View Full Version : 8x10 Sinar P question

Bob McCarthy
29-Jan-2010, 19:54
Alright I pulled the plug and bought my first 8x10. After 30 years of 4x5 I just wanted the experience of big film.

So I bought a used Sinar P. Camera is in decent shape, its not new but fine from first blush. Bad part is bellows is trash, tons of light leaks. Lots of tape, and still plenty of leaks.

I have a extra bellows with back that i can change out but it is the meter setup and the new to me P has the standard back.

A couple of quick questions, where to buy a bellows, Sinar or custom?

The P has a decent GG with fresnel, will the fresnel fit the meter back?

NEVERMIND, what I was described as a Sinar fresnel is a sheet of plastic with fresnel embossed. UUGGG.

The extra 8x10 changing kit is for a P2, in addition to being much larger will it work with the P. I would just try but Im tired and figured there was a ton of local knowledge here.

Just put the P2 8x10 kit on the camera, sure is a ton bigger. I bought the change kit by mistake and was planning to sell it. Bellows is near new in appearance.

So do I sell the meter back and buy a original bellows or just be happy the way it is. Not exactly light proof like seller described.

Thanks in advance.


Armin Seeholzer
30-Jan-2010, 16:31
To the older P you need also the older P bellows and visa versa.

Cheers Armin

Dave Dawson
31-Jan-2010, 13:53
As you have discovered the metering back and bellows are larger than the standard ones....I fell into this trap and got a standard 10x8 back and frame and then bought via mail order, metering bellows:( which are too big. Nothings easy is it?

Cheers Dave

erie patsellis
31-Jan-2010, 14:13
The P has a decent GG with fresnel, will the fresnel fit the meter back?

NEVERMIND, what I was described as a Sinar fresnel is a sheet of plastic with fresnel embossed. UUGGG.

Sounds like a Sinar fresnel, before you poo-poo it, try it with a lens, you may be rather surprised. I can't live without my 8x10 fresnel, it just makes life soooo much easier.

Bob McCarthy
31-Jan-2010, 16:35
I'm settled down now. I've approached the seller, lets see what he thinks.

I have a usable camera with the meter back and bellows so I can at least use the camera. The original GG/frame is OK. but I never saw a fresnel that was just a sheet of flexible plastic. The ones on my other cameras are molded in (linhof superscreen) or are a rigid second piece of rigid plastic in a frame?

The original bellows is trash. So I've got to find a replacement for the long pull. This meter back is just too big. Were I in a studio, I be OK with it, but I will use it in the field, (close to car for sure) so I've got to replace the original.

Nice feature of Sinar to be so modular that a P2 meter 8x10 kit works on the original P.

The P is worthy of an overhaul as I understand it's fairly inexpensive.

The original P bellows is quite expensive, I'll look for one on ebay, but is there anyone who also builds bellows that I should consider.


Frank Petronio
31-Jan-2010, 16:56
I bought an unused Camera Bellows-made bellows from the person who sold me my 8x10 Norma. I bought a $40 trashed 8x10 bellows on eBay, scrapped the frames clean and contact cemented the bellows to the frames. It was nicer quality than the OEM Sinar bellows (I think they make the Linhof bellows so they should be). They were also much less expensive.

The nice thing is that you should be able to order a Sinar bellows from Camera Bellows (or whatever they are called nowadays) in the UK and have them make up the bellows without the cost of the frames -- they already have the pattern since they've made so many Sinar bellows before -- and then when it arrives, trash your current holey bellows that you've been getting by with. Or watch eBay for another cheap trashed bellows w good frames.

Precision Camera Works can rebuild the P standards.

Robert Fisher
31-Jan-2010, 17:22
Bob, speaking from lots and lots of experience with Sinar gear (especially 810's), I would dismantle the camera and sell (unload) the parts individually on the "Bay". Most of these cameras (especially the 810's) are worn out from years of studio use. Basically you have 25-30 pounds of metal (junk).

Unload it ASAP - otherwise you are just wasting your time and money.

Frank Petronio
31-Jan-2010, 17:32

I'd like to buy all of your "junk" cameras Robert -- you're a perfectionist!

I guess I'd avoid buying studio cameras from Chicago, NYC, and High Point, NC -- where a lot of the big catalog production studios were. But even in the 70s - the Sinar P era - 8x10s weren't used everyday, most places shot 4x5 by then. In the 50-60s studio guys shot a lot of 8x10 because they would retouch right on the film.

erie patsellis
31-Jan-2010, 17:58
would you care to elucidate what it is that wears? every contact area is nylon to aluminum and all the nylon parts are replaceable (rather inexpensively). So even the most worn out 8x10 can work like new with some maintenance.

