Photographer Phil Locker shares his experiences using the Cambo Wide RS Architecture Camera System

The following video gives you a brief overview of the shoot and the equipment used. We will add a link to the hi-res images soon….

It was Christmas 2010 and the lights were in full bloom…we took a trip out to Europe’s largest shopping centre, The Trafford Centre in Manchester, UK.

Phil Locker of Photo Graphic Design based in north Manchester in the U.K. kindly offered to capture some images and give his opinion when he used the Wide RS for the first time. Phil brings a wealth of experience in different fields of photography including; architectural, industrial, interiors and product photography.

“I met Charles at Photokina and was interested in looking at a camera system that would fit into my workflow. Having used Sinar 4×5 both F & Ps extensively throughout my working career on location and in the studio I strive to replicate the same quality when I’m investing in digital imaging equipment.”

“Digital photography has played a major role for me over the past 10 years. I use Hasselblad 22mp single shot and 22mp multi-shot digital backs on my Rollei 6008AF (22mp) and Rollei X-Act 2 (22mpms) cameras. Plus a couple of other digital backs (PhaseOne and a Imacon 3020 multi-shot used on a Horseman Digiflex ll also Nikon D2x and D3x DSLR’s. I saw the Wide RS for the first time at Photokina 2010 although I understand the first version was launched in 2008. Since then I believe Cambo have made improvements by adding silicone grips to wheels that control the movements. When Charles came to my studio, it was perfect timing as I had arranged to shoot some images at the Trafford Centre in Manchester.”

“We took a series of shots for standard correction of verticals and then some to stitch a couple of shots together to see if the system could produce a wider panoramic like photograph, in both the horizontal & vertical. I was particularly impressed with the ease of use of the Wide RS, very quick to set-up, just take it out of the case bolt it to a tripod and your ready to take a picture! The 35mm XL Schneider lens supplied by Cambo for this test was excellent but the extreme outer edges of the image circle suffers with chromatic aberration and this area would not normally be used. The camera is compact and very well engineered. We used the RS levelling base which is a very inexpensive accessory (so Charles assures me!) that I’m told fits any of the Cambo ‘Wide’ architectural camera systems.”

“One of the things I wanted to test was horizontal & vertical image change. Even when the digital back was taken off and repositioned in the horizontal or vertical position, the image captured remained in perfect focus even with the lens wide open. Operating the camera was overall quite easy. The only difficulty I had was focusing with the lens bars in position, I’m given to under stand that the bars can be removed by the user and this would aid focusing. Even better, would be to have as an optional extra, a focus handle like the Hasselblad/Rollei cameras had in the 1970’s. This would improve the accuracy and speed of focus. As far as I can see, the distance markings around the focus ring are only a very rough guide and should only be used as such, this is often due to the sensor position changing between manufactures. If you need to use the markings you should shim your digital back, I did this with the Rollei 6008AF, it’s quite easy. It is often too dark to focus accurately on technical a cameras ground glass screen with the naked eye, especially when movements are applied. To focus accurately, Cambo produce a focusing loupe that aids focusing. I focused using Hasselblads live view; this is a little slower but very accurate. There are a couple of things I would like to see changed such as the horizontal shift marks to be viewable from the back of the camera. When the camera is on a tripod and above head height the side movement numbers can’t be seen (unless you have a box or a ladder to stand on) as they are positioned on top of the camera.

“The final images were built up of approximately 3, 6 or 9 images (not all images are shown) as we had various exposures & lighting conditions and we captured an area very much wider than the lens capability. Cropped down a little to clean the edges and a tweak to correct the chromatic aberration and we could have quite a usable shot. The photos with this test were just stitched together with no chromatic aberration correction or cropping made. No one wants to be mislead when buying equipment, so the photos are just as they came off the sensor with a little blending of tone and line, due to minor lens distortion. With the Cambo Wide RS and the now legendary Rodenstock 23mm lens, should almost eliminate the need for multi-stitching as in this test. This camera and lens combination should prove to be a real problem solver when photographing the interior and exterior of buildings. This is not a review of the product but simply my experience of using the equipment for the first time; I just wish I had this kit when I photographed the One New Change in London!” Philip Locker PhotoGraphicDesign.

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