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Some advice needed on technical cameras

I am looking for help/advice on dipping my toe into technical cameras & lenses with my DB
background: I used to own a beautiful 4x5 field camera and I miss the movements and look I was getting from that film setup. (also people would leave me alone when they saw that camera - now with digital everyone wants to chat as they pass by)

I know I dont have the best back for this type of application. I have an IQ3 50 (so no ES and the back has microlenses) but I would appreciate some comments on what i can expect with such a back for purely landscape work. (no architecture)

I find lugging my DF+ and lenses around a bit of a pain, and because of my low quality wideangle lens I am getting despondent with my results. so I'm looking for three things mainly:

1) Image quality.
I am struggling with my results from the 28mm I have. I got it used really cheaply, but the results I'm getting from this lens are not great.
Plus, its not possible to mount my Lee filter system to this lens, which I really miss

2) Portability
I get frustrated with the huge hunk of kit which is my current setup of DF+, DB and 28mm 80mm and 150mm (although the 80 and 150 used mainly in the studio I do take them out sometimes)

3) Low cost
Putting aside jokes about MF & low cost, these days I am sure lots of us are more conscious of our spending - this is a serious hobby for me, not a profession. So I want to keep costs to a minimum



So taking all this into account, I am curious to know whether I would be better with a technical camera, or something like the Cambo Actus DB?
Also what lens could I start out with, to gt me going and fall in love with taking landscape photos again

any thoughts/comments gratefully received
 

Paul2660

Well-known member
You will get a lot of responses on this as most folks on this site have used or still use a tech camera. I can send along a bit of advice:

1. I would use a dealer, for the purchase. The cameras and lenses are nothing like a "brand" company like Nikon, Canon, or even P1. Rodenstock has no direct support I am aware of neither do Acra, Cambo, or Alpa so if you have problems with anything, you have a possible issue trying to get anything resolved. Now add the issues due to Covid 19 world wide and a dealer becomes even more important. Most dealers I am aware of can supply used equipment at a reasonable cost.

2. Your 50MP back, can handle the wides OK, I used the 150 for a while on my Arca. Wides to consider are the Rodenstock 23, 28, 32, and 40mm. Schneider 35mm (no longer in production but you might find a used one).

3. With the 50mm you can expect about 10mm of shift (useable) with the 23mm and 28mm since your sensor is physically smaller, and close to 20mm with the 32mm and 40mm.

4. You will need to consider Center filters for the 23mm and 28mm Rodenstock and 35mm Schneider. The 32mm can work without one but if you plan to do a lot of shifting the CF is pretty important.

4. With no ES (sad that P1 never figured out a way to implement this as other companies did) you are dependent on the Copal. Copal shutters are less than 100% accurate. So if you select 1/125th, you may get 1/160th or 1/90 etc. They are no longer in production so again working with a dealer here is important as they can certify the lens.

5. Weight, I think you will find that the tech camera and lenses don't have much less weight than the DF+ and lenses, may 1/3 less.

Good luck on your solution, the tech camera will offer you a lot of great opportunities

Paul C
 

darr

Well-known member
I will let others talk more in-depth about gear as I am the type of photographer that gets more than adequate results from old and new, and expensive and fairly affordable gear. I am a film and digital shooter, so versatility is an important factor for me.

I started my medium format digital journey in 2010 with a P45 and an Arca Swiss ML 2. After about a year, I bought an Alpa Max and a couple of lenses. Today I have multiple Alpa cameras, a Linhof MT 3000 and a Cambo Wide. All of these cameras use film and my digital backs, the P45 and a Hasselblad CFV-50c.

The most versatile of my cameras is the Linhof as I shoot digitally and with film up to 4x5 & 6x17. The Cambo Wide is my 6x12 shooter in a backpack, and it has stitched beautifully with my CFV-50c. The Alpa cameras are great, especially for quick hyperfocal shooting out in the field, but everything about them is expensive.

If I could only have one of these cameras, it would be the Linhof because it can do it all. So if you miss that field camera, keep it in the equation. I also think your digital back is more than adequate for landscape shooting. When chasing more megapixels, we can inadvertently box ourselves in with more costs for computer needs, lens resolutions, etc.

Weight: no matter how we go about medium format, it gets heavier with each lens, accessory and tripod. My Cambo Wide came about because of weight concerns. When I decided I wanted to work on a 6x12 project over the next few years, I wanted a kit that would fit into a small backpack, be versatile, but as lightweight as possible. All factors were considered including the backpack, camera, lenses, and accessories, plus the pack had to withstand the elements from where I venture into which has been marshes, forests, and dunes. I also wanted to be able to use the digital backs and film magazines I already owned. Because of the universal backs of the Linhof and Cambo systems, they are able to share digital back plates and film magazines which was a great cost savings. I save weight by using just a single lens, and the backpack is really a waterproof duffle bag made to carry like a backpack (Ortlieb Atrack ST 25L - I am a 5’2” female). It is still a heavy pack, but it could be worse.

