View Full Version : Horseman LE vs Sinar F2

22-Feb-2011, 08:22
I have a good Crown to carry around for a beater and "shooter of opportunity", but would like to add something more modern and convenient (geared movements) and overall more precise for occasional tourist-type architectural work. I will keep the Crown for a daily beater, since I'm fearless about carrying it bumping around in my truck--and if somebody breaks out a window and absconds with it I'm not out much.

Compactness and portability are important, but although I'm a big guy in good physical condition, I'm nearing 70 and have retired from hiking in the mountains. I just want something I can backpack a few hundred yards from the parking lot or the highway, and set up and use with a minimum of hassle. I have no extreme lens/bellows/rail requirements, the usual 90-360mm range is fine. I'm also retired on a fixed income, so obviously not looking at $2500-$5000 cameras, more like clean users in the $600-$1000 range. After looking at all the options, it seems a stout compact geared movement monorail in the 20-pound range or so would be ideal. Going further down that road, I have seen several nice used Horseman LE's and Sinar F2's which fit my wallet and seem to fit the application I have in mind (decent luggability with plenty of movements, excellent build quality with plenty of precision, and a reasonable price on the used market).

I'd appreciate opinions on which of these two might make the best pick. Parts and accessories seem to be readily available (although sometimes expensive) for both. Of the two, I intuitively liked the looks of the L-shaped configuration and adjustment setup of the Horseman, an idea that struck my ex-engineer mind as totally logical. But the F2 also seems very compact and rugged in it's design, and I'm sure is also very precise.

Opinions comparing these two from the more experienced would be welcome and appreciated.

Joseph Dickerson
22-Feb-2011, 10:39
The Horseman is a bit nicer in the controls department. Mostly geared movements, but I sold mine to buy a Sinar F1 as I was looking for a camera that was easier to transport.

The Sinar has all the movements you'd ever need but focus is the only geared control on the F series. Still in all, Horseman and/or Sinar are good systems with interchangeability within the brand and also between the two systems. I use a Horseman bag bellows and rotating roll film adapter on my Sinar F1.

I would suggest a Sinar F2 over the F1 due to separate locks for swings and shifts. It's not a huge deal but when working quickly can be very convenient. I think the difference in weight is only a pound or so.

Sinar F/F1/F2s seem to be going for well under $1,000, not sure what the Horseman cameras are fetching these days. Are you somewhere were you could rent one or both to try out? That would answers your question(s) better than reading any of our posts could do.


Drew Wiley
22-Feb-2011, 11:35
The Sinar f1 has a fairly crappy rail lock to the front standard. f2 way better but the
amount of rise available is really overkill. Bargains galore out there on both of these,
and also on Horsemans, though the latter are a less common camera. Just be wary of
mislabeled cameras on fleabay etc where they've jerryrigged a camera together from
misc parts. On my f2 I've added an extra rail extension and a 28" Horseman bellows
to make it convenient for long lens use. Another thing to beware of with Sinar are
generic lensboards - they don't always fit. The heavy-duty rail clamp is really superior
to the standard one, but must always be purchased separately. I machined a heavy
duty rail clamp of my own. A standard bellows or worn-out one can easily be converted
into a compendium lens shade. It's a wonderful system and faster to use than a wooden folder, but bulkier and heavier to, but nowhere near as heavy as a Sinar P.

22-Feb-2011, 12:02
Are you somewhere were you could rent one or both to try out? That would answers your question(s) better than reading any of our posts could do.

Wish I was, JD. Unfortunately, like many areas Oklahoma has rapidly become a film wasteland. I suppose I should feel lucky that we have one store that still carries a small stock of film in this city of 900,000--they have a small selection of 35mm and 120 (Kodak and Ilford only, at 30% higher than B&H prices), along with a few token chemicals and paper, but they don't stock any sheet film. B&W I can do in my wet lab at home, but forget E6, anything bigger than 120 has to go to a mail order lab. I doubt there are more than a couple of dozen LF shooters left in the state. It's all about "how many megapixels ya got?", and "I paid $4500 for this new Canon, pretty cool, huh?", and can that big 'ol camera of yours do automatic 9-shot bracketing and HDR?" AFIK there isn't a single dealer in Oklahoma that stocks new film cameras, and certainly none that rent gear. So like many of my brethren out there I survive via Freestyle Photo, B&H, Adorama, E**y, and a few forums like this one.

Ok, I'm off my high horse now. I love film but seems like it gets harder every year!

Joseph Dickerson
22-Feb-2011, 14:11
I agree...luckily I'm reasonably close to Santa Barbara and Samy's. They usually have what I need. But B&H, Freestyle, and Badger Graphics are also "go-to" folks, and highly recommended. I teach both digital and traditional photography classes and this semester I have a full Intro to Large Format class...go figure. Last time I offered it (2009) we actually had a waiting list. So, things aren't as bleak as they may seem.

I second the comment re: the Sinar F1 front rail clamp. It doesn't give one much confidence, but I've never had trouble with it in over ten years, and I bought the Sinar used. As for the rail clamp, I picked up a used Sinar Norma clamp that's a couple of inches shorter than the standard F clamp. Makes packing the camera just a little easier. I know from the multitude of questions I've posted that there are a ton of folks on the forum that use Sinar cameras...so you won't lack for opinions/suggestions as you become familiar with the system.

Samy's does do rentals but shipping etc. would probably be prohibitive. You might contact them. I've had students pick up some real bargains on used gear. Samy's does a ton of business with Brooks students (Santa Barbara store) and will often have a surplus of used large format stuff.

Also, be sure and check the for sale forum right here on the LF web site. Lots of used stuff, and nice people to deal with.

Once you've got the outfit together being in a "film wasteland" won't really be that much of a hassle. You'll also be surprised how many like minded souls will come out of the woodwork.

After all, you've always got all of us to ask!!!!