Comparing Sinar X and Sinar P2 large format 4x5 with Cambo Ultima 4x5.

What is the best camera to use for professional digital photography? Sinar Bron is sending a 4x5 Sinar X camera to FLAAR for review by Nicholas Hellmuth. Very impressive camera. Unfortunately the particular one they sent for review was a used demo model. It was already worn, arrived damaged, and we noticed that the internal gears were not in good condition. Not a good ad for Swiss craftsmanship.

The camera was shipped from Sinar and was put on duty photographing Maya art and antiquities in Guatemala, Central America. Schneider sent some digital lenses from Germany to test as well.

Sinar P45 digital camera reviewsSinar 4x5 camera reviews and evaluations

The two close-up photographs above picture what makes the Sinar one of the great studio cameras: stability, Swiss-precision, heavy-duty, industrial-strength equipment (when you buy them new). These dials are what makes the Sinar light-years ahead of any Linhof or most other 4x5 cameras. These dials allow you to adjust the movements to any position you can imagine, and hence achieve pinpoint accuracy.

Is it hard to use a professional 4x5 of this class? Since this is a demo unit it arrived with no instruction book whatsoever, not a single page.

Samples by Sinar 4x5 digital cameraI have never touched a Sinar camera before in my life, nor ever had a photography course. Yet I was taking professional quality photographs within about 20 minutes. So whether you are an an advanced amateur, or aspire to reach this level; whether you are a student, or a professional studio photographer, you can certainly have a Sinar up and running in less than half an hour.

The photo at the left is a quickie digital snapshot using a Better Light prototype scan back on the Sinar X. This is one of the few, possibly only, stone sculptures known from the 6th century Tiquisate civilization of pre-Columbian Guatemala. If an archaeologist with no training can take this kind of photograph 20 minutes after taking the Sinar out of the shipping crate, if you are a photography student or pro, you can do much better.

In March 2003 it was possible to test a Sinar p2 camera at the University of Malta (Malta Centre for Restoration). This was a brand new camera and naturally in perfect condition (compared with the used demo we had previously). The Sinar is the Rolls Royce of 4x5 cameras, other than the new German model that is motorized. But the German 4x5 camera probably won't appear again until Photokina 2004. I have not seen this camera at PMA or PhotoPlus tradeshows: only at Photokina 2002. All the important camera and inkjet printing equipment at Photokina is described in the FLAAR report on that tradeshow.

We are curious to test the Sinar p2 with one of the Sinarback medium format digital backs. So far we have only evaluated medium format backs on a Hasselblad, which lacks tilts and swings.

Sinar P45 4x5 digital camera
Dr. Nicholas Hellmuth at the Malta Centre for Restoration trying out the BetterLight scan back in a brand new Sinar p2 4x5 camera. The University of Malta completely upgraded its equipment and Prof Hellmuth trained all the staff photographers.


last updated July 3, 2003.
P previously updated Aug 5, 2001