LF Camera delivery HORROR stories!!!

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

I have been emailing people selling LF camera gear, especially the higher end gear, for about 3 years now asking "why is this camera for sale?" The answers are interesting with all the usual reasons one would sell a camera. One catagory though has me puzzled, frustrated and pissed off. That is the one of "This guy is a pathological liar" to "If I see him I will run over him", to "after waiting two years for the camera I lost interest in the format, bought something else & now it is for sale... unused & new in the box". In following up on some of these I have gotten stories (with info from cancelled checks & credit card billings so I know they are accurate) of cameras ordered, paid or in part or in full, that still take up to or over 2 years from the time the buyer was told "IT IS READY TO SHIP". Then, getting the camera & finding the whole front standard is for a different model. In my survey I found complaints centered around one specific camera maker. Way out of proportion to his market share which is larger than his competitors. Funny thing was that his competitors had NO complaints anywhere near what his were. NO complaints of lousy service, just small things and NO complaints of payment made & then being shined on with ever increasing delivery times. So, finding out "why people sell LF cameras" has become a compilation of "how one maker seems to be screwing his customers". Anyone can understand problems coming up and delays in shipping. Any business can have a screw up now & then. But to do this in an ongoing manner to so many has to be looked at more carefully. Even if the cameras are really nice, who can afford to pay for one, know they will wait a specified time because the cameras are basically hand made, and then find out that 8 weeks 'really means' 8 to 18 months? If you have faced these problems, how have you handled them? What was done & how long did it take? If you don't feel comfortable naming names, that is fine. If you want to name names but not on an open forum, feel free to email me with specifics... I have been in contact with the Attorney General of the State of the maker with the most complaints & they say they "are looking into it as others have complained". So, go ahead and say what you will as long as it is accurate & true. I understand there are two sides to every story. Ken Hough, of Deardorff restoration was getting some complaints so I contacted him directly & he has made an attempt to get the truth out. Enough personal problems to effect his business & those who complained are working it out. But a maker who does this over & over & over again, using payments for a year or more without delivery of goods... AFTER the promised delivery date? That is a horror story that no one who orders a camera should ever face & if it is happening maybe we can at least shine some light on the situation & prevent it happening to others. The LF community is a small one and most we know in it are honorable & reputable. But the few who trade on that & abuse the trust are causing problems for more than themselves. NO ONE should have a camera ordered & paid for and have to wait so long after promised delivery time that they lose interest in the format & put the camera up for sale simply because looking at it fills them with hate, frustration & the desire to run over the maker with a truck.

-- Dan Smith (shooter@brigham.net), May 02, 2002


None of this means anything unless we know who you are referring to.


-- Kevin Kolosky (kjkolosky@kjkolosky.com), May 02, 2002.

We are talking about Ron Wisner. Specifically, I believe, with regard to special-order, usually larger, cameras.

I have nothing personal against him, he has never been discourteous in what he has said or in his manner. However, the wait times for his cameras (nearly a year for my 12X20) are SO out of proportion to what is promised (6 weeks, in my case) and the product so frequently unsatisfactory (the Linhof adapter board on mine leaked light, ruining a week's worth of pictures; then the bellows separated from the front standard, ruining another set; the paid-for and long- promised 11X14 reducing back has never been delivered after 18 mo of waiting: I doubt I will ever see it) that many people are understandably upset. I'm no lawyer, but it seems intuitively that fraud is in some ways being committed here. Certainly the shoddiness and broken promises ought to be discussed publicly on forums like this, whether legal recourse is ultimately available or not.

Again, I do not have anything personally against Wisner. I'm against the use of this forum for ad hominem attacks. However, I think that this problem is sufficiently ubiquitous, particularly with regard to the larger special order cameras which are increasingly of interest to readers here, that it deserves a public airing, and, perhaps best for all concerned, a public response from Mr. Wisner. Though of course, that is his choice.

I'm loving the 12X20 format, by the way, and enjoy using the camera now that I think I have most of the bugs worked out. Though I have no particular strong feelings left over about it now, I do not think in all fairness that I have been dealt with by RW in the way I would hope to be treated as a customer, and would be quite unlikely to buy from him again, which is too bad.


-- Nathan Congdon (ncongdon@jhmi.edu), May 02, 2002.

Old news! If only Fred Picker was around, what stories HE could tell about Ron. We early purchasers of Fred's Classic camera sure heard all this when Fred was trying to get Ron to honor his promises then, something he apparently never did, forcing Fred to make the cameras himself.

