View Full Version : Making a Sinar Handy type camera

Frank Petronio
6-Nov-2003, 05:53
Schneider focusing mounts are being sold for only $119 by a fellow in Switzerland - see the photo.net LF classifieds. I've always wanted a Sinar Handy or Linhof Technar type of camera and I'm wondering if I can homebrew my own rather than paying $1500+ for a Cambo or a used camera. Ideally I'd like to remove the rear film holder and bellows clip stage from a Linhof S, Sinar F, or older Arca (they are easy to find.) Then I could mount a 75 or 90 lens in the focusing mount, pop it on a lensboard, and simply click the lensboard into the front of the stage rather than the rear of the bellows. To make it abit more user friendly I may have to drill and tap a 1/4-20 hole for a pistol grip/tripod mount/Arca plate and scrounge up a flash shoe mount for Voigtlander viewfinder. Has anyone else done this? Before investing on parts unseen, I am wondering how much vignetting I might get? After all, there doesn't seem to be a lot of room for the light path coming out of the rear of the focusing mount to fill the 5x5 film area without being clipped. Without having the parts in front of me I can't tell - so if anyone knows, please share. Also any sources for the lowly flash shoe mount? Thanks.

Wayne Firth
6-Nov-2003, 06:50
This will work but you will need a spacer in order to provide the right distance so that when your focusing scale points to infinity that you are really focused at infinity. I did this with a Horseman frame and rotating roll film attachment with a 47mm SA.

I have built several of these walk-around cameras from scratch and from modified press cameras. The cameras from scratch are simply a wooden box of the proper depth with film back on one side and a lens in a focusing mount on the other side. These cameras are very lightweight. I adapt various viewfinders from other cameras. I use Horseman 612 backs but you could just as well use a 4x5 back from an old Graphic. I have also cut down Busch Pressman cameras for this purpose. You get a rotating back and no need for a focusing mount.

James Driscoll
6-Nov-2003, 07:16
If you go Sinar here are some suggestions....

1.Sinar makes a "flash shoe" that mounts on the format frame....you will have to scrounge around for one (they have popped up on ebay)...it was used years ago for the purpose you intend- and recently to mount the Broncolor IRX-2 for wireless strobe control.

2.If you go sinar....and could wait a little bit the handy grip has popped up by itself a few times on EBAY. I recall them going for under $250. I pulled out my circa 1980 Sinar accessories catalog....and noticed that the Handy grip appears to thread in to a hole in the bottom of the format frame....NOT the hole that is used to mount the frame to P/P2 standard bearer. I do not have a P/P2 4x5 format frame (only 5x7 and 8x10...I use my F2 for 4x5) so I cannot check if there is in fact a threaded hole there. If there is....than I would get a Nikon Model 2 pistol grip off of ebay (they go for peanuts...I know I sold one!!!) and you will be fine. You can put a cable release through the Nikon grip...just like the sinar one.

3.Get a #3 Sinar DB board and mount the focusing mount to that (also peanuts on ebay) that will give you enough space (i feel, but I could be wrong). If you need scans of the Handy, I have sevaral catalogs on hand and can drop them in your email. Also, P 4x5 format frames go for under $200 on Ebay....so I wouldn't bother tearing apart an F standard....if the P one has the hole already that is less work for you.

I too have had thoughts about building a "handy"......let me know how it goes.

Frank Petronio
6-Nov-2003, 07:24
Thanks. I know the most cost effective solution is simply a hacked up Crown Graphic and a cheap, old Angulon. But the elegance of the Linhof Technar or Handy has always been appealling, plus I think it would be a nice travel camera. In lieu of movements I think I'd just go wider and crop - so I'm aiming towards using a 75/6.8 Grandagon. IMHO, many of these cameras are "too wide."

Ernest Purdum
6-Nov-2003, 07:49
If I were going to do this, I'd start with Wayne's wooden box and a Graflok back. I'd use two tripod attachment fittings and two flash shoes, so as to be able to conveniently switch from vertical to horizontal. This would be even smaller and lighter than a similar camera with a rotating back. The last I knew, there was a company in Pasadena, California who would make boxes to any spoecification.

