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Thread: The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

  1. #1
    500+ Posts Daryl's Avatar
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    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    This metal camera is made in ShenZhen, which is a ‘Special Economic Zone’ just north of Hong Kong. Their Hong Kong office is from where they are shipped. When I opened the box, there was just a hint of the aroma of fine machine oil. The front of the camera is covered in black genuine leather.

    Before loading the camera, the format is chosen by adjusting the position of two blinds, which evidently have a spring loaded ball bearing that falls into the chosen preset positions.
    I measured the openings as follows (+/- 1mm):
    6x12 56x117mm
    6x9 56x90mm
    6x6 56x59mm
    645 56x45mm

    The shutter is a simple ‘T’ function. By pushing the lever with the green dot all the way until it stops, one can see and hear the shutter lock open. By moving the lever with the red dot (on the opposite side) the shutter snaps shut. Green for go exposure. Red to stop exposure.

    The camera came with a wrench and 6 laser pinholes – 2 each of 0.2mm, 0.3mm and 0.4mm. Of the three holes, 0.2 is the optimum. It is a simple task to use the wrench to remove the retaining ring, install the hole and replace the retaining ring.
    Interchangeable holes! This is really nice feature to have as the company also has available a few other goodies such as designer holes, a slit, a double slit, crossed slits and more!

    I was going to leave the viewfinder in the box and just go out ‘old west style’ - ‘shooting from the hip’ as I am accustomed. Sometimes this cowboy approach is called the intuitive perception of the Great Eastern Masters.
    Aaaaauuuuummm.
    You know. As in:
    Zen – the sound of one hand clapping.
    Tao – bend and be strait, empty and be full.

    But then there was Vader – ‘I find your lack of faith disturbing’.
    So I put the viewfinder on just for show – or so I was convinced.

    I used a tripod with 5-degree azimuth markings to determine that the viewfinder is almost 90 degrees of coverage across the diameter of its semi-fisheye view of the world in front of the camera. Viewing through this finder is a very good indicator for the camera in the 6x6 mode as that format will give 96 degrees of coverage from top to bottom and left to right. After having the camera out for a few days, I can say now that the viewfinder is going to stay on!

    On one side of the viewfinder shoe, there is a little spirit level. This is so much easier to use that the levels on the tripod head – so of course it’s an improvement over tripods with no spirit levels at all! I would like to see another spirit level on the film supply side for taking vertical pinographs.

    On the other side of the viewfinder shoe is a magnetic compass. Now, even though I like this look, it has me scratching my head. It must be handy if you get lost, but maybe it is for rotating the camera a set number of degrees when one’s tripod has no azimuth scales.

    They are presently working on a way to install a filter. I’d like to see
    1) the shutter doubled in diameter,
    2) the filter threads added be large (67mm please) and please blacken the front of the shutter as not to have an internal reflection off the filter and,
    3) Retain the “green for go – red for stop” levers.
    I think that people would probably like to have standard cable release, and that’s fine with me if it is included. It would make the ¼, ½, and 1 second shots easier, but I personally lose cable releases on a monthly basis and find the present set up just fine.

    There may be a film flatness issue, but we aren’t shooting glass lenses here. It looks like the film has about a 1mm of play from being held flat by the film back.

    Reason I say this is as follows:
    The measured 56x45mm frame should yield a 56x45mm negative, but I’ve measured negative images 48mm along the direction of film travel. The edges of the negatives are bowed and they overlap each other a couple of millimeters. On 6x6 and up, the edge image bow is there but the negatives do not run into each other. This is foible I can live with! If that 1mm space that the film is allowed to occupy were narrowed further, the spot on the film before frame #1 - where the backing, film and tape come together - will probably not be able to pass because it would be too thick.

    All that having been said, I don’t see very much distortion in the photos from any film curl. Take a look at the shots that I have posted from this camera. You won’t find it in the ‘natural’ subject material and there is only a hint of it where there are straight lines on a very few of my shots. Nature abhors a straight line (in matter - not energy).

    The simple fix for this I believe would be that the company re-examine the film winding mechanism, not add a pressure plate. I did a close look at what was going on with the back removed. Tension from the supply spool holds the film is very flat while winding, but when the knob is released there is a slight backwards rotation before the reverse turning prohibition mechanism catches. A tighter clutch or finer ratchet should do.

    Overall, I think this metal camera is a beautiful piece of work and I am very pleased with my purchase. It has a rugged feel like an old screw mount Leica that can double as a self-defense weapon in those rougher neighborhoods. The versatility of a wide variety of interchangeable objectives and selective format makes the Eight Banners ‘Mb’ a definite winner!

