Gandolfi Variant Question : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Has anyone handled/used the Gandolfi Variant 4x5 made of the composite material? Any appreciable performance/weight difference vs. the walnut?

-- Donald Brewster (, March 04, 2002


I haven't used one but I did look at the specs when looking for a new camera and depending on what level you want it can weigh up to 8 1/2 lbs!!! Seems pretty heavy!! The weights on Badger(for walnut)lists the same as on the GANDOLFI site. In case you don't have it, it's

-- Ed Candland (, March 04, 2002.

That "composite" is MDF (medium density fiberboard), not too unlike the sawdust-and-glue particle board that cabinets and shelving are made from these days. It's been about a year since I contacted Gandolfi directly to research the camera, and I haven't looked at Badger's listing for it since, but at the time Jeff's specs were incorrect, showing the MDF weight for a walnut camera. The walnut version is actually around one pound lighter. Gandolfi also said that there is no functional difference between the two.

-- Sal Santamaura (, March 04, 2002.

Fiberboard? really? better not bump that thing on a rock.

-- Ed Candland (, March 04, 2002.

To those who scoff at the material(MDF), I have had mine for about 6 years and in very rugged conditions. Not a ding on it. It is heavy but then movements are considerable. And it is a workhorse and the movements are very intuitive. I have seen about every feild camera out there and the Gandolfi stacks up as well as any of the others. There are prettier cameras and there are lighter cameras but the Gandolfi will give you easy operation with reliable results and it is sturdy as hell. James

-- bigmac (, March 05, 2002.

Bigmac, Didn't really mean to scoff. It was just that the fiberboard that I'm used to seeing is on furniture and it chips very easy and swells up when wet. I assume that the material on a camera the level of a Gandilfi must be much different.

-- Ed Candland (, March 05, 2002.

It is a very very dense marine grade material. I have dropped the camera on granite rock and it has landed on it's edge and it did not break nor spall. I used to make furniture so I know what the difference is between particle board(what you are thinking of) and MDF. I have had it out in the rain at Yosemite, Zion, Page, Colorado, and at the beach where I live and it has been wet. Very wet. No swelling and no seizing of parts due to moisture. So scoff if you will but this camera can take a beating and still perform with out a hitch. I wouldn't put a Toyo AII or a Linhoff through what I have put this camera through. The only drawback with it is , at my age I would like a lighter camera. It is heavy. 9.2 pounds with the lens.

-- bigmac (, March 05, 2002.

hi, Donald I have a Gandolfi Variant III, It's a great camera, although it's my first one. The drawback is the weight, anyway, the part of the camera itself in the backpack is not so important, compared with the other stuffs, tripods and all what we need aside. The composite material is not a problem IMHO since it's a great craftmanship camera. I, hope this will helps you, Regards.

-- Daniel Luu Van Lang (, March 06, 2002.

Well, for what is worth I have a Gandolfi Variant LII in mahogany in the 8x10 size and it is not much heavier than my Linhof TK45. As to the reliability it is a great camera but as opposed to the opinion above no wood or MDF camera will be as rugged as a linhof metal camera. OTH Gandolfi is very good at responding and taking care of you, so if you are planning on buying one I would recommend it without hesitation if I am to go by the way my 8x10 has served me.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 06, 2002.

I'd love to hear more about how you are finding the Variant 8x10. It was the camera I was most interested in, but they didn't have one on hand when I visited Ed Hill at the workshop last fall...!

How about a quick review?


-- tim atherton (, March 06, 2002.

I will try my best Tim.

My Gandolfi Variante level II weights in at 8 pounds 2 onces if I remember correctly. The focusing with the rear standard is done via a flexible thumbweel (Not very fond of this feature as the gizmo seems very easy to break, so far been lucky though). The rear standard is locked via a friction lever, very much like a linhof TK45, but the front standard is locked via the traditional thumb wheel. The camera middle or front standard support is a complete piece of wood, as opposed to other cameras that have a frame to move the front standard back and forth (Look at Deardoff or Canham). The front standard has two locking knobs for the rise and fall on each side, one of them is to be used to tighten the board when there is a heavy lens on it....very handy feature. The camera has yaw free movements as well as front shift (about 30 cm on each side) front raise and fall and front swing. The front tilt can be on the lens axis or on the base of the front standard. the front swing is only at the lens axis. All these movements are controled and locked with thumb wheel or knobs.

The back standard has tilt, swing and shift and they are all controlledd by locking friction levers.

The camera can be had with tha tecknica style board or a Sinar board. I would recommend the SInar board, as the Teknica board is too small and blocks the lens with the bellows when using extreme movements.

My camera did not have a tripod plate, but one person who bough one on my recommendation told me his came with one, so I guess they are now shipping them with a tripod plate con protect the wood. You will have to ask them. The URL for Gandolfi is

I hope this helped.

-- Jorge Gasteazoro (, March 07, 2002.

On the point to by a Gandolfi 4x5 walnut camera, I still can't manage to get any precise description of design & technical specs differences between level 2 & level 3 ? (exept vertical shift on the back). Does the level 2 also accepts linhoh base boards for lenses and cambo binocular or reflex viewing hood ? Do they both swing as easely from vertical to harizontal ? And are walnut ones less strudy or durable than the black ones ? I would so thankfull for precise descriptions on all those points.

-- (, April 22, 2002.

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