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Thread: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

  1. #1

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    Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    Hi,

    In Which-field-camera-for-usage-with-90mm-lens I asked about which 4x5 camera should I buy as my first camera and Sinar F2 and Sinar Norma ended up as winners (cheap, beginner-friendly, lots of movements).

    As I found out that Sinar F2 is more modern I thought it will be an easy cut, in terms of deciding which to buy. But upon further reading about Norma, I'm somewhat torn between the two.
    It seems that Norma is more sturdy and almost equal to F2 when it comes to weight but on the other side it is older and occurs more rarely on eBay.
    As I'm planning on using 6x7 back, I'm not sure if there will be a problem with attaching one to Norma.

    If it matters, cameras I'm looking are Norma and F2

    If you have experience with one or both cameras please share with me
    Any advice is very much appreciated!

    P.S: I'm aware of this thread Sinar F2 vs Norma 8x10 but as it is in regard to different format/size same conclusions may not apply

  2. #2

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    I've had a lot of experience with both cameras, and I would go with the Sinar F2. Of course, there will be disagreement on this. Also, personal preference weighs into a decision like this. Different people have differing preferences.

    The Norma is a "precision" camera. But, thay can be finicky. It' depends on the camera and how well it's been adjusted. It sure is an impressive looking camera, having been machined and all. But after making some customizations described in the link below, I enjoyed using and prefer the Sinar F. It just feels better to me.

    https://www.photrio.com/forum/thread...camera.172997/

    With respect to the above, I like having an F2 front standard that has independently controlled shift and swing.

    But with either an F or a Norma, you have the advantage of a full featured camera system with many accessories.

  3. #3

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    Have been using Sinars since the mid 1970s. All around favorite has always been the Norma, but for inside studio work the P made efficient shooting just a bit easier. For a time had and used a 4x5 F in the field, but in the end I much preferred the Norma for its more solid feel. For me, anytime that I used a lens wider than a 120mm, the first thing that I did was to replace the normal bellows with a WA bellows. As to your mentioning "regard to different format/size same conclusions may not apply", I think your conclusion is dead on. The 8x10 Norma is a whole different camera to use. I actually preferred it to an 8x10 P. Acquiring a Norma in good working condition is the key. Replacement parts are out there, but one usually has to buy a working standard to get the part that you are looking for. Bubble levels are easy to acquire and replace. Beware of cheap rip offs that are of sub quality and not all that accurate... unfortunately you probably won't find that out until you have them in your hand - been there, done that. There are a few guides to fixing and/or overhauling Normas on the Internet. They are very much worth making hard copies of, and when using them making notes on their pages. Using bargain tools, like from Harbor Freight, is an invitation for breaking or messing up parts. Personally recommend Little Machine Shop and Micro Mark. I'm sure other forum members can add other places to get good quality tools from. Also personally prefer hand tools vs cordless tools. Good luck.

  4. #4

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    Your "first" 4x5 camera should be one that actually works properly. These esoteric discussions about the perfect classic camera are not very useful for practical purposes. Unless you're extremely lucky, an old camera is likely to be full of pinholes in the bellows, and will have some minor to major mechanical issues. If you know what to look for, and how to repair it, then fine and dandy. If not, you could be in for a very expensive and frustrating experience.

    Sinars were extremely popular in their day, but that day has long gone. If you go to the B&H website and type in a search for Sinar, you'll get 10 items, all of them third party adapters. Good luck finding a new Sinar bellows. Sure, you can get a new bellows from England, or China, but you might have to put it on the frames yourself, or send the old frames to the supplier. Expect to pay at least $300, and wait a few months, in order to get someone else to do the whole thing. If you're handy, you could also build a bellows yourself, or spend time learning and doing your own repairs. That's great if you like to do it, but not so great if you don't.

    If you're a beginner anxious to get started in large format, then there are two reasonable options. One option is to buy something new. Intrepid and Standard Cameras are two inexpensive versions, and there are a few expensive options from Chamonix and others. A second option is to buy a used outfit from a "reliable and trustworthy" seller who can guarantee that the camera, lens, and accessories are in proper working order. Like for everything, there's no free lunch.

