View Full Version : evaluating a Sinar P

Blair Ware
20-Apr-2010, 10:59
I am thinking of getting a Sinar P and was wondering if anyone can tell me what to look for and how to test it, e.g., gearing. Thanks.


Scott Walker
20-Apr-2010, 12:21
If you are considering one with the Sinar auto aperature shutter system as well, the cable release is $275.00 to replace and takes 3 weeks to arrive so make sure it has been treated very well

Blair Ware
20-Apr-2010, 19:38
Thanks Scott, sounds like something to avoid and fortunately for me, all of my 4x5 lenses have shutters. :)

I am primarily intersted in mechancial parts that could wear out over 30+ years of use.


Bob McCarthy
21-Apr-2010, 05:36
Hi Blair,

First thought...Did you do a search of the forum, I know quite a few guys use Sinars. Lee, Petronio and others. They have offered sage advice in the past.

I might have some threads to point you to. Need to head for office now...


Bob McCarthy
21-Apr-2010, 05:45
Hi Blair,

Something to get you started




Bob McCarthy
21-Apr-2010, 06:54
The P camera is the typical euro monorail

good consttruction - lots of parts (modular) - and in there day very pricy.

Sinar was the most successful in it's era, and in the end owning the market caused it to collapse under the weight of too much used stuff flooding the market when the digital wave came over commercial photography. You can easily acquire a $7k camera rig for 10-20 cents on the dollar.

Even tired beaters have a future, the cost of overhaul is cheap-cheap compared to everything else out there, which was as Sinar planned. In the film days you sent your camera into Sinar for a cheap tune up every few years. As with the modular design, its replace a few parts and tune a few adjustments and return back to the customer quickly.

Built like a tank (from personal experience), a touch bulky but thats both a curse and an advantage, rock solid, can tweek setup, focus to perfection on GG. One of the blessings of geared movements.

If you're a backpacker, it's a challenge, if your shooting off pavemant within 500 yds of the car, a roller cart is all you need. A cheap fabric ice cooler on wheels works for me, Film holders etc are in a light backpack. No brainer really.

The modularity means you can set it up the way you want, lots of fancy assessories that you don't need, but some that are lifesavers. Lens in barrel interesting to you, Sinar offers a possibility.

4x5 to 5x7 to 8x10 all happens in 30 seconds.

Bag bellows, less than 30 seconds to change.

Can you tell I've become a fan. I bought an old Sinar F a year or two ago. While not a P <G>, it was cheaper than any budget camera I could find, and the original F while oldish is positively small compared to the later F's with the big knobs to emulate a P for marketing purposes.

I snagged a P about 6 months ago. The camera was poorly represented by the seller, but my cost to bring to new condition was really pocket change, thank goodness I didn't have to send it to Marflex. Bellows is most expensive individual part. Bellows alone is $300 - 400 depending on material etc. Sinar bellows are more ($) but they are built really tough and, I would guess, outlast most 3rd party from a durability standpoint

I came from a Linhof Technika 2000 which is a talented front end camera, back movements are well..... Anyway the Sinar is equally talented on the front and vastly superior on the back end. The asymetrical movements make focus and image plane adjustment a snap.

Good luck,


Steve M Hostetter
21-Apr-2010, 14:12
Hi Blair,,

First, I'd make sure the standards lined up perfect to eachother on rail and in the 8x10 position , "if that is the rear standard you plan to get"... And I would.! since you can use either 4x5, 5x7, 8x10 or 11x14 formats and even up to 16x20 or higher.
Sinar makes a 3' rail and uses double rail clamps and is one of the most stable ULF rail cameras.(or come to think of it,,, how many ULF rails are there.)?
Make sure your plastic gears have all their screws.!
I have had one vibrate out.
Also,look at the gears and move all the movements to be sure they float free. I've found worn parts can lead to a lopside standard.
If you do lose a screw:D umm,, it's metric and it's a b..ch to find,, put lock-tight on it before you put it back.
All the rest is cosmetic

Blair Ware
22-Apr-2010, 04:52
Bob and Steve, thanks for the great advice and links.

I've located a local copy on the bay and it's within an hours driving distance (in Toronto). If it doesn't sell today I'm going to have a look at it early next week. I just had a look at it again... missing its rail clamp and levels, though they seem easy to come by.

Frank Petronio
22-Apr-2010, 06:51
4x5 bellows are inexpensive, under $75 on eBay.

Sinar service in NJ is honest and helpful, if not cheap, as is Bob Watkins at http://precisioncameraworks.com/.

Basically everything is adjustable and replaceable. Sometimes it is better to buy two cameras and sell off the worst parts that you don't need (and breaking even on the deal!) You can often find smoking deals on outfits.

I am not a fan of the Auto Shutter unless you enjoy older Brass lenses. Don't bother with the DB mount, just use an extra standard and mount the shutter in the middle between two bellows. I'd avoid the "speed" features like the cables that automagically close the shutter when you insert the holder, the ground glass metering, etc. as the can be problematic due to age and the sheer Gyro Gearloose madness of the Swiss designers.

Bob McCarthy
22-Apr-2010, 07:10
Frank is correct, an 4x5 bellows is cheap on ebay, I was quoting having an 8x10 redone.

Since the Sinar bellows is tough as nails, the 4x5 bellows live forever and can be bought in good shape on Ebay.

Wish same were true of the larger bellows, they appear to be rare as hens teeth.

Sorry for any confusion.


Frank Petronio
22-Apr-2010, 07:25
You can always buy a cheap bad 8x10 bellows and use the frames to have a nice one made by a bellows manufacturer like camerabellows.uk. They can make a better one actually.

Bob McCarthy
22-Apr-2010, 07:46
Thats exactly what I did, the one that came with the unit was a disaster, took an entire tube of gasket sealer to get it light tight. Bellows from UK is 185 pounds (UK).

Another month or two that will less than $100 <G>.

Steve M Hostetter
23-Apr-2010, 11:36
I always liked the idea of using Sinar's leveling rail clamp. I've seen them new in the cat. but never a used one available.
I think their rail clamps are big part of their stability and limitations,,,as far as using the P standards are concerned.

Frank Petronio
23-Apr-2010, 13:16
The rail clamp and pan-tilt head are wonderful together, they really should bundle the pan-tilt with the camera, they are worth the $200+ they fetch.