Canham 45DLC vs. Arca-swiss F-Line or Sinar F2 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Argh! Sorry to be such a pest, but as you can all see I am still agonizing over the purchase of my first LF system. OK, forget the Toyo VX125; it's to expensive and lacks the features of much less expensive cameras. Now I find myself wondering if I could effectively use the Canham 45DLC for both Landscape *and* tabletop/Still life. I realize that the Canham 45DLC is a Field camera and lacks some of the movements of a regular Monorail View Camera like the Sinar F2 or the Arca-Swiss F-Line C, but hell, i've been trying to do Tabletop/Still Life with a Nikon F4. Talk about an exercise in frustration! Surely the Canham 45DLC would be a substantial improvement movement wise- wouldn't it? And I'd also enjoy it's remarkable portability (among other astounding features) for my Landscape work. What do you experienced LF photographers think? Am I nuts to even consider the Canham 45DLC for studio work? If so, perhaps I could buy a used Canham 45DLC *and* a used Arca-swiss F-Line (or Sinar F2) and use the same lenses (and roll film back etc) on both bodies. Is this possible? Could the lenses be mounted to lensboards that fit both cameras? How about the Canham 45DLC and some other monorail studio camera? Help!!!! I'm drowning in an ocean of LF possibilities!! It is such a sweet agony.... LOL! It seems the more I learn about LF, the more confused I become. I'll be spending alot of money and want to make the best decision possible. Please forgive the long post. Mad Mert

-- Merton Gaudette (, March 21, 1999


From what I've read the Canham would be an excellent choice. It looks like it has all the movements you'd ever need and should work well in the field as well.

The other possibility would be to buy a field camera and a monorail. You could pick up a complete full featured monorail - say an older Cambo & buy a wood type field camera for about the same amount of money. You'd have to get lens boards for each camera, unless you found a field camera and monorail that took the same boards. The advantage would be a that your studio camera never leaves the studio and your field camera is less like a box kite in the field.

-- David Grandy (, March 22, 1999.

As much as I really like the DLC there are two features, that for me, make it a less than ideal choice for a studio still life camera. before I get to those limitations I want to state a couple of caveats. The first one is that I am primarily a commercial photographer so my comments might not be applicable to you. The second caveat is a positive one: I have made personal and experimental still life photos with the DLC and they have been fine. on to the limitations.

The DLC is not a yaw free design. This important when I have to make an image where the camera base (or rail) is inclined, the rear (and possibly the front) standard is tilted back to the vertical and swing is applied for either either better focus distribution or for reasons perspective correction or exaggeration. If you aren't going to be "shooting product" not being yaw free is not going to be important. Probably 85 to 90% of the view cameras made and sold in the world are not yaw free.

The second problem with using the DLC in a commercial studio setting is that there is no rear rise. Basically I consider rear rise/fall to be a compositional tool. The DLC has ample rise and fall on the lens standard, but changing the position of the lens can affect the compositional relationships of the elements of your image.

It certainly is possible to use the same lenses on two different brands of camera, you just need an adapter board. I have my lenses mounted on Linhof Technika boards for two reasons: 1.) I have three cameras (none of which are a TK) which I use most of lenses on; 2.) The small size of the Linhof TK boards. As far as backs are concerned as long as both cameras use a Graflock back you should have no troubles.

Okay having said all of this let me get to your real question, which I think is: "As a new commer to large format photography, what camera should I buy?" Despite my ardent support of the Canham DLC and also of the Arca Swiss, I think the best learning curve camera for someone new to LF photography is a Sinar F2. At this stage in my game, I don't particularly like the Sinar F series cameras, but the fact remains that they are well suited to systematically learning your way around view camera movements. I am recommending the F2 over the F1 purely for the fact that each movement has its own control/lock mechanism. I also like he Sinar Depth of Field/ Tilt calculator, though in my experience it works better on the Sinar P, C, and X cameras.

