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Thread: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

  1. #1

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    How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    I recently got a lovely Sinar F 8x10 on Ebay. I have long worked with wooden cameras (2Ds and a Gundlach), but most everything with the Sinar seems pretty straightforward. I have these questions.
    • It came with 18 and 12 inch rails, and I can't figure out how to join the two. The 18" rail has cover ends which remove and then, I assume, it should be joinable to the 12" extension. Thescrew running down the center of the 18" extension appears to be fixed permanently within the tube. There are red and black plastic joining plugs with threaded inserts which screw onto the threaded central screw...and a steel cap with plastic end screws into that. The problem comes when I try to attach the 12" extension to the 18". If I screw a red or black (they appear to be otherwise than color identical) plug into the central screw of the 18" rail to give the central screw of the 12" rail something to screw into (otherwise it's male/male), the central screw of the 12" extension can't screw in far enough to pull the shorter rail onto the longer one. It seems like I need a shorter central screw in the shorter rail or a plug for the longer rail that doesn't stick out. Or am I misunderstanding something basic
    • How do I definitely identify the type?
    • Can anyone direct me to an online instruction PDF? And parts/accessories list?
    • Any suggestions, other than Ebay, for definitive new and used parts sourcing?
    • It seems there is a not too expensive shutter. Can some kind soul direct me to docs on how it works, what its drawbacks are, etc?


    My thanks in advance for all the excellent advice, past and future, I've gotten and assuredly will get here. Truly a Bene Gesserit, in the simple Latin: He will have done well

  2. #2
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by sdean7855 View Post
    I recently got a lovely Sinar F 8x10 on Ebay. I have long worked with wooden cameras (2Ds and a Gundlach), but most everything with the Sinar seems pretty straightforward. I have these questions.

    It came with 18 and 12 inch rails, and I can't figure out how to join the two. The 18" rail has cover ends which remove and then, I assume, it should be joinable to the 12" extension. Thescrew running down the center of the 18" extension appears to be fixed permanently within the tube. There are red and black plastic joining plugs with threaded inserts which screw onto the threaded central screw...and a steel cap with plastic end screws into that. The problem comes when I try to attach the 12" extension to the 18". If I screw a red or black (they appear to be otherwise than color identical) plug into the central screw of the 18" rail to give the central screw of the 12" rail something to screw into (otherwise it's male/male), the central screw of the 12" extension can't screw in far enough to pull the shorter rail onto the longer one. It seems like I need a shorter central screw in the shorter rail or a plug for the longer rail that doesn't stick out. Or am I misunderstanding something basic
    How do I definitely identify the type?
    Main rail: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MjQ4WDc2MA...U7l2S/$_12.JPG
    Extension rail: http://i.ebayimg.com/00/s/MjU2WDg1MA...U7l0b/$_12.JPG

    What I see on your eBay site is two "main" rails - one with red caps (never seen that before) and one with black caps. Maybe someone else knows what's up with that.

    The main rail, with the rail with caps off, has black plastic on both ends ("male" ends), and the plastic doesn't rotate. The extension rail, with caps off, has red plastic on one end (the "male" end) and a socket with a screw on the other end ("female" end). The red plastic end rotates the screw in the center of the rail. Rails always have to be connected male-to-female, obviously. The main rail is helpful as it allows extension rails to be attached at either end, so it often stays under the camera. However, you could make one long rail of nothing but extension rails. You cannot connect a main rail directly to another main rail of course (male-to-male) and you cannot connect extension rails backwards (female-to-female).

    If you have the right rail types (which it appears that you do not) you should be able to connect the extension rail to the main rail by inserting the black plastic "male" end of the main rail into the socket on the extension rail, lining up the edge that runs down both, pushing them together, and then tightening it down by turning the red plastic knob at the end of the extension rail (clockwise to tighten of course).

    The good thing is, extension rails are pretty cheap. You have a long 18" main rail (red caps). You can get an 12" or 18" extension rail for $50 or less if you shop around.

    Quote Originally Posted by sdean7855 View Post
    Can anyone direct me to an online instruction PDF? And parts/accessories list?
    Google is your friend:
    http://di.hexagram.ca/files/manuals/...tionmanual.pdf or http://jonathanbarlow.com/sinar-instruction-manual.pdf (same doc)
    http://www.butkus.org/chinon/sinar/sinar.htm
    https://drive.google.com/uc?export=d...G01N3ZiVW9FUTg

    Here are the service manuals which are very helpful if you need to take them apart. They are actually pretty easy to service yourself if you have a clean workspace, some plastic boxes to store parts in, a notepad, and a wide variety of small screwdrivers. Taking photos as you disassemble them is helpful to.
    Be on the lookout for a Sinar 8x10 front standard (P, P2 or ideally F2, but not another F) for when you break your F front standard by overtightening the rail clamp. It will happen eventually (just due to the ancient plastic) unless you have hands as weak as an arthritic nonagenarian. Ask me how I know (pictures of what I'm talking about): http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ead.php?119785

    Sinar F service manual: http://www.jonathanbarlow.com/sinar-...ice-manual.pdf
    Sinar P service manual: http://danielwagmann.com/wp-content/...r-verifier.pdf


