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Thread: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

  1. #1

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    Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    Will a modern Sinar bellows work on a NORMA? I am looking at a NORMA, but would need a wide angle bellows. Do modern lens boards work? I assume anything to do with the rail will not work. How does a NORMA compare to a modern camera? I sort of like the old metal look.

  2. #2

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    Bellows, rails, holders, backs and lensboards all work perfectly over 50 years of Normas, F, and Ps. Avoid the later MB (Metering Back) versions. Getting newer bellows is a good idea with a 40 year old camera.

    The Norma is on par with a top Linhof monorail and newer Arca, the craftsmanship and robustness is second to none. They are far better than the F and arguablly better than the P, as well as being fairly light and compact.

    Watch for broken plastic knobs and empty levels. Otherwise the focusing track lever and lock downs can sometime become hard to tighten after decades of ham-fisted over tightening by catalog studio hacks. The Sinar service or Bob Watkins can fix this -- everything is designed to be servicable, not thrown away.

    In other words, I think it is one of the very best monorails ever!

    Exceptions - the bellow shade clips are different between the Norma and the F/P series.

    A shame Arca didn't maintain the same design discipline (ducks for cover). The founder of Arca designed the Norma!

  3. #3

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    I desperately love my Norma. I have 8x10, 5x7 reducing, and 4x5 reducing backs that give me amazing flexibility without filling the trunk with junk.

    Sturdy as a tank, built beautifully, and heavy. Yup, it's got it all.
    Bruce Barlow
    author of "Finely Focused" and "Exercises in Photographic Composition"
    www.brucewbarlow.com

  4. #4

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories(lensboard compatibility)

    I have just purchased a Sinar Norma, its my first large format camera. I am about to get a lensboard for my Copal 0 lens (Nikkor 90mm f/8 SW) and by searching Google I've read that the Norma requires a different lensboard than modern Sinars (a grey Norma panel, that is). Is that true or any Sinar Copal 0 panel is fully functional ?

  5. #5
    William Whitaker's Avatar
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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    Sinar lensboards are compatible throughout the range of cameras as Frank indicated. A Norma can use a current lensboard. Norma-era lensboards were the gray-green color, but function the same as modern boards.

  6. #6

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    Standardizing on Sinar Norma could be a good move, if you need to work with a monorail. I had a Norma for a time. Ergonomic in some respects, quirky in that the sharp edged lensboard and bellows slider/retainers rubbed on the bellows. And it was heavy. Bought it exclusively for use with a Nikon 90mm f/8 with a bag bellows. Short rail, flat board-- very nice for wide angle lenses. Too heavy, bellows too vulnerable for the off-trail hiking I do most often.

    There is a relative abundance of Sinar Norma, F, F2 and P cameras and spare parts floating around, easily sourced, because (at least in North America) Sinar was the preferred-by-a-wide-margin studio camera for commercial work. This was true at least until medium format digital and 35mm sized DSLRs undercut costs so much that it put any number of studios out of business, forced survivors to adapt. All this caused a great many to dump their Sinar gear for pennies on the dollar, starting 15 or more years ago. Arca Swiss and Linhof-- not so much.

  7. #7
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    A few of the controls on the Norma aren't as smooth as the F, but the Norma is more robust than the F2 at barely more weight (still way more portable than a P). For some reason it just seems a more fun camera to me. Almost everything is interchangable except
    the bellows rod for a compendium shade - but I just ground a couple extra flat on a rod
    and that was it - about a five minute project with either a file or grinder. The main thing
    with a Norma is to find one in good condition. I was real lucky in this resepct, and the
    camera will probably last the rest of my life. I have worn out several F's. But the leftover
    components fit the Norma just fine, including all the bellows.

  8. #8

    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    The 4x5 bellows are interchangeable between all models of Sinar cameras, however 5x7 and 8x10 bellows are not. The bellows for the 5x7 and 8x10 F and P metering back do not work with the Norma.

    I think Drew's point is key; it is hard to find a Norma in nice condition for a decent price. I have returned several Norma cameras purchased on Ebay. The cameras were all abused, and the sellers either oblivious or deceitful. That said, it is not difficult to tune up a Norma following Philip Morgan's instructions if you are handy.

  9. #9

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    I like the one that had a small Vice Grip pliers semi-permanent attached to tighten the focusing. Abusive photographers would overtighten the knobs, eventually cutting metal and requiring greater and greater force to lock focusing. Had they ever taken a moment to check what they were doing they could have saved a fine camera.

    Bob Watkins at http://precisioncameraworks.com is good at restoring Sinars, he used to work for Sinar Bron before he became the Arca service center.

    I agree, finding a good one is key. Some have sold for dirt cheap (under $200) on eBay lately and price is not an indication of quality. Probably makes sense to buy two and have one for parts.

  10. #10

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    Re: Sinar NORMA and modern accessories

    Thank you very much for your posts, they were really very helpful. I've been shooting medium format cameras for years (from 645 all the way to panoramic 6x17) but large format seems to be a completely different territory !! I will probably have my Norma delivered some time next week together with a Symar-S 210mm f/5.6 I recently purchased in Copal 1 and a a few sheets of FP4. I'll do my own development using the MOD54 and I can't really wait to see the first results. Once again, thank you !

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