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Using the Nikon D800 with Cambo X2 Pro and medium format lenses

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This guest post is by Laurent Thion who shares his experiences using the Nikon D800 with Cambo X2 Pro and medium format lenses (click on images for larger view).

D800 is now a great alternative to MF for studio. Nikon propose 3 Tilt and Shift lenses: 24, 45 an 85mm. The electric connection permit to use them at full aperture and with all exposure mode if the lens is not too shifted or tilted. But some movements are not allowed : tilt and shift are possible only in perpendicular direction (or parallel after transformation by specialist) and the tilt and shift range is limited.

How to use MF lenses with D800 ?

Many MF lenses have a very good resolving capabilities and all have a big image circle. And sometime, theses lenses are not used for many years collecting dust in the cupboard... Cambo X2 pro ($1,699.00) is a great solution to use MF lenses with D800. The tilt and shift precision screws are dedicated for DSLR and work very fine. Sometime, it's possible to attach DSLR on a 4x5' MF body but movements are not too fine for a small digital captor (but work great for la large film).

Cambo X2 pro is composed of 4 pieces - from left to right:

  • main support with two precisions screws for tilt and shift
  • universal body support
  • lens support (here with Schneider Digitar apo 90mm)
  • bellow (with Nikon mount)

How to assemble theses elements?

First, fix the main element on a big tripod and head:

then attach the lens:

the bellow:

and the D800 (in landscape or portrait position):

 

Tilt and shift capability

It's possible to shift + or - 17,5mm from center in two axes:

  

It's possible to tilt + or - 20° in two axes:

  

It's very easy to change between landscape and portrait mode:

 

There is just a small problem with CF/SD door on landscape position only. It's not possible to extract memory cards because the door cannot fully open.

But if the door is open before using in landscape mode, it's possible to extract the memory card:

The best solution is to use D800 with USB connection and Camera Control - it's easier to focus, tilt and shift on a big screen with Live View. In this case, no memory card is required:

Shooting

You can see here some samples taken with different lenses :

  • Schneider Kreuznach apo digitar 90mm f/4.5

  

  • Mamiya Sekor 127mm f/3.5

  • Carl Zeiss Planar 80mm f/2.8:

  • Schneider Kreuznach apo digitar 28mm f/2.8

Cambo X2-PRO specifications

Compatibility is available for DSLR cameras:

  • from Canon: 1D/1Ds-series, 5D-series, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 7D
  • from Nikon:  D4, D3, D3x, D2x, D200, D300, D700 and  the new D800
  • from Fujifilm: S3/S2 and the S5
  • from Mamiya: Mamiya AFd and ZD

The X2-PRO camera is suitable for use with Schneider ApoDigitars 28, 72, 80, 90, 100, 120 and 150; for the Rodenstock ApoSironar Digital 90, 105, 135 and 150. The body is also usable in combination with the following lens adapters: Hasselblad CF lens adapter for use of Hasselblad CF lenses Mamiya 645Pro lens adapter for use of Mamiya 645 Pro lenses Mamiya RB/RZ lens adapter for use of Mamiya RB or RZ lenses. For more information visit http://www.cambo.com. The price of the X2-PRO is $1,699.00.

Thank to Alain Quintin / MMF

© Text and photos : Laurent Thion

This entry was posted in Nikon D800, [NR] Reviews and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • bip

    Cool stuff. How much does one of these set cost?

    • djm

      The Cambo X2 costs a fraction of the price of even one of the lenses :(

    • Jac

      Who cares…yaaaawwwwwn.

      • Ads

        obviously you do to read this post and to response…. yaaaaaaaaawwwwwwwwnnnnn…….

  • Opinion…

    I would very much like one but I couldn’t justify its price.

    • http://www.kirkandtreens.com Kirk & Treens

      hmmm, I think I’ll give this one a miss too. I’ll keep saving for the Nikkor 6mm f2.8 Fisheye instead.

  • djm

    It looks like there is a fair distance from the body to the lens – does this limit the maximum subject distance? I.e. can you focus to infinity with this arrangement?

    • big old camera fan

      I’d expect most lenses designed for medium format SLRs to focus to infinity with this device. The last image above looks like the camera mount nestles quite neatly up against the lens mount and the bellows are large enough to keep out the way.

      Some lens designs – especially the Zeiss Biogon type, had a short throw to the film plane, otherwise the Distagon type of retrofocus wide angle lenses of should be OK.

      In the first picture above, the Schneider 28mm (top right, nearest to the D800 shutter button) is fastened to an ashtray-shaped lens plate, which will recess the lens and get it the right distance from the sensor. It looks like the guys at Cambo have already thought about infinity focusing.

