Linhof Teck45s or Sinarx or p2 : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread

Anyone want to venture an opinion? I'm looking to purchase new either a linhof Tecknikarden 45s (6lbs) or back into Sinar which is much heavier. But are the features and benefits more to Sinar than linhof. Assuming $ is no object. I'm figuring the Linhof which is 1/3 the weight can also be used on location easier due to it's greatly reduced weight. According to the Linhof Specs the movements are far greater on the Linhof than the Sinar> However I wonder, how much of dealer specs are really believable, after all look at the guide numbers from the major studio strobe systems, take the manufactures specs and divide by 2 and than it's realistic. I live overseas so I just can't go into B&H and check them out. I need to preshop as much as possible before flying to the States to make the purchase. Any info would be appreciated. Artie

-- Artie Colantuono (, April 13, 1999


Why are you not even considering the Arca F or even M-line as well? I think Arca Swiss is just about to release the new Orbix axis tilt attachment.

-- Carlos Co (, April 13, 1999.

I really didnt consider Arca Swiss and excuse the ignorance but what is the Adapter you mentioned?

-- Artie (, April 13, 1999.

Artie, you should pick up a copy of the current (March/April 1999) issue of View Camera magazine where the Arca-Swiss F-line (including the new F-metric) cameras are discussed and reviewed by Norman McGrath, a very fine and reknown archotectural photographr. A side bar discusses the new Orbix tilt mechanism that can be retrofitted to any Arca F camera. The Orbix is basically an off axis tilt mechanism that effectively tilts the lens around the nodal point in much the same way that an axis tilt camera does with the drawbacks of axis tilts. The retrofit will supposedly cost US$450.00.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 13, 1999.

Thanks for the answer Ellis but what do you feel of the Arca in comparison to the Linhof vs sinar. The mag. you described is not available here but if it was it would be about $30 us like shutterbug. i will source the mag through family in NY and get it here. I dont know why I didnt consider Arca but I guess I'm just use to certain brands.

-- Artie (, April 13, 1999.

Why do you think the Linhof TK specs are not necessarily true? Unlike The front and rear standards rotate 360 and the front rises 2" and drops 0.8". The rear rises 2". The front shifts 2.2" left and 0.8" right. The back shifts 2.2" eft and 2" right.

The maximum bellows draw is 19" and the shortest useable lens is the 35mm Apo randagon.

These are the actual specs. Of course, unlike most cameras you don't need added rails or accessories (save a WA bellows) to go to maximum extension and the camera collapses to fold flat so there is never any assembly required - other than the proper bellow which is easily mounted with 4 slide tabs - 2 in front and 2 in back.

-- bob salomon (, April 13, 1999.

Bob, is correct about the Linhof specs. He sells the cameras in the US so he knows his equipment better than anyone.

That said, The Sinar P2 or X cameras. the Linhof TK45s, and te Arca Swiss F cameras are really three different approaches to camera design.

The Sinars, due to their weight, are primarily studio cameras. Try lugging one around for a couple of days and you'll see why. That said they are the state of the art large format studio cameras: incredibly precise, versatile and user friendly. A close second or equal to the top of the line Sinars would be the Arca Swiss M-line "Monolith". cameras.

The Linhof TK45s is also a wonderfully machined and designed camera. It folds up very small and expands to a reasonable size. I don't like the TK45s but hundreds of photographers do. My primary objection is that I don't like how it handles, the easiness of getting grit in its gears, and they way you have to partially disassemble the camera to fold it to its most compact size. Also the Tk45s is an axis tilt camera

Then there is the Arca Swiss F cameras. these come in three different flavors: The F-line, the FC, and the new F-metric. You can read the details in the review sections of this homepage or you can look at the B&H catalog. In use I love the Arca Swiss F-line: it folds up almost as small as the Linhof, is a yaw free base tilt design (which the TK is not), has the rise located in the focal plane (which neither the Sinar or the Linhof does,) the controls are very positive (as they are on all these cameras,) can use lenses down to the 35mm APO-grandagon (with a special recessed board, or down to the 45mm APO-Gragon with the standard lensboard) or as long a focal length lens as you like (with yes, extention rails and special bellows (as is the case with the Sinar) whereas the TK45s is limited to the maximum length of it's collapsible monorail (If I am wrong about this, I am sure Bob will correct me.) The only real flaw I have found with the Arca Swiss F-Line is the lack of a mechanical bail to help open up the ground glass frame from the rear standard. And oh yes, it costs about US$800 less than either the Sinar X or the TK45s.