It is certainly ironic that two prominent LF individuals, Ron W. and Ken H. find themselves with such negative public relations at the same time.

-- Alec (alecj@bellsouth.net), May 02, 2002.

it's to bad it takes alot of good work to trust in some ones reputation but just tell the truth it takes a while to fix a camera don't ask for payment when you still have to wait 18 mos for your deardoff what hurt me the most was the images i did not make waitng for my camera and it is personal .

-- lee nadel (photonoodl@nii.net), May 02, 2002.

I have a Wisner 8x10 and I bought it used and at quite a bargain. It works fine and maybe the guy before me tuned it up. Whatever! I think the point here is that anytime you pay for something in advance the person who gets the money is satisfied and you are not. I have had some good conclusions to EBAY buys and some DISASTERS!!! I have decided to go back to the old way of doing bisiness that goes all the way back to the begining of time and that is "you show me yours and I"ll show you mine". To avoid this you just have to do business face to face and see the actual goods before you buy!! If you buy on EBAY then pay the price that allows for all possible repairs and taht means cheap. Buy a lense and allow for a shutter rebuild. Buy a camera and figure it is broken or misaligned etc.... And do not pay in advance.I often wonder who the foolish vendor on EBAY would be to send the goods in advance of payment? Yet those vendors want us to send the money in advance of inspection and in advance of shipping. Here in Ontario a person(?) was convicted of fraud because he sold a non existent nikon f4 and shipped rocks, five times!!!! I have tried to buy from local dealers(Henrys) EBAY lisiting and wanted to inspect beore payment, I was downstairs and the item was one floor above and they said pay before you see it, yet the other store items we to be insepcted befoe paid for and I was told that was the way of EBAY!! Imagine buying a suit and paying beore trying it on. The EBAY technique o auction and apy nad maybe getting what you paid for is ridiculous and EBAY does not insure anything!!! Well that's my RANT, i thank you for enduring it but frankly we just have to stick to sensible business tactics and not let our dreams and desires run our wallets. Remember there is no"last deal" there is a new deal every day and maybe a better deal tomorrow!

-- ED (zeke@idirect.com), May 02, 2002.

I've bought items from Ebay with no proplems what so ever. A little bit of trust is however need.

Wisner, and buying things from him (direct) is a lil different. Add at least a year to the times he gives you and you might be nearer the date, and then it might never turn up, (like the 4x5 reducing back for my 8x10 pocket expedition)I got rid of the camera as it was so loose on the front standard that it was a complete and utter joke!

Nuff said.. All I need to do now is change the pic on the bio page!

Thank god for Arca Swiss! www.nigelturnerphotography.com

-- Nigel turner (npturner@earthlink.net), May 02, 2002.

I am a bit confused. Is this the same Dan Smith that recently voiced complete incompatibility with a Wisner 5x7? As a working photographer that has clearly immersed imself in the "tools of his trade" at the various workshops and with other professionals I find it odd that someone as connected to the industry as you would not have discovered your personal distaste for a Wisner (as expressed by your recent posting to avail yourself of the 5x7) only to go down that path with a larger format. Had you no really no indications of the significant delays and lack of customer service with Wisner or are you just venting frustration? Ever from the perimeter it was readily apparent that irrespective of what was bantered around about delivery dates, the overwhelming majority of large format users were was keenly aware of this situation. Gordon Hutchings article about the convertable lenses 5 years ago made no bones about a one to two year delivery time and considerable patience required. As to the apparent lack of quality control, I am dumbfounded. I agree that this is unheard of in a normal business venue. What disturbs me most is the apparent lack of care in insuring that his reputation stays intact. Customer service is the first corporate part to hemmorage and without new customers, (this is a word of mouth business if I ever saw one) his business will detiorate to a point where cash flow versus expenses will not pass the rate of return test for the bank and it will be time to listen to the fat lady sing. Really sad.

My only hope is that Keith Canham writes his Mission Statement in large bold letters and place this banner above the entrance to his shop and read it every day he comes to work as those that forget history are condemmed to repeat it. Look at the post about the demise of Deardorf as there are lessons in business every day.

Hope it all works out for you and you can get back to making photographs very soon. Be Well.

-- Michael Kadillak (m.kadillak@attbi.com), May 02, 2002.

My experience is similar to Mr. Congdon's. Ordered a Wisner ULF camera, promised in 6 months, delivered in 10 months, required to pay in full in advance. There were 4 defects in the camera when delivered that Mr. Wisner promised to repair but one year later has not done so. Buyer beware.

