Which is the most beautiful camera in your opinion?

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I know this is a silly question. We use our cameras to take pictures and look at them, not the instruments we used to get them. But do I think some wooden cameras are absolutely beautiful with their brass knobs, superb wooden finishes, etc.

So which in your opinion is the most beautiful and crafted view camera?

It is a Wisner? An Ebony? A Tachihara? Or a metal Toyo :)

I apologize for this thread to be a little off topic.

-- Sol Campbell (solcam31@hotmail.com), December 19, 2000


I find that gandolfi are truely beatiful and well made. really a great work. ad it look so simple.

-- christian nze (cnze@club-internet.fr), December 19, 2000.

Ebony. No question in my mind at all. (Wish I could afford one!)

-- Matt O. (mojo@moscow.com), December 19, 2000.

Why an Ebony? They are black and look like metal cameras to me. I say this while never having seen one in real life, just pictures!

-- Sol Campbell (solcam31@hotmail.com), December 19, 2000.

When I come upon a dusty old camera store and find (usually on the top shelf with a negotiable "Not for sale" tag) a beat-up old view camera that obviously has been used to make thousands of images, well, I think that's kind of beautiful--creaky hinges, worn bellows, and all. Doesn't matter if it's wood or metal, as long as it has the patina of age, the innumerable tiny nicks reflecting daily use, and--usually, anyway--some decades-old "temporary" fix for a broken part.


-- Micah (micahmarty@aol.com), December 19, 2000.


While I happen to agree that the ebony wood and titanium Ebony cameras are stunning themselves, they also make mahogany and titanium cameras that you may find more attractive. See www.ebonycamera.com. Check out the RW45 body there for an example of their mahogany bodies.

-- Greg Lawhon (glawhon@unicom.net), December 19, 2000.

Once I was in my local camera store, yaking and trying to figure out how I was going to pay for item X when a guy came in with an 8 X 10 he had just bought at a yardsale.

No, I'm not kidding - $35.00 he said.

I didn't catch the make, but it had the fanciest parquet bed I have ever seen - alternating tiles of blonde and deep red wood - like a chess board, each square perhaps 2" on a side. Deep Red leather bellows like a Wisner, BRIGHT brass lens and shutter that had probably (GOOD GOD!) had Brasso taken to it (still makes me cringe) and really fancy springs and clips holding the ground glass in place. It probably weighed all of 9 lbs.

The fellow was very enthused about his purchase, (who wouldn't be) the camera store owner was a good deal less than enthusiastic, and I am regret letting him walk out the door with it.

-- Sean yates (yatescats@yahoo.com), December 19, 2000.

(Sean, If you'd had $35 at the time, we all know you'd have bought it.) My nomination for most beautiful: Zeiss Contax IIa with 50mm f:1.5 Sonnar. Especially the one in Monkey Wards catalog about 1950!

-- Bill Mitchell (bmitch@home.com), December 19, 2000.

I think the Phillips cameras are very refined looking, but I still love my Deardorff.

-- Chad Jarvis (cjarvis@nas.edu), December 19, 2000.

The camera I saw which impressed me the most was a Deardorff 8x10. On pictures, an Ebony.

-- D. Cesari (cesarigd@club-internet.fr), December 19, 2000.

For me, it's the latest Arca-Swiss F-Metric series...

-- Jeffrey Goggin (audidudi@mindspring.com), December 19, 2000.

My vote goes to the Deardorff 8x10 wfs. A gorgeous camera to look at as well as a superb camera to use.

-- Dave Munson (orthoptera@juno.com), December 19, 2000.

Ebony, no question :)

-- Danny Burk (foto28@aol.com), December 19, 2000.

As hard as this will be to believe: My old 8X10 B&J field camera. A previous owner had removed all of the battleship gray paint and left it in its natural wood finish (maple?). He replaced the bellows with a new black version. I just replaced the leather handle after it literally rotted off. The new one is burgandy horsehide (can't tell my daughter!)and with the stainless steel fittings the whole camera looks wonderful.

