View Full Version : SINAR Norma System C.Koc VS Toyo VX VS Arca Swiss F

10-Sep-2013, 19:55
I found a SINAR Norma C at good price...but before to buy it I would like hear from some experts if that old camera can compete whit the other more expensive and recent models, I don't want just one day regret to haven't buy the right model for my needs.
Protrait, still life, some macro, I want take arround with me the camera, I like the solid models with alla the movements that the large format can do.

Any suggest is welcome.


Daniel Stone
10-Sep-2013, 22:07
Sinar Norma
Thes are heavy beasts, but SOLID and STRONG :). Need I say more ;)? Well, accessories are plentiful, and you don't have to spend much $$$ to get into a nice, user-grade system that should last you a VERY long time. Has base tilts, fyi, NOT center(axis) tilts.

Toyo VX
This is a nice, more portrable "travel" type monorail, which uses the G-series rails and other accessories if you so wish. They look to be quite well built, I've never used one so I can't attest to their "in the hand" feel.
The G-series monorails are very sturdy, and are quite commonplace, especially here in the USA. They have axis(center) tilts as well. Many studios used these as their main cameras.

Arca Swiss F
Now there's a well-designed machine! IMO, it would be the "perfect" camera for pretty much anything, IF it had <center(axis)> tilts, rather than base tilts. Now, this is MY opinion. I just can't wrap my head around base tilts. Others can work fine with them. They drove me nutty. I owned(now sold) an Arca F-line 8x10. Super smooth, silky focusing. A DREAM to use. However, those base tilts drove me crazy, and I use tilt quite often.... So ya.... But if you can use base tilts, then I'd go with this. It isn't exactly a "light" system $$$-wise, but it'll last you a long time and with some patience, you can build a very nice system watching out for used components.

To be honest, I'd actually go with one you haven't suggested:
A Cambo SCX/SCXII monorail. Accessories are very plentiful worldwide, these cameras come up quite often on the used market, and the best thing? Cambo stuff is CHEAP $$$-wise. Geared rise & shift movements(not swing or tilt, those are manual), this comes in handy when composing for macro/close-up situations. I owned a SCX for a while, great camera!!!


11-Sep-2013, 02:24
Thank you Dan.
I did some research and maybe even the Sinar F1 may be the right camera...maybe...or not?

Rod Klukas
11-Sep-2013, 07:34
Thank you Dan.
I did some research and maybe even the Sinar F1 may be the right camera...maybe...or not?
While I am biased, I would like to comment. The F line Arca-Swiss is a very versatile camera. It can be collapsed onto one of the 15cm rails and put in a case or backpack easily. You then only mount the connecting bracket and slide camera into it and you then mount lens and focus. The fresnel/GG screen is among the best, IMHO, I have seen.
As for tilt, most people, who have problems with base tilt, learned on an axis tilt camera, and when trying a base tilt camera, try to use the same operating sequence. This will make you frustrated. The rule of thumb is:
AXIS Tilt: Focus near/Tilt far BASE Tilt: Focus far/Tilt near

If you use the same method for base as you used for axis, you will have it going way out of focus and take much longer to achieve focus than you ever had with with axis, so i see a users frustration. But if operated properly, either can work fine.
With a wide angle lens, though, the base method allows more tilt if needed as their is less conflict with bellows and standard.
Arca-Swiss has had a much more accurate tilt mechanism for many years now anyway. Orbix tilt, and MicroOrbix tilt(geared) allow axial movement. But the precision of the movement, is enhanced by the fact that the tilt axis is on or very near the nodal point of the lens. This means that you focus far. Next move the orbix mechanism to focus the near, and you may be done with tilt adjustment. If front rise has been used, one or 2 tweaks may be required, but it is certainly much quicker, and much more precise than most portable cameras available.
Also, many axis tilt cameras, when swung after tilting, move the lens through an arc. This moves the lens left or right and requires shifting to recenter and the rechecking focus. By tilting on the nodal point you remain centered on the rail. Again a more efficient solution.
In addition on the rail, you will find a mm scale. This can be used to quickly calculate the minimum aperture required for the DOF in your scene or subject.
I hope this helps you make a decision. I teach LF at a college as well as my day job, and have helped many people with their questions in the past.

11-Sep-2013, 08:06
Toyo makes excellent cameras, the G series is very sturdy and strong, and the VX seems to be a stab at the Linhof TK's portability and versatility.
I haven't used a VX, but I would bet that Toyo made a great camera in the VX.
Accessories are plentiful and cheap, compared to the other systems you asked about.

In the end it comes down to which camera you feel best working with; I went through almost 20 different 4x5 cameras before settling on the Linhof TK45.
If I had cash to spare, I would certainly give the Toyo a whirl, because in addition to function, it seems to place a good emphasis on portability and ease of set-up.