      Also on the last pic, the camera mount is labelled “Canon 1D” so for each camera they’ve got different versions to match the sensor plane to the distance scale on the focusing rail and you can switch the camera mounts with a quick release lever. That’s really thoughtful of them, so you can replicate the same settings with different camera bodies.

      I want one of these ! Resurrecting my big old MF lenses and a laptop for large format Live View. It’ll be lots easier to handle than the old Linhof.

  • kevin buehler

    Check out the Mirex tilt-shift adapters.

    http://www.mirex-adapter.de/tilt_shift_adapter.htm

    I’ve used these on both Sony and Canon cameras. This offers a similar size alternative to the Canon/Nikon tilt-shift lenses. It is about $500 for the Mirex adapter. The Mamiya 645 lenses are very inexpensive except for the 24mm f/4 fisheye (look at KEH and ebay).

    http://www.keh.com/Camera/format-Medium-Format/system-Mamiya-645-Manual-Focus/category-Fixed-Focal-Length-Lenses?s=1&bcode=MS&ccode=6&cc=55953&r=WG&f

    • ariliquin

      Do they do a Nikon mount? Not seen one advertised.

      • Roger

        Maybe for Pentax 6×7.

      • Discontinued

        They do Nikon mount via T2, already fitted and adjusted.

        @kevin buehler,

        thanx for the link. Didn’t know mirex. Now I do and just in time, too. Recently I was considering to sell all my V-System HB-equipment. My 50, 80 and 150mm might come to a new use instead.

        • Discontinued

          @kevin buehler again,

          on 2nd thought. NO, thank you not! Now I am going to spend money and piling up even more stuff instead of selling some. YOU and mirex are the devil.

    • bert

      How does that one tilt? Can’t see it.

    • Sahaja

      The Myrex adapters only seem to work with M42, Canon EOS, Sony – Minolta, and Pentax K mount. For Hasselblad lenses only M42. I guess the Nikon flange focal length distance is too long to fit the adapter.

      Something like the Mylex adapter or the Cambo X2 would be great on a full frame mirrorless camera that had live view – if only someone would only make one.

    • tengris

      > Check out the Mirex tilt-shift adapters.
      > The Myrex adapters only seem to work with …

      The combination Mamiya M645 or Pentax 645 lens on Nikon camera is not supported by a Mirex Shift/Tilt Adapter. A Shift-only Adapter is available for M645. Shift and Tilt for Nikon is only possible with the Hasselblad Adapter (Hasselblad 6×6, H series and any other lens witout aperture ring is not supported). A Pentax 67 or Pentaconsix adapter would be possible, but is not offerd by Mirex. Stacking of the P645 T/S adapter with a P67->P645 adapter should work, but not for Nikon mount.

      I never checked the Cambo, but I would expect less tilting capabilities with an adapted M645 Sekor than with a PC-E Nikkor for non-macro use.

      > I guess the Nikon flange focal length distance is too long to fit the adapter.

      Yes and no. For 645 lenses on Nikon mount the distance is very limited / too limeted for tilt movements with any adaption, if it comes close to infinity. Hasselblad V, Pentacon, Kiev, Pentax 67 lenses give more room to move.

      > The Mamiya 645 lenses are very inexpensive …

      I have / had most M645 primes from 24mm Fisheye to 500mm telephoto. Due to insufficient support for a valueable digiback I have to use them on film only. The sharpest lens by far on the M645super / proTL is the AIs Micro Nikkor 105mm f/2.8, which I adapted for macro use. All this fine other 80s lenses will not push a 20 megapixel digiback to the limits. So the camera that makes perfect sense with these lenses is the D700. D800 captures will be larger in size, but not sharper in resolution.

      > very inexpensive except for the 24mm f/4 fisheye …

      Nice to read, should I ever sell mine.

      • tengris

        > Shift and Tilt for Nikon is only possible with the Hasselblad Adapter (Hasselblad 6×6, H series and any other lens witout aperture ring is not supported).

        Well, that’s possibly ambigous. Should better be

        “Shift and Tilt for Nikon is only possible with the Hasselblad Adapter (for Hasselblad V 6×6 lenses). Hasselblad H series and any other lens without aperture ring is not supported.”

  • earthrokk

    This is cool that you can retrofit MF lenses to a D800. Whats amazing is that the D800 Sensor actually is out resolving the entire Nikon Lens library. Wow!