We can't make your decision for you. You really need to go in and handle the cameras to see which feels best in your hands. Maybe you are an Arca kind of guy or maybe you'll like the Sinar or the Linhof more. All camera designs are compromises; for me the Arca was the best compromise between the studio complexity of the Sinar P2 and the basicness of a pure field camera (my choice there: Canham DLC).

-- Ellis Vener (, April 13, 1999.

I'd just like to add, that you can get something called an Arca Swiss F-line Field as well which uses a 6x9 front and 4x5 rear to reduce the bulk/weight further. This way, you only use 110 mm instead of 171 mm lensboards. However, with the 6x9 front, the recessed boards only go back 7 mm instead of 13 mm for the regular 171 lensboards. I think this is the only disadvantage - someone correct me if I'm wrong.

-- Carlos Co (, April 13, 1999.

From experience, if Linhof says their camera will do something, it will. Same with Sinar, and, I suspect, most of the other large format cameras. You are dealing with cameras for professional use and they don't last if the specs & performance don't match. Linhof makes excellent equipment, kind of the inverse of their advertising. Sinar has great ads and cameras to match. A lot of good photogs use these brands & like them a lot. I use Linhof & have for years and if I could afford a new one would certainly buy another. Some feel the same about their Sinar gear. At the top end of LF it is difficult to get lousy gear in any brand, that is for the cheaper models(which generally still work just fine even if they aren't as rugged or precise as the higher end stuff). Try to get whatever you buy from a solid dealer that offers a return period so if you really don't get along with its personality, you don't feel stuck. You can't go wrong with either one.

-- Dan Smith (, April 13, 1999.

Artie, I use a TK45 that I purchased as a used camera. I've been very happy with it except for two things. In very cold weather (-15C and below), the camera is difficult to set up and take down because the components of the multi-piece monorail do not slide past each other as well as they do in warmer temperatures. The second problem that I've had in the US is getting replacements parts. I ordered new spirit levels over 4 years ago. I got tired of calling and asking them if they had arrived. This may not be an issue where you live.

You should read the article about the Tecknikardan on the main page of this site. You'll see that some people have difficulty mastering the camera. This is a personal issue. Try using the camera before you purchase it, if possible, even if it's only in a store or in your home.

Good luck! Bruce

-- Bruce M. Herman (, April 14, 1999.

If you can't make correct comments it is best to make no comments.

The TK does not have to be partially disassembled to open and close it. Anyone who does this has not read the instructions or, if they had, could not follow them..To close the camera (collapse) you place all controls on "0", lock the green levers and unlock the red levers. Rotate the focusing knob in the indicated direction (there is a LARGE arrow on it). These have been the only instructions since the camera was introduced in 1986/7, The latest version also requires that you depress the tabs to release the swing detents but that also has nothing to do with "disassembly"

It's funny but since the introduction and the sale of 1000s of TK cameras in the U.S. this is the first time I have seen a reference to "grit in the gears" Did the person who stated this drop it in a sandbox?

The Linhof focusing, in fact all sliding movements, are brass on duraluminum. This produces a self-lubricating movement. If grit gets in the focus gears it is a very simple matter to loosen the screws and blow the grit out. No service center needed and no greese needed to re-

-- bob salomon (, April 14, 1999.

If you can't make correct comments it is best to make no comments. The TK does not have to be partially disassembled to open and close it.

I was referring to having to unlatch and remove the bellows.

It's funny but since the introduction and the sale of 1000s of TK cameras in the U.S. this is the first time I have seen a reference to "grit in the gears" Did the person who stated this drop it in a sandbox?

No, the person who first made this comment to me was the person who had to nightly field strip & reassemble his friend's TK45s and the sandbox they were shooting in is the one that stretches from the Sierras to the Grand Canyon. The person who made the comment is a professional camera repairman and photographer.

If grit gets in the focus gears it is a very simple matter to loosen the screws and blow the grit out. No service center needed and no greese needed to re-

That's good to know about the focusing mechanism but how the other eight movements ((shift, tilt, swing, rise/fall)x2)?

