View Full Version : Re: Sinar F1

18-May-2005, 18:38
I am interested in buying a used Sinar F1 from a natinal retailer. Since I want to plunge into LF without breaking the bank I am looking for used equipment. The following camera is for sale and I included the link because it has a picture:


For you experienced people, from looking at the picture, what more do I need (besides a lens and tripod) to make the camera functional (lensboard only??). The only other camera I was considering buying was a Toyo CF because it sells new for almost the same price and is a folding camera.

Wood is not an option since I have tripped or dropped equipment on three occasions and don't want a set of espensive toothpicks if I drop the camera.

Interest: landscape

Lenses of interest: 90mm, 150mm, perhaps 75mm.

Thanks in advance for any response.


Randy Becker
18-May-2005, 18:44
Um, no picture.

But I can say the Sinar F1 is a great camera. I have shot one commercially for the last 10 years and it is a joy to use.

Best regards, and good luck with the picture.

Juergen Sattler
18-May-2005, 19:33
like you I started out with a Sinar F1 and like you I was mostly interested in landscape photography. The F1 really is a pleasure to use - especially with the built in dials for swing, tilt and Depth of Field BUT it is NOT a camera for backpacking. It doesn't fold up easily and takes some time to set up. In addition it is pretty heavy. If you plan on shooting close to your car, then you'll be fine. I did 8 mile hikes with the Sinar, but I was beat after that and after 18 months I decided that it was time to let go and buy a real field camera. Sinars are mostly used in the Studio - they are great cameras, just not meant for the field.

18-May-2005, 19:54
Randy and Juergen,

Thanks for your replies. I think the forum manager deleted the link to the camera...oh well.

Not sure if I want to go backpacking with a LF camera...that's still my dilemma. Last year I went backpacking with a 35mm, light tripod and two lenses. When you factor in the weight of the tent, food, bear container, stove, etc. over a 13,000+ pass, I was beat.

The Sinar does look like a great camera. With this particular unit, I *think* all I need is a lensboard...but not sure.

Question: Besides the basic camera, lens, tripod...and oh yes, film, what other equipment is "nice to have?"

Juergen Sattler
18-May-2005, 20:09
Oscar, you'll need a darkcloth and a loupe (at leats 4x). Also you'll need some means to measure the exposure - your 35mm built-in exposure meter will do fine as long as you have the option of spot metering. Ultimately you might want to invest in a decent hand-held spot meter. Of course you'll also need film holders and make sure you get all the dust out of them - otherwise it'll end up on your film - and somehow it always ends up in the sky where it is very noticeable. A notebook to write down exposure, any tilts, swings is helpful - that way you can always look back and better understand when a shot didn't turn out the way you wanted. Have fun.

Ron Marshall
18-May-2005, 20:35
Hi Oscar,

I have a Sinar F1 and I concur completely with what Juergen has said. I do some architecture so the F1 may be better for me, but it is heavy away from the car. You mentioned dropping things, in that case Sinar makes a "lensboard holder" which prevents the lensboard falling out if the lensboard release is accidentally tripped. I made one from a tiny nut and bolt and a piece of metal. For the 90mm or the 75mm you will need the bag bellows. Good luck with whatever you choose.

Juergen Sattler
18-May-2005, 20:42
Ron, I wish I had known about this "lensboard holder". While in Monument Valley last year I accidently flipped the lever and dropped my 90mm Rodenstock lens and completely scratched the coating on it - very deep scratches - the lens was ruined. I had gotten up early for the sunrise and I guess I wan't quite awake yet - should have had a cup of coffee before:-)

19-May-2005, 20:00
You will find that sinar offers the opportunity of unlimited bits and parts that are backwards compatable almost to the dawn of time. And if you decide to go upmarket with say a P series all or most of your stuff will be compatable. This may seem a little thing but I have found this to be advantagous. Sinar downside the 5.5" lens boards. Just makes the lenses more awkward for carry on air travel.

