View Full Version : New to LF with Sinar F2

19-Jul-2008, 23:11

Finally took the plunge and bought an F2
Sadly the person who was going to take me through it has gone off travelling
so I have a few questions
I only have the Camera so I will need some if not all the following

A Lens,shutter,board,dark slides,readyload back, quickload back, polaroid/fuji back,
120 roll back,a loupe, cable release and anything else I have forgotten

For the lens I was thinking of a cheap standard lens which I will replace when I have a better idea of what I really need ( I will be photographing sculpture/still life in a studio and also some architecture)
I intend to use roll film as a cheaper way of learning
what would be a good size lens
There are lots of second hand lens out there but will they fit my camera
Are all lens boards the same or do I need a specific type
Most lens seem to come with a shutter will they all be suitable
Do you need a shutter and board for each lens or is it easy to just screw a different lens on a needed

Dark slides which ones do you recommend I will probably leave sheet film until my friend gets back but may have a go
Do I need both readyload and quickload backs if I wish to use both types of film
will they take Fuji FP100 in 4x5 or the smaller size
The Fuji PA45 and Polaroid 550 both seem to take Fuji fp100c45 is this correct
will they take Fuji FP100 in 4x5 or the smaller size
what type of roll film back should I get
What loupe would I need
is there anything I should no about cable releases

anything else I need

sorry for so many questions



Joshua Dunn
20-Jul-2008, 00:10

Congratulations on your Sinar, I have two and it’s a great camera. I’ll try to address some of your questions but if I might offer a little advice; slow down a bit. I wouldn’t personally buy several different film backs (Ready load, Roll Film etc.) before you master a few of the basics with your Sinar and a standard 4x5 film carrier. Using these accessories expands your capabilities with your equipment (and are fun!) but do complicate things. Get some basics with movements down and then invest in other backs etc that fit the way you are shooting. You may find that once you learn the basics of your camera with sheet film that you don’t want to shoot anything but sheet film. But in my experience its far better to learn the fundamentals first, i.e. walk before your run.

Most lenses you buy for this camera will come in a shutter. A “normal” focal length for 4x5 is 150mm. If you do studio work you may want a 210mm or a 240mm, if you start to do architecture start with a 90mm. They are readily available at reasonable prices (I like your idea of buying them second hand) and are good to learn movements with. Sinar camera are different in that they have a Sinar shutter system but I would not recommend starting out with one. You will need a Sinar or Horseman lens board but these are inexpensive second hand.

As far as film backs I would buy some used Fidelity or Lisco film folders (they are exactly the same, they just have different brand names). Yes you will need a dark cloth but I think everyone has used a towel or a jacket in a pinch. As far as cable releases go just get a long one (over 24”) as it will not transmit as much shock to the shutter if you depress it too hard, even with a long cable release just be gentle. This is important because on longer exposures this could cause vibrations resulting in a little blur in your image. Speaking of vibration; get a good tripod, large format can be very taxing on small tripods and will cause you all sorts of problems without one strong enough to support you large format system.

You could get a Polaroid back but get a pack film version if you do. Polaroid is out of business so all of are that have been using Polaroid sheet film are out of luck. Fuji still makes 4x5 instant film but only as pack film. They also make their own holder if you just want to buy it instead. Instant film is very expensive; it’s great to learn with but not a cheap way to do it. Speaking of learning, you are doing the right thing by reading forums and asking questions. Via the internet there are untold amounts of information out there, just go look for it. Use the search tools in this form and others to read old posts and you will be amazed what you can learn. Check out this video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gR4m70xr9mE to see a great example of how you’re Sinar F2 is used in the studio with movements.

The best thing you can do to learn to use your Sinar is to use your Sinar. Just go shoot. If you screw something up then you learned from the process. You gained knowledge even if you didn’t get the image you wanted. Go back and shoot it again, its all part of the learning process. Good luck.


Ron Marshall
20-Jul-2008, 00:28
Hi Robin, I concur with Joshua's advice, especially the part about starting with just filmholders.

For used lenses look at KEH Camera Brokers, Midwest Photo Exchange and the for sale section of this forum.

Bjorn Nilsson
20-Jul-2008, 01:13
As your location is London, I presume you are in the UK. Then give Linhof & Studio a visit. I'm sure there are other shops and places too, but I leave those to be revealed by the brits on this forum.
There is plenty of used gear around to be found at good prices. Just have a little patience. (Patience is something that you will need a lot of anyhow, taking the plunge into Large Format Photography. :) )


Frank Petronio
20-Jul-2008, 06:18
Polaroid tests are wonderful but the film is expensive and harder to get, so it may make more sense to learn how to use your digital camera as a test device and not get "hooked" on a dead end.

