Ritter 7×11/8×10 Re-visited

Well, it’s been a bit over 3 months since the brown box arrived and I added the images of the camera.  Seems like a good time to reflect on using the camera. 

When it first arrived, I spent some time setting the camera up then folding it up.  The exercise, per Bruce Barlow, is known as ‘cuddling’ and it was a very good exercise – especially once I got into the field using the camera.

So what is using the camera like? Well, it is everything I had hoped it would be.  I have burned a few sheets of film, as recently as yesterday (Jan. 3, 2009).  The wind was pretty steady at 20-25 mph, with gust up to 30 mph.  A test for any camera, much less one that only weighs in the neighborhood of 6.5 lbs.  The Ritter is like any other camera, it does vibrate in the wind.  However I made six separate negatives – 4 7×11 and 2 8×10’s and the as long as I waited for a lull in the wind and did my part – the negatives looked good – even though the shutter was set a 1/2 sec.

Problems?The worst issue I have with the camera, is it has more movements, than my lens have coverage – I use a 240mm Germinar, 300mm C Fuji and a 450mm C Fuji.  Now, I have not run out of image circle with the 450 Fuji, but have gotten myself in trouble with the 240 and 300.  Not a fault of the camera, but the photographer.  Yesterday was a good example – I was shooting a church for the church project and wanted to get the steeple and part of the roof line, using the 300.  Well the camera was tilted up at the steeple at a pretty sharp angle, then the front(axis and base) and rear(base) standards were tilted to keep the film plane parallel, then I add some rise.  Now, that is the most movements I have tried to use and I looked, but did not notice that I had run out of image circle – just clipped the corners at the top of the image.

So, not a camera issue, just a novice photographer learning how to use the tools.  The fit and finish are really nice, the back comes off to rotate, or be replace with the 8×10/7×11 back.  I hauled it up and down the banks of the Guadalupe River, back in October of last year.  If I had been carrying the old Eastman No. 2 (it weighs in at 16+ lbs) it would not have been as much fun.

Guadalupe River
Guadalupe River

After 3 months of shooting, would I recommend a Ritter 8×10.  The answer is a resounding YES.  The camera is light, has more movements than I will ever figure out how to use, is well made and the the weight – well the weight is a dream for a large format photographer.  Don’t look for this one to be up for sale anytime in the future, I plan to put a LOT more film through it before I retire from taking photographs.

Stayed tuned, I have some new 7×11 film holders due in from S&S.  Will give my impression of these after I have had a chance to run some film through them.

Hope you all have a Great 2009.


4 thoughts on “Ritter 7×11/8×10 Re-visited”

  1. How durable do you find your Ritter? Is it fragile, will it survive normal field use?

    I’m currently using a Linhof Technika and I just don’t worry about it. But 8×10 is calling me and I’m looking for something not too challenging to carry.


    1. Bob, a good question. From the experience I have had with the camera thus far, my impression is it will hold up just fine. All of the work has been field and mounted on a an older Berlebach style tripod. I do not leave the darkcloth (Blackjacket) attached when I walk away when the wind is up, but other than that I don’t really fuss over the camera at all. The 375mm Caltar (Ilex shutter – think Commercial Ektar) does make push the front standard a bit, but I think that is more me than the camera. The base is carbon fiber tubing and I think it will most likely last longer than I will. The knobs all hold quite well – and they are double on the tubing and I will leave one lose and one tight when working in the field – it holds just great this way.

      The weight of the camera makes it joy to tote around attached to the tripod. It has ridden around the trunk for days with no ill effects, is quick to set up/take down once you get used to the way it works – like any other camera.

      As you said about your Linhof, I really don’t worry about the ritter – not near as much as I did the old Korona 8×10 I had. It required a lot more fussing over just to set up and make sure everything was square. Hope that helps.

  2. If you find yourself running out of coverage with the 300C, definitely look at the 300A. Only slightly larger, but much more coverage.

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