I want to buy 12x20 camera

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I'm korean LF user. Nowadays, I'm intrested in 12x20 format. So I've some question.

I would like to find used 12x20 camera. Where can i buy the camera and holder(Especially I prefer phillips 12x20 camera and holder system but they do not build 12x20 format If possible i want to buy phillps) If you know, please tell me the store or the site.

In case of 12x20 holder, I've heard the 12x20 holer has some problems as flatness of the film when i use the old holder(korona, banquet, wisner..) I want to see what's wrong.

Please tell me your recommandation that what is the best choice 12x20 camera and lense(I don't care used ones and brand new)

thank you.

-- byungchang lee (pphile@hanmail.net), May 27, 2002


What will you use it for?

Do you need (geared) shift for perspective control eg buildings?

Do you need (geared) tilt for focus control?

Do you need a monorail camera, with a full range of movements?

What do you use now?

What is special about Philips?

Is weight important - will you walk many miles with it?

Sinar make a sticky film holder to ensure flatness - this is more of a problem with ultra-wideangles.

What range of focal lengths will you want - ultra-wide super tele or what?

Schneider, Rodenstock, Sinaron and Nikkor are makers/brands of good LF lenses.

-- Dick Roadnight (dick.roadnight@btopenworld.com), May 27, 2002.

The above response, detailed though it is, is not particularly useful for 12X20 cameras. Monorails are not widely available, if at all, in this format. Sinar-type sticky holders are defintely not available. Rather than going thru a number of variables (geared tilt or not, etc.) it's probably worth approaching your question from the perspective of what's out there:

1. Used cameras. Folmer and Schwing and Korona both made banquet cameras in this format, and both are available used quite commonly. Check out E-Bay, Clayton Cameras, Midwest Photo, Glennview, maybe Lens and Repro. Their problem for many users: the bellows as built are generally rather short (often 30 in or less, which won't give much scope with the normal lens, about 24 in or 600 mm). Bellows are often replaced with longer versions, up to 48 in. A "Skyscraper" vertical 12X20 with 48 in bellows is advertised for around $3100 in this month's View Camera, (perhaps at Clayton's Cameras?) A vertical 12X20 is not for everybody!

2. Modern cameras. I believe the only manufacturers that will currently make you a 12X20 to order are Wisner, Canham and Lotus. I have met satisfied users of all three, but there are some real caveats. Despite what some manufacturers (notably Wisner) may promise, the wait here will be about 1 year. Wisner says on their web site that they are now doing a run of 12X20 cameras (price US$5000), but, having bought a 12X20 from him, I must warn you that the wait will likely be MUCH longer than he states, he will expect much or all of the $ in advance, and the camera may have substantial problems when it arrives. Please see Dan Smith's previous post (and my response) on this topic. MANY have suffered thru the wait for a Ron Wisner special order! Ordering thru a dealer may help some to exert pressure, but don't count on it. Wisner is now making a version of his 12X20 that is somewhat lighter weight (maybe 25 lb), has geared rear tilt, additional rise on the lensboard, and a very nice feature that allows you to easily and rapidly rack out the front standard without using the gears for rough adjustment (saves a LOT of time). The camera is beautiful, well-designed, and, now that I have replaced a Wisner-supplied lensboard with a pinhole leak, re-glued the bellows to the front standard, and fixed a few loose or missing screws, sturdy and a pleasure to use. Canham charges $6000 for a 12X20 with 48" bellows. It is standard wood field without any of the metal pizzazz for which his 4X5 and 5X7 models are known. He plainly says that delivery will take a year (refreshing honesty!) Lotus has a picture of their 12X20 on their website, the price is roughly equivalent, most buyers are European, and the one guy I know (Spanish I believe) was quite pleased with his. It appears to offer some feature that allows the thing to be used vertically with greater ease, something I do quite a lot, which is rather difficult with the Wisner (have to turn the Ries tripod head on its side: I don't think you could safely do this with any other kind of tripod!)

3. Perhaps the bet option is to scan Ebay and look for an owner of a modern 12X20 who has regained sanity and is now selling their kit, complete with holders, lenses, etc. You'll wait to find what you want, but a lot less than a year, I bet!

As for holders, it's simpler:

1. Wisners are widely criticized. I would not buy them.

2. Most Lotus users seem happy.

3. THe cadillac, which I have and am delighted with, is sold on line at filmholders.com, by AWB enterprises. Alan is not easy to deal with either, and you will have a several month wait, but the holders are a work of art and work pefectly leak-free for me on three continents and counting! He makes cases for them as well.

I have really loved working with the 12X20 format, frustrating as it may be at times. Interestingly, it seems to be enjoying a minor resurgence now. I'm happy to answer any further questions you might have about film, lenses, 12X20 for alt process, etc. I'm still a relative neophyte at this format, but an enthusiastic one! Good luck!


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), May 27, 2002.

You might want to buy an older one cheaper to really be sure you like this format. It's a beast! I might have one for sale in late June or early July if you havent found anything by then.

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), May 27, 2002.

" Canham charges $6000 for a 12X20 with 48" bellows. It is standard wood field without any of the metal pizzazz for which his 4X5 and 5X7 models are known. He plainly says that delivery will take a year (refreshing honesty!) " ----

Actually, I made an order for an 8x20 convert kit. Yes, Mr. Canham said it would up to one year....

However, It was ready in 4 months :-).

I think Mr. Canham was just want to be safe, the reason he said " up to" one year.

-- C.J. Wong (plainmind@yahoo.com), May 28, 2002.

I saw this on the View Camera website under the classified section:

FOR SALE - Phillips 12x20 - $4,000.00. 4 Phillips Film Holders - $1,500.00. Call 212-242-7529

I don't know if it is still available. Also you can check out the Badger Graphic website at http://www.badgergraphic.com/

-- Cal Eng (caleng@inficad.com), May 30, 2002.

I am responding with an endorsement of the Canhamn 12x20.

My 12x20 Canham has been excellent, functions as expected, all the movements you could ever want, and when ordered with the right additional piece can gain additional stability for front and rear standards, and/or use a monpod for vertical shots.

My only complaint is that the bellows are so flexible you need to pay attention that they do not sag such that they interefer witht he image. (I use the cordura cases I keep my lenses in to prop up the bellows).

If your budget allows I would go with the Canham. I would contact Keith directly to see what his actual lead time is. I was fortunate to find mine used, but a friend contacted Keith due to a variety of circumstances and he didn't have to wait very long for one to be put together. You may have a wait right know since the 6x17 roll backs might be a priority for Keith.

Go with AWB film holders... you can get them in different woods, but I would request to get them to match the camera (Black Walnut). Excellent craftsmanship. Alan just finished making a lot of holders... with any luck he might have some ready to ship. I have not experienced any isseus with flatness and I cannot see what a modern holder will do differently then an older style. Any flatness issue will be due the weight of the film etc... Alan also can make a customer case made out of ABS plastic.

If you are hell bent on used, contact Quality Camera and Badger Graphic...

-- Steve Nieslony (sejn@pacbell.net), May 30, 2002.

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