20-Jul-2008, 06:45
Hi Robin,

nice start with a f2, congratulations. With the SINAR system you have all the freedom of choice.

I started with a SINAR roll film back, and I shot a lot of film before I first exposed a 4x5 - or 5x4, like you use to say in the UK.

I've been lucky, as I had a ZOOM II from the beginning, allowing 6x7, 6x9 and even 6x12. But it's expensive. One fixed 6x7 will do, and you get used to the 5x4 format, as you have the same aspect ratio. From time to time you find them for 100-150 . If you have the funds, take a ZOOM 1. You will allways use it when 5x4 is too expensive for a project, or you want panoramas.

I never liked non-SINAR roll film backs, as you can't just move them between frame and groundglass like the SINAR ones.

Concerning shutter: you have to make a decision: behind-the-lens or between the lens. You can't use one system with the other. You may change lenses from one to the other, but it makes little sense, as you always need the other system's components.

In LF you typically have longer exposure times than in MF or 135mm. So the SINAR Auto Aperture shutter, that only offers up to 1/60 sec, may work.
- you can handle it from the back of the camera
- you have one shutter, so no different exposure for different lenses
- a cable will automatically close the shutter, when you put in a film holder
- you can use it for barrel lenses without own shutter
- 2nd-hand lenses are often cheaper than the COPAL versions
- you find less 2nd-hand lenses than with "between-the-lens" shutters,
- you only have one shutter. If it fails - bad luck. So sooner or later you want a second one.
If you look for one of these, take care you get the newest, improved version: black all over, f-stop starting at 4 (older: 5.6).

There are different types and sizes: COPAL 0.0, 0, 1, 3; PRONTOR prof. 0, 1, 3; COMPUR and older ones like ILEX ... I only use modern COPAL ones.
- each lens has an own shutter. In case of failure, only one lens is out.
- a lot more 2nd-hand lenses. You may buy a lens on a different board (Linhof, ...) and just exchange the board. (Pay attention: there are boards that fit SINAR and Horseman (140 mm) but there are also smaller Horseman boards, that don't fit the SINAR f2/p2 system)
- exposure times up to 1/500 (COPAL 0), 1/400 (COPAL 1) or 1/125 (COPAL 3)
- you need to handle these from the front or side of camera
- you can accidentially leave the shutter open when pulling out the darkslide
- more expensive

My advice (just a hint, which is based on my experience and my way of working only - don't take it for any general truth):

- get a 6x7/6x9 or ZOOM back for roll film
- get a 90 mm lens. For 6x7/6x9 it's a "normal", for 6x12 it's a light wide angle, for 5x4 it's a wide angle (you mentioned architecture)
- get used to the camera and learn all the movements
- pay little for mistakes - it's only roll film
- collect some 5x4 film holders at good prices - you have time to watch and wait (I only collected LISCO Mk II / Fidelity ASTRA (same kind), as they have a small button that prevents the darkslides from being pulled out, as long as the film holder is out of the camera. And they have little number dials, that expose a number to the sheet.
- when ready to go 5x4, get a 150 mm

Last, not least:

Have fun!

Kind regards


P.S.: I have POLAROID. I used it twice, then never again ...

20-Jul-2008, 10:35
Hi Joshua,Ron,Bjorn,Frank and Michael

Thanks so much for the "Quick", positive replies and advice
How I wish the Apple forums were as useful as this

I pick up the camera tomorrow and then its time to spend more money

Micheal I like the Idea of shooting roll film
I have seen a Calumet roll film holder which looks like the Sinar (like a dark slide with a block on one end were the roll must go) do you know if these are any good as I've seen one going cheap ...

Joshua I have seen secondhand a Astragon 250mm f6.3, a Schneider 240mm f5.6 and a Super-Angulon 8/75mm
dose anybody have an opinion on these they are all cheap by the standards of new lenses
I intend to buy better when I find what I really like

Also I will end up doing portraits is there a "special" lens thats good for 4x5
I intend to b

Frank- you mention using a dslr in place of instant film
did you mean through the F2- if so how?
I have seen a Sinar-Canon eos adaptor on ebay


which looks like its for panoramic stitching to me
I guess there is no easy way of taking a full frame 4x5 picture for focus and exposure purposes.

