My Initial Thoughts About the 8x10 Intrepid Large Format Camera vs. Chamonix
I was incredibly happy to learn about a brand new and very affordable 8x10 view camera being developed by Intrepid, a UK-based camera maker. I thought I would share my thoughts about the new camera, based on specifications posted by Intrepid on their Kickstarter page. Note: all photos in this article provided via the Intrepid Kickstarter page.
The very first thing that I look at when evaluating a new camera are the technical specifications. Typically, I am trying to balance capabilities with size and weight for 8x10 cameras and larger.
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INTREPID 8X10 VIEW CAMERA TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS
The very first thing that jumps out to me is the weight (or lack of weight more exactly). Coming in at less than 5 lbs./2.2 Kg is really pretty amazing for an 8x10 view camera. The physical dimensions make it allowable to easily fit into a number of backpacks, making it very reasonable to take into the backcountry for extended hikes. In comparison, my Chamonix 8x10 camera weighs 4.3Kg/9.48 lbs. To be fair, this camera is made from solid cherry wood vs. birch plywood.
I like that the camera uses a standard Sinar lens board. For me personally, this would allow me to use all of my existing lenses for my Chamonix 8x10 on this camera without any need for modification or change.
The minimum bellows draw of 40mm is about as low as I think I have ever seen on an 8x10 view camera. In comparison, my Chamonix is 95mm.
The maximum bellows draw of 600mm is a little concerning to me. I routinely use my Fujinon compact 600mm lens, so I would have to verify the bellows can be racked out to work with the lens. I assume that it will work, but this is something that based on specifications, is a little concerning to me. Also, racking the camera out at full extension all the time is concerning in regards to rigidity, but there again, I would know more if I had the camera in hand.
The rise and fall are 70mm and 65mm respectively compared to 105mm on my Chamonix. I routinely use a lot of vertical rise in my landscapes, so I would have to investigate if this is a limiting factor or not.
The front shift is 55mm compared to 50mm on my Chamonix View Camera.
Front tilt is only limited by bellows. A 45-degree tilt is more than anyone would likely ever want or need.
There is no rear shift, and this is the same on my Chamonix. However, the rear tilt of 35 degrees is extremely generous compared to 10 degrees on my Chamonix.
Standard tripod mounts of 3/8" and 1/4" are included as expected.
The camera will work with standard 8x10 film holders, so if you already have existing film holders, you are good to go.
The back can be rotated for vertical (portrait) or horizontal (landscape) positions as expected.
The ground glass that ships with the camera has a 1/2" grid pattern. There was no mention of a Fresnel lens, so I have to assume it doesn't have one. I don't know how bright the ground glass is without using it, so I can't provide any feedback or comments on this at this time. I would expect, as I do with all of my view cameras, I would most likely want a new custom ground glass made that is brighter.
Bellows are available in four colors (black, blue, green, red) and they are made with ripstop nylon, so they should be very durable and last a lifetime. They have an internal IR-proofing layer to help assure there are no light leaks.
The camera is made with birch plywood. On the surface, I am not too excited about this choice, but I understand it. This really helps keep the weight down, as well as the price. Most of my view cameras look and feel like a piece of art themselves, so I am not sure how I feel about the camera being made from plywood. I also have significant concerns about the long-term viability of plywood when used out in the landscape on a regular basis. I don't think that is their audience, but it is worth mentioning in case you are a landscape photographer that works out in the elements.
The structural components are made from anodized aluminum, so this should provide a lifetime of use.
The focusing system is rack and pinion as expected. I can't speak to the accuracy or fluidity of the focusing at this time without having used the camera.
In comparison to the market, Intrepid is also making and offering incredibly affordable brand new 8x10 film holders that cost less than many of the used holders that are available on eBay. After the Kickstarter campaign is closed, I hope to see the film holders available in their online store.
A 4x5 reducing back is available via the Kickstarter page too, but no 5x7 reducing back at this time. I would personally want and need a 5x7 back because a lot of my landscape projects are either 8x10 or 5x7.
- 2.2kg/4.8 Pounds
CLOSING THOUGHTS & SUMMARY
More than anything, I am excited to see a new 8x10 view camera being manufactured in 2017. I hope it means more photographers will explore large format photography. This underscores the fact that film, the darkroom, and large format have found its way into the 21st century and younger people are moving forward with the art and craft of large format analog photography.
Based on price alone, the Intrepid 8x10 camera opens the door to a lot of people that want to explore 8x10 large format photography. Some of the most iconic images were made with 8x10 view cameras. I think about Edward Weston creating his contact prints from his 8x10 negatives using a very simple printing frame and light bulb suspended from the ceiling.
I personally love the 8x10 format because you can either make contact prints, enlarge the negatives to massive mural sized prints, or scan them for endless opportunities. A photographer could use this 8x10 view camera with film, paper negatives, or X-Ray film and make simple and elegant contact prints that rival any enlargements.
According to the Kickstarter page, the new camera should start shipping at the end of September to their supporters and I expect a little time after this, it will be available via the Intrepid website, at a slightly higher price. As with their 4x5 view camera, there will be feedback that will most likely lead to a second generation 8x10 camera in the future.
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Keywords: analog photography, black and white, black and white photography, chamonix camera, darkroom, intrepid camera, large format
I'm not concerned with the 600mm max extension because the longest lens I own for 8x10 is my Schneider 19" (480mm) Artar. However, that lens in a Copal 3 shutter is certainly not a monster, but also not a lightweight. My standard lens on 8x10 is a Fuji 360mm CM-W which is also not exactly light. Though I've owned the same 8x10 for 35+ years, I did support Intrepid Camera via the Kickstarter for their new camera; I just couldn't resist <5 lbs for 8x10! I'll have to wait and see if my lenses for this format are of any concern when I get my new camera.
I agree about the 600mm bellows maximum extension being a concern. I was tempted to buy this camera, but when I read that, I stepped back. It seems they went with less weight vs. longer bellows and more frame. Oh well.
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