Stepping up

Pierre Planté – St Tropez (F) EeStairs BV / oktober 2021

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 craftmanship and quality standards. It’s also obvious that the commissioned photographer knows how to visualise 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.

Akzo Nobel Amsterdam / EeStairs BV / Februari 2016

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 manoeuvre 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 visualisation 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 wholessome 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

Shot on Polaroid 55 material.

From Medici in Cucina
Axel Springer Neubau – Berlin (D) Quispel Deurne / juni 2021

More about Hans Morren

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A Versatile View Camera

The Actus made our view cameras portable. When mirrorless cameras became a sound alternative to DSLRs, this created a demand for view cameras that could use these small but capable machines as a digital back. The essential camera movements in a portable package, that was the big idea behind the Actus that we introduced in 2014.

It obviously left room for larger view cameras. Mainly for studio shooters. Therefore we re-designed our Ultima. Its Actus-XL incarnation is accessible to virtually every camera system on the market and accepts the many accessories and adapters from the ever expanding Actus system.

When we designed the Actus-MV we started with a clean slate. It had to offer full view camera movements, yet in a portable package. Here we just have to quote Steve Hendrix, because he phrased it so accurately: “The Actus MV clearly straddles both those worlds. It could easily replace an Actus XL in the studio, and while it is not quite as cute and cuddly as an Actus G in the field, it is very much physically put together in the same vein, from the standpoint of portability.” Thanks Steve!

Cambo Actus-MV with Phase One IQ4-150 back and Phase One X-Shutter

The Actus-MV’s front and rear standard have rise, fall and shift. The front standard offers tilt and swing, to give full control over the plane of focus. The rear standard’s tilt enables you to reposition both standards when working with an inclined rail. The fine focussing knob at the rear and the front standard’s tilt knob are so-called dual ratio gears, enabling very fine settings.

A camera featuring so many settings inevitably has a certain presence. However, it’s still easy to pack. Front and rear standard can easily be taken off the rail – no tool required – and weight is reduced where possible, without sacrificing rigidity.

The Actus-MV Brochure is available for download

Es gibt davon auch eine deutsche Variante

This nifty feature is available for Hasselblad-V and Phase One/Mamiya digital backs
  • Geared camera movements
  • Front standard tilt 15º/15º (dual ratio gear)
  • Rear standard tilt 15º/15º
  • Front standard swing 30º/30º
  • Front and Rear Standard Horizontal shift 20mm/20mm
  • Rear Standard Rise/Fall 15mm/15mm
  • Front Standard  Rise/Fall 15mm/15mm
  • Weight Compensation on Rise/Fall (front & rear)
  • Friction knobs on camera movements
  • Dual ratio gear for fine focussing
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Great flavours and wonderful scenery

stitched image – Actus-G with Leica SL2 and Actar-24

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. Ever since the camera has been his travel companion. Furthermore, Heinz developed the good practise to visually document the recipes he created. Especially after he had started to work 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, he met a publisher by chance. 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 specialising in commercial photography, advertising and food consulting. The photographing chef now had become a professional photographer. However, that didn’t make him happy, as he enjoyed making pictures 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, restaurant and cooking school, soon followed by a second restaurant and a small hotel.

A good chef remains inquisitive throughout his career and Heinz’ photography has probably benefited a lot of 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 back. His favourite tool to document the dishes he creates is the Cambo Actus-G, which is paired with a Leica SL 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 photographic community. 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.

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Keep your spirits high

If someone would have told us at the beginning of 2021 we’d end the year in lockdown, we wouldn’t have believed it. Nevertheless, that’s where we are right now. Although the pandemic definitely took its toll on the industry – final curtain for big shows like Photokina, less in-house events at our partners, less occasions to meet with photographers and partners at all – at Cambo we were amongst the lucky ones who could keep themselves busy. We’d like to wish you all a wonderful and healthy 2022! Hopefully we’ll all go back to normal soon and may only those one or two positive things that we’ve learned from the crisis remain.

A few things worth looking back at

Cambo was founded in 1946. So it was the year of our 75th anniversary. Like most 75-year-olds, we’d have preferred to celebrate this in style. But hey, we’re healthy and young at heart. These Anniversary Kits will remain available through 2022.

Delivery of the Phase One X-Shutter got into full swing. We’ve not only supplied many new Digaron lenses with these shutters, but also took care of the conversion of clients’ trusted Schneider and Rodenstock lenses to X-Shutter. Gradually this sophisticated shutter is becoming the new standard. Like the Copal was for many decades.

Our smart adapter for Hasselblad lenses – full shutter functionality and synchronization to virtually every digital back – is now also available for the Actus and Actus-XL view cameras.

