View Full Version : Schooling in Sinar Quick Portrait Gear

Frank Petronio
14-Sep-2006, 20:20
For all the questions posted about shooting low depth of field portraits with LF gear, I haven't heard -- or understood much -- about Sinar's mechanical shutter with the cables that automagically close, cock, and stop down the lens. I also note there is a (vintage) Sinar sliding back gizmo but I don't know if it also has those sweet auto interlock features?

If you were building a Sinar that could use the mechanical shutter with vintage portrait lenses, which is the best of their shutters and cables? I seem to remember their cables were almost as expensive as the entire shutter...

And would that sliding back work? I would be using DDS, not roll backs, so I guess the slider isn't that important, but would it have an advantage over the regular back one you got the cables and interlocks sorted out?

I also realize that if you're going to be jamming all this gear around you will need a heavier platform (Gitzo 5, Sinar Norma or P base, Pan Tilt Head, etc.)...

Seems like something to work towards -- so please educate me as to what to avoid!

14-Sep-2006, 20:35
I hate to sound stupid. I am no LF expert but I own a Sinar system. Why would you need all this stuff? You are still talking about shooting with a 4x5 on a tripod. Most narrow depth of field/focus portraits are done with longer lenses, wider apertures, and tilts, no? I think most experienced LF portrait shooters have a simple approach to the camera technique. The "art" comes from posing the subject, the lighting, the background and the skill of managing all of these elements at the same time.

Frank Petronio
14-Sep-2006, 21:16
Well duh. What was I thinking? Thanks, you just saved me a huge hassle.

But... just for reference... I'd kinda like to know which Sinar shutter and cables to get or avoid, and whether the sliding back is a good idea for 4x5 holders? I really don't care about any of that posing or lighting crap, that's is easy ;-)

14-Sep-2006, 21:27
There are some great, lavish (read: expensive) coffee table books produced by Sinar. I think some of these books cover the entire system, even the old stuff. I have one or two of these books. Been ages since I thumbed though them. I'll take a look.

I see you reside in the land of the "Great Yellow Father", aka, Kodak. I lived in Rochester for a while. I was a student at RIT from 1980-85. Great memories...



Sanders McNew
14-Sep-2006, 21:42
Frank, I have a 5x7 Norma with the older behind-the-lens shutter mounted on it. (<-- see avatar) I know there is an interlock that connects to the rear standard, that closes up the shutter when you insert a film holder, but I've never bothered with it -- just something else to get in the way. The older shutters lack a lot of the auto-gizmos of the more recent versions but are made by Copal and I've been quite happy with mine.

More generally, you might visit http://king-platypus.com/sinar/ for materials and schematics that explain the Norma and the other Sinar systems and their components and accessories.

If you ever come back down to Manhattan and want to have a look, please stop by.


Frank Petronio
15-Sep-2006, 09:08
Thanks Sanders, I remember how nimble and quick you are when it comes to shooting people with your set up. Part of it seems to be to have a firm, solid set up - like a Norman on a studio stand as you do - so that you can really push those holders in quickly and firmly without upsetting the camera. Like loading a gun during a battle ;-)

It would just be so slick if you could set up that sliding back with the interlock cables so that you could simple preload the holder and then simply slide the ground glass and holder back and forth, automagically opening the lens each time so you could check focus really fast and easy.

But I can appreciate that those long cables and gizmos can be a little Gyro Gearloosey at the worst possible times. But I was wondering if anyone ever set up a Sinar this way, with all the mechanical automation, so it was a slick, fast set-up. It would be so cool if it all worked, ehh?

Hey Max, no worries, I agree and try to take threads in the same anti-gearhead direction direction most of the time. Until I'm the one asking the geeky gearhead question ;-)

David A. Goldfarb
15-Sep-2006, 17:47
For those short DOF portraits with a view camera, the easiest thing (other than an SLR or Gowlandflex) is still the string tied to the tripod head that measures to the tip of the nose. Lots cheaper than the sliding back and Sinar interlock stuff, too.

