Wisner ULF Cameras

Discussion in 'Large Format' started by george_huczek, Apr 3, 2003.

  1. Beware of Wisner Manufacturing Co. for ordering ULF cameras.
    I am still waiting for three 14x17 film holders that I ordered in
    October, 2000. I've waiting 2 1/2 years and I still have not
    received the equipment.
    Ron Wisner is not to be trusted at his word. If he says he will
    phone you back about your order he wont. If he says that the
    equipment has already been shipped, it hasn't. He is a liar! Don't
    buy from him. Don't attend his workshops. Don't patronize his
    business in any way. It is not worth the hassles. You will pay up
    front for equipment and wait forever to receive it. His business
    practices are unethical.
  2. Thanks for the tip. He sure has a reputation as a LF person.
  3. Hi George,
    Thanks for your post. I responded to Wisner's two for one film deal and never received the film. when the film failed to arrive I sent a number of emails but heard nothing in return. After a couple of months of silence I emailed them to cancel the order and...didn't hear a thing. I had considered buying one of their 8x10's, but am seroiusly reconsidering.
  4. See the discussion here for more history on the topic:

  5. i have had dealings with ron wisner. i WOULD NOT under any conditions recommend dealing with him. he is unresponsive and totally unreliable. the only way i received my merchandise was by stopping payment through american express for my order. i have dealt over the internet and with various suppliers over the years, and my experience with him was the worst!
  6. George, we are all sorry to hear about your trials with Ron. Seems that the last time we took him to task here a little over a year ago he learned nothing. We heard Ron talk about all of the camera models he has to manage inventory for and excuses for this and that blah blah blah. Did someone put a gun to his head to exand his product line? If so, call the cops. If that was not the case - Who cares?

    Seems to me that Ron's choice is simple. Either you build cameras and commit to really take care of the customers and do nothing else or you hire a manager to take care of this and go on the lecture/seminar circuit. If Ron has trouble making this simple business decision, it is just a matter of time before expenses exceed revenues and it is all over folks. Large format is a small market that inherently mandates success and failure in a large part by word of mouth. Wisner has been able to stay ahead of the numbers up to this point with his crappy customer service primarily I would say due to the resurgance in ULF, but there are more Georges out there that are getting more and more pissed each month.

    To anyone that feels that they must acquire a Wisner and cannot find a used opportunity, I would strongly recommend using Quality Camera as an transactional intermediary. Won't cost you any more and at least you have some clout to go back to him with.

    I know one thing for sure. You have an alternative for film holders that are flat out superb. S&S Film Holders marketed by Quality Camera make a superb wooden film holder in many sizes. Sandy King (one part of the "S") is a person of trust and integrity as well as one of the most skilled photographers with carbon printing and ULF equipment. Sandy deserves your business as he is skillfully filling a need in Large Format. Say what you want about Canham cameras, but you can talk to Keith Canham about his cameras by simply picking up the phone most any day of the week. Keith is also a hell of a nice guy.

    Don't let it get you down George. Life is to short. Get some S&S holders and get that camera back into service. Wisner will pass into obscurity hopefully after you get your money back.
  7. Firstly, I'd say if you paid by credit card, then I'd go through that for a refund.

    Second, I'd compare this with peoples experience of Dick Phillips - numerous posts on here, which is exactly the opposite. (My Compact II is just about ready to ship - very helpful responses, camera ahead of schedule, and I haven't expended a penny yet. Open and honest in his dealings and estimates of how long things will take. AND no moneyup front...)

  8. As I recall, the first 14x17 cameras were advertised as the largest format for which Fidelity made holders. Does anyone know who handles Fidelity, or whether they still have these holders available?
  9. The 11x14 plastic film holders are available at outrageous prices from B&H. They seem to cost so much because Fidelity considers them medical equipment. It might be a good idea to get S&S or AWB holders instead. I don't know anything about S&S, but I have three AWB holders and they are magnificent.

