Adapting 4x5 lenses for Mamiya RB67

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Fluorsynapse, Sep 27, 2009.

  1. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    I have recently acquired an older RB67 set without any lens longer than 90mm. I already have a 4x5 Technika with a 380mm Wollensak that should work adequately on the RB67, but could use some suggestions on how to acquire or make a lens mount adaptor.
     
  2. Jeff Searust

    Jeff Searust Member

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    The first order of business is to buy a lens that you can take the glass out of and use as a shutter. -- I have a Rodenstock 200mm mounted in a Mamiya 180mm shutter.

    The other thing is that I have taken the front off a Mamiya RB and mounted it to a 4x5 lensboard so I can use the Mamiya lenses on the 4x5. This is actually the more often done camera bashing, and I believe there is a website that describes how to do it.

    Mamiya Lenses are really cheap up to the 250 or so. So you might just want to acquire a couple to play with.
     
  3. John Koehrer

    John Koehrer Subscriber

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    Think in terms of film plane to Nodal point of the lens.
    Possible to use an extension tube to start. If you're not using telephoto designs you're going to have a reallllly long tube out there.
    Easiest out wold most likely be the Telephoto.
     
  4. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    I think you're really passing up some seriously awesome lenses if you try to mount an LF lens on there. The mamiya 210, in particular, is spec-freaking-tacular. Frankly, you'd be better thinking about this the other way around: using the rb lenses on 4x5 for closeups. They are superb and have oodles of coverage. 4 or 5 oodles, in fact.

    Most non-tele LF lenses are going to require too much bellows draw for routine use on an rb. I did once mount a nikkor 360 tele on my rb, just for kicks, but it was no better than a cheap-as-dirt old 360mm mamiya lens. I did eventually sell my mamiya 360 just because I rarely used it, but I know that there are plenty of fine used samples out there.

    If you absolutely must mount an LF lens on there because you really like the look or whatever, then just get the extension tube set with caps, get an extra cap, drill a hole in there, and off you go. But why not just mount an rb rollfilm back on your LF camera.... Remember there is a 6x8 back for the rb and I think a Chinese company (shelro) makes or made adapters; in any case an adapter would be easy to cook up, or you could just get a 6x9 back...
     
  5. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    Thanks very much for the suggestions. Perhaps I could make this project easier by adding some technical details. The 380mm is a short tele design (1960s) with a large older-style leaf shutter (all in super condition), a rear element small enough to fit easily within the RB67 lens mount, and a 77mm diameter front element/filter size (like my RB lenses).

    I definitely plan to find used Mamiya lenses asap (when affordable), but I already have the Wollensak, which should make a decent stopgap. On another occasion I hoped to acquire opinions on the several longer RB lenses I do not yet have, but welcome advise on this subject also.

    My Technika III has a 6x9 roll film back, but a deficient viewfinder for framing. Composing upside down (under a black cloth) on the ground glass with a magnifier, then replacing the glass back with the film back, etc is really awkward (for me at least), and I was never able to find a reflex hood for the Technika. So, in my case the RB67's remarkable reflex viewers still evoke wonder... Plus, the older 4x5 lenses seem very good optically, and deserve more use than they have received.

    If I read your initial suggestions properly so far (correct at will), my best shot should be to attach the tele lens to a sawed off extension tube, adjusting the position of the cut to achieve infinity focus at minimum bellows extension?

    I also was hoping eventually to get around to using Mamiya lenses on the Technika, to employ its lens and back movements, but presently only have a 50mm and a 90 mm, the latter not hugely different from the very good 135mm Schneider lens it already has. I was also unaware RB67 lenses had adequate "coverage" for much use of lens and back movements, and so do appreciate your insights.
     
  6. manfromh

    manfromh Member

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    So what does the shooting process look like? After focusing, you first press the shutter release on the body, to get the mirror out of the way and then press the shutter release on the lens? Or is there a better way?

    I ordered a RB67 without a lens from KEH, and was planning on using a 10.5cm apotar from a folder until I can afford a Mamiya lens.
     
  7. thisismyname09

    thisismyname09 Member

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    Mamiya makes a double cable release for the rb67 to make using the mirror lock up easier. I assume you could buy one of those, attach the first cable to the shutter on the body, then the second on the lens's shutter. That way, when you push the shutter, the mirror goes up, followed by the shutter on the lens firing soon after. Seems easier than having to use both shutters.
     
