View Full Version : Sinar vs Linhof vs Arca-Swiss

24-Nov-2007, 12:16
Hello, my name is Robert, I'm a new member.

What I really want to know is which brand makes the finest quality cameras?

I want it for landscapes and portraits. I am wanting a very sturdy camera ...so I am not so concerned about the extra weight of the AS Monoliths over the F models.

I am particularly interested in the Sinar P3 / Arca-Swiss Monolith 6X9 / Linhof 679cs for digital photography -- which one is the best overall?

Sorry to sound a bit naive -- I am new to LF view cameras, I have used Hasselblads for years but have wanted a view camera for a long time now.

I would really appreciate your opinions :)

Ken Lee
24-Nov-2007, 12:38
"finest quality" is s subjective term. So is "digital photography".

All of the manufacturers you mention, produce equipment of superb fit and finish. No matter which camera you get from them, you will be pleased with the high standard of workmanship.

Perhaps you are looking for other attributes, like weight, size, strength, adaptability, portability, usability, affordability, availability, repairability, etc.

If that is the case, then you probably need to tell us how, and for what, you intend to use the camera.

24-Nov-2007, 19:58
Thank you for your post Ken :)

I have my heart set on the Arca-Swiss, that is the camera I really love, its build quality is fantastic. I guess I just would like some opinions on Linhof and Sinar before I finally decide.

I am wanting quite a versatile camera, but it will likely be used in a studio mostly for portraiture.

Frank Petronio
24-Nov-2007, 20:22
Not to many medium format digital back users here, and that seems to be the determinate factor in using this level of camera -- what sort of back adaptor to use, whether you want to stitch, the shortness of your lenses, the grittiness of your field work..??? Over at Luminous Landscape and Rob Galbraith and PDN Online they have limited forum participation from medium format digital back users. Also the back manufacturers have forums with real world users -- Leaf, Sinar, Phase One, etc.

They are all wonderful cameras, very well made and engineered. But what makes a great film camera doesn't necessarily translate into working well with a digital back. You'll likely want a more robust rear standard, very short focusing distances, and very fine (geared) controls that would be overkill (slow, finicky) for most film situations.

An awful lot of people have tried the small view cameras and given up on them in favor of a more user-friendly H2-H3 645 SLR platform. The new Sinar-Rollei looks pretty nice in this regard. Think about trying to apply micro-movements to such a small imaging chip (36x48mm) -- the scale/level of precision required really slows you down compared to larger film. It can be done, but it is for the fussy, not the fleet. Perhaps not ideal for portraiture?

Mind you that I have never used a medium format digital back on a view camera, I've only watched from the sidelines.

25-Nov-2007, 01:17
Wow, thanks Frank.

Lots of stuff to think about there ...I am most grateful for you comments.

I should tell you that I do still shoot a lot of film, mostly transparencies. I love the 6x6 format of the Hasselblad, but I have long dreamed of shooting 8x10. I guess I just like the convenience of digital work ...but I have to admit there is something much more satisfying about large format trannies. :)

Thanks for the comments guys, it is much appreciated :)

Frank Petronio
25-Nov-2007, 07:39
I know the gear-crazy wealthy guy over at Luminous Landscape used the Linhof with a Phase One for a while and gave up on it, you might have a look at what he wrote. In my armchair observer opinion, the camera is still relatively cheap compared to the digtial back, so some deep pocketed folks might ultimately have several rigs for their high end 45 mb backs -- a wide angle dedicated rig for architecture; a studio monorail, and a medium format SLR body.

As for shooting film, they are all good. The Sinar is the best value on the used market because it was so popular with pro shooters in the USA, they are plentiful and inexpensive. You could put together a great FILM outfit with the geared P2 standards for 8x10 and 4x5 for maybe $2000. The Arca is wonderful but it's going to be 2-3X that. The Linhof is also very fine, it just isn't as popular so it is harder to find a "live" one to check out. Sometimes you see incredible deals on eBay because people simply don't know what to do with their old Linhof monorails...

As for workmanship, the Sinar is more than fine, it is well made and engineered. The Linhof has a higher level of finish and detail, everything feels "hand-fitted" by elves, warm and rich. The modern Arcas are cold and efficient -- all CNC-milled and precise -- but definitely "colder" like a newer sports car to Linhof's "warmer" classic appeal. The Sinar isn't a sports car at all, it is more of a nice sedan...

25-Nov-2007, 08:03

I very much appreciate your comments. You have pretty much given me everything I wanted to know.

I know we are always told that equipment is just "a means for projecting light onto a film" -- but heck, there is nothing like the feeling of finely crafted equipment. Cameras like the Hasselblad H3D and Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III are fantastic but I could never imagine becoming sentimental about them like I would with a Wisener, a Lotus, or even a Leica M for that matter :p .

I am not equipment obsessed (I can't afford to be) but I do like to own very fine quality equipment; for me, I find if the equipment is a joy to use, it can actually heighten my aesthetic awareness and contribute to the quality of my work.

Thank you very much for your very helpful information :)

Frank Petronio
25-Nov-2007, 08:07
I've owned all three brands and have tried a lot of set-ups and I keep paring it down to what I really need and use. Sometimes having too nice a set-up is a hinderance, the idea is to shoot photos. Currently I use a (nice for what it is) Crown Graphic and have the lovely uber-Linhof for sale.

When I am old and want to fondle the gear I am sure I will still be able to buy it -- I LOVE playing with Leicas and Linhofs... but the gear itself never made me a better photo...

Bob Salomon
25-Nov-2007, 08:07

There are dealers like FotoCare Ltd and Bear images rents and sells the M679cs. We can't keep them in stock and neither can Linhof as sales and demand are greater then production capability.