    I have a 7x17 Wisner which Fred Newman had in stock when I was ready to buy. If I had ordered directly from Wisner, I would probably still be waiting. The camera is good, but it can't compare to my 4x5 Ebony which spoils me for everything else. I dread the day when I have to rely on Ron Wisner to fix the big beast. Do yourself a favor and get a Canham.
  10. I forgot to add that if 14x17 holders are used in the medical industry like 11x14 holders are, they should still be available, but not through photo dealers.
  11. I've had good and bad experiences with buying from Wisner. I had a very long wait for pair of 8x20 holders back in 92. Then I got a very quick turnaround on an 8x10 camera around 95. I also got a rather quick turnaround on a 8x20 conversion back for the 8x10. My last purchase from Wisner directly was a 5x7 reducing back that was quoted as being in stock when I called in the order. It took 2.5 years, and many phone calls, for that "in stock" item to finally get to me.

    I love the camera. In the future, I would only buy Wisner equipment through a dealer. That way there would be someone who might seem to care about me as a customer.

    George Losse
  12. I think accepting full deposits for customer work is a terrible practice, and can land even an honest businessman in trouble. I wouldn't trust anyone who does business this way. Who wants to be paying their workers to do two year old backordered work with deposits from customers ordering cameras now? It's crazy. If anything RW has dug a pit he may never get out of.
  13. Completely agree with the "Pay First and Wait a Lifetime" approach as being completely idiotic from a business perspective. However, saying that anyone that understands the risks (this has been going on for years)and goes there anyway has no reason to whine.

    When I read that Dick Phillips was not taking orders until he gets caught up, my ears perked up. Now here is a person dedicated to his craft such that he recognizes that it is much better to have one happy customer and three future prospective customers than one disappointed customer along with three customers that are ready to get a lawyer to recover their sizeable cash payment.

    Pass the word......
  14. To George Huzcek and all customers.
    When it comes to specialty cameras or other products, sometimes it does take a long time to get the project done. This is the nature of specialty manufacturing. We make things no one else makes, and we provide services that no one else provides. Mr. Huczek has recieved his 16x20 camera, one of the very first we made, two 16x20 holders, the 14x17 reducing back, a special Melles Griot lens which we found for him, two new light traps for his 16x20 holders after we found a new material to improve them, a free box of film because I felt badly about delays in his order, and hours of consultation and discussion.

    Every customer will receive from us what he orders, and VERY OFTEN MUCH MORE, such as in the case of the free film. I often give free lens boards, film holders, reducing backs and the like if an order is late. One customer in New Mexico recieved a free 5x7 camera from us, and a customer in Minneapolis recently paid half price for a 16x20 because this is how I compensate my customers for thier patience, loyalty and understanding that we are willing to do things for them that no one else does. I would not call that unethical by any definition. We have hundreds of happy and loyal customers who come back to us over and over again, even when deliveries of special products have been slow in coming. Some of my customers have as many as half a dozen of our cameras

    The 14x17 holders were a problem for the following reason. Last year Fidelity cancelled the manufacture of thier 14x20 holders. I did not expect to have to make them. We make many other sizes but 14x17 was not one of them. What's more, the focus of the 14x17 holders was different from our standard larger size holders. We therefore redesigned our camera backs to fit our own focus dimensions and sent Mr. Huzcek the necessary shims to change the focus on his camera.

    We also have turned on a dime many times for customers who have an emergency repair or other need. I do not excuse, but simply admit, that some things take much longer. If that has upset some customers, I do what I can to make it up to them. So to Mr. Huzcek and others, I apologize. I will continue to work at a business that I believe in and enjoy, despite the inevitable problems.

    Ron Wisner,
    Wisner Company, Inc.
  15. cxc


    I have no experience with the company, but I just thought I'd mention that Lotus in Austria also makes ULF filmholders.
  16. i do have experience with LOTUS Viewcamera and only the best. they make perfectly handcrafted cameras and holders. i recently bought a Lotus 8x20 holder, and if you ask there, they tell you when you can receive one, if it is not in stock - and they stick to that! i am not related to them except i am customer there, i just want to show there are also other cameramakers in the world who do a really good job. you can have a look at www.lotusviewcamera.at.
  17. Hello Ron Wisner and forum users,

