In the thread on tech cam images, Tareq asked this question:
I will add my thoughts later, as it is going to be a longish post and I don't have the time to do it right now
In the thread on tech cam images, Tareq asked this question:
I will add my thoughts later, as it is going to be a longish post and I don't have the time to do it right now
Thank you very much, Jack!
I hope this thread will help us to have a clear or good decision on which system/body will go with, i appreciate your help
The only tech camera worth using is an ALPA; ALPAs rock! Anyone using a Cambo or an Arca is an effing moron.
And, of the three, the ALPA is the only one that takes decent photographs. Plus, you can shim them.
(Of course, it's impossible to shim them properly unless you have a 72mm or longer lens, and you have to wait until it rains in SoCal, which won't be until February, but it's worth it, because ALPAs rock!)
Or, to put it another way, it depends on what uses you have planned. If you want something you can carry around and shoot hand held, but will also provide the ability to take "serious" photos from a tripod, the ALPA TC is really nice. Unless you want movements, of course.
There's a whole spectrum, from the TC (no movements, light weight) through the ALPA STC (heavier, larger, rear shift only) to the Arca RMs (heavier, but offers both shift and tilt). Assuming you can avoid being a total gear slut, you need to decide what the camera has to do, and you can narrow the choices considerably.
Just in case that is a provocation on purpose, I won't answer. And in case it was not, I won't answer either.
I was thinking that was exactly the type of comments, remarks and arguments we wanted to ban to avoid a "brand war".
Edited for PS: that was humor, just in case some didn't get it.
Dangerous indeed! Humor should be clear if intended that way. Charles
Charles, you are correct, and it's easy to misunderstand some forms of humor, especially dry wit, so let's keep it to a minimum please!
That said, I think it's pretty obvious Stephen's response was clearly humor -- and best of all, directed primarily at my sophomoric attempt to encourage civility
Thierry, I got that your response was likewise intended as "humorous understanding"
I know we all want this thread to be beneficial to all parties.
I knew that Stephen's comments were pure humor (especially knowing that he himself owns 2 Alpa cameras ). But I didn't want it to be misunderstood by anybody, thus my answer not addressed to him directly.
But yes, it is very easy and fast to be misunderstood, when only words are implied.
A tech camera has been on my back burner for quite a while, so I'm excited to see this thread.
Hopefully the advice will be better than the humor.
Maybe I could bump it along with some specifics - who has a camera they like that has:
A good tilt range (shift not as important), takes IQ backs, relatively lightweight, very good wide angle lenses - things that I think I would like in a landscape camera.
here is a bit:
The Alpa HPF rings for the Schneider 43 and Rodie 70 will fit those same lenses in cambo mount, offering the same advantages.
However, if your cambo lenses have the T/S mount, the HPF rings will not fit without considerable modification (which I am about to undertake)
My two cents: Most important is WHO you buy from. There are some dealers that have a no return policy... others are generous. A dealer should be willing and ready to exchange any piece of equipment that the user is unhappy with. This is a major investment and if it requires even the slightest second thought, regarding funds, you should probably take a pass.
Alpa, which I own, has the least tilting capabilities. They will probably have to address this with a new/different body. The current solution is limited to 80mm and up. If tilting is paramount then Alpa may not be the body for you. However, Alpa does have a strong support mechanism..... I cannot speak for Arca or Cambo. Its rare that a body would be defective. Its likely that a lens will have issues and that's where a good dealer and manufacturer are extremely important.
John thanks for that info going to order the HPF ring for my 35 XL on my Cambo but did not know on the T/S mounts.
We could really simply do by each system with some of there highlights.
I'll start with Cambo since I just bought one. Most if not all of systems can do movements of 15 degrees in any direction except the Alpa TC and Cambo compact which both have no movements. So let's start here with movements . The Arca Rm3di,Rm2d, Cambo WRS , Alpa Max and Alpa Y I believe movements can be made from the back standard without limitations at least to 15 degrees in any direction rise/fall and stitch. The Alpa SWA , STC can do only one at a time either you have rise and fall on SWA or stitch with the STC . Either one switch to a different position can do the other movement
but it's either or not a combination like the full movement ones ID above. However Thierry can confirm this and talk Alpa better than me on this there is a attachment you can use and he can explain that. Those are the movements in general and some will go past 15 degrees and some may have more movement limitations. Check specs on models you are after.