-- David Grandy (dgrandy@accesscable.net), December 19, 2000.

in much the same way that i view my wife as the most beautiful of women, i feel like my trusty old 1948 crown graphic and my cambo monorail are the most beautiful cameras - not for their stellar good looks, or old-world craftsmanship, but for the long-term relationship i have had with them. when you use a piece of equipment day after day for years and years, you develop a partnership and trust that ties you together in a very special way. so many times, as i have worked through both incredible and ridiculous conditions with these cameras, and seen them respond to my touch with both reliability and extraordinary durability, i have said to myself, "god, i love this camera." i really enjoy playing with all kinds of cameras, especially old ones, and i have great respect for the fine craftsmanship displayed by folks who spend countless hours building a product such as the ebony, but i would not trade either of my cameras for one. i guess that sounds kind of silly...

-- jnorman (jnorman@teleport.com), December 19, 2000.

Big cameras: Canham 8x10, Sinar P2 and Arca-Swiss Monolith 8x10, Linhof Technikardan TK45s is also lovely, as is the Canham DLC.( I hate shiny brass and red leather anything except on spittoons (brass) and Linda Evangelista or Christy Turlington (red leather).)

Medium format cameras: Hasselblad 500cm and 503cx, Fuji 680 III. Also the Fuji GSW690III.

35mm cameras: Nikon F5, Canon EOS 1v, Leica M6 9black), M4, and M3 (both chrome).

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), December 19, 2000.

I bought a second hand Zone VI on Ebay for about $500 to replace the poor Cambo studio that I had drug over half of Nevada, and I can barely use the thing if there're people around because it attracts such a croud. It is in my opinion a very "pretty camera" and in fact a pleasure to use. It is pleasingly "understated" compared to it's Wisner cousin.

-- Jim Galli (jimgalli@sierra.net), December 19, 2000.

Sol, As far as wooden large format cameras are concerned--Ebony. The superb craftsmanship and inspired combination of ancient(ebony) and modern(titanium) mediums sets it apart from the rest of the field.

-- David Lodge (dlodge810@yahoo.com), December 19, 2000.

Sol, Without a doubt any of the Ebony cameras. I agree that in photos they are not much to look at but "in the flesh" thay are something else. There is something very "pleasing" about ebony when compared to other woods and when combined with titanium they are truly magnificent!! But the proof is in their use - simplicity itself, especially the non-folding series. Regards Paul.

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), December 19, 2000.

The one that happens to be in front of me with some film in it. Dean

-- Dean Lastoria (dvlastor@sfu.ca), December 19, 2000.

Gotta agree with the Ebony on this one, either in ebony or mahogany, they are just beautifully made cameras. Wouldn't trade my SV810U for anything else out there.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), December 19, 2000.

Canham 8x10. A very beautiful machine.

-- Rick Moore (rickm@gethen.com), December 20, 2000.

Gosh, am I the only one who thinks a Linhof Technika is beautiful? I've owned the Technikardan, Technika, Tachihara, Agfa Ansco, and Deardorf. To me, the Technika is the best looking. Never seen an Ebony but I'm sure they must be gorgeous. And I don't think the question is totally irrelevant. There's more to photography than just making a photograph. Some of us derive pleasure from the entire process, which I think includes how the equipment looks and feels.

-- Brian Ellis (belis60@earthlink.net), December 21, 2000.

I have to agree with Brian... My Tech III is beauty in the eyes of the beholder. Sure the Zones are pretty but the key word, or part of the word for me is "..holder"! Cheers

-- Scott Walton (scotlynn@shore.net), December 21, 2000.

For those who have never seen an Ebony in person, they are NOT black. They are a blen of dark grained ebony wood which glows with rich hues in the sunlight. Far and away, more beautiful than any mahogany I have seen.


-- Bill Smithe (bs2@aol.com), December 21, 2000.

Well looks like Ebony is in the lead so far. I would like to see one! But they are so darn rare!

