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Silvestri wide angle shift cameras for landscape and architectural photography

Several companies make beautifully machined wide angle shift cameras. The best selection of models is available from Silvestri, a well known camera manufacturer in Italy.

Silvestri wide angle camera
Silvestri wide angle camera at PhotoPlus Trade Show '02

Alternatives would be Cambo Wide or Gottschalt Kameramanufactur. All three can be seen at Photokina trade show every two years.

Cambo Wide is a model we tried. Probably we were too spoiled by having full tilts and swings of a Linhof, Wisner, or the two Cambo Ultima 4x5 cameras that we have.

Unfortunately we do not have direct experience with a Silvestri. Obtaining European cameras from their American distributors is generally not easy so we never had a Silvestri to try out, nor a Gottchalt. European companies do not seem to understand that a true and honest review has to be on-going more than a weekend try out. We have the Cambo Ultima under test for three years so can document exactly how it holds up to real world usage out on location as well as in the studio.

The advantage of a shift camera over a full-featured 4x5 or medium format is that the film plane can't get off kilter. The Linhof TechniKardan is sort of sloppy and things don't really align as well as you would expect from such a renowned German brand (I have the early model, circa 1990's; perhaps the replacement model is more rigid).

A camera that is off kilter means some part of your image will be poorly focused.

But all that aside, the Silvestri, Cambo Wide, and Gottschalt are highly specialized cameras. We recommend you try one out and make sure this is what you need. There must be a market, and a need, since Silvestri in particular has developed an entire company around this kind of camera.

We are not familiar with any web site for Gottschalt Kameramanufactur nor any distributor in the US. Not a word on any other web site that we could find.

With sophisticated equipment of this class it is best to stay with a reputable dealer. The camera company we have experience with is Calumet Photographic. contact scott.price@calumetphoto.com, tel 312 944 2777 ext 2202, fax 312 944 4035


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