How to design a "PERFECT" 8x10 wooden field camera : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Hi all,

Just finished reading Dan Smith's comments on Lotus cameras. I have also read about discussions like "Which's the best field camera". Answers include brands such as D..., E..., G..., K.C..., L..., W..., and Z..., etc. I understand that which camera is the best is mainly a personal preference, and it's also because no single camera maker has so far been able to produce a field camera to please everyone. Here's my question: if you were set out to design a "PERFECT" 8x10 wooden field camera, how would you do it? How do you put functionality, stability, beauty, weight, and cost effectiveness into a "PERFECT" package? Or is there a need for such a "PERFECT" package?

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), April 02, 2001



I would want a Sinar P2 converted to a field camera somehow, but in a lighter weight. Why. the controls, the gearing, and the accessories. Certainly don't need the large rise that the sinar P2 provides so that could be replaced. One last thing. Why are there so many different opinions. My money would go on the fact that almost everyone that offers an opinion has not used all of the cameras available. I suspect that if we had a convention and everyone went and was able to use every single camera avaailable the list would be narrowed considerably, and especially so if price were no object!!!!!!!!


-- Kevin Kolosky (, April 02, 2001.

There are as many roads to heaven as there are people on the earth. Or something like that. It's a matter of taste. If price were no object I would still drive my '68 Dodge Power Wagon - I'd just convert it to diesel and add front power disc brakes. I have no interest in a Mercedes.

I don't need gears anywhere but focus, and even that could be gotten around. Calibrated movements are swell but hardly necessary. I would rather have the front rise than not.

-- Sean yates (, April 02, 2001.

Wooden field cameras have been designed, produced and used for about 140 years. We as users have been very fortunate in the fact that we can go classic (Wisner)or hybrid (Canham) with many other offerings to select from in between. While maintaining the field concept, the objective of the camera is to hold a sheet of film in a holder in the correct plane, securely hold a lens safely and provide enough movements to adjust perspective and fold down into a small package capable of transporting it. Excessive features resulting from over design only add unnecessarily to weight. From my perspective, the field camera itself it at the pinnacle of efficiency. As a result, I feel that the user is the entity that needs to by dynamic and strive for improvement, not the camera.

-- Michael Kadillak (, April 02, 2001.

Geoffrey, I think that plastics for the body are the way to go. Some of the high tech plastics are very durable and will mill quite easily. They are lightweight and will not warp in humidity. I think above all, I would like to see nice BEEFY fastening/focusing knobs...not the small little knurled brass things found on so many cameras.


-- Dave Anton (, April 02, 2001.

A lot like my old Deardorff. But just a touch 'tighter', a bit lighter, 6 inches more bellows and even more solid... with a front shift.

-- Dan Smith (, April 03, 2001.

Like my Deardorff but with the following changes: 1. Lighter 2. Stiffer 3. Front shift 4. Rear rise 5. The front standard of my Linhof 6. Bigger knobs (ones that won't eat your fingers) 7. Thinner (metal) lensboards 8. Nice, wide angle friendly synthetic bellows.

That's about it. Oh, and it has to cost less than $250 and come with a free Nikkor 120mm SW.

-- David Munson (, April 03, 2001.

It isn't metal and it isn't really a field camera but don't you just love the Graphic View II ? The whole camera from castings to the focussing movement to other movements are so well thought out and feel just right. And it looks like a Deco work of art too.

-- Wayne Campbell (, April 04, 2001.

Thanks all for your comments/suggestions!


I hope to finish my prototype 8x10 wooden field camera by the end of the year and will send it to you for your inspection.


I know an 8x10 which will satisfy all your conditions except #1. You can buy a new camera, a new Nikkor 120 SW, and still have plenty money in your bank. Please take a look at they click on 8x10.


-- Geoffrey

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), April 06, 2001.

Hello I have been following this thread a bit and went to Http://www.shen- does anyone know the prices of the 8x10 and 4x5 cameras? thanks Brian

-- Brian Sledz (, April 06, 2001.

I called Shen-Hao and got the following information:

Price: 8x10: about $950 in local China, $1200 in US (they are still looking for a dealership). 4x5: about $450. The sales said the design is loosely based on Ebony, with a few "improvements".

-- yongfei lin (, April 12, 2001.

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