-- Stewart Ethier (sethier@goez.net), May 03, 2002.

I own my own retail business and it really boils down to this... you either care for your customers or you don't.The best way in my opinion to do business is to be upfront, try your absolute best, and if you cant meet the deadlines that you promise....give the money back, even if it is a loss to the business.People understand and appreaciate honesty in business...maybe being more patient for a unaccounted for delay that can't be helped.

-- Emile de Leon (knightpeople@msn.com), May 03, 2002.

Who cares if Ron does like what you say? Your are talking about customers' actual experiences. If a LF company provides bad customer service let's hope they get boycotted. Maybe they will have time to fix their poorly built cameras and finish backed order cameras. If a company is not run on honesty, integrity and high standards than why is it in business? I don't know why you need to protect Wisner, Dan. You are being way too nice. I hope more potential Wisner customers see this post. When we buy something from a camera company we aren't buying just the product, we are buying customer support. Only by complaining about Wisner's business practises will any changes happen.

-- David Payumo (dpayumo@rogers.com), May 03, 2002.

My Wisner Technical Field 4x5 is 7 years old. The camera works fine, but the finish looks very crude. The levels and the trim around the levels are very crooked looking. I have sent a couple of e-mails asking if they would replace the levels if I should break them. I would like to remove them and install them so they are actually level. I have had no response. I like my camera, but if I had to replace it, I'd probably look elsewhere. Customer service does matter.

-- wes carroll (samwes@intrq.com), May 03, 2002.

One wonders why these camera makers don't model themselves after instrument makers and other kinds of craftspeople who do similar kinds of work.

Most have at least an eight month waiting list for a new instrument. I know a violin maker who has a three-year waiting list, and he says that up front. Great instrument makers, like luthier Greg Smallman, sometimes have twenty-year waiting lists. Some makers ask for a deposit, but those who know that they will sell an instrument even if it goes unclaimed by the original purchaser don't always require it and they may refund deposits for customers who back out.

For repair work, I like the model my brass repairman uses (I play the trombone). He has a waiting list, but he doesn't put your instrument on the shelf until he gets to it. He puts you on his calendar, so you can continue to play your horn (if it is playable) and bring it in when he's ready to do the work, and he can turn most repairs around the same day as long as it doesn't involve something like lacquer drying or sending parts out for replating.

-- David Goldfarb (dgoldfarb@barnard.edu), May 04, 2002.

For anyone considering a new Phillips product, my experiences were extremely pleasant. I have purchased both a 4x5 and Compact II 8x10. In each case, Dick provided an estimated lead time (which was met), and did not ask for a deposit. He also stated that there would be no obligation if I changed my mind. Apparently Dick operates on the same basis as those musical instrument makers David described. It would hard to imagine a better arrangement for prospective buyers, and the innovative cameras Phillips offers are unavailable elsewhere. By the way, my only connnection to R.H. Phillips & Sons is as a satisfied customer.

-- Sal Santamaura (santamaura@earthlink.net), May 04, 2002.

