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Thread: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

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    Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Hi all,

    So I have the opportunity to get an Ebony (the sad details are below). I am strongly considering the 45SU. My reasoning is that I would like to try asymmetric movements and the non-folder form factor really appeals to me --I have a mild peripheral vascular issue with my hands that can make "fiddly" setups a form of hell (the only reason I haven't purchased a Canham, for example). My current lens setup (110XL, 150, 210, 240 and 300) fits well with the extension limits of the Ebony.

    Any input would be appreciated! I am also open to suggestions regarding other versions of the Ebony, but I think the 45SU is a good fit (though finding one may be nontrivial).

    And why an Ebony? Well, for a number of reasons I have to give up my motorcycle. Painful decision. My better half, in trying to soften this blow suggested that I take the proceeds and get a camera that I never thought I would be able to own and would be able to use for years. I have a Chamonix that I will likely sell at some point if I go with the Ebony.

    Thanks,

    JT

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    I haven't experienced this camera myself, but in searching for a camera for myself, I came across it, and I am pretty sure that somewhere out there, there is a cult who deify this camera It seems like pretty much the perfect camera, according to anyone who has used it. Jack will probably be right along to describe it in detail.

    Sorry you had to sell your bike. Hard decision. Glad to see that you will get a 45SU out of it though.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    It seems like pretty much the perfect camera, according to anyone who has used it. Jack will probably be right along to describe it in detail.
    First, I'll just say there is no single perfect camera that I ever found. that said, in the 4x5 view camera world, there were three standouts for me:

    1) For the scientist/engineer in me that was interested in precision adjustments and framing, my standout favorite was the Arca F-Metric with micrometric Orbix front tilts.

    2) For the more Zen-like ease of use shooter in me approach, my favorite was by far the Ebony 45SU --- simply awesome to use.

    3) For the part of me that wanted the lightest weight and most rigidity, the Chamonix (or Original Phillips) were landmark.

    In an ideal world, I'd own and keep one of each because they are each such a pleasure to use for those different reasons. As an aside, I did have the pleasure of owning both the Arca and the Ebony together for about two months of overlap, and all I can tell you I sold the Arca first...

    Today if I were going to get back into 4x5 film, it would be for the pleasure of using a view camera, and my first choice would most likely be the 45SU. However, if I were to purchase a view camera for use with my digital back where precision is the order of the day, I would get the new Arca M-2 digital view camera.

    Cheers,
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Exactly what I was looking for, Jack -- great synopsis.

    When I first realized that this was an option (long debates about the bike over the winter) -- my first concern was that I was that I would get lost in all of the different Ebony models. Once I realized that the 5x7 was just not a financial possibility , I was surprised to find how quickly I zeroed in on the 45SU. And for exactly the reason you mention. I have definitely found that as I have gotten older (and giving up this bike is NOT helping with that), I have less patience with my gear being fiddly or getting in my way. Like most LF shooters I've gone through a few cameras and have been amazed at how different the experience can be. This is why I will hold on to the Chamonix for now -- it is profoundly light and I enjoy working with it.

    Your list made me grin -- I have toyed with the idea of the exact A-S setup you mention. But decided that my skills don't need that level of precision...yet. Your comments regarding the pleasure of using a view camera really resonate-- it is one of my favorite "de-stressors" . Not quite the same as going for a quick ride on the Harley, but given the way people drive around here, certainly a hell of a lot less dangerous .

    Hey carsten -- that's *exactly* the way my husband phrased it when I told him I was agreeing to give up the bike - - basically, "go pick your "dream" camera."

    Now to find one.... hopefully used.

    Thanks again guys, I really enjoy this forum. Very familial.

    JT

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Be sure to post some pictures from and OF the cam so I can live vicariously
    Jack
    home: www.getdpi.com

    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post
    Hey carsten -- that's *exactly* the way my husband phrased it when I told him I was agreeing to give up the bike - - basically, "go pick your "dream" camera."
    Well, if you are giving up a Harley, why don't you go get a Leica S2

    Seriously, there is going to be a little change left over, even after an Ebony. How about a really nice lens to go with it? What is your favorite focal length?
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    The 45SU is a terrific camera, as others have said. Although I don't use mine nearly as often as I should, it really is a joy to use.

    Beautifully made and I'm quite sure that you wouldn't regret the purchase.

    For the moment, I'm not sure I would give up my BMW 1100RT for the Ebony, but I'm sure the day will come when I may have to make those tough choices also, whether for age related or whatever reasons. You're fortunate to have a spouse who understands how difficult that decision can be. Getting the Ebony would certainly soften the blow! :-)

    Gary
    Last edited by bensonga; 12th March 2010 at 11:55.