    If you read this, Ron, I am still waiting on the lensboards, bag bellows, and fresnel lens that I ordered at the end of November. I can understand a specialty camera taking a long time to make, but a 4 X 4 inch piece of wood with a hole in it? I consider myself a pretty patient person, but I have a big trip planned to Big Bend in three weeks and I really want to use my 75mm Grandagon! Ron also told me several times in the last few months over the phone that it would go out "by the end of the week". What's the deal? The cameras are great, but how can anyone use them if they can't get accessories?
    -Brian Vuillemenot
  18. Ron Wisner wrote:

    "I often give free lens boards, film holders, reducing backs and the like if an order is late. One customer in New Mexico recieved a free 5x7 camera from us, and a customer in Minneapolis recently paid half price for a 16x20 because this is how I compensate my customers for thier patience, loyalty and understanding that we are willing to do things for them that no one else does. I would not call that unethical by any definition."

    Has it occurred to you that people want what they have ordered within the agreed timeframe rather than freebies to compensate for your failure to honour your commitments? If you are so far in breach of your undertakings that you have found it necessary to give people free 5x7 cameras and half price 16x20s, there is a serious problem with the way that you do business.

    You need to understand that this kind of thread does not attract new customers. Based on your own response, I wouldn't buy anything from you if my life depended on it.
  19. Rory,
    The answer to your question is simple. Thankfully it does not happen often considering the hundreds of cameras we ship every year, but when a delivery is late, naturally I want to offer something to a customer. In the case of the 5x7, it was a special camera for one of my long standing customers that ultimately did not fit the customers needs. Since it was a custom order but the customer did not feel it fit the bill, I simply refunded his money and let him keep the camera, which he was very happy about. The 16x20 was also for a long standing customer who already had one of our 20x24 cameras. I gave him a large discount for the long delivery time. He is a good customer and I know he will be back to order more things from us.
    Ron Wisner
  20. I am the very satisfied owner of an early Wisner 4x5 Technical Field Camera. I will admit that some of my dealings with the Wisner Company have been frustrating. However, I discovered the reason for the most frustrating dealings, and fully understand. In spite of these frustrations, if I was going to buy another large foramt camera, I would buy another Wisner. I think Wisner quality and engineering is the best in the business.
  21. I ordered 4x10 holders from Wisner in late 1999. After nearly 30 months of continual follow up with Ron Wisner, I gave up and had Keith Canham modify the Wisner manufactured back to accept the holders he manufactures and bought holders from him. Canham's turnaround was about two weeks--around 60 times better than the non-fulfillment from Wisner. Never got any free film either. . .
  22. I just received my 11x14 from Ron Wisner. It was ordered on January 20, 2003 and was delivered into my hands on March 12, 2003. This is my second ultra large format camera that I have purchased from him. I really prefer the wooden field camera design of the Wisner.

    Yes, it would be nice to be able to walk into a store and pick the model, off the shelf, that you wanted. It doesn’t work that way in ultra large format. . .it’s more personal.