Okay someone explain focusing and tilt shift options. I pass the torch on for that.
Let me add that was a general explanation and each model can be described in more detail.
I can't believe I'm about to disagree with Guy, but,
The ALPA Max has rise and fall on the front and shift on the back. Rise and fall on the back can be had with an adapter. Paul Slotboom has very good videos on his (OpTechs Digital) website that show the movements on the Max, as well as the SWA. http://www.optechsdigital.com/Videos.html These videos give a good overview of the functions of the ALPA cameras except for the STC.
Thanks Stephen, to correct.
The videos can be found as well on the Alpa site:
I shall tomorrow (it's a bit late over here) post a summary of the different Alpa cameras, since the different models are often compared with the wrong cameras of the competition. Those are the different field cameras available from Alpa, each for (a) different purpose(s):
ALPA 12 TC
ALPA 12 WA
ALPA 12 SWA
ALPA 12 MAX
Good night and day,
Just like to add that a lot of people like the Alpa ground glass because of it's lack of grain
Also, I'd like to defend Alpa a bit when it comes to a lack of tilt ability in some instances. The original customers for Tech cameras were architectural photographers that didn't need all of the tilts/swings associated with view cameras and only wanted a highly precise rise/fall/shift. Most architectural shots done with extreme wide angle don't need tilts and most done with moderate wide angle don't need to be focused at infinity. Of course, I'm referring to what has been traditionally regarded as professional architectural photography. Hobbyists do things differently and sometimes they want gear to go beyond what it was originally designed for. None of this was really considered a problem until Arca came out with the built-in-tilt and folks starting buying tech cameras for landscapes and vacation photos. Full disclaimer: I hope to get an XY as my next camera so I'm definitely an alpa fanboy
Actually Cambo is the only system you can swing and tilt at the same time. Arca it's one or the other, you have to flip the lens board. Alpa is 80 and above BUT with Cambo you have to have the T/S mount which costs a extra 1200 for each lens you want. There is no free lunch on any of them. You need to make choices on your needs but more important your compromises because each system has them.
I used the wrs-1000 and 35xl, actually the very same items that Guy is using now except he ripped off the bull bars first thing.
I had tried a cambo with the t/s lens panel but found the controls not to be pleasing to my fat fingers.
Now I am using an Arca Rm3di which allows either swing or tilt. Frankly I usually end up wanting one or the other in Landscape although both with product shooting. When shooting girls I find that movements are usually not useful except occasionally tilt in a wide angle toe to head sort of way.
One feature of the wrs-1000 that I find lacking in the Rm3di is the detent on center shifts One MUST get into the habit of zeroing out the camera upon the conclusion of each shot.
I enjoy the Arca helical and probably would find the area hpf as useful. Anybody who finds difficulty focusing at infinity (pixel peeping that is) will find that there are three tiny set-screws that need to be loosened a bit to allow focusing "beyond zero" These may be accessed once the focusing assembly has been removed from the body. Work the helical and their location will be obvious.
Well I limited it to the non view camera style. But I do agree the T/S may have a indent issue but it is the one field camera that does but it certainly does not make it the best system. Actually none of them are but certain functions work better than other ones on diffrent systems. No different than comparing a Hassy vs Phase debate. In bad English there ain't a perfect system and never will be. Arca has the longest focus throw which many will find easier to pinpoint there focus better. This is not a accuracy thing that others lack just makes it easier manually to find the spot you want. It's like a Canon 85 1.2 lens which has a very long throw.
I'm writing this in Flagstaff after spending the afternoon in Sedona and while I'm on the way to the North Rim.
There's a mind boggling, mind blowing, mind numbing amount of written information on tech cameras. For the most part this information tends to be one-sided. The idea of who makes a better tech camera is much like who makes a better mouse trap or who makes a better medium format digital back. A couple years ago we'd be discussing the choice of a particular film, now we get caught up in pixel peeping and reading into various choices of wording in describing a product.