    • Nitpicker

      Is it? I shoot it with the current 60mm f2.8 Macro stopped down to 5.6 or 8 in the Studio – it looks pretty much perfect @ 100%, quite similar to the Hasselblad H3D-II 31 fitted with a 150mm f3.2 Macro stopped down to 5.6 which I shot in the past.

      Honest question; is there MORE resolution to be captured with higher perfoming glass? Hard to imagine…..

  • Vin

    great post! I was just looking this up last week! thank you NR, now I know what to do with my 300mm’s, 210mm, 175mm, 150mm,>>>>>………

  • MysterF

    Can this be used with the old EL lenses?
    The image circle is big…and they are sharp.
    Has anybody done it before or at least thought about it??

    • Ken Elliott

      I have. I use a Lecia-Thread-Mount-To -F-Mount adapter on a Nikon PB-4 Bellows. You get tilt/shift and infinity focus on the longer lenses. Works pretty good.

      • MysterF

        Thanks! I’ll try

  • Tony

    The problem with these setups (for me) is that I would most use such an arrangement at wider angles, and that requires mondo super wide angle larger format lenses. I doubt there is a reasonable alternative to the 24 PC-E.

  • inginerul

    The other lenses are great, a little CA here and there, but the Schneider-Kreuznach lenses are astonishing. Perfect optics, as far as I am concerned.

  • Mark

    How does this handle the leaf shutters of the lens? Does the synch stay at 1/250s?

    • Bob

      Not sure about the all of the MF lenses (the 645 mamiya’s are all I’ve used, and they weren’t the leaf shutter variety), but almost all LF lenses (inc the Scheider and Fujinon I have) have a feature (slide, lock) to hold open the shutter for focusing on ground glass.

  • PM

    It’s nice for micro photography indeed, but just don’t expect anything like 35mm resolution from medium format lenses! Even the excellent Zeiss T* lenses of my Hasselblad are clearly outperformed by my Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4 or even the old f/1.8. But remember that it’s not all about resolution in photography, certainly not in portret photography, I really appreciate the not too harsh, delicate contrast of my Zeiss lenses. But don’t compare them with the current AF-S Nikon primes, you’ll be pretty disappointed.

  • PM

    Not surprisingly, large format lenses perform far worse than 35mm or medium format lenses on a D800. I remember comparing my Sinaron-S and Sinaron Digital lenses with the Zeiss T* lenses and my classic Nikon 100mm f/4.0 Ais on a D200. The Sinaron lenses were not even nearly as sharp as the Zeiss T* lenses, even the Sinaron Digital apochromat. The Nikon 100mm f/4.0 Ais was certainly sharper than any of the Zeiss lenses, but on a D200 the difference was not stunning. On a D7000 though, which has about the same pixel density as my D800E, you’ll notice that the sharpness of the Nikon 100mm f/4.0 is really awesome, and the Zeiss is simply good. Considering that these Zeiss lenses were designed a few decaded ago for a classic medium format camera I have to admit that their resolution is still impressive. But coatings have improved a lot during this decade, the contrast of current Hasselblad H or Nikon primes is certainly better.

  • Don

    Very impressive sensor performance.

  • bigeater

    This would be great for real estate photography, studio work, even some landscapes. Maybe the pixel-level resolution isn’t as sensational as with modern Nikkors, but resolution and sharpness and all that is an overrated commodity.
    And it’s a much cheaper solution than $20,000 medium-format back when you need serious tilting and shifting abilities because when you need them, there’s no substitute.

  • Vin

    I am not sure this is the ultimate in achieving the sharpest photography, but in my mind it shows that there is still a huge hole left in digital photography that is somewhere in between DSLR’s & large format field view cameras.

  • Ariliquin

    I would love something like this for my D800E, but after buying camera not much left with to play. Really want to see results of a lens like the Schneider Digitar 90mm on this camera.

    Think it would be better though if the back shifted, not the lens.

  • Ken Elliott

    This makes sense with a medium format camera, like a Phase One 180, but I’m not so sure most medium format lenses are up to the task of such a dense sensor like the D800. I use a Nikon PB4 bellows and it has tilt/shift at a fraction of the price. I know my 4×5 lenses are no match for a modern Nikon lens.

  • Ross

    $1700 piece of metal which is most likely produced by Chinese slaves for $5 ? It’s insane.

  • http://AdairCreativeGroup.com Ron Adair

    Grrrr….why flash? Are there any non-flash versions for viewing larger?

    • http://flickr.com/inthemist InTheMist

      Grrr…
      “ERROR:
      iPhone / iPad Version not available!”

