Linhof Technika for Portraits

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Bokeh Guy, Nov 17, 2009.

  1. Bokeh Guy

    Bokeh Guy Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I've got the new equipment bug and thought of taking a dive at 4x5. Does anyone use a Linhof Technika for portraits? If so, how is it? I ran across a guy on Flickr who uses one and I really like his results. He emailed me and said that, out of all his equipment including Rolleis, the last camera he'd give up would be his Linhof.
     
  2. Venchka

    Venchka Member

    Messages:
    692
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I was gifted a Technika V a couple months ago. Mine is missing the cams for the rangefinder and the optical finder. I could see how the Linhof would be nice for portraits if.................

    You have a working rangefinder for a 150mm or longer lens.
    You have the matching optical finder.
    A rollfilm back would be a nice bonus.

    On the other hand, Frank Petronio makes lovely portaits with a Crown Graphic.
     
  3. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    A Technika is great for portraits if you have a cammed lens, because you can check focus using the rangefinder with a sheet of film ready to shoot--or six sheets using Grafmatics.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2009
  4. Ulrich Drolshagen

    Ulrich Drolshagen Subscriber

    Messages:
    535
    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2005
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
  5. msage

    msage Subscriber

    Messages:
    299
    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2003
    Location:
    Washington State
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use my Technika for portraits all the time, but I don't hand hold it and use ground glass focusing.
    Michael
     
  6. eddym

    eddym Member

    Messages:
    1,927
    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2006
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used mine with 180mm cammed lens and MF viewer. Works great; I do use it on a tripod though, because it ain't no lightweight!
     
  7. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use it both handheld and on a tripod. There is no reason not to use the rangefinder to check focus when you've got a moving subject, even when the camera is on a tripod.
     
  8. boilerdoc

    boilerdoc Member

    Messages:
    21
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2004
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    it's a superb camera for portraits, either handheld (a monopod is a big help) or on the tripod. I take it to various festivals and want to try nudes next.....
    I used the 180 or 270 tele with the cam for focussing. Works great!
    Steve
     
  9. Bokeh Guy

    Bokeh Guy Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Here's a question. I have a Rolleiflex Tele that I've used some and it works (and is cool, etc.), but I'm wondering if I trade it in for a Linhof. I have a 2.8F and I could be wrong on this, but sounds like the Linhof would give me a little more flexibility with portraits (I'm talking lenses). Any thoughts?
     
  10. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    It's a bit of a different style of shooting. On a Technika, you either focus on the groundglass view-camera style, and there's some delay after focusing before you close the shutter, stop down the lens, put in the filmholder, pull the darkslide, and make the exposure, or you can compose on the groundglass, load the filmholder and pull the darkslide, check focus with the rangefinder, then check framing in the viewfinder before making the exposure. It's not a single-window rangefinder-viewfinder, so you can make more dynamic portraits than you can with a view camera that doesn't have a rangefinder, but not as dynamic as you can with an SLR or TLR, where you can focus and compose right up to the instant of exposure.

    You have more flexibility in terms of lenses with a Technika than with a fixed-lens camera, but for portraiture, you'll probably use mainly one lens anyway, possibly two, if you need a range for, say, tight headshots and full length group portraits. If you like the Rolleiflex, you could use a Tele-Rollei and a standard Rolleiflex and have the same flexibility with the ease of use of a TLR.

    Yet another option is something like a Graflex SLR, which would give you SLR composition and focusing with a large format negative, but if you're using strobes, I don't think you can have sync and the SLR functions at the same time (in their day, the options were open flash technique or FP flashbulbs that would burn over the full length of the focal plane shutter exposure).

    There is also the Gowlandflex, which is a 4x5" TLR that can be set up with interchangeable lenses. There were also 5x7" and even a half dozen 8x10" models, but most of these are 4x5". This will work with strobes. Normally they are set up with a shutterless viewing lens matched to a shuttered taking lens, and there is a cam dedicated to the focal length of the lenses that adjusts for parallax as you focus. It is possible to change lenses on these cameras, but I'm not sure it's easy to do.
     
