Large format cameras on "rails"

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Mahler_one, Mar 30, 2012.

  1. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    I have noted the truly amazing number of 4x5 and 8x10 cameras " on rails"-Sinar, etc.- on that auction site. The number of such cameras offered for sale are to me amazing, and far out number the "large format field cameras" that are available.

    Question: Can such cameras such as the Sinar P2 and others be "easily" used "in the field", or are such cameras relegated to use in a studio or other more "settled " locations? Given the ever decreasing prices of such cameras, should one consider such cameras for use in the field?

    Ed
     
  2. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    I have a Sinar f2 and they work great in the field. I'm not too sure about the Sinar P in the field. They're built like a Swiss watch. I'm not sure I'll well they will handle dust and dirt in the field well. The P is also a very heavy camera.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    I've met someone who uses a 5x7" P2 in the field, but I don't get the sense that he carries it far from the car. A Sinar P/2 is a heavy, bulky camera, and I can't imagine that carrying it around in a non-rigid backpack or subjecting it to dust in the field would be too good for the gearing and adjustment mechanisms.

    A Sinar F/1/2 is designed to be more transportable and can fold in basically three different ways for different methods of transporting the camera.
     
  4. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    There's also the Sinar C, which is a compromise of an F front standard and P rear standard, so you can get the asymmetric movements of the P with a little less weight.
     
  5. ColdEye

    ColdEye Member

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    I use a omega 45d, I have not had it for long, but I use it in field regularly. Its quite bulky to store in a bag beacause of the rail, but its not that heavy. :smile: I take the bus and walk wherever I go so if you have a car it will be easy I guess.
     
  6. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I've been packing my Calumet cc-401 in the field for quite some time.
     
  7. markbarendt

    markbarendt Subscriber

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    I have used my CC-400 series in the field too, albeit not to far from the car, mostly inside a 1-mile. I just bought a Toyo 45A (that should arrive next week, yea). I don't know if my range from the car will change much but the new camera will fit in the wife's Miata, the old one won't.

    Mono-rail cameras do have certain advantages with regard to movements, setup, and rigidity. even their cases are handy. In my Eurovan the CC-400 case provides a nice catch all for all the "necessary" bits we all seem to drag around; filters, film holders, dark bag, ...

    Typically as I get out of the car the camera gets locked onto the tripod head ready to use and carried from there as a unit so weight isn't really a difference. In this mode physical size isn't much different either.
     
  8. Rick A

    Rick A Subscriber

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    I haul my LF gear on a golf cart(non rider), it's fairly light and stable even pulling through the woods. I pack my camera and tripod in the modified golf bag and spare lenses, meters, and other necessities in a small backpack. This is especially handy for pulling around town to shoot architectural photos.
     
  9. Bob Carnie

    Bob Carnie Subscriber

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    I thought using a rail camera was going to be a PIA outdoors,,, I tried a cambo 4x5 and have to admit its easy to use and do not see the need for a field camera.
     
  10. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Thanks so very much for all of the informative information and personal recollections!
     
  11. artonpaper

    artonpaper Subscriber

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    I used an old 4 x 5 Calumet monorail in the field for may years. I think the main draw back is that most of them don't collapse. My Toko, which is a Japanese knock off of a Wista, is great in the field. Light weight and compact, full movements, pretty good bellows draw, not bad with wide angle lenses either.
     
  12. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think the Sinar P is made to be a studio camera for a high volume shooting where the photographer needs to set movements quickly and accurately. The Sinar P is very precise and beautiful camera. The Sinar F is just as precise, but you have to take extra steps to transfer the calculations. I love my Sinar F because I did a lot of tabletop work which requires accurate swing, tilt and DOF calculations. I'm having GAS over a Sinar P ;-)
     
  13. CPorter

    CPorter Member

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    My 4x5 Horseman that you see in my Avatar picture works quite nicely in the field. But don't ever believe that rails in the field are not without some inconveniences that you will have to accept. I used this article to help me decide, even though it is specifically about how to use a monorail Horseman in the field, I believe it can be used to help in the decision process for most monorails. I don't know the weight of the Sinars, but I believe the L-frame of the Horseman contributes to a bit more weight, but it is not anything that I let bother me, it's the camera I use and that's that.
     
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  15. mjs

    mjs Member

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    Some cameras are better in the field than others; a photographer I know who has a Arca Swiss (I don't know what model,) loves it because it breaks down easily and quickly into a small and reasonably lightweight package and re-assembles into a precise camera in a couple of minutes. I used a Calumet CC-400 for a couple of years and after cutting the rail down to about 20" or so, it was fine. I currently use a Burke & James Grover 8x10 monorail and it's a pain in the posterior but it was dirt cheap and has more movements than I'll ever manage to use. For carrying out and about I much prefer my 4x5 Zone VI folding field camera, but the CC-400 monorail worked just fine for me (I was doing more urban sorts of things at the time, so it was more streets and river banks, not remote woods and fields.)

