Looking for a 6x7/6x9 View Camera

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by brian steinberger, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    I'm looking for a smallish 6x7 or 6x9 roll film view camera. A RF on it would be nice, and an eye finder would be nice to eliminate need to a dark cloth. Basically I'd like a MF camera with movements.

    One that looks promising is the Horseman VH-R. The Fuji 6x8 looks too big.

    Suggestions? Recommendations?
     
  2. Oren Grad

    Oren Grad Subscriber

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    There are several 6x9 technical cameras with viewfinder or viewfinder+rangefinder that will fit the bill, but you should know that you can't use the viewfinder and also use movements at the same time - the viewfinders are fixed, and there's no way to see the effects of the movements. It's strictly GG for that.

    FWIW, I have a VH-R. The obvious use for the viewfinder is together with the rangefinder, to make pictures without using the GG and without having to swap the roll holder with the GG panel. But I've also found it helpful for making pictures at dusk, when the light is fading rapidly and the GG image is too dim to be able to see the whole image clearly even with a focusing hood. I'll do a spot check of focus on the GG, then use the optical finder for final adjustment of the composition.

    Beside the VH-R and its predecessors (Horseman ER-1, 985, 980, 970, etc.), the various models of the 2x3 Technika are the obvious alternative. A 2x3 Graphic or Busch Pressman could also work, but with those you can't have the rangefinder adjusted for more than one focal length at a time, and recalibrating is not something you can do on the fly. Also, movements are more limited than with the Horseman and Linhof technical cameras.
     
  3. eclarke

    eclarke Member

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    I have a 980 with three lenses and the electronic grip. It's very nice. I use the spring back and holders. Dan Lin had a VH-R for sale at a good price a couple weeks ago..
     
  4. Fotoguy20d

    Fotoguy20d Subscriber

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    Century Graphic is a light, cheap option. Bigger and heavier, but the Pacemaker Speed would also give you a focal plane shutter.

    Dan
     
  5. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Brian, here is a list, with discussion, of 2x3 view cameras: http://www.largeformatphotography.info/roundup2x3.html

    I have a 2x3 Cambo SC, also 2x3 Graphics (Century, Crown, Pacemaker Speed). If you want movements you want a real view camera, not a Graphic. The only useful movement my little Graphics have -- see http://www.largeformatphotography.i...estions/page2&highlight=2x3+graphic+movements -- is 19 mm of front rise, and as was pointed out in the discussion using much of it with a short lens requires some fairly easy surgery.

    I follow sales of 2x3 view cameras (2x3 Horseman technical cameras aren't view cameras so I ignore them) on eBay. Most go for very high prices, although a 2x3 Cambo SF and a couple of 2x3 Galvins recently went for not all that much. If cost matters to you, want to shoot 2x3 and must have movements, the best approach is probably to get a 4x5 view camera, a 2x3 roll holder that can be used with it, and put up with the bulk and weight. The cheapest option is probably a Calumet CC-401 with a Cambo/Calumet C2-n roll holder. Most C2 roll holders are 6x7s but there are 6x9s, be careful what you buy. Next less costly is probably a Cambo SC-2 with international (= Graflok) back and a Graflex roll holder that fits a 4x5 Graflok back; alternatively, an SC-2 with bail back and a C2-n. The downside of CC-401 and SC-2 for 2x3 is that using short lenses with these cameras isn't easy.
     
  6. Mainecoonmaniac

    Mainecoonmaniac Subscriber

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  7. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Thanks guys! I'm really leaning towards the Horseman. I checked out the Galvin but it seems by specs that the horseman has more movements than the Galvin. I'd like to do architecture with this camera. More exterior than interior. Will the Horseman provide enough movements to do basic interior architectural shots?
     
  8. ic-racer

    ic-racer Member

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    That seems odd. Where did you find the specs to the Galvin? The Horseman system's shortest lens is the 65mm, whereas the Gavin monorail system incorporated a bag bellows and likely can use lenses shorter than 65mm. There is a Wide Angle Galvin listed here for just under $400: http://www.igorcamera.com/large_format.htm (no relationship to seller).
     
  9. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Brian, I'm with ic. If nothing else, the Galvin allows indirect movements and Horseman technical cameras don't.

    You've shifted your requirements around enough to convince me that you don't really know what you need (as opposed to would like) to be able to do and that you don't understand view cameras very well. The best cure for the first is to get a view camera and learn to use it. Then you'll know what you need. The best cure for the second is reading. Steve Simmons' Using the View Camera or Leslie Stroebel's View Camera Techique are what you want. Get both.

    Your question, posed as "Here's what I think I want to do, what's the best camera?" has been asked many times. Even now getting a view camera and stepping up to LF (I know, you want roll film formats only) isn't a tiny investment to be made casually so people contemplating the move think very hard, badger old hands, agonize ... before buying. This is perfect normal. I'm not slamming you, I'm reminding you that your path is well-trodden.

    Nearly every beginner replaces its first view camera by the end of its first year. The only way to know what aspects of a view camera don't suit is to use it.

