The optical part probably looks familiar enough. Cambo has taken the highly acclaimed Nikkor PC 4.0/19 and made it available for use on Cambo WRS and Phase One XT cameras. The lens has been rehoused and fitted with a controller for the electronic aperture. The image circle is large enough to cover the sensor of an IQ3/IQ4 digital back and still permit about 4mm of shift. The edge-to-edge sharpness is excellent and would make this wide angle lens the perfect addition to your workflow.
The ACTAR-20 is the latest addition to the extensive line of Cambo lenses available for use on the Actus view cameras. The distortion of this new lens is very low and the optical quality meets the requirements of the latest generation of Mirrorless Cameras. The ability to use filters was greatly missed on both the ACTAR-15 and ACTAR-19, but the new ACTAR-20 features an 82mm filter thread which allows for their use with this wide angle lens.
An article in one of the larger Dutch papers a few weeks ago: “World’s most expensive stairway in French villa built in The Netherlands.” An article like that is useless without pictures and the accompanying photographs do justice to the builder’s craftsmanship and quality standards. It’s also obvious that the commissioned photographer knows how to visualize his client’s work. Hans Morren has been working for EeStairs – builder of the prestigious staircase – for many years. Their assignments have sent him all over the world. Hans values their cooperation a lot, not in the least because every staircase he photographs is a one-of-a-kind.
We actually used one of Hans’ photographs to promote the Actus a couple of years ago. It’s this staircase inside the Akzo Nobel office, shot with the Actar-24 lens and a Sony A7.
Hans approached us shortly after the introduction of the Actus. His Mamiya-ZD was becoming a bit long in the tooth and he wanted to replace it with a modern mirrorless camera body, with the option to use it as a digital back behind a view camera. The Actus ticked all the boxes. He’s now been using his Actus/Sony combination for six years and the Sony is hardly ever used without the Actus. When shooting a staircase on location the space to maneuver around the object is often limited. Camera adjustments are crucial in those situations.
Hans’ architecture and interior assignments bring him all over the world. But he enjoys working in the studio and the kitchen just as much. In fact, the mixture is crucial to him. The studio work he does is rarely pure product photography but rather the visualization of ideas and thoughts. This brought him such diverse assignments as (classical) record covers, annual reports, book and magazine covers and cook books. An impressive series of cook books. And still Hans doesn’t consider himself a food photographer. As a well-known publisher once told him: “You create wonderful books, but I wouldn’t know how to classify them”. A series of – now eight – cook books was created in cooperation with Roelf Holtrop, a medical doctor and long-time friend with whom he shares a passion for Italian food. Roelf wrote the recipes and text. Hans did not photograph dishes, but made photographs to illustrate the process of creating fine food. He and his wife Liesbeth also took care of the graphic design.
From La Cucina Povera (Poor Man’s Kitchen). A “cook book for hard times”, as Roelf Holtrop and Hans Morren called their joint effort. It covers the cuisine of the southern part of Italy and is all about wholesome food made with simple (and inexpensive) ingredients.
The ladle serves as a pan and a soup bowl at the same time. The tea light needs to keep the dish warm
With 14 book publications behind his name and over three decades of experience as a chef, we may well consider Heinz von Holzen an authority on Indonesian food. During his entire professional career Heinz managed to combine his passion for authentic food with a passion for photography.
It probably all started with a strong desire to keep moving and discovering new things. As a youngster Swiss born Heinz von Holzen aspired a career as an engineer. He soon got bored sitting behind a desk and found a position as an apprentice cook. Working as a chef at various first class hotels in Europe, Australia and Asia gave him the opportunity to see the world and along the way his camera has been his travel companion. Heinz developed the good practice of visually documenting the recipes he created. Especially after he had started working in Singapore. “It was then in Singapore that I became hooked on photography, which allowed me to visually document many great dishes that we prepared.” And he didn’t settle for mediocre results, not in cooking nor in his photography.
Working as a chef in Singapore, Heinz was asked to become the executive chef of the new Grand Hyatt at the Isle of Bali. Shortly after his arrival, now 32 years ago, Heinz by chance met a publisher. He was impressed by Heinz’ food shots and encouraged him to publish his first book on Balinese cuisine. It became a success and many would follow.