  11. Bokeh Guy

    Bokeh Guy Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    David,

    Thanks for the response. I guess what I'm thinking is that since I have a regular Rolleiflex, the Technika would add more flexibility than a tele does. I haven't tried one out, but I'm thinking that the slower process and bigger negative might be a evolutionary switch. With the Technika, I'd be able to get as close as I want, right?
     
  12. cowanw

    cowanw Member

    Messages:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Hamilton, On
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Your closeness will be determined by the length of the bellows and the focal length of your lens ( and true tele lens or not), not by what you want. The design of bellows cameras create a large practical difference in the ability of the camera to get close compared to your rolle or 35mm cameras. That said, if you are talking head shots, no problem. Ground glass viewing has been used for more than 150 years for portraiture and the 4X5 image is great but difference from medium format or 35mm.
     
  13. Bokeh Guy

    Bokeh Guy Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Bill, appreciate your input. If there is a stellar lens you could recommend I'd appreciate that too. I've read some on the Rodenstock 240mm APO and the 180mm Macro.
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    A Technika has a triple-extension bellows (17.5 inches, if I remember correctly), so you can get as close as you want and then some with any kind of lens you would be likely to use for portraits, but bear in mind that rangefinder focus only goes so close, depending on the focal length. I think it's about 3 feet with a 150mm lens and about 5 feet with a 360mm lens, offhand. The cams are usually ground to be accurate at closer distances than the official specs, but once you focus beyond the point at which the cam follower is tracking the cam, you're out of rangefinder range.

    Closer than that and you need to use groundglass focusing, but there are techniques to make that easier for portraits. When I'm shooting 8x10" portraits or otherwise shooting large format with groundglass focusing, I usually tie a string to a stable place on the tripod with a knot placed so that the subject can hold it taught to his/her nose while I focus, usually on the near eye (not on the end of the string). Then I can set the shutter and aperture, insert the film and remove the darkslide and recheck focus with the string just before making the exposure. Even with very narrow depth of field, this is very accurate.

    Another method is to use a sliding back, so you have a groundglass on one side and a filmholder on the other and can switch between them quickly.

    Another approach that works well with studio lighting and a seated subject is to look closely at the shadows on the face when focusing, like where the end of the nose shadow falls on the upper lip, and then be sure the head is positioned in the same way when making the exposure, and most of the time, the subject will be in focus.
     
  16. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Regarding lenses, I'd look for a modern 210mm lens (something made since the 1970s) from one of the major manufacturers, if you want something that is a good focal length for portraits and that can be cammed. 240mm lenses tend to be designed really for 8x10", so there is way more excess coverage than you need for 4x5", meaning they'll require more shading to reduce flare, and they are larger and heavier than you need for your purposes.
     
  17. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,341
    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2005
    Location:
    Dearborn,Mic
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I happily gave up my Linhof Technika; for handheld portraits, a Leica flat kills it. A Tele-Rollei beats it ten ways to Sunday. For tripod portraits, a Crown Graphic is its equal, unless you've gone to the remarkable expense to have accurately cammed lenses for the Linhof. And if you are somehow into using swings and tilts for a portrait, a Technical camera really is a hard way to do it.

    (Nomex) Linhofs are perfect and affordable and wonderful. I am a heathen barbarian, and after shooting mine every day for 20 years, realized I could live without it. But that is just me.(/Nomex)

    Maybe you could KEEP THE FLIPPIN' ROLLEI for a while, and get a nice Crown with couple lenses and play with it ?

    WARNING: the further you live from NYC / Munich the more difficult it is to buy/repair Linhof stuff. Also, the further you live from 1974, the more difficult it is to get all the fiddly pieces that make Linhof shooting rewarding.
     
  18. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    Martin Arndt (Marflex--authorized US Linhof service) actually moved down to North Carolina a few years ago, so even if you are in New York, you've got to ship the camera for service.
     
  19. cowanw

    cowanw Member

    Messages:
    1,303
    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2006
    Location:
    Hamilton, On
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    I use a 10 inch tele raptar in a rapax shutter. Just crappy enough to be an ok portrait lens and doesn't stick so far out you are waving the camera around like one of the 3 stooges and not too much money. For more money and effect a 250 mm Imagon in shutter, which are cheaper now than they were.
    But I never use the rangefinder, prefering to compose on the ground glass as befits a large format.
    For the rangefinder experience I use medium format, Contax 645.
    Either way wysiwyg. I wonder if the close up Linhof rangefinder view is also, or is there a parallax error.
     