The one over riding concept regarding a tech camera - any camera for that matter is there isn't a "perfect" system. They all have flaws. This goes for comparing 35mm systems such as Nikon, Canon and I'll even include Leica. The flaws grow with the camera. There are flaws in Phase, Hasselblad and Leif and just because I failed to mention a particular brand doesn't been a lack of flaws.
Several years ago everyone was all a flutter on which 645 body to buy and which was the "perfect" system - Mamiya, Phase or Hassleblad. Now it seems more people are looking at technical cameras and asking the same questions. Asking questions is great so long as you don't stop there.
Going into a tech camera is a major investment in both money and time. Keep asking questions, keep reading the various reviews that are available but don't forget the most important player here - your dealer. The camera itself isn't the expensive item, its the lenses which can up Leica prices to shame.
Cambo makes at last count 4-different technical camera systems for medium format with all 4 being slightly different from the other in weight and capabilities. I've written on 2 or 3 of these systems both here and on my blog. Jack has written extensively on using various tech cameras as I think Guy has. There is already a lot of information available for you.
The only person who can figure which system is "perfect" is you the user. That means contacting your dealer; it could also mean contacting a member here to see if you can set up a demo. Workshops are another great tool in touching, feeling and using the various systems. One of the best workshops I know of is the New England one Capture Integration is holding in October - just about every type of tech camera will be there.
I've said this before but I feel I need to repeat myself. If you are a run and gun type photographer then a tech camera might not be the best option for you. Yes you can take fast captures handheld with a tech camera however it only really comes out and shines when you are deliberate in you setup. Remember a tech camera has no automatic function; no auto focus, no auto ISO, no auto f/stop. What a tech camera offers if you let it is the ability to capture images with some of the best glass there is. Yes you'll have to do an LCC but that more than makes up when you can do shifts and movements that are unparallel in just about any other system short of large format.
I mentioned Cambo only because that's the system I'm intimately familiar with - I've attempted to use a generic term of tech camera everywhere else. I know what works best for me. You'll need to figure which has the less amount of flaws in which you can work with and which in the end gives you the most bang for the buck.
This turned out to be longer than I expected and yes I fully understand it doesn't answer the basic question asked of which one and why. I feel the question is too open ended and I fear there just isn't an answer available with out hands on experience.
Here is a list to help get started.
Alpa 12 TC
Alpa 12 TC si
Alpa 12 WA
Alpa 12 SWA
Alpa 12 METRIC
Alpa 12 MAX
Alpa 12 XY
Arca-Swiss F-Line Classic 4x5, 6x9, 5x7, 8x10
Arca-Swiss F-Line Metric 4x5, 6x9, 5x7, 8x10
Arca-Swiss M-Line 4x5, 6x9, 5x7, 8x10
Arca-Swiss Misura 4x5
Arca-Swiss M-Line two
Arca-Swiss M-Line two slr
Arca-Swiss M-Line two mf
Cambo Wide RS Series
Cambo WRS-AE (Anniversary Edition)
Cambo WRS-1050 (Wide RS Body Wooden Handgrips)
Cambo Wide DS Series
Cambo WDS-240, 241, 242, 243
Cambo WDS-350, 351, 352, 353
Cambo WDC (Wide Compact Body), WDC-H1, WDC-HV, WDC-MAfd
Cambo Ultima 23 Camera System
Linhof M 679cs
Linhof Technikardan S 45
Silvestri Bicam II
Silvestri S5 micron
Sinar p SLR
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I looked extensively at the Alpa and Cambo systems before choosing the Cambo WRS. Here is why I went with the Cambo:
Vertical and Horizontal shifts:
WRS – can do both at the same time up to 20mm - very easy movement
Alpa - only with the Alpa Max - 25mm x 18mm
WRS - 155mm x 165mm 1.2 g
Max - 177mm x 206 1.2 g
Draw it on a piece of paper. The Max is about the size of a dinner plate, the WRS is about the size of a desert plate.
Price for body:
WRS - $2,800 new
Max - $5,500+ new
Price for mount
WRS - $500
Alpa - $1,200
Price for lenses
Alpa almost 1 1/2 times the price for the same lens.
