Frozen Wooden Cameras : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread


I was browsing in my local camera store, asking questions regarding two 4x5 cameras - Wisner and Canham, when one of the other store patrons told me to be weary of using a Wisner in cold winter weather. He went on to explain to me that he has a friend who found that the controls on his Wisner were freezing in place when shooting in sub-freezing weather. On that note, he recommended that I look more closely at the all metal Canham camera.

Does anyone out there in 4x5 land experienced similar problems with controls freezing in sub-freezing environments (I mean taking pictures in cold, snowy conditions)?

Thanks for all responses...

-- Robert Ruderman (, February 09, 1998


I have not heard of this being a problem with wood field cameras. I use an Arca Swiss and have done a lot of work in the Sierras (California) in the snow and have not had problems with controls freezing. The problem I do run into is fogging the ground glass when I get too close while focusing. If the camera were doused with water which then froze you would have a problem. I guess I'll have to try my Granfather's Century 5x7 in the snow...

-- Ted Brownlee (, February 09, 1998.

I have had a slight problem with the controls freezing up on my Kodak 8x10 Wood Field when working in cold climate conditions. However this seems not to be a fault of the wooden aspect of the camera, but rather the condsenation of my breath freezing on the controls and the brass to wood surfaces. The condensation freezes naturaly much faster on the brass. Most of the condensation comes while focusing (I spend a lot of time back there)under the cloth. I have more trouble in the summer with my wooden cameras when it gets so hot that the wood swells and the varnish becomes somewhat tacky.

-- Britt Leckman (, February 09, 1998.

Condensation from your breath on the ground glass will make it hard to focus, too. I have a wooden field camera, and have never had controls freeze up. You would have to get moisture on them to have any effect, the wood in cold and hot is extremely stable and heat and cold should have no effect. The metal in the focusing rails could get condensation from breath or snow, but that is the only possibility that I can imagine would cause a problem.

-- Marv Thompson (, March 11, 1998.

Buy one and try it. This appears to be only a theoretical question. Why would you want to be out in sub-freezing temperatures?

-- Jerry C. Hubbard (, April 21, 1998.

This last winter I was outside in a blizzard using the Wisner. None of the controls froze up on my. However, it was a struggle to keep the snow off of the lens glass (didn't have a filter with me). Focusing was a pain in the butt with glare and the wind to contend with (forget using a dark cape) and it seemed like I never had enough pockets or every pocket was too small. Termperature-wise, it was tolerable for about 20 minutes, then nose started running, glasses fogging up when trying to focus.

Next time I'll take a medium format camera with me.

-- Roger Urban (, May 27, 1998.

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