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View Full Version : What is the story about this strange Sinar?



Frank Petronio
14-May-2010, 17:45
It looks like a sick 1990s cross breed between a Sinar and some high-end component stereo system. I'd hate to get electrocuted while trying to make a photo.

Nathan Potter
14-May-2010, 18:04
Holy crap! The interface from Hell! Ready for a Sci Fi movie set Frank.

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

Jeff Conrad
14-May-2010, 18:32
Though obviously not the world's greatest field camera (and you don't even show the PC-AT computer to which it had to be tethered), I think the Sinar e was one of the most amazing cameras ever made. You'd focus on a few key points, and the computer would give the optimal tilt, swing, focus, and f-number to get everything sharp. If you believe the Sinar literature (and it's also discussed briefly on pp. 7072 of Urs Tillmanns's Creative Large Format: Basics and Applications), experienced Sinar p users were able to achieve better sharpness while using an f-number 1.5 steps smaller with the Sinar e. According to Tillmanns, the development of this camera led Sinar to rediscover the "hinge" rule a few years before Merklinger; unlike Merklinger, however, Sinar had little to say about it other than a very brief mention in the diagram on p. 71 of Tillmanns's book.

For a planar subject, setting tilt or swing is fairly straightforward; by whatever means, you align the plane of focus with the subject, and everything is sharp. For a non-planar subject, such as a product or a landscape, it's not nearly so simple, and often involves trial and error. Little has even been written on the topic; Merklinger explored it, but QT's article How to focus the view camera (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/how-to-focus.html) is about all I've seen on how to actually find the optimal settings. I've had an article in progress for five or six years, and it's likely to remain in that state ...

The complexity, bulk, and cost (it was over $30k, including the computer) kept the Sinar e from becoming a hot seller. It's unfortunate that a more practical second-generation version was never developed.

erie patsellis
14-May-2010, 20:16
Frank,
I keep wishing I could run across one inexpensively, I have some ideas using a PIC to automate one, sadly I'll likely have to wait til I hit the lottery. (If I ever played it...)

Tracy Storer
14-May-2010, 21:11
Egad ! I'll stick with mahogany and brass !

B.S.Kumar
14-May-2010, 21:12
Horseman had an LX-C camera with a "Focus Computer". It had a small LCD on the rail below the groundglass. Has anyone ever used it?

Kumar

Mike Anderson
14-May-2010, 22:26
A predecessor to the HAL 9000 was the HAL 7000 and that was part of it's visual system. HAL 7000s were big and slow and didn't have a pleasant voice but they always opened the pod bay doors when asked.

...Mike

Emmanuel BIGLER
15-May-2010, 03:52
Jeff probably refers to this "sci-fi" image of the good old days :
http://jeanba3000.free.fr/sinarE.jpg

Armin Seeholzer
15-May-2010, 04:02
In my opinion with the Sinar E started the going down the river of the Sinar company! It was a camera more for computer freaks then for photogs!
It was the first of more to come hype products.

Just my two cts Armin

Nathan Potter
15-May-2010, 10:54
Jeff probably refers to this "sci-fi" image of the good old days :
http://jeanba3000.free.fr/sinarE.jpg

Despite my terse comment, this effort by Sinar had some plausible advantages, in theory, but I think the complexity sort of usurped the artistic endeavor. Nowadays the implementation could be much simpler, more compact and cheaper. Small, powerful micrprocessors, mixed with digital signal processors, fast A to D and connectivity by wireless could result in a package not much more bulky than the Sinar camera itself. Just takes a few million in engineering development costs for what is probably still a tiny market. :)

Nate Potter, Austin TX.

rdenney
15-May-2010, 12:19
In my opinion with the Sinar E started the going down the river of the Sinar company! It was a camera more for computer freaks then for photogs!
It was the first of more to come hype products.

Just my two cts Armin

1. Hindsight is 20-20.

2. The first implementations of any technology are bulky and expensive.

3. Sometimes, we try things just to see if we can do them. Not everyone understands or agrees that it should be done, but that doesn't make it wrong.

4. Nothing about this beastie prevents one from making great art with the F's, and P's that Sinar continued to sell after this creation.

5. There's a fellow down at the auto parts store in town that has a Chevrolet logo tattooed to the front of his neck. I don't think he did that because of the current model Malibu, however practical and useful that car might be. But I'll bet that's what he bought for his wife.

Rick "the market created by concepts isn't usually for that specific concept" Denney

Ivan J. Eberle
15-May-2010, 14:00
1.5X stops would equate to the difference between 2 full pops from a flash pack instead of 3. Shooting high-volume catalog images of products in a studio setting with this pup (as was the case in it's day) likely enhanced productivity. I'm guessing for the exorbitant price it cost, those few seconds improvement for each shot would have been factored to a fine point in a cash-flow analysis needed to sell it.

Seems more intriguing today as an artifact of that bygone era than the prospect of actually using one.

Frank Petronio
15-May-2010, 15:42
The whole Sinar "workflow" was sold as making tabletop photography as consistent, excellent, and easy as possible, so they probably were thinking in those terms. But I think the metering probes and DB lenses are silly, this is just that same logic carried to the extreme.

