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Thread: Tech Cam advice please !!

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    Tech Cam advice please !!

    Could someone advise me on their experiences as to why they chose their particular technical camera and how they have fared ? Or a link to any previous such discussion on this forum ?
    My confusion here likely arises from two factors:

    1. the high costs involved - no respite from this
    2. equal fervour from different people about different systems.
    eg: Dan Lindberg swears by the Alpa (citing precision / tolerance, etc) Rod Klukas, the Arca, citing similar reasons, David Ward talks about the Linhof Technikardan, someone else about cambos...
    thus, totally confusing me over the issue.

    The Alpa FPS has received some raging reviews and Mal here has been very helpful laying out the possibilities in front of me.

    I understand that various players can only cite their experiences with the systems they own, but when you have a few systems, obviously one has to be better than the other.
    What I would be looking at: (most likely buying a IQ260 back soon ).
    a) Ability to stitch (not sure if I should consider pano head ) instead of shift – any pros and cons regarding why you would prefer one over the other
    b) Ability to tilt and swing, though not necessarily at the same time.
    c) Some reassurance with inclement weather use. I understand that the back tolerate a good deal of cold. But what about drizzles ? how do the chaps out here tackle water ?

    If money was no issue, would any of you gentlemen consider switching from one system to the other ?

    So please.... for landscapes and panoramas:
    which technical camera and why ?
    Which pano head and why ?
    Apologies for the long-winded train of thought…

    Thanks,
    Saty

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    BTW Doug and Ken, I forgot to thank you for your input on one another forum. Please feel welcome to chime in again ! much appreciated.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Review: Linhof Techno

    Here's a link to a review of the Linhof Techno written by fellow forum member, Anders Torger. It pretty much mirrors my thinking about using this camera, but in short:
    This is a great system IF you like or, like me prefer, ground glass focusing. If not, then Alpa / Cambo / Arca are better for you, although at the expense and gain of some features. I wouldn't trade this camera for the world, although I love to hang out under a dark cloth!
    TJV

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    Senior Member danlindberg's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    A very brief answer.

    I think you will find that most tech cam users are happy with whatever system they chose from the beginning.
    I believe there are clever people behind every system - different ways of doing the same things, but nevertheless clever solutions. All the tech makers/systems are of high build quality.
    So, for me, I would look at which 'concept' appeals to me the most as a whole and which of the brands is most likely to evolve and come up with new exciting products along the way.
    It is true that I am still in love with the Alpa concept after many years of use, but the same goes for a long time Arca user.

    As they say - 'same-same, but different'!
    Alpa FPS • MAX • TC | Alpagon 32Hr | Helvetar 75 | Schneider 120N | Leaf Aptus II 5 • Leaf Credo 60 | www.danlindberg.com
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    It depends on your photographic style.

    If you're a lot into grand scenes I'd say Alpa or Arca-Swiss, or Cambo. If you often do more intimate compositions I think a Linhof Techno is better suited, as you then more often use longer lenses and more tilt/swings. The Techno can also be more economical if you use many lenses.

    David Ward still shoots film, but I think his images is a very good example of a photographic style that fits a view camera like a glove: Into The Light | Gallery

    I'd say Alpa satisfies the broadest amount of users based on what I've seen and heard. I like Arca as it has tilt built into the body, but I'd prefer to have Alpa's focusing ring (Arca's seems a bit too precise, ie slower to work with). I have a Linhof Techno now and is pleased with it, but if economy was a non-issue and I'd mostly just shoot wides of grand scenes using a 80 megapixel back and rodenstock lenses I'd have an Alpa or Arca as these are more fool-proof. The Techno can have some parallelism issues if you don't watch out. Note that if you read my Techno review that I'm an extremely picky user, I'd find issues with Alpa's and Arca's too if I got around reviewing those. I believe a review should point out both the strong and weak points.

    Actually, if economy was a non-issue I'd probably have both an Arca and a Techno, for my style I would be using the Techno the most.

    The FPS is gaining popularity, and I'm having a bit of angst from that as I think it's kind of the beginning of the death of tech cameras: less and less movements, more and more similar to mainstream mirrorless cameras. I know many won't agree with me and it would be nice to have one if economy was a non-issue, but it would not be my only tech camera. I think tech cameras should do more to the style than just high resolution images. Of the mentioned examples I'd say that the Techno is the techiest concerning shooting style (well, most similar to traditional large format), but also the hardest to use (mainly due to that you need to rely on the ground glass).
    Last edited by torger; 7th November 2013 at 00:38.
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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    The big three are Alpa, Arca, and Cambo. Each have several different models with different abilities/nuances and appeal. To discern quality at this level of photographic equipment is really nit-picking; the vast majority of the public (and even "photographers") will have no clue if you decide to discuss the attributes of an Alpa/Arca/Cambo over a typical DSLR.

    The reality is that the selection of a technical camera is a subjectively personal one, finding the system that works for you, while appealing to the emotional draw as well. Hence, if you ask which technical camera is "best," there is no right answer except for the one you choose. So wade into Dante's Inferno carefully, and enjoy the tour.

    If you can join up with a workshop/seminar or visit with those with technical cameras---and use the different bodies, that would be the ideal introduction into finding the right Alpa/Arca/Cambo for you, as well as which range of lenses suit you best. And, you'll also be able to see all the variations/accessories of how others have decided to modify their platforms for use in the field.

    I think all will handle a moderate amount of abuse without blinking, and a bit of common sense goes a long way. At the point of abuse and weather extremes, imho, photography just isn't any fun anymore. Go to the second photo down (and click to enlarge) in this blog article, and you can see how my Cambo and IQ180 handle a bit of moisture: Photographing Oregon with the Cambo WRS1050 and Phase IQ180 | Kendoophotography's Blog

    Your selection of an IQ260 is the best imho for a technical camera, providing you with basically the best of all worlds----a great all around back. Add the Arca Swiss Cube to any technical camera system and you're set.

