View Full Version : wide angle camera

26-Feb-2008, 12:22
I'm in need of a wide angle camera (4x5) that will except a 38mm lens to 90mm with movements. longer is ok. needs to be sturdy for use in studio and field. any suggestions and yes price is a concern and i do know you get what you pay for. i guess what i'm really asking is there a good buy out there to fill my needs. I've seen the ebony, shen hao, and walker. what about the cambo or maybe something else any feed back would be of great help.


26-Feb-2008, 12:40
Speed Graphic is cheap, they have a drop bed for 90mm at least.

26-Feb-2008, 13:07
thanks but i need something that will take a 38mm with movements also doesn't need to be cheap just reasonable.

26-Feb-2008, 13:25
thanks but i need something that will take a 38mm with movements also doesn't need to be cheap just reasonable.

you can buy any camera (like speed graphic) and remove the bellows, replacing it with those wide angle bags that can compress more.

Gordon Moat
26-Feb-2008, 13:37
You might want to look into Argentum:


The Schneider 38mm needs 52.1mm flange to focal distance to focus at ∞ (infinity). The Argentum Architec will go as close as 45mm. This lens allows more movement on rollfilm backs and actually clips the corners of 4x5 film, in other words you only need a few millimetres of movement.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

26-Feb-2008, 13:53
One to consider would be the old wide angle Calumet C-400 or whatever its called. Its the metal rail that was passed down to calumet from Kodak. The design of the camera was to allow very short lenses without a recessed lensboard. My 65 S-A focuses on this camera with some separation between the standards. The 65 just doesn't allow any movements on 4X5.

26-Feb-2008, 14:16
i'm aware of the 38mm image circle i'll be using it with a stitched p45 back. so really looking at a 6x12 image size.

26-Feb-2008, 14:23
You're really going to be strapped finding something which can take such an extreme on 6x12cm if Fotoman Cameras don't appeal to you for the cost-benefit ratio.

The Silvestri cameras do all of that, but if you're asking how much much, then clearly you can't afford it, especially with the state of the American dollar at the moment.

A system of cones for different focal lengths is going to be cheaper than a body that can take 38mm - 90mm. It will also be more rigid. Btw - you do realise that it will be practically impossible to focus the 38mm on a standard ground glass on a 38mm-90mm rail system, as opposed to a fixed flange distance camera?

Gordon Moat
26-Feb-2008, 14:24
Okay, with that in mind, here is a manufacturer giving you several choices:


These are somewhat built to order. You might compare to a Silvestri. Of course, you could also look into Arca Swiss, or Linhof, depending upon budget.

The biggest trouble with using a wooden camera and a medium format digital back is slightly less precision in movements. Another option might be the new Fotoman Dmax (http://www.fotomancamera.com/product_list.asp?id=256) for near $US 2700, somewhat comparable to the Horseman.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

26-Feb-2008, 14:33
oh I forgot to mention i'm in china and some url's are blocked here. anyways a rail camera would always be preferred perhaps the technikardan is the answer. i would need the movements and wouldn't be restricted to 6x12 also be using it for 6x9. this will be done in a commercial setting. how do you figure it would be impossible to focus? they still make tape measures don't they? also there is this really neat setting in capture one called live image.

26-Feb-2008, 14:38
hemm the fotoman dmax looks interesting and may be a good possibility. thanks

Gordon Moat
26-Feb-2008, 14:54
I am aware of the PhaseOne live preview, though it would slow you down. All things being equal, a metal camera will be more stable than a wood camera. On the Gottshcalt, in case you cannot see that website, the cost is Euro 2516, so somewhat close to the Fotoman Dmax. The advantage with the Gottschalt DS-45 is that it offers substantially more movement range. I will try to re-post their images here for you to see:



So while this is not a rail camera, it will allow up to a 90mm to be used. It is also very rigid, meaning faster set-up time, and allowing more shots to be accomplished in a studio setting. I know one German shooter using one of these, though I think he has a Leaf back running on his.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

26-Feb-2008, 15:23
I've got the Calumet 400 series wide angle and love it. My shortest lens is the 58XL that I can easily use with a flat board and still have lots of flexibility in the bellows for movements.

With your 38mm, you would be so compressed (assuming that it would focus properly) that the bellows would likely want to bind. However, by using a recessed board, that would certainly allow for focus flange distance and give you less tension on the bellows and therefore more movements.

This camera is often dirt cheap, the boards appear on ebay all the time, and Calumet repairs still has some parts available (or at least they did about a year ago when I had to rebuild significant parts of mine after buying it as a very cheap "dog" from an ebay seller).


27-Feb-2008, 00:38
yeah i like the idea of the fotoman dx and i'm in china. might have my staff buy once i decide. they'll be able to get a better deal than me. set up time isn't that big an issue it will be mostly studio work, on the other hand sunrise shots would be very demanding but i use a tape measure for that kind of work anyways. i'll be using it mainly for car interiors or on location with cars. also some architecture for backgrounds. swings would be nice but i doubt i'd have to worry about DOF problems with such a wide lens.

thanks for the info it helped alot.

Emmanuel BIGLER
27-Feb-2008, 02:57
The new R-line Arca Swiss hand-held cameras will allow you to mount focal lengths as short as 28mm.
There are two models, the 6x9 model, named Rm3d and the 4x5" model, named RL3d. Both models are compatible with the Arca Swiss system of monorail cameras.
The 6x9 model enters a market where there are many competing models from Alpa, Horseman, Silvestri,.... In a sense this is good news, it means that there is a demand for precision 6x9 hand-held cameras. The driving force is of course digital photography. Those 6x9 precision cameras are ready for future backs bigger than the present industrial norm slightly smaller than 4x6 cm of sensitive area.
However the choice of portable 4x5" camera with a built-in helical capable of focusing a 38mm, with precision tilt & shifts is reduced.
In the Rm3d and RL3d, focusing is achieved with an helical built in the camera body (unlike the Alpa 12 where each lens has it own helical) and common to all lenses attached by a proprietary bayonet. Focal lengths up to 210mm can be mounted.

