3 March, 2018
After nearly 18 months of transition, I have finally landed in the right place in terms of photographic gear with the Cambo Actus GFX. The advantages of the latest generation of digital sensors have been difficult to ignore. I haven't sold my Linhof 5x4 Technikardan (or indeed my 10x8) as I am sure a black and white project with these cameras will come later. But for most of my work going forward the dynamic range, colour and image quality offered by the GFX is excellent.
The Cambo Actus as a view camera was a revelation. There is a special version for the GFX that has a slightly longer focusing rail. It is small and light with a good range of movements: front tilt/swing, rear shift and rear rise and fall. Although I miss rear tilt (and its ability to create the LF looming foreground affect) this perspective adjustment is very easy to re-create in software (photoshop) and the weight advantage of not adding that movement is preferable. I have two bellows. The standard bellows is used for medium format lenses - all of them are mounted onto a Pentax 645 Cambo adapter. The long bellows is used for inner landscape/macro work using a Nikon 120mm macro large format lens sitting on a copal 0 Cambo adapter. With the ability to extend the length of the rail by rotating the front standard 180 degrees, I have not felt a lack of rail length in my work and the macro rail I bought to use with the camera remains unopened.
With the GFX set to MF ASSIST PEAK and the colour set to red low, it is easy to judge the degree of tilt required with the lens fully open as the image in the Electronic View Finder turns red in the areas of the picture that is close to being in focus. Once the tilt has been approximately set, it is simply a matter of using the focus magnifier to micro adjust the tilt until it is perfect. Compared to working with a traditional view camera ground glass and dark cloth, this procedure is a dream. All in all I am very happy with my setup.
So a couple of weekends ago, I took out the GFX Cambo Actus to Skipwith, which has been a perennial testing ground for me, to try out some more practice shots. I made a couple of images - practicing a large tilt with the 35mm Pentax 645 FA from a very low vantage point. The first saw me setting up at the edge of one of the pools of water that gather after heavy rain.
The second was an image I was particularly pleased with, working the foreground grasses into the composition. It has a pleasing relationship between foreground and background.