    I too have experienced some frustration with Mr. Wisner in the past. However, I feel the quality of the equipment that I have received from him has exceeded the amount of frustration that I have experienced. Would I buy another Wisner camera???. . .depending upon the situation. . .probably yes. I have found that follow-up and persistence pays off with Mr. Wisner.
  23. Hello Ultra Large Format User, and welcome to photo.net large format ! I see you are a new member, having joined since this thread was posted. What a coincidence it is that you are the only member on this forum that has received a wisner ULF camera on time. Maybe you know Ron wisner personally?
  24. Thanks for the greeting. . . I have read this forum for some time, but I am not one to spend my time chatting. . . No, Mr. Wisner is not a personal friend of mine. . .I'm just another customer. . . I met him once at a conference. . . he doesn’t even remember me from that. . . I am just that woman that calls him every time something doesn’t go the way he promised. . . it's my job to see that my business runs smoothly. . .nothing like a woman’s scorn to get things moving. . .I felt a positive experience needed to be injected.
  25. Ron: everyone should learn from their mistakes. Despite your feedback there are some real complaints here. Too many! What other conclusion can be made. Just give honest expected times on equipment everytime. You make good cameras (I have two), why give people reason to want to shop elsewhere?
  26. i have ordered and recieved two custom ulta large format cameras from ron wisner over the past three years and can
    say i didn't get either camera in my hands on time. ron understood my sadness and frustration and rewarded me for my
    waiting with free holders, lens boards, and deep discounts which i was willing to agree to. ron gave me his word to make
    good on his offers and he did. i love making photographs with these cameras and was worth the wait.
  27. I bought a used wisner 8x10 and I like it alot , I would recommend that Ron Wisner use better screws for the lense board slide holders, I replaced mine with tiny but LONG stainless screws from an airplane hobby shop, I was just too afraid of dumping a 155 Grandagon on the ground because the screws failed. I make my own lense boards and I found that by cutting down a Calumet recessed board and shiming the edge thickness I could mount the 155 Grandagon and still use the focus rails. I like the camera alot especially the large knobs on the adjustments. I do wish there was a quick release so when I am doing my tailgate photography I can mount the camera on the reipod easily, Ialso wish he made a carried to go in a car that allowed the camera to sit open until ready for mounting on a tripod.
  28. Whether buying new or used cameras it seems to be that one very important consideration is ease and availability of repair. I recently send my 5x7 [insert camera name here, but not Wisner] back to the manufacurer for modification and repair (I had dropped it), and the camera was returned within a week, faster than promised. Likewise, why do people rave about a certain shutter repair man?

    Would you buy a car from a dealer who was known for taking MONTHS or YEARS to repair? No, I don't think so. Obviously, buying a camera is very personal matter, however I really can't see buying a camera (or anything) for which the manufacurer isn't reliable, unless of course, you don't really need your camera.
  29. I believe some of the respondents have missed a critical point. To pay for any consumer item up front and then get the run around for extended periods beyond a reasonable production time is both unethical and just plain ignorant. And I am making this statement for even the most customized special order item. Why should a large format camera buyer be required to turn into a lollipop when they would have an outer body experience with any other purchase of similar value as a previous respondant stated?

    If for some reason I was affected by a condition of ultra large ego and felt that I could get away with attempting Wisner's (hybrid) business strategy or offered similar "it takes time" rational for customer shortcomings clearly found between the words "expectations" and "disappointment", I would wake up from the self induced coma in the unemployment office just in time to get the paperwork for $240 a week started. There is no way in hell I would let that happen as I worked to damn hard for my reputation to let even a hint of less than honest creep near me.

    Since it is rather easy to lob all kinds of negative comments to any and all rather indescriminantly, I wanted to serve up something on a positive note. Here is what I would do if I was running this company. Immediately, I would cease taking new camera orders until further notice. Secondly, I would begin to publish a weekly listing on the web site of the job que and the names of the clients work orders that are to be completed in priority. Concurrently, when a job is finished and shipped, it will be marked as having been completed on the next weekly work report. No more need to make excuses, promises or engender ill will. It is simply there for everyone involved to follow for themselves.

    Pull up on the handle Ron before this aircraft hits something solid. I desperately want to see you both succeed and prosper, but what I am hearing is a continuation of a common mode called denial.
  30. One other policy I would implement if I ran the company. No requirement for full payment or for that matter even a deposit to order a camera, camera accessory or film holders - PERIOD.