-- bob salomon (, April 14, 1999.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 14, 1999.

That is neither required or recommended nor is it even mentioned in theinstructions. This apparently was one persons way of avoiding following the instructions or calling or writing for instructions. At no time is it necessary or recommended that the bellows be removed to open or close the TK. If the instructions are followed it is very fast and easy to open and close the camera without any risk of damage to the camera. Perhaps you might want to try and master this so you have an understanding of the TK. We would be happy to show you at any show and can direct you to the closest dealer that could also help you.

Then again he did no checking if he had he would have known how easy it is. But very few repairmen who do full time service are phtographers. Conversly very few professional photographers are camera repairmen and in this case he obviously was not a trained Linhof technician.

All sliding movements on all Linhofs have always been made of dissimilar materials to facilitate cleanin

-- bob salomon (, April 14, 1999.

Bob I am sorry to get into a pissing match with you, but you are saying that to fold the camera down with the standards parallel to the rail, you don't have remove the bellows? The TK45s owner who showed this to me when I was looking for a camera owns at least three TK45s cameras, and swears by Linhof. The repairman who told me the story about "grit in the gears" thinks they are great cameras. I think they are great cameras, but just not for me. Bob, I am a photographer, I am not a salesman, I am not a professional endorser, I don't benefit in anyway from whatever decision Mr Colantuono makes. I realize that it is your job to promote Linhof, and you do that very well. I ask you to reframe from acting my credibility. Mr Colantuono asked a question, I tried to answer it objectively. I agree with wholeheartedly with Linhof user Dan Smith who said, and I paraphrase, "At this level of equipment, it is hard to make a bad decision." In the end for most of us it is the photos that we make that count. "It is a poor craftsman who blames his tools," as the old saying goes. But it is also true that a craftsman should find the tools that fit his hands and his habits best.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 14, 1999.

Back to the topic, Artie...

All of your options are great cameras. Everybody agrees on THAT I think. I don't think the TK competes with the heavy Sinars, because if I had the money for one I sure as hell wouldn't make it serve a purpose for which it so obviously wasn't designed. And you seem concerned about location shooting. I'd buy a second camera, or have chosen a compromise camera. The only rails which really fit the bill are the light Arca or the TK.

The important thing to do, however, if you're coming to the States to buy, and you can't try them out beforehand, is to make sure that the dealer you visit has the cameras you want in stock. Arca Swiss has had a particularly strange distribution network here. Where exactly are you from? Perhaps somebody can help with recommending a local place to test these rather expensive tinkertoys.

-- John O'Connell (, April 14, 1999.

I didn't mean to cause such a fight over a simple or maybe not so simple question. I am Originally From the Big Apple and temporarily reside in Barbados. (6 years now) My store is B&h and I buy everything there, usually my Wife flies up montly and picks up my orders. I travel alot and photo maybe too much but thats what i get paid to do. Maybe the best bet is to just buy two systems, I definitely am convinved on the Linhof Teck 45s and Bob I appreciate your loyalty. I must replace my studio camera as my F2 Sinar is puked purely from abuse, the camera could take it but Sinar never said you could run it over and basically that what I did. I certainly appreciate everones answers and assistance but I didn't want to see any one fight over this, I'm trully sorry for that. My solution I guess is to take the easy way out and buy the Linhof and the Sinar P2 I believe that a lot of the componets like the multi back from sinar for 120 film 645 through 6x12 can be interchangeable and the digital backs from phaseone will work on both with the hassie Back adapter, which is all well as I'll use it on my Blads also. Bob from H&p I will notify you when I am coming up and will let you know when the order is placed in this way what B&H doesn't have in stock maybe you can arrange to have them in the showroom for me to pickup or I can come to you to pickup once B&H are paid. Speedotron always arranges for the merchandise to be at B&H when My wife comes up or sends it to my brother in New Jersey. Gang I again thank you and hope no hard feelings were set in stone between any of you. Bob your loyalty is rewarding and refreshing and I promise I will buy the Linhof. People! see you on the Flip side; Artie

-- Artie Colantuono (Artie Photography) (, April 14, 1999.

It's me again. Excuse my typing. I'm sorry for any of the obvious typo's. Hey Bob Can Linhof or sinar keep my typing from looking like I never Got out of the Second grade?

-- Artie Colantuono (Artie Photography) (, April 14, 1999.