  • Rob

    Does this mean you can sync the flash with higher shutter speeds?

  • Eric

    I like my lensbaby and the 85mm optic

  • 103david

    Nobody ever heard of PhotoShop to correct perspective? Jeez people, get a clue. Truth is, larger format lenses actually have a LOWER resolution than Fx/Dx sensors. The only reason to do this would be for perspective control and, c’mon, nobody has done optical perspective conrol since Jesus was still a 2nd Lt.

    • Bert

      If you take a look at the samples, the hard drive, the money, the tool, you can’t make that without optical tilt. And tilt of a Lensbaby is not the same.
      I prefer the 85mm PCE any time though. Tilt AND Shift is a less important combination (PS can take care of the shift), and the 85 mm PCE is so dead EASY to operate, it makes it much more versatile. I make half the shots with it from the hand! It is totally suitable for that.

    • Zlik

      I would like to know how you do the tilt with photoshop ?

      • BartyL

        Shoot for maxium DOF, then selectively blur.

        The method doesn’t work for focal lengths and / or subject distances where the DOF is inherently shallow. You can make a sharp image a bit sharper, but you can’t sharpen blur AFAIK.

        • bert

          That is if you use TILT the WRONG HIPSTAFUCKINGLENSBABYMATIC way: to create extra blur. If you use it what it was originally intended for, rotate the focus plane to get EVERYTHING sharp, then you won’t come far with your alternative.

          • http://www.seanmolin.com Sean Molin

            Wrong way? Hardly. It’s an artistic choice. Just as many people use it “the wrong way” as do for the “right way.”

            But yes, Photoshop absolutely cannot replicate the method of extended depth of field by shifting the plane of focus.

            • Bert

              For the other way, there is a 100$ Lensbaby. Don’t waste 1600$ on a PCE for that choice.

            • Bert

              For that “artistic choice”, you should not be in this topic at all. If you are interested in Cambo, you’re not after Fake Miniatures.

            • Graham

              Yes it can if you use stitched multiple images to extend dof (although you’d be nuts to use Photo$hop for stitching).

          • Ren Kockwell

            I agree. And while we’re at it, fuck the microwave oven, too. That was originally intended to be a magnetron weapon during WWII. Duh, the original use is SOOO much better.

    • Muscovy

      How is burning pixels by cropping and stretching in photoshop better than burning pixels with a lower resolution lens.

  • ThaDr

    Arax has even cheaper solutions, though no tilt AND shift.
    http://araxfoto.com/accessories/tilt/
    http://araxfoto.com/accessories/hassel_adapter/

    It can accept either pentacon-six or hasselblad lenses, I had the pentacon-six adapter + a carl-zeiss 50mm f/4 lens- I shot some cool pics with my old D40, but on the D700 the amount of DoF isolation you can get is even stronger. 8 degrees is not so much and for macro photography it won’t be enough, but for cool outdoor projects it can really work out well. Complete 360 degree rotation, and much cheaper too, ~110 euro for the adapter, ~80 euro for the lens.
    Although I didn’t use it too much (it got stolen in a burglary), this is a reasonable pic shot with the D40 + arax adapter + zeiss 50mm f/4.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/arjen_van_doorn/5388311653/

  • Chimphappyhour

    Just avoid shooting in areas with dust in them or get ready to clean your sensor early and often.

  • IsaacImage.com

    Great article !!!
    Tanx

    Very nice early pre s.n 144.ooo Selmer Mk Six ;)

  • silliness

    I’m working on an article about using a D800 with a Globe SP25 commercial mixer ($3200 US) to make sandwiches.

    • Ren Kockwell

      LOL.

  • Pumpi

    There´s also another Swiss company with a solution

    http://www.sinar.ch/produkte/kameras/233-sinar-p-slr

  • tonyc
  • roberto

    i need some help pls ….. i bought a nikon 85mm 1.4g from uk and the serial number in the box doesn’t start with ” n o ” all my ather 7 lenses boxes start with no xxxxxx. i ve sean on ebay serial numeber replacement for nikon . is my lens fake? also wide open its hard to focus and its slower than my 50mm 1.4g and all most sharp as my 105 macro at 2.8g

  • http://ronscubadiver.wordpress.com Ron Scubadiver

    I wonder if this is really better than using Nikon’s TS lenses, or doing fixes in software for that matter?

  • Vin

    The Sinar with the digital back looks really good. But at $10,000 with back it is still very expensive.

    it seems best to get the best possible image files on location before having to manipulate on the computer. You can always rework later.

