Dedicated to the job

Digitization is key to make and keep our cultural heritage accessible and to preserve it for the future. Since it’s a labour intensive task, you want to do it once and do it right.

Cambo RPS copystand with a Phase One IQ4 back and Rodenstock’s 138 Float. This set-up doesn’t leave much to be desired.

Standards like Metamorphosis and FADGI provide guidelines to ensure that all involved in the digitization process are on the same page. Depending on the object’s size and quality guidelines – not every application requires a FADGI 4-Star rating – one can simply calculate the amount of pixels required to meet the desired standard. And although the set-up shown above combines excellent quality with a very efficient workflow, not every archivist will need a 150mp digital back. However, every serious archival job does require good lenses. Or we may say: Purpose-built lenses.

A lens dedicated to archival work, only has to do one thing right. No fast aperture nor AF needed. Optimum quality within a given – mostly quite limited – magnification range is what it needs to provide. That’s where our RPM-System comes in. It’s a helical focusing mount with a Fujifilm GFX bayonet on one side and an exchangable lensplate on the other. It enables fitting of many (legacy) lenses. Like this Schneider Makro-Symmar, just to name one, which performs excellently when digitizing film. By adding spacers it’s set-up for the required magnification.The helical has a locking screw, the spacers are secured with screws as well. It’s pretty industrial and for good reasons; when the operator comes back from a coffee break, work can be resumed without worrying about focus.

A quote from the FADGI guidelines for digitizing cultural heritage materials: “As digital sensors become available in ever higher pixel counts, the quality of the lens becomes a critical factor in actual system resolution. It has reached the point where the resolution of digital cameras and scanners may be limited by the performance of the lens, and in some cases a theoretically perfect lens cannot match the resolution capability of available digital sensors. More pixels on the sensor may not relate to increased resolution in the digital file.” Another statement: “All lenses are designed and optimized for specific applications (…) lenses designed specifically for digital flat field imaging are best “.

The good thing is, there are plenty of those lenses available and you won’t always need the latest and greatest glass to yield good results. Cambo’s RPM helical provides the link between these (sometimes older) lenses and the aformentioned demanding modern sensors.

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Modern sensors and legacy lenses

Until a few decades ago, it seemed so obvious: Products of European photographic brands were manufactured in Europe. That’s changed for many. At Cambo however, we take pride in our own manufacturing facility in the small town of Kampen, The Netherlands. Here the parts for our view cameras, studio stands and other equipment are machined and assembled.

R&D, machining and assembly under one roof enable us to offer some unique options to our products. Like fitting legacy glass to the WRS line of cameras. Schneider discontinued the helical needed for this 180mm lens in 2016. We manufacture our own and add a few more features to offer an even broader range of lenses.

Scheider 120HM and Cambo WRS-5000
Some of these legacy lenses perform really well, even with the latest and greatest digital backs.
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Effortlessly rotating

Simultanteously with the Actus-MV view camera we introduced two new digital back adapters: ACDB-990 for use with the Phase One/Mamiya interface and ACDB-991 for Hasselblad V backs. These two adapters have the distinction of an integrated mechanism for the landscape/portrait rotation. No need to take off the digital back to rotate it 90°.

By the way, you won’t be left out in the cold if your digital back has another interface than the ones mentioned above. We still supply the well known adapters for other interfaces. Including the ones discontinued many years ago.

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Simple things that make live easier (part 2)

The Cambo UST and UBS studio stands share the same range of accessories. Cross arms, extensions and camera platforms, everything that has the U designation fits to these stands.

We’ve redesigned the fitting. It will obviously still be compatible with the full range of accessories, but now also has 1/4″ and 3/8″ threadings to accept spigots, flex arms or whatever you’d like to attach.

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Introducing the Smart Adapter

Just a touchscreen. Nothing to shout about. However, this one connects to our RPS copy stand and does add a nifty feature. It enables the operator to store height settings and when you’re in the digitisation /archival industry that may seriously enhance your workflow‘s efficiency.

The Cambo RPS is a motorised copy stand. It’s recently been upgrades and the new 200 series comes in various guises. RPS-200 is a column only, mostly acquired for use with wall mounts. RPS-250 is the version that comes with a metal base and a base board. The latter has a cavity to which an LED panel can be added to digitise translucent materials.

The RPS-200 and RPS-250 are operated by this hand controller. The mode button toggles between high and low speed. The dial enables you to adjust the speed in small increments, necessary for precise focusing.

The RPS-205 and RPS-255 are the same repro stands as the ones mentioned above, with the addition of the new Smart Controller. This device enables you to create numerous folders in which various height settings can be stored. To keep things organised, it has an option to add notes to each setting.

A typical workflow is to create folders for several clients. Inside these folders the camera heights for various object sizes can be stored. Since you may vary lenses and other settings as well, this is where the memory fields come in handy.

RPS-255 with LED panel RPS-165
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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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