    Ken

    p.s. If you're in the area, Capture Integration in Carmel is coming back in February 2014, and is a great opportunity to try out new medium format digital gear and technical cameras. As always, bring your credit card; you might not need it for buying gear, but bail money is always a concern.

    p.p.s. My technical camera is a Cambo WRS, IQ180, with Rodenstocks. Arca Cube on RRS tripod.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I went with Alpa FPS as my first foray into tech cameras, having Nikon and PhaseOne systems already: no regrets, really enjoying it. Nikon PCE lenses work well, 24mm good but restricted image circle, 85mm very good full coverage of IQ180 also with a little tilt or shift possible, and HR 32 FPS amazingly good. Might not provide for your needs in full, but a truly remarkable device. Next stop for me probably Alpa STC and tilt adaptor.
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    There are some basic differences between the systems which separate the cameras - at least on a first blush. Many of these differences can be overcome, or become less important, so while they might suggest categorization, they are not absolutes, but here's a try. This is not meant to be a comprehensive listing, but is intended as a simple introduction. In general, most "summaries" are flawed, and of limited use - so take these impressions with a large pile of salt.

    So here goes:

    The first major difference is between "pancake" and tech'l cameras - the pancake cameras (Alpa, Arca, Cambo, Sinar) have the lens mount is "flat" to the film plane or digital sensor, and that the lens is moved from that plane by some built in arrangement (typ. helical mount). In pancakes with movements, there are two alum plates, one that holds the back, the other the lens mount, and their movement is highly controlled (typ. by gearing). In tech'l cameras (of which the Techno is the only one here noted), the arrangement is more like a view camera of old, where there is a front panel holding a fixed lens, and a back panel, and a bellows in-between. Movements are by adjustments of the panels, and the bellows takes the slack.

    The pancake cameras are more popular, and have advantages in setup and parallelism of the plates. However, extensive movements with them are more restricted, although typically most don't mind.

    By camera (only for four, tho others are similar):

    Alpa - pancake camera, modular system, high level of machining accuracy, some restraints on flexibility, SWA and STC handholdable but movements only in one direction. Their "Max" model has movements in both directions. Tilt via add-on mounts. Focusing via helical, set your distance.

    Arca Swiss - RM3Di is pancake, but geared movements in both directions, built in tilt, highly accurate focusing helical lens mount (5 turns), integrated with snappy DOF "calculator" for each lens. Very precise for closer work as well. Lens mounts can be used on their view camera models.

    Cambo - also pancake, geared movements in both directions, helical mounts for focusing, less compact than Alpa, but more handholdable than Arca. Less expensive

    Techno - view camera setup (bellows), with full movements on front panel, rise only on back. Built in broad range of movements, uses traditional lens boards (unlike the others, who mount the lenses in proprietary focusing mounts).

    Shifting adapters (sliding) can be used on all but the Alpa, provide flexibility, but are slower in operation. They offer the ability to stitch quickly,and can expand the image size (and use of a lens) widely. For some of the pancakes, shifting can be done directly on camera.

    Focus is available on all via ground glass, but often this means taking the digital back on and off. So another approach is often used - for example, distance can be measured and focus set on the Alpa (precisely with HPF rings) and also on the Cambo. On the Arca, it can be set by number on the focus ring (extremely precise). On the Techno, its by hyper focal or ground glass, often with stitching back. Live view allows focusing through the digital back, which can change some of this.

    Usability - the Alpa and Cambo are best for handholding with smaller size and good handles, the Arca less so although some do it. On the tripod, the Arca is a quick to set up; the Techno has the most initial flexibility. Keep an eye out for weight - as the cameras are "built up", it can increase.

    Each camera system can be adjusted to compensate for different uses in their own (and often proprietary) way - the range of accessories for the Alpa are extensive and can (budget permitting) allow a wide range of uses. Cambo also has a wide range of accessories. Workarounds can be found - for example, focusing by hyper focal on the Techno can be done for landscapes . Viewfinders are rather a complicated matter, and vary. Some use iPhones or third party setups, or not at all.

    Apologies for exclusions or errors. Your own investigation will reveal the important differences to you, which are difficult to identify up front.
    www.gigi-photos.com
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I'd also mention you should look into repair/service/support times/ease/cost for each system as well as thoroughly examine the long-term cost of the system (not just the very basic system you need to start). There are large differences in these areas that can make a big difference on your long term satisfaction and enjoyment of the system.

    Arca does their repairs through Precision Camera in the US, and you can google "Arca Swiss repair" or "Precision Camera experience" to find people vouching for their fast turn around times in the US. Similarly Cambo has always accommodated us on warranty repairs and being flexible on the interpretation of what should fall in warranty and what shouldn't. I can't speak for other countries or brands, but it's worth your research.

    A technical overview of the systems most popular in the US market is here:
    Tech Camera Overview
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Arca Swiss - RM3Di is pancake, but geared movements in both directions, built in tilt, highly accurate focusing helical lens mount (5 turns), integrated with snappy DOF "calculator" for each lens. Very precise for closer work as well. Lens mounts can be used on their view camera models.
    Also the Arca R body itself can be used as the front standard for their full sized view cameras, allowing those view cameras to gain the ultra-precise focusing system it provides.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I also agree with the overall sentiment that all of the companies mentioned make fine, precise, wonderful tech camera systems. It's a matter of finding one that fits your style, fits your budget, and will make you a happy long-term owner.

    NOTHING will substitute for actually handling these systems and shooting with them. If you're ever in NYC or want to make a trip of it we can go out and shoot with an Arca and Cambo with you and down the street you can see Alpa all in the same trip.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    As Doug often points out, he works for a company that sells Arca products.