WRS - Easy - has four adjustable screws in the back of the mount (takes about 3-5 min to shim)
Max – multiple shim options
WRS - several lens from 35mm to 90mm
Alpa - 90mm and above
The Alpa is beautiful camera and a fine product. But, for me the Cambo fits the bill.
Thanks Tim . Like to know the procedure for calibrating the WRS. Maybe you can post a separate thread for us. Thanks Guy
Also I would like to be able to take left grip off bore a hole slight bigger to feed a sync cable through and replace. Is there any manual around for such details.
You can PM me this data if you like and have time .
Sorry little OT there folks
Here is how you calibrate the WRS (you need a fairly small Phillips and small standard flat head screwdriver:
Step 1: First remove the mount from the WRS. Set the mount aside.
On the back of the camera there are six very small screws: 1) two screws on the top corners and 2) four on the bottom center left/right.
Step 2: Remove all 6 screws. The four bottom screws reveal two other screws on the bottom. Remove the two screws on the bottom.
Step 3: Now remove the shim plate and you will see the adjustable shim / calibrating screws in the inside four corners. With the standard flat head screwdriver you can adjust the screws that shim the mount.
Step 4: I would now unscrew all four adjustments until they are flush for a constant starting point.
Now put it back together. Put the mount & back on - and follow the concepts described in the Optechs video (http://www.optechsdigital.com/Videos.html) on adjusting digital backs.
Repeat Steps 1- 4 until the lens/back are perfect at infinity.
On my Aptus II 12, I found the adjustment needed was 2 1/2 rotations from the flush position.
Hope this helps. If needed, just send me a pm with your phone number and I can walk you though it.
Thanks, you're right.
I first wanted to link to the different videos available on the site, which the STC page doesn't feature.
But then I ended up by listing the cameras and the STC slipped out, although it is imo may be one which fits the bill in many aspects.
I shall anyway come back to each model and list the different features.
Thanks Tim very helpful
here was my PERSONAL answer...
I lump technical cameras into three categories:
1. Larger cameras with more movements - Arca Rm3d, Sinar ArTec, Alpa Max, Cambo WDS, etc.
2. Smaller cameras with limited or no movements - Alpa TC/STC, Arca Rm2d, Cambo WRS, etc.
3. Hybrid LF cameras that some consider "technical cameras" but I don't. All of the Linhoff, and the remainder of the Silvestri, Sinar and Arca cameras. I just consider these LF cameras.
The first step in my choice was to narrow the selection down to one of the three groups. This is fairly easy to do just by handling the cameras and imagining the type of photography you do. You could arguably make this decision without taking a single photo. That's essentially what I did.
The second step is much more difficult and time-consuming. It can be tough to sample and test everything because one dealer probably doesn't carry all the brands, nor all the lenses / cameras within that brand. It took me four months of actual demo time to decide, and I bet that is faster than most. Most people buy a car faster than a technical camera!
Light weight and simplicity was important to me for various reasons, which is why I focused on group 2. I eventually chose an Alpa STC; I think Alpa has some great options in that group. The three primary options are the Alpa TC/STC, Arca Rm2d, and Cambo WRS. The choice between those three is a very personal one. In group 1 it really comes down to the ability to tilt on wide angles. If you want/need that feature, the Arca Rm3d is a stand-out in my opinion because tilt is built into the camera.
IMO this forum is quite biased to one particular brand due to its very enthusiatic represention in every view camera conversation. This is a source of excellent, straight from the maunufacturers mouth type of support but can run the risk of being very one sided when considering the other camera options avaiable.
None are perfect but all are excellent and the best decision is your decision so try and have a play with as many as you can.
IMO this forum is quite biased to one particular brand...
while it's true about MFDB... i don't think it's the case for technical camera... there's is several owners of Arca, Alpa, Cambo, and Linhof...
It's more like $8000 for a Max body now.
Yes: body only. It's another $1000 for a pair of grips.
check for yourself.
This is Alpa's Achilles heel: their ridiculous pricing.
Some of this is due to the Swiss Franc's recent appreciation, but... it was a very similar situation before then: lenses that are $1800 in stores, are $4500+ in an Alpa mount. A very off-putting mark up for the customer to swallow.