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Well, this just had to be fate, I guess. For the first time in months a 45SU was listed on the old auction site -- looked to be in good shape, price was reasonable. Discuss it with my guy and he says "why don't you call that wolverine store you like so much (he meant Badger, - a bit of a smart aleck) -- just for the hell of it."

    So I emailed Jeff at Badger, told him not to laugh too hard and then asked what the wait would be for a 45SU -- and he said, "No laughing here, I just got one in YESTERDAY and it's not spoken for".

    And now it is mine -- I'll have it tomorrow and I am really thrilled. Like a kid, actually. Spent the evening cleaning up my workbench for the unboxing and giving my lenses a good going over for spring. Now if this rain would go away!


    Hah, Carsten-- my Harley is a little Sportster (I'm about 5'3" on a good day) , will probably just get enough to cover the Ebony! I haven't figured out if I need another lens yet -- my photographic goal this year is to improve my wide angle "eye" -- if I make real progress I'll probably get a 58 or 72XL next. But probably not for awhile, can't wait to pair the 45SU with my 110XL, though! And the only Leica around here is my dad's old M3, made the year I was born.

    Thanks, Gary-- your posts about your 45SU were helpful as I was sorting through the Ebony model maze. And oh my, my husband's dream bike was always one of the BMWs-- he is not very tall, though, so he went with a Harley, but he still checks them out longingly all the time... This issue with my circulation started to constrain my riding , too unnerving to ride with stiff hands in the cold so I was limited to May - Oct on the bike. I could tell that he was getting worried that I wasn't riding enough to stay sharp given the challenging roadways around NYC, so I offered to stop. If we end up retiring out west I'll ride again -- then I'll have a bike and an Ebony!

    I'll give a shout when it arrives-- and maybe a pic for Jack!

    Still grinning like a kid.

    JT

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Congratulations! The 110XL is meant to be a fantastic lens, but it isn't all that wide, so you'd better keep your eyes on that 72XL Or a nice 90, if you want to take smaller steps, like with the rest of your lenses.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Quote Originally Posted by carstenw View Post
    Congratulations! The 110XL is meant to be a fantastic lens, but it isn't all that wide, so you'd better keep your eyes on that 72XL Or a nice 90, if you want to take smaller steps, like with the rest of your lenses.
    Depends on your definition of wide -- I think a person can do a lot worse than 110XL as a single focal choice!
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    That's true, but my point was that the following lens lineup distinguishes itself mainly by having a lot of choice around the normal to moderately long focal lengths, but not going very wide: 110XL, 150, 210, 240 and 300.
    Carsten - Website

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Well, like most LF shooters (and I'm certainly a relative newbie), my lens collection has grown slowly and not always rationally . So, for example, for a long time I had just 2, the 110XL and the 210. I added the 150 (a Nikkor-W) because a beautiful copy was listed on Craigslist for $150 (couldn't let that go by). Added the 300M because I wanted *something* longer than 210 but small in size for hiking. And the 240 (a nice small Fujinon) was a gift from a retiring photographer friend.

    When I'm pushed for space on a long hike I've just taken the 110, 150 and 240 and have been perfectly happy.

    For some reason, I have never owned many really wide angle lenses in any format and I have found that my eye at that range is a work in progress -- so the 110XL has been plenty. The next lens will likely be an 80 or 75. Once I feel I can put it to good use. I'm a scientist by profession and tend to be slow and deliberate. Probably why I like LF.

    Oh-- and that's just my modern lens lineup, I have some cool old Commercial Ektars and an Angulon 210 f6.8 that came as extras with another craiglist "find" (some guy was selling his dad's old NYC studio 8x10 deardorff for $750-- and "tossed in" his lenses). But I don't hike with those!

    And where is that UPS guy already??

    JT

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Seriously, if I were getting back into 4x5, my initial set-up would be the 45SU camera plus 110XL, 240 Fuji and then a 75 Super Angulon -- and without a doubt, the 110XL would be left on the most of the time...
    Jack
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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Congratulations on the new 45SU JT! It sounds like this one was meant to be yours! I predict you are going to love the camera, as much as the rest of us do.

    Look forward to seeing some of the images you take with it. I'm guessing you know about the Large Format Photography forum also.....did you by any chance participate in the recent print exchange there?

    I hope the 45SU arrives this weekend for you!

    Gary

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    It did arrive! We are having a monsoon here in NYC and the poor UPS driver was nearly drowned, but he was a good guy and dodged all of the fallen branches and made the delivery.

    Mind you, I had never seen one before today -- photos don't do justice to the fit and finish. To describe it as jewel-like is too feminine perhaps, but it is really lovely. My teenage son was getting a kick out of watching me explore everything -- and trying to explain to him how intuitive and smooth everything was (of course since I can't plug it in or play a game on it he was rather unimpressed). I spent a happy hour fiddling and marveling at hour easy it is to deploy and zero.