There are options in MF gear, but each has its pros and cons. Budget, weight, technique of shooting, and “will it be a system that can grow with my needs over time?” are all considerations. I love keeping things simple in my life, but camera systems can be another matter unto itself.


Best to you,
Darr
 

tcdeveau

Well-known member
Well I think you're in the right place for tech cam advice, lots of knowledgeable people here. If you have a local dealer I'd reach out to them as well and talk about your needs and what you're looking for. The dealers represented here could probably even do remote demos.

Paul and Darr already provided some great advice so I won't go into too much detail.

I'd figure out if you wanted more of a traditional view camera type setup (linhof techo, cambo actus, etc) or one of the more compact "pancake"-type setups (Cambo, Arca, Alpa) first before going to far into the rabbit hole/Dante's lair. Each has their advantages and disadvantages, setups with a bellows are going to lose some points in the "portability" category IMHO; pancake-type setups aren't going to have the movement flexibility that the view camera types have.

Regarding wide angles, the 23mm Rodie is limited in its movements. The 28mm may have color cast issues with the FSI IMX161 sensor of the IQ3 50. The 32mm is pretty big and heavy from my understanding and you have to be careful with the front element. I went for the 40mm Rodie, which does have some retrofocus distortion in the corners when shifted to the extreme, but was a nice compromise between size/weight/cost/etc compared to the 32mm. I just stitch if I need wider FOV than what the 40mm gives. I may add the 23mm at some point as well. My understanding is that the Schneiders (like the 35mm XL) have color cast issues on the non-BSI CMOS sensors and may not perform great....although someone feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Keep in mind regarding portability, since your back doesn't have ES, that adds a little bit of complexity and you need to make sure you remember cables to sync the Copal shutter with your back...which can be a pain. There's also the LCC process that is not needed with SLR-type setups (HxD, DF, XF, etc).

Regarding (3), my advice is to figure out what you want and keep an eye out on the second hand market. That's how I put together my Alpa kit. Didn't happen overnight (took 2-3 years probably), but I saved a good deal of money this way by picking up second-hand pieces here and there from fellow GetDPI members, my dealer, and the big auction site in the cloud. Probably me saved 1/3 to 1/2 off retail.

Just to play devils advocate: have you considered the GFX or X1D? Both systems would check all 3 boxes. You'd still get Capture 1 with the GFX. No native movements but various third party TS lens can be adapter (Canon/Nikon). From my own personal experience, the 21mm and 30mm XCD lenses are great. The GF lenses also look good too. Not trying to derail the thread or go off topic or anything, just simply wanted to throw it out there since a used X1D/GFX and wide angle will cost you less than a used tech cam body and a Rodenstock wide and may get you to where you want to be. They do not provide the tech cam experience though, which is one of those intangibles that make tech cams so much fun to shoot with IMHO :cool:
 

Pemihan

Well-known member
Just to play devils advocate: have you considered the GFX or X1D? Both systems would check all 3 boxes. You'd still get Capture 1 with the GFX. No native movements but various third party TS lens can be adapter (Canon/Nikon). From my own personal experience, the 21mm and 30mm XCD lenses are great. The GF lenses also look good too. Not trying to derail the thread or go off topic or anything, just simply wanted to throw it out there since a used X1D/GFX and wide angle will cost you less than a used tech cam body and a Rodenstock wide and may get you to where you want to be. They do not provide the tech cam experience though, which is one of those intangibles that make tech cams so much fun to shoot with IMHO :cool:

Then there's the Cambo Actus which can be used with the GFX or X1D. With that you still have access to all the beautiful tech lenses which are way "less expensive" naked.

But then you would have to give up the P1 system unless you wan't two systems.
 

Cambo

New member
[QUOTE But then you would have to give up the P1 system unless you wan't two systems.[/QUOTE]

Not necessarily. On the Actus-G swapping the bayonet for a DB frame is a breeze.
The sensor of your back will probably not play well with a SK 28mm. But as it's not the largest sensor, you may be happy with a Digaron-28. It has a much smaller image circle than the Schneider. Still sufficient for 33x44 in most circumstances.
 

Geoff

Member
Some great advice above. Wanted to mention something - one thing about tech cameras and shooting is that it changes how you work. Its a different way of working and hard to predict what works or doesn't for you.

Its likely that the first system or camera won't be the last one. Work with people who know. Try to get hands on the gear. Give yourself time with it, time to make mistakes, grow and change. Don't over-invest at the beginning. Start as simple as possible, only adding more complex or expensive answers as you become more sure you need them.

In practical terms, maybe start with Cambo, a used back, and a modest (say 2-3 generations back) lens or two. You'll be surprised at the quality level - its outstanding.