  5. #5

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    There is ZERO "classic" with or about a Sinar Norma, F, F+, F1, F2, P, P2, X and all their variants, they are modular designs that simply work with ease of modularity to adapt the Sinar to virtually any view camera image making need. Sinar remains THE view camera image makers tool. This is based on using the Sinar system since the mid-1980's to this day. More than a few of the Sinar bits were purchased used in the mid-1980's and they are used to this day.

    As for repair, it is difficult to bust a Sinar. It demands a LOT of physical abuse and five to six figures of sheet film exposures to begin wearing out a Sinar. Given the view camera is modular, if a front or rear standard is broken, simply interchange that problem standard with another, then back to making images again. Know the standards from Norma-F(all variants)-P-P2 are interchangeable. This means one can customize a Sinar in ways to meet the needs of the individual image maker.

    Quick look on eBay https://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_fro...ellows&_sop=15
    notes plenty of Sinar bellows, both standard and bag 4x5 for about $40 USD and up. Horseman L series bellows work identical on Sinar.

    As for cost, a GOOD used 4x5 Sinar is about the same as a brand new "Intrepid and Standard Camera" neither could hope to match the stability, precision, accuracy, ease of use, durability, reliability, modularity and wide variety of accessories with ease of availability on the used market.

    Camera aside, the potential for vastly greater frustration for an image maker venturing into image making their first time is a whacky and unpredictable shutter more so than the camera as it is essentially a light-tight box that is flexi in the center.

    With all that verbiage presented...

    Sinar Norma is a better camera in construction than the F2. Difficulty with purchasing any Norma, they are now decades old. Unless the Norma to be purchased has received a proper Clean-Lube-Adjust, it will likely have lubricants that have become clay seriously impairing it's function. This is a given due to time and aging. But, it is not that difficult to Clean-Lube-Adjust a Norma as the quality of construction, design and materials are no different than a high quality Swiss made time piece. Once a proper Clean-Lube-Adjust has been done, a Norma will last and produce as many sheets of film needed for many more decades.

    Sinar F2 has less of the lubricants turned to clay problem as it has high quality plastic gears and guides. These are mostly self-lubricating and more resistant to dirt intrusion. Sinar P and P2 are similar in this way.

    Given your needs to use a 90mm for interior images, a bag bellows is essentially mandatory due to the needs of using camera movements both front and back. It is also likely a lens of much shorter focal length will be needed. This image making needs dictates the current fashionable new view cameras like the Intrepid-Standard Camera-Chamonix and similar as they are light weight field folders and do not meet the demands of interior view camera image making using very short lens focal lengths with combined front and rear camera movements.

    As for learning how to "view camera" it is easier to learn on a monorail than a field folder due to the physical presentation and access of controls of the view camera. Back in the days of formal Photography view camera education the most common student view camera was a monorail camera, not a field folder.. why?


    BTW, 5x7 Sinar Norma lives in a Pelican FAA carry-on approved roller case with four lenses (115mm Grandagon, 165mm Angulon, 10" or 12" Xenar or Kodak C. Ektar, ~one of the four barrel lenses gets picked depending on what is needed~, 16 1/2" or 19" APO artar), bag & standard bellows, Sinar shutter, light meter, 7x loupe, tape measure, dark cloth, cable release, six 5x7 or 13x18cm film holders.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by sharktooth View Post
    Your "first" 4x5 camera should be one that actually works properly. These esoteric discussions about the perfect classic camera are not very useful for practical purposes. Unless you're extremely lucky, an old camera is likely to be full of pinholes in the bellows, and will have some minor to major mechanical issues. If you know what to look for, and how to repair it, then fine and dandy. If not, you could be in for a very expensive and frustrating experience.

    Sinars were extremely popular in their day, but that day has long gone. If you go to the B&H website and type in a search for Sinar, you'll get 10 items, all of them third party adapters. Good luck finding a new Sinar bellows. Sure, you can get a new bellows from England, or China, but you might have to put it on the frames yourself, or send the old frames to the supplier. Expect to pay at least $300, and wait a few months, in order to get someone else to do the whole thing. If you're handy, you could also build a bellows yourself, or spend time learning and doing your own repairs. That's great if you like to do it, but not so great if you don't.