My guess is that the "very enthusiastic representation" is aiming at my person directly and the brand I am representing (officially and with the Alpa signature and blessing of the company), since I am the only one representative regularly here and posting.
No blame from me to you to point this out, in the contrary. People should know with whom they deal with, and they know when reading my posts, since I have made it clear from the very beginning:
Information Alpa Switzerland & Thierry Hagenauer
Therefore everybody can know and understand that I am in some ways biased.
However, I always try to put the emphasis on a true and clear information, by answering the questions some are asking here or by correcting some mistakes or incomplete answers when it comes to Alpa.
I do not or never did try to push in any way anybody here or when contacted directly to purchase the brand I am representing. I did not do it during my time with Sinar, nor do I have the intention to do it now. I believe that all here are adults and able to recognize the difference between a sales pitch (line of talk that attempts to persuade someone) and a source of information.
It is everybody's decision and choice, and that is where complete information is relevant and necessary. BUT, this is and should never be going WITHOUT trying and testing the products under one's own shooting conditions.
Unfortunately enough, there are still many purchases made without a single practical test being made but solely based on the information one can read here and there.
But yes, I am enthusiastic when it comes to photography, images and the Alpa cameras. I couldn't imagine doing this without enthusiasm.
It's more like $8000 for a Max body now.
yes, and a RM3Di including the helicoIdal and grips is less than 6000$
But again, you should ad all your needs (lenses, view finder, grips, ... ), to evaluate the price of your complete kit !
Why do I open threads on tech cameras good thing I can't find my wallet
Either that or your wife stole it first. Lol
The feature matrix is complex when it comes to comparing tech cams. It's why I gave the warning I did initially about brand wars. And posting a slur comment about one brand (ie, "the price is ridiculous") just turns the thread negative instead of helping --- far better to say, "brand X or model Y was beyond my budget." The big issue with gear is there are expensive options that many folks want but simply cannot afford, so they slur it because of that -- and it does no good to anybody reading the thread. I will ask again, please keep it POSITIVE! State why you bought what you bought -- if it was based on features, explain what those were; if it was based on gut or because so-and-so bought one, go ahead and say that --- there is no wrong answer for who buys what!
I will edit this content of this thread without warning if I see argumentative comments and/or brand-bashing.
Maybe the way to deal with the feature matrix is to approach the subject from the feature side rather than the brand side: which cameras offer tilt, which offer front rise and fall, which offer rear rise or shift.
Okay, my initial input. When buying tech, we are usually buying it to solve a specific problem. Generally speaking the features that help solve problems are -- and please free to add to the list.
First let me add some background data: The ends of the camera with movements are referred to as "standards." In view camera parlance it was for the frames between the bellows. The rear standard holds the sensor, the front standard holds the lens, the bellows connects them and at the same time allowing movement on the standards while keeping the space between them light-tight. Camera movements can be on either standard or both in varying degrees. Tech cameras generally replace the bellows with a rigid frame for more accurate parallelism between the front and rear standard than a view camera can manage. Because of this, it is a more difficult manufacturing process to get full movements at both ends, so other compromises need to be made. This is why certain "hybrid" cameras are available, being half tech body and half bellows camera; the goal being to gain and maintain advantages of both platforms. Hence the issue regarding which features -- the more there are, then generally speaking the higher the cost to build and buy. Note that which standard the movements are on *IS* critical for solving specific issues.
1) Superior glass available, usually better on resolution and/or distortion than DSLR glass.
2) Superior precision in alignment between sensor and lens.
3) Shift and rise movements. Very helpful in composing while maintaining visually correct 3D to 2D geometric projection onto the sensor. If these movements are at the lens standard, perspective is altered when making the movements. If it is on the rear or sensor standard, then the movements maintain original perspective. The latter is useful if one plans to shift-stitch for higher resolution.
4) Tilt and Swing movements. The only way to alter the PoF (Plane of Focus) off the perpendicular to the sensor. This allows for extending DoF beyond what is possible from just stopping down the aperture. If on the rear standard, they impart geometric distortion in the 3D to 2D projection, but this can be used to visually adjust aspects to an image to make them more appealing, like decrease the effects of an angling away wall or sides of a box on a product.
