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Wisner (Wisner Classic Manufacturing Co.) was a camera maker in Marion, Massachusetts, USA. The company was started by Ron Wisner in the mid-1980s, while in his twenties, and originally built pipe organs, before turning to make high-end large format cameras.

In the late 1980s, Fred Picker of Zone VI and Wisner collaborated to design the Classic, a wooden field camera for Zone VI[1] (before this, Zone VI cameras were made by Wista).

Wisner closed his company in about 2007. Posts by users at large-format photography fora in the company's later years suggest dissatisfaction with customer service and long lead times for supply,[2] but the company was closed in good order, without debts.[3]


Wisner offered three ranges:

  • Technical Field cameras offering, in addition to normal movements, a unique feature not found on any other folding field camera; a geared, on-axis tilt movement for the rear standard, with a non linear gear rack. This allows the camera to maintain focus position even when tilting the rear standard.[4] The rear standard also allows rear rise for composition adjustment, without affecting focus, even with tilt. The Technical Field was made in 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14 and 20x24-inch sizes.
  • Traditional - cameras with normal camera movements but without the above unique features. Made in 4x5-inch ('Traditional S'), 5x7 and 8x10-inch ('Traditional L') sizes.
  • Expedition - cameras made lighter with thinner wooden parts and cherry wood, made in 4x5 and 8x10-inch sizes. There is a Pocket Expedition camera in at least 4x5-inch size, which has geared on-axis tilt on both the front and rear standards. This was offered with metal fittings anodised black, silver or brass.[5]

Panoramic cameras were offered in 4x10, 6x10, 7x17, 8x20 and 12x2-inch sizes, in either the Technical or Traditional style.

Wisner cameras have very long bellows draw: the Traditional and Expedition cameras are triple-extension, and the Technical Field cameras even longer. This allows for long focal lengths to be used, or macro work with a standard lens, thus eliminating some of the drawbacks field cameras have when compared to monorail or studio large format cameras, though at the cost of extra weight. The 8x10 Wisner features 4 extension beds with a bellows draw of more than 800mm. Wide-angle bellows were also available. Wisner camera bellows were made from kid leather (thin, supple calf leather), usually dyed a light red or purple, and lined with black silk inside.


The majority of Wisner cameras are made from mahogany, and some (the Expedition models, in which the thickness of some of wooden parts is reduced to save weight[5]) from American black cherry wood. Fittings are brass in the Technical Field cameras, and in the smallest (4x inch) of the Traditional cameras. Other cameras have fittings made from brass-anodised aluminum to save weight.[5] The metal parts are lacquered with traditional shellac.

Lens boards

The 4X5 Wisner cameras take standard 4"X4" wooden (or metal) lens boards. The 5X7 takes an unusual 5.2" lens board. Most 8X10 cameras take standard Sinar/Horsman (138mm) boards, though earlier cameras take slightly larger standard 6"X6" boards.


  1. 'How to Build a Camera', Fred Picker (Zone VI promotional material) reproduced at Camera Eccentric
  2. For example, this post at photo.net.
  3. Personal communication from Ron Wisner.
  4. See US Patent 4814803, Mid-line tilt mechanism for view camera, filed August 1987 and granted March 1989 to Ron Wisner, at Espacenet, the patent search facility of the European Patent Office.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Wisner catalogue reproduced at LargeFormatPhotography.info