Canham DLC users?greenspun.com : LUSENET : Large format photography : One Thread
I am considering buying a Canham DLC and would value the experience of those photographers who use it. My lenses include a 72mm Super Angulon, soon, according to Jeff at Badger, a 110 mm Schneider Super Symmar, a 135mm Nikkor, a 300mm Nikkor M and a 450 mm Fuji. I am not certain whether the DLC will handle easily or at all the short and the long lenses. I have read several reviews of the DLC in the links provided here and in some published articles also. While informative, they spent a good deal of space discussing Canham's lensboards and the apparent problems (to some) about not being able to use a Linhof style lensboard on the DLC. The result was less information about the pros and cons of the camera itself.And of course the reviewer probably lacked the time to explore the camera for a lengthy period of time. Presently I use a Wisner Tech Field and the newer Pocket Expedition. The PE has nice features, but I must confess for me its learning curve for field use, especially with the 72mm, is a bit high. Anyways, I would appreciate any insights. Bob
-- Bob Moulton (email@example.com), August 07, 2000
Bob, have you seen this thread ?
DLC users: anyone care to write a review for the LF page ?
-- Q.-Tuan Luong (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 07, 2000.
I can write a review for the LF page if you wish... It may take some time, but I think I can write a good, honest review of the DLC based on my experience with the camera over the last two years...
Let me know if you want me to write one.
-- Michael Mutmansky (email@example.com), August 07, 2000.
Anything written about the DLC not being able to handle Linhof style lens boards is old data. He makes an optional adapter for this purpose which works well.
What type of shooting do you planning to do (e.g. landscape, portraits, architecture, still lifes, etc). I've only shot as long as 210mm with the DLC, and had no problems. The camera will easily handle the 72XL, however that lens has a relatively large image circle. After distorting the bellows to get your max rise with the 72XL, you will find that the front standard goes slightly out of alignment due to the pressure on the standard from the bellows. I haven't been able to tighten down the front enough to prevent this from happening. You can re-level the front, but that always makes me want to re-focus which isn't that easy with that amount of rise. If your using less than 20-25mm of rise, what I describe isn't an issue. The best solution is to use the little known bag bellows which he sells (and I've never tried).
I'd recommend the DLC for many applications. It isn't a studio camera (although my best studio still life was done with it), and it isn't the most easy camera to use while shooting tight interiors.
-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), August 07, 2000.
I have the 300M and the 450C and can say that the DLC certainly has no problem handling these two lenses. When fully extended, however (for the 450C) the camera is a bit prone to movement. I am working out the details for a front standard stabilizer based on the Bogen long lens arm. It will clip onto the front and to a tripod leg, and then lock down to solidify the system a bit. I can certainly get sharp images right now, but I have found the images to be much more hit-or-miss (one shot will be sharp, the next shot taken right after of the same composition will be soft).
The 72mm is another issue. I have a 75mm and there is no problem using the camera with this lens for landscape subjects. This is where I have one gripe about the camera design, however. The camera uses base tilts, and that can cause some problems when using a wide angle lens. As you go to tilt the lens, you then have to refocus due to the foreward displacement of the lens. This can be problematic with a short lens, because there is not a lot of room to pull the front standard back to cover the tilt. I would prefer to see axis tilts on the camera for this reason.
Another issue is bellows. You have a lot of bellows squeezed together when using the 72mm. The Canham handles this just fine as long as you don't want to use any shift with the lens. Otherwise, the bellows can interfere a bit. Canham is now making a bag bellows for these situations. I haven't needed one, but if you shoot architectural photos, you will definately want to get the bag bellows. I mention this because I consider the 72mm to be aimed at the architectural market, and not the field market.
If you want more input, feel free to email.
-- Michael Mutmansky (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 07, 2000.
Michael discussion on tilts with the 72mm leads me to comment on tilts in general. Tilting the standard is a two handed operation (one hand to tilt, one hand to tighten the control). If your looking at the GG w/ a loupe at the same time, you often wish you had a third hand.
-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), August 07, 2000.
The Wista SP has a geared tilt (front standard). It one of the reasons that I still use the SP.
