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Author Topic: Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus  (Read 1034 times)

Michael Erlewine

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Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus
« on: March 11, 2017, 04:17:25 AM »

Well, with the Fuji GFX out of the picture for me, what else can I wait for? After all, I have been waiting for Nikon to update the D810 for a long time already, so I can continue doing  that. And, of course, I can wait for Sony to come out with a more-megapixel version of the A7Rii series. That waiting alone should keep me busy.

Meanwhile, perhaps folks missed my remark that the GFX would make an excellent digital back for the various technical cameras, since we are not talking about trying to adapt Nikon-mount lenses to the GFX, but rather using large-format and the various exotic industrial lenses as they were meant to be used. So, I am busy working on that.

I have too many bellows systems floating around here, so I have sold off at least one, and am working on selling another. I guess I am tired of the 15-20 lb. technical cameras, even for studio use. However, I am very much enamored with the Cambo Actus, which (if you have not had a chance to get your hands on one) is built with the same finish and perfection (IMO) as the stuff we get from Really Right Stuff. And, I know, the Cambo Actus does not do everything its big brother and sister technical cameras do, but it does enough for what I usually need and it can go anywhere... easily.

I had bugged Cambo to provide a rear-camera plate for the Pentax K1 for their Actus and was in line to get the first copy, when my experiments with the remarkable Pentax pixel-shift technology bottomed-out and proved (for my work) nice, but not useful enough. Close, but no cigar.

And I have been clamoring for a Fuji GFX mount for the Cambo Actus, and was in line to receive that for the Actus, when I determined, as mentioned, that mounting Nikon F-Mount lenses on the GFX was not producing the quality I was looking for.

However, in supporting the Fuji GFX, Cambo redesigned their Actus camera and fixed what was for me my main complaint, that the rear-standard required you physically to unscrew (with teeny screws) the camera mount to replace it with another. This is not something I would do in the field. I can hardly see the screws.

So, they have addressed this rear-standard camera mount-exchange problem by reworking the rear standard so that we can now change camera mounts in seconds. In the process, they have also added a new geared option to control the rear-standard shift, and added a little height to the whole rig. Aside from doing excellent work, Cambo is also very responsive.

In addition to the new Cambo upgrade, I have ordered and will soon receive a long rail of 300mm, along with a matching bellows. I originally ordered their 450mm bellows/rail but was told that unless you use it vertically (or was it vice-versa) the bellows could sag, which would not be helpful. So, for now, a 300mm rail/bellows on the Cambo Actus will allow me to play with a variety of exotic industrial lenses, ones that shine with a long bellows.

I already have a good handful of easily removable lens plates for the front standard of the Actus, including Nikon F-Mount, Copal #1, Copal #1, M39, and so on, so I should be all set for some time. Now, if spring would just come around the corner.

Here is a photo that Steve Hendrix of Capture Integration sent me that shows how the Cambo Actus is being modified, for those interested. You can see where the camera plates now easily attach/detach, plus the new geared knob for controlling shift on the rear standard (the front already has one). And, I see they have added bubble-levels, which my copy does not have. And levels are mandatory, but I usually use the ones on my Arca-Swiss C1 Cube tripod head for that.

Anyway, that is what I am working with while I wait for some camera (that I like) with just a few more megapixels.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2017, 04:24:34 AM by Michael Erlewine »
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Michael Erlewine
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BobDavid

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Re: Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus
« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2017, 09:29:05 PM »

The Actus is a nice piece of kit. I use it with an A7r and an Oly E-M5 II with pixel shift for copy work. I use M39 enlarger lenses. For my style of shooting, flat field lenses are perfect.
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ynp

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Re: Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2017, 05:02:47 PM »

The Actus is a nice piece of kit. I use it with an A7r and an Oly E-M5 II with pixel shift for copy work. I use M39 enlarger lenses. For my style of shooting, flat field lenses are perfect.
Bob,

Very interesting that you are using your Olympus with pixel shift for copy work.

My Sinar kit was stolen and I am curious if the Olympus can substitute the Sinar 54H multi-shot. My output size is usually A3 for the catalogues. We stopped doing full size reproductions.

Thanks,
Yevgeny
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BobDavid

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Re: Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus
« Reply #3 on: March 14, 2017, 01:32:41 AM »

Bob,

Very interesting that you are using your Olympus with pixel shift for copy work.

My Sinar kit was stolen and I am curious if the Olympus can substitute the Sinar 54H multi-shot. My output size is usually A3 for the catalogues. We stopped doing full size reproductions.

Thanks,
Yevgeny

The quality from the Oly is about, not quite, as good as the Hasselblad CF 39 MS back I once owned. The Oly/Actus setup works well with high-end enlarger lenses. I use either a WA 60 f/4 Rodenstock Rodagon or a Rodenstock APO 80 f/4 N. The E-M1 II chip has more resolution than the E-M5 II that I use. Of course the Sinar 54H is legendary for its 16-shot captures. However, I hardly ever used 16-shot mode when I began my business with a Hasselblad Ixpress 384 C. It took too much time to fire off 16 exposures, and I wasn't willing to abuse my strobes.

The Olympus 75mm f/1.8 is extremely sharp, perhaps a tad better than the ELs. The problem with that lens is that it's not practical for a copy stand setup. The Oly 12-40mm f/2.8 works surprisingly well.

Since retiring, I only use my copy stand setup for archiving family photos, slides, and documents. I have some art photography ideas that I will be exploring later on.
« Last Edit: March 14, 2017, 01:49:33 AM by BobDavid »
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ynp

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Re: Back to the Future: The Upgraded Cambo Actus
« Reply #4 on: March 14, 2017, 02:26:15 AM »

Thank you very much for your detailed advice.
Yevgeny
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