Robert Fisher
31-Jan-2010, 18:16
erie, you are 100% correct - you can make an old 1972 Sinar or 1972 Cadillac perform satisfactorily if enough time and money is expended. But in the end you still have a beat up old camera /car - if that floats your boat, go ahead, it is a free country.

erie patsellis
31-Jan-2010, 21:39
Of course, I agree with you Robert, with the prices today, there's little sense in buying a basket case to restore. However, it's only a tool, and I've never seen other tradesmen obsess over their tools like so many photographers do.

Armin Seeholzer
1-Feb-2010, 03:26
Robert it can be worn out, but if you are lucky like me you get a P wich was the reserve camera of the studio wich only was used if the P2 was for ajusting at Sinar.

Cheers Armin

Bob McCarthy
1-Feb-2010, 07:49
I've gone through the camera with a microscope.

Cosmetics are pretty darn good. Only places where the original owner stuck velcro, or a piece of masking tape (??) are there any issues and these were cleaned up with bisteen/alcohol. Otherwise it seems to be very good. No dents, scrapes or missing paint.

Gearing on first blush looks great. Cranking the standards to the extremes and exposing the plastic gears, they look like new. In the middle of the range it appears fine as I wind from one extreme to other.

Only issues are: 1) with big meter rear, the rear rise tends to slip and not hold position , may or may not be a problem, as with the 8x10, fall on the front end is more than plentyful, 2) there is conciderable reversal play on swing & tilt but that may be due to the gear shift mechanism, which works but is a little balky (might be a design "feature") and 3) some of the knobs pull out about 3/4 inch and then re-engage the gearing (but freewheel between the extremes).

Anyone who knows Sinars - is this normal condition or a worn out beater??

The bellows was massively misrepresented, what was passed on as usable and lighttight was a piece of trash and should have been Sh**canned years ago.

The seller told me he lost $135 on it selling it to me???? Washed his hands of the problem, mine now. He claimed to have used a Nikon DSLR for the product shots, but I got 640x400 images (give or take on cropping) that massively pixelated when trying to examine details.

I should have known better, the seller had 4 posts total.

Haven't used a big Sinar in lots of years, nice design, (though a bit oversized with the meter back).


David A. Goldfarb
1-Feb-2010, 08:59
I guess I'd avoid buying studio cameras from Chicago, NYC, and High Point, NC -- where a lot of the big catalog production studios were.

In my case, it worked to my advantage to buy from a busy New York studio, because the cameras were regularly serviced, and they probably had regular visits from a Sinar rep. Many of the parts that wear on my Sinar P are of recent P2 vintage.

Things like the nylon gearing will wear out faster than metal gearing, but it's smoother in operation and easily replaced with parts that are currently available from Sinar. Sinar levels are a pain. What is it about those things that they seem to go dry faster than other levels? I suspect it has to do with the way they are mounted and adjusted that must cause them to develop tiny cracks.

Frank Petronio
1-Feb-2010, 09:20
Of course it depends on the photographer. I once got a Sinar Norma that had been exposed to salty sea air and the original tog had used Vice Grips to tighten the standards (never adjusted it, just kept wrenching it tighter).

But it got repaired for $100, the oxidized parts buffed out, and it was a good camera.

Bob McCarthy
1-Feb-2010, 16:49
To illustrate how decent LF folks can be, I had the offer of a loaner bellows to use while I sorted thing out.

Thanks RR. With much appreciation. The original seller just told me tough when I approached him with the problem.

Having problems finding the bellow manufacture who used to be under the name Custom Bellows. Anyone have contact info for the surviving company.

Gem suggested I call Keith C as thats who makes the bellows for his 8x10. Hate to bother someone I'm not buying from, maybe I will someday (buy one). Saw the 5x7 Canham that Gem bought recently, very light and surprisingly compact for a 5x7.


David A. Goldfarb
1-Feb-2010, 17:39
They used to be Camera Bellows, and currently are Custom Bellows--


If they make it for you, you could ask for an extra long one. My Sinar P came with a 40" bellows, which isn't a standard Sinar product as far as I can tell, and it still focuses with my widest 8x10" lens (120mm).

Bob McCarthy
2-Feb-2010, 11:49
After looking over all the issues, Its best in my mind to

Not pass the product onto some other unsuspecting smuck.

I'm going to have a proper bellows made and have the mechanics brought up to snuff.

While its not my chosen path, I don't want to screw with parting it out and the cosmetics are good enough to upgrade.

Fix it, use it and go on. Still have less than 20-25% of a new one in it all said and done.

Not happy with the seller, I thought we had standards for who we allow to sell in here.

Saved a guy from China an major headache.

Can anyone describe what the gearing standard of acceptance is, ie how much play in gearing, or play on reversal of direction


Frank Petronio
2-Feb-2010, 13:42
Nobody polices the sales here but it would be very embarrassing to "out" the guy. That's why it's riskier to make a large transaction with someone with very little history (investment) on this forum.

Fair-minded people realize that someone could smear the reputation of an honest person, so it's really a measure of last resort. But if someone gets more than a couple disputed transactions, it's a pretty good sign that something is amiss.

