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  1. #1

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    Swing system...? (LF and MF)

    Hi everybody -

    I have been using a Mamiya 7 and a Hasselblad for a while now, and generally speaking I use my Mamiya almost exclusively for vistas and scenes where I like a lot of detail/DOF (basically with the 43mm lens). I have been thinking I would be better served by selling this system and getting a "swing" system - one where I have the ability to use different backs/masks to shoot 6x7, 6x9, 6x12, up to 4"x5". I know Horseman has something like this, but admittedly this sort of thing is a little beyond my knowledge of photographic gear. Am I talking about a "technical" camera? It'd be cool to someday use a digital back with this setup too, but not for a long time.

    Am I nuts, or does something like this exist?

  2. #2
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Basically any 4x5" system works like this. You can get backs that shoot different formats or use film holders for sheet film. There are specific issues about which kinds of rollfilm backs will work with specific cameras, but for the most part, LF systems have a lot of interchangeable parts. For the most flexibility in terms of film format options, look for a camera with a Graflok/International type back. There is no proprietary connection between the lens, camera, and filmholder or back.

    To orient yourself with 4x5" you might look at the articles at the front page of lfphoto.info to see what the options are.
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  3. #3

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    What a dizzying array of information!

    How are all these "older" cameras different than something that Cambo offers?

  4. #4

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    Get a lightweight 4x5 like a Chamonix 45N-2 or whatever model Shen Hao it competes with and a 6x12cm RFH and crop narrower if you like. Keep it simple.

    I bought a Chamonix 45N-1 (model 2 wasn't announced at the time) and upgraded to a Maxwell focusing screen. Then I bought a Horseman 6x12 RFH. These aren't terribly pricey but quality is top-notch.

  5. #5

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    I started researching and liked the Cambo system (not a huge fan of bellows focusing and would like to be able to use this in the field), but the breathtaking cost of the lenses is a little bit of a turnoff. Naturally as it turns out, it seems like there are Chinese companies who produce the same type of system, but with helical mounts that allow legacy large format lenses to be used.

    Does anybody know anything (or have used) any of these types of cameras? Fotoman (of China) seems to have an interesting system (Dmax), but they also seem to have a dizzying array of other cameras and it's tough to figure out which would be best.

    Anybody have any input?

  6. #6
    David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Why don't you like bellows focusing?
    flickr--http://www.flickr.com/photos/davidagoldfarb/
    Photography (not as up to date as the flickr site)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com/photo
    Academic (Slavic and Comparative Literature)--http://www.davidagoldfarb.com

  7. #7
    chuck94022's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by corposant View Post
    I started researching and liked the Cambo system (not a huge fan of bellows focusing and would like to be able to use this in the field), but the breathtaking cost of the lenses is a little bit of a turnoff. Naturally as it turns out, it seems like there are Chinese companies who produce the same type of system, but with helical mounts that allow legacy large format lenses to be used.

    Does anybody know anything (or have used) any of these types of cameras? Fotoman (of China) seems to have an interesting system (Dmax), but they also seem to have a dizzying array of other cameras and it's tough to figure out which would be best.

    Anybody have any input?
    Old-n-Feeble has given you advice that I endorse. To fully understand the power of camera movements, you can start with exceptional and cheap cameras that will give you outstanding results on a variety of formats. There is so much to learn about creating images once you have freed yourself from the constraints of parallel film and lens planes. And I have the same question as David - what in the world could you possibly have against "bellows focusing"? Having a bellows is fundamental to full control of focus, perspective, and distortion, by enabling movement: swing, tilt, shift, rise and fall.

    Field cameras, or if you only work in the studio, monorails like the Sinar, can take a variety of lenses, or even operate with no lens (pinhole cameras). you can shoot film, add digital backs, shoot paper negatives - in short, there is a lifetime of learning in these cameras.

    You don't have to spend the big bucks to have more camera than you could imagine.

    Cambo stuff looks cool, but you first have to ask yourself - what exactly are you trying to accomplish that requires that sort of investment?

  8. #8

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    Thanks for all the responses - to clarify:

    - I am not looking for a studio cam.
    - I am looking for the smallest solution possible.
    - I am not totally sold on shooting 4"x5" as my main format with this camera, more 6x12 and 6x9 to start, and then occasionally shoot sheets.
    - Something that could someday support a digital back would be great.
    - I am not opposed to bellows focusing, but I am mainly looking into landscape and occasionally interiors where I may not need all the movements that a bellows camera has available. I don't really think I would need a monorail system would be necessary for this, but maybe I am wrong! I am just learning about this side of photography and have been just reading lfphoto.info etc...

  9. #9

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  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Old-N-Feeble View Post
    Great stuff! Thanks, Old-n-Feeble - I am sure you can't be all that feeble if you're well-versed in lugging a setup like that around!

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