Dear Dan, Several of my friends have directed me to your post. I am happy to answer any and all questions and address problems where they exist. I do wonder why you didn't call me, as you apparently did Ken Hough. I will first and foremost admit, right here in public, that there is some truth to what you say about slow deliveries of certain cameras. When legitimate criticism is offered, there is no sense getting defensive and denying it. I wonder if you realize how big our market share is, and how many cameras we ship every year. The number is in the many hundreds. Never the less, this is a small company. It is a monumental job to manage this kind of business, with the high amount of hands-on craftsmanship that is required to build a fine wooden camera. And we ship cameras day after day all over the world without a problem or complaint. We have a filing cabinet full of letters full of praise and appreciation for what we do here. Since I went in to business almost twenty years ago, the demand for our product has grown and grown, more than I ever anticipated. There is a reason for that. We make a fine product. We are constantly pushing the envelope, building cameras and other products no one else is building, and meeting the requests of photographers world wide. In the last three years we have introduced five new models, all to satisfy requests from our customers. Our entire product line is now even distributed by Polaroid Japan. Do you know how picky the Japanese consumer is? Special orders do take time. I almost never turn down a special request. My undeniable fault is underestimating how long some projects with take. I take all of the blame for that. But consider all of the custom work we offer, including different finishes, different hardware, even hardware finishes that we have introduced, along with the more than thirty separate cameras that we build, and you might begin to get a sense of my job here. You will forgive me, I hope, if I take issue with some of your narrative. I am not accusing you of any malice, just errors in facts. I have only delivered three 12x20 cameras in person in my life. First, one for an instructor in the Salt Lake area (you know who I mean), second, one for a Mr. Weems at the same workshop a year later, and third, a Mr. Cahn in New York last month. No ground glass back has every fallen off such a camera and broken in my presence. The first camera mentioned was used for a group photo several days after delivery (with about 30 witnesses), and that picture was in View Camera Magazine the next month. The locks on that camera and every 12x20 are standard and designed for that camera. The quotes you attributed to me were never uttered. I do recall hearing that a glass had broken on that camera, and I believe the owner may have called me for a replacement. As for any work done on the camera, it was and is under warranty, and all he had to do was call if there were any problems. Speaking of the warranty, we have a very liberal warranty. It is a lifetime warranty. If there is a problem, we will fix it. This warranty protects the customer, but it also protects the company. We WANT to fix your camera if there is a problem. This is, indeed, part of how we maintain our reputation. But you have to let us fix it. Mr. Turner (of this string) knows this well. I went in person to his hotel room in Las Vegas on the way back from Death Valley to make an adjustment to his camera. He said he loved his camera. He place his order for the camera on Nov. 4th of 1998. It was delivered on January 22, 1999. That's about seven weeks, or a typical delivery for us. On August 8th of 2000 after using the camera for a year and a half, he wrote me the following email: "HI Ron, hope this finds you fit and well and business is booming. Just like to let you know that the 8x10 Pocket Expedition that I purchased from you back in January 1999 is doing me proud. I've never been as fortunate to use such a user friendly Large Format Camera". The upper case is his. In September of '99 he apparently dropped his camera. Our records show that it was repaired and returned to him in a couple of days. We did that because he is an instructor and needs his camera. He sent the camera to us early this year for a repair, this time under warranty. We returned it in under two weeks. Not once in the three years he owned the camera did he mention a loose front standard. If he had, we would have fixed it. Nigel, I do apologize for not getting you a reducing back faster. When Nathan (also of this string) had a light leak, I helped him find it. Apparently the nylon adapters which are made for us by another manufacturer (you would all know them buy name) was making them too fast, and the plastic was shrinking. We made a new lens- board-adapter for Nathan and over-nighted it to his office for a trip he was taking with the camera. I drove it to the UPS terminal myself, as our UPS driver had already been to the factory. It had to be there the next day. Nathan, as you were receiving your lens board adapter by UPS red in time for your trip, did you really believe you would not receive your reducing back? It was finished this week just as I said it would be, and you can have a tracking number on Monday. I hope the lens board adapter is working well for you. Stewart, do accept my apologies. I will certainly address your problems. If I recall, they were minor, but it doesn't matter. It's my fault for not following up. Thanks for letting me know about Clark. Wes Carroll, send us the camera. We will check/ replace the spirit levels for you. It's under warranty. If you really don't like the finish, we'll fix that too. And by the way, the camera is eight years old, because you bought it in June of '94. When I got back from delivering two 20x24 systems in Japan in February, I was very frustrated by some of the issues mentioned here. The company had grown so fast that managing certain things was getting difficult. I might get thirty cherry 4x5 backs when what I needed was cherry main beds. Things were falling through the cracks. My desire is always to serve the customer as well as possible, not just to produce the best camera. We had a major shakeup here at the factory. I fired some people, promoted others and streamlined things overall. There is closer control over production, and better scheduling. I am happy with the results so far, but there is more to do. The bottom line is we do some things very well, but we are not perfect. I am the first to admit it. The vast majority of our customers are well taken care of and a large number of them have more than one of our cameras. But we always want to improve. If you have a problem, call me.

Ron Wisner Wisner Company, Inc. 800-848-0448

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 04, 2002.

I just noticed the following mistake in my first post:

"He place his order for the camera on Nov. 4th of 1998. It was delivered on January 22, 1999. That's about seven weeks, or a typical delivery for us."

Obviously, the delivery took 11 weeks, not 7. A bit longer than normal for an 8x10.

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 04, 2002.

I'd just like to take this opportunity to say that I have been a bit OTT in my view that about Wisner Cameras being a complete and utter joke.. so my apologies to you there Ron. I was very happy with my camera until I realized the problem mentioned below which did make the camera difficult to use under MY circumstances.

