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Chomanix, Zone VI or Technika Deardorfff


I am new to 4 by 5 relativly. Anyone have experience with all three? Should I put out the extram money for the Chomanix? I want a field camera with wood or maybe an old Deardorff.


New member
welcome to the world of large format. I think you will find it extremely rewarding but, at rimes, quite frustrating when first getting into it. The results are worth it so keep working past any frustrations. Ok, pep talk over now to your question.

Now, apologies for the long reply to you and any other readers:

I actually have all (3) brands in my house at the moment just not the same format but i think my answers will still apply. As always, these are just my own opinions of course and not meant to be the end all. I currently have a Wisner 4x5, a Chamonix 4x10 recently acquired and a Deardorff 8x10 that I am in the process of restoring/updating so it can be used again. I am not a professional photographer so take note. Just a recently retired Engineer that loves shooting sheet film.

In general, you cant go wrong with any of these, its just a matter of what compromises you are prepared to make. Give this careful thought as, on paper, some compromises seem quite doable but in real life they can sneak up and negatively impact your experience. If ever the statement “the best camera for you is the one you will use” applies Its in large format. For example, the best camera in the world but weighs a ton or is very awkward to use for what “you do” probably wont get used as much as you would think. I wont belabor this point but I think you get the picture.

I have used both metal and wood cameras such as Linhofs, Toyo’s, Zone Vi, Wisner and even one I made which was my first one so I can give you some of my “general” impressions. Here goes...

1. You must first determine what you will do with it. Landscape cameras benefit form lighter weight and you could live with somewhat less movements. Whereas, architectural use requires a full bevy of movements and may benefit from the precision of a metal camera even maybe a monorail.

2. As stated above, what compromises are you willing to make? Will you travel a lot with it, will you fly or drive? Do you hike or usually shoot within close distance of your car? All of these go to weight which then may go to functionality.

3. Do you plan to be out in the elements alot? Do you do a lot of Winter photography? Metal cameras can be more durable but watch out touching one thats been in low temps for a while. You get the picture.

Looks like you have already determine to use 4x5 (a great starting point) and have narrowed your search down to the (3) brands you listed so let me hit those points in my next reply.

Again, apologies for the long reply but these are the things I wish someone had shared with me when I first started and would have made my life a bit easier.



New member
So here is part 2 to address your specific brands in question.

Deardorffs are the “Grand Ole Dames” of field cameras. Their history and construction are robust. They were usually made with pattern grade mahogany which I dont think you can even get anymore. They are beautiful to behold and will work just fine however....

These cameras are now 30-40 years old and they made need refreshing. The movements may need adjusting and the wood refinishing. Are you prepared to do that? Not tryingvto scare you off but know what you are getting into. They are typically a little heavier than the Chamonix of equivalent format. The Zone Vi/Wisner ones fall in between typically.
my major gripe with my ‘Dorff is the small serrated knobs are quite hard to tighten down in the Winter with or without gloves. Its one of those “ little gripes” that might get more irritating as time goes on.

The Zone VI and Wisner cameras are just beautifully made and a bit more ergonomically Easier to operate. Their construction quality is second to none. Be aware that some Zone Vi cameras were made by Tachihara and may not rise to the level of durability as the others ones. Note, I said “may” all depends on the user care.

My Chamonix is new to me but is very well made however, had not had it long enough to comment on long term durability. Perhaps other owners can comment. The movements on mine are smooth and precise enough for the landscape work I do. They are typically less weight (1-3lbs) than other brands. A very capable camera in my opinion...otherwise I wouldnt have bought it.

Ok, this can go on but basically you get the idea. Its all about compromises. Study all (3) brands you are considering and think through carefully what your use will be. This should help you define your “use profile” and that might get you some answers. That should help you assess if the extra cost is worth it to “you”.

To spare everyone else another long message let me offer you this. If you wish and if you are in the US, contact me via PM and we can have a chat over the phone in more details if that will help you. No pressure.

Again, welcome to the format and best of luck.



I will be shooting protraits and some western landscape, portraits will be outside . Not anticapating a lot of winter shooting. The Chamonix seems reallywell designed just dont know if I shoud just go a little cheaper to start a used zone vI is half the money. But if a pain to get it right then would it just trurn me off to shooting it?


Well-known member
Buy the camera the camera that inspires you. All of these cameras are good, none are perfect. Cameras are like people: you are going to get on with some better than others. Choosing a best friend is not a rational process.


Sr. Administrator
Staff member
My three favorite view cameras were an Ebony 45 SU (rigid front), a cherrywood Lotus folder (though it was in 8x10), and a blonde and black Chamonix. In addition, I've owned both the Linhof Tecknikardan and Arca F-line Micrometric/Orbix view cams. While the latter two metal cameras were a joy to use and offered the ultimate precision at focus and composition, there was a definite artistic je ne sais qua to using the wooden cams. The Chamonix, a copy of the venerable Phillips, is sort of a hybrid with some composite materials, but just enough warm tactile feedback it was as much a joy to use as the Ebony or Lotus. The Chamonix was also pleasantly light in weight, a joy to pack with.

Long way around saying, if I ever got back into shooting with a view camera, it would likely be with a Chamonix, and likely in 5x7 now that 4x5 readyload has gone away... Unless perhaps I found a superb deal on an Ebony 57 SU -- then I'd be stymied for a bit while I worked it out ;)


Well-known member
My favorite 4x5 view camera was the Wista VX Technical camera. Full movements on the front and tilt and swing on the back. Heavy (it was metal), but that is large format for you.