View Full Version : Sinar P2 vs Linhof Master Karden GTL? 4X5 vs 8X10? Sinar e2?

24-Jan-1998, 12:16

Oh, oh, here we go again; another A vs B comparison. Please bear with my inane questions. I'm considering sinking serious dollars into a LF studio system and I will appreciate comments on the Sinar P2 vs the Linhof Master Karden GTL. I understand that both are very fine cameras but when it comes down to brass tacks, which is the 'better' of the two, in the sense of build quality, versatility of the system, control and setting of movements, accessories, etc. How do the Linhof L-shaped standards and movements compare with the Sinar 'geared' standards and movements?

If I can afford it, would it be advisable to buy the 8X10 version of either camera, and supplement it with a 4X5 reducing back and bellows? It would appear that the 8X10 versions have 'beefier' constructions and movements, and in the interest of versatility I would like to buy the beefier frames. Are there any real differences between the quality of the 4X5 and 8X10, from the standpoint of a professional.

Last, can anyone comment on the Sinar e2 vs P2?

Sorry for the long post. I know that it is the photographer who is the real determinant of quality but I'll just like to stir up a real hornet's nest. Thanx. And a Roaring Happy New Year of the Tiger to all (the Chinese Lunar New Year begins on the 28t h Jan 1998).

Skot Weidemann
28-Jan-1998, 21:56
I have a Sinar P2 and I have never regretted it.

It is a "system" camera and once I acquired the items I use the most, I feel it is impossible to come across any situation I cannot do with it. I have the so-c alled "expert" system, which consists of a case, extension rails, extra frames a nd binocular viewer. I also use the spot meter in the studio and some location work.

The biggest drawback is that it is not a very good field camera. I had a job th is summer which involved climbing a construction site tower crane 24 times and I used my Crown Graphic for this. (This has got me started dreaming about a Linh off field camera for this type of job.)

Skot Weidemann
28-Jan-1998, 22:22
I left before I got to mention the best parts of the Sinar system.

First, the two point focus system takes most of the trial and error out of deali ng with focus when using swings and or tilts (which is an integral part of a vie w camera). The P2 and the new model Sinar X have this system and are very simil ar except the cheaper model (which is significantly less) does not have the mete ring back (for the spot probe), cannot be converted to an 8x10 (how important is this?) and has some other minor differences. I have a spot meter, but if I was considering using the camera without this feature, the Sinar X would be a good choice.

Sinar has a website, you might check it out. They are real expensive, but if yo u are serious, I think it's worth it.

27-May-1998, 16:00
In the past, I too drooled over the Sinar 8x10 P2 and the Linhof GTL.

I was never able to locate a Linhof GTL in Chicagoland to get some "hands on" an d inspect the build quality, etc.

However, at Helix, Matt and a co-worker set up a Sinar 8x10 P2 for me and a coup le of 'features' about it bothered me: First, the front standard MUST be securel y attached to the rail. I saw the front standard swing down rather hard and bang into the rail with the bellows. I saw there was definite cause for concern on d amaging the bellows and possibly more especially if you had a heavy lens mounted on it and it swung down all of a sudden. Secondly, my other concern was on how slow it seemed to move the standards to fo cus, in comparison to other cameras. Not that it wasn't accurate, just that it f elt like I was focusing a microscope.

The only literature I was ever able to obtain on the Linhof was a small brochure sent to my by HP Marketing. You won't find many advertisements for used Linhof GTL's in Shutterbug, but I did see one once. It's just not too common, which mea ns if you wanted accessories for it you should probably contact HP Marketing in advance to make sure there is sufficient lead time for it to arrive before you n eed it.

I needed a LF camera that could also be taken into the field and settled on a Wi sner 8x10 Technical.

27-May-1998, 16:07
Dear Kurt

I believe your statement about the "BEST THING" (two point focusing system) need s some corrections.

The two point focusing system CANNOT work because the tilt/swing angle on the ba ck, respectively front standard are NOT identical !! If you transfer the tilt/swing angle from the back to the front, you assume that the distance between the object and the back-, front standard is identical. Obv iously this is impossible. Think about ? By repeating the procedure of the two point focusing system (about six steps !! ) explained by some camera manufacturer and even in some books, you get every ti me you go through it, closer and closer to the desired angle. This is what I cal l "trial and error" Note: The larger the ratio, the more you try, but might work on landscape photog raphy which is not your favourite

15-May-2008, 10:33
I'll chime-in on this one.