But during our many conversations over the years I did mention on more than one occasion about the front standard being 'somewhat loose' and that I was loosing many images due to this, mostly with the older and heavier Ilex shutters causing to much vibration on the front standard and panels, particularly on longer exposures. Your reply was to 'stop down..'

Also when I had the accident with the Camera, the incident occurred in mid August and I shipped the camera immediately, but it wasn't returned to me until the end of September or very early October, that's hardly two days.

As Ron himself has pointed out, some problems seem to be staff related, but my biggest beef was being told one thing one week and something completely different the next, and particularly when my living relied on the products I use.

The only reason I purchased the Arca Swiss was the need to also shoot in 5x4, but having waited for six months for the reducing back for my 8x10 to arrive, which it never did I was somewhat faced with a choice, as there is no way on earth I can hump both a 5x4 and 8x10 around the Colorado Plateau. Had the reducing back been delivered when promised I would still have the 8x10 PE and not had to have gone out and spent money on the Arca.

I still think Ron Wisner makes wonderful cameras, especially wooden ones where I feel he is the world leader but perhaps a bit more care in customer relationships and quality control wouldn't go amiss.

I personally shall still recommend Wisner Cameras to anybody interested in such items.

Nigel Turner.

-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), May 04, 2002.


Thank you very much for your clarification. I can only go by the records in my file. Thank you also for your comments. In similar circumstances (regarding your front standard) I am now recommending the standard Expedition front standard when using heavy lenses. Some of our Pocket series are thus being shipped with simple front standards.

Best regards, Ron

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 04, 2002.

Dear Ron: As a small business owner myself, I was expecting more in your response to this post. While I have the utmost respect for your camera making enterprise both personally and professionally and truly empathize with your delima of trying to staying abreast of your growing market share, unless you are attempting to garner a sympathetic vote in a close election, it is meaningless. The core of this discussion once we leave the personal references on the sidelines is about a consumer desiring a product and associated product services and a business sequestering that very specific demand. You mentioned several components of this situation that is concurrently your niche and your nemesis. Small companies can shift gears and offer that "personal" touch that the large organizations simply cannot deal with. However, as the head man - the buck stops with you. As with running my company, the decision maker can do whatever he wants. Solving problems is part of the territory and is the substance that reaffirms the consuming public that you and not someone else should earn their business. While I have not purchased one of your cameras yet, I could be in the future. Having said that, what I would like to hear is what exactly you are doing to streamline your operations and customer service? This is one area that you simply cannot provide to much information about. Here is something that it took me a while to figure out. Even if the customer is wrong, their perception of the situation can quickly become reality as evidenced by the disparity in this dialog. But this really does not matter. Yes, I have taken the blame for situations that were not my fault in my business and accelerated the "solution" as soon as possible to distance myself from the funk. The reason for that is that over time, the funk will squeeze you and try to kill you and I enjoy what I do far to much to let that happen.

Suggestion: Don't sugar coat realistic turn around schedules. In fact I would add 20% to what you tell them as a goal to get it to them on time. If something unexpected happens that prevents you from meeting your schedule, have someone cpontact the customer and share the truth whatever it is. No one can fault you for this.

I desperately want your camera company to succeed for as long as you have the fire and passion for your craft. We as photographers need the venue to feel good about the future. All my best.

-- Michael Kadillak (m.kadillak@attbi.com), May 04, 2002.


Thank you for your thoughtful advice. I have received similar advice privately today and yesterday. I cannot dissagree with anything you have said. I have come to all of the same conclusions over the years, and this is why I made the changes that I did in February. It is all too easy to become mired by distractions, and if I have any other fault (doubtless I have many) it's that I have a hard time saying "no" to anyone. Saying "no" takes practice and discipline, and I am practicing this more and more. I am very passionate about photography or I wouldn't be doing this. I have been offered easier, more profitable jobs in the corporate world. But here I am, and here I intend to stay.

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 05, 2002.


How much of your cameras are actually made in house and to your specs?

The reason I ask is from the comment you made in a previous thread, which seems somewhat strange.

"I might get thirty cherry 4x5 backs when what I needed was cherry main beds."

How come? How can this mistake happen if the parts are made and assembled on the premises.. or are they made elsewhere and put together in Marion?

I was just wondering. Nigel Turner.

-- Nigel Turner (npturner@earthlink.net), May 05, 2002.

A bit OT, but since Mr. Wisner will be reading this: A Wista camera, the name suggests collaboration between Wis ner and Ta chihara. Any substance to this? Please clarify, a response to my curiosity. Thanks for your time,

Hans B.

