View Full Version : Axial Tilt vs. Base Tilt Pro's and Con's

Robert J Pellegrino
1-Jul-2000, 20:01
As I continue to perform research for my up coming view camera purchase, I've hi t upon yet another road block. I was feeling very good about Arca-Swiss's 4x5 F- line cameras. I've received a lot of positive feedback from their users. Here's my question for those in the know. From my limited readings on view cameras I c an find many positive reasons for having an axial tilt feature on a cameras fron t and rear standard. But I'm having real trouble finding any advantage if any, f or a monorail camera to use base tilts on its standards. This of course is the s ystem employed on the Arca's new F-line camera's. From what I've read the older version of Arca's compact view cameras, did have axial tilt capability. Arca's c urrent Monolith camera as well as other high end view cameras employ both types of tilt. For this reason, I know that their most be some type of advantage to ha ving base tilts on a monorail camera. But I can't seem to find it yet, please en lighten me. Thanks a lot. Bob Pellegrino

Mike Kravit
2-Jul-2000, 00:13

I believe Arca now has axial tilt as an option on the F-Line. It is called the "Orbix". I have not used it but I have read reviews that are very positive. Should you need/want axial tilts on an F-Line I believe you can purchase the kit and install it fairly easily.


James Chow
2-Jul-2000, 00:53
Base tilt monorails are usually yawl-free, which is important if you're doing studio product shots. Since the lens moves a little forward and down when you apply base tilt, you need to coarse focus again and mabye apply a bit of rise to compensate. This is no big deal and only takes a few seconds. Usually, I decide where I want the plane of sharp focus to be, estimate the amount of tilt beforehand by doing a quick calculation in my head, set the tilt, coarse focus, then use rise/fall/shift to adjust the framing (no sense to focus w/ standards parallel and then apply tilt since you know you'll have to move one standard in...just a waste of time). You can always take a center-axis tilt camera, turn it on its side, and it becomes yawl- free, but unless you're using a huge studio stand, it might come crashing down. Although I haven't used a center-axis monorail, my guess is that the nodal point of the lens might not necessarily correspond to the pivot point of the standard, meaning you'll have to refocusing (a little) anyways.

Bob Salomon
2-Jul-2000, 06:14
"Base tilt monorails are usually yawl-free"

Not at all true.

many base tilt only monorail cameras like the Sinar Norma have yaw. In fact the yaw inherent in the norma is what made Sinar develop their later yaw free cameras since yaw is far more disturbing with a base tilt camera then with an axis tilt camera.

To be yaw free the tilt and swing point must either be at the same point (that is how the world's first yaw free camera, the original Linhof Kardan did it) or be beneath the swing point.

Most, if not all modern yaw free cameras are made with 2 tilt points. One beneath the swing to align the standards after inclining the rails and the other above for Scheimpflug and image shape control.

But base tilts in themselves are no guarantee of a yaw free design. Only when the tilt is beneath or at the same point can a camera be yaw free.

But then any yaw prone camera when used on it's side is yaw free,

But too much is made of yaw. The vast majority of all large format photographs ever taken were on yaw prone cameras including the works of Adams, Weston, Muench, Sexton, Mark, Barnbaum, etc.

There is no way a viewer could ever tell if a picture was taken with a yaw free or a yaw prone camera.

james mickelson
2-Jul-2000, 12:05
I have used both base and axial tilts. I vote most definately for axial tilts. Much easier and quicker to use. On the base tilt you have to refocus everytime you make an adjustment to the tilt and you have to raise or lower the front standard everytime you tilt. With the axial tilt this is not necassary. It is what drove the purchase of my Gandolfi. And price. I would try out the cameras before I purchased them. It's a lot of money to spend. Hey Bob, don't you guys handle Gandolfi over here? James

Carlos Co
2-Jul-2000, 13:35
The advantage of using axis vs base tilt is rather small in my opinion. Typically, I figure out how much tilt I need by focusing in/out as I slowly increase the amount of tilt.

Bob Salomon
2-Jul-2000, 13:54
" Hey Bob, don't you guys handle Gandolfi over here"

No Linhof.

I believe Linhof in London carries it though.

Robert J Pellegrino
2-Jul-2000, 15:14
Based on responses thus far, I've not seen any pro's to the base tilt system. The base tilts, at best, to be damned with faint praise i.e. " It's not that hard to work with, or its not bad with longer lenes." Is their any real advantage to base tilts? Or are base tilts, a second class movement when compaired to axial tilts? When I look at the mechanics involved with both types of monorail tilt systems, it does not appear to be a design choice based on economic considerations. The Toyo-View Gll is another camera that I'm considering (axial tilts). I know it's not near as compact as the Arca F-line, but how does the quality of its construction compair? Thanks for your help sorting out these issues. Bob Pellegrino

Mark DeMulder
2-Jul-2000, 16:47
Actually it is good to have both on the front standard. Axial tilt is good for focus, while the base tilt and axial tilt used in combination let you use a much shorter focal length lens than many cameras would otherwise allow. You tilt back the lens from the base, and then use the axial tilt to bring the lens back to parallel (if that's where you want it). I have a Wisner Tech 4x5 and this lets me get those little lenses up close to the rear standard (with a bag bellows of course).

William Marderness
2-Jul-2000, 17:41
Mark is right. I, too, have a Wisner, and like base and axis tilt on the front. Using both lets you extend the bellows further. I use base tilt most of the time, since I am more comfortable with it.

Ellis Vener
3-Jul-2000, 15:00
I find base tilt easier to work with but I trained on Sinars (I now use Arca Swi ss F-line.) Bob is right there is no way a viewer can tell if a photo was made with a base tilt or axis tilt or off axis tilt camera design; Using that logic t here is no way a viewer can tell if the camera used was a $5,000 Linhof or a $50 0 Calumet Cadet! However the user of the camera can tell a difference in both case s, and that is what is important.