    Mike
     
  16. adam satushek

    adam satushek Member

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    I use a Sinar F1 4x5 and F2 8x10 in the field and think they are great. Granted the subject matter I shoot doesn't usually require me to trek too far from the car. I think the key to packing Sinars in the field is the 6 inch extension rail, I have one for each camera. They allow you to slide everything ( front and rear standards plus mounting cushion) onto a short rail so you don't have to disassemble anything. The boxy ThinkTank backpacks also seem to be a good match for them, thats what mine travel in.

    I have lusted after Sinar P's before...and while they would be really nice, and people do use them in the field successfully, they really are intended to be on huge camera stands in the studio. That said, i do continue to look at them....

    Adam
     
  17. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    An F has a tilt-swing calculator, as you know, but a P has asymmetric movements with the tilt and swing axes aligned with the dotted lines on the groundglass, so you can actually visualize the movement of the focal plane by means of tilt and swing on the rear standard immediately on the groundglass, and then using the scales, you can transfer those movements to the front standard and reset the rear standard to zero for other uses, like distortion correction. If you put an F standard on the front to make a "C" you can still do that.
     
  18. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    There seems to be more Sinar cameras on eBay recently. Is that because commercial photographers don't shoot LF as much these days? They're selling for a fraction for what they did a decade ago.
     
  19. M.A.Longmore

    M.A.Longmore Subscriber

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    .
    I was severely restricted when using my Omega 45F outdoors.
    Then I picked up a used jogging stroller at a Garage Sale ! I've been able
    to travel much further, and worked really well when I took it
    to Coney Island last year for an APUG MeetUp !


    Ron
    .
     

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  20. chriscrawfordphoto

    chriscrawfordphoto Subscriber

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    Yep. Those Sinars were basically used only by commercial photographers because they were too expensive for artists and too bulky/heavy to carry outside very far anyway. Commercial guys went all digital a while ago; the high end guys are using medium format digital, and some use cameras that are like monorail large format system buts made for the little medium format digi backs. VERY expensive stuff!

    I always lusted after a Sinar P, but couldn't afford it. Now, I couldn't carry it. I do little studio work, and my legs are in bad condition so I can't carry heavy stuff. My Hasselblad is as heavy as I'm willing to go!
     
  21. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Thanks Chris. I thought the same thing. Back in the early 90's when I assisted in commercial studios, LF Polaroids and LF chrome film flowed like water. I stopped shooting commercially years ago, but my Sinar F still serves me well for occasional personal work. I can't shoot LF chromes anymore because there's no labs that process in the Sacramento area anymore :sad:
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Sinars are a fantastic bargain these days for anyone interested in a monorail, and there are lots of accessories.
     
  23. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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    Yes indeed. I paid full price for my 4x5 f2 25 years ago. Still a bargain because it's a great tool. Saved me a ton of work and frustration. A joy to use. I went to a seminar with Carl Koch too.
     
  24. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Agreed.....my point in wondering about the use of such cameras in the field.

    Ed
     
  25. Mahler_one

    Mahler_one Member

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    Thanks David...for those of us with zero experience with such cameras, might you and the others that use the Sinar P tell me what to look for in order to be certain that I am not thinking of purchasing a less than "perfect" camera?
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member

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    Assume the camera will be less than perfect. Parts are still easily obtained from Sinar. If it's perfect, consider it good luck.

    Old Sinars tend to have dry spirit levels. Such great quality overall, but this part they never seem to have gotten right, considering I've seen much older cameras with spirit levels that have remained sealed. Figure you'll just have to replace the dry ones. The levels are adjustable, so you'll want an accurate level to be sure the cameras levels are level.

    The gearing is usually nylon, but there is an option of brass gearing on the rise/fall movement, and if you see one with brass gear tracks, that would be a plus. Nylon would be the norm. If you notice missing teeth or excessive play in any of the geared movements, that will lower the value a bit, but recognize that you can replace the gear tracks fairly easily. There is also a rubber ring in the standard bearer (I'm doing this from memory and don't have the camera right in front of me at the moment) that needs to be replaced periodically. If it's worn, the standard will be wobbly. If the ring is black, it is of more recent vintage.

    Bear in mind the Sinar P you find for $800-1500 is from Sinar's perspective something like a $6000 camera, so the replacement parts aren't cheap, but it's a joy to use.

    Also remember the P is the studio camera, the F is the field camera.