Zone VI 4x5 Field Camera

by Philip Greenspun; created 1993

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I just returned my Zone VI 4x5 field camera and I thought I'd let you know why.

Good point

The camera looks beautiful, with its polished mahogany standards and gold-plated fixtures; people always stop to ask you if it is an antique (with a Sinar, they just stop to ask if you are sane).

Bad points

  1. the camera is heavy and bulky, almost as bad as a Sinar F2 and not nearly as small as a Horseman FA
  2. the lensboards are big losers. First of all, they have to be almost forced into the camera since the clips don't retract far enough. Secondly, after laboriously removing a lens, one must then push the clips back to fold the camera (a Horseman would let you leave a small lens mounted so I hear). Finally, the dish around the rear element isn't large enough for either of the two spanner wrenches I tried to work, i.e. you have to spend $150 for a special wrench or you can't share lenses with another camera.
  3. the camera would be way better if it had a collapsible focussing hood so that the ground glass was protected in transport and also so that one didn't have to carry a bulky focussing cloth
  4. folding up the camera is a tedious nightmare of unscrewing what seems like dozens of crudely knurled knobs -- not much fun on a freezing day.
  5. focussing involves manipulating knobs on both sides of the camera
  6. even with all knobs tightened, the standards seem to move without my wanting them to.

Using one of these for just a day will remind you of why they invented Nikons.

This was originally posted in 1992 on