View Full Version : Carbon Infinity: Follow-up and BRIEF review

Natha Congdon
22-Oct-2001, 16:42
Well, prompted by Bob Solomon's comment (see previous Carbon Infinity thread) ab out Ken Hansen stocking Carbon Infinities, the carbon fiber and titanium hybrid field/studio camera, I called them up and bought what I gather is their last one . Bob had quoted a price of $1800, and in fact they sold it to me, essentially new in the box with instruction manual and instructional video, with two blank l ensboards, for $1500. It came today.

First impressions:

1. At full extension, it is pretty much as rigid as a Linhof Technika.

2. It has all view camera movements, including front and rear base and axial ti lt, swing, shift, rise and fall (8 cm of rise and fall at front and back, 8 cm o f shift each way front and back, tilts and swings appear to be limited by bellow s front and back. I THINK the rear axial tilt is actually asymmetric (below the middle of the ground glass), a VERY nice feature of Sinar, Ebony and some other cameras. Rear shift can be used to give you asymmetric rear swing along any ax is you want. All movements are clearly labeled as to extent in cm or degrees, t hough none are geared (except focus, of course; coarse focus also available).

3. Full extension is 19 inches without any tricks with base tilt. There is a li ttle attachment doohicky at front that appears to let you put the lensboard even further forward than the standard. Combining tilts and the use of this doohick y might add another few inches of extension, but I don't know how the bellows wo uld feel about that.

4. Nothing appears to prevent the standards from coming into direct contact exc ept the bellows. That is, I gather you could focus a 35 mm lens in a flat board , with the right bag bellows.

5. Removal of bellows, lensboards, etc. very easy. THey say it can bo stored w ith a lens inside, don't know what the limits on size of such a stored lens woul d be.

6. Set-up is a little fiddly compared to, say, a Tech, but it took me only a co uple of minutes with the book to do it, and I'm sure would be fast with experien ce.

7. As far as accessories, I am told it takes Sinar lensboards and MAYBE Sinar b ag bellows. I'm looking into that.

8. Weighs 3.3 kg = 7 lb, about the same as a Tech

9. It does indeed fold up into its own carbon fibre shell, which they claim is indestructible. The size is ca 10X11 inches, a bit larger than a folded Tech.

10. Accessing the various controls seems pretty easy. They are easy to find wi th ones face under a dark cloth, and big.

11. The color, black and grey striped carbon fibre, is WAY too cool. See photos on Ebay referenced in the last Carbon Infinity post above.

Summary: One has the first impression of a very well made, rigid studio monorai l camera which weighs about as much a a Linhof Tech, and folds up just as indest ructibly but slightly larger than one for easy transport. Though the feel in us ing it is not quite as silky sweet as a Tech, the controls seem as if they might be easier to access without looking at them. Obviously, movements, esp with WA lenses, will be much easier than with a Tech, as this is essentialy a monorail. In short, sort of a combo of the best features of a Tech and a Technikarden, a truly portable and indestructible monorail. Plus, sex appeal, which the Tech d oes not have, much as I love it, unless you're into Arnold Schwarzeneger! For $1 500, this seems a nice deal, especially if it turns out that one can use Sinar l ensboards and bag bellows. Whether I will find it easy to use or a pain in prac tice remains to be seen.

If Tuan has no objection, I'll post a full review at some point, more from compl eteness than for any practical purpose, as only a few dozen of these were appare ntly ever made. I'm pretty pleased with mine on first impression. Who knows, m aybe somebody will pick up the design and start to make them again. At the righ t price, I think they would give Canham, Arca Swiss and Linhof, the obvious comp etitors, a run for their money.


Hagai Kaufman
22-Oct-2001, 17:57
Wow, too bad it's the last camera available! this is the first time i've seen/heard anything about this camera, and from what I saw so far this has to be the closest camera yet to qualify as my own personal dream-machine. Everything that I ever wanted in a camera is there. If anyone knows of another camera hanging arounf out there for the same price more or less, please let me know!

PS - Nathan, if you decide to get rid of it, drop me a line...

QT Luong
22-Oct-2001, 18:00
You're welcome. I obtained permission from the ebay poster to reuse his photos of the camera.

Hisun Wong
22-Oct-2001, 22:12
It does not take Sinar lens board or bellow. CF requires a pin thing at the board to lock it in place. I have the wide angle bellow for 90mm XL lens and also have the extra long bellow for close up. It is a good field camera as well as studio camera. You have to adjust the camera fittings once in a while.

Regards Hisun, Hong Kong

Ole Tjugen
24-Apr-2006, 03:08
Now I've got one of these too, or maybe it's the same? There weren't too many of these made...

Anyway, I can only confirm what Natha Congdon said: It's an exceptional instrument.

Mine came with normal bellows (to 55cm), bag bellows (down to 3cm), TOYO reflex viwer, and two lens boards. Despite not having a manual I found it easy to set up, and no more difficult to put back in the shell. It closes easily with a 150mm Germinar-W inside, there's plenty of space left over (I removed the back first to see how much space there was) for larger lenses. I'm sure I will find the largest possible lens fairly soon (or, equally likely, the smallest too-big lens).

I started thinking about what kind of use ot would be perfect for, and concluded they could have designed it for me: Nature photography in very rugged terrain. While I don't walk far, there's usually a bit of climbing involved to get to where I want to go. So the weight is no handicap, and the hard shell a definite bonus. While most nature photography doesn't involve a lot of movements, most of my local nature is so close to vertical that I have at least as much need of movements as an architecture photographer!

So it seems to be a camera designed for - myself, and perhaps a handful of others? World wide?