    If you're a beginner anxious to get started in large format, then there are two reasonable options. One option is to buy something new. Intrepid and Standard Cameras are two inexpensive versions, and there are a few expensive options from Chamonix and others. A second option is to buy a used outfit from a "reliable and trustworthy" seller who can guarantee that the camera, lens, and accessories are in proper working order. Like for everything, there's no free lunch.
    Last edited by Bernice Loui; 25-Jul-2021 at 12:27.

  6. #6

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    If you're planning to use a 6x7 or similar roll film back on a view camera, know the lens focal length is not the same as 4x5 or 6x9 or similar for a given visual perspective. Example, 90mm "normal lens" for 6x7 would be something like a 150mm lens focal length for 4x5. To use an 90mm lens with a 6x7 roll film back on a view camera demands compressing the camera's bellows and standards enough to bring the image into focus. If any camera movements are needed then applied, this enforces more demands on the camera's ability to accommodate_accept compression of front_rear standards and bellows while allowing full camera movements front and rear. Once a wide angle lens is needed for the image on 6x7, greater compressibility of the front_rear standards and bellows is required. Example, 38mm Super Angulon XL is used on a view camera with a 6x7 roll film back will be a serious challenge to any view camera without a recessed lens board. Even using the 38mm SAXL with a recessed lens board on most view cameras can be a very serious limitation. These image making demands points towards the need and reality of why a GOOD monorail camera (Sinar) will serve your image making needs far better than a light weight field folder.

    Sinar P2 front, Sinar Norma 4x5 rear with the rail clamp reversed. Not how close the front to rear standards can be compressed.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Same with bag bellows.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Same with Norma front standard in place of the Sinar P2 front standard.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Getting the rear element of the wide angle lens this close to the rear standard is an absolute MUST if you're planning to use any roll film back on a view camera as this decided the ability to use wide angle-short focal length lenses with a roll film back. Lens is a 65mm f4.5 Fujinon SWD. Other wide angle lenses will be similar to identical.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Few monorail cameras can achieve this with this degree of ease and availability of bag bellows and related at the cost of used Sinar at this time. Light weight field folder.. not gonna happen. This includes Linhof Technika.


    Second major consideration for 6x6, 6x7, 6x12 roll film backs on a view camera, which type of roll film back? Two basic styles of roll film backs are commonly available. One is the slide into the 4x5 film holder style. This type of roll film back works mostly identical to a 4x5 film holder. It simply slides into the 4x5 film holder area no different than a film holder, has a dark slide. It's operation is just like a 4x5 film holder except there is a roll film advance lever or knob and frame counter. Sinar made a "Zoom Vario" 120 roll film back that does 6x7 to 6x12 and the image format can be changed per frame. There were two versions of this Sinar Vario zoom back, the first versions had mechanical issues resulting in a Sinar re-call to fix. These are more common on the used market and tend to sell for less as most folks are aware of the problems with version one. Second version is the one to own due to the improvements made. Sinar also made a series of fixed format roll film backs that are not variable.
    https://galerie-photo.com/manuels/mo...r-zoom-001.pdf

    Toyo, Linhof, and others made 120 roll film backs for 4x5 view cameras in this similar slide in style.


    The other style of 120 roll film back fits in place of the ground glass holder. These are klunky to use. After set up and focusing on the GG, the GG holder frame is removed then the 120 roll film holder is installed where the GG frame-holder once was to make the image on the 120 roll film back.
    http://mercurycamera.com/backs/guide...flok-45-backs/


    Bernice




    Quote Originally Posted by Times2 View Post
    Hi,

    In [URL="https://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?164383-Which-field-camera-for-usage-with-90mm-lens/page3"]

    As I'm planning on using 6x7 back, I'm not sure if there will be a problem with attaching one to Norma.

  7. #7
    Peter De Smidt's Avatar
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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    I'd decide based on condition and included accessories. Having bought my first Sinar in 1992, I agree with Bernice. I currently have an Intrepid 8x10 and a Sinar P2 system. I'd much rather use the Sinar, whereas I'd much rather carry the Intrepid.