I am looking at Teamwork,Robertwhite and Linhof-studio for second hand gear in England do you know of any others in England
I have of course looked at this site for sale page but it would be useful to no all the shops in England

thanks again for all your thoughts


Oren Grad
20-Jul-2008, 10:56
Robin -

There's at least one possible problem in using roll film with your F2 that you need to keep in mind. Because the picture area is smaller than with sheet film, the focal lengths you will need for your lenses are correspondingly shorter. So, for example, while 150mm is the normal focal length for 4x5", you would need a 90mm lens to get the same field of view on 6x7cm. But the standard bellows that usually comes with an F2 is designed for 4x5", and may not compress enough to comfortably accommodate the shorter lenses needed for roll film. The good news is that because the Sinar system is modular, if necessary you can purchase a "bag bellows" or "wide angle bellows" that will allow the front and rear standards to move closer together and allow you to focus the shorter lenses and still have enough flexibility in the bellows to take advantage of camera movements.

The Calumet roll holder is not so well made as the Sinar, and some users have found problems with film flatness when attempting to use one for critical work. But if you can find one inexpensively it's a reasonable tool to start learning.

Good luck!

20-Jul-2008, 11:53

there are a lot of roll film backs out there, but I wouldn't bet they fit properly under the SINAR groundglas. They should work if you take off the ground glass frame and put them in instead - but that's annoying in my eyes. Try before you buy!

And you need a screen template to show you the outline of the exposed 6x7/6x9 area on the 5x4 ground glass, as you only use part of it. Cheapest solution: attach roll film holder with open darkslide to SINAR frame, look from lens side and mark outline of opening with thin edding.

The standard bellows should be fine for 120 mm and longer, the 90 mm may work with small movements (I use the wide angle bellows for 90 mm). For 75mm you definitely need the wide angle bellows.

Concerning the digital camera: I use a Minolta Dynax D7 (analogue) for metering, as this camera offers a graphic that shows distribution of exposure. But you also may use a digital with the advantage of histograms. Just take care of your ISO settings !!!
In the field it's easy going, as long as bellows extension is nearly at infinity length. For close-ups (longer bellows extensions) I use cheat-sheets with f-stop correction I made for all my lenses. Results are fine, as I always take more than one exposure ("bracketing").
For slides on roll film I do 2 halfs of film, e.g. for 6x9 (8 exposures on film): 0; +1/2; -1/2; 0 on 2nd half of film in holder, exchange film, 0; +1/2; -1/2; 0 on new film. This way I want to be sure I get at least one pic if lab makes mistakes, one film gets lost or exposure is not optimal. For critical situations I even do two complete rolls ...

If you want to start on roll film, 240/250 mm is quite long (comparable 100-120mm on 135mm film). I understand you are enthusiastic and you want to start soon, but buying the wrong lens/equipment may disappoint you. Keep cool :cool: ;). LF always requires thinking first.



Frank Petronio
20-Jul-2008, 14:25
Ideally you would use a combination of light metering, experience, a Polaroid/Fuji Instant Film test, and shooting a DSLR at the same ISO/Shutter Speed/Aperture along side the large format camera. And for the most critical work and commercial jobs, using the Instant Film makes sense. But because Instant Film's cost has risen and the diversity of ISO and types has decreased, it looks like using Instant Film may be prohibitive for most "everyday" photographic situations. Which is a pity because only Instant Film tested the camera itself, and would show if their was a light leak or lens flare for example.

What most people who use a DSLR do is to simply shoot alongside, about as close as possible.

The Sinar roll film holders will probably cost more than what you paid for the F2 ;-) You can buy a lot of 4x5 film for the cost of a film holder.... Use 4x5 and you'll get better quality and be using the camera for what it was designed for. You always buy a roll film holder later.

The 240 focal length on 4x5 is quite nice for portraits, but the individual condition of the lens matter most.

Good Luck!

Brian Ellis
20-Jul-2008, 21:17
"I have seen a Calumet roll film holder which looks like the Sinar (like a dark slide with a block on one end were the roll must go) do you know if these are any good as I've seen one going cheap .."

I used the Calumet holder for a few years. I've read of complaints about film flatness and maybe other issues but I never had a problem with mine, it worked fine. The only downside I found was that loading it was fairly complicated. I had to pull out the instruction sheet every time I used it but that was probably because I didn't use it all that much. I preferred it to the Graflok or "International" style holders, which require you to remove the camera's ground glass frame in order to use them. The Calumet holder slides under the ground glass frame just like a normal film holder so you don't have to deal with removing and replacing anything in order to use it.

