Experiences with Sinar F2?

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I'm thinking about buying a Sinar F2 for outdoor work? Does anyone have experience with that camera in field conditions (even in rough situations with long hikes)? What is the lightest tripod do use? Do the build-in calculators for Scheimpflug and depth of field always work fine?


-- Tom A. Castelberg (castelbergthomas@hotmail.com), July 12, 1999


I use the f2 for landscape work and I think it works very well. I chose the f2 because I was already shooting Sinar 8x10 and liked the entire system, including things like the angle calculator (which is excellent) and the way you can use bellows as dark cloths (but its advisable to also get the nifty snap-out fresnel and use the darkroom- innovations.com darkcloth for serious focusing). Note, though, that if you want a monorail camera that collapses to fit into a backpack, the Arca Swiss is a better choice; others can speak better on its behalf than I can (Ellis?).

FWIW, when Im hiking I carry the f2 in my left hand, a tripod (with head and rail clamp) in my right, and 5 lenses (mounted on the Calumet 4 lensboards; get the Calumet adaptor for the Sinar), other bellows, filters, and a box of Readyloads in a Lightware backpack on my back. I often hike 5-10 miles a day with this setup; Im not sure if that qualifies as "long" in your book but its all I have time for if Im finding stuff worth setting up a view camera for. Any medium- duty tripod should work well; the camera weighs just under 8 lbs. plus lens (I use a Gitzo 3-series tripod, though a 2-series would probably be fine; I suspect I'll eventually get a carbon-fiber 12xx or 13xx). E-mail me if you want to know more. . . .

-- Simon (fourthpres@aol.com), July 12, 1999.

I've used an F2 for a while, then bought an A-1 that I used for three years until I replaced it with an Arca Swiss F-line. The A and F share many characteristics other than monorail accessories and expandability.

The camera is reasonably light and rigidity is good. It is rather bulky, but can be folded reasonably small -- remove the bellows, raise up one standard, lower the other all the way, fold the lower one down over the rail, then the higher standard down over the first standard. Folded like this, you can toss it into a medium sized backpack. There is probably no backpack customized for this configuration.

I use a Bogen 3020 and it's fine for these cameras. The DOF and tilt/swing calculators work well.

I had really only two gripes. The rise movements were not smooth and it was hard to get the camera exactly where I wanted it. I tended to incline the rail nad tilt the standards instead of rise or fall. One standard was worse than the other in this regard. The other gripe was bulk, not weight, but just the volume it occupies. The Arca I bought is a little heavier, but folds into a smaller (and denser) package.

For fit and finish, I like the Arca better, but Sinar stuff is much easier to find. You can rent lenses on Sinar boards in most large cities if that matters to you. Accessories for both systems are frightfully expensive, but the entry cameras are, I think, reasonable.

Somebody is probably going to recomend a field camera -- possibly the Canham DLC. It's considerably smaller and lighter, and does have a good collection of movements. I tried one and found I needed three hands to focus -- one to hold the loupe, one to twiddle the knob, and one to lock the focus lock. This is not just the Canham, many field cameras feel this way to me. I can focus with two hands on the Sinar or the Arca, but tilt still takes three hands...

have fun!

-- mike rosenlof (mike_rosenlof@yahoo.com), July 12, 1999.

If you really want a monorail I think the Arca swiss F-Line or FC is a better choice for a couple of reasons: better handling conditions and less bulk. If you decide to look at a field camera in this price range, then yes you should look at a Canham DLC or possibly a Winner Tech Field. The Canham is the more modern design of the last two, and for hiking work with a variety of focal length lenses, wide to telephoto, is a good choice because you will not need w/a bellows or extention rails + long focal length bellows. You don't have rear rise with the Canham like you do with the Wisner, Arca and Sinar cameras. While at times I have wished I had a third arm, I haven't found it to be a necessary accessory.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), July 14, 1999.

The Sinar F2 is a great camera...but never designed to be used as a 'field camera' in the strictest sense...i.e. hiking, climbing, etc. I use an F1 to shoot location work...architecture, interiors, etc...so I can leave the P2 in the studio. But I don't backpack around with it. The F1 is a little lighter and more compact than the F2, as the rise and fall rods on both standards are shorter, so it might be a better choice for a "field" camera

-- C MATTER (cmatter@riag.com), July 15, 1999.

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