I've owned both cameras. I had a Kardan Master GTL 5x7 that was sold several years ago. I currently use a Sinar P (fairly similar to the P2 in construction material and design) with conversion kits for 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10.

I would have to say from the dual perspectives of an engineer and a photographer, without a doubt, the Master GTL is a better engineered and built camera. The movements are smoother, lighter and more precise. The GTL fit and finish is much better than the Sinar. Movements use various combinations of metal rack and pinion drive, brass and bronze bushings, etc. The Sinar cameras use lots of plastic and glue. Sinar cameras break easily. Sinar uses lots of small screws that have a habit of unscrewing themselves when taken for long car rides or airline flights.

On the negative side for Linhof, the GTL is *really* heavy. I recall that the 5x7 camera was about 26 pounds! Also, the availability of accessories on the used market is very limited. Sinar bits and pieces are available for next to nothing (relatively speaking) on eBay. Sinar cameras are, generally pretty easy to repair when they do break. Reassembling some of the Linhof subassemblies can be like putting together a Chinese puzzle. Sinar service is readily available from the US distributor, and is reasonably priced as such service goes. Linhof service is (was?) available from Marflex, one of the most disorganized operations I have ever had the displeasure of dealing with. If Martin didn't have a part, and needed to get it from the factory, it could be years (even decades?), waiting for it.

All said, I am pleased with my Sinar P. If you have the money to buy everything new, and the weight isn't an issue for you, the Master GTL is, in my opinion, the much better camera. If you want the same capabilities, given the noted detractors, for thousands of dollars less, the Sinar is still a great camera that has served countless photographers quite well.

As for 8x10 versions versus 4x5, the Sinar 4x5 bearers will work with the 8x10 conversion. The 8x10 rear bearer is supposed to be stronger. The P2 8x10 front bearer is longer, so you get more direct rise for 8x10; a big convenience in my opinion. As for the GTL, Bob Salomon can comment more thoroughly on the best way to buy into dual format capability. The actual strength and durability of the 8x10 focusing base (don't remember the Linhof nomenclature) probably isn't much different than the 4x5 version, but the 8x10 piece is designed to prevent focus movement of the much heavier 8x10 rear assembly when the rail is tilted. Also, unlike about any other monorail camera that I've seen, the GTL can be used vertically without risk of the standards flexing under their own weight, a testament to the incredible rigidity of this incredibly heavy camera.

I hope that this all helps.

Frank Petronio
15-May-2008, 10:52
It's funny to think of the Sinar as the cheap budget camera...

I'd want a large studio stand for either in 8x10 because they are such beasts. If I was set on the Linhof I'd wait patiently for up to year and watch the German eBay site for a good used complete system to come along. Sometimes the best cameras go for far less than they should because they are just so stratospherically expensive to begin with. Linhof might also have some show demo units and if you were spending a lot in cash and showed up at the factory maybe they'd toss in some extras like rails and bellows?

Or you could split the difference between price. quality, and service by getting a geared Arca.

15-May-2008, 11:33
@mrrossano, do you think he may have made his mind up after 10 years? :D

Nice info anyway :D

15-May-2008, 13:08
My wife says that she believes that I've been in a light coma for most of those ten years.

Truth be known, I didn't notice the original posting date until after I had posted the reply. Since it was so hard for me to get that many words strung together in a semi-coherent fashion, I didn't want to spoil the achievement by deleting the reply.

David A. Goldfarb
15-May-2008, 15:24
It's still good information, since so few people have actually had their hands on a Master GTL.

Jerry Flynn
16-May-2008, 09:36

Perhaps you have more critical expeirnce with the two-point focussing on Sinars with asymetrical swings and tilts, but my expeirnce is that since the two-point focussing is built right into the design of the camera, there are not six steps involved in performing a swing/tilt calculation with the asymetrical movements. It is three: focus on the near plane, swing/tile to the far plane and you are done unless you want to transfer the movement to the front which is an optional third step.

As I said, it has always worked for me, but maybe I was only lucky.

David A. Goldfarb
16-May-2008, 09:53
The Sinar P system works for me too. I count five steps for a front tilt--focus on the dotted line, rear tilt until it looks right, transfer to the front standard, return rear standard to plumb, refocus. Maybe a sixth step if it needs a slight adjustment, but this is usually very slight if necessary.

I checked Kurt's past posts, and the last one was from 2001, and he reveals that he works for Arca Swiss, so that may explain things. Who knows if he is even alive seven years later?