View Full Version : sinar 4x5 camera questions

29-Jun-2008, 09:36
i've been contemplating purchasing a used sinar f/f2 or comparable model off of the 'bay, and have just a few questions:

1. does the sinar system use the international graflock back?(so i could use my da yi 6x12 rollfilm back with it).

2. for using on location, how easy is it to tote around(i know they're not small, but if walking 100-200 yards max from vehicle)

3. compare to other models/manufacturers. (cambo, linhof, arca swiss, etc...)

4. does the f/f2 have the locking gears like some of the newer sinar models that have come out more recently?

5. has anyone out there used on in conjunction with a digital back setup? most of the things i shoot now are with a view camera or my rz67, and clients are usually present when shooting. and since polaroid has gone away, digital back is the only road i can go to get close to the resolution in a fast solution.



Ron Marshall
29-Jun-2008, 10:23
I have an F1, it is light-weight and compact enough for a 100 yard carry.

It has a Graflok back.

It is very sturdy and well built.

None of the movements are geared, though they are smooth enough that I have not found that to be a problem. The P models are geared, but heavier and bulkier.

I have not used a digital back on it so cannot comment.

Gene McCluney
29-Jun-2008, 11:05
The Sinar system is not particularly light weight or easy to transport for location photography. I have a "P-expert" system, which is indeed heavier than the "F" system, but I only use it for studio work..much preferring other choices for location work.

They do have Graflock backs, positionable for horizontal or vertical shots, and can accept a wide variety of digital backs..I have a Betterlight scanning back I use with mine sometimes..only in the studio.

While Polaroid instant film has gone away, Fuji 4x5 Instant "pack" film is still going strong, and that is what I have transitioned to for my testing purposes, and it works as well or even better in color clarity than the older Polaroid stocks. A 4x5 "pack-film" back that holds a 10-exposure pack will fit under the ground glass (on a Sinar) like a big fat film-holder, so you can test quite easily. And..the Fuji 4x5 pack film is cheaper per-sheet than the old Polaroid individual sheet 4x5 stock was. (about 1/2 the price)

29-Jun-2008, 11:37
thanks guys.

most of the stuff that i shoot is on location fashion and portraiture. my rz is my workhorse, and have used in in conjunction with the phase p45+ and really liked it. I have looked at the Fuji pack film backs, but even though they are a nice replacement, they don't cover the full frame 4x5 like polaroid did, right? it was my understanding that it is just slightly smaller than the polaroid variant that so many of us are used to. but for right now, i have my last remaining cases of type 79, 55, and 54 to be used.

but as i stated before, my primary camera is my rz pro II, and i really like using the Fuji instant films for that instead of polaroid. they have less tendency to curl, and better color accuracy then the polaroid 690, or even the 669 in my humble opinion.

i really like having the geared movements, especially if i'm shooting anything in the studio, where it doesn't really matter weight-wise.

thanks for the input, its much appreciated. i think that i'll be looking at the p-series after all(due to geared movements). but darn, if i could go back to shooting some 8x10.

many blessings


erie patsellis
29-Jun-2008, 11:39
There are 8x10 P's, you know....and you have the advantage of still being able to shoot 4x5 as needed with a simple change of the format frame and bellows (takes longer to type how to do than to actually do)


29-Jun-2008, 12:37
I have a P2 with both 4x5 and 8x10 backs, it's 'luggable' in the field with the 4x5 back - but the 8x10 back really requires either very short distances with rolling cases (I have peli's) or a strong assistant.

Doable, but I'm considering an 8x10 chamonix at some point.

erie patsellis
29-Jun-2008, 12:55
My 8x10 never leaves the studio anymore, did that a few times and even right next to the van can be a royal PITA...


Bjorn Nilsson
1-Jul-2008, 09:16
I use a C, i.e. in my case a P back and an F2 front. I did take it for a spin this very morning. It was on a Feisol 3371 tripod, so the total wasn't that heavy. I did contemplate to switch to the F2 back standart, but as the morning light was in a hurry to rise, I just threw the gear into the car and down to the harbour, where a life size replica of a 18th century oceanliner is docked for a few days.
Yes, it's portable within viewing distance of the car. Just see to that time is on your side. I find that once you've secured the camera to the tripod it's quite easy to lug it around over your shoulder. A medium size backpack for lenses, film cassettes, light meter, ... and a good portion of patience will do the rest.
The F/F1/F2 doesn't have the geared controls of the P/P2, but nevertheless is a very good reliable camera. You can control is as precisely as the P camera, it just takes a little longer. In my opinion there are few, if any, cameras that gives you as much control as the Sinar cameras. The P is on top, but the F series can do exactly the same.
I have owned an F before, but this time around I bought an F2, due to separate locks for swing and shift (which really is the only difference in between the F and F1 versus the F2). I recon that you want to get an F2, given your assignments and your questions.


Ed Richards
1-Jul-2008, 12:06
I use an F2 in the field, as long as the field is not too far from the back of the car. I found it the be balance of weight, function, and cost. The Arca Swiss is very nice, but much more expensive. The P2 is significantly heavier, and needs a heavier tripod, so it is a big jump in weight. Even the F2 and a decent tripod is a good load to carry in the sun.

As for locking movements, I have never had any trouble with drift.

1-Jul-2008, 15:28
I think that carrying an F2 (or any monorail) into the field is more of a factor of your physical fitness/abilities. I've taken a Sinar F2 with 2 lenses (150mm Sironar N, 90mm SAXL),2 grafmatic film holders and a bogen 3021 with 3047 on a 3 mile hike in Zion to the Three Pools (up, up, up) and that was when I was 53. Right now, I'd only take that stuff with a pack mule.

2-Jul-2008, 05:52
The Sinar teflon bushing get squashed and need replacing every so often. Very expensive. You have to break the camera down into small pieces every night to put it away. The back screeches when opening. The shifts and tilts are way beyond reason.
I would suggest going for anything with bronze bushing that comes in one piece and, if you work indoors, that has rear focus.

erie patsellis
2-Jul-2008, 09:33
Christopher, I don't follow you, if you unhook the bellows and rotate the lens panel/back parallel to the rail, it's pretty quick. (talking F series here, right?) which teflon bushings are you referring to? there's tons of bushings and bits.


Jerry Flynn
2-Jul-2008, 09:57
I have used a Sinar f series (both f+ and f2) as a field camera for many years and have had no mechanical problems. Nor have I had to take it apart at the end of the day. I store it in a Pelican case fully assembled, and carry it on my back (fully assembled and with lenses) in an Eddie Bauer backpack I bought at Target for about $40. I am not hiking through the wilderness, but within the 100 yards or so of the car as the question stated.

I find the f2 quick to use. In my optinion, sliding the rise, shift and swing is quicker than cranking the controls on th P or P2.

It has not been noted in any of the responses that the rear focus on the f1 and both front and rear focus on the f2 are grear-driven for fine focus as well as sliding for coarse focus.