    Without suggesting that one or another of the cameras is better than the others, I wonder how often repairs are necessary. I do know that when you want information from ALPA, you can get it on their website or by contacting ALPA directly.

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    Subscriber Member Georg Baumann's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I found this doc by Torger very good:

    Review: Linhof Techno

    Personally, I consider a Sony A7R with a Hasselblad Distagon 4/40 or a Hartblei Superrotator 40 ( using the same Distagon) for movements. I am about to find out whether this can be used on the RhinoCam. I suppose she can be mounted as well, as it is for the NEX hence e-mounts.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qFGDsP65v6g

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    As Doug often points out, he works for a company that sells Arca products.

    Without suggesting that one or another of the cameras is better than the others, I wonder how often repairs are necessary. I do know that when you want information from ALPA, you can get it on their website or by contacting ALPA directly.
    Or you can just contact Graham or Steve here at GetDPI...


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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    With a tech cam, your money is in the glass and the lens mount. So, if you're dipping your toe in the water I would look at the Techno or A/S ML2 - they'll give you the whole tech cam experience (fall/rise/shift/swing/tilt) without the need for expensive helicals, until you're sure this style of shooting is for you. They're far more flexible than any of the rigid pancake style cameras as well, so you can use them for multiple purposes without the need for add-ons (spacers, extension tubes etc.).

    If you then decide to go some place else - Alpa/Arca/Cambo/Silvestri etc. - it's fairly easy to get your lenses retrofitted.

    Jim

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    For panning gear, check out the Really Right Stuff website. Really Right Stuff - Item Listing

    Their most basic offering is a panning clamp which can be used with many tripods or heads. I use one with one of their leveling bases, and skip the head altogether.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    taking a a shot with one of these babies has it's issues, unique to the digital back scenario;

    1. composing: wysiNOTwyg; what you get is what you get. most will rough frame, take a shot and adjust. ground glass composing is possible, but has it's own limitations. an I-phone can be useful (i use viewfinder pro app) to see the same field of view of my lenses (and back). i typically hand hold it.

    2. focus: similar story to above. since the backs can resolve so well, one typically wants the focus to be exactly where you want it. GG is best for pre-shot, preview shot is quite useful (IQ backs best for this) and ultimately correct. getting the helicoid to put the lens where you want it is fussy: the Arca has a distance look up table and a very fine pitched helicoid; alpa has a normal pitch helicoid and offers a more finely divided distance scale on the lens, Cambo similar, but the stock distance scale. and the you have to know your subject distance; i use a laser rangefinder (Leica or Leupold) they are great.

    3. tilt/swing and focus: here the distance scales are less useful, preview shot works best: tilt, shoot, inspect, adjust, re-shoot, etc. Cambo will allow two axes of rotation at once, most of the others just one (body can be rotated to change from tilt to swing, for example). the IQ focus mask is great for examining a preview shot for focus

    4. shift: mostly a function of the image circle of the lens; arca, alp and cambo use geared motion, horseman does not. not all will allow shift in both directions at the same time.

    5. misc. you will have an electrical cable between the shutter and the back and usually a dangling shutter release cable. with the back in zero latency mode, click the shutter, the back takes the image, but battery drain is greater. otherwise two clicks: one to wake the back, re-cock, re-shoot.
    6. you will need a big camera bag; lots of expensive fairly fragile gear to access and protect

    7 get a beefy tripod

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    Administrator, Instructor Guy Mancuso's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Not mentioned here but I saw at the last workshop in Arcadia the Sinar AirTec camera, Yea not a cheap tech cam by any means but about the most functional tech cam yet and it was just sexy as hell to boot. If I had a lot of money this would be one to look at as well. I owned the cambo AE model and loved it but you do get 4 choice brands to look at all there models. The Sinar AirTec has the most functionality.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Senior Member kdphotography's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by Guy Mancuso View Post
    Not mentioned here but I saw at the last workshop in Arcadia the Sinar AirTec camera, ....
    For Saty, that's Sinar "Artec" Camera to look up. Guy has the new Profoto B1 500 "Air" on his mind.... Yeah, me too.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Thanks Ken, i do have a lot on my mind. Sorry for my typo

    Yea i do want the Profoto B1. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Here is some additional information on the Arca-Swiss system (since there is no website)
    Chris Barrett has a nice review of the Arca-Swiss Rm3d (predecessor to the Rm3di which does features a removable "Tum" (lens board with helical and tilt/swing mechanism in Arca-Swiss terms and integration with the e-cloud module). His blog entry shows multiple views of the Arca-Swiss system as well as it compatibility with the rest of their line of view cameras.

    Here are a few examples of also why the Arca-Swiss system stands out:
    Arca-Swiss uses its own type of Helical and lens (R-Bayonet)mount it allows you to use the same lenses in a 4x5 or 6x9 lens board to be used on a variety of other view camera systems.




    The Cambo and Alpa systems use a regular helical focusing mechanism which do not allow the flexibility to use those lenses view camera systems.

    Another unique feature of the Arca-Swiss R series is the ability to use a sliding adapter (either Arca-Swiss w/ Rotamount or Kapture Group) or just the Rotamount. This eliminates the need to remove the digital back from the system to use a ground glass or rotate the from portrait to landscape modes.



    As Doug mentioned if you are in the NY area or wish to travel we would be more than happy to show you the Arca-Swiss and Cambo systems in person. If you are not we have our Remote Demo Center set up where we can demonstrate all of the features of these systems to you. As long as you have an internet connection. There are a few members of the forum that have taken advantage of this unique service we offer.