  20. jimgalli

    jimgalli Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,571
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Tonopah Neva
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    My post is predictable. Your handle predicts that eventually you'll want to shoot old and older glass that has the lovely bokeh and different personality profiles. Why not get a Speed Graphic with the focal plane shutter. 1/1000th second is much faster than you'll ever get with modern shutters. Wade through some of my web pages and you may be hooked. Barrel lenses are a lot of fun.
     
  21. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

    Messages:
    18,005
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2002
    Location:
    Honolulu, Ha
    Shooter:
    Large Format
    The viewfinder is separate from the rangefinder, so you have to move the camera slightly between focusing and composing when shooting rangefinder style. The zoom finders, old and new style, are parallax correcting, but the range is generally the same as the official range of the rangefinder cams.

    Soft focus lenses are usable on a Technika, but might require some gymnastics to fit on the small lensboard, and it doesn't make sense to use them with the rangefinder, because you need to see the effect on the groundglass, and where you decide to focus is a matter of taste. Linhof won't cam an Imagon, for instance. I also find classic lenses more interesting on formats that I contact print, so I've got an 11.5" Verito that I use sometimes on my 4x5" Technika, but I have the 14" Verito, 36 cm Heliar, and 10" Petzval set up mainly for 8x10" and 11x14".
     
  22. Bruce A Cahn

    Bruce A Cahn Member

    Messages:
    43
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2009
    Location:
    NYC
    Shooter:
    8x10 Format
    I used my Master Technika for portraits and loved the results. Unfortunately the (current) viewfinder was not totally accurate so after the initial delight of hand holding, I settled for ground glass focusing. This will not be a problem for everyone. I am very picky about exact framing and usually keep to my no cropping rule. Now I use an 8x10 or 5x7 Ebony for portraits, and once in a while a 6x7, 6x6, 35mm or digital. There is no problem holding the Linhof for long exposures if you have the grip. I would hold the grip with my left hand and hold the right front of the camera with my right, which was then in a perfect place to trip the shutter. 1/4 second was very possible, sometimes 1/2. Now that I am older and shakier, I use a tripod for almost everything.
     
  23. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    It's a good camera or portraits because it can be either a view camera for static shooting, or a rangefinder/viewfinder camera for more active shooting, and they can be cammed for many lenses, unlike a Graphic, which can only be set for one lens at a time (though later Speeds do use cams). You also have the option of shooting 4x5, 6x9, 6x7, and 6x6. They are well made. They are heavy. A monopod might help at times. You can get them in medium format versions, and also in 5x7 versions.

    In all honesty, I think a Super Speed would be just as good for this purpose, and will be cheaper and I assume significantly lighter...though I have never actually weighed a Super Speed.
     
  24. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I will trade you one of my Linhof III (version four) kits for it! :D Each kit has three original cammed lenses (one is 90, 150, 240, and the other is 90, 150, 360). It would make a nice complement to my Rollei Wide, which I lucked upon at a local thrift shop in near-mint condition.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 19, 2009
  25. Bokeh Guy

    Bokeh Guy Member

    Messages:
    42
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for all the comments. While I understand that it can be used as a rangefinder, I'm actually looking at it more for tripod portraits - up close, etc. I have the Leicas and Rolleis for handhelds, but was admiring more than a few Linhof portraits on the web. I've been asked to display some work in a gallery in February and the Leica portraits, while good, aren't up to snuff on size.

    2F/2F - thanks for the offer, but I've decided to keep the tele. I have a Leica R system that I've decided to sell off, if possible, to finance the Linhof if I buy one.
     
  26. Venchka

    Venchka Member

    Messages:
    692
    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2006
    Shooter:
    35mm
    There's nothing that I can see that makes the Linhof any better/worse for ground glass use for portraits. I haven't had it long, but it's just a light tight box for holding a lens and film. Heavy sucker too. That doesn't matter on a tripod. The only thing the Technika V has that my $100 Speed Graphic doesn't have (for portraits) is longer bellows. OOPS, the rotating back too. The Speed counters that shortcoming with the focal plane shutter. Neither is perfect.