    Quote Originally Posted by sdean7855 View Post
    Any suggestions, other than Ebay, for definitive new and used parts sourcing?
    Everything Sinar is used (Sinar was acquired by Leica in 2013), but luckily there is a lot of it out there. Shop around on ebay and watch out for crazy prices. If there's only one of them listed, be careful and wait for more pricing information (i.e. more items of the same type being listed). You can also view the for sale forum here and at APUG where sometimes people "part out" damaged Sinar cameras. There was recently a Sinar P part out on our forums for example. The only new parts you'll find are aftermarket Sinar lens boards. The ones made and sold by eBay user "JinFinance" from China are good, as are their lens board adapters. I wrote a review of the adapter here: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ead.php?120936

    You can also check out this page: http://www.glennview.com/sinar.htm
    You could also keep an eye on the inventory at Blue Moon (http://www.bluemooncamera.com) or Igor's Camera (http://igorcamera.com/) although I've personally never been able to buy from Igor because he doesn't respond to emails. You may want to check his feedback thread so you know what you're getting into: http://www.largeformatphotography.in...Thumbs-up-down

    Quote Originally Posted by sdean7855 View Post
    It seems there is a not too expensive shutter. Can some kind soul direct me to docs on how it works, what its drawbacks are, etc?
    The Sinar shutter is supposed to be pretty good. I have never heard a word said against it, but haven't owned one myself.

    The main advantage is that you can use old lenses that don't have shutters (aka barrel lenses), such as the old Petzval lenses. Personally, I prefer the rendering of (relatively) modern multi-coated lenses, but some people like the effects that older lenses give you (interesting out of focus areas, aberrations etc.).

    The main drawback is that the max shutter speed (1/60 iirc) isn't anywhere near what you would get from a Copal in-lens shutter (1/500 for C0, 1/400 for C1, 1/125 for C3) - if you need fast shutter speeds anyway.

    Google is your friend here as well, the Sinar shutter manual is here: http://www.butkus.org/chinon/sinar/sinar.htm

  3. #3

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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions


  4. #4
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    Quote Originally Posted by fishbulb View Post
    Be on the lookout for a Sinar 8x10 front standard (P, P2 or ideally F2, but not another F) for when you break your F front standard by overtightening the rail clamp. It will happen eventually (just due to the ancient plastic) unless you have hands as weak as an arthritic nonagenarian. Ask me how I know (pictures of what I'm talking about): http://www.largeformatphotography.in...ead.php?119785
    Ignore this. I took another look at the photos of this camera on eBay, and compared it to some old Sinar catalogs. What you have is kind of a frankensinar, which is pretty common. It looks like someone already broke the front standard and replaced it with a Sinar F 4x5 rear standard. I did this on my 4x5 as well, in the link above.

    This is good, since you don't have to worry about breaking the front standard.

    But, this is also bad, since they didn't really do it right. Ideally, they should kept the original 8x10 standard frame, and just swapped the lower part that clamps around the rail. This is what I did for my 4x5. Instead, they just threw the 4x5 rear standard on the front, backwards.

    The result is that the fine focus knob is on the left side instead of the right, from the operators perspective. No big deal really, since you'll mostly be doing fine focus from the back.

  5. #5

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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    Thank you, fishbulb, for all the thought and care and effort that went into that comprehensive reply. I am still puzzling out the rails....looking at my rails and the two different base and extension rail images you reference. Here's are my rails:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The longer one (about 15"), with the red ends, appears to be an extension rail, based on its design with on the pin (coming out of the bar on the top) at one end and the slot (in the bar) at the other. The screw going down the center is captive. The end that would screw in looks like this:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    The shorter (about 9.5") rail matches your image of a base rail with pins at both ends of the top bar, here:
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Do I have some cobbed up frankenrail? Perhaps the shorter base rail is correct, but the captive screw in the extension is then too long. Should I try and shorten it. Does someone have a closeup picture of what it should look like so I can go about correct

  6. #6

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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    Well...if I look at the end of a 16" extension rail on ebay, I see this:
    Attachment 131597
    where the screw is recessed, unlike mine, which sticks out
    Attachment 131598 Attachment 131599
    So the extension that came with my F is somehow either very special...or a somebody's cleverness....that isn't so clever

  7. #7
    fishbulb's Avatar
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    Re: How do I join Sinar LF rail? ...and other newbie to Sinar questions

    Perhaps your longer rail was modified to be used as a main rail, by itself. It is probably a pretty good length for 8x10. I would think 12" would be too short, and the combination of both (28") would be too long for anything but telephoto (could go to about 600mm) or macro photography... I would try using the camera for a while with just the 15" rail and see how it goes. 15" would accommodate enough bellows length for comfortably using a 300mm lens, maybe even a 360. 12" rail would be hard to get enough extension for a 300mm lens. You'd be able to use it just barely, but maybe not.

    But yeah, just checked my main rail and extension rail and they match my earlier eBay pics. The screw for the extension rail is about 1/2" recessed into the female end of the rail.

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