Question concerning Ebony SV45U

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by mark_baylin, Jun 19, 2006.

  1. Hi all... I'm trying to move up from my Zone IV 4x5, and I want the camera I replace it with to be solve
    some of the Zone VI's "issues". Since there's little chance I will ever see an Ebony camera in a store around
    here (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada). I was wondering if any Ebony owners could shed some light on some
    questions...

    My Zone VI is a decent camera, but is not very precise (as I'm sure many of you already know). The worst
    thing about the sample I have, is that the ground glass assembly does not sit in the same place as the film
    holder and I must shift the front standard over a small amount so I get on film what I saw on the ground
    glass (my old Crown Graphic camera was better set up then the Zone VI camera I now own). I'm a 4x5
    contact printer, so this issure is important to me...

    So, here's a few questions...

    Do you find your Ebony records 100%, or close to 100% of what you see on the GG to film?

    I've seen some photos of larger Ebony ground glasses (on their 8x10 models) that are cut off on their
    corners. Are the 4x5 models made like this?? (SV45U)... I really prefer the GG to not be cut off...

    The wood channels on my Zone VI's focusing system are very dry. This makes focusing very rough,
    especially fully extended... How does the focusing feel on the Ebony? (can you recommend a lubricant to
    cure this problem with the Zone VI?)

    And finally, can you set the front rise controls independantly from the front tilt controls?

    Thanks for any help!!

    Take care

    Mark
     
  2. "... The wood channels on my Zone VI's focusing system are very dry. This makes focusing very rough, especially fully extended... (can you recommend a lubricant to cure this problem with the Zone VI?) ..."
    I lubricate antique wooden drawer runners with candle wax -- just lightly rub a candle along the runners. Drawers glide smoothly after that. Seems like it oughta work here as well.
    Much easier if you blow out the candle first. :)
    Some cameras benefit from the GG with cut corners -- if the camera is otherwise air tight, it's easier to rack the bellows in and out. Not sure how tight the Ebony cameras are, but I wouldn't be surprised if this is the case. Someone lucky enough to own one may be able to comment.
    Same with your question about the rise/tilt. The SV45U has both base and center tilts, so I'd think there's some independence there, but an owner would know for sure.
     
  3. Hi Mark,

    Why don't you get ahold of Rob Skeoch at the following website?

    http://www.bigcameraworkshops.com/default2.asp

    I've bought LF gear from him and he's really a decent chap to deal with.

    And, better yet... he's in Canada too! :)

    He's located right in your neck of the woods and I know he carries Ebony cameras!

    Good luck

    Cheers
     
  4. Mark, I have the SV45U2. The U2 comes with a fresnel-no cut corners. The front tilt and rise are controlled seperatly. The focusing mechanism, both front and rear are smooth all the way out. There are adjustment screws that allow compensation for humidity expansion or contraction. I have never had to adjust mine and have had the camera at Death Valley and in the wet Pacific North West. It would be best if you could manage to see and handle one before spending the $ on an Ebony. Good luck
    Ben
     
  5. I have a 45S and here are my answers to your questions.
    First, the GG seems to record 100% of what is on the film. I haven't done any actual measurements or anything so I can't say for sure though. For what I've used mine for, I can say I haven't had any cropping problems. But I have had one problem with polaroid T55. I think it was down to the polaroid film not being in line though rather than the camera because with film holders I have had no problems. Also, I do landscapes and some "intimite landscape" work. Nothing like close-ups or anything even approaching 1:1. Framing would be important in these situations and I would recommend you either get your hands on one and test it or ask someone to do a test or something.

    The GG itself is actually cut. But the cuts don't intrude into the image area so the whole camera is sort of air tight. If you rack the bellows out too fast the bellows will get sucked in and collapse. You then have to wait for the air to get back into the camera and pull the bellows into shape again. I actually would prefer to have cutouts because the bellows thing is annoying and slightly worrying and also its hard to check for vignetting when using movements. My loupe doesn't get right into the corners so I can never tell if there is any vignetting. You should be happy with the GG though! :)

    Focussig smoothness is smooth enough for me but it is not up to the standards of a fll metal rack and pinion though (obviously!). For wood though it is really nice and I find I can focus smoothly with no problems, even when fully extended. As mentioned before, you can adjust the tightness of the racks with small screws at the compromise of some rigidity. For lubrication, ebony recommends plain candle wax. I've used it and it works and is cheap so I'm not complaining!

    As for the rise and tilt controls, they are seperate. Quite clever actually. Sort of two controls nestled in each other. Easy to use and compact.

    Hope that helped your decision!
     
