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Thread: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

  1. #1

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    Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    Hello everyone! I have been lurking around reading here and there. I used a large format camera back in college about 15 years ago, used both 4x5 and 8x10.
    I am doing research, looking through ebay and keh.com. I just see a lot of cameras w/o lenses and lenses with out lens boards. I have a rough idea of the lens I will be using like 90mm but not sure how that would relate to the bellows and camera. My budget will be around $400-$600. I dont mind the weight or the size. I want my camera to grow with me and if I want to use it for portraits I want to have that option too.

    These are some of the cameras I have saved:

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/HORSEMAN-MON...item417005c519

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/130595331318...84.m1438.l2649

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/290847826152...84.m1438.l2649

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!

  2. #2
    Roger William Barr
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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    First establish which system you want..and what if any spares and expansion is available... I just checked on the auction site. the results reveal this amount of items per search in the "cameras & photo" category

    Cambo = 172
    Horseman = 336
    Sinar = 820

    I have to confess a partiality to the Sinar F as I used one in college.. loved the thick rail.. and BTW Sinar F reveals 236 active listings. If you want to expand in the future you will need to know that there is stuff out there that fits..

  3. #3

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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by Brooklyn45 View Post
    First establish which system you want..and what if any spares and expansion is available... I just checked on the auction site. the results reveal this amount of items per search in the "cameras & photo" category

    Cambo = 172
    Horseman = 336
    Sinar = 820

    I have to confess a partiality to the Sinar F as I used one in college.. loved the thick rail.. and BTW Sinar F reveals 236 active listings. If you want to expand in the future you will need to know that there is stuff out there that fits..
    Thank you Roger for the quick reply. I did read in an article in the View Camera Magazine it says "in large format you
    should first decide on the range of lenses you want to use and then select
    the camera body that will accommodate them". I am also partial to the Sinar for the very same reason. I know the bellows is interchangeable with almost everything else. So say I stick with a Sinar, what lens can I use? Also what rail length works best for Architecture?
    Thanks again!

  4. #4
    lenser's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    I use both a Cambo SCX and a Zone VI field camera for architecture. The two things that are related are the film size and the fact that both take a bag bellows as well as the standard one.

    The bag bellows can become your best friend as it allows for easy use of the camera movements even to extremes without the binding that can occur with a standard bellows when used at fairly tight compression which occurs with all wide angle lenses.

    My advice would be to choose the camera you think you would like, but if it doesn't take a bag bellows, move on to the next choice.
    "One of the greatest necessities in America is to discover creative solitude." Carl Sandburg

  5. #5

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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    Quote Originally Posted by lenser View Post
    I use both a Cambo SCX and a Zone VI field camera for architecture. The two things that are related are the film size and the fact that both take a bag bellows as well as the standard one.

    The bag bellows can become your best friend as it allows for easy use of the camera movements even to extremes without the binding that can occur with a standard bellows when used at fairly tight compression which occurs with all wide angle lenses.

    My advice would be to choose the camera you think you would like, but if it doesn't take a bag bellows, move on to the next choice.
    Thank you Lenser. Thank you for the advice. I was wondering what the reason was for the bag bellows. I'll do my research on cameras and lenses, I should be ready to purchase in a couple of months.

  6. #6

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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    Speedfreak has a Sinar X for sale in the for sale section of this forum. He is asking $575 for the camera and $175 for a Sinar pan tilt head plus shipping. I would highly recommend a Sinar pan tilt head if you go with a Sinar camera.

    It's really hard to beat a used Sinar for the combination of price, quality, availability of parts and the interchangeability of parts. You can actually mix and match parts between the F series and the P series. Also if you buy a Sinar shutter you can use old, cheap barrel lenses for a unique look in portraiture and still have accurate shutter speeds.

  7. #7

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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    The Sinar X parts will also interchange with the F and P series.

  8. #8
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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    The Sinar cameras will accept lenses down to 47mm using their Wide Angle Bellows 2, and down to 65mm with their standard bag bellows, in both cases with a flat lens board. Cambo cameras will not go that short, and to get close to that requires a recessed board and a bag bellows. And when using a really short lens, you'll want to move the Cambo standards to a short rail--the long standard rail will either be in the picture or will be stabbing you in the chest when using a short lens.

    If 90 is as short as you go, then either will work, but you'll still need the bag bellows.

    On the other end, Sinar cameras can be lengthened as necessary, using intermediate standards to stitch bellows together and rail extensions. Cambo cameras cannot extend beyond the rail they came with.

    The geared movements of the Sinar X and P cameras are really nice. But they are bulky and heavy, too. If you will always use wheels for transport, that might not matter, and the X someone mentioned is now about the same price as a used F2 or clean Norma.

    High-end architectural photographers have made just about any camera work. Kirk Gittings, certainly at the high end of that biz, used a Calumet short-rail model (previous to the Cambo association) for many years. But the more modern modular cameras are much easier to configure and make work in a variety of situations.

    I have owned a Calumet CC-400 (similar to the type Kirk used when he did his commercial architecure work on 4x5), a Cambo SC, and a Sinar F2, and used all three with 90mm lenses. The Cambo was significantly more versatile and usable than the old Calumet, but the Sinar makes me thank myself for buying it every time I use it.

    In the deeps of time, the Calumet was a budget model, the Horseman a Japanese quality item intended to put the Swiss in their place, the Cambo a mid-range model, and the Sinar F the budget model of a high-end line. The Sinar would have been more expensive than any of the others, and that difference just grew and grew over the years. But now we can buy that high-end Swiss and German stuff for pennies on the original dollar, so cheaply that it makes no sense to use budget equipment for work that requires the movement flexibility of architecture.

    But it might be hard to find a Sinar with a lens for your budget, unless you get the original F series. That series will work just fine, even though I really prefer the F2, if you can stretch your budget slightly. Buy the lens separately in any case. If you get one of the slower wide-angle lenses (e.g. f/6.8 if a Grandagon and f/8 if a Super Angulon), then you only need a Sinar board with a hole for a No. 0 shutter--34mm or so--and you're in business. Those lenses will cost $300-400 for the older examples. The faster versions (f/4.5 Grandagons and f/5.6 Super Angulons) have wider coverage and are brighter for focusing, but are bigger and more expensive--maybe in the $500+ range. Don't get a 90mm lens with marginal coverage such as a plain Angulon--these will not allow you the movements you'll want to use for architecture.

    Rick "good luck" Denney

  9. #9
    Roger William Barr
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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    Second everything that was said about the bag bellows. You will need it for super wide angle lenses to afford the use of movements and to get close enough to the film plane. (Theres a fe available on the Bay) Best to take your time looking for the camera. You will get a better deal if you are able to buy a complete outfit. Camera, two sets of bellows and lens boards.
    As far as lenses, research a lot. For architecture where you may be using a few movements you want to make sure the lenses you have will cover a large enough circle. If you find things that you are not sure about ask the forum.. they fellows here seem pretty friendly and open with advice.

  10. #10
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: Newbie looking for advice- Need help selecting camera & lens for architecture

    My first 4x5 didn't have the option of using a bag bellow and my first lens was 90mm Super Angulon. Sure didn't take long to get my second camera with a bag bellows. Just saying.

    Roger

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