Ebony asymmetric tilts
Mental giant that I am, I'm having some trouble getting by brain around rear asymmetric tilts. I understand the principle well enough, but: Is the rear tilt axis static, or unadjustable? The asymmetric swing on the ebony appears to be variable when used in conjuction with shift, so I was wondering if the same held true with the tilts when used with rise/fall. The grid on the ground glass seems to indicate that it is static, or at least that there is perhaps a detent or mark on the movements that will align the axis with the grid on the ground glass. If so, I wonder how this axis was arrived at, by scheimpflug math or some 'averaged' compositional standard...I also wonder if it would be a good thing to have an adjustable asymmetric axis, or if that would be too damn much of a good thing...Any thoughts on the matter appreciated.
I don't know if you have read this or not, but it is a quickie explanation:
I do not have an Ebony. I use a Linhof Technikardan 45S. But, from what I understand and my communications with Ebony in Japan, they suggested that for landscape work the asymmetrical rear tilts though useful is not necessarily that much more advantageous. For work like architecture and studio work it is more valuable. It is about $1000 or more? added to the cost of an Ebony camera for this feature. It also adds to the complexity and weight of the camera as well. Just something to consider.
Hi Colin, I have used an SU45 for 3 1/2 years. The Asymmetric movements, especially the tilt, are fantastic.
The Dotted lines on the GG are fixed. Of course you can use the tilt with rise/fall and it is very straightforward.
However, the dotted lines do not always line up with your intended composition, but there are work arounds. I tend to use a tempoary rise/fall to get key elements on the axes, focus on distant (bottom) dotted line, apply tilt so that it comes into focus on the near (top) dotted line, lock off the tilt knobs, then recompose by adjusting the rise/fall properly. A small focus correction then brings it all back in again. This is since the position of the rise/fall effectively alters the lens pane to film plane distance. Thus I fully expect that swing can be used with shift in a similar manner.
I was advised to spend the extra money on the asymmetric movements and that I wouldn't regret it. That has been the case, despite the fact the price differential is significant.
Quite why the dotted lines are where they are, is unknown to me. I just crack on and make images. Asymmetric movements have enabled me to get lots of shots, that I would have missed if I had only axis or base tilts and to a far lesser extent swings too.
Since the movements are achieved by machined metal grooves, it is impractical (and IMO unnecessary) to try to make them adjustable.
I am glad to know that you find the rear asymmetrical tilt so valuable. You as a user have much more experience and information than I could have gathered from my e-mails with Ebony. I would certainly put more stock in this than my opinion.
The following is what I gathered in my e-mail from Ebony: I had contacted Ebony about using the camera for primarily landscape work with lenses up to my Nikon 500mm/720mm. Ian Wilson (Ebony Int. Sales Coordinator) suggested that the SV45Ti was his suggestion for my needs. Ian also confirmed that the asymmetrical tilt is more useful for architecture and studio work. The SV45U2 in the standard Ebony has a price of $3895 (last year). This is a quote from Ian regarding the asymetrical tilts: "I wonder whether for your purposes they would be worth the additional weight and expense?" In regards to my query about making the camera out of Mahogany to save some weight, Ian indicated that this would be a special order and priced accordingly. The Ebony wood is substantially heavier than the Mahogany.
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I think Ian was doing an honest job and ought to be commended for trying to save you money - not many Sales people who would do that!
My downfall was that I borrowed and used an SU45 and had seen just how simple and clever the Asymmetrical movements were! I was giggling at how simple and quick it was - far more easy than finding the extra money of course.......!
Yes Ebony will make custom cameras - Joe Cornish has a custom SU45 in mahogany and I think that the rear swing has been omitted; again to save weight. I look on this differently and feel that the extra effort expended in carrying the cheaper, heavier camera is making me fitter and therefore I lose even more pounds!
I am aware of several photographers here in the UK who have bought the Ebony 45S or Linhof before deciding before too long that they really do need to have the Asymmetric movements at their disposal. Thus being bold in the initial purchase will save money in depreciation before trading in. If you do not like the Asymmetric movements, then I cannot believe that you will have any difficulty whatsoever in selling the camera very close to the purchase price.
Last edited by Baxter Bradford; 08-29-2006 at 03:34 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I'll second the comments that Baxter has made. The SU is an awesome camera and the assymetrical tilts makes light and very quick work of achieving plane of focus. I suppose that on paper assymetric tilts are most useful in a studio/architectural setting - I'm sure SINAR pioneered this type of tilt for its studio monorails. However, I use them comfortably and quite naturally on the SU - I was concerned prior to getting the SU as the previous Ebony I used had tilts on the front standard and I had been "brought up" on using them.
Ebony customer service (Ian) will always give an honest opinion - even if it saves you/loses them money! But I also think that if you don't get an Ebony with assymetric tilts you will always think "what if..." The extra cash outlay and increase (not noticeable in my opinion) of the assymetric cameras is well worth it.
Make sure you check Baxter's web site - he has some quite beautiful shots taken in the UK and I'm sure that having a non-folding camera with assymetric tilts goes some way to cutting down on set-up time and helps take pressure off missing the magical light he manages to capture on film!
Good luck Paul
Interesting, but I still wonder how the axis was arrived at. Must be something like trial and error maybe. I'm asking because I am working on a custom camera for myself and had been curious if a variable asymmetrical tilt would be worth the bother. Thanks
My main camera is a Sinar P, which has assymetric tilts and swings. The problem with variable axes is, how do you know what the axis really is? With a fixed system, you can have a dotted line on the ground glass. That said, don't the Toyo Robos have variable axes? If so, maybe someone with first hand knowledge will chime in on how well this works. I love the assymmetric movements.
Originally Posted by Colin Graham
Just a couple of comments here, joining the discussion late. I use an Ebony SV45U and RW45 in the 4x5 format, and a SV810 with 5x7 and 4x5 reducing backs.
Asymmetric movements add almost no weight. The difference is the thicker swing plates to accomodate the dovetails that the asymmetric models utilize. Since the plates are titanium, were talking an ounce, maybe less.
Asymmetric movements don't cost $1,000+ on the 4x5 models. The difference at Badger Graphic between a SV45U and a SV45TE is $500.
Asymmetric movements make set up time faster if you include composition in the set up time, which you should - and you're using back movements (since the Ebony models don't have asymmetric front movements). It isn't just how fast you can get the camera and lens on the tripod, it's how fast you can take a fully composed photograph if that means anything to you (I've never understood the fascination with speed of getting your camera on the tripod in 15 seconds). It doesn't to me unless at sunrise or sunset when seconds can matter. Asymmetric movements are useful in landscape photography. How useful is a matter of opinion; they are faster, but you can "iterate" a conventional back to achieve the same result.
Asymmetric rear swings bind on large cameras. I returned a SV810UE because of binding. Titanium is a lousy bearing material, and the weight of 5x7 and larger ebony wood rear standards makes for a very unpleasant experience. That's how I ended up with a very nice used SV810, conventional swings in mahogany. I had the UE back at the factory, and this isn't a problem lubrication will help. You can notice it on the 4x5 models but the rear standard is light enough it doesn't matter.
So my advice based on the above is:
If you're a "back movement" person, get the asymmetric 4x5 model, you will never regret it. they'll build you a mahogany version if you want; eventually I'll have them build one for me.
On large models, go with symmetric movements and mahogany.