For 4x5" I use the Technika with the rangefinder, but for 8x10" and larger or 4x5" with an uncammed lens like the Verito, I still use the string. It feels completely stupid, of course, but every shot is in focus.

JW Dewdney
15-Sep-2006, 18:34
Frank - I'm assuming you're interested in HOW the system works as well as getting some recommendations. That seems a pretty clear read from your post - though the responses to it confuse me in their being tangential. But anyway - basically, there's a pushrod in the back, a very simple affair. Insertion of a film holder plunges it in and forces it to then protrude into the housing of the auto aperture shutter. This closes the lens automatically - and tensions the main shutter spring. Clear 'nuff yo?

I'd personally go for a LATER model (for reasons of reliability). If you want to get REAL fancy- you could get a DIGITAL model. They're real nice. Batteries not included though - and they eat 'em up...! I'd personally go for the F/4 model rather than the 5.6. The F/4 is the very newest of them all - and, of course, being F/4 will accomodate those awkward, larger pieces of glass. The AA shutter is GREAT for a studio setup. But I was using it on location, which was a PAIN to set up and break down - so I dumped all my DB glass and went back to copals.

As for support, well - I just use Gitzo 5s for all that stuff anyway - works for me. Let us know how your sinar fetish develops!


Frank Petronio
15-Sep-2006, 22:13
Thanks JW. That's what I was looking for. As for David's string technique, I've been using it but... I still like to peak at the GG too.

Armin Seeholzer
16-Sep-2006, 01:10
Hi Frank
As a guy from Sinarland I have this whole setup and a really like it, Sinar recomands the heavy and stronger 8x10 back bearer for the sliding back and it make sence to me!
So how it works, you put a filmholder under the groundglas on the right side and take the darkside out of it because in this position its a black box, then you focus with the groundglass from the sliding back, if all is as you like it slide the part with the filmholder behind the camera it closes the shutter and with a DB or DBM lens it closes the lens to your preset f stop and it opens the black box with the film now behind the camera and now push the button!
JD Dewdney did only bescribe how the closing works without the sliding back!
You are 3 times faster with it then without it!
Hope it helps, Armin

JW Dewdney
16-Sep-2006, 01:46
JD Dewdney did only bescribe how the closing works without the sliding back!

Yes, I didn't even know it existed. Which is weird, since I'd studied all the books and catalogs once upon a time. I'd like to know more, though! Any pictures around the net? My only concern would be upsetting the focus or swing during operation. Sinars are built SOLID - but you still have to be cautious.

Armin Seeholzer
16-Sep-2006, 02:47
This is very easy to test and I did not see any focus shift or any other troubles!
I putted a newsletter on a wall focused on it did not insert a filmholder but slided the back with the part where normally the holder is checked the focus again with a 5x times loupe and the focus is still deadly on the newspaper!
I know this sliding back is not so very known, but it works very well just did my second shooting with it!
There is also one for the Linhofs and a rotary back for the Horseman but the last is only f&#252;r RFHs!
Have a good time, Armin
As an Ex trombonist sliding makes anyway sence to me!

Armin Seeholzer
16-Sep-2006, 12:23
I forgott an important part more. But how to describe it in english!
Sinar also say's it needs two rail holders and the strong metallschiene under them to put the 2 holders on it! And I use the whole setup on my 80 kg Foba Studiostand or outside it would be on my 10 kg Manfrotto tripod!
This setup is so heavy there is no chance for vibration anymore!
Hope it helps!

Daniel Unkefer
13-Oct-2006, 17:14
Hi All,

I have two Norma mechanical shutters, which I use on 4x5, 8x10, and recently, a new 5x7 back with the rest of my Norma parts. I also use the Norma sliding roll back, it's not 4x5, it uses Graflex roll backs.

Anyway, I have three or four of the mechanical cables, and they all work well. You need the screw-in bayonet connector, which allows you to adjust the cable tension. I use the cables with all the backs, and the roll film holder. It -does- speed up shooting, and it's so straightforward, I've never had any problems at all.

-Dan, my first posting here.

Armin Seeholzer
14-Oct-2006, 03:16
I use the 4x5 sliding back wich is not the same but in function it may be!