    Dick Phillips clearly gets it. No money down and he delivers a quality product before it is promised. As a result, payment is gladly made upon shipment.
  31. I too have been waiting 5 months for my 12x20 from Mr. Wisner. But in my mind the reality is this. If you like and want to use Wisner cameras then you might want to accept the waiting period. If you are not willing to do that you need to find one used or buy another brand. The way I see it is that in this kind of business there is most likely the syndrome of borrowing from Peter to pay Paul just to keep things up and running. And the other problem is it is really a personal customer service business in the long run. Customers keep the business going but provide some/much of the problems too.The company is not perfect, but either are the clients. It's not like selling hamburgers. But I dont know for sure as I am not in the camera building business.I am in retail though so I have an idea. There are very few people in the world who do this (building LF cameras) and only they really know what the reality is. It is real easy to have an opinion of how things should be done relaxing in your armchair.Until you actually do it though you don't really know. I do know that Canham charges 20% to 25% more for his 12x20 and Ebony over three times the cost at $16,000.00.Both with waiting periods also. I happen to like the Wisner so I accept the waiting period...for awhile. It seems to me that if possible, popular accessories like lensboards should without fail, be made/stocked, and sent out quickly for obvious reasons. But in the long and short of it...it is up to Mr. Wisner to run the company exactly as he sees fit. After all it is his company and his monetary risk. If Wisner co. continues to succeed then credit goes to Mr. Wisner for it. If business is not that good then he has to take full responsibility for that and see that things are more fully perfected. I think in our heart of hearts we all want to see him succeed but also want the customer communication to be rectified so we all are in the know and everyone profits. We all see what is happening in the airline industry right now. It would not take much to have that happen to our LF industry also.Then where will we buy our cameras? We need to support one another, both company and customer alike. If we dont continue to do that you know what the result will be....
  32. Just to relate another side of the coin, I've called the Wisner company twice to inquire about payment plans and to place an order. Upon both calls, Ron Wisner himself answered the phone and handled my business. While he might need a few extra hands around the shop to expedite things, I certainly can't complain about his personal interactions with customers (me!). The experience of talking with him directly served to remind me of the tradition that Wisner sems to represent. His company isn't some souless corporate monster whose equiptment is made in sweatshops somewhere. Wisner represents--in my view--a tradition with which most of us have grown unfamiliar. We're used to B & H deliveries being placed on the internet and arriving at our doorsteps the next day. But--as Ron said--he deals with products on a one to one basis, often having to take several unpredictable variables into account at once. Patience is a scarcity now, which is one reason LF is so endangered. So like Emile said, we should support our own, because in alot of ways, their idiosynchrasies mirror what we love most about the hobby.
  33. I dont think anybody here is overly concerned about the waiting period. It seems to me it is the fact that there seems to be an element of dishonesty when you call the Wisner company and are told that the film holder/camera etc, is on its way and it is not, or that it will be delivered in a week and 6 months go by and it does not show. Personally I dont have or use Wisners cameras, but when the time comes to buy a new 12x20 I will not consider Wisner. I have heard just too many stories which basically deal around the lack of correct information as to the delivery date.

    I dont mind if someone tells me "your camera will be there 1 year from now" but if I am told it will take 3 months and 2 years later I am still waiting then I can see how I will be frustrated and upset.
    Imagine if someone sells his current camera in the expectation that the new camera will be there 3 months from now and then it never shows up.

    BTW getting freebies does not cut it with me, I would much rather have the vendor keep to the original deal than to have him try to appease me by giving me a "deal".

    Bottom line I think Mr. Wisner should just be straigh forward and say he has not done the order than to keep people on pins and needles. All it does is give him bad reputation which we all know is much harder to correct. I am an example, I am looking to get a new 12x20 next year, but with all these complaints I am very weary of ordering from him.
  34. I've never had any dealings with Wisner himself, but to me the idea of taking money and then not delivering a person his/her camera on time is really bad. I appreciate Robert's comments above, but I don't think somebody should have to deal with "idosynchracies" when possibly thousands of dollars are in question.<br><br>I respect the problems that Wisner has, and I don't want to imagine what the grim realities of the camera-building craft are! But I really like the suggestion above about putting peoples' orders on a web site, so they KNOW when their camera or their gear will be finished. This could surely help Wisner himself to keep track of things better also! Finally, creating such a database would help keep IT people employed (hehehe...) Creating this system would be relatively simple to do (but Wisner would have to hire somebody, as Microsoft Frontpage Express 2.0, which is what he used to create his web site, isn't quite up to the task!)
  35. Hi Ron,

    My 8X10 complete package was real late...I don't recall getting any free stuff. But that was awhile ago..did I get any free stuff? Anyway, no big deal, what I really would like to know is if you would [under the lifetime guarantee] replace the shaky front standard with the more rigid standard of the Traditional model...that's what I ordered, the Traditional. There's also that hardware in the back with the bad finish job I'd still like to get that replaced.

    The geared standard design works ok on the back, but the front is not so good. If you would send me the parts I can make the change and send the old parts back to the shop.


    Jason Kefover

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