    Lance (email me)
    LANCE SCHAD - Digital Transitions - Phase One,Mamiya | Leaf,Arca-Swiss,Cambo, Profoto
    direct/cell:610-496-5586 office:877-367-8537x224
    http://www.digitaltransitions.com email:[email protected]

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I'm a biased Alpa shooter but I have to agree with Guy that the Sinar Artec certainly appeared to be a fully featured nice piece of gear. Luckily I wasn't able to shoot it as it only had a 23mm lens on it in Acadia - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    A very nicely made system with all of the movements and also the benefit of a sliding ground glass. Almost comparable to the Linhof Techno & sliding GG but in a more pancake style of body.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by GrahamWelland View Post
    I'm a biased Alpa shooter but I have to agree with Guy that the Sinar Artec certainly appeared to be a fully featured nice piece of gear. Luckily I wasn't able to shoot it as it only had a 23mm lens on it in Acadia - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

    A very nicely made system with all of the movements and also the benefit of a sliding ground glass. Almost comparable to the Linhof Techno & sliding GG but in a more pancake style of body.

    Frankly Graham and I avoided it at all costs. We knew we would love it too much. I shot the 23mm most of the time but used a Cambo. That Artec would have just spoiled the crap out of me. Thats my story and sticking to it.

    Its the Aston Martin of tech cams. That is one sexy car
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    There used to be a very informative and civilized thread started by Jack on the ins and outs of tech camera systems where all camps chimed in
    It's definitely worth a read if your sitting on the fence

    Here is the link

    http://www.getdpi.com/forum/medium-f...s-one-why.html

    As somebody pointed out the ALPA FPS is at least in my book note a tech camera. If you going into tech camera for movements the FPS is not a substitute , I'd say its a great companion

    Best of luck

    Grischa

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    Could someone advise me on their experiences as to why they chose their particular technical camera and how they have fared ? Or a link to any previous such discussion on this forum ?
    My confusion here likely arises from two factors:

    1. the high costs involved - no respite from this
    2. equal fervour from different people about different systems.
    eg: Dan Lindberg swears by the Alpa (citing precision / tolerance, etc) Rod Klukas, the Arca, citing similar reasons, David Ward talks about the Linhof Technikardan, someone else about cambos...
    thus, totally confusing me over the issue.

    The Alpa FPS has received some raging reviews and Mal here has been very helpful laying out the possibilities in front of me.

    I understand that various players can only cite their experiences with the systems they own, but when you have a few systems, obviously one has to be better than the other.
    What I would be looking at: (most likely buying a IQ260 back soon ).
    a) Ability to stitch (not sure if I should consider pano head ) instead of shift – any pros and cons regarding why you would prefer one over the other
    b) Ability to tilt and swing, though not necessarily at the same time.
    c) Some reassurance with inclement weather use. I understand that the back tolerate a good deal of cold. But what about drizzles ? how do the chaps out here tackle water ?

    If money was no issue, would any of you gentlemen consider switching from one system to the other ?

    So please.... for landscapes and panoramas:
    which technical camera and why ?
    Which pano head and why ?
    Apologies for the long-winded train of thought…

    Thanks,
    Saty
    www.rupho.com
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by kdphotography View Post
    For Saty, that's Sinar "Artec" Camera to look up. Guy has the new Profoto B1 500 "Air" on his mind.... Yeah, me too.
    Played with a B1 500 Air today.

    I can't tell you how impressed I was.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by stephengilbert View Post
    As Doug often points out, he works for a company that sells Arca products.

    Without suggesting that one or another of the cameras is better than the others, I wonder how often repairs are necessary. I do know that when you want information from ALPA, you can get it on their website or by contacting ALPA directly.
    Yes, and I'm definitely biased as a result.

    To clarify, I was definitely NOT implying Alpa service isn't good. In my second-hand experience they take care of their customers quite well.

    But the point remains that there are some brands out there that do not have great service in some territories; do your research. Stephan is absolutely right that service isn't needed often in this niche (tech cameras are, after all, plates of metal with knobs - amazingly well designed and elegant though they may be). But you don't want to be stuck waiting months for service if/when you need it.
    Doug Peterson , Digital Transitions | Email
    Dealer for: Phase One, Mamiya Leaf, Arca-Swiss, Cambo, Eizo, Profoto
    Office: 877.367.8537. Cell: 740.707.2183
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I saw the Sinar ArTec and it is a very nice camera. It has integrated tilt like the Arca RM3Di but it ads a rotating front which is cool. On the Arca you need to click the front off, rotate it and then put it back in. It is no big deal if you don't need to do that too often. The ArTec adds about 5mm additional L/R shift on the back compared to the Arca but has a permanent sliding back adapter. With the Arca you can remove it if you want. It's a more modular system. The ALPAs are also extremely modular and I have seen seemingly endless configurations.

    Generally ALPAs are the best for handheld (some models are very small and light with good grips and shutter position) and the Arca Swiss for tripod use due to a great combination of features in a pretty compact and light body. The Cambo is also nice, not as clean in design but has good features and is also quite compact and light. Cost should not be a consideration in these cameras since once you add the features and accessories you need the price is comparable with all systems. Cambo might be the most affordable option if you cut down on extras while ALPAs might be the more expensive.

    Its best to try the systems yourself if possible and just get one taylored to your needs and wants. There is really not one solution that is perfect for everyone. That is the great thing about tech cameras, each one is really a custom configuration for you. Think of it as a system not just a camera.
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I have shot with most of them and they do have individual personalities.
    Arca and alpa are my faves with cambo following.
    Really it is a matter of what features are going to be most important to you.
    Making the commitment means a bunch of glass costs associated with the appropriate mount.
    One of the features I liked about the arca was that tilt was always available without a special mount.
    I have not used but lusted after the Sinar, but now without a back of my own, I am not likely to try it anytime soon.
    Best thing IMO would be to rent one or the other with a medium-wide and take it out for a spin.
    Frankly, you won't go wrong with any of the top models.
    -bob

  29. #29
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    In addition to Bob's points, you might also want to consider if you want a system that includes both cameras with full movements plus a simpler, smaller, lighter travel/field option too.