Hope this helps.
 
Thanks all

I am not planning on changing my back. The IQ3 50 will have to be good enough.
Yes in an ideal world P1 would have enabled the ES on the 350 but they didnt so I'm stuck without it and syncing copal lenses
I am trying to get a rental of a cambo, so we'll see how that goes. I am liking the idea of a WDS and maybe a 40mm lens. I would like wider but the prices are pretty eye watering (for me) even used.

Because of my time spent with LF field cameras I think I will enjoy the more mechanical aspect of shooting with a technical camera.
 

anyone

Well-known member
One thing to consider: the experience of LF film and MF digital tech camera is (at least for me) quite different. I shoot 4x5, and MF digital on Cambo WDS and Linhof Techno.

I started out with the Techno because of the interchangeability of the lenses with my view cameras. While wides are exclusively used for each system, tele lenses I often interchange. So that's a nice aspect of that system. Now comes what makes it different: while the ground glass is really, really nice on a 4x5" camera (large, ..), it's not the same on a digital view camera. It's relatively tiny. Plus you need to work really (I mean really) precise to get consistent output on a high level. The camera is small and lightweight, the sliding back is really large.

Coming to the Cambo, I think it's a little easier to work with due to distance markings on the lenses and the fact that your standards are always parallel. However, precise focusing is also a challenge and the lack of sliding backs doesn't make it easier. You have a back with proper live view, so that may or may not be an issue for you. Lenses mounted for Cambo are in general quite expensive. I use the Cambo also with film, and I think the experience is rather consistent between film and digital.
 

TheDude

Member
the sliding back is really large
Yes, the 002768-S Techno-sliding/rotating back is large and heavy (and $$$).

Another approach would be CMOS sensor mounted in a simple (fixed) adapter back and using live-view for focussing and composition.
 

Pemihan

Well-known member
[QUOTE But then you would have to give up the P1 system unless you wan't two systems.

Not necessarily. On the Actus-G swapping the bayonet for a DB frame is a breeze.
The sensor of your back will probably not play well with a SK 28mm. But as it's not the largest sensor, you may be happy with a Digaron-28. It has a much smaller image circle than the Schneider. Still sufficient for 33x44 in most circumstances.
Sorry my comment was meant in regard to me assuming that the OP only wanted one system.
 
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Cambo

New member
Your input is always much appreciated Peter! Just wanted to avoid misunderstandings (and created one when doing so!)
 
Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate them

Would there be a reason for me to go for a system like the Cambo WRS over an Actus?

I assume simplicity is the main one? and ensuring the two standards are parallel on the Actus, which isnt an issue on the WRS type of course

Anything else to consider?
 

BFD

Member
Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate them

Would there be a reason for me to go for a system like the Cambo WRS over an Actus?

I assume simplicity is the main one? and ensuring the two standards are parallel on the Actus, which isnt an issue on the WRS type of course

Anything else to consider?
Kind of 2 different beasts. WRS is super simple and is great if you just need lens shifts (and tilts if you get tilt/swing lens). I've never used the Actus but it definitely has more full-feature large format features. WRS is super compact and easy to travel with. Actus is more like a rail camera when it comes to travel.
 

Boinger

Member
Thanks for all the comments, I appreciate them

Would there be a reason for me to go for a system like the Cambo WRS over an Actus?

I assume simplicity is the main one? and ensuring the two standards are parallel on the Actus, which isnt an issue on the WRS type of course

Anything else to consider?
Well parallelism can be a bitch with the actus at least that is what I have found. I opted for a Linhof Techno due to that reason. It is a bit more rigid than the actus imo, a lot less slop.

I didn't want to go the pancake route because the mounting gets expensive and I have a lot of lenses. Plus you get much more movement range with a full bellows camera.

But if you are concerned about absolute rigidity that would be a good route to go.
 
Thanks
I am a bit concerned about being out in the field and faffing about with the standards if they're not set right

I love the idea of the simplicity of the pancake setup.

So my current thinking is:

Actus:
Pros - more movements. Cheaper lenses. More lens options (albeit limited to copal due to my back) due to different lens plates
Cons - potentially more fiddly to setup on location, which could mean more time fiddling with the settings during the middle of a Canadian winter. Larger / bulkier to carry around
th
Cambo wide:
Pros - more compact. less setup required
Cons - more expensive lens due to mount. less availability of lenses.


If I got say, an older WDS (i.e. 4x5) with a phase one back adapter. would that be the cheapest route into the tech cams? Could I use the same lens on a WDS as on a WRS if I upgraded it in the future (and is there a great deal of difference between a WRS and WDS ?)

sorry if this all seems a bit scatter gun
 

Boinger

Member
If you want flexibility Linhof Techno is a good option and the standards are fairly rigid, but it is not very compact.

But when the center detent is locked there is 0 play unlike the actus.
 
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