    No beginner believes this, every beginner thinks it is informed and self-aware enough not to blunder. We've all done the same. Though we knew what we were doing, blundered.

    So get something plausible that fits your budget, learn to use it, and then sell it to buy a camera that suits you.
     
  10. E. von Hoegh

    E. von Hoegh Member

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    "No beginner believes this, every beginner thinks it is informed and self-aware enough not to blunder. We've all done the same. Though we knew what we were doing, blundered".

    I bought my first camera about 1987, the next a year or so later. I still have and use them both.
     
  11. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    This is the review where I got the review about the Galvin. Compared the specs he said with the specs for the horseman. He doesn't make the Galvin sound that great. He questions build, and also flimsyness. The camera while easy to set up is tough to level. But it is lightweight. I too found it hard to believe that a technical camera would have more movements than a monorail.
     
  12. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Thanks Dan, but I know all about view cameras. I actually just sold my Wista 4x5 that I had for about 7 years. I'm starting to miss view camera work, mainly the movements for perspective in architecture, but don't miss loading film holders and being limited on shots. I enjoy medium format and am limited to printing that in my darkroom currently, all reasons for a MF view camera.

    What I was uncertain about is exactly how much movement I'd need to architecture, something I didn't shoot alot of with my 4x5. I did mostly landscapes, which used a tiny bit of tilt and maybe some rise here and there. I'm assuming interior architecture needs more movements than exterior? So would either the Galvin and Horseman offer enough movements for architecture? Thanks.
     
  13. Dan Fromm

    Dan Fromm Member

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    Brian, thanks for the patient explanation.

    Funny, I'm acquainted with Jeff Goggin, although we haven't communicated for years. Per Google, his e-mail address seems still to be audidudi@mindspring.com. Why don't you ask him whether he'd use a Galvin for your application? His review makes it sound iffy, also makes me regret that when I started thinking about moving to 2x3 (around 1988) I didn't get literature from Galvin. Back then it seemed too hard to set up consistently to be worth pursuing.

    BTW, www.cameraeccentric.com has a 2x3 Galvin brochure and a 1988 Horseman catalog.

    This http://www.ebay.ca/itm/CAMBO-SC-1-6...449316?pt=UK_Film_Cameras&hash=item5895820964 2x3 Cambo SC has been on offer off and on for the last year, you might ask the seller whether he still has it, also whether it has a bail or international back. Unfortunately the Super Cambo catalog on cameraeccentric doesn't report on movements. If you're seriously interested, I can take mine out and measure.
     
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  15. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    I don't know anything about them, really, but I know ebony makes a folding and a non folding version of a 6x9 or 6x12 camera. I'm not sure which it is.
     
  16. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    I bought a Galvin new from Jim Galvin soon after he began making them. Sold it some time later. Went in other directions. Many years after that, forgetting how imprecise and fiddly the Galvin was, I bought another one used. Sold it too when use reminded me of its shortcomings.

    Since my application is landscape, not architecture, and I don't "see" wide angle, I later bought a new Horseman VH. Still have and like it. But I wouldn't recommend it for architecture or with lenses shorter than 75mm -- unless you have one of the rare aftermarket recessed boards.

    If I were in your situation today I'd give serious consideration to this:


    Talk it over with Jeff at Badger; he's a straight shooter. Also, I'd track down one of the RB-67 power drive 6x8 backs. Really good film flatness and a convenient 9 frames per roll that fit in a single negative storage page.
     
  17. IanBb

    IanBb Member

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    I'm an architectural photographer using a 6x7cm view camera for exactly the same reasons the OP is looking for one. The problem is that with MF your technique needs to be absolutely spot on, which implies a precise and quite highly-engineered camera - and that isn't going to be cheap. There are quite a few "2x3" cameras out there, but very few are good enough to achieve reliable high-quality results.
    There are only two I would actually recommend -
    Arca-Swiss 6x9 (F or M series, depending on your preference)
    Linhof Technikardan 23s
    In either case, I would strongly recommend the addition of an Arca-Swiss binocular viewer, and the best and most modern analogue lenses you can get your hands on.
    I use a TK23, and after 15+ years I am very happy with it, but if buying now would be hard pushed to choose between either of these. Note, however, that neither of these at present are ideal for MF digital, which requires even more precision!
    Interestingly, I was so taken with my TK23 that I bought a TK45 a few years ago - but I sold it because it was much more cumbersome and I was not getting significantly better results.
    Please don't let anyone tell you that something old/cheap will do - the smaller the format, the less margin for errors there is in any part of your technique. A cheap 4x5 with older lenses and a rollfilm back can be a recipe for real heartache. And before somebody accuses me of it - that is not because my technique is in any way flawed!
    I hope that's useful.
     
  18. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    This is something I've been discovering the more I research medium format view cameras and it's rather interesting to me. So the designs of most LF lenses just aren't good enough to produce tact sharp results with roll film? Makes sense to me. Are certain lenses better than others? I do love sharp results. I'm a MF RF shooter now so I'm pretty much spoiled by sharp lenses. I remember when I used to use my 4x5 with a 6x9 film back the results were always un-impressive. Somewhat soft and it seemed disappointing to me. But I just assumed it was my lens which was a 135mm fujinon. Shouldn't the dedicated lenses made for the horseman VH-R perform well enough with that camera? I mean they were designed for 6x9.
     