-- pat Raymore (email@example.com), August 08, 2000.
the DLC just may be the best combination of weight and versatility in the field camera division. It will take everything from a 58 to a Nikkor 720 without bellows or extenders. Which is why I own one. That being said, nothing is for free, and the camera has several warts. The most annoying, for me, is the lack of a detent on the swing. You have to be certain you are square, and that is time consuming. It cannot be put to bed with a lens (granted, this is minor) and mine tended to seriously bind until Keith reworked it. (he mentioned that the early SN's have this problem) As a landscaper, the bellows are not a problem, but I can see where it would be situatuionaly inferior for other uses.
email if you want other info george http://georgestocking.com
-- George Stocking (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 09, 2000.
To be fair to the DLC, there are "workarounds" to many issues with this camera. Previously, I mentioned the need for three hands when doing tilts. If you set the tension on the front standard tighteners just right, you can get enough friction so the standard tilts, but doesn't flop down. You can then operate the front with one hand until you get the tilt just right. Of course, this isn't an absolute foolproof technique, and there is the possibility of the tension loosening on you and having the lens flop down. I have only tried this with relative short, lightweight lenses; it is probably a quesitonable technique with a long heavy lens.
With regard to zeroing the swing, a detent would be nice. Canham mentions just using your finger to feel that it is flush with the metal just below the swing which would indicate a neutral position. He says your finger can detect a couple 1000th of an inch difference with ease, so his suggested technique should be pretty accurate. If your shooting in the extreme cold of winter, a bare finger touching cold metal is a true sensory experience. But then, no one ever said LF was easy.
-- Larry Huppert (Larry.Huppert@mail.com), August 09, 2000.
I've had my DLC for almost 30 months. All of my lenses are mounted on Linhof Technika boards (or Bromwell and Wista clones of that design). I have used lenses as short as a 47mm Super Angulon (in a recessed Linhof board) but more commonly with a 65mm /4.5 Grandagon with no problem. On the long end, my longest lens is the 300mm /9 M-Nikkor, but I have tried it with the 450mm /9 M-Nikkor. The most extention I've used (indoors) was to get an approximately .75x magnification with the 300mm of some jewelery. With extreme shift or rise and a wide angle lens you might run into a slight bit of stiffness where the bellows just has no place to go but this is very rare. I find the Canham DLC camera very straight forward to use as a field camera for landscapes, cityscapes, architectural exteriors, portraits, and macro work but it is not my preferrred instrument for architectural interiors or studio still life where I want to have rear rise or fall. The groundglass is very bright and contrasty and In other places I have noted the faults I have found with the camera design: most notably the type and location of the levels. I understand Keith Canham's reasons for this but still find it a little annoying.
-- Ellis Vener (email@example.com), August 09, 2000.
Has the DLC changed from when its was first introduced? (When was it first introduced by the way.) I've read about some focusing scale added onto the the newer model and perhaps changes to the material type for the washers. Can somebody list down the changes made?
-- Mat Sabu (firstname.lastname@example.org), August 27, 2001.
Depends one what you mean by "introduced". Keith has a way of announcing new products months, or even years before they become available (his 6x17 back, for instance). I ordered my DLC in early November 1996 and received my camera the first week of April 1997. Mine was one of the first ones built/sold.
The first change was the addition of a velcro sag strap. The flexible bellows on the DLC are great for using a wide range of lenses, but without the sag strap, they can cause vignetting. When my DLC was new, this was especially a problem when racking the bellows out for a long lens and then changing to a medium to slightly long lens (210mm - 300mm). The bellows would sag enough to cause vinetting. The sag strap was a simple fix and works like a charm.
The original washers were a thick nylon type. The mashed easily and eventually would crack and become useless. My newer 5x7 MQC came with thin mylar washers (harder material) beneath the nylon washers. This seems to work better than the original nylon only. On my DLC, I installed some fiber washers I bought at a local hardware store to replace the original nylon ones and they worked great. A metal washer (brass or stainless) under the nylon washers also works well, but tends to mar the finish on the camera. The problem is the soft nylon washer get mashed into the slots that allow for movement. So, you either need a harder washer period, or a harder washer backing the soft nylon washers. I haven't used my MQC as much as I did my DLC, but so far no problems with the mylar/nylon combination.
The focusing scales were another welcome addition. I sent my DLC to Keith last November and he installed the focusing scales and reassembled and adjusted my camera for $25.00 plus shipping.
In addition to the focusing scales, after agjusting everything on the camera, he applied some type of Loc Tite to prevent things from coming loose again (a big problem with my DLC, I carried a set of allen wrenches in the field to constantly re-tighten things that came loose). I think he has been doing this to his new cameras for a few years now as standard practice. I certainly don't hear many complaints with things coming loose, so it seems to have fixed the problem.