    With Alpa there are various full system cameras such as the Max, STC, SWA but also probably the smallest & lightest travel compact camera, the TC, that will all take the same lenses.

    Arca and Cambo have similar options too with the Factum and RC-400.

    Arca Factum == Cambo RC-400 & lens tilt board == Alpa STC & T/S adapter
    Cambo RC-400 == Alpa STC or SWA
    Alpa TC - no built in movements but you can use with a T/S adapter.

    As you can see, comparing all the combinations can get very confusing, especially when you consider that there are optional components for all of the systems. You really need to decide what features are essential for you as the basics and then select a system that accommodates those easily and can expand to incorporate other functionality you might want in the future.

    Changing systems is very, very expensive if only because each one has their own lens mounts although that's nothing new or different to other parts of the camera industry.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Graham, Doug, Ken R, Ken D, Bob, Rupho, Guy and all the others: Thanks a lot.

    This is amazing information here - just awesome !!!!

    And mind boggling at the same time. Have contacted the dealer here ( Specular in Melbourne - heard some good reviews on their service, and not many dealers in this part of Australia ) to give a small demo.

    From what I've read over the last few weeks, what it boils down to is this:

    a. need to try and see what suits ME best. I'm typically not a big "vista" person, but would like the ability to go wide angle. Alpa = no tilt under 80mm. interesting. So wide landscapes with Alpa are done without ANY tilt at all ? So wider than 80, would it be that Alpa users go hyperfocal for wide scapes ?

    b. Cambo. not as "precise" as alpa or arca. I have a feeling that DOF would compensate for micron level tolerance errors. any thoughts on this ? Would thermal expansion and contraction not have an effect at this level for all 3 cameras too ? More availability of Cambo in this part of the world though.

    c. Arca: not a big fan of having a look-up table to refer to in the field. Both dealers in Australia shrug their shoulders (one I've visited, one I've heard about ) on arca service and availability. That could be an issue.

    More food for thought !!!

  31. #31
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Didn't realise you were Australian mate.

    If you are ever in Brisbane I can show you around an Arca Rm3di. Like you I got the non committal approach from Specular and L & P Digital in Sydney. I'm not sure why but it was a little concerning. I went Arca anyway because it is a fantastic camera.

    I tired all the big three (Cambo, Apa and Arca) and there is very little in it to be honest. It comes down to what you prefer to hold and use. I don't find the lookup tables a hinderance at all as I am at infinity or hyperfocal 90% of the time anyway and with the Arca system that makes it dead easy.

    Good luck and let us know how you get on.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

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  32. #32
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post

    Alpa = no tilt under 80mm. interesting. So wide landscapes with Alpa are done without ANY tilt at all ? So wider than 80, would it be that Alpa users go hyperfocal for wide scapes ?
    I believe that the widest lens with tilt for the Alpa is now the Rodie 40/4 in SB17 mount with the 17mm t/s adapter.

    In answer to your question about DoF, stacking can overcome lack of tilt with the wider lenses but obviously isn't as efficient as a single shot.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Senior Member stephengilbert's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Rodie 32.

  34. #34
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Thanks Steve, I stand corrected. I missed the non-FPS mount Alpagon 32mm (Rodie 32).

    Perhaps I should have qualified it by the widest that I can reasonably afford or carry
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    reason? you got to be kidding?
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  36. #36
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    b. Cambo. not as "precise" as alpa or arca. I have a feeling that DOF would compensate for micron level tolerance errors. any thoughts on this ? Would thermal expansion and contraction not have an effect at this level for all 3 cameras too ? More availability of Cambo in this part of the world though.
    While camera manufacturers like to tout "precision," the Cambo is going to give just as sharp images as that other systems with the same optics. Actually, the issue is not Dof, but depth of focus--the depth at the image plane.

    I would go with a system that does what you need with the features you need. they will all result in sharp images. Operator error is more of an issue.
    Will

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  37. #37
    Subscriber & Workshop Member GrahamWelland's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I wouldn't believe what you hear about cambo lacking precision btw. They are all good. Some just have more industrial design & build. I love my Alpa's fit & finish but I wouldn't hesitate to buy a Cambo nor any other tech camera system I've tried.
    Remember: adventure before dementia!

    As Oscar Wilde said, "my tastes are simple, I only like the best"

  38. #38
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Graham pretty much nailed it right there. End of day you get great images from any if them. Photography is all about the glass and now the sensor. The camera truly has very little to do with image, it's basically a adapter between the two. Here it's functions your after.

    One thing in short Cambo , Alpa have a focusing system that is pretty standard in the industry. Arca is basically the same but uses a numerical system to accomplish focus.

    My words here photographers like the standard and engineers and fiddlers like the Arca. LOL
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by dougpeterson View Post
    NOTHING will substitute for actually handling these systems and shooting with them. If you're ever in NYC or want to make a trip of it we can go out and shoot with an Arca and Cambo with you and down the street you can see Alpa all in the same trip.
    Yes, if you do take this route, go to Fotocare and see all the Alpa's there. Great camera resource + main Alpa dealer on East Coast.

    Quote Originally Posted by rupho View Post
    As somebody pointed out the ALPA FPS is at least in my book note a tech camera. If you going into tech camera for movements the FPS is not a substitute , I'd say its a great companion
    Grischa
    Yes, the FPS marks new territory that is not available in any other system as yet - a focal plane shutter that allows accurate high speeds and none of that 19th Century stuff of reaching around and cocking some spring to take a picture! And with the next generation CMOS MF backs, with their much faster base ISO's and very usable 800/1600+ asa, it will be essential to have a focal plane shutter option.

    The great thing is it completes a full system - you have a tech body for full on architecture movements 2 direction + tilt/swing (Max or XY); a smaller amount of movements in a smaller package (STC, SWA) or no movements at all (save tilt) in a tiny walk-around package (TC); and a high speed focal plane shutter that can use tech camera quality lenses, or your Canon/Nikon lenses, and freeze action if needed.