11-Sep-2013, 10:49
I have the Sinar F and Toyo VX. I think the VX is a bit better for backpacking. It's a little lighter and more compact and has geared rise. If I could have purchased an Arca for what I paid for the VX (1000 less) I would have gone with the Arca. The Arca is only 25mm longer than the VX. If price is an issue you can't beat a used Sinar F. It did everything I needed. The VX was a splurge for me. I doubt you'd regret a Sinar F.

11-Sep-2013, 14:46
I could buy a SInar F for about 300 euro, while all the other like linhof, Toyo and Arca are very expensive over the 1000 dollars, I just don't understand all this different on the price if a Sinar can give to you the same as the other.
When you take in your hands a Leica you feel the difference, when you see what the Hasselblad lens can do you remind why you spent all that money...when a Bronica is cheper.
So why all that difference in price if the building and performance are quite the same?

11-Sep-2013, 17:52
Sinar wasn't always cheap. I think they were close to the same price as the Arca. Many professional people used them, So more supply and less demand drives the USED price down. My VX was practically new and it was less than half the price of a new one on eBay and less than 1/3 current retail. There is more plastic on a Sinar but they have held up for years and years.

12-Sep-2013, 08:04
Judging by one example of Toyo AX (field, not monorail) I've used for a short while, the build quality of Toyo is outstanding. VX may be the right thing for you. Don't know about the availability and affordability of spare bits & bobs, Sinar is great in that department. Toyo film holders are the best holders out there, but rarely come cheap.

There is more plastic on a Sinar but they have held up for years and years.

There is very little plastic on a Sinar Norma, and I'd say it's built slightly better than Sinar F. Base tilt and non-geared rise probably stabilize the price of Norma on the used market. Both of these cameras can be found for quite cheap here in Europe.

12-Sep-2013, 17:09
Having used many different 4x5's view camera's over many years, I must say that the Horseman 4X5 was my all time favorite and it is a wonderful picture creating "machine". ALWAYS a pure joy to use with your hands and in my eyes a great looking 4x5. I sure can not say that about the Sinar F!...but I digress. Sadly, I am thinking of parting with my gorgeous Horseman LE to help fund a new project that I am starting very soon. So personally, If I were out looking and money was no object than there is no better 4x5 than a Linhof in my opinion. Can't step up to a Linhof?......Look no further than a Horseman at a fraction of the cost. Yes....An unashamed plug for a fabulous camera!

Ivan J. Eberle
14-Sep-2013, 14:07
Sinar Norma and especially F or f2 equipment not only is cheap (due to it having been the defacto studio standard before pros largely dumped 4x5 en masse for DSLRs) most all the pieces interchange, such as bellows. You really won't go wrong with any of the brands you mention from a functionality point of view. These were all pro grade instruments back in the day.

Armin Seeholzer
14-Sep-2013, 15:09
I would vote for the Sinar system because it is the most complete camera system including the big shutter, where you can use old lenses without shutter in front of it! And you find much more used Sinar parts then of other cameras! It was in almost every big studio!

Cheers Armin

Ivan J. Eberle
14-Sep-2013, 16:48
If you've not shot LF yet to determine whether it's something you'll enjoy doing for the long term, buy a relatively inexpensive Cambo or Sinar to get your feet wet. If you don't jump at the first buy-it-now price you'll quite likely get your investment back six months or a year down the road should you decide it's not to your liking.

20-Sep-2013, 00:00
Another vote for Sinar, from a guy who's been working with the system for years. Only caution is that while some parts interchange for the Norma, many others do not. Not so with the F1/F2/P/P2 cameras. Everything fits everything else. That, and they don't command the cult prices that Normas do.

Drew Wiley
20-Sep-2013, 11:39
These are all very nice cameras. The Toyo VX is a bit clumsy to travel with due to the oversized lensboards. My favorite of all these choices is the Norma. All the
major components are interchangeable with later Sinar gear: the rails, rail clamps, bellows, and lensboards. The standards are different. My Norma is only one pound heavier than a Sinar F2 comparably rigged, yet more solid, and still far lighter than a Sinar c, P or X. I have seen excellent deals on these as well as other Sinar models. The key consideration when shopping for something this old is condition and accuracy of description. Arca camera are nowhere near as common, and VX cameras even less so. For monorail applications, I had stayed with Sinar over the years due to the ease of acquiring or repairing all the necessary components.

20-Sep-2013, 15:42
I use adapter lens boards on my VX125 and mount all lenses on Linhof. Least common denominator among my various cameras. I always did that even with the Sinar. That large lens board does allow for a deeply recessed linhof adapter board that is still useable. I only did need it for a 47mm XL.