    *Supposedly* it will have stopped raining by next weekend so I can take it out for it's first spin. That is assuming I don't ditch work a little early on Thursday...

    I've pretty much been a lurker at the Large Format Forum for the past few years, Gary -- very helpful and much of the posted work is inspiring. The personalities, however, can be a bit much at times. I actually should participate in the print exchange-- my reconfigured darkroom is finally finished, so I can get back to printing. Scored an 8' long stainless steel sink for a song recently...

    Here's a question-- do any of you 45SU owners (or previous owners) have a suggestion for an A-S plate to use? I wish there were dual tripod slots, easier to install a plate with 2 screws. All of my tripods have A-S QR setups.

    Gosh, I'm feeling better about that motorcycle already.

    JT

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Congrats JT! I hope it stops raining soon! Of course, it was bound to happen. A bit like buying a new telescope (one of my other hobbies) and then the night sky is invariably overcast for the next several nights. At least with the 45SU you have more things you can play with and get to know while you're waiting.

    I haven't really spent enough time on the LFP forum to get to know the personalities there...I suppose I've found GetDPI much to my liking on that count. But I have gotten some good advice from a few regulars over at the LFP forum. I participated in the print exchange and coincidentally, prints for the group I'm in will be mailed out by Darr on Monday. Looking forward to seeing them. I don't use a darkroom anymore....for me it's scanned film, digital processing and inkjet printing now.

    I use a Bogen QR plate, not an A-S style QR plate with my 45SU so I can't help on that one. I have used RRS plates/heads for some of my other cameras and I think those are compatible and very well made. I see they list a multi-purpose plate (B22) that will fit the 45SU ($55).

    Enjoy the new camera and we look forward to seeing some of your images posted in the Large Format section here at GetDPI!

    Gary
    Last edited by bensonga; 13th March 2010 at 17:40.

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post

    Here's a question-- do any of you 45SU owners (or previous owners) have a suggestion for an A-S plate to use? I wish there were dual tripod slots, easier to install a plate with 2 screws. All of my tripods have A-S QR setups.
    RRS makes one specifically for it, and it was perfect! : http://reallyrightstuff.com/rrs/item...atus=0&Tp=&Bc=

    Another tip: Dark-cloth --- a dual-knit sports tee-shirt, black and gray, makes a great lightweight, tube-style dark-cloth. /
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Great-- will head over to the RSS site and put one more (small) hurt on the credit card before I have to put it away for awhile....

    It's funny-- I have yet to find a darkcloth that I get along with, probably the closest was a Blackjacket, but not great. I should try the tried and true T-shirt!

    Hopefully this rain will go away-- I'm expecting Noah to float by any minute.

    Jil

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    I just read some coverage on the NYT of the ferocious wind and rain storm you had......very lucky that UPS driver came thru for you! He must have know how important that package really was.

    Gary

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    I think the 110XL is meant to be a fantastic lens.

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Good choice of camera! Mine has been tremendous.

    The 110XL really is fantastic. It stays on my 45SU and gets used the most. Not only high image quality and huge image circle, the perspective is superb too.

    I went from a 90, 120, 150 set-up to 58XL, 80XL, 110XL and then the 150. The 58 sees seldom use, the 80 quite a bit, but the 110 is the greedy one!

    Incidentally the 80 and 58 both need the centre filter, the former with any small amount of movement showing noticeable vignetting on E6 film. The same CF fits all 3 Xl lenses.

    Also the 80XL and 58XL really need the Ebony Wide Angle Fresnel lens back as the corners of the standard one go very dark indeed. Bag bellows help too.

    Have just decided to sell all my LF film gear to get a Phase 645DF set-up.

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    First, I'll just say there is no single perfect camera that I ever found. that said, in the 4x5 view camera world, there were three standouts for me:

    1) For the scientist/engineer in me that was interested in precision adjustments and framing, my standout favorite was the Arca F-Metric with micrometric Orbix front tilts.

    2) For the more Zen-like ease of use shooter in me approach, my favorite was by far the Ebony 45SU --- simply awesome to use.

    3) For the part of me that wanted the lightest weight and most rigidity, the Chamonix (or Original Phillips) were landmark.

    Cheers,
    I've used all of these and agree completely - I own an Ebony 45SU and the Chamonix and am planning on buying an Arca at some point. Then I might give up (I've got a Toyo 810MII which won't be sold I imagine).

    Tim

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    Re: Would like some input on the Ebony 45SU

    I use the 75mm Nikkor on my 45S and I'm strongly considering the 110XL, I often find I can't get quite as close as I like, and then the larger movements give some serious composition freedom.

    I find the 75mm comparable to 20mm in 24x36mm. I would imagine 110mm is equivalent to around 28-30mm which is far more useful. You don't realise how little you will need the ultra-wide-ness when you have movements at your disposal.

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