    By the way, when my wife first saw it on the table she said that it was cute and different.
    Hey! They must be doing something right!

    Their website is www.8banners.com
    Their ebay user id is www-8banners-com

    Is mine for sale? Sure! I’ll take $275 for it so I can turn around and buy another one and a few bricks of film. 10% will go to f295.

    Of course you could buy one direct and save. With global express shipping it runs $180 and will arrive in about 3-5 days. They provide a tracking number upon shipment. I was able to track mine at usps.com and was surprised at the speedy delivery and personal communication from Mr. Chan.

  2. #2

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Good product review. Thanks.

  3. #3

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Wow, the pictures at their site are stunning. What's with a dispute with Zero Image? Is the world of pinhole large to support litigation? I guess that could be construed as a good thing.

  4. #4

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Quote Originally Posted by Daryl
    I was going to leave the viewfinder in the box and just go out ‘old west style’ - ‘shooting from the hip’
    Shooting from the hip is typical for the Lomo
    http://www.lomo.com/
    or -wrongly- because it is not a Lomo but a Clack "Lochlomo"
    http://kosara.net/photo/lochlomo.html
    but:
    Has somebody also tried to modify a Lomo into pinhole?

  5. #5

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Nice camera. Tks for the review

  6. #6
    500+ Posts Daryl's Avatar
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    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    UPDATE.

    I accidentally knocked the camera off the kitchen table. No dents, no scratches.

    When I opened up the back and looked carefully, I noticed the housing for the blinds had move down in one corner.

    So I wiggled it loose and pulled this entire blind housing about 1/3 of the way out and carefully put tiny drops of glue were the joints come together. Then I pushed the housing back into the camera frame and made sure that all joints were flush and let it dry.

    TMAX 400 has got to be amongst the most curly film fresh off the roll. It is more difficult than most other films for me to load onto the stainless steel reel. After it has been developed and dried it must be among the flatest curl free there is.

    Well after the glue was dry I shot a roll of this curly TMAX in 645 mode.

    THERE IS NO MORE BOWING OF THE IMAGE EDGE ON NEGATIVE! Even in 645 mode the negs do not bump into each other (except when there is an operator malfunction.

    I suspect the Post Office may have bounced it around a few times and had thrown out the original alignment from the factory and that is why I observed what I noted in the original post. Attached files

  7. #7
    500+ Posts Daryl's Avatar
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    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    UPDATE:

    I was out shooting and had to make a pit stop for lunch.
    I put my trusty 'Mb' in my coat pocket and went into a burger joint.

    Okay, this is going to be a long tale, so I'll cut it short and not tell incriminating tales about myself.

    Long story short:

    There was a loud BANG! like a .38 special went off!! It was my 'Mb' impacting on a ceramic floor from an altitude of over 4 feet.

    End of story:
    Ceramic tile nicked. Viewfinder nicked.

    DANG!! It's as tough as my Leica IIIc was going down a flight of stairs!
    Nice to have in those rougher neighborhoods!!

    I like 'em when they are built like a brick! Attached files

  8. #8

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Impressive. I won't talk about the day I had a Nikkor W 210 depart from the front of my Wista - not built like a brick, but I was really, really lucky.

    I just spent some time on the 8 banners site. They're making some really interesting stuff like that very cool new turret shutter. It's nice to hear that the gear is well made too.

  9. #9

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    Great review. I just had delivered to my (shaking with anticipation) hands the 8Banners Dragon 6x18. I can concur that it is well made. It is also a wonderfully beautiful camera. Hands down the prettiest camera I have ever owned. A co-worker said could see people buying it just to put on a display shelf.

    The only problem I have with the camera is the red window is not really red and there is no cover over it. I can only imagine that all the light in the world is going to get through that window. I have to figure out some way to cover the window but the camera is so nicely finished I can't just go sticking electrical tape on it. So I have ponder this dilemma for a little while.

    I guess I could complain about the compass as mine is in not working condition. But as you said Daryl... I'm scratching my head over that too. So I can't see an out of whack compass as an issue for me.

    Also, as it appears that I have purchased the last available Dragon I don't have any option but to hang onto it.

    Now... I must get ready to go use it. :-D

  10. #10

    The Eight Banners 'Mb' Camera

    8banners has truly excellent customer service too. Oliver at 8banners saw my comments on my last post and emailed me straight away to make sure that I was happy with the camera.

    I may have sounded negative in my last post but I would like to say that I love this camera. Totally and completely. It's beautiful, well designed and well built. I love wide and have tried to build a similar camera myself but could net get it right. For the price, compared to other manufactured pinhole cameras, 8banners sells fantastic cameras and excellent prices and backs them up with excellent customer service.

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