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Cambo Wide RS-1000 WRS First Look

jeffreytotaro

New member
First Impressions of the Cambo WRS-1000.

Thanks to Lance at Capture Integration and Rene Rook at Cambo who were kind enough to get me a WRS-1000 to evaluate. I currently shoot with a Cambo WDS, the big brother of the WRS. I have used this camera for 2.5 years with the following lenses, all Schneider. 24XL digitar, 35XL digitar, 47XL digitar, 58XL, 72XL, 90 f6.3, the latter 3 being film designs. I use a Phase One P45+.

So now the WRS comes along and offers a design made just for digital backs. The WDS shoots digital perfectly well, but the camera was designed for shooting 4x5 film. This is a great feature if you need to shoot both formats. I have not shot film for 3.5 years so I was looking for a smaller and lighter solution.

The box arrives at my door and looks very small for a camera to be contained inside. I open the box and find a smaller box within. Opening that box reveals an 8”x8”x4.5” soft case that contains the camera. Wow this thing is small! An averaged sized hand can easily ‘palm’ the camera very securely. Even though it’s small it still has a nice heft to it. Made entirely of aluminum this camera feels very solid and well made. It’s no lightweight when it comes to design though.

The camera has a tripod block or spacer that is required depending on your tripod head. If you have a large tripod plate, the camera may not reach its full vertical shift before it hits the tripod plate. Without it the camera is ¾” shorter.

The design is very simple and well conceived. All of the movements are done in the rear of the camera leaving the lens fixed in place, which is great for stitching either a vertical or horizontal panoramic or a 4 quadrant stitch. Shifting is done vertically by rolling the shift barrel with your right thumb while holding the grip, and a similar barrel is used for the horizontal shift where you can use your right thumb again. Both movements have no play in them at all and both are self-arresting meaning there are no locks to do or undo. You cannot move the back at all without using the barrel to turn the gear so no accidental movements are possible.

Lens offerings are from 24mm to 120mm. This camera has the word WIDE in it’s name so if you need really long lenses it may not be the way to go.

There are 4 bubble levels on the body. 2 on top for the usual leveling and then 2 others so you can level the camera either pointing straight up or flopped on its side.

You can use the same viewfinder from the WDS. It fits well, however it does block your view of the horizontal shift scale located on top of the body. And you cannot remove the viewfinder if the rear of the camera is shifted upward at all. This may not matter if you leave the viewfinder on all of the time.

The hand grips are smallish but work well enough. You can thread the cable release through the grips on either side in order to use the camera easily handheld. I hear there are wood grips becoming available soon. They do not appear to be user changeable though.

Lens mounting is done with 2 flip-up levers that grab the corners of the lens boards. It’s quick and secure, but I would remove the lens bull-bars if I were using this camera daily. They seem to get in the way of lens mounting and also if you remove the tripod block they could hit your tripod plate and prevent mounting the camera. They can be removed easily and they are outside the light-trap so there is no problem is removing them. I would keep one in the case and stick it in place when needed because I clip black-wrap to it with a clothes pin for a lens shade. My low tech solution.

Mounting the digital back is simple. An interface plate attaches to the body with 2 sliding clamps that should be familiar to anyone who has used a view camera. These clamps are secure and easy to use. Turning the backs orientation requires removing the back and plate together and flipping it 90 degrees and remounting it.

There are 2 shift scales that are measured out in mm. One for each displacement. I think they could make them easier to read by using an orange or red index mark. Vertical displacement is 25mm up (the back moves down in the rear to make a shift up in the composition) and 15mm down. Horizontal is 18mm each way. The gear drives have detents every 5mm which is nice, and they are just the right tension. They do not over grab and its easy to get even a 1/2mm out of the detent without it wanting to slip back in.

There are 2 other shift scales on the rear of the camera that are engraved into the body. There are not as clear to read since they are not painted with index marks. It would be helpful to have these painted or easier to read so that you could make all of your movements from the behind the camera especially while stitching where you need to hit a certain mark each time.

One cool thing I almost forgot. They include an LED light in a metal sleeve that attaches just under the bridge where the viewfinder sits. This light will illuminate the lens’ distance scales or exposure settings when working in dim light. It’s a magnetic attachment and is easy to install or remove. The light will stay on for 4 seconds with one click or you can set it to stay on longer. A neat feature!

I shot some test images which were all fine. Edge sharpness was right on. I did not post any images since it’s the lenses and back that make the image. As long as the camera can deliver the image to the back in a square and perpendicular way, its job is done. You can see dozens of WDS/Phase images at my website. www.jeffreytotaro.com

The Cambo Wide RS-1000 is a well design and beautifully made camera. It’s a nice addition to Cambo line and is a great move if you currently own a Wide DS and want a smaller camera or if you are considering medium format technical camera for the first time.

Many thanks to Lance at Capture Integration and Rene Rook at Cambo for getting this great camera in my hands!
 

jdbfreeheel

New member
Jeffrey,

Thanks for a great intro to the RS. I think there are those of us getting excited for the coming months when these become available.

A couple questions:
1) Can you compare the tension of the adjustment between the RS and the DS? What is your impression of the "roller" style of the adjustment rather than the knobs on the DS.
2) Do you get the sense that the beyond the solid feel of the RS, given its reduced size, do you feel comfortable moving around it and using its features as compared the the larger DS? (While of course this is opinion, I equate it similarly to the differences in handling consumer DSLRs such as a Nikon D40, etc which feel incredibly tiny to me and hard to handle and navigate as compared to my former D2x.

Thanks too for the pictures. It helps get a sense of the new kit.

-Josh
 

Jack

Sr. Administrator
Staff member
Great review Jeff, thanks for sharing it! Keep us posted as you use it more.

Cheers,
 

jeffreytotaro

New member
Jeffrey,

Thanks for a great intro to the RS. I think there are those of us getting excited for the coming months when these become available.

A couple questions:
1) Can you compare the tension of the adjustment between the RS and the DS? What is your impression of the "roller" style of the adjustment rather than the knobs on the DS.
2) Do you get the sense that the beyond the solid feel of the RS, given its reduced size, do you feel comfortable moving around it and using its features as compared the the larger DS? (While of course this is opinion, I equate it similarly to the differences in handling consumer DSLRs such as a Nikon D40, etc which feel incredibly tiny to me and hard to handle and navigate as compared to my former D2x.

Thanks too for the pictures. It helps get a sense of the new kit.

-Josh
Hi Josh:

The tension and gear ratio seem very similar between the 2 cameras. I was curious why the roller on the new camera is covered in clear plastic when it appears to have a knurled surface which would give a nice grip on it. It does feel a bit inaccurate as to where it stops but I think its just a matter of getting used to it.

I think the smaller size is nice because it's less to bump into while working around the camera. I would still use a heavy tripod though.
 

Guy Mancuso

Administrator, Instructor
We will have one at the workshop in Moab and everyone will have a chance to demo it if they want so hopefully more users can report on it. I liked it a lot but want more time with it
 
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