After 4 ½ years at the Grand Hyatt Bali Heinz decided to resign. Together with his wife Puji, he set up a company specializing in commercial photography, advertising and food consulting. The photographing chef now had become a professional photographer. However, he wasn't happy, as he enjoyed photography a lot less now it had become his bread and butter. So he went back to his first passion, food. This resulted in the opening of Bumbu Bali, a restaurant and cooking school, which was soon followed by a second restaurant and a small hotel.
A good chef remains inquisitive throughout his career and Heinz’ photography has probably benefited greatly from his investigative nature. “During the past 32 years I was utmost fortunate to be able to travel extensively across Indonesia. Whenever I got stuck with answers about food in a specific part of Indonesia, I searched for a reliable contact in that region. Next I purchased a ticket, flew to this region and spent some time with the experts, home cooks, at markets, ceremonies, kitchens, road side food stalls and cooked, wrote recipes and took lots and lots of photos.
All this would not have been possible without the full hearted support of my family and the teams in our restaurants.”
To photograph the beautiful landscapes he travels and the venues he visits, Heinz acquired a Cambo WRS system with a Phase One digital back. His favorite tool to document the dishes he creates is the Cambo Actus-G paired with a Leica SL2 and ACTAR-90 lens. Complemented with Cambo’s adapter to enable the use of Mamiya RB/RZ lenses. “What I love most about the Actus and shooting food is the tilt and shift capabilities and with it the great DOF. Simply amazing. No need for photoshop. Yes the system is slow, but offers photography pure. Then again, when combined – as in my case – with a Leica SL2 body, it gives you total control over your picture.”
Heinz was introduced to the Cambo brand by Warren Kiong, owner of Primaimaging. A valued Cambo partner who has decades of experience in representing professional brands from his beautiful Jakarta based studio. As Heinz expresses his appreciation: “We are incredibly fortunate here in Indonesia to not only have a distributer of all Cambo products, but also an owner gentleman behind prima-imaging which does an amazing amount of extra work for the photographiccommunity. Absolutely nothing is too much, and their fast expertise and know-how in high-end camera gear is extremely useful when questions or challenges arise.”
It seems appropriate to end with one of Heinz von Holzen’s recipes here. Thank you for sharing this with us Heinz.
Nature and landscapes have always played a big role in my life. I was born in the mid-1970s in a small town in Thuringia, on the edge of Hainich National Park, right in the middle of Germany, where I grew up very close to nature. Trips and vacations with my parents and grandparents often led to nature. I discovered photography very early in my childhood as I toyed around with my parent’s and grandparent’s analog EXA and Praktika cameras, which were made in GDR (German Democratic Republic).
What started as a small hobby developed over the years into my job and my passion. While I was studying business administration, I also developed my love for travel. My fascination with landscape photography developed through various stays abroad in Canada, Mexico, and the US, all of which have very diverse landscapes.
From where do you draw your inspiration?
I draw a lot of inspiration from design or architecture, which surrounds me all day long here in Germany. I also draw from my friends who have a strong relationship with photography and/or architecture as well. Old-fashioned location scouting with long hikes in nature is another way I find inspiration. It is an essential part of my process to spend a lot of time in the nature to find new places to shoot.
Do you have any specific influences you’d like to share?
I’m not the typical landscape photographer who draws inspiration only from other landscape photographers or artists. I tend to very often look outside the box. I admire the works of Sebastiao Salgado, Ragnar Axelsson or younger photographers like Kiliii Yuyan or Carsten Egevang. Most of their images can tell a story and have more of a photojournalistic approach. I’m also influenced by the minimalistic approach of photographers like Michael Kenna and Hengki Koentjoro.
If you were behind your camera and could choose anything you wanted to be in your viewfinder, where would you be and what would you be looking at?
I would like to go to Antarctica and shoot icebergs in that very special light you often have in the cold regions of our planet. I’d like to get lost in a town like Valencia in Spain with all its modern architecture. And there is always Switzerland with its amazing glaciers, mountains, vast valleys, wild creeks, and picturesque villages. But I also feel that the location is not as important as being happy with where you are, and having inspirational people with you (that you like) while you shoot.