Daniel Stone
15-May-2010, 16:05
I worked for a guy here in LA that used to use sinar p2's(4x5 and 8x10) on jobs. He shoots cars, only cars. I remember asking him during a break for lunch on a job about his film equipment of yore, and he said that over a 10 year period(up to ~2003 when he went all digi), he spent close to $300k on lighting equipment(arri tungstens) and sinar camera equipment/lenses. He used the p2's on every type of rig you could imagine, from the standard "rig" shots, at a 3/4 front or rear view of a car going around a turn, to shooting interiors of cars(generally shot by a 2nd photog on set) with a 58mm S.A. XL lens for some shots.

he also made mention that he preferred working with the 4x5s and 8x10's, cause the method of focusing was easier than the MF cameras today. He said that because you're focusing on a large G.G. rather than a dim little screen(now with live view on a 30" monitor, for critical sharpness), it was also easier to show a client lights moving around while the client looked at the g.g.

IDK if he owned the sinar "E", but I can guarantee you he had every lens from 58XL-1200MM(can't remember if it was fuji, rode, or schneider), to shoot cars with.

but that's why he got jobs, the equipment he used let him shoot things easier, faster, and with less effort than the competitors(cambo and horseman at the time, or Linhof if you were "really big" ;))

-Dan

Frank Petronio
15-May-2010, 16:53
Car guys made millions up until about 10 years ago. No expense was spared.

erie patsellis
15-May-2010, 17:07
The whole Sinar "workflow" was sold as making tabletop photography as consistent, excellent, and easy as possible, so they probably were thinking in those terms. But I think the metering probes and DB lenses are silly, this is just that same logic carried to the extreme.

Silly as it may seem to somebody that doesn't shoot a lot of tabletop work, it makes life a whole lot easier for the table top shooter. By time you use a compendium, fill cards, etc. just getting to the lens controls can be hazardous (to the shot as lit) and the shutter and aperture control on the side makes it painless. (as well as closing the shutter when a filmholder is inserted, etc.) In a high volume shop being able to work as quickly as possible is vital to cashflow. With the advent of digital capture, you no longer have to wait for chromes to be processed, and a single shooter can be as productive with one set as you would be with 3 in years past.

The DBM (allows for manual control of the aperture without the shutter) lenses are also quite useful if you use a scanback as well. The Sinar "workflow" allows one to focus, make your movements and expose as quickly as possible, which translates into $$$ for the repetitive catalog work.

Captain_joe6
15-May-2010, 17:24
I'm going to agree with Erie on this one. I've got a Sinar that's got the auto-copal shutter and a DBM lens, and I love it. The shutter speeds are the most practical I've ever seen in a large-format shutter. I never needed anything above 1/25 on my old shutter, but was consistently in the 3-5 second range, which is no fun to have to count off when you're going for precise exposures. The 1/60-8s range of the Sinar shutter is a really handy thing to have.

And on the metering side, I recently picked up an older metering probe that plugs into my Gossen Luna-Pro SBC meter, which I love to death. Now I've got the accuracy of the Luna-Pro, plus the precision of a spot meter, and I don't have to worry about extension factors or anything like that.

I've been shooting landscapes and interiors, and all the technology and engineering of the Sinar has sped up my process phenomenally.

The E may have been limited in scope, but just because they pushed the envelope perhaps a little too far doesn't mean that their entire concept was flawed.

Frank Petronio
15-May-2010, 18:05
No I gotcha, I've been in those kinds of studios, Chicago used to have blocks of them.

Working those kinds of jobs was a great way to break the photo habit ;-)

There was a photographer here who started a pet supply company, he would shoot the catalogs as that was the major expense/critical item to the business. He used a Calumet coathanger camera and used to wave the light across the set rather than feathering it, he'd shoot hot lights and burn and dodge with the darkslide, it was really down and dirty. He'd shoot 100 set-ups a day.

After a few years he sold it to PetSmart for $30 million and moved to Florida.

He told me he couldn't afford a Sinar ;-)

Ivan J. Eberle
15-May-2010, 18:09
"Pushing the envelope" reminds me that all this automation with calculating flash exposures for product photography (prior to digital proofing, and analog still video cameras, slightly further back) was to reduce the enormous time & expense involved in proofing with Polaroid materials. Might today be hard to grasp just how big this Polaroid business once was, by in the mid to late 80's, for anybody who didn't witness it first-hand. Polaroids on 4x5 were also useful not just for exposure confirmation, but they were big enough to check focus. So it was also this large on-going consumables expense that created the context and economic justification for a camera like this Sinar.

erie patsellis
15-May-2010, 18:38
...for anybody who didn't witness it first-hand. Polaroids on 4x5 were also useful not just for exposure confirmation, but they were big enough to check focus. .

And plenty of space for the AD to sign as well. (Assuring you could bill the image)

Daniel Stone
16-May-2010, 01:32
damn, those were the times...

when photography was photography. not this computer-generated "stuff" that people who are more drawers and painters can make more money than a photog shooting the actual thing.

not that I have anything against painters and drawers ;).

-Dan

Armin Seeholzer
16-May-2010, 04:15
The Sinar /Copal shutter and the auto closing part, was and still is fine with me and I like it also a lot, but the E was going much further!

Cheers Armin