tor kviljo
20-May-2005, 04:30
I have to disagree with one of the former postings: the Sinar F folds down quite nicely, and the procedure is included as important info in the manual. To fold the camera, the bellows is detached from one of the standards, and the standards are then folded down sandwiched on top of rail. Using a Sinar F this way, I were able to pack the complete Sinar F with standard rail in the camera-compartment of the quite small Lowe-Pro Orion AW (old style). For those not knowing: this is a rather SMALL combination of a waist pack (= the camera part) coupled with a additional mini-rucksack (fabric-only - for clothes & food etc.) on top. Thus: ANY small camera backpack will generally be able to hold a folded sinar f1, and anything like a Lowe Photo-Trekker will be nice but very much more spacious than you really need if you will be using the f1 with lenses 250mm & shorter (i.e. just needing standard rail). When I have used F1 (have no one now any more) I have prefered to use it with the very much more stable Sinar Norma front standard. Folding the camera f1 style is still possible as before. The flimsy (very veak locking mechanism (plastic) around rail) F1 front standard is the weakest point in these two models (sinar F, F1) grossly improved on the F2. Buying a F2 or Norma front standard buys you away from any trouble. The Sinar F2 is about 4,3 kg w/ standard rail & compact 150mm if I recall right, the F1 being about the same. Except the very expensive Technikardan, og some rather rare species (Toho & Gowland Pocket View), nice-servicable 4"x5" monorails don't come any lighter or more compact than that, and You get the added benifit of entering the largest 4"x5" (+ 5x7 & 8x10") system in the world - and one of the very few systems where You actually can expect to find used parts quite readily. Thus, KEH camera brokers in Atlanta had two Sinar F 8"x10" conversion backs v/standards for sale for approx $$450 each a few weeks ago (new $$ 3-4000) . Try to find that kind of original expansion-parts at modest price for any other LF-system (only one of the backs still available - the other arrived at my place a week ago....).

I have also used Horseman (6x9cm) & technika (6x9 & 4"x5") metal field-cameras before - but I do allways miss the ease of use, unlimited & precicely applied movements of the sinars, so no I use a Sinar Norma 5"x7" or, when possible, P 4"x5".

By the way: the Sinar F2 is much to expensive used (often more than twice that of a F or F1) to defy the rather modest improvement (stronger front-standard collar + separate shift/swing locks) over the F/f1: Rather buy a F1 cheap & use money for lenses + equipment. A Norma or F2 front can be added when you find one for cheap.

What You need in addition to complete camera body is a sinar or horseman (interchangable) board (or make one yourself of 2mm acrylic - very easy) + a 150mm tessar type lens (Schneider Xenar for example - preferably Linhof selected - good & cheap) or the better but more expensive 6-lens equivalent in the form of the Schneider Symmar or Nikkor W 150/5.6. Other items needed: dark-cloth (or black T-shirt: slid neck end over back of camera) film cassettes, film, ground-glass loupe (ANY negative loupe where you have darkend any transparent base with black tape will also do), exposure-meter (or use your 35mm slr as meter) & cable-release.

Bill McMannis
20-May-2005, 15:00
Tor is correct: the Sinar can be folded. The set up time can take awhile, however. The folding of the camera to put it away takes more than a few minutes. Most times this is not a problem, but if you have set for landscape shots and unexpected bad weather rolls in, the length of time to fold things up can be a problem.

It has been said before on this forum and elsewhere: the Sinar lensboards are about the biggest out there for 4x5 cameras. This also creates a mobility problem as a mounted lens takes up so much space in your bag. They are almost impossible to carry in the pocket of a photographer's vest or jacket.

I used a Sinar F (a Frankenstein monster with F, F+ and F2 parts) for a few years. I backpacked the camera folded as Tor describes. I got some nice shots, but the amount time to set up and tear done forced me to change to cameras.

That said, the Sinar is a great first camera. You will have all the movements you will ever need (get a bag bellows for that 90mm). The cost of building your Sinar kit is far cheaper than a couple years ago as components seem to be being given away on Ebay.

Brian Sims
26-May-2005, 17:56
No need to fold a Sinar F1. I backpack with the camera on a 6 inch extension rail. The main rail gets tossed in the pack. I have a foamcore board protector for the lense and gr. glass, and all that goes into a ripstop bag. I also drilled a bunch of holes in the tripod mount....it made me feel better but I only saved a couple of ozs. So I pack 10-20 miles with 20 lbs of gear and film (readyloads & quickloads). What that means is you cut back on other stuff: no stove or fuel or pot, no extra clothes, eat lite (it helps me justify potting on the ten lbs of winter "reserves"), and, lastly, decant the wine into water bottles so you're not carrying the glass!

26-May-2005, 20:04
I too fold as per Sims. On a 6" rail. Seems OK to me and is fast to set up. I add a rail in front and a rail behind so leaving the camera more or less on the tripod axis.

Gregory Jones
7-Jun-2005, 07:12
Having no manual for my Sinar F, I'm a bit baffled on the folding process. My 12" rail doesn't seem to offer enough space to fold the standards on top of each other. What am I missing?

7-Jun-2005, 09:16
Greg, They don't lay next to each other. They lay on top of each other.

Wrack both standards to the ends

unlock the tilt and rise.

Release the bellows from the front standard

fold the rear standard down using the rise to allow it to lay flat

Lift the front standard to it's highest point and lay it on top of the rear standard.

Lower the rise on the front standard until the frame lies flat on top of the GG.

My F1 is lighter than my field camera by about two pounds. I find it easy to hike with and I don't get as fatigued. The draw back is how tall the camera is. It makes shooting at ground level impossible without turning it upside down and that is just a plain PIA. I can set my field camera on the ground without a tripod or other support