reasons a Cambo Ultima, Sinar X or Arca-Swiss 4x5 camera are recommended
over any L-shaped or portable 4x5.
when you use a digital scan back such as PhaseOne, JOBO, or BetterLight
the weight of those scan backs requires extra support. The Arca-Swiss,
Cambo Ultima, and Sinar X and P 4x5 cameras are strong enough to
hold the weight of a scan back.
am a stickler for camera stability. I prefer a camera that is solid,
and does not wobble. Unfortunately, I have the early model Linhof
Technikardan. The new model eliminates some of the wobble but is
still based on an L-shaped support system. A heavy digital back
in an L-shape is going to sag, since it is held up only on one side.
The Linhof has been nicely portable, has survived years of use in
Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. But the new digital cameras
of the 21st century require more solid support. Ries
head, Better Light adaptation of Dicomed Field Pro.
a wide-angle panorama, it helps to have a bag-bellows. For digital
photography the bellows must shield the system from infrared. The
Wisner 4x5 is the camera I usually use, but it had an infrared-proof
bellows only for normal lenses.
here I am using the Linhof since its bellows is infrared-proof.
This is a typical photography situation in Central America.
Here we are at the Maya ruins of Copan, Honduras. The macaw
is not stuffed, it is very much alive, and bit me so hard
that my finger bled.
only does the heavy digital insert require a solid support, but
the even heavier SCSI cable exerts even more pull. I feel that the
Arca-Swiss, Cambo Ultima, and a Sinar X or P camera will do a better
job than any L-shaped system. Andrea and I spent an entire week
at Photokina, and
had an opportunity to inspect about every 4x5 camera in the world.
Our mutual choice was the Arca-Swiss
and naturally the rock-solid Sinar.
we use a Dicomed digital back, the two Swiss-made 4x5 cameras are
equally appropriate for the new models of Better Light, Phase One,
and other studio quality 4x5 digital inserts.
mistake (in addition to an L-shaped frame) is to attempt to use
a 4x5 camera whose movements are controlled by sliding guides with
a turn-screw to lock the position. This is the age-old kind of movements
based on portable large format cameras made since the 1890's. Such
cameras are great for field work as long as you are not doing close-ups
and as long as you are not using a digital insert. This is because
for close-up work with a scanning back your depth of field is minuscule.
You need zero dents, geared movements, and automatic stops. If you
have to turn a knob to tighten your movement the very act of turning
the knob or flipping the switch will move the camera out of the
selected plane of focus (you can see this clearly on the computer
monitor as you focus electronically).
other problem with most portable 4x5 cameras is that the "zero
position" is not always precisely defined, and zero on one
side of the tilt may be a few millimeters off from the zero position
on the other side of the camera. The Sinar camera is flawlessly
aligned top, bottom, front, and back. You will get better digital
photographs with a precision 4x5 camera. You will lose too many
pictures if you try to squeak by with a cheap 4x5 camera.
if you are serious about 4x5 photography, get a serious 4x5 camera
that really works well in the studio and on location: we recommend
X, and Cambo
Ultima as the three most-solidly-constructed 4x5 cameras on
the market today.
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