Experience with Calumet 1C 8x10 field camera

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Looking for a second hand field camera I saw A Calumet 1C 8x10 camera. I never heard before of this camera. Has anyone experience with this camera? Weak and strong points? How does it compare to for instance a Wista?

Theo Hartman Netherlands

-- Theo Hartman (themahar@wish.net), January 26, 2002


Hi Theo,I've got a C1. It's kind of the John Deere tractor of 8*10s. On the one hand it is stout, and it has bellows, lots of bellows. I think it will extend near 30". On the other hand, it's made of metal, metal's heavy you know. With the weight, I don't know if you can really call it a "field" camera. I've hiked a short distance so far with mine. It gets heavy fast. The focusing is done from the front standard back. All the focusing is on the rear standard, and so if you are using a 250mm/10" lens, then you have to lean over the rear rail to see the g-glass; this can become a pain. Before you buy one, look it over good. These cameras were the work horses of studios, and they saw a lot of use. Everyone I've seen was being dumped by a studio only after they got their last dime out of it. You have to make sure the threads aren't stripped on the rear standard/8*10 frame tilt movement. You want to make sure the knobs haven't been lost, especially the assembly which the front standard swings on. All of the C1's I've seen (not all that many really) have had some repair jury-rigged on them. Finally, you have to look over the bellows very carefully, they are thin and - since they were studio cameras - the bellows are by now old and well used, sometimes you can have them taped, but a new bellows is going to cost you $150+ (I think?). It is probably over-kill for the field. Depends if you need real stability and lots of extension. For "views", you might look at something in wood. I've never seen a 8*10 Wista. Best, David

-- david clark (doclark@yorku.ca), January 26, 2002.

Theo, I have the Calumet 8X10 C-1 camera. I bought mine second hand from Midwest Photo Exchange in Columbus, Ohio. It's a solid camera, but it's very heavy for field work. I have a Carl Meyer 12-inch lens on mine, which also came from Midwest. It's a heavy combination, but the whole package was less than $800, so it was an inexpensive (sort of) way to get into 8X10. You can also get reducing backs for this camera so that you can also shoot 4x5 and 5x7. For me, the weakest thing about this camera is its weight. Just looking at this camera, and knowing how heavy it is, kind of kills my ambition to get out on the road and shoot some stuff. If I had to do it over again, I would spend a little more money and get a lighter, wooden 8X10. But the C-1 is built like a tank. By the way, mine doesn't have any zero detents, which I miss. I'm rambling on, but the strengths are its durability and relatively cheap cost on the used market. Its weakness, as far as I'm concerned, is its weight.

-- Ben Calwell (bcalwell@aol.com), January 26, 2002.

I forgot to mention that there is a review of the C1 by Sean Yates under "Camera Reviews" on this forum. His excellent review should answer a lot of your questions about the camera.

-- Ben Calwell (bcalwell@aol.com), January 26, 2002.

While favorably compared to a John Deere tractor, realize that the C-1 is not easily moved by the wind and stays put wherever you leave it. While other LF owners are shielding their cameras with umbrellas and waiting for a moment of calm, my sea foam green beast holds steady as she blows. Much like my prose.

You'll love a C-1. I love mine. Bill

-- bill youmans (bill@greatgrips.com), January 26, 2002.

Having had one of these for a while, I can say that they are built very well and not much can go wrong on them that can't be fixed by the user. Calumet still has some parts for them I believe.

The green ones are of magnesium and are pounds lighter than the black ones. In fact the green models aren't much different in weight than many of the wooden field cameras. (Be careful with magnesium - it is a little more brittle.)

-- Bob Eskridge (rfesk@yahoo.com), January 27, 2002.

Theo, I don't own that kind of camera yet but as far as I know Christopher Burkett (www.christopherburkett.com), the acclaimed american landscape photographer, takes most of his stunning images with a Calumet C-1 8x10. Browse his website and enjoy these incredible photographs. I highly recommend his work !!!

Good luck, Carsten

-- Carsten Boettcher (Diomedea1@aol.com), January 27, 2002.

It was Cole Weston's preferred camera until he couldn't lug it around anymore.

-- Kevin (kkemner@tatesnyderkimsey.com), January 28, 2002.

"Green C-1" does not always = magnesium or lighter weight. I bought one advertised as such around 13 pounds and it turned out to weigh 18 pounds, the same as the usual non-green heavy C-1. I don't know the story behind this, but be carefull if the weight difference matters to you. Be sure the seller verifies the weight before you buy. I sold the camera as it was just a bit too heavy for me.

-- Dan (photoart88@att.net), February 02, 2002.

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