The Kodak Masterview
The particular camera I use had seen significant use when I acquired it, and has served me quite well for more than twenty five years. It signifies the pinnacle of field camera design.
The Kodak Masterview Camera was one of the finest 8 x 10 field cameras ever made. Kodak has over the years created some innovative designs in equipment. For the professional field photographer, the Masterview answers many problems that were inherent with the traditional wooden field camera. The camera is one of the smallest clamshell designs for 8 x 10, made completely out of a magnesium shell. Brass and aluminum, cork and bakelite fittings were the primary materials for the rest of the construction. This choice of materials made for a precision and durability not available in a wooden camera. The Masterview has all the movements of the Deardorff with the addition of a full front shift. Innovations in sliding dovetailed tracks and conventional rack and pinion make this camera one of the fastest cameras to operate. All this from a camera produced in the 40’s!!
Kodak gives little information on the history of the camera. According to Mr. Hoffman of Hoffman Metalmaster fame, Kodak lost interest in the camera and when their patent ran out they gave him permission to produce new versions of it with additional features that are bulky and frankly unnecessary. The original cameras, 5 x7 reducing backs and lens boards are available from specialty stores such as Lens & Repro in New York City and often turn up on eBay.
More to follow…