Best Modern 8x10's? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I'm starting to do some long range planning and looking at a new 8x10 to replace my Deardorff - mainly 'cause it weighs so much.

Of the modern options, what do people think of the pros and cons of:

Ebony 8x10's; Phillips 8x10's; Canham 8x10's ?

Bearing in mind I like the wide range of movements on the Dorff.

And I'm thinking other modern 8x10's - Wisner, Lotus, Gandolfi, Hoffman - who am I forgetting? - are veering to the heavy side again (maybe the Ebony too?). Oh, of course I'm talking only about field cameras BTW.


Tim A

-- tim atherton (, August 30, 2001


Wista 810 Cherry

-- Bob salomon (, August 30, 2001.

Tim, Without a doubt the Ebony SW8x10. This must be the best 8x10 available, and what's more its the proven non-folding design. Superb! Just wish I had one!!!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, August 30, 2001.

Gandolfi Variant 8x10, If you order this camera get it with the Sinar front standard, the Linhof front standard restricts the movement because of bellows block. The camera is only 8.8 pounds, easy to set up and take down and very well made! One thing I like it that although this is a wooden camera ( the frames) the front standard has a metal frame and the film back is made of metal, which should prevent warping as the camera ages, even with this the camera is very light and a joy to use.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, August 30, 2001.

Canham, or Phillips.

You definitely should try to put your hands on what ever you narrow your list to and work with them for at least half an hour or so. I think you'll find that like individual Steinway or Bosendorfff pianos, each individual camera will have it's own personality

-- Ellis Vener Photography (, August 30, 2001.

Bosendorfff? Is that the extra-loud one?

I lust after a Phillips. Or a Hobo.

-- Struan Gray (, August 31, 2001.

The Phillips Compact II is the 8x10" for the field. The Toyo M the, Ebony S,the Sinar Norma or the Sinar f are all just as ridged but look at the weight. The Chanham is also light but somwhat too overdesigned and complicated to fold. The Phillips Compact is father light, simple to operate and absolutly ridged. But then again if you have got two assistants or better three get the Sinar P.

-- Gudmundur Ingolfsson (, August 31, 2001.


Another thing to consider is the whole package that the manufacturers offer. I made the choice for a Wisner, even though its weight is a little more. I don't go backpacking and my Jeep get the camera within a comfortable walking distance for 95% of my shooting.

I went with the Wisner because I could get an 8x20 back for my 8x10 camera. Giving me the option of two backs on one focusing bed. This plus the 4x5 and 5x7 reducing backs gives me four different film formats with one camera.

-- George Losse (, August 31, 2001.

You'll find my comments in archives here and elsewhere, but, to summarize: Phillips Compact II. I couldn't be happier with it.

-- Sal Santamaura (, August 31, 2001.

If price is a major factor, anyone wanting to get into an 8x10 field might consider the Tachihara double or triple extension. Our 3X has served us well. It is well constructed and rigid, and has sufficient movements for uncomplicated outdoor landscape, exterior architecture, portraits, etc. Yes, it's relatively heavy--just over 12 lbs--but we would not attempt to pack an 8x10 any distance in any event. 4x5 and 5x7 reducing backs are available (we use the 5x7). I couldn't agree more that you should try out the cameras on your short list prior to buying; in fact, it was as a result of comparison of competitors in our price range in a showroom that we arrived at our final decision. Good light. Nick.

-- Nick Jones (, August 31, 2001.

I agree with George that you want to consider the complete system available, even if you don't plan on using all the pieces now. The Canhan 8x10 has 4x10, 7x17, 8x20, 11x14 and 12x20 back and bellows conversions available, as well as 4x5 and 5x7 reducing backs.

I have had my 8x10 almost a year now and I am even more enthusiastic about it now than when I first got it. I do not think it's overly complex, and opening/closing it is trivial once you get the sequence down. I find the controls very intuitive. One of its real strengths is the ability to bring the rear standard forward very close to the front standard, making the use of wide angle lenses simple. The range of movements is quite wide, and includes front swings, base and axis tilts, and rear swings, base tilts and shifts. The shortest lens I've used is a 120mm, the longest a 450mm, and I've had no bellows compression problems at the short end or rigidity problems at the long. I've been told that the camera loses some rigidity when the bellows is fully extended to 36 inches, but that is probably true of all large view cameras. I've had no trouble with my 300mm at 1:1 in this regard. The 8x10 Standard model I have weighs 9.4 pounds, which is not bad for a full- capability 8x10. There is a 8x10 Light version available that weighs one pound less by using a smaller front standard. However, I wanted the ability to use lenses with large rear elements afforded by the standard model, which uses 6 inch Toyo View lens boards - the light model uses the smaller Canham or Toyo Field boards.

