A short documentary about the Sinar Norma 4×5 view camera

Since I purchased the Sinar Norma 4×5 view camera a few weeks ago, I only took a couple of test shots to see if its working properly. Taking out a 4×5 camera means that you have something interesting to shoot, you can’t just walk around with it (especially a monorail camera).

A couple of days ago, a good friend of mine arrived for the holiday season, so we decided to take the Norma for a few shots. We woke up early and drove to a nearby location. Our intention was to make a few images and shoot a short video documentary about the view camera.

The first problem I faced was the packing of the Sinar. It’s a monorail, so its not an easy task to carry this camera on the field. After many tries, I decided to disassemble it. This way it fit in my large Lowepro bag. A second large bag was necessary for holders, loupe, film box, a second lens, etc. So, there’s a lot of stuff to be carried.


Assembling the camera took about five minutes. The Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with the 410 head is large and heavy, but absolutely necessary for this type of camera. Carrying it on the shoulder is not an easy task, since the balance is not optimal, so it requires attention. As you can easily guess, you cannot go far away from the car this way, for longer distances I have to disassemble the camera in order to prevent any accidents.



You can see my friend Jimmy, shooting a video on location. Jimmy is a very good videographer and he did all shooting and montage of the video. If you want, you can check his Facebook page here.



On the images above you can see the “Frankelumix”, that’s how I call Jimmy’s camera combo, a Panasonic GF1 fitted with a LED light and a ZOOM audio recorder !!

For the images I mostly used Fuji Velvia 100 Quickload sheets. The are very practical on the field, since they are much easier to carry than holders and require less space in the bag. In addition to that, they are dust proof which is crucial, since shooting 4×5 involves a continuous fight with dust.

I also took a shot with Ilford HP5 film, which you can see below.

(Sinar Norma 4×5, Nikkor 90mm f/8 SW, Ilford HP5, aperture: f/22, speed: 1/30)

A 400 ISO film shot with a medium format camera has far less grain than 35mm film. On a large format camera its even less making it a very good film for most situations. I can only imagine the clarity of a ISO 100 film on a 4×5 negative !!! (I will soon find out since the Delta 100 and FP4 sheets have arrived).

The Nikkor 90mm f/8 SW I used is a phenomenal lens. Razor sharp with superb IQ and a large circle which allows any kind of movements combination you can think of. It’s also a very small lens. On my Sinar, I found out on the field that I must use wide angle bellows, since with the standard ones, movements were restricted.




The whole experience of shooting a view camera was really fantastic. Looking through the ground glass and composing with movements was fascinating. There are many things to pay attention to before you click the shutter and its a slow process. No problem, since with his camera you only make very few images on each photo trip. I shot five sheets which will take about ten days to have them developed (I send the slides to another city, since there’s not a lab doing E-6 sheets where I live).

So, that was my experience from my first photo trip with the Sinar.

You can watch the video below, shot and edited by Jimmy Pats..

(c)2012 Konstantinos Besios. All Rights Reserved.

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4 Responses to A short documentary about the Sinar Norma 4×5 view camera

  1. I realy enjoyed your video; a pitty that I cant see the results.

    greetings from Holland

  2. I just stumbled across your blog after purchasing a Sinar Norma (it’s just been shipped!) Actually I found your video on YouTube first and it helped give me a good insight into the camera – thank you! I believe it’s possible to collapse the camera for transport – the standards can fold down with the bellows against the rail. Have you tried this? I saw it in the instruction manual, but I’ve obviously not had a chance to try this for myself.

    I look forward to reading more on your blog!

    • kbesios says:

      Thank you James. The Norma is a wonderful camera and you will certainly have a great time shooting with it. I have collapsed the camera according to the instructions, but still, carrying it in the backpack seems awkward, a field camera will always be a better choice for hiking. The Norma of course is a very sturdy camera and has all the movements you will ever need.

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