  6. I've owned two Ebony cameras, the 45 SVTi and the 45 SVTe. I can't keep the numbers and letters of all the various Ebony cameras straight so I'm not sure how mine compare with the SV45U but FWIW:

    "Do you find your Ebony records 100%, or close to 100% of what you see on the GG to film?"

    Mine did. In fact I've never owned a LF camera that didn't.

    "I've seen some photos of larger Ebony ground glasses (on their 8x10 models) that are cut off on their corners. Are the 4x5 models made like this?? (SV45U)... I really prefer the GG to not be cut off... "

    The corners on mine were cut out. I didn't like the Fresnel screen on my Ebony cameras, I found focusing with them when using a loupe even more difficult than is usual with Fresnels. So you might end up replacing the stock screen with something better (i.e. Maxwell or BosScreen), in which case the stock screen corners would be unimportant.

    "The wood channels on my Zone VI's focusing system are very dry. This makes focusing very rough, especially fully extended... How does the focusing feel on the Ebony?"

    Focusing was probably the single most aggravating thing about the two Ebony cameras I owned. Focusing felt smooth enough, that wasn't a problem. However, they employed a focusing system that in my experience was unique to Ebony cameras. With this system there were three focusing wheels. When using a lens in the approximate 135mm - 210mm range, and using front focus, I would be focusing with one wheel and then all of a sudden that wheel would reach its limit and it would just start spinning in my hand. At that point I had to switch to another wheel to continue focusing. While it certainly could be done, I found it very annoying to be switching around from one wheel to another in order to focus, especially since my most frequently used lens is a 210 so that it happened almost constantly.

    "And finally, can you set the front rise controls independantly from the front tilt controls?"

    You could on my Ebony cameras.

    As you can probably tell from this, I don't share the enthusiasm some others do for Ebony cameras, at least not the two I owned.
     
  7. Hi Mark,

    In an attempt to answer your questions:

    Do you find your Ebony records 100%, or close to 100% of what you see on the GG to film?

    Yes the area is at least 100% but you would have to take into consideration the film holder. The best is to stencil fine lines that correspond to the opening of the film holder (the surface area of all GG is always a bit bigger). This is easy to do. You would need film holders that have a "positive" positioning on the camera's back. Some are not that precise.

    I've seen some photos of larger Ebony ground glasses (on their 8x10 models) that are cut off on their corners. Are the 4x5 models made like this?? (SV45U)... I really prefer the GG to not be cut off...

    The 4x5 Ebony's all have the same GG back assembly that is fitted to the particular model. The GG has the corners that are cut at 45 degrees however these angle cuts are smaller than the 4x5 opening so no worry here. The angles that are cut like the one's you have noticed on the larger ebony's is to check lens coverage, if you "peep" into the corner with a squinted eye you can observe if the lens coverage is sufficient when using movments. This was also a feature used by hasselblad with a plate you placed on the back of the camera after removing the film back and in the corners you can/could check that the lens hood/filters etc...did not give you vignetting...few know this detail that is really cool.

    The wood channels on my Zone VI's focusing system are very dry. This makes focusing very rough, especially fully extended... How does the focusing feel on the Ebony? (can you recommend a lubricant to cure this problem with the Zone VI?)


    The focus on all ebony's is super smooth and precise. The only isse is when you go from one rack to the other (thus two focusing knobs) the step is not always perfect you need to play with it some times. Also the knobs tigten when you turn them so they lock, just need to uncrew the locking knob to avoid this.

    And finally, can you set the front rise controls independantly from the front tilt controls?

    Yes they are and very well designed as well.

    Yes I owm an Ebony.

    Take care
    Timothy
     
  8. Thanks to all that have answered my post... the candle wax thing really works!

    I have a further question for Brian if he's about...

    Concerning the plus's and minus's of both the Ebony and Technica camera systems, which
    I know you have extensive experience with (I went up your website and read your excellent
    review of the tech V... nice images on your site by the way!!). I was really considering the
    technica camera myself, until I read that there's some vigntetting of the image with
    210mm lenses and longer... I don't think I would spend that kind of money on a camera
    and have part of my already small contact image cut off, even though I think the tech
    camera offers me pretty much everything else I would need in a camera. I'd have to try the
    technica out to see if the back tilt would bother me or not...

    Your latest post to my question suggested that your use of ebony cameras is now in the
    past tense... if thats the case, I'm very curious to know which system you've moved on to
    and why...

    Thanks VERY much for any help!

    Take care

    Mark Baylin
     
  9. Hi Mark - Thanks for the compliment about my web site. To answer your questions, I sold the SVTe to buy a used Linhof Master Technika about three years ago and I have no plans to sell it, I've been very pleased with it.