    That is how useful the FPS is - (a) as part of a tech camera system of body options that you to pick and choose according to your needs and job, and (b) allowing huge range of lenses to be used from Canon to Nikon to Hasselblad, or simply a fabulous Rodenstock-Alpa wide on a walk about body, that will give you better results than any Mamiya/Phase wide ever will.
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    Graham, Doug, Ken R, Ken D, Bob, Rupho, Guy and all the others: Thanks a lot.

    This is amazing information here - just awesome !!!!

    And mind boggling at the same time. Have contacted the dealer here ( Specular in Melbourne - heard some good reviews on their service, and not many dealers in this part of Australia ) to give a small demo.

    From what I've read over the last few weeks, what it boils down to is this:

    a. need to try and see what suits ME best. I'm typically not a big "vista" person, but would like the ability to go wide angle. Alpa = no tilt under 80mm. interesting. So wide landscapes with Alpa are done without ANY tilt at all ? So wider than 80, would it be that Alpa users go hyperfocal for wide scapes ?

    b. Cambo. not as "precise" as alpa or arca. I have a feeling that DOF would compensate for micron level tolerance errors. any thoughts on this ? Would thermal expansion and contraction not have an effect at this level for all 3 cameras too ? More availability of Cambo in this part of the world though.

    c. Arca: not a big fan of having a look-up table to refer to in the field. Both dealers in Australia shrug their shoulders (one I've visited, one I've heard about ) on arca service and availability. That could be an issue.

    More food for thought !!!
    b. Cambo. not as "precise" as alpa or arca. I have a feeling that DOF would compensate for micron level tolerance errors. any thoughts on this ? Would thermal expansion and contraction not have an effect at this level for all 3 cameras too ? More availability of Cambo in this part of the world though.

    I have both Cambo (WRS AE. Thanks to Guy!) and Alpa SWA. I don't have the Arca so I can't comment.
    I agree with Graham in that the above comment is not accurate, at least for landscape photography. Both of them are precise enough.
    Both cameras make no difference in image quality and are very pleasure to work with. The handling of Alpa SWA is a little bit nicer (Like Porche although I've never had one), especially handholding, but has less functionality compared to the Cambo with T/S lens.
    You will be very pleased with either one of them and won't want to use the Phase One DF with wide angle lens again.

    Pramote

  41. #41
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Here are some additional links to show you a little bit more insight into the Cambo system.
    Cambo is a great company to work with as a value added reseller because they make a quality product and are VERY RESPONSIVE if an issue or question arises.
    As value added reseller of specialty medium format digital photography systems that is important to us since we need to provide the highest level of support for our clients.
    Here is a link to a few Brian Hirshfeld posts:
    Cambo Factory Tour - see a behind the scenes look at their production facility in the Netherlands .
    Cambo RC400 Review - hands on review of an interior stitched shot and some outdoors shooting.
    Cambo 2013 Tech Camera PDF Catalog - see a nicely produced catalog that clearly shows all their models , available lenses and accessories.

    Of course here is a link to our complete Arca-Swiss/Cambo resource pages as well.


    Lance
    LANCE SCHAD - Digital Transitions - Phase One,Mamiya | Leaf,Arca-Swiss,Cambo, Profoto
    direct/cell:610-496-5586 office:877-367-8537x224
    http://www.digitaltransitions.com email:[email protected]

  42. #42
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I've been following this discussion for awhile and thought it time to add my 2˘.

    First there's a hell of a lot of good advise here for anyone looking to get into a tech camera in many ways I wise I had this amount when I made my move in 2008. I did however have (and still do today) a great dealer support system.

    There's a certain amount of bias from everyone no matter the make they use or if they sell the product. That bias is based on personal use and in the case of a dealer their knowledge base on their sales and service.

    My bias is towards the Cambo WRS that I've been using since the fall of 2008. I first got my hands on the WRS in October 2008 and it remain today, 5-years later my all time favorite system to use. In some ways it's getting a little long in the tooth when compared to other systems being offered however it continues to work for me.

    My personal feeling is you can't go wrong with any of the systems being offered whether it be Alpa, Arca, Cambo or some other manufacture. However. You need to base your decision of not what works for me, Guy, Graham, Jack or Stephen or anyone else but what works for you. It's hard to find a dealer that offers multiple platforms so you need to work up a list of which systems you want to try and if it means going to multiple dealers then so be it because in the end the travel time/money will save you thousands in the end by selecting the system that works best for you.

    In the end the majority of the systems are nothing more than a dumb piece of metal that you attach a lens to the front and a back in the rear. A camera sandwich.

    Here's more on my bias. Cambo designed the WRS to be used strictly for digital. The footprint is smaller than the much older WSD which can take either a film or digital back. Of course it cost more. The shift controls on the WRS are located on the rear of the body. I can be standing or sitting on the edge of a 1000" drop off and have shift the back up or down left or right without moving the camera or stepping in front of it. Once I have the focus, f/stop and shutter speed set I can then do the rest of my work from the rear (with the exception of cocking the shutter). I've read comments on how "precise" or lack a Cambo is. All I can say from well over 60 months of using mine in all types of conditions (snow, rain, blowing dust, freezing conditions) is that I've yet to encounter a problem. I've taken multiple images beginning with the upper row finishing with 3-row of 3-files each row for a total of 9 files and was able to nail each file on each row for a very solid repeatability. The addition of an IQ back as well as the new and very much improved groundglass has helped in fine detail focusing as well. Likewise switching to a tilt/swing lens panel has helped as well.