What drew you to the Actus system and what do you like about shooting landscape photography with it?
With my classic camera setup, I was getting more and more frustrated because I felt stuck. I was not able to create the shots I wanted. Especially in landscape photography, I was frustrated with the look ultra-wide-angle lenses are creating. I constantly had to make compromises with lens distortions – mountains or waterfalls in the background started to look tiny compared to what the scenery really looked like. The game-changer for me was that, with the Actus system, I could shift the camera body – I was able to capture scenes as a panoramic shot with the right proportions. I’m very thankful that Richard Lotte from Cambo Netherlands gave me an Actus System for testing. After trying the Cambo Actus system for the first time in landscape photography, I was impressed by the ease of use, and it made it so simple to create panoramic shots, selecting the right depth of field. I’m just starting to understand the endless possibilities and how I can achieve a unique style in my photography.
A lot of new photographers consider a view camera “Old School.” What are the advantages you see shooting with an Actus instead of a DSLR?
It looks a bit old school and intimidating at first sight but when you start using and understanding the view camera, everything feels easy and it becomes a very modern tool. In my opinion, the Cambo Actus system is superior compared to classic tilt-shift lenses because you have the additional function of the camera shift for panoramic compositions. When using longer focal lengths like the 60mm, you can use that lens, of course, for classic landscape or product photography but you can also use that lens for macro photography. With a system like the Actus, you have to be more thoughtful and you need to be more focused on the composition you have in mind. You have to set up everything in advance for the optimal shooting results – but that’s a good thing. The camera system slows you down a little bit while shooting, but in the end, it makes post-processing much smoother. I never had it so easy with stitching panoramic shots. Another advantage is that the system itself is very flexible. Not only was I able to use the Cambo Actar 24mm and 60mm, I can use the Pentax’ 45-85mm and Pentax’ 75mm medium format lens on the same system. Then when I’m not using my Sony A7RIII body, I can attach a Fuji GFX, EOS R, Nikon Z or a Hasselblad X1D Camera body. There are so many lens-camera-combinations possible with the Actus system.
What is the next path you see your creativity taking your photography?
With a view camera, your own creativity is getting back more in focus and with a tool like the Actus it is easier to achieve the style of photography I’m looking for. I will do more architectural photos, create more unique product photos with a more defined plane of focus, and of course, more panoramic pictures to get the right perspective of waterfalls and mountains.
You can see more of Matthias Conrad’s work on Instagram @matthconphoto. All photos used with permission of the artist.
This brings us to the second part of the view camera equation. Lenses.
But why do lenses matter? Well, simply put, not all lenses are created equal. Generally speaking in recent photographic history, lenses are designed to work both with a single camera system as well as made to cover with very little overlap only the size of the piece of film (or sensor) inside of the camera. With Mirrorless cameras becoming more and more common the idea of adapting lenses from one system to another is becoming much more common.
Lenses with larger image circles are more ideal for usage with view cameras because it allows for more movements within that circle. Tilting, shifting, rise, fall, and swing movements all require more “room” within a lens. The larger the image circle of a given lens, the more room becomes available.
As you can see from the chart above, given the smaller sensor size (when comparing against medium or large format) of modern cameras, the 24x36mm sensor can have a fair bit of movement when paired with the larger image circles of medium format lenses.
But, I already have a lens that does that…
So you may be asking, why wouldn’t I just buy a native Tilt Shift lens (Canon TS-E, Nikon PC) for my camera? And the answer all comes back to movements. Tilt shift lenses only allow for 2 of the 3 directions of movements (and usually don’t allow for more than one adjustment at a time depending on camera orientation). Only a view camera can give you the full range of movements for perspective control.
When comparing the cost of these incomplete solutions you will also find that they are similarly priced. But for the same investment, why would spend the same amount but only get 2/3rds of the features?
