Photographing Oregon with the Cambo WRS1050 and Phase IQ180

Lower Proxy Falls. Cambo WRS1050, Rodenstock HR40, IQ180.

Last week I took a whirlwind trip up to central Oregon and then back down the coast. I travelled just over 1700 miles in five days, photographing landscapes with a technical camera, the Cambo WRS1050 mated with a Phase One IQ180 medium format digital back.  I chose to limit myself to only one lens, the Rodenstock Digiron HR40mm with tilt shift lens panel, making this “my one-lens wonder.”  A technical camera is basically an incredible high quality machined piece of metal. There are no internal meters, no autofocus, or electronics or any kind, save for a small battery powered led attachment to see your camera settings in dimly lit situations, which I don’t think any one uses.  The primary attraction of a technical camera is the ability for movements allowing rise and fall and shift.  The Cambo allows tilt and swing on the lens panel. Mated with a high resolution medium format digital back and unsurpassed lens quality from Schneider and Rodenstock, a technical camera simply produces the absolute highest available image quality.  The above image was a bit difficult to capture as I was standing in running cold water with my tripod (think slippery rocks) wearing my hiking boots. (I kept my waders in the truck where they would be nice and dry).  By using a 5mm of rear fall and 5mm of shift I was able to compose the image as I saw fit. The water spray was pretty heavy and I knew I only had time for two exposures before the lens would become completely wet.

You can see how wet the camera, lens, and digital back got from the heavy waterfall spray.  I was completely soaked.  But the camera and IQ180 continued to work flawlessly.  I’ve read that the Pentax 645D medium format digital camera is exceptionally sealed from the elements, but frankly so is the IQ180.  Any more water or wet conditions and I just don’t think that is the type of weather conducive to great image making.  And at that point, I think the art of photography just isn’t fun anymore, although that might be me speaking from being firmly seated in middle-age. 

Moving further up the hiking trail is Upper Proxy Falls.  Though less imposing than Lower Proxy Falls, it remains exceptionally pretty with a lot less spray!  Although I like the green lush moss on the logs, I liked the below image in B&W, which will look exceptional when printed on the studio’s K7 B&W Piezography printer.

Upper Proxy B&W.

Being devoid of electronics and the Cambo analog viewfinder (I was not shooting tethered to a laptop) I was initially concerned about the ease with which to compose on location. There are various phone apps available for Apple’s iPhone and even special phone attachments for technical cameras.  But not for Droid users. The optional attachments for iPhone are very expensive.  So being a Droid user, I cobbled together my own viewfinder of sorts for a whopping total of $9.88 including postage. The app I use is compatible for Droid and sufficient though not nearly as functional or complete as Apple specific app offerings.  Setting up the Cambo is actually quite easy (to me) and enjoyable, and I’ve actually found myself not using my redneck viewfinder but rarely.  It’s actually more useful in quickly determining the appropriate lens focal length to use.

I was surprised to learn that Oregon is home to the most covered bridges on the West coast, which I thought was mostly an East coast attraction.

Goodpastor Bridge. Cambo, HR40, IQ180.

Overall I really enjoyed using the Cambo WRS1050. It reminded me much of the days shooting with my old Graflex Speed Graphic, though this time outfitted with a medium format digital back.  Although the Cambo is a great landscape camera, I also see it as a valuable addition as for architectural assignments.  It is much lighter and easer to travel with than my Phase DF and lenses or any 35mm based DSLR system.  I look forward to using the Cambo WRS1050 on my upcoming trip to Canada.  You can see more of my landscape work at the studio or at my landscape website,  For questions or further information, please contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel or at (831) 626-1844.  Ken


7 Responses to “Photographing Oregon with the Cambo WRS1050 and Phase IQ180”

  1. The images are great – but then I knew they would be.

  2. Beautiful camera and lovely work. Im not sure id get my camera that wet but you know your gear. Keep up the wonderful blog. Cheers Steve

  3. Ken, stunning work, stunning camera! That’s a trip I really want to take so thanks for the inspiration. I’ve got a camera this wet in some truly wild Scottish weather but it was a weather-sealed Canon 1DsIII. The 5DII stopped working. Very glad to hear that the IQ carried on working – I think I’d probably use an umbrella if it was getting that crazy. I salute your courage!

  4. Hi Ken, lovely images!! And am so glad to see the WRS1050 in action, I just got one and about to begin my MF journey. Having come from the 4×5 film days and passed through the 35mm digital, I am really looking forward to this new adventure!! Thank you once again for sharing the process you go through!! Regards, Harshan

  5. […] and IQ180. Go down to the second photo (camera) and click on the image for a closer look. See, Photographing Oregon with the Cambo WRS1050 and Phase IQ180 | Kendoophotography's Blog […]

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