My camera is exquisitely made and finished, but does not give one any impression of delicacy thst would distract one from using it for its intended purpose, making pictures in the field. The black anodized aluminum hardware is of very high quality. The company that does Canham's machine work does most of its production for military contractors, which is also the reason there are sometimes delays in getting delivery of the larger cameras.

Another plus with Canham cameras is the attitude of Keith Canham towards his customers. Although he does not have a web site or email support, which I would like, he has never failed to return a phone call promptly, and he is willing to talk at length to answer any questions one may have. I have not had any problems requiring modifications or repairs, but he has a good reputation for making repairs quickly and inexpensively.

BTW, all the cameras you mention, with a few exceptions, are within a couple of pounds of each other in weight. The Gandolfi Variant Level 2 weighs 8.8 lbs, the Gandolfi Traditional 9.3 lbs, the Ebony SV810 (mahogany) 11 lbs, the Wisner Traditional Field and Expedition 10.9 lbs, the Wisner Pocket Expedition 9.5lbs , and the Lotus 11 lbs. Only the Ebony SV810E (ebony), 14.3 lbs, and the Wisner Technical Field, 17.5 lbs, weigh significantly more. I don't have the Phillips specs handy, but the lightest Phillips models, which trade some functionality for weight (the lightest one has a non- reversible horizontal back, for instance), are quite light, less than six pounds if I recall correctly.

-- Rick Moore (, August 31, 2001.

If weight is your primary concern, then the Phillips is your answer. But if you want the best overall combination of features in an 8x10 field camera, then in my opinion you've already got it. I wouldn't trade my Deardorff for any currently made 8x10 camera.

-- Carl Weese (, September 01, 2001.

The Phillips Compact II, with 26" bellows and a reversing back, weighs 7.8 pounds. Add some small Fuji lenses along with a few holders and you've got just about the lightest well-featured 8x10 outfit possible.

-- Sal Santamaura (, September 04, 2001.

Hi Tim,

If you are planning purchasing an 8x10 camera, you might want to try out those models you have been considering. Someone's favorite 8x10 might not be yours. It is a very personal experience. After you have tried it, you know then whether that 8x10 camera will fulfill your requirements. I vote for my Shanghai Shen-Hao HZX810-II, it's like Ebony, but with longer bellows extension (41" without tilts), lighter, "water-resistant", and only costs 1/8 of an Ebony! Cheers,

-- Geoffrey Chen (DB45TEK@AOL.COM), September 04, 2001.

I have a Wisner 8x10 and I really like he full solid bed and the size of the controlls, I haven't found a subject that I could not adjust for. The extension is terriffic and I can do macro too witha short lense. I also have an ols Kodak magnesuim flat bed and it is lighter but with the total weight of the whole outfit , the holders, lenses, filters, tripod etc the difference between the light and heavy cameras is just so much a waste of time, The total weight of the whole outfit is as much to consider as the camera itself. If you are concerned about weight then go to 4x5. If you are concerned about the best image and fantastic optics then get the 8x10 you are comfortable with, concentrate on easy of use and controls and rigidity. ANd forget about cost, the cost of the camera body is miniscule compared to the lenses and the film you will go through. Just tell the kids their college fund is gone get over your guilt and enjoy!!

-- Edward Burlew (, September 14, 2001.

Thanks for the points, but weight is something of a concern if I am carrying around the 8x10 on a tripod, over my shoulder, doing 8x10 "street" and urban/suburban photography, with a few holder, meter, second lens and darkcloth in another should bag. Those few pounds make a heck of a difference...

Now when I have the thing loaded in my car or big back pack to shoot the proverbial "rocks trees and water" it isn't so much of an issue.

tim a

-- Tim Atherton (, September 14, 2001.

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