  19. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    This camera looks interesting, and certainly affordable. Do you or anyone have experience with this camera? My fear with cheap wooden 4x5s is always flimsiness.
     
  20. Sal Santamaura

    Sal Santamaura Member

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    I don't, but can't recall anyone posting that their Shen Hao cameras were flimsy. The TFC-69A appears to be a well-made Ebony copy. Talk to Jeff about it, including what his return policy might be if you were to order one.

    Being limited to enlarging from medium format in my darkroom too (for now), I've been concentrating more on contact prints, mostly from 5x7 and whole plate negatives. You might wish to consider that approach. While you'd once again have to load/unload holders, I view the smaller number of available exposures as a good thing that encourages better seeing rather than a limitation. :smile:
     
  21. dlin

    dlin Member

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    Brian,
    If you intend to shoot in a style similar to your current rangefinder camera, your options are somewhat limited. You cannot make use of shift/rise, perspective, or focus plane adjustments through the rangefinder. A technical camera like the Horseman VH-R gives you an option of using the rangefinder to focus and compose quickly with the rollfilm back in place (i.e. you don't have to remove groundglass back and replace with the rollfilm back). For instances when you need critical composition and want to make use movements, you can use the groundglass. The range of movements available on the VH-R are really quite extensive, and would be limited in only extreme situations (extensive rise/shift). As you and others have noted, good technique is required to get optimal results, but when isn't this true?

    I haven't used Horseman lenses with the VH-R, although they are supposed to be decent. I've used Nikkor, Rodenstock and Schneider LF lenses with excellent results. You just need to make sure that the image circle for each lens covers the negative area with sufficient room for movements when you need to use them.

    Let me know if you have questions specific to the Horseman.

    Best,
    Daniel
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 15, 2012
  22. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Sal, that's funny you mention 5x7 and contact printing. I was actually considering this over the last few months as well. I never liked the 4x5 (or 8x10) ratio. Almost square. 5x7 is closer to the 6x4.5 format I'm used to shooting. And it is a large enough negative to contact print. I just think I would miss being able to enlarge. Of course there is always scanning and inkjet for larger, but not the same as tradition prints.
     
  23. brian steinberger

    brian steinberger Member

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    Thanks Daniel. I think I've given up on the RF idea as a selling point for a view camera for me. It seemed cool at first, almost like an added bonus but I don't think I'd ever actually use the camera like that. That's why I have my MF rangefinders! What I'm missing in my photography is perspective control. I'm been photographing more and more rustic arcitechture over the last few years and my Mamiya 6's only cut it when everything is perfectly level. Sometimes I can use my 50mm level and crop just the top horizontal portion of the negative. This is the same as a front rise. But for smoke stacks and tall buildings I have to resort to getting creative with distortion and convergance. It's getting old. :smile:

    I really like the idea of a MF view camera but also understand the limitations of lenses. Do you feel the Horseman is well enough for architecture? Generous front rise? Obviously if you used a lens for 4x5 on it then you would have plenty of image circle, but is there enough offered by the camera? Do you have an photos in your gallery taken with the VH-R?
     
  24. dlin

    dlin Member

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    Brian,

    The movements on the Horseman VH-R work best with slightly longer lenses, e.g. 90mm and above, due to the clamshell design of the camera. Monorail cameras with dedicated wide-angle bellows are more suitable for wide-angle lenses when you need lots of rise, assuming the lens has adequate coverage. Given that you're experienced with LF camera operations, your choice of camera will depend partly on what types of lenses you're most likely to use. I used lenses ranging from 65mm to 210mm on my Horseman, and had a dedicated RF cam for my 150mm. All had sufficiently large image circles to make full use of movements available.

    The series of photographs from Pleasant Hill, Kentucky (e.g. Ceiling Light and Drawers, Dormer Abstraction, etc.) were taken with the VH-R handheld, due to their restriction on tripod use indoors. I was able to brace the camera against various surfaces to keep the images sharp. Also a number of photographs from along Eagle Creek. Sharpness has never been an issue with the camera/lenses, although I'm not an ultimate sharpness junkie.

    Best,
    Daniel
     
  25. PanaDP

    PanaDP Member

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    What about 5x7 makes you think you can't enlarge? People are giving away 8x10 enlargers these days.
     
  26. Ian Grant

    Ian Grant Subscriber

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    Perhaps he doesn't have an enlarger for the 7x5 format :D

    I went through the dilemna of whether to move to a 6x7/6x9 view/field camera back in the mid 1980's. I was shooting 645 and happy with the quality but frustrated by the lack of movements for certain images. I had been using 5x4 for about 10 years but my monorail cmaers was too heavy and impractical outside a studio.

    In the end after weighing up the various possibilities I went for a 5x4 field camera knowing I had the option to use a 6x9/6x7 back. I don't have a preference for format and happily work with 6x6, 6x9, 6x17 as well as 5x4/10x8.

    Ian