The “convertible” camera …

. . . for insurance when you buy it,

… for flexibility when you use it.

by Carl Koch,

SINAR information
SINAR information

SINAR Information No .13 and 14 dealt with the important approaches to

Both directly concern practical view camera performance.

So does camera convertibility.

Professional photographers have to cope with every kind of client and every type of assign­ment. No two jobs are the same, or even alike. That calls for considerable creative as well as technical adaptability by the photographer. His photographic tool should logically match this flexibility.

SINAR information

This flexibility is particularly important for the applications of the view camera movements, i.e. for controlled photography. Take the available camera extension: This has to cover everything from interiors with extreme wideangle lenses to product shots with long focal lengths or even macrophotography. It has to cope with outdoor locations and travelling one day, interiors or studio shots the next. It must be equally capable of producing meticulous catalogue shot sequences on roll film, large-format transparencies and instant pictures. The focal length of the lens, the camera extension and image format may need constant switching.

SINAR information

So the requirements are quite involved. That also posed problems in designing the SINAR system. The modular assembly unit construction featured in the SINAR of 1948 proved an ideal solution -meanwhile adopted by all view cameras.

SINAR information

There are other requirements, too. Thus the camera must be easily portable. Yet a day later you may need precise micrometer drives for tricky adjustments on the rising front or swings and tilts. Or you may want to go freelance, but you have to watch your budget. Yet you obviously don’t want to block your scope of expansion. So the camera must equally be “expandable”.

SINAR information

You could certainly buy a special camera for each application. In the beginning that might even be cheaper -until you are faced with the need for an extended outfit. You then have to buy similar accessories several times over -not only confusing when you want to find a right item, but also costly.

SINAR information

SINAR information

The “convertible” camera

Hence a view camera should not just permit unlimited switching of extensions, formats and accessories. In addition –

the camera itself should be adaptable – i.e. convertible to any job in hand.

That is why the SINAR modular system is designed to make the camera standards freely interchangeable on the base rail. This important feature is responsible for much of the SINAR’S worldwide success.


The convertibility of the SINAR camera is based on this model range:

SINARf (=field)
SINARc (=combination)
SINARp (=perfection)

The cameras use the same base (a base rail, taking any number of extension rails), the same back, the same multi-purpose bellows, the same lens boards and the same accessory fittings. So when you switch to a more advanced model, you don’t have to acquire these parts afresh.

Let us have a closer look at the simple convertibility of the SINAR.

What does this convertibility mean in practice?

You just switch camera standards; everything else remains the same.

  • That way you don’t have to cope with model changes.
  • You no longer have to worry over which camera to buy. As it is convertible, you are insured for the future.
  • You can for instance start with the SINARf and adapt the camera’s versatility to increas­ing requirements.
  • Or you might keep the model p or c for more demanding work in the studio or for larger sizes and convert to the more portable lightweight SINARf for outdoor shots on location.
  • Even planning for a second camera later on is easier: you only have to buy the compo­nents you still lack, not the basics.
SINAR information

SINAR information

Nothing is superfluous

Standardised components mean that nothing is superfluous when you convert your camera.

Thus the multi-purpose standards (I and II) can, as their name implies, serve for many jobs. Without additional cost they become important system accessories. For instance:

They support the bellows hood. (And with an overall camera tilt the hood -mounted on the base rail -remains aligned with the camera axis.)

They hold mirrors for mirror tricks.

They become a fully adjustable subject stage for close-ups and macro shots and for copy­ing by reflected or transmitted light. (The multi-purpose standard II with its fine focusing drive is particularly suitable for this.)

They serve as a coupling piece and bellows support with long extensions beyond 40 cm or 16 inches.

And they support the binocular magnifier for more convenient ground glass screen viewing in the studio. (The screen appears brighter and your hands are free.) There is no end to the uses.

Convertible standards

The rear standard of the SINAR-p and -c is convertible, too.
Thus you can remove the format frame from the-standard bearer. That offers three further approaches to professional camera use:

  • Format changing
  • Large-format hand camera use
  • The universal SINAR photo system

again always with the same accessories

Format changing

Format changing is an essential aspect of view camera flexibility. One day you may have an as­signment calling for roll film, next day for large size sheet film or for instant picture photography with formats up to 8×10 inches. You can’t very well tell the client “can’t do it” -just because the camera won’t do it. Nor can you afford to run out and buy a new camera.
The picture sizes of the convertible SINAR cameras cover 12 formats from 4.5 x 6 cm (1 ¾ x 2¼ inches) up to 8×10 inches or 2ox25 cm. You simply switch the format frame of the SINAR-p or -c and not the whole standard. That’s the simpler, easier and cheaper way.
The removable format frame is also a simple and easy starting point of the hand camera.

SINAR information

SINAR information

The hand camera

SINAR information

Architecture or interiors or even landscapes without converging verticals: you could take them with a wide-angle lens on a large-format camera and crop the picture afterwards. The large format yields optimum detail resolution. Or you can do it hand-held with a light-weight camera: The SINAR-handy.

Conversion is simple: the removable 4×5 inch format frame of the SINAR-p or -c with the usual back becomes the camera “body”. On this you simply mount the special lens in a focusing mount. The accessories are again the same. The SINAR-handy covers eight picture formats with roll film, sheet film and instant picture -the latter also with economic film packs. (For more information see the SINAR-handy catalogue.)

The universal SINAR photo system

Copying jobs, special effects (for instance with mirrors or the bellows hood), close-ups and macrophotography of subjects by transillumination or reflected light frequently arise with medium-format and miniature cameras too. Again you just remove the SINAR-p (or -c) format frame and fit the camera support No. 519.21 to mount your single-lens reflex on the SINAR universal standard bearer. Now you can use the multiple precision micrometer drive adjustments. That way the convertible SINAR camera combines the large picture with medium and miniature formats to a comprehensive photographic system. Yet all you have to buy new is the support mentioned above. You extent the versatility of the SINAR outfit to a further important field.
Furthermore, the use of the SINAR camera as focusing bellows is insured even when using SINAR shutters and lenses.

The convertible camera idea adaptable to all practical requirements is a basic concept of the SINAR system. It provides a more efficient equipment outfit with greater versatility. In brief:
The convertible camera does more at less cost.

The inherent value of a view camera

At first glance, view cameras -even with these advantages -look very much alike. A closer expert look, however, reveals a different story.
Experienced practical photographers are concerned with the inherent value of a camera. That depends on specific features:

  • camera convertibility;
  • improved focusing control for better pictures;
  • and simplified operation for closer shooting concentration -as with your single-lens reflex.

To be honest, there is no such thing as an absolutely universal camera. But the convertible SINAR camera comes surprisingly close.

SINAR information
SINAR information
Copyright: SINAR LTD SCHAFFHAUSEN CH-8245 Feuerthalen / Switzerland