After working with an F2 for a couple of years you may want to move on to a better camera or a camera that is more suited to your personality, or it may be perfectly fine for you. Much more so than 35mm or medium format cameras, each brand and model of view camera has its own personality.

-- Ellis (, March 22, 1999.

I went the rail route starting out in LF. I decided that A) I needed more movement than the flatbeds I could afford would provide, and B) the weight wouldn't be a problem.

You should weigh the F4 outfit you use for landscape and decide how much more you're willing to carry, including the assorted junk LF requires (meter/loupe/film holders/polaroid stuff/cloth/ad infinitum).

I use a rail for landscapes -- about an 8 pounder -- and I've carried it about a mile from the car sometimes, up and down rocks and riverbanks, etc. Rent the Sinar and try it out under conditions you expect to encounter. Such a camera can be quite a workout.

My recommendation is to take your pick of inconveniences, and definitely rent something before you decide: try before you buy, especially if you're going to spend $1-2000 on a light-tight box sans film, lens, & tripod.

-- John O'Connell (, March 22, 1999.

Not specifically on point of comparing these two cameras, but faced similar questions when buying my first LF system within the last year. I do outdoors/field work mostly so the field camera would have seemed ideal. However, getting a good field camera, new or used, that had the movements I wanted for buildings, was rather pricey. A good used monorail was my choice. It is rather cumbersome to carry around but at the price I paid for it I am not too worried. I run the standards together as close as they will go and put an old guitar strap around each end of the rail. A plastic bag to keep dust and dirt out of it, sling it over my shoulder and I am off. The hands are free for the bags with the lenses and other items (worth about 10 times what I paid for the old monorail).

-- Dave Schneider (, March 22, 1999.

Another option is a linhof techhnikardan. A good studio and field option in one package. Or, you might look at a used technica for the field and a used Linhof monorail for studio use. If you stay with one maker it might make it a bit easier as to camera feel when you go back & forth.

-- Dan Smith (, March 22, 1999.

Thank you all very much for the excellent technical advice. It is clear to me now that I really want two cameras, not one. I have decided that, instead of spending my money on one new system, I will purchase two bodies used (one monorail and one field)and mount the lenses to common boards. It will take a little more effort to assemble a used system, but I think it will be worth it. It is also clear to me, after reading all the great advice here, that I need to rent some equipment before I purchase anything. That said, I must admit that I am leaning strongly toward a used Sinar P or F2 for the studio and a used Canham 45DLC. Thanks again, all of you, for the help. The response was incredible and is very much appreciated. I have an extremely positive impression of the LF community. Happy shooting!

Mad Mert

-- Merton Gaudette (, March 23, 1999.

E-mail Bob Salomon and ask him for Linhoff Technikardan literature. As Dan Smith said, it may have adequate capabilities for both studio and field work. I must warn you though that the Technikardan is technically not a yaw-free camera but has been designed (with bubble levels, etc.) to be used mounted sideways on your tripod. Well, any camera can be mounted this way - the question is how well it performs sideways.

I know how confusing this can all be having just made this decision for myself last month. I ended up with the Wisner PE which has rear-rise and geared front/rear axis-tilts. It is beautifully made of wood which I love, but I easily understand why many people would hate this camera.

-- Carlos Co (, March 23, 1999.


There is a finely written review of the new Arca Swiss F-Metric camera in the current (March/April/ 1999) issue of View Camera Magazine. The review has a brief comparison of the Sinar F2 cameras against the Arca F-line series of cameras.

Among the other purchases you should make is a subscription to View Camera, a magazine that in my opinion is one of the 3.5 photography magazines published today worth reading and saving. (

-- Ellis (, March 27, 1999.

Canham 45DLC vs. Arca-Swiss F-Line or Sinar F2

Thanks Ellis! I have already subscribed to View Camera Magazine (and ordered the book by Steve Simmons) but probably to recently to recieve the current issue. I'll call them and specifically request the issue in question. What perfect timing for such a review! Just the kind of literature I'm looking for! Thanks very much for the information!

Mad Mert

-- Merton Gaudette (, March 27, 1999.

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