Joshua Dunn
20-Jul-2008, 22:35

As far as lenses go I don’t have any experience with the 250mm Astragon. I have shot extensively with Schneider lenses and they are considered the Mercedes-Benz of large format lenses (not to say that there are not outstanding lenses made by other manufactures such as Rodenstock, Fuji and Nikkor). It also depends on what vintage the lens you are talking about is, the 240mm 5.6 and the 75mm Super-Angulon are no longer made by Schneider (you can read more about these lenses here http://www.schneideroptics.com/info/vintage_lens_data/large_format_lenses/ at Schneider’s website) but that does not mean they are not a capable lens as much as they are not as capable as the newest version for that lens.

For example you did not mention if the 240mm was a Symmar or a Symmar-S. For a beginner you will probably not notice the difference between the two lenses. But the Symmar-S has over a 100mm larger image at f/22 than the Symmar version of the same lens. You may not understand the need for a larger image circle now but as you start to use more movements it becomes clear. Put simply you need a larger image circle projected on the film plane (in your case with 4x5 its 153mm) to allow for the image to not vignette by the movements you are using. So the larger the image circle the more movements you can use. Do not worry about this right now as you need to get some basic functions down with your camera. Just be aware that depending on how much you get into Large Format (it is addictive as crack) you may find that a lens works for you to start leaning on but needs to be replaced with a lens with a larger image circle to allow for the movements you want to use. This may mean you could out grow a Symmar but use a Symmar-S for twenty years. For me I would rather go with a reasonably priced lens that I could grow with.

The 75mm Super-Angulon is a good lens but I would highly recommend starting with a 90mm lens as your first wide angle lens as a 75mm lens is very wide on 4x5. The 90mm f/8 Super-Angulon is a great lens in that it has a huge image circle is very sharp and can be had relatively cheap. It’s also a lens you could buy as a beginner and still find that you can use the as you grow as a photographer over twenty years. I would highly recommend it as your first choice as a wide angle. 240mm is a little long for my taste for portraits on 4x5 (notice I mentioned my taste, shoot whatever works for you), I would recommend finding a good used 210mm Schneider Symmar-S. Just look around long enough and you will find great lenses of all focal lengths, just be patient and don’t just buy what is easy to find as opposed to what will work for you. I would also recommend getting a 150mm lens.

It’s worth mentioning that Oren is precisely right in that the focal lengths change relative to the format size you are shooting. Meaning all of my recommendations go out the window if you go from 4x5 to a medium format roll film back that is 6x9 or smaller. Just like 50mm is considered a normal focal length lens on a 35mm camera, it is a wide angle lens for 6x7. By using a roll film back you should use lenses appropriate to that roll film format, whether it is 6x7, 6x9, 6x12 etc. Meaning the 240mm would be very long. Frank is right is that you can buy a whole lot of film for the cost of a roll film back. And certainly once you shoot your first chrome (meaning slide film) on 4x5 you will never want to go back to 6x7. Oren, FYI you can use a 90mm on a flat Sinar board, the bellows will compress to infinity and still use some movements. Only with extreme movements do you need a recessed lens board and/or bag bellows. I use both with my Sinar but only need really need them when doing extreme movements such as with interior architecture.

As far as how to meter for exposure, you can use a DSLR to meter your scene but if you do this your will never learn or understand the ins and outs of exposure for film. It is different that digital. I would get a decent light meter and force yourself to use learn to shoot film. Besides you will look quite silly hauling around all this 4x5 gear, setting it all up and then pulling out a DSLR to meter with.

Again I would recommend learning to use 4x5 for what it is, a 4x5 camera. That includes both the hassles and the rewards. The biggest key to success with large format is patience; I would wait on the roll film back.

Good luck.


20-Jul-2008, 23:15
Hi Joshua

Thanks again for the effort you've put into helping me
looking on ebay I see a lot of DB auto board mounted lens
If I buy one is it possible to remount this onto a shutter and Sinar board
Is this just a matter of screwing the things together or dose it need to be precisely alined

I'm going to get the camera now

Doubtless have a few question when I get back ...



Joshua Dunn
21-Jul-2008, 03:19

You do not need to offer thanks; that said you are welcome. We all benefit from this and other forums as photographers of any genre. I have had the benefit of them as much as anyone else, part of that is giving back to the forum when you can. Forums like these make us all better photographers.

