What camera for digital?

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We are a commercial printer specializing in limited edition sports artwork reproductions. Most of our work is color scanned from 8x10 transparencies made from the original artwork (approx 24x36" originals). After having some outside tests done, it appears digital scans from a 4x5 with a Betterlight back are the way to go, resolution quality and time wise. Any suggestions on what studio 4x5 and lens combinations we would need for flat artwork? Additionally, this would lead into some small product photography for catalog work, so we are going to need some lens assortments. All of our experience is with drum and flatbed scanners and small format cameras. Just looking for some direction on where to start. Any help would be appriciated.

-- John Rawlins (tathcolor@aol.com), October 28, 1999


Though it's relatively pricey, you can't go wrong with a 4x5 Sinar P2 or P1. Its rigidity and unlimited bellows draw are ideal for your art reproduction work, while its all-geared movements are highly desirable for small product photography. Sinar uniquely includes features which greatly assist setting tilts, swings, and aperture to get the necessary depth-of-field. In addition, its modularity makes it very versatile -- it can be equipped to shoot 8X10 transparencies if needed. Finally, Sinar Bron is the most committed of the LF manufacturers to digital photography.

An ideal "process" lens for repro work is the Rodenstock Apo-Ronar. The 240mm f/9 will cover 4x5; if you might also need to shoot 8x10, the 480 mm f/11 would be a good choice.

The best type of lens for small product photography depends on scale of reproduction. For subjects requiring scales of 1:4 to 4:1, I'd recommend a Rodenstock Apo-Macro-Sironar (also sold as the Sinar Macro-Sinaron) or Schneider Makro-Symmar 180mm f/5.6. For tiny subjects, a Schneider M-Componon would be better.

If you prefer a single lens for both repro and small product work, consider a premium normal lens such as a Rodenstock Apo-Sironar-S (Sinar Sinaron-SE) 210mm f/5.6. This type of lens permits generous movements for 4x5 and quite acceptable image quality for all but the smallest subjects.

For more guidance, I highly recommend Leslie Stroebel's excellent textbook View_Camera_Technique. It contains almost everything you need to know about selecting and using view cameras and lenses.

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0240803450/qid=941128342/sr=1-3 /002-4049684-9828234

-- Sean Donnelly (smd@alumni.rice.edu), October 28, 1999.

The Sinar P2 is definitely the best and most easily obtained, view camera for these purposes. It has several mechanical focusing and perpective control aides built in and these make studio work definitely easier. There are both less and more expensive alternatives (including some from Sinar) but if you have a high volume of work the Sinar will pay for itself quickly. Their website is www.sinarbron.com and their tech reps and manuals are extremely helpful. The P2 is the standard of the advertising industry.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), October 29, 1999.

If the imaging area is less than 4x5 you might want to look at the Linhof M679.

This is a camera with geared 2 point focusin, assymetrical axis movements, yaw free, built in, interchangeable disk, 2 ratio depth of field calculator, built in ball head and accepts adapters to use any film or digital back for Hasselblad, Mamiya RZ, Mamiya RB, Horseman 69, Sylvestri 69, etc. There is a sliding back for Hasselblad backs and, with the proper adapter, the sliding back or the other back adapters can be used on any Sinar, Horseman, Linhof or Cambo 45 camera.

The camera can use any shutter including mechanical ones from Copal and Prontor as well as the electronic Prontor Protronic system, the Rollei Linear Motor shutter syste or the Horseman ISS shutter sytem. It also operates with the self-cockin Copal Press shutters and the Prontor Professional shutters.

It accepts lenses from 35mm to 180mm and, if required, accepts the Leaf Filter

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), October 29, 1999.

I disagree about the qualities of the Linhof 679, it looks great allright and everything is the usual wonderful Linhof camera quality, but (please Bob correct me if I am wrong) what happened to shift movements? As far as I could make it from my visit to the Kina in Cologne, the camera has none and only passive rise and fall are possible, anyone who has ever used a view camera, even a medium format one, would miss this essential detail. I might be wrong though and I am curious to hear Bob's opinion. Greetings Do you know the WFPA? Check it out at http://www.johndesq.com

-- andrea milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), October 30, 1999.

Sounds like you'd be better off direct digital. Using a Sinar p2 or x and a leaf digital back. Check out the sinar web site www.sinarbron.com

-- Artie (Artie@artiephotography.com), October 30, 1999.

Sorry you didn't see shift movements. They are on the rear of the M679cc version that was shown at Photokina and that will be delivered this month. There are 2 M679 cameras. One with rear rise and shift and one without.

-- Bob Salomon (bob@hpmarketingcorp.com), October 31, 1999.

mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa! Thanks Bob to give me a chance to show off my latin. Yes , I am sorry one of the Linhof 679 (apparently a model which I haven't seen at the kina) has shift movements at the back, Ok, maybe for the price of it could have been at the front too, but it is a studio medium format and you cannot have it all. I said it was a beauty and my sole perplexity was the shift (rear). Bob being his usual self did correct me and ihe was right to do so. Apologies

-- andrea milano (milandro@multiweb.nl), October 31, 1999.

The focal length of the lens is contingent on how large the CCD is on the Betterlight. Most scan backs are about 6x7cm, whereas the one-shot backs are much smaller, even smaller than a 35mm frame. I personally do a lot of copywork on 4x5" film and use the 300/9 Nikkor-M. It is a "process camera" lens and is relatively cheap compared to other faster lenses. It barely covers 8x10 so it is ideal for 4x5" with movements. Remember all copywork is best done with a telephoto lens because the glare on the subject is less (even if you polarize lights and lens both).

-- Richard Stum (info@kinesisgear.com), November 06, 1999.

The Betterlight scanning back is about 4 inches wide and scans just about a full 5 inches of length.

-- Ellis Vener (evphoto@insync.net), November 08, 1999.

Betterlight backs have scan area of 2.83"x3.78". To the best of my knowledge, there are no scan backs on the market that have 4"x5" scan area, though, for obvious reasons, this fact is not widely advertised by their manufacturers...

-- Sergey Zhupanov (zhupanov@usa.net), January 03, 2000.

The M679 will work fine with the Phase One PowerPhase scan back: 56mm x 56mm CCD and 7000 x 7000 resolution. And the Kodak DCS Pro using the Hasselblad adapter. (4000 x 4000 resolution but it's a one shot back) Plus quite a few other digital backs as well as film up to 6x9.

-- Doug Dolde (doug.dolde@gte.net), January 15, 2002.

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