Thank you for your loyalty. B&H usually always has the TK in stock so availability shouldn't be a problem and, if you want, you are always to see you here.

It is not a matter of loyalty. It is a matter of accurate information. There simply is no reason to remove the bellows to operate the camera period.

-- bob salomon (, April 14, 1999.

I've had a Linhof Technikardan since about when they became available. It has been in places most people would not expose a brick to. But don't think I've been to exotic places. I'm talking inside sewage treatment plants (in the "bowels"), up in trees, clamped underneath bridges, inside various kinds of waterworks, and much more. It has been dunked in a mill pool (requiring servicing), dropped down an abutment, and shipped many places. I love the camera and wish there was a 5X7 and 8X10 equivalent (hint, hint, Bob). I have never removed the bellows except to put on the bag bellows. I have never had trouble collapsing it. It has never worked any less well in COLD. It is a joy. And, even when not collapsed fully (rail at minimum but not rotated for flatness) it is STILL smaller than most cameras. Personal preference counts for everything, but this is a workhorse of a jewel and should be given much better reviews even by those who don't want to use it. Design awards should be heaped upon it by even those who would never use anything but a Sinar P, because it was the first of its kind, still is the best niche camera, and makes my job much easier.

-- Rob Tucher (, April 14, 1999.

Re: previous post by Carlos Co regarding the Arca Swiss F-Line Field (6x9 front / 4x5 rear).

There is one further limitation of this camera vs. the non-field F- line. This camera is constructed out of existing parts (except for the bellows) from other cameras in the A-S line of two different formats. The front is from their 6x9 F-line, and the back is from the 4x5 F-line. This mix and match approach is wonderful, however the "centering" of the lens on the front 6x9 standard (rise/fall axis) requires that your raise the lens. The results in more limited rise (I believe it's approx 1.2" vs. about 4" on the standard F- line). If you need more rise, you could always do indirect movements.

-- Larry Huppert (, April 15, 1999.

Artie, Congratulations. It sounds like you have made a wise choice, which is of course the choice you wanted to make all along but were just seeking validation for. And Bob: good job of selling the Linhof. Evidently my admittedly limited exposure to the TK45s led me to a conclusion (about how the camera folds up, I never got an answer back on the problem of grit in all the other gears besides the focusing track though) which was inaccurate. Can't be right every time. Rob, the comment you made about the TK being a niche camera is right on the mark. My point about the Arca is that it is not a niche camera. I can't afford a Sinar P2 and a Linhof TK45s, well I can but that is not how I choose to spend my money. As I said before the Sinar P & X, Arca Swiss F, and Linhof TK45s cameras are among the best photographic tools money can buy.

-- Ellis Vener (, April 15, 1999.

Ellis, good point but by niche I don't mean I need a Sinar either. I mean that it is a one-of-a-kind best-of-both-worlds camera that does what it does in a unique way. In 4X5 I have two wood field cameras, a Linhof Kardan Color, and a Sinar Alpina and I NEVER use anything but the Technikardan, whether field or studio. I should do some selling off of equipment because there are those out there who would love to work with what I don't like. I don't do much in the studio but that little camera is what I use when I do. I machine a lot of my own equipment and have adapted a Speed Graphic back/shutter and a custom-fit bellows to the rear of the Technikardan and use up to 760mm barrel lenses on it. I got one of the Technikardan macro supports used and the whole thing is very solid racked out all the way. Bob never got back on so he didn't read that I would take the Technikardan in any larger format. I don't do 6X7cm so the 23 is not of interest.

-- Rob Tucher (, April 15, 1999.


Actually I had answered your question but, like many of my posts it got cut short:

is what I had said. What is missing is "to facilitate cleaning and adjusting. While the horizontal sliding movements (shift, focus, track extensions, are easily disassembled and re-assembled you need a special tool to do the rise movements. But since it is very easy to blow any grit out with canned air it is very rare for an owner to have to touch the adjustment points of a TK. One other minor point. When one buys a TK it comes out of the box fully collapsed. With the bellows properly fastened and in place. Want to venture a guess how this could have possibly have been done if it is necessary to remove the bellows to close the camera? This one point alone shows how incorrect your contact wa

-- bob salomon (, April 15, 1999.