Those periods of (partial) lock-down often meant more free time on hands to some of you. We’ve probably never had so many inquiries to provide spare parts for older and sometimes very old products. Hopefully you’ve all enjoyed tinkering with your view cameras, Cambo Wide cameras and studio stands.

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Dutch silver mining and beyond

Sake Elzinga lives in the tranquil Dutch town of Assen. Approaching his front door you can’t miss a print displayed in the window. It shows bumper cars on an abonded fair. This turns out to be a photograph made near Chernobyl, the Ukrainian city struck by nuclear disaster in 1986. Sake has been a contributor to one of the larger national Dutch newspapers for decades. A role in which he mainly covers events in the northern (often rural) parts of the country. However, he does so much more.

Photo: Sake Elzinga – Pripyat 1996.
Elzinga was distinguished with the 1996 Fuji Award for this and other photographs about the Chernobyl disaster’s aftermath

A view camera is probably not the preferred tool for most photo journalists. Sake Elzinga however, has as solid background in technical photography. For several clients in the cultural heritage preservation sector and museums he photographs interiors, estates and architecture. Alongside his Nikon gear, he likes to use a Hasselblad. He must have owned every digital back they made to fit his 503CW. Nowadays his favourite camera is the CFV II 50C and the nifty 907x that comes with it. When the job requires perspective control, the Hasselblad back is attached to a Flexbody. Yes, now we’re talking!

Nijsinghhuis, Eelde, The Netherlands – Photo: Sake Elzinga
An extreme wide angle like this Actar-15 enables photography from a viewpoint that otherwise couldn't be used. Whereas view camera techniques keep the lines straight.

An extreme wide angle like this Actar-15 enables photography from a viewpoint that otherwise can’t be used. Whereas view camera techniques keep the lines straight.

Here a pole made it impossible to change the camera’s position. The Actar 15 lens and some rear shift still got the whole museum building and the statue within the frame.

Sake likes to use his classic Linhof Technika when occasionally shooting film. There’s also an old Sinar which he uses for portraits. Tilting the lens gives this nice blur that only leaves the eyes in focus. And there’s the aforementioned Flexbody for use on location. A great tool, but the inability to rotate the back makes it impossible to apply rise and fall when working in portrait orientation. Something more versatile replacing the Sinar and the Flexbody was due. So we handed over an Actus-DB2. When you’ve been a Hasselblad photographer for decades, owning a bag full of legacy lenses and a CFV-50 back, the Actus-DB2 is a fine addition. The ACB-HVSA adapter enables the use of the Hasselblad lenses with full leaf shutter versatility. Like the Flexbody does, yet more flexible. It’s light and compact enough for use on location and still offers enough camera movement to do those signature studio portraits.

Portrait of colleague Michael Kooren. Made with the Actus-DB2 and a Carl Zeiss 120mm lens from the Hasselblad collection.

A photo journalist who started his career in the early 80’s must have exposed tens of thousands of rolls of black and white film. That makes an archive which is a real treasury. A silver mine if you like. Sake started to digitise his negatives years ago. A massive amount of work, when you have been that productive for such a long time. The resulting book is called De Zilvermijnen van Drenthe*. It’s a beautiful testimony of the 80’s in the country side and small towns of The Netherlands.

*Silver Mines of Drenthe, the latter is the name of a Dutch region

Assen 1986 – Drenthe, The Netherlands – Photo : Sake Elzinga
Assen 1988 – Drenthe, The Netherlands – Photo : Sake Elzinga

Sake Elzinga won many awards during his long career. These also bear testimony of his versatility as a photographer. 1990 he was awarded the 2nd prize in World Press Photo’s Sports category. He won De Zilveren Camera (Silver Camera, probably the most prestigious prize for Dutch photo journalists) twice; 1994 in the category Documentary National and 2001 in the category Art, Culture, Architecture and Technique. 1996 Sake was distinguished with the Fuji Award for his series of photographs made in and around Chernobyl, ten years after the nuclear disaster.

Nijsinghhuis, Eelde, The Netherlands – Photo: Sake Elzinga
Sake’s Hasselblad CFV II 50C attached to the Cambo Actus-DB2 with a Distagon-40 in front.

More about: Sake Elzinga

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Scott C’ Studio Beast

On his websites – yes, he’s got two, more about that later – Scott Choucino gives us a short video tour through his studio. It looks like the perfect mixture of a motorbike shed, professional kitchen, library and a greenhouse. Oh, and still a photo studio. It must be a fine place to work. That alone would be enough to catch our attention. But there’s also this video about the Actus on his YouTube channel. And he’s pretty enthousiastic about it. Time to meet.

Scott is a self-taught photographer. He’s specialised in food. During the last ten years he’s reached a high level of professionalism in this, always striving to achieve the utmost quality in his work.