  8. manfromh

    manfromh Member

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    Thanks! I'll look into that!
     
  9. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    I am following up recent suggestions about RB lenses and backs that would be more practical than trying to use LF gear with the RB67, and suggested uses of RB lenses on LF cameras.

    These lead to more questions, like (a) where one can actually find 6x8 and 6x9 RB backs at moderate prices, (b) whether medium and 'long' RB lenses like the 250mm can be used as high resolution macro versions with extenstion tubes etc, and (c) how RB shutters can be controlled by cable releases after their placement on conventional LF lensboards?
     
  10. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Your resource on the last question is Erie Patsellis, a member here. Do a search and you will see how he did it. But basically, if you want to keep it simple you could simply cock the rb lens, leave the shutter open, and hand shutter... particularly when doing macro, your exposures will typically be quite long anyway so in practice I find that a shutter isn't needed. But anyway search around here and you will see how Erie did it.

    As for the other questions, (a) KEH, but the 6x8 backs are indeed pricier than the 6x7s, esp. the older ones; n.b. there are no 6x9 rb backs. And (b) yes, sure, you can get excellent results with these lenses via extension tubes, but note however that Mamiya does offer lenses with floating element designs that will offer better corner resolution at close focus. But for medium format macro, honestly I am not sure the 'macro' lenses are really all they're cracked up to be, in terms of practical usage, because one often stops down to f/22 or beyond when doing macro, just out of necessity. (The only way to get out of that is to use a view camera for macro and try to introduce more DOF effectively via movements) So... I am not sure that a dedicated macro lens at f/22 is going to be meaningfully better than a non-macro design at f/22 at close focus... and like many rb users, I use whatever the heck for macro, from the 37mm fisheye to the 360. No problems getting the results I want. That the camera bellows focuses is a very nice feature for closeup/macro.
     
  11. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    Following the line of reasoning above, which suggested using MF Mamiya lenses as macrofocus options for 4x5, is it also plausible to use macro lenses designed for 35mm (which I have) for close focus/high magnification exposures on an RB67? The same rationale of increased coverage at close focus seems plausible, and the absence of shutters should again not be relevant, as suggested above for long exposure times, if lens mount adaptors exist? The same question could also extend to inexpensive enlarger/printing lenses, which have reportedly been employed successfully on 4x5 cameras.
     
  12. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    I am following up on the logic of recent posts advising the use of RB67 lenses on 4x5 view cameras at close focus/high image magnifications. Does this reflect a general principle that lens coverage expands substantially at close focus distances? If so, it would also suggest that other inexpensive lenses like macro versions for 35mm format, or enlarging lenses, could likewise be used for macro exposure work on MF cameras like the RB67. I have previously heard of enlarging lenses being used on 4x5 cameras, and previous posts explained that the absence of internal shutters is no real impediment, because of the long exposure times required.
     
  13. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    N.B. Last post is unnecessary duplication, because previous message appeared to have been lost in transmission, but appeared later to have succeedes. Moderater should delete either one, since I do not yet know how to do this.
     
  14. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Yes, absolutely. Damn near anything will cover LF if your bellows draw is long enough i.e. if you work at high enough magnification. Whether these smaller format lenses will be optimized for such high mag work, now that is another story; typically one reverses the smaller format lens (or enlarger lens) to do macro on the larger format.

    I recall Per Volquartz doing some of his LF macro work with a little Nikon SLR lens. The main practical issue is the working distance... it may not be much!

    Again, my experience is that any rb lens is pretty good for macro... from the fisheye through the longies. You will want an extension tube set. In fact, with an extension tube and the fisheye, I have done shots in which the lens is physically touching the subject. Just go nuts and experiment.
     
  15. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    I plan to do that once I can acquire the new gear. My understanding has been that lens reversal is required for "normal" lenses, since they are asymmetrical, and optimised for long lens-subject distances on their front end. Reversal provides the same features for use in macro focus. Symmetrical lens designs used in LF (Symmar etc) and many "macro" designs supposedly avoid this problem. Since I have a very good 35mm macro already, my question was mainly directed at whether there are lens mount adaptors to us 35mm macros on the Mamiya system, since I have never seen one advertised.
     