    Saty posed 2- items that has caused him much confusion:

    1. the high costs involved. There's simply no getting around this and welcome to the Infernal! In the end the body will be the lest of your cost as the digital back as well as the lenses to eat up your back account much more. Then again, the back can be used of other systems (I just recently returned to also using a Phase DF). Likewise in most cases the lenses can be used on multiple systems. Speaking from experience with Cambo, the lenses I use on the WRS can be used on any WDS and most other Cambo systems. I don't have any personal experience with Alpa or Arca but feel that "should" be the same with them as well.

    2. equal fervor. That's the bias I spoke of before and can't be helped. I wouldn't be surprised that in a year from now you'll be exhibiting the same.

    Just noticed I almost missed one last question of Saty - which pano head and why.

    You don't need a panorama head when using a tech camera because the camera doesn't move. The back moves across the camera giving you a flat stitch (I routinely do 30x60 images). What you do need is a rock sold platform to mount your tech cam onto. And to open yet another can of worms - my bias on heads is the Arca Cube. I've been using a Cube almost as long as I have the WRS and I have never had a situation where it failed me. I can get an almost instant level just about all types of conditions. Conversations on heads should be left for another thread (actually there's been a lot already written about the Cube).

    Best of luck and sorry this got so long winded.


    Don
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    I find true panos (swivelling the camera) to be quite useful. I use stitching to tweak composition, sometimes to increase the image area, but mainly to lose some foreground, esp with wide angle lenses. I generally level the camera both ways, so the stitching is a requirement for most tall images.

    but if i am trying to get a really wide view, panos do it better.

    RRS makes an excellent pano-clamp (not necessary with the cube, which has panning platforms above and below the leveling gear)

    misc: you want the true pano axis to be plumb (platform to be level both ways) and then you want the camera above it to be level. most of the cameras have built in bubble levels, both ways, and redundantly mounted in several places. some time spent calibrating your rig for level is worth the time. my system has levels on the cube, levels on the camera (cambo) and the IQ back has a horizon/yaw feature; they don't always agree, so i typically rely on the cambo levels

    a typical operation would be to set camera to portrait orientation, level it all, shift back downwards anywhere from 5-15mm based on composition, then shift Lside, center and Rside (or pano, if you want more width), overlapping by 1/3.
    shifting is limited by the image circle of the lens, wide angle lenses will have some corner distortion, so as you shift toward the corners, you will get more of it

    panos will have their own distortions (the edges of any frame will collect more of the corner distortion, but when you assemble the image, some of those "corners" won''t be in the corner any more.
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  44. #44
    Senior Member dchew's Avatar
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    ...
    a. need to try and see what suits ME best. I'm typically not a big "vista" person, but would like the ability to go wide angle. Alpa = no tilt under 80mm. interesting. So wide landscapes with Alpa are done without ANY tilt at all ? So wider than 80, would it be that Alpa users go hyperfocal for wide scapes ?
    Actually that's old info. Alpa can shift down to the Rodi HR 32. Originally they only had a 34mm tilt adapter, so the comment above used to be true. Sometime in 2012 Alpa introduced a 17mm t/s adapter for the Rodi 32, 40, and 70mm; Schneider 60 and 75mm. Also the Rodi 50 can t/s with the 34mm adapter.

    Arca Swiss still has an advantage if you want to tilt with any lens. With Alpa and Cambo you have to plan your lens purchases in order to tilt. Given the cost of lenses, most of us "plan" our lens purchases long in advance.

    So it really does come down to your first point in "a". Check them all out. I went with an Alpa STC because I wanted a lightweight, simple design that could tilt, shift, rise and fall, from either the lens side or the sensor side. The STC fit those requirements perfectly. I take this thing with me to some pretty remote areas so simplicity and weight are important.

    But my list is my list! After trying at least two of the three you will develop your own list of important features that you can then prioritize. From there your favorite system will emerge. That's pretty much the only way to do this. the good news is it is a hell of a lot of fun experimenting with all of these designs!

    Dave
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Have you shot using a technical camera on film before? If so, what format and type of camera, and how did you like the experience? Can you post some pictures of what you're hoping to do, or ones you've done taken that you think would have benefited from using a tech camera / movements?

    Me, I'm a strange case scenario. I use a Techno (currently on film, scanning with an Imacon 949) for pretty much everything. I shoot fine art / documentary, portraits, landscapes, etc. I use it to slow me down and really, really force me to concentrate on every element of the picture. I like the challenge of working within the limitations of the tool, and usually find the "fight" is to my advantage. Obviously, I wouldn't shoot quick action sports with it, but it works for everything else I do.

    When I was in the market for a tech cam, I looked seriously at Alpa as well. While I think it would have been a great choice too, ultimately I was looking for something that would replicate, as close as possible, the workflow I developed when shooting 4x5" on a Master Technika. That and it was going to cost me almost twice as much to get the equivalent experience with an STC as the lens mounts were insane, not to mention the accessories.

    Ultimately, I think it's down to the individual and what he / she appreciates in terms of workflow and other options. Also, I live in the South Pacific so have no nearby support for any brand / make of tech camera here. Paula at Linhof and Studio was absolutely brilliant in terms of pre and post sale service and walked me though both the Alpa and Linhof options in a way that made me feel confident my "investment" was safe, either way.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by dchew View Post
    Actually that's old info. Alpa can shift down to the Rodi HR 32. Originally they only had a 34mm tilt adapter, so the comment above used to be true. Sometime in 2012 Alpa introduced a 17mm t/s adapter for the Rodi 32, 40, and 70mm; Schneider 60 and 75mm. Also the Rodi 50 can t/s with the 34mm adapter.

    Arca Swiss still has an advantage if you want to tilt with any lens. With Alpa and Cambo you have to plan your lens purchases in order to tilt. Given the cost of lenses, most of us "plan" our lens purchases long in advance.

