Ebony 23S and Wide Angle Architectural Photography

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Am interested in the Ebony 23S and would like to know, from those who have experience with the camera, if it allows for movement with wide angle lenses (45mm to 58mm) for architectural subjects? Is the standard bellows flexible enough? Is the bellows interchangeable - i.e., can I purchase a balloon bellows if I find that I need one?

I plan on using the Ebony 23S as a travel camera for architectural subjects.

I have the specs in front of me, but need actual hands-on experience with this camera to judge whether or not I will have enough movement with wide angle lenses.

Thanks much

-- E Rothman (erothman@hotmail.com), November 02, 2001


define architectural photography, please, as you understand it. i shoot buidings and structures for a living, so my needs may bedifferent from yours, and are best served by a monorail camera, in my case the Arca-Swiss 4x5 F camera, which with a w/a bellows can easily handle a lens as short as the 45mm Apo Grandagon before i haver need of going to a special recessed board. The Linhof TK45s , another very fine camera for professional architectural photography, can handle lenses in the same range, maybe even shorter, before needing a special recessed board.

one thing I've noticed in my time here on this forum is that there are trends in favorite cameras. First there was the Arcatrend (I had already been using an Arca for a couple of years when i started participating here). then there was the rush to the Canham DLC, also a very fine camera for field work, and I admit to being seduced. Then there was a very minor flurry towards the Toyo VX125, and now the Ebony cameras have some ardant and vocal supporters some of whom who also seem to be Arca bashers for some reason.

Since I have no financial stake in any of these companies, I'm just happy to see people using large format cameras to explore their vision.

Another thing I have discovered in twenty years of photography is that, particularly with view cameras, you really need to find a way to try the cameras you are considering, to play with them, and see if the way they work is intuitive to you. No one of our opinions is going to be of much use to you if you find a camera awkward to use n the field. it might be beautiful to look at, but if you find it a recurring pain in the ass to use, you won't use it.

-- Ellis Vener Photography (ellis@ellisvener.com), November 02, 2001.

"E", I completely agree with Ellis!! I'm an ardent Ebony user/supporter (fortunately I don't feel it necessary to slate people according to what make of camera they use!!). It's pointless buying a camera if it looks pretty but doesn't do the job, especially as the majority of LF cameras don't come cheap. However, it is real bonus if it looks good too!! Before buying the Ebony I looked at most of the available options, and there are some great cameras out there, but the Ebony suited MY needs, more than the others. I actually bought mine before I owned my PC so didn't have access to the advice from this forum. Draw up a shortlist. Get the spec sheets from the manufacturers. Listen to all the advice you can on forums such as this. Try and handle them for yourself and then hopefully make the right decision!!

In the mean time, Ebony makes great cameras!! Contact Trevor Crone, a regular contributor to this forum, I'm sure he won't mind, as he's used the camera you are interested in and will give you his honest opinion. Good luck! Regards Paul

-- paul owen (paulowen_2000@yahoo.com), November 02, 2001.

Hi Ellis,

I mainly plan on using the camera for external shots of architectural subjects - modern buildings of varying size and height, and cityscapes. I currently use a 4x5 monorail (Toyo VX) that suits my needs just fine. I know I would have been just as happy with an Arca Swiss 45 or a Technikarden 45 - these are all very nice cameras. I simply got a better price on a Toyo VX while in Japan. I currently use a bag bellows with the VX when using extreme movements with wide angle lenses.

I will be traveling abroad and carrying my equipment at all times (I do not feel safe leaving it in a hotel room). Hence, I'm looking for a lighter load. The 23S is 2.5 lbs lighter than the VX. It can be fitted with a Horseman angle viewfinder, and uses rollfilm. It is non- foldable, which is my preference (like the VX). It uses linhof size lensboards (unlike the Arca, another very, very nice camera). All in all, 23S meets a lot of my requirements, though it would be nice if it had geared movements and a yaw-free design like the VX, and asymmetrical tilts and swings like the larger ebony cameras - but well hmm gosh I don't need a rolls royce.

I just need to know: does it allow for movements with wide angle lenses?

It is not possible to check the camera out in person. Hence, my post.

-- E Rothman (erothman@hotmail.com), November 02, 2001.

I can only endorse on what both Ellis and Paul have said however I don't use the Ebony 23S I use their SW23. The S has more available movements and can handle longer lenses then the SW. However the SW has very flexible bellows and can "outrise" my 35 Apo Grandagon.I chose the SW because its so compact and light and will handle lenses like the 45 on a flat lens panel, my 35 requires a 10mm recessed panel. If you get the chance do try before you buy. Good luck,

-- Trevor Crone (trevor.crone@uk.dreamcast.com), November 02, 2001.

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