I've made dozens of transactions here and they've all gone smoothly, I suspect that is the case for the vast majority and I bet it is a better average than buying from eBay. But you still have to be careful and the deal is entirely your own responsibility.

PayPal disputes are biased in favor of the buyer, the seller almost always has to capitulate if they want to keep on using PayPal. If you wanted to chase your seller down, that would be the most likely step.

Bob McCarthy
2-Feb-2010, 14:39

Transaction was by cleared check.

Its not that I got scalped, I did get a camera after all. But I've bought and sold much and never had anything to complain about. I got complacent, thats all, and did not recieve the value expected along with a time based headache to get everything up to snuff.

I had my doubts from the beginning, limited forum history, very small jpegs, vague descriptions and run around answers. I can only blame myself for not following my own instincts. Got a sense the guy was selling for funds. After the fact, he told me he only shot a small amount of film through the camera, about a dozen shots.

He just passed on the problem and claimed to have no money to refund to me when I asked to return the camera.

I sleep at night, oh well, on the the next thing now...

How about the question on mechanical condition?

any comments, do not have a base line on what to expect mechanically.


erie patsellis
2-Feb-2010, 14:49
Bob, if you replace the rise/fall, shift and tilt gearing, readjust everything as needed it will be fine. There is an updated metal rise gear for the bearers, I still have the plastic ones in mine as they haven't worn out yet.

I've had my rear standard apart enough times to be able to reassemble it fairly quickly, and if I can be of help, feel free to ask. The "slop" when switching between h and v (swing and tilt) is pretty common, very one I've used has some play, it's up to you how much it bothers you if it's worth replacing.

How is the front standard? In my experience, the front seems to hold up better, as it's carrying less weight and tends to not be used as much. The movement and feel of the front standard should give you an idea of what the rear should feel like. If you rear rise gear looks good, you can adjust the mesh of the gears to eliminate play, and preload it heavier to resist motion. (I can detail how to do that off forum)

Bob McCarthy
3-Feb-2010, 10:48
After cleanup its working OK, findings


-focus and rise fall are tight and precise
-tilt and swing are looser, one extreme to other is smooth but there seem to be play in the gear to track engagement as reversing direction has 30-40 deg. of play in the knob.


-focus Ok, about the same as front
-rise looser than front by a bit , weight of rear can cause a touch of slippage downward
-tilt/swing looser than front and it appears possible to slip the gears/track with heavy handed manipulation.

Rear is less solid than front in feel.

It all works, but is it just adjustment or do you suggest replacing parts to bring it up to snuff.

I'm really liking the camera.

Got a bellows quote -185 pounds using my old bellows as a pattern?


9-Apr-2010, 06:05
Hi Bob,

Sorry to drag up an old thread, but I was curious if you got the new bellows, and what quality and fit were like if you did. I managed to slap enough gasket goop on the bellows on my recently acquired 8x10 Sinar to make it light-tight, but I'd like to get a new bellows as I am really loving everything else about the camera.



10-Apr-2010, 22:41
I'd also like to know how it went with the bellows, and I'd like to add that Sinar service in NJ seems to be great, and to get the metal gears, I think it's less than $100 (I don't remember exactly but it's not terrible) per standard for them to fix it up (at least for a P2 8x10 like I just bought).

If I were you, I'd give them a ring and go over the issues on the phone; I recently did that with my brand-new-to-me P2 8x10 and the guy put a lot of things on my mind to rest.

Bob McCarthy
11-Apr-2010, 06:09
I put the new bellows on the sidelines for the moment. With gasket sealer, I was able to hold off the inevitable.

I had a shoot planned this weekend that slowed down the project. I intend to send off the standards/bearers to George (overhauler) next week and get the bellows rebuild underway at the same time.


jan staller
26-Apr-2010, 15:07
Anyone had an experience as did I with Turner Bellows? They had two attempts making a bellows for my Sinar 8x10 (early model), and the first appeared to be crude and imprecisely made and finished. The second was certainly well below the original bellows in workmanship.
Where can I get a reasonably constructed replacement bellows made?

Robert Fisher
26-Apr-2010, 15:28
Jan, go to: http://custombellows.co.uk/

These guys (Keith & Tony) were with the original Camera Bellows that supplied OEM bellows to Sinar, Arca, etc - they know their craft.

Their charges are commensurate with the quality provided - first class!

Simply give them the size of your frames (metering or non metering back) and use contact cement to glue the new bellow to your frames.

Best of luck!

PS: Sinar P/P2's are the ultimate!!

jan staller
26-Apr-2010, 16:29
any idea about the price for the replacement 8x10 bellows?

Frank Petronio
26-Apr-2010, 16:58
Unfortunately Turner makes bellows better suited for industrial machines, not fine cameras. I hate to say that because they are local to me, but I've seen some crude stuff from there too.