    So it really does come down to your first point in "a". Check them all out. I went with an Alpa STC because I wanted a lightweight, simple design that could tilt, shift, rise and fall, from either the lens side or the sensor side. The STC fit those requirements perfectly. I take this thing with me to some pretty remote areas so simplicity and weight are important.

    But my list is my list! After trying at least two of the three you will develop your own list of important features that you can then prioritize. From there your favorite system will emerge. That's pretty much the only way to do this. the good news is it is a hell of a lot of fun experimenting with all of these designs!

    Dave
    THanks Dave.
    Do you find the 18mm on either side shift a limitation for stitching ? I was kind of taken to the STC, but the Cambo WRS offers 45mm lateral shift as opposed to 45mm on Cambo. How do you overcome this ? (or do you even need to ? )

    Fellas, how inconvenient is the STC as compared to the MAX when travelling ?

    Some great info here.
    THanks everyone.

  47. #47
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Remember that the image circles of the lenses you use will generally limit stitching.

    Check out Tech Camera, Image Circle, Focal Length Equivalent to see how things play out.

    You will find that the STC is quite ample for most things. If you need more width then nodal stitching is the best way to go.
    Stop chasing gear, start chasing photos instead.

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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Quote Originally Posted by satybhat View Post
    THanks Dave.
    Do you find the 18mm on either side shift a limitation for stitching ? I was kind of taken to the STC, but the Cambo WRS offers 45mm lateral shift as opposed to 45mm on Cambo. How do you overcome this ? (or do you even need to ? )

    Fellas, how inconvenient is the STC as compared to the MAX when travelling ?

    Some great info here.
    THanks everyone.
    Not going to speak to much on the Alpa's since it was not something I owned . But the STC is the smaller of the 2 and is more the travel cam. Beautiful cam but it does only have rise or fall on it or if you flip the camera you can stitch, does not have both like a Arca RM3D or the Cambo WRS which have rise and fall and stitch movements. The Max with a stitch adapter I would say for sure bigger and as big as the Arca. The Cambo WRS is the smallest with both rise and fall and also stitching capability together. For me the Arca never interested me since I like the standard type of focusing, Alpa was my second choice but Cambo was easy to get from my dealer and it had everything I needed in a small package. Small played a role for me and having both rise and fall adjustments along with stitching movements together was my deciding factor. But you could hand me a Alpa of any flavor and i would shoot it.

    One thing to point out here is not always will you be having lets say a rise movement and than decide to stitch at the same time. Interior shooters yes this maybe very common , doing landscapes and stitching sometimes can be problematic given weather and wind. Having said that I get away with maybe just a rise and than shoot panos. It saves on doing more than 1 LCC and its fast. Doing a interior assignment doing Panos is not something you want to do as the flat stitching is far more accurate with regards to lines in walls and keeping everything straight. In the field that is not such a big deal so Panos are more common. Nice thing about Panos and i did this in Acadia with a Cambo compact was maybe put a little rise on and do panos with one of the least functional of the cams.

    Not only are you dealing with what maybe comfortable to shoot but knowing your needs going in helps a great deal. Panos you can do with any of the systems and any of the cams. Flat stitching is more accurate for sure but here again you have a 80 mpx sensor and that elevates trying to get a big enough file. Panos and Flat stitching are in this case more a image ratio look your after.

    The thing is you need to know your work arounds and how to cheat. being a Pro that is sometimes my main job is how to get around obstacles to accomplish the end goal. Having said that the Keystone tool in Capture One is so good having rise and fall may not be such a big thing. Having shot the 23mm Rodie with no movements you have to cheat sometimes and tilt the camera up but its also a easy fix in C1 to go in and correct that.

    A good thing to remember is deciding what kind of shooter you are and build around those needs . Landscape shooters have different needs than lets say Interior shooters. You could give me a Alpa STC with just rise and fall and the ability to putt on its side and i will figure a way to use it in everything I do. This sounds bad but knowing how to cheat is a good thing.

    Im not very brand oriented. Ill shot just about anything as far as the cam , I am more a Phase back guy though as i think they are the best around given the files functions and such. The body does not mean much to me except for what it can do. Now that comes from a Pro with a far different mindset, a hobbyist would much prefer in many cases something very nice to look at and something that functions with precision and is more brand specific. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I play golf for my hobby I want Taylor Made clubs period. Different hobby same desire to own the best and feel good about it.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Some reply, that...
    Guy, thanks for taking all this time to write, but it surely clears the cobwebs...
    In perspective, being a physician, I am really not bothered about which brand of stethoscope I use, but with landscape photog as a hobby, I would want something of a tool to cherish. never thought about this issue in this way.
    So I think I'm kinda favouring the STC for now.
    The baseline kit thus far looks like this:
    IQ260, Alpa STC, 40 and 70 Rodies, 17mm tilt adaptor and a tele, yet to be decided...

  50. #50
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    Re: Tech Cam advice please !!

    Seriously I have done 19 workshops now and all with hobbyist with lets be honest better gear than me but the underlying factor for them is photography is all about having fun and getting away from there real life. Believe me i totally get that thinking, i get on a golf course and Im on another planet. Photography is fun and it should be with something that makes you happy , feels good in your hand and more important free's you from gear thoughts and focus on enjoying your art. Whatever makes you do those things than that is what you should buy. Nothing worse in golf than looking down at a golf head and its ugly as ****, I guarantee you the shot will be too. LOL

    Not a lot of difference. For you The Alpa STC or Cambo WRS would be my suggestion. They both are small and compact do what you need and for a hobby outside of Graham here should not be carrying a 40 pound backpack.

    Let me add something because i do want to compliment him. He is crazy and carries a lot of gear but more importantly he truly is a dedicated hobbyist looking to enjoy himself and his life through photography. I can't respect him enough for that desire and heres the kicker he is damn freaking good at it too. Great shooter and love his work.
    Photography is all about experimentation and without it you will never learn art.

    www.guymancusophotography.com
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