Ebony SV45 and wide-angles: how easy?

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Hi again! Not the first time I post this question, but maybe some further comments will be raised over this issue: In my quest for a stable, compact camera capable of using lenses from 47 to 450mm, I was pretty much convinced that an Ebony SV45U with optional universal bellows would do well. What has kept me from ordering one so far is the question over the way they handle wide-angles. I regularly use lenses of 47 and 65 mm focal length, and this is why I have switched from a Technika to a monorail. Now I am very happy the way the monorail works with the wide-angles, but using a 450mm is another story. In a perfect world, the SV45 should handle short lenses straight, but it's not the case. The front standard has to be tilted back and the lens levelled and centred, additional rising of the two standards is necessary with the 47mm. I know from experience that when something is too complicated, I'll forget about it it and pass my way. But maybe I am too worried about this complication and should relax. Can some of you users comment on this issue? Thanks!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), August 31, 2001


In my opinion that is an extreme aggravation , have to tilt the camera down and then tilt the standards back to vertical. For me this was was one of the deciding factors when picking a field camera design, to choose the Canham DLC. Using a 47mm XL Super Angulon in a recessed technikardan board (my DLC was fitted with the Techikardan to Canham adapter board) was no problem with the normal DLC bellows, either with bellows compression pushing the standards out of alignment or with lack of shift movements. The Canham's design lets you keep the lens standard at the front ofthe bed and to bring the rear standard forward to the front, thus avoiding the drop-bed-reerect-standards nonsense. And using a 450mm is no problem either. The maximum extention of the normal bellows is around 550mm.

Now the Canham DLC is not the equivalant of say the Arca-Swiss F-line camera or the Sinar X, (for one thing the DLC lacks yaw free movements) but if you are not doing studio work as well as field work it might be the better tool. I certainly think it is a better value than the Ebony line.

Once again: I don't sell, represent nor am I compensated in any manner or method for saying these things about any of the cameras I've discussed.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (evphoto@heartstone.com), August 31, 2001.

This is the Ebony SV procedure for lenses 47mm – 75mm are as follows:

Raise the front board fully first. (Takes two seconds just like any other field camera). Then using both base tilts and center tilts raise the camera body until it is parallel with the front board. (This is one of those things that sounds like it is complicated but in actuality takes but 2-3 seconds to do) Use the spirit levels to check that they are exactly parallel. (This is only a visual check at the bubbles to make sure you are starting out at the normal position where everything is zeroed)

The widest lens I have is a 90mm Super Angulon but I tried this procedure just to see if it is complicated. I also do not have years of experience using view cameras but rather can be considered a newcomer. I was able to do this procedure very easily after trying it a couple of times while looking at the picture. If you want I can try to get a scan of the picture and email it to you and then you will see how easy it really is.

In big bold letters it states that “Wide Angle lenses can be used without drop bed” and I can easily see why this is so. Once you have seen the pictures you also will understand why this works this way. Actually to me it seems an ingenious way of designing a camera so that you can use wide-angle lenses and not have to worry about using a drop bed.

Just for clarification you do not “have to tilt the camera down and then tilt the standards back to vertical” to use a wide-angle lens with the Ebony SV camera.


-- GreyWolf Phillips (grey_wolf@telusplanet.net), September 01, 2001.

Ellis, thanks for your comments and review of the DLC. I have to agree with you on the aggravation this maneuver represents. The DLC is certainly a nice camera and I wish I can put my hand one one some day. Personally I think it's unfair that you don't get any compensation from Keith Canham for all the good publicity you make for his cameras!

GreyWolf has kindly sent me some pictures of the camera set to take wide-angles and gave me explanations. It looks difficult at first, but he explained that it should be possible to ad a few marks where zero detents are missing to quicken the process. But he has actually not used lenses shorter than 90 mm so it is not known how it works in practice.

The specs say that the front need to be tilted back for lenses of 75mm and shorter. I wonder if a 80XL would fall in the same category or be usable straight. Anyone used the combo? Thanks again!

-- Paul Schilliger (pschilliger@smile.ch), September 02, 2001.

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