Because of the innovation of mirrorless cameras the modern view camera has more opportunities to thrive than ever before. Using the Nikon Z series as an example, because of the change in design the flange focal distance–
( flange focal distance (FFD), is the distance from the mounting flange (the metal ring on the camera and the rear of the lens) to the film plane. This value is different for different camera systems. The range of this distance, which will render an image clearly in focus within all focal lengths)
–was reduced by 30mm which means that more lens options become viable as they no longer are limited to focusing at a much farther point on the sensor plane. Let’s compare this to some other modern flange distances:
If you have ever written us an email asking for help choosing lenses you may have been sent the below PDF “Cheat Sheet” that describes the most commonly available lenses today, and how well they play nicely with various modern camera systems
How did you discover your love for photography? I received a Brownie Kodak Camera when I was 10 years old, and loved taking walk in the streets or at a park and take pictures. From there, my Dad gave me a Retina Kodak, a real camera! It fascinated me as a child to play with the f/stops and the shutter speed so I quickly built a small darkroom at home and started to photograph the old French cobblestone streets and the countryside.
Where do you draw your inspiration from? I live in California so inspiration is all around, the sea, the desert, the people, the streets, the Museums (I think we have 70 of them in the Greater LA), we are surrounded by cultural influences that are rich and revitalizing. As a photographer, it is a constant stream of images to the point that it can be head-spinning at times.
Do you have any specific influences you’d like to share? I vividly remember the day I saw the book of Irving Penn “Moments Preserved” in 1960; it had everything I was dreaming of: still lifes, portraits, fashion, black & white, color. I was just mesmerized by the work.
From there of course I looked at Avedon’s photographs, Hiro and many others like Bill Silano and Neil Barr. I admire the discipline they put in their work, never allowing themselves a short cut in their mastery of photography.
If you were behind your camera and could choose anything you wanted to be in your viewfinder, where would you be and what would you be looking at? I would be in my studio looking at more disparate and elaborate objects and patiently reassembling them into a different concoction of emotions.
What drew you to the Actus System, and what do you like about it? When I started my still life project I quickly became very frustrated with being stuck with a camera that only knew fixed parallel planes.
I felt like I was working with a shoebox and was longing for my Sinar P2, so I called Dave Gallagher at Capture Integration wondering if there was an affordable solution to my problem. After asking a lot of questions and without up-selling he sent me the Cambo Actus View Camera.
My fingers were so happy to find those knobs allowing the shifts and swings I had been used to for over thirty years of work, again able to place the plane of focus where I want it.
I also love being able to use only one lens instead of fighting with cumbersome macro rings adapters and lenses. Just one lens, my Sony A7R4 as a sensor, all of it tethered to my little Mac with Capture One and I again enjoy creating photographs.
The Cambo Actus conforms to my needs and wants, instead of the opposite so I can build more complex photographs without constant irritating limitations.
Where do you see your body of work going next? Next will undoubtedly be the IQ4 back and more still lifes. I love sitting in front of the tabletop in my studio and freeing my imagination – I am alone, it is quiet, it feels like meditation…
The French-born photographer Benoit Malphettes, known for his large format work, followed a childhood dream and permanently moved to America in 1977, eventually becoming a US citizen. Benoit’s meticulous attention to detail and his sense of drama gained international recognition with his work published in French & American Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, W, Glamour, Essence, NY Times and others. His bold images were used for major national advertising campaigns as his signature style and unique vision with his 8×10” camera became quickly recognized. At the same time demand for his portraits grew, and the preeminent business and political elite of the West Coast were regular visitors to his Pasadena Studio.
His work from the fashion years to the more recent still-lifes and landscapes is represented in private collections and several museums. Since 2015, his work has been exhibited in two one-man shows in California museums. In 2018, his work was included in NY’s Museum of Modern Art exhibit “Is Fashion Modern” and in 2019, Benoit received the California Journalism Award for his portrait of Dr Sterling Stuckey.
You can see more of Benoit’s work at Benoit.LA, Photos used with permission of the artist.
When I say the words View Camera, I can imagine that you are envisioning one of two things:
You either know and remember (and may even miss) the “old days” where you as the photographer were in complete control over your image, and the master of your domain.
Or if you are of the more modern crop of upcoming photographers, you may be thinking of some arcane monstrosity that is too big and complicated to lug around.
