Red dot on Ebony SV45 front standard support : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I brought an Ebony SV45TE earlier this year which from Robert White is a delight to use and after a while you get very familiar with every little knob on this wonderful camera. Only the little red dot on the left front standard support and the little metal dot on the standard itself still puzzles me. Putting them on the same level sets the front to high ( about 10 mm ) so what are there use ? Joining the choir of happy owners I would still mention two chips of missing wood, one of which between the notches for the right hand rail and the front standard carrier stopnut and the other on a corner on the front standard itself. It is certainly minor cosmetic issues. Also, a bit irritating is how easily the levers of the swing and shift fastening nut come loose by themself and that the threaded parts are far from straight. There is also a cracked rivet on one of the supports for the back standard. Ebony has not commented on this. Anyone else care to comment ?


-- Richard Årlin (, September 02, 2001


Richard, I understand that when the red dot and metal dot are level, then the lens itself is centred on the GG. With my non-folding SW, you need to lower the lens panel about a cm or so to allow the bellows to fold without creasing them. If in doubt then contact Ebony themslves. My SW has a few cosmetic "nicks"-part of the joy of using a wooden camera that's all!! Wooden cameras are bound to pick up scratches etc and I understand that ebony is a hard wood and so difficult to work with - don't worry. As for the cracked rivet, have you contacted either Robert White or Ebony? I'm sure they will sort the problem out!! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, September 02, 2001.

Does the Ebony take Linhof lens boards? If so, the two dots may be there to place the lens board hole in the center of the ground glass when using a Linhof board, since Linhof boards have an offset hole. Just a guess.

I have to respectfully disagree with Paul about the various cosmetic defects on your camera. Yes, after use a wooden camera will inevitably acquire a few cosmetic defects but if I paid what you paid for an Ebony camera, it better be perfect when I take it out of the box or else it would go right back to the vendor.

-- Brian Ellis (, September 03, 2001.

Richard, I also have an Ebony and this got me thinking about the red dot so here is what I did. Early this morning I went into my woodwork shop and made a solid lens board out of a nice piece of veneer and then drilled a 1.5 mm hole dead center. I placed this on my camera and in a completely dark room I pointed a focused flashlight from a distance of about ten feet at the hole in the lens board. I then placed the lens board at the same height as the flashlight and made sure that the front and back standards were completely level. I then went to the back and placed the center of the ground glass over the small spot of light on the GG and sure enough I need to add some rise to get the light centered.

Now I’m not sure as to why having the back centered (for rise and fall) is so important so if somebody would like to try and explain that I would appreciate the learning experience. As a newcomer to LF I understand that the rise and fall of the back standard is used to adjust for converging lines. Would a person not just view the image on the GG and make adjustments based upon your assessment of the image you are trying to achieve?

In regards to your other concern about the quality of the craftsmanship of your camera I am surprised. When I received mine I went over it completely (with a well trained eye in woodworking) to see how well it was built and assembled. I was so meticulous as to use a flashlight, magnifying glass and vernier caliper to evaluate the design. For those interested I only did this because I appreciate well-crafted wood projects and was curious to see if I might learn something from this camera. Well my results seem vastly different that yours.

My camera is extremely well made with a great deal of attention spent in the assembly process. All of the wood parts are assembled with the proper grain orientation so as to provide both structural integrity as well as beauty. The corner joints are made by to be an interlocking rabbet style joint so as to improve the strength as well as having tiny corner blocks added inside to really maximize the rigidity of the design of the rear standard. All the wood pieces are finely finished with only a small file scar (that is properly sealed and finished) on one rail that was probably done after the assembly to ensure the silky smooth operation that is present.

I then took my vernier caliper and measured the square of both standards as well as other things such as the lens board opening. All of my measurements showed less than 1 mm difference from top to bottom or side to side as well as having less that 0.5 mm difference in the lens board opening. I also noticed that they have used UHMW pieces between the rear camera box and the uprights for a smooth rise and fall operation. (For those unfamiliar with UHMW this is a type of plastic that is rigid, tough, and impervious to moisture but most importantly has a very low coefficient of friction) I then examined the metalwork on the titanium assembly. All the screws were properly seated and none had obviously been forced or over twisted. Knowing what I do about woodworking makes me believe that each hole probably had a pilot hole drilled prior to assembly. This is an added time consuming chore but makes for a much better assembled unit when this is done.

All of the metal assembly work was done with a high degree of accuracy and patience. I also closely examined the gear tracking with my magnifying glass and noticed what appeared to be small file marks as if somebody had done a hand touch up with a file to remove the burrs. Of course this is just speculation on my part. In conclusion I can say that the craftsmanship of my camera is of the highest quality and justifies the additional cost.

Needless to say I am extremely delighted with the camera I received. Getting back to the rise question I did the following. When I had my camera perfectly aligned I made a small block of wood to set under the rear standard so that I could repeat this act instantly. Now I know there are some of you out there that are now concerned that I also must pack the weight of this block in my backpack and have come up with the following plan. To offset the 60 grams of weight for the wood block I have decided to not wear my wool socks but rather go barefoot in my boots. :>>)


-- GreyWolf Phillips (, September 03, 2001.

Richard, I just had another look at my SW after reading Grey Wolf's posting. Indeed the "nicks" I described are actually minute file marks. I have to agree with Grey Wolf, that this is undoubtedly quality control, where small "blemishes" are erradicated prior to shipping. The marks on the focus tracks are also prsent as described by Grey Wolf. I'm still VERY happy with my ebony, and these "marks" are the signs of craftsmanship! But as i said, if you're unhappy contact either Robert or Ebony direct. Regards Paul

-- paul owen (, September 03, 2001.

Well the red dot still puzzles me. I took it for granted that once aligned the two standards would have a common level.

The chippings on my camera were certainly not made whith a file and I too am familiar with woodwork, making moulds for handmade paper etc. the one between the two close notches to the right on the back of the front standard base is 5 x 1 x 0,5 mm and the one on the front standard perhaps 2 x 0,5 x 0,5 were both made by a cutting power-tool.

Apart from the cracked rivet I forgot to mention the top plate of the front swing and shift mechanism is not sitting in a right angle but rather leans 1 or 2 deg to one side. I know that both ebony and titanium are difficult to work but not as difficult that both threads on the little levers should typically not end up straight. What about the same levers unscrewing so easily, mabe a drop of Locktite would fix the job.

I am very fond of my camera, looks , functionality, stability, everything but I must still disagree to some extent regarding the praise of the woodwork.


-- Richard Årlin (, September 04, 2001.


I purchased an Ebony camera earlier this year. My camera is fine, without any of the defects that you have mentioned in your postings. If I were you, I would contact Robert White for an exchange. I certainly would not tinker with the camera. It seems that every other purchaser of these cameras who has contributed to this forum is happy with Ebony's workmanship.

-- Michael Alpert (, September 04, 2001.


After viewing the pictures you sent I would agree that your particular camera is not up to the Ebony quality. I believe that now may be an appropriate time to contact the vendor from who you purchased the camera to discuss the possibility of an exchange. I hesitate to say this but it appears like you may have received what could be termed as a "factory second". I am sure any reputable vendor would agree to make a proper exchange.


-- GreyWolf Phillips (, September 04, 2001.

Red dot mystery: maybe it is intended for correct rise when combining base backward tilt & center forward tilt when using a short focus lens. Obviously you would prefer centering your lens but using no movements it is possible to judge without an index...

-- Richard Årlin (, September 06, 2001.

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