The DB mounted lenses are for use with the Sinar shutter. I would not start with these lenses only because it will complicate your learning to use your Sinar, plus the additional cost of buying a Sinar shutter. DB lenses were primarily designed to be used in the studio, they a lot of extra equipment to carry into the field. If you buy one with the intent of remounting into a Copal shutter (Copal is the most common brand of shutter you will find on view camera lenses and you can buy them separate from the lens) keep two things in mind. First, most modern lenses can screw straight into a Copal shutter as the lens barrel sizes and shutter sizes have been standardized. However some require a spacer (a shim) that may not been in the DB Shutter but is needed on the Copal shutter. Secondly, Copal shutters are stopped down manually by means of a small lever on the shutter itself. There is a metal strip that has the f-stop scale engraved into it. The scale is particular to individual lenses. Meaning if you buy a used Copal 3 shutter and at one time had a 360mm lens installed in the f-Stop scale is calibrated for 360mm. If you install a 240mm lens, it will physically fit however the f-scale will not match. So if you buy a lens and shutter separately you will have to have an f-stop scale made for your particular lens. This can be done but is one more cost to getting the lens working.

Copal shutters are not cheap either. So if you buy a DB lens make sure you get an outstanding deal on it as you will probably still have a couple hundred pounds (or dollars in my case) worth of work to do on it before you can use it. With the cost of second had lenses it is usually better to just find a good lens in a shutter ready to go. Your experience with large format will be complicated enough without adding to it by trying to piece together a lens. You may want to consider buying from some American companies (Camera stores) stock of used lenses. The dollar is so weak right now that even with VAT you can probably get a used lens for a steal.

The most important thing to do is to start shooting so you can start learning. Enjoy your new addiction.


Bjorn Nilsson
21-Jul-2008, 08:22
About lens(es): To get started you will need one, i.e. one lens. There has many pieces of advice telling you to start up with ordinary filmholders and 4x5" film. I do agree with those advices. If nothing else, it's more fun to look at a big piece of sheet film. If you go for sheet film and filmholders, get a lens in the 135-180mm range. (150mm is the "standard" lens, equal to around 40mm on a 35mm camera.)
A 135mm lens will (of course) be a bit wider while a 180 will cover slighly less of the subject. This also means that the 135 is "less flexible" when you want to shift or swing the front (or back) of the camera. This because the lens illuminates a circle which is bigger the longer the distance from the front to the back of the camera.
Anyhow, which you choose is up to you and if you like to find details (go for a 180) or like "the whole picture" (go for the 135). Whichever lens you choose, you will have a good number of months learning how to understand all about LF photography in general and the Sinar in particular.
I own an F2 myself and in my mind it's an excellent beginners camera. Everything is very simple and straightforward. You have scales and gadgets built in on the camera which will help you with your settings. On the other hand it's also a very professional camera. Because "Everything is very simple and straightforward."
So again, good choice.


Phil Hudson
21-Jul-2008, 11:00

you might find a visit to Mr Cad in Croydon (www.mrcad.co.uk) well worth a visit. You will see a HUGE assortment of used Large Format stuff there even if you don't end up buying anything. It will at least give you a really good idea of what's out there and what might suit your needs. It's the sort of place you have visit and chat with staff rather then look at their website!

Good Luck!

21-Jul-2008, 12:04
Hi Guys

Got the camera today and its very good condition
not a mark on it

Getting a fuji quickload and some dark slides tomorrow
and hopefully a lens -MrCad here I come

Would really like a Polaroid/fuji back of some sort and have seen the polaroid 405 Graflex
Will this fit my F2 will it slot in or will I have to remove the film holder
Will it take fuji FP100c or FP100c45
I know that the FP100 is not 4x5 but that will be fine for rough exposure and colour checks



Joshua Dunn
21-Jul-2008, 22:46

I personally have not shot with a Fuji 405 back (I always used Polaroid Single Sheet Holders) but they simply slide under the ground glass like any sheet film holder. Be aware that they produce a 3 ½ by 4 ½ image. So keep that in mind when you are shooting.

As far as using it to “Check Color” keep in mind that all film products are different. Especially instant films. Just like if you shoot a Kodak Color Film verses a Fuji color film, they both produce different colors. Neither film is necessarily wrong; the colors are simply the look of that film. Instant films look totally different than conventional films, so you cannot accurately compare colors between the two. Yes you can get a rough idea of exposure based on a Polaroid back; however I implore you to learn to expose for the films you use. Exposure is critical to all film media; it often makes or breaks your image. Learn to do some basic film speed tests and to expose to in a manner that suits your style.

Again, congratulations.


Clive Gray
23-Jul-2008, 00:17
If your looking for a polaroid 405 back for your Sinar MXV in Uckfield have one at a sensible price on their Large Format List and if you went to MrCad you'll have seen they have cheap out of date Fuji and polaropid pack film that you can experiment with .