If you spent some time today searching the web for answers you probably came across the following definition on Wikipedia:
A view camera is a large format camera in which the lens forms an inverted image on a ground glass screen directly at the plane of the film. The image viewed is exactly the same as the image on the film, which replaces the viewing screen during exposure. It is comprised of a flexible bellows that forms a light-tight seal between two adjustable standards, one of which holds a lens, and the other a viewfinder or a photographic film holder.
The bellows are a flexible, accordion-pleated box [that] encloses the space between the lens and film, and flexes to accommodate the movements of the standards. The front standard is a board at the front of the camera that holds the lens and, usually, a shutter.
At the other end of the bellows, the rear standard is a frame that holds a ground glass plate, used for focusing and composing the image before exposure—and is replaced by a holder containing the light-sensitive film, plate, or image sensor for exposure. The front and rear standards can move in various ways relative to each other, unlike most other camera types. This provides control over focus, depth of field, and perspective.
Lets stop right there, before we go any further let’s get one thing straight–
The current definition of a view camera is WRONG.
The image you have in mind of your Grandfather’s view camera is wrong because the view camera has changed.
In days past the view camera primarily was a tool designed to work with 4×5, 8×10 or larger pieces of film which at the time was the only way to capture extremely high resolution images.
Typical sensor sizes today are very small comparatively to the size of the film from the past, however the resolving power today is incredibly close (or even better) than it ever has been. But resolution is only part of the battle. There are many other reasons to use a view camera that aren’t only about the size of the image captured.
A view camera can do the following things better than ANY other camera or lens can do alone:
Change Perspective – Control perspective on products or buildings
Plane of Focus – Maximize or Minimize Depth of Field
View Cameras have the ability to do something else that is extremely valuable even in today’s digital world:
Get things right in camera– Not in post.
The theories and principals are the same, even though the medium today is drastically different.
Over the next few blog entries we hope to enlighten you to some of what makes a view camera unique and why even today they are still a valuable part of the photographer’s toolkit.
Following the official introduction of the Fujifilm GFX100 on May 23rd, 2019 Cambo is pleased to announce a dedicated interface for mounting, and supporting this new flagship camera in the GFX line of products.
As a result of the different body design compared to the Fujifilm GFX50 series, the bayonet holder for the GFX100 will have a different shape than the existing holder AC-792, and includes an extra riser block for the front standard.
Cambo’s new AC-795, designed as an interchangeable bayonet holder kit, will be compatible with the current Actus-G series.
However, due to the design changes of the Fujifilm GFX100 body, this needs to be positioned on a higher distance to allow enough clearance. This results in an additional 30mm riser block to be needed for the front standard. As well as an additional spacer that needs to be added on the rear bayonet mount.
Because of this additional flange spacing the Actar-60, and some other wider angle lens options will not be able reach infinity setting with this kit.
NOTE: Alternatively the Fujifilm GFX100 will fit the Actus-GFX unchanged, in portrait orientation only without the need for the additional spacer, but because of the new design the AC-795 is required for landscape orientation.
Cambo ACB-795 Specifications:
Bayonet : Fujifilm GFX
Available Color: Black anodized Internal Rotation:90 degrees between Landscape and Portrait Raiser block front standard: 30mm high, included with kit.
The interface kit AC-795 will be available shortly and can be pre-ordered as of today from your dealer of choice.
Shipping now, the AC-380 and AC-381 fine gear drives add yet another option for customers looking to get the most out of their existing Actus camera.
This double gear knob kit for focus and tilt will be interchangeable with the current axle/knob/gear. The large knob controls as it does with the existing knob set, however this will add a smaller knob that reduces the movement to 1:5 gearing for more precise control and self locking.
Because of the slight differences in tilt mechanism design, two versions of this upgrade will be offered. The AC-380 is for focus on all Actus cameras and for the tilt movements of the Actus-Mini. The AC-381 exits for those customers wishing to upgrade the tilt movements on their Actus-G or Actus-DB II. Both kits will be identically priced, and will be sold individually for users that only wish to upgrade one knob at a time.
The install process is fairly simple and straight forward, and both kits include all of the instructions and tools needed to perform the swap yourself without the need to ship anything back to Cambo.
Both the AC-380 and AC-381 are available now from any of or US Dealers.