillips will be there with some of his cameras, and you will have the opportunity to use them in the field. If you are intrested, there is a review for the workshop of the LF homepage, or email me.

I am working on a review of the Explorer for the LF Homepage, and hope to have it posted in the next month. Watch for it there.

Lastly, Phillips is a small company and only works on one camery body type at a time. This means that when he is making 4x5's the 8x10's are not being made. Right now he is working on 4x5's and is also retooling some processes for CNC manufacturing. This has slowed down the delivery of cameras, and at last report from Richard, the 8x10 Explorer camera is not expected in production until mid or later next year, and the Compact II sometime next year.

If you place an order, don't expect to see a camera until mid- next year. All 8x10's from this spring production are committed to other people.


-- Michael Mutmansky (, May 12, 2000.


I should have mentioned in the previous post that Keith Canham and Ron Wisner will also be at the Mammoth Camera Workshop, with their respective cameras, so it is a great opportunity to work with the field cameras available from these companies, and also talk camera desigh, etc. with the makers.

I am signed up, and am planning to use the workshop to determine which manufacturer I want for a camera purchase in the 12x20 range...


-- Michael Mutmansky (, May 12, 2000.


I purchased a new Phillips 4x5 last October and am very impressed with it. If you purchase a new Phillips camera you have a couple of weeks to try it out. If you don't like it you can send it back for a full refund, minus shipping (if the camera is in the condition you got it).

-- Paul Mongillo (, May 12, 2000.

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