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Thread: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

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  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2008

    Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    I'm looking at new cameras, trying to decide what would be the best next move for me.

    I shoot land/city/urban/sky/sea scapes, plus some architecture and general building photography, interior and exterior.

    My current LF camera is a Cambo Wide, a neat and handy thing with no bellows that offers rise or fall or shift only, no tilts, no swings nothing more. It's very basic and a joy to use for the sorts of photography I do. I have the Schneider 58XL fitted in the helical mount which gives a very wide view, about that of a 19mm in 35mm equivalent. The whole package is nice and lightweight and compact and fits easily in a day bag for general low-weight low-bulk out-and-about LF photography, with a tripod (got mixed results handheld).

    However, I think it might be just that little bit too easy to use. I want to slow down with my photography, use the digi for snapping away and stop burning through packs of Quickloads like they're going out of fashion. I want to explore with tilts and scheimpflug for sweeping landscapes. I want not to be limited to one lens, although I doubt I need to venture into the long focal lengths. However, I dont want to bamboozle myself with too many movements that I wont use.

    I've searched high and low through this forum and the web, and I've selected the following cameras:

    Ebony RSW45
    Ebony SW45
    Walker Titan XL 45

    All 3 fit the bill in terms of light-weight, low-bulk, neat and tidy, wide-angle accepting, possibly available cameras. BUT the Ebony RSW45 and the Walker Titan XL 45 have fixed rigid rear standards. Great for stability, but for the sorts of photography I do, am I likely to miss the rear movements? Even the SW45 only has rear fall, no tilt. The RSW45 even does-away with front swing, and has just front rise, fall, and tilt. Is this enough or would I be limiting myself severely? I know I have practically no movements on the Cambo Wide, but I want to make sure before I commit myself.

    I'd be looking at ripping the 58XL out of the helical mount (anyone ever done this?!) and putting it on a board for use with the new camera, plus getting hold of a slightly less wide lens, such as the 72XL (about 24mm equiv) or a 90mm XL (about 30mm equiv) plus a normal lens like a 150 or so.

    So what do you think - would the lack of rear movements cause me too many issues???

  2. #2

    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    In a word ... no!

    I started out with an Ebony SW45 (limited rear movements - rise/fall), then an Ebony 45SU with all the movements under the sun! Now I use a Walker Titan XL 5x7 - couldn't be happier! Movements are limited to front rise, fall, swing and tilt - same as the 5x4 version.

  3. #3
    Resident Heretic Bruce Watson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    USA, North Carolina

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Whether or not you need rear tilt depends perhaps on whether you are interested in eliminating distortions like keystoning. A lot of (most?) people don't bother. If you want that, you're more likely to want the ability to plumb the film plane, which implies rear tilt. Even with a non-tilting rear standard you can still set up the camera such that the rear standard is plumb (a PITA with a ball head, but doable if you really want to), but you'll need plenty of front rise/fall to compensate. Depending on how long a lens you are using of course. If you are really shooting a lot with extreme wide angles like your 58mm lens it may be that you'll have enough front rise/fall capability to satisfy your shooting needs.

    Personally I really like having full movements on both front and rear standards. To me it means the difference between working the way I want to work vs. working the way the camera wants me to work. I don't want to spend time fighting my camera so I have rear tilt on mine.

    Clearly it's going to come down to personal preference, so in the end you'll have to decide what you think is important. None of us can make that decision for you.

    Bruce Watson

  4. #4
    reellis67's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Like Bruce stated, it depends on what you need out of a camera. Personally, I use rear tilt, shift, and swing often enough to miss it if I had to use a camera that did not have these movements, but that's due to what I photograph. If the camera has the movements, you always have the option of simply not using them if you don't need/want to, but if the camera does not have them you lose that option. Just my 2 cents...

    - Randy

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Having a tilt and swing makes a big difference in holding focus with normal to long lenses, you don't need it as much with wides.

    I wouldn't take the 58XL out of it's expensive mount. People pay so much to put them into that helicoil!

    FWIW, a Cambo Wide is a pretty awesome camera for wides and you might consider getting something cheap in addition to it rather than getting rid of it. I noticed that a friend has been trying to sell his Cambowide here and he can't get a decent price, so given the market, why not pick up a cheap Sinar F and have the best of both worlds?

    With regards to slowing down, I understand and I've taken steps like switching from Grafmatics to conventional holders, doing more tripod stuff, etc. But it is really a mindset, not the gear.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Rear shift is useful when you are stuck in an awkward place to shoot from or when the packs in tabletop are off to one side or when they need empty space on one side of a double page for headlines and copy. Usually, when you don't want the perspective viewpoint centered in the page gutter. These are commercial situations which dictate the use of LF rather than MF.
    When you are shooting for yourself, you will be happy to do without rear shift. I swapped monorails for Technicas when I grew up and then swapped the Technicas for field cameras when I grew older. Now I am out of the market, I use the SW45 (rigid rear) and Gandolfi (drop bed, front tilt & shift) and would swap Gandolfi any day for a rigid SW810.
    For an exaggerated single plane of focus I would suggest drop bed and front tilt but save up for something rigid when you grow out of it.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Nov 2005

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    I have an Ebony slw 810. It has a fixed back and only front rise,fall and tilt.
    Like the cameras you are considering mine is a special purpose wide angle camera. This camera is perfect for the type of work I do, it's simple to set up and with very few movements to fiddle with, it allows me to concentrate on the image I am trying to capture.

    I also have an Ebony 45su, it's a beautiful camera with asymmetrical rear movements but I almost always just plumbed the back anyway.

  8. #8

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    I used to have an Ebony SW45 with the movements you describe and enjoyed its rigidity, immediacy and simplicity of use so much that, having decided to move on to 8x10, I have ordered a customised 8x10 camera from Shen Hao with similar movements: a non-folding light-weight body with no rear movements and front rise/fall, tilt , swing and shift. My interests (and business) were similar to yours: architecture, urban landscape and environmental portraits.
    If money is not an issue I would go for the SW45 rather than the RSW, I found front shift and swing to be useful, and the weight of both cameras and bellows' length is essentially the same.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    San Joaquin Valley, California

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Of course I'd miss 'em! How elso could I take pictures around corners?
    I steal time at 1/125th of a second, so I don't consider my photography to be Fine Art as much as it is petty larceny.
    I'm not OCD. I'm CDO which is alphabetically correct.

  10. #10

    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Holland + Brazil

    Re: Rear movements - would you/do you miss them?

    Have a look at the Shen Hao HZX45-IIA with a bag-bellows (the are interchangable).
    It can handle your 58XL and weighs 2kg.

    You will have full movements front and aft, and by moving the back towards the front you will have no problems with the bed when using those wide's.

    My 2c

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