The Rm3D has already been delivered to customers, for the 4x5" model RL3d I do not know.
Both cameras exhibit tilt & shift capabilities with a precision mechanism.

Price tag is high ;)

Was discussed here

27-Feb-2008, 06:10
I've always lusted after the alpa when the very first model came out but is not economically practical. the arca seems to be in the same league. now the fotoman dmax seems very useful and i wont be running around with it shooting handheld. i like the idea of a small wide angle dedicated camera with plenty of shift/rise and fall. but all in all after some thought. i can't see why a technakardan wouldn't fit all my needs for less price than the fotoman dmax. used of course. plus it would give me unlimited movement and when tipped 90 degrees yaw free displacements. it would compliment my linhof systems now as well. i guess i've been chasing a unicorn. thanks everyone for all the help and insight. sometimes i just need to bounce ideas around and hear others advice to make an informative decision.

thanks again everyone

27-Feb-2008, 06:49
There's also Silvestri. With FlexiBellow you can tilt and swing.

adrian tyler
27-Feb-2008, 08:52
i tested the p45 and it does not like light hitting it at acute angles, i got terrifying colour casts with a 38 biogon with NO movements, try the leaf and compare before you decide.

Ole Tjugen
27-Feb-2008, 09:09
Two of my cameras can use a lens as short as 38mm with full movements. One is expensive and impossible to find, the other is old, cheap and easy to find...

The expensive one is the Carbon Infinity, with bag bellows.

The cheap one is a ca. 1910 German plate camera, for 13x18cm plates in special holders! With inserts the plate holders can take any smaller size film, but not Graflock accessories. Rise and shift are on the lens board, and doesn't affect the bellows at all. Tilt and swing are on the back - there isn't much available, but more than enough for short focal lengths.

The Argentum XL and Architec are modern versions of the same basic type.

27-Feb-2008, 10:11
ok for one no wood cameras, not stable info. 2nd the color cast can easily be solved with a sheet of white translucent plexiglass and then doing a lens color cast calibration. once completed the color shift is eliminated. also the p45+ and hasselblad 39mp backs are the 2 best on the market period. i am an automotive photographer since 85 and we have always been at the cutting edge of digital. Detroit is the number 1 spender of advertising dollars in the world period. i'm not bragging just a fact. i've been using digital since 95. our labs all folded in 99. film died that year in detroit. when sinar came out with the 22mp back using the kodak chip it changed everything. even it needed the lcc for it to work properly. we also beta tested for phase one and sinar. please don't take this the wrong way. our ad clients expected the utmost quality in all our images they won't except anything less. highest of dollar clients from the big 3. i'm by no means a newb. i don't mean to disrespect anyone but i know what digital requires thus the questions for a wide angle camera.

David Karp
27-Feb-2008, 10:21
Look into a Cambo 45SF. It might work for you. Available used.

The standards will touch each other when using a bag bellows, so the short focal length should work. Has all of the movements you need.

Gordon Moat
27-Feb-2008, 13:22
If you want to compare in Linhof, either new or used, look into the Kardan and Technikardan. Both systems are precise enough that you should do fine with a digital back. I think the Technikardan 4x5 only works as close as about 70mm with a flat lens board, so that 38mm might be tougher, though you could use a recessed board. The Technikardan 6x9 would work better with short lenses, though you would have a tougher time getting that stitched 6x12 shots you want; you could get close to 6x12 if you use shift movements, even on the 6x9 model.

On the Kardan system, some of that line will allow your 38mm to work, and any longer lenses. There are probably more of these on the used market. These take different (bigger) lens boards than the Technika, though there are adapters.

I sort of agree with you on the PhaseOne backs, but after helping a prominent architectural photographer (Fortune 100 client level) with problems on Hasselblad/Imacon files, I think Hasselblad got something not quite right with their coating and reflectance. Long story short, Hasselblad bought back that system from that photographer. So your choice of PhaseOne is likely the best. If you were doing more fashion and lifestyle shooting, it might be worth comparing a Leaf or Sinar back, though the differences might be very subtle.

Other cameras not mentioned yet (unless I missed it) include the Cambo Wide and the Horseman. To me, that Fotoman Dmax seems very similar to the Horseman design, though the Horseman SW-D II Pro (http://www.horsemanusa.com/digital/SWD2pro.html) offers far more movement range. I don't have an image of the newest Arca Swiss mentioned, but I think the Horseman is a good comparison.


Gordon Moat Photography (http://www.gordonmoat.com)

29-Feb-2008, 12:51
My TK 45 works perfectly well with a 58mm on a flat board. I think a 45mm is possible on one as well although I've yet to try anything shorter than my 58mm.

David Whistance

29-Feb-2008, 20:01
according to the linhof website the tk will work with lenses as wide as 35mm with the proper board.

1-Mar-2008, 11:29
You can use : Sinar C or P + resessed lens board + WA bellows.

3-Mar-2008, 22:58
you'll find film tolerances and digital back tolerances to be quite different, esp with wide lenses. don't fool around, get a camera designed for digital wide angle work. the linhof tk isn't sturdy enough for what you need.

4-Mar-2008, 00:17
thanks for the advice. so maybe then a dedicated digital body then.