    With respect to the vignetting you mention, there is a tiny amount of vignetting (very slightly rounded corners at one end of the negative) with a 210mm lens (maybe a couple mms worth) and slightly more with a 300mm lens. That never bothered me when I used a darkroom because the negative carrier and easel cut off that tiny amount from any negative. Now that I scan I suppose I actually am losing a few mms of the image but in truth I forgot that it happened until you mentioned it. Some photographers (e.g. John Sexton) put a narrow piece of tape around the perimeter of their viewing screen to make sure that they always have slightly more in the negative than they saw on the screen and the vignetting you mention with longer lenses on the Technika accomplishes the same purpose. So to me it's insignificant but for someone who habitually prints every last mm of their negatives I'm sure it would be more important.

    No camera is perfect as we all know. I probably would have been happier with my Ebony cameras if I hadn't come to them from a metal camera and if all the raves about their smoothness and precision here and in other LF forums hadn't led me to believe (incorrectly IMHO)that they would be at least close to the equal of a metal camera in those respects.
     
  10. Thanks very much for your post Brian... very helpful! I guess you were able to put up with
    the Linhof back system in the end after the Ebony difficulties...

    One other question I forgot to ask was concerning the Linhof bellows. My start to large
    format was a Crown graphic camera... great camera except for the lack of back
    movements and one other problem. When I began using the camera, i was using the
    135mm Optar... not a great lens, but fine for contact printing. When I began using lenses
    that projected a much larger image circle, I started getting a line of extra density along the
    edge of my negs... no inner painting with matte black paint would solve the problem. Both
    my Nikkor 135mm and Schneider Symmar 210 produced this problem, but never the
    Optar. The working theory was that the press camera's bellows were narrow enough to
    throw some of the light being projected from the lens back onto the film edge...

    I have heard that the Linhof bellows shape is not that much different from the Crown. Have
    you ever had any of these kind of problems with the Linhof cameras you've used?

    Thanks!!

    Take care

    Mark
     
  11. It looks like most of your questions about the Ebony have been answered, so this is just a plug.<p>
    For the ultimate in smoothness and precision, I don't think that you can beat the Linhof. I have had an older technika, and currently have a Color Kardan (a Technika V on a rail; a very underated camera that usually sells for much less that it should in my humble opinion) and a Bi-Kardan (just try to pry this one away from me.) <p>I have lenses from 75mm to 450mm. I didn't like the way the Technika handled the wide end, and it won't take a 450. I also liked the looks of wood.
    So, I bought a Shen-Hao. Fine for the money, but heavy, not very precise, ant won't extend beyond 300mm. I sold it and boght a Wisner Pocket Expedition. A beautiful camera that weighs less than 4 lbs, would handle the range of lenses that I wanted, was flimsy and a pain to use. I bought a Ebony SV45TI about a month ago. This camera is not a Linhof. But, it has movements and capabilities you can't even dream of with a technika. It is tight, fairly smooth, and just does what it is supposed to do. I went eith the TI strictly for the weight savings over the TE. It only weighs about 4 1/2lbs. If I only had one camera, this would be it.<p>
    All cameras are a compromise. You just have to figure out which compromises that you are willing to make.
     
  12. Mark,

    the discussion has obviously ended, but let me add some personal thoughts though.
    I own an Ebony SV45Ti for almost one year now, which is identical to the SV45U except for the mahogany wood and different back movements (had a Shen Hao before), and I second what Dan said. With universal bellows, my Ebony handles lenses from 65 to 450 mm with ease (the Nikkor 65/f4 is mounted in a recessed lensboard). The camera is absolutely rigid and sturdy, movements are smooth all the way through. For a wooden field camera the best you can buy, IMHO.

    Brian mentioned the 3-knob-focusing system, which he found kind of uncomfortable with his 210 lens. I'm shooting landscapes with 65, 90, 150, 300 and 450 lenses, occasionally employing 135 and 200 lenses from a friend. With all these lenses I've never been running into a situation where I had to jump between the two front standard focusing knobs. Especially with a 210 lens you have to move the front standard FORWARD from it's neutral position to focus at infinity, so even if you're going to do macro work with this lens, only one focusing knob is needed.

    But I must admit, the situation of jumping between the knobs can occur with a 180 lens (as well as with a 150 mm lens and close-up work). For normal use, these lenses can be focused with one knob, but the closer you focus, the more likely you'll have to jump to the front focusing knob.
    But that's a minor passion.

    BTW, last year I asked Ebony if they could make some kind of "top focus" camera (only two knobs at the camera base for the extensions, plus additional independent rear standard forward travel), but even if they said that they'd have such a camera in mind, I was told that it could be years, if ever...

    Best wishes

    Friedemann
     

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