    That said, there are other good options. In particular I prefer an Arca F to a Sinar F or F2. Arcas will be more expensive, and there will be less parts available used. The company does seem to be doing ok, and they regularly come out with new products, e.g. a plethora of tripod heads. Horseman are terrific cameras, and many parts of their monorail cameras are interchangeable with Sinar. Toyo made a bunch of great cameras, and they're still in business. Linhof monorails can be quite reasonably priced... It's really field specific cameras where there's a bunch of recent excellent examples from fairly new companies, such as Chamonix. If cost isn't figured in, my field camera would be an Arca F Classic. I'm too invested in other systems to be willing to make that change, though.

    Bernice, though, is certainly right the Sinar was the main studio view camera in America at the end of the 20th Century.
    “You often feel tired, not because you've done too much, but because you've done too little of what sparks a light in you.”
    ― Alexander Den Heijer, Nothing You Don't Already Know

  8. #8

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    This is a Horseman rotating roll film back on a Sinar Norma. These Horseman rotating roll film backs fits the standard 2x3 Graphic Lock style backs that are made by Horseman and many others. These ease the use of a roll film back on a view camera by allowing the view camera used in the way a view camera could-should. Once the GG image is acceptable, rotate the roll film back into image recording position, remove the roll film back dark slide, make the exposure, dark slide back in, advance the 120 roll film back to the next frame. Rotate again to create the next image per the ground glass. Used one of these on a Sinar for decades. There is interference between the Horseman rotary back in the portrait image position if a F or P rear standard is used.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    These Horseman rotary film backs are easily available on eBay for just over $100 USD, Same with the 6x7 or 6x9 Horseman 120 roll film backs.


    Bernice


    Quote Originally Posted by Times2 View Post
    Hi,

    As I'm planning on using 6x7 back, I'm not sure if there will be a problem with attaching one to Norma.

    If it matters, cameras I'm looking are Norma and F2

    If you have experience with one or both cameras please share with me
    Any advice is very much appreciated!

    P.S: I'm aware of this thread Sinar F2 vs Norma 8x10 but as it is in regard to different format/size same conclusions may not apply


    Quote Originally Posted by Times2 View Post
    As I'm planning on using 6x7 back, I'm not sure if there will be a problem with attaching one to Norma.

  9. #9

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    Quote Originally Posted by Peter De Smidt View Post
    I'd decide based on condition and included accessories. Having bought my first Sinar in 1992, I agree with Bernice. I currently have an Intrepid 8x10 and a Sinar P2 system. I'd much rather use the Sinar, whereas I'd much rather carry the Intrepid.

    That said, there are other good options. In particular I prefer an Arca F to a Sinar F or F2. Arcas will be more expensive, and there will be less parts available used. The company does seem to be doing ok, and they regularly come out with new products, e.g. a plethora of tripod heads. Horseman are terrific cameras, and many parts of their monorail cameras are interchangeable with Sinar. Toyo made a bunch of great cameras, and they're still in business. Linhof monorails can be quite reasonably priced... It's really field specific cameras where there's a bunch of recent excellent examples from fairly new companies, such as Chamonix. If cost isn't figured in, my field camera would be an Arca F Classic. I'm too invested in other systems to be willing to make that change, though.

    Bernice, though, is certainly right the Sinar was the main studio view camera in America at the end of the 20th Century.
    Speaking as a Sinar rep for EPOI in the mid 70s and then as the LInhof rep afterward till 4 years ago there are multiple reasons why Sinar was so predominant starting in the mid 70s in North America. And the main reason was marketing. We were given outfits to “loan” to companies, leading photographers, influencers, schools, etc. to make Sinar into the dominant choice. Many of those cameras were never returned and became payment in kind.

    After all, once the shot was on film it made difference what camera took the shot. On film all of the results are the same.

  10. #10

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    Re: Sinar F2 Vs Sinar Norma (4x5)

    @All,

    Thanks for responding in a very easy-to-understand way.
    I have been looking at intrepid but to me, they were a no-go as they seem too flimsy and me being a novice I want to eliminate as much uncertainty as I can from my shooting process.
    I also considered Toyo/Linhof/Horseman but decided against them as they would require recessed boards(and bag bellows) and they would still have various drawbacks when coupled with 90mm lens (105mm on 6x7 would be a bit too close).
    I initially thought of using slide-in roll back (like this Linhof one) but that rotary back seems pretty good.

    It remains for me to check with my local film-camera-repair-guru if can perform CLA for Norma.

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