Which 4x5 inch large format camera is best for location work? Which 4x5" large format camera is best for studio work? We have tried many 4x5 cameras, a Linhof Technikardan, a picturesque Wisner 4x5 that is nice and portable, and even a Sinar X courtesy of Sinar-Bron. We have also inspected 4x5 inch large format cameras at Photokina 1998 and are looking forward to seeing all the new models at Photokina 2002.
Every camera has its advantages and disadvantages. The Linhof is portable but is too loose, in other words it wobbles. The Wisner is portable, the base is much more stable than the Linhof but the movements (tilts and swings) are more appropriate for outdoor photography than precise indoor studio work. The Sinar X was more stable than any of these but the model we had was well used and we did not have an opportunity to test a brand new model to find out how the mechanisms felt like when new.
When the Cambo Ultima arrived at the FLAAR Photo Archive for testing and evaluation I was dubious that any camera would be as impressive as the Sinar X, which is the Bentley of studio cameras (the Sinar P being the Rolls Royce of large format cameras).
I was also spoiled by the Arca-Swiss 4x5. I will also admit that my preconceived impression of the Cambo was formed by seeing the low-end Cambo cameras.
Thus when the Cambo Ultima arrived I was surprised. Here is a camera that had precision movements far more rigid than the Linhof Technikardan. The Cambo Ultima looked and felt as well made as the Arca-Swiss. And overall the Cambo Ultima was more solid than the Sinar X. I would estimate that a factory fresh Sinar X would be more appealing than a demo unit so we may re-evaluate the Sinar when a newer model becomes available.
In the meantime the Cambo Ultima is all set for work recording archaeological heritage of Guatemala in the FLAARstudio in Guatemala, at the Universidad Francisco Marroquin. Two different art museums are situated on this campus so there is plenty to photograph.
We will primarily be using the Cambo Ultima camera with the BetterLight Super 6000 scanning back.