ebony camera

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I've read all the glowing reports about ebony cameras here and was wondering since there seem to be little or none on the used market/and none for sale new in my area to see, are there any faults/problems with these cameras that need to be addressed or are these cameras really sent from photo heaven ....a perfect creation? Also what are the functional differences between the folding and non-folding models in terms of use and transport...since(I think) the non-folding models dont close to a protected box are they more bulky/vulnerable? Or are they(non-folding)more a joy to use(why?) than the folding ones? And are the u-backs(assymetric tilts) as cool/useful as they sound? Thanks, E.D.L.

-- Emile de Leon (Knightpeople@msn.com), August 31, 2001


Emile, Believe the hype! Its all true! The design of Ebony cameras is, IMHO as close to perfection as you're likely to get. The reason you don't see them used, is that once you buy one, you NEVER sell it!! The quality of workmanship is unbelievable and they really are a thing of beauty. In use, they are a pleasure, especially the non-folding design. The SW I use is very quick to set up and rock steady - I doubt you'll find any camera as robust, certainly no other wooden camera is as sturdy. The only downfall is the price!! But once you've parted with your hard earned cash you appreciate what you've spent all your cash on! As for the assymetric tilts, fantastic if you want a hybrid field/monorail, but for landscape work, not really needed. The reason many dealers don't stock them is probably down to the cost of the camera. If you are in the market to invest in an Ebony, then check their web site, it is VERY informative, and if you have any questions then email Ebony ( there is NO language barrier). Finally, best prices/service(including mail order) is probably Robert White, here in the UK. If you need any more convincing get in touch via my email. I am not connected to Ebony Cameras in any way, just a really satisfied custome

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), August 31, 2001.

I have to agree with Paul. Ebony cameras really are the very best! Mine is the folding type (SV45U2) so I can't comment on the non- folding models, but everything about the camera is wonderfully thought-out and constructed...vastly better than any other brands that I've seen. I would certainly never sell mine! I do use assymetric tilts a lot for landscape, however, and love them...they make your tilts so quick and easy to do.

Regards, Danny www.dannyburk.com

-- Danny Burk (foto28@aol.com), August 31, 2001.

I have been using an SV45U since last March, exclusively for landscape. I opted for a folding model since I regularly tote it in a backpack for short distances. It is the only 4x5 camera I have ever used, so I can't compare it to other brands. That said, the Ebony has functioned flawlessly. I have made many mistakes while shooting (all of them covered in the "common mistakes" topic on the large format homepage), but none were due to the design or operation of the camera. In fact, the very simple and logical operation of the camera has probably helped me to avoid some errors.

I have found that the asymmetric tilt is very handy, and allows me to set the focus quickly. I have rarely used the asymmetric rear swing. I have noticed that when I loosen the locks to employ the rear swing, the rear standard becomes slightly wobbly (the amount of play is very small, but enough to throw off your focus). This doesn't matter if the camera is level, but if the camera is aimed up or down, you have to steady the rear standard as you swing it. This is easy to do, but you have to be aware. (The first time I noticed it, I had swung the back in a "looking up" shot, got my focus, tightened the locks, and then saw I had lost focus. It took a few tries before I figured out that I needed to steady the rear standard when the swing locks are loose.)

The camera is also beautiful to look at.

-- Michael Chmilar (chmilar@acm.org), August 31, 2001.


I have a 45SU Ebony camera that I purchased through Badger Graphics. I must say that I cannot find any significant fault with this camera, and I am quite critical of equipment design and construction. The non- folding design is compact, and fits nicely into a back-pack. I like the fact that it sets up as quickly as a medium format camera and is elegant in its simplicity of design. The camera is a joy to use. I feel that I can concentrate on my subject matter, without any distraction from my equipment. The back tilt works well and provides a nice alterative way to extend you depth of field (I assume you know what I'm writing about.The asymmetric tilt and swing feature is new to me: it seems to work well, but I am still investigating its possibilities.) It seems that everything has been thought out, with every component well engineered. I have also purchased a 6x9 reducing back, a bellows viewer for the 4x5 groundglass, and a lens-shade clip. These accessories are of first-rate construction and make a positive difference in the field.

-- Michael Alpert (alpert@umit.maine.edu), August 31, 2001.

Thanks all for so much info regarding the ebony line!It really appears to be a great tool/instrument for a lifetime! I need to see one in person soon if I can. Does anyone know a dealer in New York City?

-- Emile de Leon (Knightpeople@msn.com), August 31, 2001.

As you will gather from my review on this website, I'm very much in love still with my Ebony, an SV810U. It is a camera for a lifetime, and more if I can get my daughter (still slightly smaller than the camera at age 17 months!) interested. They are certainly the best- made wood cameras out there, hands down. The "shortcomings" are only those of a wood field vs a metal camera: it won't be as precise as a Linhof, but obviously the wooden camera has an aesthetic all its own. This was essentially a non-consideration at 8X10, hence an easy choice.

Don't know how far afield Baltimore is for you, but you'd be welcome to come by any time to see the camera. Several people have. I've just finished a set of shots I took with the camera at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, enlarged to 30X40, just finishing the matting. It's a very practical travel camera with all the versatility of a monorail.

Good luck with your choice,


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), September 01, 2001.

Nathan, Thank you for the opportunity to see the ebony in person in Baltmore....Sometime in the future I may be down there and if you are not too far afield photographing ( Cambodia...impressive!) it would would be cool to hang out! Thanks, Emile. P.S... do you have a web site with some of your work? I would really like to see what you create with the ebony 8x10!

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), September 01, 2001.

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