base tilts: is it a problem ? : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

After much research on finding a field camera thats right for me, I feel that the DLC Canham will be the one.

I know its important to experience the camera hands on, but I don't know of any way to do this with the Canham, and so I based my opinion on everything I've read.

It meets my criteria in every way, except I just read that the tilts are base, and not "on axis". It was important to me that the tilts be "on axis", ( it is hard enough to focus a view camera ).

It would be much appreciated if I could get feedback on how much more of a "big deal" it is to use base tilts.

Thanks for any comments. Raven

-- Raven Moss (, November 23, 1998


Response to base tilts

Well, that's kind of subjective. If you're starting out in LF, Axis tilts may be the way to go. When I started out, I made sure I got cameras with axis tilt on the rear as it was a lot easier to use. I pretty much settled on field cameras and many of them come with lens axis tilts, they almost have to to fold up.

After several years though, shooting, shooting shooting and wanting to $ave $ave $ave, when I went to 8 X 10 I realised that rear base tilts only wasn't such a big deal to use and it saves weight & co$t. Fred Picker's explanation of view camera movements in the Zone VI catalogs, despit it's obvious brand bias' was fairly easy to understand & worth reading. Still, I don't understand why the DLC & the Toyo VX125 are base tilt only cameras. Seems an evolutionary step backward to me.

-- Sean yates (, November 23, 1998.

Response to base tilts

For field use, base tilts are not a big deal to work with and in some ways I have found them easier to use than axis tilts as it is obvious what is out of focus. After setting up (level & plumb) and focusing your camera take a careful view of the groundglass and look for the point at which the image starts to become unsharp and begin tilting the front standard forward and watch as the plane of focus extends into the foreground. If you are using a reasonably short lens (120mm or shorter lens you will find that usually you will need surprisingly little tilt, especially when combined with stopping down to f/16 or smaller.

To practice use Polaroid Type 55 to get near-instant feedback. I use the negative in the field even without washing to check critical focus.

-- Ellis (, November 23, 1998.

Response to base tilts

P.S. I will be using a standard size lens for 4x5 format, (150mm?), and will mostly be shooting still life, close up, and architecture. Raven

-- Raven (, November 23, 1998.

Response to base tilts

A long time ago I read, "focus on the far, tilt toward the near, retilt and refocus until all is clear." For a landscape, the "far" is ordinarily at the bottom of the screen, the "near" at the top. It may not have the precision of a Sinar P2 but it's worked for me for the 15 years I've been using a base tilt field camera. Don't get hung up on these minor technical matters, try it, see how it works for you and make images. Good luck.

-- Eric Brody (, November 23, 1998.

Response to base tilts

re: "P.S. I will be using a standard size lens for 4x5 format, (150mm?), and will mostly be shooting still life, close up, and architecture. Raven"


I love my DLC but if I am going to shoot a lot of still life, especially close up, I would go with an Arca Swiss F-Line or FC camera. For the following reasons:

1.) The Arca is a yaw-free design, which is very important if you are going to use both swings and tilts to control depth of field and or perspective changes (size & shape of one part of the composition relative to the rest of the composition.) A camera has a yaw free design when the tilt joint is below the swing joint.

2.) The Arca has rear rise/fall, something that is not part of the DLC design. This is very useful for composing the final image without changing the visual relationships of one part of your image to another.Especially nice is the Arca design of having both front and rear rise located in their respective planes, a design that reduces the need for refocusing. Having said that, the Canham DLC is a truly wonderful field camera for architecture, landscapes and portraits.

-- Ellis (, November 23, 1998.

Response to base tilts

I've been using a Sinar A-1 monorail for a few years now. It has base tilts. I find them OK to use, but they're not my favorite. The Sinar has a little calculator device to compute tilts and swings. I use it a lot for tilts, not too much for the (axis) swings.

My experience with large format so far tells me that axis tilts would be really nice on the front, and not a concern on the rear. I do portraits and some landscape work. If I were doing a lot of close up table top work, that opinion might be different.

If base tilts were the optimum way to operate a camera, wouldn't swings be off axis also? :-)

On another note, I spent a while with the Canham DLC in the store recently. It's a tempting piece of equipment. It folds up nice and small, has good movements, independent locks on all movements. It seems adequately rigid, but I could flex the standards more than I could on the metal Toyo field sitting next to the Canham. The bubble levels (bullseye) at the top didn't impress me, but that's the only place where I though "this really could have been done better".

If you really want axis tilts on a field camera, there are other choices for about the same, or a bit less, money than the Canham DLC, but few, maybe none, of them will fold up as small. Most of them are wood.

-- mike rosenlof (, November 24, 1998.

Response to base tilts

i keep reading about people "flexing" the standards on a DLC. The only times in a real world photographic situation where I have seen enough tension on the camera standard to possibly pull the standards out of alignment are when using using a long lens witha bellows that is too short and when trying to use shift with a wide angle lens and a standard bellows. Neither of these scenarios are likely to happen with a DLC unless you are using an extreme tilt with doing a 1:1 macro shot with a 300mm lens. I am very critical when it comes to the equipment I use as my livlihood is photography. This flexing with a DLC just isn't going to happen. instead of just fooling with the camera in the store, try making photographs with one.

-- Ellis (, November 24, 1998.

Response to base tilts

Mike, re: "If base tilts were the optimum way to operate a camera, wouldn't swings be off axis also? :-)"

Yes Mike that is why there is the Sinar P2 (-:~

-- Ellis (, November 24, 1998.

Response to base tilts

Have you considered the Wista SP? On-axis front and base rear. On- axis tilts are nice in that they require less recomposing of the image once you are done tilting and, for me anyway, are more convenient. I'm sure that whichever you choose it will become second nature as you gain experience with the camera.

-- Mark Windom (, November 24, 1998.

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