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Friday, 02 November 2012


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As a part of the Orbit line, B&J also made a precursor to the hand-holdable Cambo Wide called the Orbitar. It looks like an old metal filing cabinet with a helical lens posing as a drawer handle on the front. The camera label on the face only adds to the corporate feel, as it is made from the same engraved plastic as those old name plates individuals would have facing guests to their corner offices.

Apparently a few photogs from NatGeo were issued them, and essentially that was the extent of this camera's ownership. You can currently find one on fee-bay which is missing the compact hard case that it was originally sold with.


Not as pretty as the Orbit you found, but imbued with much of the same design aesthetic and features an identical rotating back which can accept standard double-sided film holders, Grafmatics and Calumet C2 roll film backs. Unfortunately, it doesn't have the clearance to wield a Polaroid 405 back, but I have seen some Orbits cleanly modified to use Graflok-type backs.

So what did you trade the Single Use Device for?

What a great bit of nostalgia - I owned a US-made one very similar to this in the early 1980s (Graflex?) with a triangular cross-section rail. And I built an almost identical box out of ply so that I could take it back-packing - it just fitted into a large-bag, mountain mule backpack (a common NZ brand at that time) and I could carry half a dozen cut film holders and a roll film back in one end, and several lenses in slots for their boards at the other. All up weight was about 12 kg, but I was young then - now I carry an OM-D + 2 lens kit, taking pride in the fact that it only weighs 1.4 kg. And I'm probably just as happy with the quality I get!

That's a sweet old camera. I used a similar one from Graflex like that once upon a time. Heavy and awkward, it's glorious if you're in a studio doing magazine or book illustrations, especially if you need to play with movements to keep more of it in focus than sometimes seems physically possible :D Looks like it's got the short rail though so only about 12" of extension so no really long focus lenses.

But a field camera it's not. Not really even a back of the SUV kind. Perhaps, on the roof of an SUV like St. Ansel did once upon a time... :lol:

I note the use of a Nikon D800, and the recently introduced 28mm f/1.8 lens. You haven't... have you?

Back in my younger days I owned and used 2 or 3 of these with a Calumet nameplate. When I was getting started in photography the basic Calumet sold new for $99.

They were also sold as the Kodak Master View -- I think Kodak did the original design, but not sure. I may still have one with a Kodak nameplate back in the depths of the storeroom.

Looking forward to your review of the ___. I'm tempted myself though I will probably get the cheaper ____.

Doesn't functional simplicity have a special beauty all its own? So much capability powered into a practical instrument. As a view camera user I love the connection with the natural elements that such an uncluttered device affords.


I am sure that is the model I once had. It would never lock completely, and always had a lot of play, It was heavy and awkward. It was the last 4x5 I owned, and I regret having sold it....

Very nice photos, excellent detail and color under store lighting conditions at Mike Crivello's Cameras.

What camera, lens?

Wow! A camera shop! I haven't seen a camera shop in 20 years.

I miss them.

Now I'm sad.

Funny thing about that camera is that you could take as good a picture with it as with any camera in the world. You'd need a lens of course...

Ahh Burke & James have an 8x10 flat bed looking for a new home. Suffered a spinal cord injury and make do with a NEX. Hiked the Canyonlands with that behemoth. Fun. Still trying to figure a way to use my graflex 4x5.

Not much in the way of elegance but fun.

I have one exactly like it, except with grey rather than spiffy red bellows, and mine is a Calumet. Somebody gave it to me with a lens. I immediately went out and bought film holders and several boxes of film. That was several years ago and I haven't used it yet. Maybe your post is a sign...

Exif data slathered all over the photos in this post, suggest a D800, but isn't the 28 a little short for you? I'm sure there is a nice 35 F2 available, that is much more in line with your view of the world.

Used many of these, in both this "mufti" and the Calumet version...rock solid, dead sharp, no problems...except for the fact that they just didn't "knock-down" small enough. Used plenty of these on location and it was an "event" to haul this out with it's big case. Started using a Cambo back in the early 70's 'cause you could take the bellows off and fold the whole thing flat.

BTW, that looks like the one with the 15-16 inch rod, they made one with a much longer rod, and one with a very short rod for architectural photographers; which was another one of it's short-comings, the rods didn't come off or knock down. Drag. The rod was always hitting you in the chest or you were trying to avoid it; that was one of the pluses of "self-casing" cameras like the Deardorff, No rod. Managing a few large studios in my day, and the women photog's would always gravitate to the Deardorff style because it was even a bigger problem with the rod hitting them.

"A backpacking camera this is not. A work-out-of-the-back-of-the-SUV camera, yes."

Edward Weston once said anything more than 100 yards from the car was not photogenic.

This Orbit is really pretty. I think Gato is right. I believe this was originally designed and sold by Kodak and later by Orbit and Calumet.
The Calumet came in three versions. A close up version with a longer rail and bellows, the standard and a wide angle that had a short rail and a bag bellows for use with lenses 90mm or less.
IMHO the Orbit you have here would look really nice with a clean Commercial Ektar on it. That would make some pretty crisp pictures too.

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