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Using a DSRL with Sinar view camera

This is a copy from from old blog site for those interested in using a DSRL together wither their view camera:

There has been various reports and solutions in the web of getting a DSLR camera connected to a view camera for a long time. Some of these has been obviously self made projects (but more or less working :)) and some commercial made solutions. Sinar is now offering its own Sinar p-slr which is obviously a high quality kit with high quality price.

There is a dozen technical issues to keep in mind if you want to do this. Basically it comes down to few essential parts:

1) Adapter to attach a DSLR to your view camera

There’s at least three solutions to do this:

a) You could replace the rear frame of your view camera with a bracket to attach your DSLR. Special bellows is also needed which allows camera to attach directly to bellows (instead of rear standard). This is how p-slr works, and this is also how one can get the shortest flange distance of these solutions. That’s good if you need to focus infinity as the sensor of a DSLR camera body is located deep inside the camera (vs. using sheet film loader or digital back). However the flange distance depends on properties of the selected lens as well. Some of these brackets allow switching between vertical and horizontal orientation while others not. To be able to rotate orientation rapidly is definitely a big plus. This is also a more costly solutions as special bellows is also needed unless you do one by yourself.

b) You can also use use a special adapter plate together with the existing rear standard. The best of these also allow camera rotation like adapters made by a German company called just Together. Naturally DIY solutions for attaching a camera are also possible, but with cheap readymade alternatives available, it might not be worth it considering time spent doing this IMHO. One clear advantage with this approach is that DSRL camera will be automatically centered to optical axis. With brackets it is necassary to find correct center position relative to front standard. The Sinar kit offers a separate tool for this.

c) Third method is to use adapter that is attached to a graflok back on your view camera. The disadvantage is that this way DSRL’s sensor gets quite far away from the front standard. This might not be a problem if you do closeup work or use medium format lenses. More on that later. Very good thing is that these adapters can be found easily on ebay with a very low price. Some of these allow camera rotation on the fly and fast shifting through a sliding plate. Both are must features if you plan to do lot of stitching. I have one of these and it cost me only under 100 euros. The quality seems surprisingly good to me. My version lacks the shift lock screw which current versions seem to have.

2) Finding a suitable lens and adapter plate for it

This is not trivial especially if one wants to focus at infinity. View camera lenses are not designed for DSLRs which have their sensors deep inside camera. So wide angle lenses you might want to use are out of question even if you use deeply recessed lens boards to mount them. It just won’t work in practise. For wide angle work on the field just use TS-lenses on your Canon or whatever. The latest models are also so superbly good, that you might not need anything else.

Advantage of using a DSLR with view camera is that you don’t need a shutter on the lens. That means that any lens will do if it allows manual aperture control. Many have used Scheider or Rodenstock enlarger lenses from 80mm and up. Look for later APO versions which have superb image quality. I have the Scheider APO-Componon HM 90/4.5 lens which is really sharp lens too. Its said to be the same lens as current Scheider Digitar 90/4.5 but without electronic shutter and aperture. These have M39 threading. There is many ways to attach these to existing recessed boards. I used just tape for testing.

One solution is to use medium format lenses from Mamiya RZ/RB or Hasselblad V series which have retrofocus design. These have longer flange with short to medium focal lengths than enlarger lenses. This means longer minimum distance from film to lens when focused to infinity which makes them more suitable for use with a DSRL. The flange is same for all lenses of same brand. They’re also already optimized for smaller format than 4×5 lenses while still allowing plenty of movements with a 24x36mm DSRL. Special adapter plate is definitely needed, and the aforementioned just Together makes high quality ones which are deeply recessed. I have one for Mamiya RB/RZ lenses.

My setup: SiMaCan

My own setup (branded SiMaCan ;)) is basically a combination of three different systems mentioned previously. I used following parts for the test image setup. Different lens adapter was of course needed for Schneider enlarger lens.

  • Sinar P2 view camera with wide angle bellows
  • Canon 5D mkII
  • Mamiya RZ 110mm/2.8 lens
  • just Together Mamiya-Sinar lens board
  • Sliding and rotating EOS adapter for graflok backs, made in China

To attach the adapter to a graflok back, one has to remove the sinar focus screen holder from the back if not already done. Here’s how it looks once set together:

Sinar P2 with the graflock to EOS adapter

Sinar P2 with a graflock EOS adapter

To attach the Mamiya lens to the adapter, some finger trickery is needed. The aperture control has to be set to manual mode first. This is done by adjusting a button and levers on the back side of lens, after setting lens to the time exposure mode (T). Instructions for this come with the adapter. It is very easy to reset the lens by accident so some practise is needed.

Mamiya RZ lens attached with the justTogether adapter to my Sinar P2

Mamiya RZ lens attached with the justTogether adapter to my Sinar P2

And with the camera. This setup is almost heavy! Now it also becomes obvious why live view is so essential for this kind of setup. Focusing is so much easier as you can use 5x or 10x zoom levels with the live view of 5D mkII. In other words I can actually use my view camera without external computer.

Complete setup: EOS 5D mkII attached to Sinar P2

Complete setup: EOS 5D mkII attached to Sinar P2

Next one is an example shot made with the camera. Nine images was used for this single image. Shifting was needed plus tilting the lens to get longer DOF. Result is an 110 megapixel image with practical sensor size of ~ 54x72mm. It allows for huge size prints and quality if that’s what you need 😉

An example image shot with my setup: 110 megapixel image stitched from nine images with practical sensor size of ~ 72 x 54 mm.

An example image shot with my setup: 110 megapixel image stitched from nine images with practical sensor size of ~ 72 x 54 mm. Click to view larger image.

Finally its time for some serious pixel peeping at 100% zoom level. Despite using a lens originally designed for 6×7 system the detail is still not bad on EOS 5D mkII with 21 MP sensor.

1:1 crop of the example photo. Lens: Mamiya-Sekor Z 110/2.8

1:1 crop of the example photo. Lens: Mamiya-Sekor Z 110/2.8

That was it! I hope you found this post interesting.


← takaisin