I started out learning from YouTube about 13 years ago coming from a background of sports science with a post grad in physiology, but I quickly found that photography was what really got me going. After a long hard slog working on small jobs I finally got my break shooting big commercial ad campaigns and quickly signed with my first agent.


Since then I signed with Lisa Pritchard Agency which has been incredible with such a huge focus being on personal work. Something I wished I had prioritised in the same way from day one. My biggest bit of advice would be to stick to what you love and constantly create new personal work
.”

As in most food studios, Scott’s got clients who require the proverbial top-down shots. These need to be perfectly crisp from corner to corner. There’s the editorial style photography, where the art director often asks for a detail of the dish to be in focus. And we see plates that need to be in focus front to back despite being shot at an angle. For all these applications Scott is using his Cambo Actus, paired with a Canon 5Dsr and Mamiya Sekor lenses from the RB and RZ system.

Scott’s Cambo Actus gives perfect control over the plane of focus. It enables him to position the focus right on the detail, nicely blurring the rest of the dish, with a pleasant looking fall-off in sharpness. When a dish needs to be perfectly sharp, dialing in some tilt and/or swing helps to achieve this without focus stacking. And even the seemingly simple top-down shot benefits from the view camera approach. Shifting the camera body in small increments is a much easier way to make small changes to the framing than repositioning the stand. Scott works with Mamiya 67 lenses on his Actus. He likes the large image circle (designed for the 6×7 film format after all) and these lenses offer great value for money. Even the Actus’ quick camera rotation from landscape to portrait orientation is reminiscent of the old Mamiya’s nifty rotating film cassette. Luckily without the heft of that camera.

Scott Choucino likes to share his knowledge. Hence the two websites. On scottchoucino.com you’ll find everything about his commercial photography, a taste of Scott’s portfolio and news. All very well maintained. The other website tin-house-studio is about his rental studio and workshops. There’s free stuff to watch, online tutorials available at a small fee and you may get in touch to book a group or one to one workshop. When there’s time. Scott is a working photographer in the first place.

www.scottchoucino.com

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Anthony speaking

Please meet Cambo USA representative Anthony Wallen. In this video he shows how to install the WRX-1001 accessory shoe on the Phase One XT body.

The WRX-1001 is a cold shoe replacing the XT’s corner piece. Usefull when you i.e. need to attach a Pocket Wizard or similar trigger for interior shootings.

Whenever you need more information on Cambo in the USA or are looking for a dealer near you, please feel free to get in touch with Anthony. During office hours he can be found at Cambo USA

In the background of Anthony’s studio are a UBS studio stand and our geared heads, PCH and PCF.

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Real wide angle for smaller sensors

Fuji X sensor, stitched from 3 images. ©Alex Vreeman

The Actar-15 lens is perfectly suitable for use with mirrorless medium format cameras like the Hasselblad X1D and Fuji GFX. It’s also an attractive option for users of APS_C sensor cameras. When using a camera like the Fujifilm X on a view camera, the choice of (extreme) wide angle lenses was always limited. Due to the smaller sensor size, even a 24mm can’t offer more than a moderate angle of view.

Alex Vreeman is a long-time Fuji user. We asked this Dutch photographer to give the new lens a try. Although Alex does own a GFX as well, there are various occasions on which he prefers the smaller cameras. For instance when his clients also require some video footage.

He used his Actus-G, Fuji XT bodies and the Actar-15 on an assignment to shoot exclusive wallpaper designed by Working Bert. This is often custom made for a client’s interior.

Alex particularly liked the low distortion of the 15mm lens.

©Alex Vreeman
©Alex Vreeman

Alex Vreeman has been working as a commercial photographer for over three decades now. He’s passionate about portrait photography. We could have guessed that he’d be using this 15mm for portraiture too.

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Subtle shading

When shooting an extreme wide angle – and that’s what the Actar-19 is when combined with a 33x44mm sensor – you’ll only have limited ways to shade the lens. Using a flexible hood at least makes is possible to adapt the amount of shade to the direction of shift or rise/fall that’s been applied.

The Cambo AC-324 lens hood fits nicely to the Actar-19. Although the lens isn’t very susceptible to flare, thanks to its good coating, in some situations this shade may save you.

Cambo Actus-gfx with Actar-19 and the new Fujifilm GFX-100s

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AC-324 lens shade now available for Rodenstock lenses

AC-324 is the dedicated Actar-24 lens shade. It’s 90mm fitting makes it also suitable for use on Rodenstock Digaron-32 lenses. As of now Cambo offers step-down rings from 90 to 75, 70 and 60mm. This makes it a light weight compendium alternative on various Rodenstock Digaron lenses. Including those used on the Phase One XT.

In this video Cambo USA’s Anthony Wallen introduces these new applications

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