5) Other aspects to consider are build-quality, cost, breadth and depth of available accessories, manufacturer and dealer support, and overall product availability. Some of us are going to be more willing to give in on some of these than others, so in the end the end they do become valid points to consider.
To be clear, I have owned and a used a plethora of view and technical cameras. They all had features I liked and they all were missing features I would have liked. A few had features I liked but were poorly implemented, while others had features I had limited need of yet were superbly implemented. And the reality is I could generate images with all of them that were superior to similar images I could generate with a DSLR. Another reality is the net improvement in my PRINT-level output detail and technical superiority was relatively minor; IOW if I had not known what I could have done or had a side-by-side to compare using a bit of rise - shift - tilt - swing, I would probably not have cared very much. So my honest view is that going with tech adds the last tiny level of technical improvement and not any quantum level of performance or creativity enhancement. So don't expect miracles when buying into it, as it still requires a talented operator to generate superior results. Moreover, tech cams require methodical process to use well and as such are infinitely easier to totally screw up with compared to an MF DSLR, so the down-sides to their use are often more severe and more plentiful than the gain-sides. So, with all that said,
My ideal camera would have all movements at both ends and be in the rigid design of a bellows-less tech camera. This camera does not exist, so I needed to make some compromises. First I wanted rigidity and repeatable zero for all movements. I also wanted relatively compact and hand-holdable. This let out most any camera with a bellows between the standards as they simply are not as rigid as a solid body, nor as compact. Next I wanted shifts and rise at the rear so I could do perspective correct flat stitching. This let out cameras with only one or the other of those movements on the front standards. Next I wanted tilt and swing up front for altering PoF, and I wanted the movements available for my shortest lenses. This limited my choices significantly, primarily because I had already eliminated bellows cameras for rigidity, and having a bellows is the easiest (and cheapest) way to achieve these front tilt and swing movements.
After the above conditions I was left with two systems to contemplate. The Sinar would have been in the running, except it has a permanently attached sliding back which leaves it impractical as a "compact" or even hand-held choice. (More on sliding backs in a minute.) Alpa was out because it's only tilt option is an adapter that is only good for 80mm and longer lenses, and I wanted to be able to have tilt on my wides. This left the Cambo WDS and the Arca RM3d. The Arca only has tilt or swing, not both at the same time. The Cambo with a lens mounted in the TS mount has both, but only down to a certain 35mm lens. (Note I even wrote a review here showing why both are beneficial: http://forums.getdpi.com/forum/showthread.php?t=13238) This latter point was not too disturbing, as with hyper-wides like the 23 I am lusting after, tilt becomes less necessary --- but nonetheless it was a half-tic against the Cambo. This left the Arca, but I cannot have tilt and swing at the same time, which was a full tic against it. In reality, I only ever need tilt and swing together very rarely, but when it is needed it's defintiely convenient to have. So I went back and looked at Cambo. One little nit I had with the Cambo when I tested it was the overall build quality and implementation of the TS mount. It works, but the zero indent for the lens swings and tilts is not very positive, and I noticed it had maybe a 1/4 degree of "slop" in the stop. While a quarter degree doesn't sound like much, it can definitely throw off PoF, especially in wider lenses used at longer focusing distances. Since I am primarily a landscape shooter, this added another half-tic off the Cambo. By contrast, the Arca's tilt zero detent is very positive and precise, and the adjustment has more granularity as well, allowing for very precise settings. In the end, the Arca's added level of precision won out over the Cambo's T&S feature, but the reality is I could easily make either system work for me. Note that the above is about ME and for MY USES. Your needs and uses may vary, so I advise everybody to investigate all of the available systems and make your own decisions carefully and based on the features available that help achieve your goals and desires.