It sounds like you intend to use a lens with a larger image circle than that of the film you will be using. You might consider having slides built onto the front so that you would have rising front capability.

Another possibility woul be to make the box thin, and use a spacer to obtain infinity focus. You would then be able to use a dfferent focal length later if you wanted.

I don't think vignetting is a problem with these mounts.

25-Feb-2010, 06:19
Hi Frank. Did you ever go through with your plans? I've started collecting parts to build a SW/Handy type 4x5, with Graflok back.

Frank Petronio
25-Feb-2010, 07:32
No, I would love one of course but after shooting a lot of 4x5 Crown and Linhof press camera stuff handheld with 135-150mm lenses I am a bit skeptical of handheld 4x5 in general. I feel like slowing it down, not making it faster to be honest.

In practice I think a good 6x9 medium format camera handheld will usually be sharper/better than a 4x5 handheld in anything other than bright f/16 conditions. True there is an aesthetic quality to handheld 4x5 that you won't get elsewhere, but in terms of "getting the shot" in less than ideal conditions, I don't think 4x5 is the way to go.

I admit that a wider angle than the 135mm lenses I've used will be more forgiving of movement. But over the years I've grown to dislike most wide angle stuff, it seems like the cheap cop-out way to shoot postcardy landscapes, no offense to any 58mm users out there. The distortions are just too extreme.

If I did do it, I'd want to use a 90mm on 4x5. At that point, cameras like the various 6x17s or the 6x12 Noblexes look more attractive to me, and having had them in the past I think they would be what I opt for nowadays.

My logic will be totally different next week....

Martin Miksch
25-Feb-2010, 10:50
A Sinar shutter makes a nice spacer^^

25-Feb-2010, 14:17
Thanks. I know the most cost effective solution is simply a hacked up Crown Graphic and a cheap, old Angulon. But the elegance of the Linhof Technar or Handy has always been appealling, plus I think it would be a nice travel camera. In lieu of movements I think I'd just go wider and crop - so I'm aiming towards using a 75/6.8 Grandagon. IMHO, many of these cameras are "too wide."

Another hack uses the Graphic View (II I think), and some custom plastic and Mamiya Press front mount and breechlock focusing helicals. In this example at ... www.bigcamera.com


The Graphic is cut down and a custom box built. It occurs to me that it is rather easy to fit a large format lens on the rugged Mamiya focus helicals. Therefore in calculating measurements to the ground glass, care could be taken to make the focus helical match up to a correct focal length for the focal length nearest to the various helicals. The helicals that probably have the wides openings at the back are the 50mm, the 75mm and the 127mm.

In fact there is the 100mm helical that has a second setting, or two lens positions.

There are a number of interesting custom camera "hacks" on the site. I have done the Mamiya Flat-top and would like to do one of the examples based on the Graphic View.

Dirk Rösler
25-Feb-2010, 17:30
Mmmmh... I also have two very nice 75mm Sekors with finder here, although I think accommodating multiple focal lengths will be difficult. On the other hand the Polaroid 600SE works like that. All you need is a box like the 600SE with a 4x5 back.

28-Feb-2010, 09:39
Well, I have enough sinar spare frames and backs, a 65/8 SA that does not benefit from bellows in any case, and even a Mamiya pistol grip to spare - whenever I run across a affordable 65mm helical (dead Mamiya Press 65mm or the like), I'll jump and have a tubular lens board made...

28-Feb-2010, 09:59

oops, sorry wrong page-
Focusing mount mods are on this one-


1-Mar-2010, 05:22
I'll be making the frame and lens box myself (it would seem) and attach a Graflok back. Add a GG and 6x12 roll film back. To the front a chinese helical and a Fuji 90/f8. My main headache is whether or not to let it be a pure P&S or have a minimum of rise and fall. Decisions, decisions.

8-May-2010, 07:46
I don´t know if this effort counts, it having no movements at all. It will however have interchangeable lens box/mounts: DIY P+S (http://www.apug.org/forums/forum147/18930-pix-your-home-built-cams-here-please-27.html#post992835)