Bob is also right in that not all base tilt cameras are yaw free designs. For a camera to be yaw free, the tilt pivot needs to be under the swing pivot. I'd like to point out that Linhof felt that this wa s an important enough advantage to design the Kardan GT45, Kardan GTI45, Kardan GT 810, Kardan MasterGTL45, and Kardan Master GTL 810 camera systems 9the latter two also have axis tilt as well) and the new M679 view/digit al cameras with a yaw free base tilt design.

. A yaw free design mostly shines in studio use. Some very well thought of architecture and landscape photo graphers (I am thinking of Norman McGrath and Jack Dykinga) who can afford any camera they like also find the way the Arca F works to best fit their way of working. Probably just as many like the axis tilt Linhof TK45s cameras, which are very fine machines too.

I am a commercial photographer and can only offer that after trying many cameras after ten years of training on a Sinar P and then using a Sinar C camera that the complete Arca F package works best for me as both a studio camera ( a yaw fr ee makes having to make the complex combinations of movements: front and rear tilts + swing + possible shift + rise/ fall (I really like having rise/fal l in the same plane as the tilt) that are often necessary for product photograph y) and as a field camera for architecture and landscape work. By total package I mean not just the engineering of the tilts and rigidity but also the entire ergonomic s of the camera. The Linhof TK45s design is also very fine (no one disputes that B ob) and a couple of very good friends of mine who just do architecture photography really like their TK45s cameras.

My feeling is that large format c amera designs really reflect the personality and quirks of the designer of the camera and that it is important to find a camera that matches your personality. All these things arejust very flexible but precise light tight boxes and how the controls and accessories feel to you can make the work either frustrating & fidd ly or else non-intrusive and quickly intuitive.

Bob Salomon
3-Jul-2000, 15:17
". For a camera to be yaw free, the tilt pivot needs to be under the swing pivot. I'd like to point out that Linhof felt that this was an important enough advantage to design the Kardan GT45, Kardan GTI45, Kardan GT810, Kardan MasterGTL45, and Kardan Master GTL 810 camera systems 9the latter two also have axis tilt as well) and the new M679 view/digital cameras with a yaw free base tilt design."

Perhaps you don't realize the origin of the yaw free camera.

linhof designed a camera called the Kardan which was their first monorail design.

The name Kardan was derived from the design of that first Linhof monorail design. It had a movement that allowed both swing and tilt from a common point. That point was a spherical designed joint and Kardan was derived from the German word for this type of joint. This was in the 50's.

Due to the lack of interest and the complexity of this design feature it was dropped after the first few camera andd the series name was changed to the kardan Color.

Linhof re-introduced the yaw free design three decades later primarily due to market pressure for the feature by base tilt camera manufacturers who strongly hyped the feature rather then from consumer demand.

Of course where a yaw free movement desing is especiacally desireable Linhof incorporates it such as on the assymetrical axis movement only M679 and M679cc cameras. The GTI, by the way, is out of production.

Ellis Vener
3-Jul-2000, 21:32
As always, thank you for the education Bob. I think your presence is a real asse t to this site. I hadn't realized that Linhof had originated this type of joint. I started seriously in photography in the very late seventies and remember the leg al fuss between Sinar and Linhof about that time. The storyline that I heard (from a Linhof dealer) was that Sinar either got an injunction or tried to get a n injunction against Linhof for their late seventies design.

I was getting my now outdated Linhof product line information from the big B&H book that came out a couple of years ago.

Bob Salomon
3-Jul-2000, 22:26
"he legal fuss between Sinar and Linhof about that time"

That had nothing to dowith yaw. The suit was over Linhof's continuously variable assymetrical movement. Sinar sued (and won) over the fact that the continuous variable movement did, at one point, have the same point as Sinars fixed assymetrical movement and that was enough to inringe on the patent Sinar held (now expired).. When Linhof lost the suit they withdrew the master L design and replaced it with the TL design with no assymetrical movement. They also left out yaw free movements which were also not a feature of the L.

Glenn Kroeger
6-Jul-2000, 19:01
Robert: In an ideal world, axial tilts are somewhat easier to use than base tilts. Yaw-free design is somewhat advantageous for architecture and product photography. In the end though, most cameras can achieve the desired geometry of front and rear standards through appropriate gyrations. But there is much more to overall camera handling than the location of the tilt axis. Location of control knobs, size and shape of knobs, locations of levels, rail adjustments, absence or presence and design of zero-detents all effect camera handling. I have used some axial tilt cameras than handle horrendously due to many small, identical and sharp brass knobs that proturd from the camera in every direction, or color coded levers that entangle themselves if not used in a particular order.

As a user of an Arca-Swiss F line camera (after Toyos, Wistas, Linhofs and Sinars over the last 20 years) I will point out some real advantages of the camera. First, the controls are large, distinct and logically placed. I find that with a base tilt, I can more easily achieve the very small tilt angles needed in landscape work (longer lever arm from the axis to the top of the standard). The placement of levels and rail markings on the Arca allow one to work easily from the back of the camera without having to weave and bob one's head around to see critical information. Finally, a big advantage of the Arca is the wonderful design of its zero-detents. These detents are strong but apply absolutely no torque to move the standards towards them. This allows very small tilts and swings to be accomplished without "fighting" the detents.

james mickelson
8-Jul-2000, 12:42
Gee. All of these good points come as standard features on the Gandofi Varients. I love mine. It is absolutely hassle free. If anyone ever gets to use one, do it. james