View Full Version : Sinar F2 vs. Norma for 8x10 field use?

15-Oct-2010, 16:55
(I asked this on flickr, but had no response).

I'm looking into either an F2 or Norma for 8x10, and was wondering which would likely be better in terms of lugging around.

Weight is an issue, although I'm more concerned with how small the camera is when packed, and how easy it is to set up and in the field.

I'd expect to be using this for a mix of studio and field use, the latter including urban landscape and transport via subway trains etc. I might need to walk a few kms to get to a spot, but not need to climb mountains or anything too crazy.

15-Oct-2010, 17:17
The Norma is a much better camera overall than the F2, actually one of the best ever. The Norma is a very strong and precise camera with virtually no plastic, it is therefore more durable, especially in the field. It is very lightweight for a rail camera, but anytime shooting 8x10 in the field is cumbersome. I have tried so many LF cameras and always come back to the Norma.

15-Oct-2010, 20:23
some one mentioned the use or adaption of a pram or stroller as a way of getting around, recently i had to carry my sinar p across town about 6 blocks and wished i had a pram for at least 5 of those 6 blocks.

prams have great shock systems now. enough room to carry your lunch and your images will be your little babys.

also much better than two wheel trollys you have to drag behind, usually to short and always fall over when hit a bump

you can usually find them on the street as well. hopefully minus the babys.

15-Oct-2010, 21:18
I have not used either of those cameras. You will find some people who praise studio monorails for field use because they are incredibly inexpensive relative to their original cost and they are more sophisticated than field cameras. However, if "weight is an issue" and especially portability then I would not go for it unless budget is the prime mover. I think a field camera is much better, hence the name. In either case, a jogging stroller makes lugging the gear around much more fun and you can lug around more film holders.

Some argue that the film holders might weigh more than any single camera and the rest of the kit makes the camera weight irrelevant. There is some truth to that. However, there is no way to reduce the weight of film holders, but if you can shave 10 pounds off the weight of a camera you have made progress. I had an older, heavier, monorail as my first 8x10 and found it unpleasant for field work. Too heavy and impossibly bulky. Now I have a Wehman field camera which is an excellent option that weighs about 10 pounds and can accommodate almost any lens you could find for it.

Bruce Barlow
16-Oct-2010, 05:12
I love Norma. She has the 8x10 back, and 5x7 and 4x5 reducing backs. She's not a lightweight, but she's solid, smooth, and really fun to use. I like the idea of owning and using a classic, and even though I now have Alice (my Ritter 8x10) and Amanda (my Ritter 5x7), I'm sure I'll find uses for Norma.

I have no experience with an F2, but will be content in my ignorance.

Frank Petronio
16-Oct-2010, 05:31
An F2 8x10 is no slouch, in good condition it can actually be smoother than a mediocre Norma, so I would buy the camera that is most appealing and the best deal. In most cases the Norma is a better deal and it probably is more robust but if someone offered me a F2 8x10 for $7-800 I'd take it seriously, they are fine cameras. I bought a clean 8x10 Norma for less than that once but usually expect to pay around a grand and some change for a good one.

All the usual buyer-bewares apply, one advantage of the F2 is that all the parts are available (but Norma parts are not impossible to find). There are sliding plastic parts in the F2 that do wear out and need replacement but you would have to be buying a very well used one to find things worn out, today's hobby/rock and tree photographers don't shoot enough to wear anything out. Likewise the geared focusing on some Normas can be tweaked from over-tightening and poor adjustment, there are online service guides and the better repair people know how to adjust and center everything.

One thing to watch for with the F2 is that the front standard has long enough legs to give you some rise and not just fall. Because these are system cameras they can be assembled from odd parts, but you'll want extra tall legs so you can get that front up past the center point of 8x10.

There are also slight bellows incompatibilities between 8x10 Norma, F-P series, and the later F2-P2 series with the metering backs. You'll want to check there is a nice tight connection there as sometimes bellows also get swapped around.

You can also buy the conversion kits but it is usually a better deal to buy an entire camera plus another for 4x5 and combine parts for a super system.

Daniel Unkefer
16-Oct-2010, 11:07
I'd go for a Norma any day over an F. I've owned both types.

Peter Gomena
18-Oct-2010, 12:18
An F2 is a shakier setup than a Norma. I never bonded with mine.

Peter Gomena

Drew Wiley
18-Oct-2010, 12:32
I loved the f/2 for field use. The delrin focus track was designed so that any wear could simply be shimmed, and I loved the extremely smooth focus. Eventually the locks
which hold the back and lensbord in will wear out, and with extreme use I found myself
having to replace the front standard altogether frome time to time. But that's the kind of stuff that's very easy to get at a reasonable price at the moment. With a Norma getting parts is going to be a lot harder. Guess it depends how you treat your gear. I pamper my camera as much as I can, but was out in the elements so much with it, that wear-and-tear was inevitable. Nowadays for 4x5 I use a little Ebony folder, which is slower to use and won't take as much abuse as the Sinar, but it sooo much more compact.

Drew Wiley
18-Oct-2010, 12:35
OOOps ... you said 8x10. My bad. Never did use an 8x10 Sinar in the field (use a
Phillips folder). If I did I'd take a good Kelty backpack frame (minus pack) and strap
it on, and leave room for a filmholder and gear bag below.

Richard Wasserman
18-Oct-2010, 16:09
You can also leave the camera on the tripod and strap it to the front of a Sherpa Cart, which is what I often do. All your other gear goes inside and it's really easy to transport and use.

Drew Wiley
18-Oct-2010, 18:15
The true f2 8X10 uses strong steel front risers, which are distinct from mounting an
f/2 front standard with aluminum risers from a 4x5 onto an 8X10 system, which will work, but not with as much strength. I've seen it done several ways, so if you're buying a used camera you need to be careful what you're actually getting. EBay
postings in particular are sometimes mislabeled.

19-Oct-2010, 07:35
Thanks for all the responses (and I had some good feedback on flickr in the 8x10 group, too).

One stand-out is that nobody ever seems to have anything bad to say about the Norma.

Frank Petronio
19-Oct-2010, 11:42
I think they just became too expensive to manufacture back in the day, like a hand-fitted Leica M3 or Rollei. Their replacements used more modern manufacturing techniques and materials and are fine cameras, but compared to this era, when parts were more carefully crafted with a lot of hands on work, well, they simply don't compare.

That you can buy a nice Norma system for pennies on the dollar nowadays is quite remarkable.

Oh it shoots a hole in the sales pitch for the value of asymmetrical tilts and swings, as the later Sinar and Ebony camera proponents like to make. Their value just isn't that much.

Drew Wiley
19-Oct-2010, 12:01
Wasn't the Toyo G-series inspired by the Norma?

Frank Petronio
19-Oct-2010, 12:33
I think so, I'd be interested in the differences. It looks a little cruder but I've never handled one. I think of Toyos as being kind of like 1970s-era Datsuns to Sinar's 1970s-era Mercedes.

Cambos were Opels.