4x5 field stability of digital capture?

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Is there a field camera being manufactured now which has a clear advantage in stability, sufficient to be usable with a digital back? Given the long exposure times, I assume that everything must be optimizedm, i.e., heavy tripod, rigid ballhead/QR coupling, umbrella to windward... However, all the work I've seen has been done apparently on Sinar or other rail cameras. Are the backs just too heavy for field designs? Are some field cameras sturdy enough for the task?

-- Ted Daughety (TDaughety@CompuServe.com), December 10, 1998


I have no idea about the backs' weight, but I've looked at a few field cameras lately. The Toyo 45A was the most rigid, the Canham wood was second. The Canham DLC and Wista followed in that order. These are all I've looked at recently.

-- mike rosenlof (mike_rosenlof@yahoo.com), December 10, 1998.

I could be very wrong on this but i believe Stephen Johnson is using a Sinar P or P2 camera with his digital rig. if you like to make 2 minute plus exposures for landscapes, i guess digital in the field will work for you. Having said that I am impressed with the contrast range of his imagery. there is probably more info at his site: http://www.best.com/~sjphoto/

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 10, 1998.

Too further answer your question I think Johnson uses a Sinar P series camera because of the mass, not just the rigidity or sturdiness. The ccd capture area for most digital capture cameras is much smaller than 4x5 so this means you have to use shorter lenses as equivalent focal lengths for standard lens choices. So you will need to keep this limitation in mind as well.

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 11, 1998.

More explnation: Stephen told me this morning that he uses a Sinar X camera, also that he is looking at a field camera because the Sinar is getting too heavy the farther afield he goes.

Michael at BetterLight, who makes the digital system Stephen Johson uses, says that he knows of one photographer up in Washington state who is using the Canham DLC and that he also thinks the Linhof Master Technika would be a good choice. Michaels confirms the choice of the Sinar X camera for mass.

So perhaps a good alternative would be the Arca Swiss F-Line?

-- Ellis (evphoto@insync.net), December 11, 1998.

Ron Wisner responded to a similar posting on CompuServe by referring me to Nicholas Hellmuth's work, shooting Mayan archeology with Wisner 4x5 and digital back. Fairly demanding conditions. Some of the images thus created depicted at www.digital-photography.org, also very extensive review of lots of equipment. Must be that's how he repays manufacturers who donate stuff to him. Having said that, the reviews seem to ring true when he writes of equipment which I know.

-- Ted Daughety (TDaughety@CompuServe.com), December 18, 1998.

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