A note on cost. All of these systems are priced at a point where a healthy investment is going to be required. So my advice is to pony up to buy the system you really want the first time around. If you find a bargain price on an outfit, it is usually a less popular brand, or has a field of older glass packaged with it as an "not separable" kit -- and a lot of the first and second generation "digital" lenses do not have adequate coverage or performance to work with many of the last three generations of digital back technology. I would also advise build your kit slowly. Buy the body that best suits your needs, and then add the minimal few lenses you have to have to make the kit work as finances allow. Most of us will be supplementing an existing DSLR platform, so other focal options remain. Finally, selling off less popular brands and older glass can be difficult -- and here difficult almost always means you will take a bath financially getting out of it, so be careful how and what you buy. Even if you think you are buying the best, be prepared to sell at half what you paid for it, regardless of how good you think your original buy was; the market for digital MF tech is growing, but is still very small and the laws of supply and demand are definitely at work. Moreover, because of the entry costs, MF digital tech leans toward the wealthier shooters. And wealthier shooters have the ability to buy new, and usually will unless the used is exactly what they want and priced at too good to pass up. This pit can be deep, and you want to enter without slipping!
A note on sliding backs: Alpa claims they cannot be manufactured to tight enough tolerances to be reliable for their cameras. At first this sounded like marketing speak to me, but then I did some thinking and some math. A sliding mechanism definitely needs tolerance between the sliding pieces in order to move. Over the length a slide has to move for MF, I assumed this be on the order of .002 inches or about 50 microns. It could be less, say .001" or 25u. I can confirm that a shift in focus of 10u VISIBLY moves the focus point on my 40mm HR if it is focused at distance like hundred or so meters. Granted, aperture DoF will accommodate much of this, but the reality is, the lack of precision creates a visible shortfall. Whether it is practically significant or not, I will leave up to you to decide. Personally, I see it a marginal "benefit to loss" tradeoff, meaning it probably helps as often as it hinders. However the reality for me is my back has a good enough 100% review (and a focus mask tool and even a marginal but good enough live view) to confirm in the field my focus point is where I want it, and so a sliding back becomes less necessary, again for ME. Ultimately this is a decision you need to make for your chosen combo of camera and back.
"Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."3 Member(s) liked this post
I started off with an Alpa XY simply because it came in a bundle with a second hand Aptus 22 for a very good price; I then got an Alpa TC because it came "attached" to a SK 24mm lens I bought second hand as well. I quickly sold the TC because it was just too small and uncomfortable to hold for me, and got an Alpa SWA when a good bargain cropped up. I still have the XY, but my main camera as an architectural photographer is the SWA. What I like about it is the fact that it meets 95% of the needs posed by architectural subjects, i.e. vertical shift, in a very compact and light package. If I were a landscape photographer I'd probably look for tilt as feature, but I am not.
The focusing issue, at least with my Aptus, is a non-issue. In interiors I basically focus my SK 35mm lens at 3 metres and shoot at f11.3, and in exterior shots I focus at 5 metres, again at f11.3. With longer lenses I might make use of a hasselblad viewfinder, or if I am feeling lazy I just check focus on the back's screen until I get it right, usually one or two shots. The SWA is basically a light point and shoot camera with rise and, as I said, in my field that is essentially what you need.
I kind of was going that direction Steve to be honest and was hoping someone will follow me with the focusing side and other feature sets.
But anyway I made a big omission and sorry I totally spaced it but I forgot the Sinar Airtec in my big three it should be the big four. The Airtec does have T/S and I will l look it up and see how it functions.
This is totally my fault and sorry folks . Have to admit I have a harder time using the IPad when I really need to write something that takes more thought. I really need a keyboard in hand in some of my answers.
I agree with others we need to stick to feature sets and not brand bias. Just really screws up threads and the data needed for people. With tech cams I have absolutely no bias thoughts I could have bought any of the 4 brands and would have been happy. For me there is a certain need I have and it really comes down to the glass and all 4 use the same glass per say.
Have to say if I did not go Cambo WRS the SWA was right in there in the hunt as my second choice. Honestly I could not find one used. But it does fit my needs and always
loved this tech cam. My other choice was the Arca Rm2D. I'm after something small mostly because when I work I need both systems the DF and the tech cam so everything needs to be a combination and not a separate system for each. So I have certain things I am looking for in these systems and that is what folks need to be thinking about. How are you going to use them and in what situations.
Alpa make very good cameras and are very good at marketing and seducing prospective owners with their sales pitch of being the most accurate tech cameras made...... Arca, Cambo etc, etc are not so good at this. This however, doesn't make them any less of a system to buy into and why good old fashioned try before you buy with an experienced and knowledgable dealer should be the most important factor rather than brand X or Y.