-- Hans Berkhout (berkhout@cadvision.com), May 05, 2002.

Nigel and Hans

All woodwork of our cameras is made in-house. We can and often do make any or all hardware in-house as well. However, when volume reaches a certain level, such as in 4x5 camera parts, we will contract out such things as knobs and other cnc machined parts like struts and swing plates to local job shops. All parts are made to my drawings. All final assembly, fit and finish is done in our factory. All bellows are made in-house as well. If you would like to see some of this, you can see the factory in the factory tour on our website.

My reference to the production of the wrong part was about my woodworking department not paying attention to the inventory report, which is maintained in the computer, but still has to be looked at and coordinated with current open orders. This is some of the organizational improvements that I was referring to. Balancing inventory of some thirty camera models is important because it takes a certian minimum time to get through the entire cycle of the fifteen or so wooden parts for each camera. Obviously, we can't make just one part, we have to make thirty to fifty, or in some cases several hunderd of each major part to make the setup time efficient.

Ron Wisner

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 05, 2002.

Hans I meant to say that the name Wista, which is close to Wisner (co- incidentally) caused some problems when we worked out marketing in Japan. Even the katakana charactors (the Japanese phonetic alphabet used for Western words) were confusingly close to "Wista". We therefore decided to retain the English charactors of our name, since most Japanese can read English. Any connection between the names or the companies end there.

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 05, 2002.

Mr Wisner, I simply requested an answer when I contacted your company about repairing the levels in my camera. I am very capable of reinstalling them myself. I was asking if you would send me new levels if I broke these while removing them. They look as if they are very fragile. I find it annoying to have to use a seperate level when I have levels installed on the camera. Too bad a little care wasn't involved during the installation. I can live with the crude finish. I just don't think a product should be sent from the factory unless it has passed certain quality standards. A sloppy finish doesn't give a very good first impression. Apparently you needed to get rid of some people that weren't doing their jobs very well and hopefully you have some reliable people now. I don't feel it is neccessary to send in my camera for such a minor repair as reinstalling the levels. I can do it myself in less time than it would take packaging it to ship it you. My question still stands. Will you send me some new levels if I should break these while removing them? I don't think anyone here is trying to destroy your business. I admire you for your success. Whether it is your fault or not, you own the business and your employees should be doing their jobs. If they aren't, are they going to tell you? Do you have to be looking over their shoulder all the time to insure they are doing quality work? If they ignore our questions about problems, do we all have to call you personally to be sure we are heard? Maybe you just didn't know. If that is the circumstance, it is too bad it took a public forum for you to find out. I also have an opinion about no owner's manual for your cameras. I had absolutly no experience with a large format camera prior to buying a Wisner. I'd never touched one. The first thing I did was gouge the bellows when I opened it. An owner's manual, or at least some sort of warning would have been a big help. I sure I'm not the only person that has learned to use a large format camera completely on their own.

-- wes carroll (samwes@intrq.com), May 06, 2002.


I am happy to send you the vials. We epoxy them in, so you will definitely break them taking them out. We use a big granite surface table that is carefully leveled with a precision machinists level to calibrate the levels. We put the respective camera part on the surfacen plate and keep the vials reading true while the epoxy hardens. Once in a while the level drifts while hardening, which is probably what happened in your case.

Regarding the finish, since you are the original owner, if you don't like the finish, we are happy to revarnish it for you. The offer stands. Our varnish is applied by hand and always has been. This means there will always be some variation. The machanical superiority and fifty year life expectancy of oil varnish makes this worth while. Even eight years later, as in your case, we can still apply a new coat. Polyurethane does not do well under thise circumstances. Our varnisher is excellent. You would like the results.

-- Ron Wisner (sales@wisner.com), May 06, 2002.

Thank you Ron, I will take you up on the offer of replacing the vials. I will send you my address. I can live with the finish on the camera. I knew before ordering the camera that the finish was applied by brush and I didn't expect a perfect finish. I just expected better than I got. I bought the camera to use, not as an art object. I would not have been satisified with the workmanship if I'd done the work myself though and I wouldn't have expected to pass it off as acceptable to anyone else. I just seems to cheapen a fine camera if the finish looks sloppy. The varnish is lumpy and looks like it should have been strained before application. I'm assuming you saw a need to make some changes since you said you had fired some people. Thanks in advance for the new vials. I will enjoy using the camera more when I can rely on the levels.

-- wes carroll (samwes@intrq.com), May 06, 2002.

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