Experiences with the Phillips 4x5

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The Phillips 4x5 camera has been out for a while. What do people think of it? Oren Grad has a good review at the phototechmag.com site. Anyone care to give an opinion? How does it compare with the Canham DLC? Is their customer service good? How long did you have to wait for the camera? Were you able to look at the camera before you bought it?

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@rogers.com), December 08, 2001


I have one of the first 4x5 Dick Phillips made-- which I think was 2-3 years or more ago. He happened to be in town and so I looked at a prototype and on that basis, purchased the camera. Really there was little wait. I was interested in it because of the clever and tight focusing mechanism for the back standard and the use of axial front tilt. The camera is very light as I assume you know and that lets me use it without much concern as to the weight of what I'll be carrying. I had a linhof technika before the phillips and that was much heavier and more cumbersome (though probably more sturdy ). The camera uses technika boards which is helpful, has very smooth focus, a durable bellows. I understand you can now get aHorseman back if your really want a fresnel. On the negative side: its a little finicky to set up, back swing doesn't exist, and the rapid glidding back standard which allows fast focus has to be offset when tightening down. For most uses this won't be a problem however. I really like the camera-- it has been very intelligently thought about and I have had no service needs.

-- David Goldes (david_goldes@mcad.edu), December 08, 2001.

No back swing? I'll be very disappointed! Dick should be shipping mine next week some time; I'm expecting the same back swing as found on my 8x10 Compact II. The rear standard rides on teflon pads which, in addition to permitting it to be extended forward and back, also enable swing. Depending on extension, this may induce a shift that needs to be compensated for by selecting similar front shift.

-- Sal Santamaura (santamaura@earthlink.net), December 08, 2001.

David -

Glad you enjoyed the review. For my purposes, the biggest weakness of the camera is the somewhat limited direct front rise. If you can live with that, then as I said in the review, the camera offers excellent rigidity for the weight and money.

If Dick has any left, you can probably get one from him as soon as you can talk to him. If not, it may be difficult to get a new one at all - Dick tends to build cameras in batches now, and once they're gone, there are no more unless and until he decides there's enough demand to justify another run, AND he decides he has enough time and interest to do that particular model again.

Dick is a real gentleman, very responsive and a pleasure to deal with. The one complication is that he does periodically go traveling on his own photo expeditions off the beaten path, and during those times he can be hard to get hold of...

Good luck whichever way you go...

-- Oren Grad (orengrad@world.std.com), December 08, 2001.

PS - Sal is right. The 4x5 does offer back swing in the same way as the 8x10 Compact II does, by swinging the "feet" around...

-- Oren Grad (orengrad@world.std.com), December 08, 2001.

Yes, I stand corrected, there is back swing although I find it really funky to use. All in all it is a remarkable camera.

-- David Goldes (david_goldes@mcad.edu), December 09, 2001.

I recently bought a Phillips 4x5, about a month ago. I absolutely love it. I find it easy and intuitive to use, precise, rigid, and an all-around great camera.

I was lucky enough to run across a used one (from what I can tell, a VERY rare find) so I didn't have to wait at all. However, before I bought the used one I talked a long time with Dick Phillips, who was very helpful and supportive. I have had a few questions since my purchase and he has been quick to respond, without fail.

I did ask how long a new one would take, and at that time he estimated March or April (this was in October). So I'm guessing unless someone cancels an order or some other fluke, it would be about a 4-6 month wait... but write or call Dick and find out for sure. He is incredibly helpful!

As for the Canham DLC, it was the only other camera I considered purchasing, and I think that I would have been happy with either choice--though never having handled a DLC I can't say for sure. All I can tell you is that if you like the specs on the Phillips and it fits your needs as a photographer you will NOT be disappointed. I plan to keep mine forever!

As a side note, I use mine for a wide variety of subjects, but primarily for interior and exterior hotel and small architecture shots, and landscape. I have found no limitations for those applications. If you have any more questions on my experience with the camera, feel free to write and ask! --Kate

-- Kate Prather (katprat@go.com), December 09, 2001.

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