Heck, we don't even know what Tareq is planning to shoot with this camera and what features he wants.
WOW, i will spend my time in Eid for reading this thread alone, around 46 posts, thank you all!
Great and very useful thread for potential buyers
There are many factors that should influence a buying preference apart from the obvious : pricing , camera features , dealer support it worth looking at what the camera or better his / her needs are.
I am primarily using tech for interior exterior and cityscapes.
I don't have an immideate need for tilt and swing but I do need a quick set up since I often assemble , disassemble and reassemble my gear up to 15 - 20 times on a given shoot.
To make a long story short I choose an Alpa Max as my main camera mainly for simplicity and versatility.
1: simplicity: set up excluding tripod takes no longer than 2 minutes . I am talking Max mounting on tripod , remove lens cover , mount lens, mount back , connect cable and release shutter.
2 minutes that's it. A big selling point for me.
2: versatility: Alpa arguably got the most choices when it comes to cameras and accessories . If you are comapring the XY with something like the TC and all the other options in-between . It's very attractive . In fact I was getting so weak so shortly after my Max purchase I got an STC ad a walk around and travel solution. Maybe one day I break down and even get a TC.
All those a valid solutions in the field depending on what your needs are.
Are great plus IMHO when it comes to looking into long term investment options when it comes to gear.
So these were my most compelling reasons for the type of work I am in and my style of working
Now let's look at the realities of making a purchase:
As already pointed out network and dealer support are crucial making those buying decisions sound and lasting.
I am based in china and therefore have less access to professional dealer support than you folks in the US or Europe but i must say this in all honesty that i had amazing support from Alpa connected people: that goes from the Beijing dealership to the actual Capaul family ( the owners of Alpa) not to mention Thierry in his professional capacity.
That for me was crucial. No offense to any advocate of the marvelous Arca system but as somebody put it ( in this very forum I recall) " I don't want to do business with a company that does not even have a web presence "
Interestingly there are many folks here regardless of " convictions" from all 3 camera camps that quote tech specs of lenses or using lens correction tools from Alpas site . That per se got nothing to do with a manufactures or brands superiority but simply put shows a dedication to information and support system that I do not find with any other brand and IMO is so crucial to the end user .
Again this is not meant as an offense at all. I have used large format equipment from Linhof Arca Sinar and Toyo and certainly have a sweet spot for Arca but i am running a business and need a reliable support system
Arca does not have this at least in the part of the world so I am happy to spend my money with those who realize that.
Just my 2 c
"2: versatility: Alpa arguably got the most choices when it comes to cameras and accessories . "
except no sliding back + no possibility to use tilt on short lenses + no way to share lenses with a rail camera...
it's really a question of personal needs !
For me the sliding back was important, for others it's not !
Admin note: It would be far more helpful to state 1) what you use and 2) why you chose it, rather than only stating why you didn't choose brand X.
Last edited by archivue; 29th August 2011 at 08:26.
Indeed there are a lot of options from a lot of vendors which may lead to what I call "Toxic Option Syndrome"; the inability to make a decision for fear of making the sub-optimal one.
Since the beginning of my digital back "era" I have owned a Horseman
a Cambo WRS-1000,
and now an Arca Rm3di
And I guess it may not end there as my opportunity for gear acquisition continues. Sometimes for me I sell gear if it sees a long period of lack of use, and then what gets me back in again is some particular challenge or perhaps some new feature, in the most current case it was the fine pitched helical focusing rings.
Yes some cameras have capabilities that others lack, some offer more or less options, but they have all worked well for me with varying degree of adaptation on my part; they each dictate a style of working.
At the end of the day I guess there is a factor related to how the camera "feels" to you and how it delivers the goods. What really is needed I think is something on the order of one-week rentals or loaners since it takes about that amount of time to get a feel for each one. What I am doing instead is buying them one after the other. which is not necessarily the best approach.
At least for the moment I am happy with what I bought which was to some degree informed by the IQ series of backs and the "June" firmware release capabilities (looks at calendar and shrugs).