Personally the most beautiful camera I have seen is a Tachihara 4x5. This camera had a dark red bellows, beautiful mahogony wood and shining golden knobs.

Y'all don't like red bellows???

-- Sol Campbell (solcam31@hotmail.com), December 21, 2000.

One thing I forgot to ask. Everyone is raving about the beauty of these Ebonies. But which one? There are so many of them. I like thier web site, www.ebonycamera.com and there are SO many cameras! Which one is the best looking???

Thanks for taking interest in this thread!

-- Sol Campbell (solcam31@hotmail.com), December 21, 2000.

Every Ebony camera is a piece of art in it's own right. They are all magnificent.

-- Bill Smith (bs2@aol.com), December 22, 2000.

For beauty, a Sinar "NORMA": for a bed partner, a P2 !

-- Peter West (pdonnington@aol.com), April 04, 2001.

I have both an Ebony 5 x 4 and a 6 x 9. They are the finest view cameras made. They look great, feel wonderful to the touch, and even smell nice. Ebony - a total experience!!

Kevin Harbottle London England

-- Kevin Harbottle (kevin@lightscameraaction.co.uk), June 13, 2001.

An Ebony if you're into wood; anything made by Linhof if you're into metal. Have you seen the medium-format Alpa 12WA/12SWA? (www.alpa.ch)

Ebony's website does not do justice to the beauty of their cameras. If I am not mistaken, there is a picture of an Ebony RW45 on the frontpage of Robert White's UK site (www.robertwhite.co.uk). Compare this image with the RW45 picture at www.ebonycamera.com.

-- Ariel Chisholm (ariel@xvr3.com), September 24, 2001.

Believe me, I looked long and hard when I was in search for a camera to replace my Horseman L-frame 4x5. What I finally decided on after months of research (and I work at a pro camera shop who deals in practically everything photographic) is the Ebony SV45U2. Not only is it the most versatile large format camera, in my opinion (and the asymmetrical rear tilt & swing are higly addictive!), but it is hands down the most beautiful camera out there. That deep, rich Ebony wood (from a very slow growing Persimmon tree) and the contrasting titanium hardware makes for a gorgeous work of art that doubles perfectly as a large format camera. It's as at home packed into the mountains in my LowePro Super Trekker as it is doing product or portrait photography in the studio. On location, it tends to draw a crowd, which is almost embarassing.

Many of the large format wooden field cameras out there are just plain gaudy, in my opinion. The Ebony is designed with the photographer in mind, by a photographer. It is a joy to use, and I honestly can't think of a single thing that I can't do with this camera that perhaps I could do with another.

I also have a Crown Graphic that I use for more candid portrait work, when I'm moving about and have a need for a handheld large format (such as shooting a mother with a nursing baby). For this, I don't need tilts, swings, shifts or rise/fall. I'm working on an adapter so I can just pop on my lenses which are already mounted on the Tech boards that the Ebony uses.

I think the most beautiful 35mm would be the Leica M6. The Contax G2 is quite a handsome camera as well, but for sheer simplicity and engineering, I prefer the Leica. They truly invite you to MAKE the picture, not TAKE the picture. Wonderful things for candid, unobtrusive photography!

I would like anyone who is interested in a wooden field camera to know that my experience with Ebony- as a company- has been exceptional. All of my questions were answered quickly and fully, and I have been absolutely 110% satisfied with my dealings with them. My satisfaction with the actual camera has been every bit as wonderful, and I can recommend with full confidence at least the SV45U2. If you decide to purchase one, you won't regret it.


-- C. Scott Lawson (Lawsphoto@aol.com), November 01, 2001.

My peculiar views: 35 MM: Leica 1 / A Medium Format : Hasselblad SWC / M with black "C" lens. Large Format : Arca Swiss 6x9 Monolith. Would include the Sinar 4x5,5x7 and 8x10 for their superb machine work but the "green" parts need to be re-sprayed crackle BLACK as I have done (a lot of work if done correctly).

-- R.Hageman (hagemandesign@hetnet.nl), October 16, 2002.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