I’ve always loved the look of the old wooden folding field cameras. And of course, I love Eastman Kodak. Therefore it’s no surprise that one of these old 8×10 view cameras ended up on my doorstep one day (Thursday). Large format photography definitely suits the way I like to work and I enjoy the 4×5 format, but I have always wanted the flexibility to shoot 8×10 for projects. This Eastman View Camera No. 2D came up on Ebay and it looked like it had all the pieces I wanted – both front and rear extensions, a sliding tripod block, and a newer bellows. The lens looked shot (it’s a Wollensok Versor and totally shot) and I could tell that there was a knob missing, but the price was right.
I unpacked it last night and I was surprised that it feels lighter than my Toyo 45A was. The wood is in decent condition with many marks and imperfections, but the bellows slide along the rails nicely. I’ve never really cared how beat up a camera is as long as it does what I ask it to do. I’ve applied a coat of wood wax to sit overnight and it should condition the wood.
The missing knob, however, is a problem. It’s the knob that locks down the rear standard. On Thursday night, I kept racking out the bellows only to watch the rear standard slowly creep forward. A trip to the hardware store will get me a temporary fix until I can find a proper knob. The bellows are not original (the original bellows were red) and look to be in good shape.
Overall, and especially for a camera produced in Rochester, NY in 1935, I think it will be a good camera. I’ve got film holders and a new lens board coming. I’m also on the lookout for a 4×5 reducing back so I can shoot both 4×5 and 8×10 sheet film.
The bottom line is I could have purchased a MUCH more expensive, modern wooden folding camera or pay way less for this little piece of American history and spend the difference on film.
Test shots coming soon!