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CAMERA: 5×7 Technical Field

The worst large format camera I owned was a Wisner 5×7 Technical Field. I purchased it from a well-known used camera reseller without good photos, and I would later find it not so lovely.

After it arrived and at first appearance, it looked okay, without noticeable damage. After I gave it a more thorough look, staining drips became apparent. Hmmm, I thought to myself because, at the time, Wisner was all the rage with large format shooters, and then I wondered what manufacturer would allow staining drips to pass through their quality control.

It became apparent rather quickly that Wisner’s quality control sucked as they also failed to secure a stop to the rail to prevent the front standard from falling off. I was on a shoot the second time the standard fell off, and I could not get it back on. Once back home, my mechanically-minded husband fixed it and suggested sending the camera back, which I did. I was responsible for return shipping and left without a 4×5 for commercial work because I sold my Calumet 4×5 days prior. All I had available in the 4×5 format was a Crown Graphic in collectible condition, which was not what I wanted to take on the road. Luckily the results from the on-location product shoots with the Crown Graphic turned out just fine as I waited for an Ebony SV45 to arrive. It was an expensive and stressful experience, not one an inexperienced 4×5 photographer should encounter. Without enough 4×5 camera experience, they would likely blame the 4×5 format for the Wisner dysfunction. After this experience, I stayed with Ebony and Arca Swiss 4×5 cameras for at least a decade.

I cannot recommend a Wisner camera because of this user experience incident. If you like the looks of a Wisner, with its yacht-style woodworking and brass fixtures, beware of its sometimes sloppy finishing, and double check the rail has proper stops in place. Wisner eventually went out of business, and I think I understand why. Wisner also built some of the Zone VI field cameras, so if you like the looks of a Wisner field camera, look at the Zone VI models as well.