  • Vin

    I just wonder if you had a 30X30mm sensor if you could bring the price down on view camera backs and make the whole system smaller and lighter, & still be effective. ??

  • DaveyJ

    I strongly suggest anyone contemplating using MF lens for the D800 try them before you buy.
    The resolving power of MF glass is usually inferior to 35 mm Nikkor glass. I should know. I owned many of them and did comparative tests and kicked MF to the curb. I owned more $$ in large format lens and MF than I care to discuss any further. The single camera I had the most respect for on a practical basis was the Fuji GX 617, I owned the whole system. I even convinced Fuji to make longer lens panels available. But TRY any lens before you buy it. I may get a D800 myself. I sure won’t even try ti MF lens myself now. Been there, done that. I will also say that shift, tilts, and swings work better on larger formats than they do on 35mm. In my opinion.

  • MikeyBiker

    Very interesting… Now I have a new DIY project.
    My Horseman and Nikkor 4×5 setup might have a digital future!
    First step: Redefine ‘tabletop’ from kitchen size to full sheet of maple plywood, since the tethered laptop, lights, etc. will need generous acreage.
    Big advantage? Instant gratification/feedback and NO stinkin wet darkroom.
    Big fun. thanks.

  • Vin

    With view camera photography, bigger was always considered better. I still have my 5X7 & 8X10, and an 8X10 enlarger. The size of the film had a direct relationship to the image. 300mm=300mm image circle. But now we live in the digital age, our film is now sensors, everything is much smaller. It does seem the to have good DOF there does have to be a 35mm + size lens in order to achieve good results. Or to achieve F64 infinity focus we also have parameters. My question to you all is, guess or not where does this size of sensor lay. FF, 6cmX6cm. 4X5.? It seems that all of the large format sensors have great limitations. So where is the resiprosity failure?

  • troll

    I always wanted to get a picture of a hard disk drive and a wrench tool. This sounds like the cheapest solution.

  • Colin

    The second sentence has me confused: “Nikon propose 3 Tilt and Shift lenses: 24, 45 an 85mm.” Is this a reference to the existing series of Nikon t/s lenses or is nikon proposing an updated series? (This site did show a patent submission for a 17mm t/s — wish that were coming soon.)

    I have been very close to buying the existing nikon 24mm tilt shift for my d800 despite a few problems (flash conflicts with knob rotation, a bit of fringing, etc.). The fact that these three sizes already exist has me thinking the author is referring to the existing lenses; but the word “Propose” has me confused. Anyone have insights?

  • Helge Mruck

    Thank you for a very instructive article, Laurent. I found it very useful – at the higher education institution where I work, we have a lot of medium format and large format cameras and lenses, and this would allow us to utilise them in a digital context.

    For the trolls – I’ve spent three years photographing hard disk drives, bath room mats, exit signs – you name it. Catalogue photography requires images to be of very high technical quality (to aid recognition), and you would be amazed at the amount of money put into (and made in) catalogue photography.

  • Helge Mruck

    Thank you very much for an instructive article, Laurent. In the higher education institution where I work, we’ve got a lot of medium format and large format lenses, and the Cambo X2 Pro looks like it would allow us to utilise these in a digital context. Apart from that, it’s interesting to see the image quality achievable with the D800.

    For the trolls: There are people out there, who earn their living by taking photographs of products, and in that field of photography, image quality has to be as close to perfect as possible. I spent three years photographing lawn mowers, t-shirts, bathroom rugs and exit signs. While it sounds boring, it’s a technical challenge that trains you to be in complete control of camera and light. And the resulting images pay for the (admittedly expensive) kit. Professional kit costs more, and only makes sense if you’re a professional, i.e. you’re earning money with this kit.

  • Mikael Risedal

    As some already mention, the lenses used from a MF or larger camera has not the resolution / surface area or contrast as a dedicated lens calculated for a 24x36mm film or sensor

  • García Andrés

    will this work with the Apo digitar 35mm as well? thank you very much for this useful review!

  • mark french

    Thanks for the post.
    Don’t want to be negative but this article kind of doesn’t give much information about the relative merits using this system as opposed to using the PCE lenses by Nikon. A comparison of images taken with each would have been far better and informative.

  • CajunNSC

    Nice. I’ve owned a D800 for the past year, it’s the best DSLR I’ve ever owned. The samples you posted are nice, I am able to get equally tight, clear and detailed shots hand held, without any issues at all. Yes, it is always a good idea to use your tripod for shots such as these, and I often do, but the D800 and a decent lens and you can get equally nice results hand held, provided you know what you’re doing! Look the gear, nice stuff!

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