Cambo Actus - A Very Tiny Little-View Camera

Cambo Actus - A Very Tiny Little-View Camera

You may remember back in June when Austin Rogers posted the press release about the upcoming Cambo Actus, a view camera designed to work with mirrorless cameras.  Well, it's finally here and the gang over at Capture Integration have put it through it's paces.

Think a very miniaturized version of an X2 Pro, with a more conventional view camera shape but an incredibly tiny footprint. Literally more like a very tiny little view camera. - Steve Hendrix, Sales Manager

The Actus has mount options for Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fuji, and Micro 4/3, plus the ability to use a variety of lenses from Hasselblad, Mamiya, Schneider, Rodenstock, etc., which attach with a new "sliding fork" design. One thing that caught my eye is the ability to buy different adapter plates for various cameras aside from whatever mount you buy with the Actus, in the event you own more than one you'd like to use with this little guy. Capture Integration has bundles available for the Actus with the Sony A7R (on sale until Aug 31st). While the folks at CI agree that a camera like the Sony A7R isn't an 80 megapixel beast, it's still a considerable amount of pixels, especially when paired with a camera capable of the shift and tilt/swing movements of the Actus. 

Cambo Actus

Image used with permission from Capture Integration

The camera is offered in two color options, black and titanium, and weighs just over 2 pounds. It has a magenetic bellows (yep, magnetic) and provides 20mm of horizontal rear shift, and 12mm/15mm of rise and fall. The camera also has 22 degrees of front tilt, all mounted on an Arca Swiss style base rail.

If you perform any product photography at all, how can you go on living without adding this shot expander to your arsenal?

Focusing isn't done through the DSLR, instead you have two methods for dialing in focus, a sliding rail-based rear standard focus for bringing things into range, and a fine focus knob for precision focus. As a product photographer, I've been a fan of the Cambo Ultima system for years, but I think this could be a pretty sweet little camera for shooting jewelry and other small table top products in lieu of setting up my much larger PhaseOne system. I actually use my Micro 4/3 Olympus OM-D more often than people might expect. These cameras and lenses produce some amazing image quality and have allowed me to eliminate DSLRs from my lineup completely. That's not to say it isn't a great camera for DSLR owners as well, by adding the ability to turn just about any lens into a tilt/shift lens, you aren't limited to the few focal lengths of Nikon, Canon, or other manufacturers. I haven't had the opportunity to get my hands on one personally yet, so for now check out the full test and review over on the Capture Integration website along with some pretty impressive test images.

[Via Capture Integration]

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Nick Fisher's picture

Any one else lost on how this works or exactly what it does?

Jayson Carey's picture

It would have helped immensely if they showed the picture of it in use:

Steve Hendrix's picture

Hi Jayson - If you'd like to see a more descriptive photo, let us know! There are 2 images that show it in a "user" environment - one is a (sort of tongue in cheek) image of me hand holding an Actus, another further down, shows the Actus mounted on a camera stand in our studio loft.

Jayson Carey's picture

I read the article on CI and the images work great there. The confusion is just in this article. The two images here are somewhat abstract, especially since they are missing key components with which the camera operates.

Tony Roslund's picture

Jayson, thanks for the feedback. I'll be sure to use either additional images or more concise images in my future posts. Sorry if it confused anyone, hopefully reading the full post over at CI will help clear things up.

Richard Cave's picture

now I get it, thank you

Orkun Orcan's picture

I purchased X2-Pro 1,5 years ago. When I was mailing with Cambo directly they didn't tell me this system doesn't work well with all sensors. They should tell me this at the beginning.The results were terrible and pathetic! I have 1ds mark III and couldn't use it once. I used Linhof all my life. I thought this will give the same results and quality. Unfotunately not. I paid 2000Euro, I am ready to sell it 1000Euro(Brand new)! This system is as same as TS lenses. Don't make experimental things and risky, useless investments. Go and buy TS lenses. Don't be cheated like me.

Nathan Hamler's picture

The problem with this system is that because you're increasing the registration distance (back of lens to the sensor), you're pretty limited on what lenses you can use.....also, you're paring THAT, with smaller sensors than what you would NORMALLY see on a view camera, your FOV decreases....These two things, to me, add up to a VERY limited system....i could POSSIBLY see using this with a mirrorless full frame camera, like the A7 Series....micro 4/3 would limit your lens choices b/c of the crop factor, and forget using Nikon or Canon full frame DSLR's...the increase in registration distance would basically mean either macro only, or you're gonna be using medium or large format glass (which are designed for longer registration distances).....but then your focal lengths are longer have fun shooting at 150mm or more....YES, i get the concept...and YES i get there are possible uses, but seriously, for the price of this, plus a compatible lens, just go buy a proper tilt shift lens....

Steve Hendrix's picture

Yes, depending on which lenses you choose to utilize, this is a limited system in terms of FOV compared to a fixed plane camera system. Ultra wide won't be an option, but with a mirror-less body like the Sony A7R, for moderate wide to telephoto, those options are available for infinity focusing. For large format lenses, 32mm and longer are options (with some shift limitations), and any medium format lenses should focus to infinity. This is the big difference between the X2 Pro and the Actus. The X2 Pro had mounts for 35mm DSLR & Mamiya 645, all of which had mirrorboxes, which limited the focal length options to 70mm or longer on LF lenses - still useful for a lot of table top photography. You could buy 2-4 Hasselblad, RZ, Rodenstock, lenses, etc, for the price of 1 Canon/Nikon tilt shift lens.

Orkun Orcan's picture

The reason is not focusing distance or etc. The results were on my screen looks like 70's Polaroid technology. Cambo factory recommended me Rodenstock 80mm_f_4_APO_Rodagon_N before I buy, I paid 840$ for the lens from BHphoto. When the results were terrible, I send them an email. They said the reason is, they don't have option to test all camera models according to sensor technologies.Everyday a new model is coming. X2 pro works well in some cameras and some not. Your camera might be the one of these !!! They should tell this before I purchase. This is not fair. They earned 2000Euro but spoiling,harming their reputation. My suggest is, who ever interested to buy this camera go and test it your self, don't ask anyone and believe to test results before you buy.Don't believe sellers.You are the end users!

Steve Hendrix's picture

I'm sorry to disagree with you, but the results are a combination of the camera/sensor and the lens. If you put a high resolving lens on the X2 Pro with a Canon 1DS-MKIII, you will get sharp images. It is no different than putting a high resolving Canon lens on the 1DS body. We have not tested the Rodagon 80mm, but we did use the Grandagon 75mm in our testing and were impressed with the results, considering we used a Sony A7R, which has smaller photosites than the Canon 1DS-MK III.

Orkun Orcan's picture

Invest 2000euros for x2 and 850$for lens then please make comment. I am sharing my test and disappointing. As I said before the system may work with A7R but didnt work with mark III 1ds, as Cambo factory told me after they sold! I suggest people to make a test shooting before they purchase any cambo product. Don't be cheated like me by the manufacturer.

Ralph Hightower's picture

I bought a used Canon Auto Bellows for use on my Canon film cameras (A-1, F-1N) for macrophotography. It would be neat if Canon had tilt/shift to the bellows, but the capabilities for macrophotography is great.