The only "upgrade" I did not have installed on my DLC was his bright screen (or whatever he calls his fresnel). I have these on my MQC (both 5x7 and 4x5 reducing back) and don't really care for them (personal taste, but I prefer a BosScreen or even a plain ground glass over most fresnels).
All of these changes were minor, but each made the camera more enjoyable to use. If you buy an older, used DLC it is possible to get it upgraded to current standards at a nominal cost (other than the bright screen).
-- Kerry Thalmann (email@example.com), August 27, 2001.
Kerry, thank you for the in depth reply.
I have a few more questions regardng the DLC. How do you pack the camera for travel? (I dont. I pack the Toho instead. Ha ha. But seriously..) I understand the DLC comes with its own bag. Can you put filmholders and the lens in the bag? (I suppose you have to dismount the lens before you can pack the camera.) Are there partitions in the bag? I also read somewhere that the bag is made by Tenba. Is that correct?
There is a serial numbering system used by Canham. Where is it engraved on the camera. How is the numbering system like? (MM-YYYY?) Can I tell the year of manufacture from the serial number?
Final question for Kerry. Didnt you just sell your DLC recently on Ebay?
-- Mat Sabu (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 01, 2001.
"I have a few more questions regardng the DLC. How do you pack the camera for travel? " I understand the DLC comes with its own bag. Can you put filmholders and the lens in the bag? (I suppose you have to dismount the lens before you can pack the camera.) Are there partitions in the bag? I also read somewhere that the bag is made by Tenba. Is that correct?"< P>I'm not Kerry, but to answer your questions. yes the DLC comes with a small protective custom case made by Tenba, that the camera alone fits into, no room for anything else really. I carried my DLC (in it's case) in everything from a Lightware BP1420 backpack, to a generic backpack, to a Pelican case, to a Domke J2 shoulderbag.
I purchased mine in the spring of 1998 and many ofthe modifications -- the scales, the fresnel screen, the better bushings were already in place.
I sold mine in February 2001, not because of any dissatisfaction but due to an urgent need for cash (AKA: the I.R.S.!) and because the majority of large format work I do requires the greater versatility of my other 4x5, an Arca-Swiss F-line. if I needed a folding camera for a lot of field work I wouldn't hestitate to purchase another DLC. Kerry's needs are pretty different from mine.
-- Ellis Vener (email@example.com), September 02, 2001.
"How do you pack the camera for travel? (I dont. I pack the Toho instead. Ha ha. But seriously..)"
Although I've been using the Toho for backpacking for the last two years, my DLC accompanied me on many trail miles. In the 4+ years I owned it, I probably carried it further than any other camera I've owned (although the Toho is gaining fast).
"I understand the DLC comes with its own bag. Can you put filmholders and the lens in the bag? (I suppose you have to dismount the lens before you can pack the camera.) Are there partitions in the bag? I also read somewhere that the bag is made by Tenba. Is that correct?"
It isn't really a bag, just a case made to fit over the camera and protect it during transport. It is intended to fit the camera alone and not for carrying accessories (no partitions or compartments). Yes, the lens must be removed when folding the camera.
When transporting the DLC in the field, I carried it in it's case for protection, which was then placed in whatever backpack I was using to carry my system (usually a Tenba PBH-K, sometimes Kelty Redwing). "There is a serial numbering system used by Canham. Where is it engraved on the camera. How is the numbering system like? (MM-YYYY?) Can I tell the year of manufacture from the serial number?"
Not a clue. Call Keith and ask him. "Final question for Kerry. Didnt you just sell your DLC recently on Ebay?"
Yep. It was a victim of too many cameras for one photographer. I have the Toho for backpacking and long hikes, plus a Linhof TK45S and a Canham MQC (5x7) with a 4x5 reducing back. If I could have kept only one camera, it would have been the DLC. It's the best overall compromise for my needs. But the 5x7 Canham does every thing the DLC does, plus it lets me shoot 5x7, and eventually 6x17 (the real reason I bought it) and it only weighs a pound more than the DLC. I didn't sell my DLC because I was unhappy with it (in fact, I had it "tuned up" by Keith last winter and it was better than new when I sold it). I sold it, because it was redundant.
-- Kerry Thalmann (firstname.lastname@example.org), September 03, 2001.