< I love the camera and wish there was a 5X7 and 8X10 equivalent (hint, hint, Bob).>

Not ignored just won't happen.

Regardless of what you may think of market size internationally formats larger than 45 simply don't sell today. Nor are there enough possible users to make the R&D and production of such a camera economically feasible. Except for small company that build more on a cottage industry basis.

You may also note that in the last 2 or 3 Photokinas not one new camera or lens from any major manufacturer was introduced for 57 or larger sizes. On the other hand many new lenses have been introduced by Rodenstock and Schneider for formats up to 45 at the last 3 shows.

The other draw back is the quality of the films today. It becomes very difficult to see the difference in a print made on 45 vs 57. In fact, if you monitor commercial studio E-6 use, you will find that the jobs that 5 years ago were shot on 57 or 810 are frequently shot today on 45. And many jobs that were done on 45 are now being shot on roll film.

That doesn't mean that you, or other users don't have a valid need for the larger camera. It just means that the economics of producing it and the market size to sell it simply do not exist today.

-- bob salomon (, April 15, 1999.

What you say is very true Bob. Years ago (not dating myself) I'm Told :-), Almost everything was shot 8x10 and 4x5. With the advent of film advances and electronic retouching ( the air brush days are gone) By the way that is the major reason for the 8x10 demand commercially, was retouching with the air brush was facilitated on larger pieces of film. todays drum scanners and the digital air brush the film doesn't need to be the size it used to be. Todays films are so good and the scanners are so much more sophisticated that even 35mm is now being accepted in more arenas. Some mags and end users have gone from the mention of 8x10. It's also more expensive to scan such a large trans with almost no benefit over 4x5. Ive been seeing lately; the statement, will accept 4x5 or Hasselblad trans. It's also important to realize the digital backs have a chip area of up to 21/4 x21/4. It is no wonder that the lf people have designed there cameras to accept Hasselblad lens and backs in addition to the digital back. Look at the great features of the Linhof M679. I think it's clear to seewhere the market is going. I don't think the LF manufactures have abandoned the 5x7 & 8x10, I think the industry has. Artie

-- Artie (, April 15, 1999.


Does this mean I don't get invited to the Linhof tea parties anymore?

-- Ellis Vener (, April 15, 1999.

Of course not. We are very interested in seeing that you fully understand the benefits and features of Linhof cameras and perhaps understand why a 110+ year old company like Linhof has attained their reputation. Also perhaps what they actually invented firast. Little things like yaw free movemetns, the first 220 camera, the first 67cm camera, the as yet uncopied and unsurpassed Technikarda, etc.

-- bob salomon (, April 16, 1999.

Yes, I understand the economics of making cameras or anything else for a limited market. It's also certainly true that the acceptible size of negs. and chromes is shrinking because of advances in other technologies. You can't fight it, but I keep doing what I do and seem to grow in format size. Perfect case in point. I have a size 12 AA shoe and nobody makes that so I have custom shoes and shoes that don't fit all that well. Economics determines my foot comfort. But I like to dream about an 810 Technikardan because it (in 4X5) just is, FOR ME and obviously enough others, the best there is. I've never touched or seen one but I guess the new Canham 57 metal is sort of a niche camera like the Technikardan. Some day I'll look at it and see if it measures up. I do a lot of HABS/HAER photography and have taken to enjoying 57 and even 810 even though it is acceptible to do 45, just because I get a kick out of it, but I miss my Technikardan when I defect like this.

-- Rob Tucher (, April 16, 1999.


In the last 2-3 Photokinas ARCA-SWISS did introduce quiet a couple of 5x7" and 8x10" cameras.

1996: Improved M -monolith 5x7" and 8x10" 1998: F -metric 5x7" and 8x10", F -metric compact 5x7" and 8x10" (with patented collapsible monorail)


-- Martin Vogt (, April 16, 1999.


Actually I am glad to hear that. Unfortunatly, whenever I had the opportunity to visit your booth, I never had the opportunity to see you so I did not see the 57 and 810's.

But I did get some ball head literature.


-- bob salomon (, April 16, 1999.

Martin Vogt -I've never been to a Photokina but I would love to. I've also heard for years of a collapsible rail F Arca Swiss but have never seen one either. I read about the Metric in View Camera this issue and it sounds interesting. Might have to check it out.

-- Rob Tucher (, April 16, 1999.

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