  16. epatsellis

    epatsellis Member

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    You can make one easily enough, start with a 90mm lens less elements, and add a mounting flange, Nikkor's stop down unless the lever in engaged, so simple as pie. Keith brings up a far better option however, Mamiya's RB lenses are sadly underestimated in terms of performance. I believe Keith referred to my crazy experiments, this being the culmination:

    [​IMG]

    Mounting the lens isnt' terribly hard, the rotating back only marginally harder. I built this for a specific project that needed movements. The key to firing the Mamiya lens is the mirror lock up function, when released in MLU mode, the shutter closes, aperture stops down and then relies on the cable release cocentric with the MLU control to fire the shutter.

    If you want 6x9, easy enough, just find a Graflex RH holder, they work quite well and with some modification of the rotating back (opening up the hole with a file) can be usable on the RB, without any of the interlocks of course.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 3, 2009
  17. rthomas

    rthomas Subscriber

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    This is something I'd like to try. I have a ~100mm lens that came off an old Ernemann Bob II folder - with a frozen shutter - that I'd like to try using for "vintage look" portraits on my RB.
     
  18. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    My first urge here is to thank Kieth Williams and Erie Patsellis for their patience and advice to those of us less experienced in their domains with LF and MF cameras. I am merely a novice with these issues, but have already noted a striking familiarity in these informal discussion groups (forums), where this and other threads repeatedly wander through similar issues, sometimes with contradictory advice. For someone with my background (formal science) these discussions are of sufficient sophistication to benefit from the kinds of formalism that earlier evolved within (what are now) specific "scientific disciplines."

    Have your senior APUG contributors considered forming something like an online "APUG Journal" with editors, peer reviewers and an online "library" of technical literature on subjects that keep cropping up in multiple discussions?

    Erie's technical adaptations (noted above) are essentially "inventions" that should be documented with diagrams and photos (for newbies, as begun here), and posted as downloadable pdf files that can be referenced by detailed citations (E. Patellis, APUG J., 2:1-10, 2009; or whatever). This would eliminate the need to rummage through cyberspace, only to find that his website currently cannot download to one's browser (as had happened for me here).

    With people coming to "serious" photography from so many different backgrounds, many just now discovering the advantages of "film," and particularly its larger formats, such organization would greatly facilitate their transition to newer advanced subjects that have not already been explained repeatedly in earlier discussions.

    To return to the current thread, detailed advice about creating 6x9 (or even 6x8) film backs for the RB and related MF cameras would be a big help, since these (rare or nonexisting items) are for many the only realistic LF options under current conditions. Most readers will, however, be even less familiar with the (suggested) "Graflex RH holder" and where to acquire such exotica.

    Also, most recent recruits into MF will have come from backgrounds with smaller format cameras, and would thus welcome explanations of how their existing gear (macro lenses, bellows, extension tubes etc) might also function (occasionally) with the amazing MF or LF cameras they have just "discovered." This leads to the mostly unfamiliar zone of "lens mount adapters" on MF cameras for assorted 35mm gear. Someone should commissison/write/edit a review article...?
     
  19. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    Thanks, and...

    Yes, this is a good idea, and there are a few options. I am working on one option as we speak, but being a full time researcher-teacher myself, it's happening very gradually!
     
  20. Fluorsynapse

    Fluorsynapse Member

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    After digging around online I have found some options that could impose less strain on the patience of regular APUG contributors, and perhaps not endanger Kieth's prospects for acquiring tenure. Existing APUG forums already offer a separate category of "Articles>how to>" that could function as semi-permanent reference points for future inquiries about hybrid LF/MF equipment modifications, so each does not have to be treated as a "new" subject in regular fora.

    One possibility would be for Elie Patsellis to (a) flesh out his widely cited work on adapting RB67 lenses to conventional press/view MF and LF lensboards, (b) include some advide on how to make their shutters cock and fire with conventional cable releases, (c) get feedback from experienced reviewers like Kieth (and others?), and then (d) upload this to the APUG site. This article would thus remain available long term, even if his personal website (continues to) have technical problems.

    Another obvious subject (mentioned very briefly above) would be modifications of various available (6x8 and 6x9) roll film backs for use on RB series and other MF cameras, where standard manufactured versions are either non-existant or exceedingly hard to find at affordable rates. One obvious modification (not discussed so far) could be a conversion of widely available polaroid film backs (now seldom used) into 6x8 roll film backs, if this is feasible.