Need some advice!

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by photoluver, Aug 5, 2005.

  1. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    Hi! This is my first post, so please be gentle! I'm glad to have found this community.

    My questions actually covers more than LF, but there wasn't a "panorama" forum! Anyway, I currently own a Hasselblad 501CM. My main interest is shooting landscapes. I have been thinking for quite some time about getting into LF. What better format to shoot landscapes, right?

    I've done a bit of research (not enough though!), and, should I decide to take the LF plunge, have narrowed down my choices to either the Ebony 45SU or the Linhof MT Classic (w/rangefinder). I know, not cheap, but if I go for it, I might as well go for it, KWIM? I have read quite a few positive reviews for the Ebony, but have found little direct user info on the Linhof. Can anyone tell me whether the Linhof MT Classic will accept 612 backs like the Technikarden?

    That brings me to my conundrum. I am also eyeing the Linhof 617S III. I cannot afford to get both the LF and the pano. (If the MT will accept 612 backs, then that will probably solve my problem.) Does anyone here have any experience using the 617, and if so, would you recommend it?

    I do usually do short hikes with my equipment (definitely not one to drive to my locations). I cannot find much info on the particular Linhof LF that I am looking at though, including how much it weighs. Any idea?

    I'm sorry if my questions seem to come from all over. Basically, I'm trying to get some opinions on these three cameras.

    Any insight would be much appreciated!

    Margaret
     
  2. brent8927

    brent8927 Member

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    Go with the Ebony... it's prettier! However, I think it might be better to start with something cheaper, like a Shen-Hao; it will tell you two important things, the first, whether or not you like LF, the second is it will let you know what kind of movements you need or could benefit from; you might decide you don't need the assymetrical movements that the 45SU has and might save a ton of money by getting the 45S instead, and could spend the extra money on lenses.

    I too use a Hasselblad, and a few months ago I decided to move up to LF. I thought it would be perfect for me so I sold my Hasselblad and bought a really nice portable monorail camera, the 4x5 Arca Swiss F-Line (it's as portable as a field camera). It was pretty expensive for just a camera, but I thought it would be the last camea I ever needed. Well... after a few months I came to realize that even though I could take better photos by being confined to the tripod and having camera movements, etc., I wasn't enjoying shooting with LF. So, I sold the 4x5 and bought a Hassy again, and once again am very happy!

    I don't mean to discourage you or anything, I just think that if you haven't tried LF out you probably don't want to go and splurge on an Ebony or Linhoff right away. I think buying a decent large format camera and some lenses would be best. Perhaps splurge and buy a really nice lens or two-- you can use these with the Ebony or Linhoff and it's really the lens that makes the difference... well... actually it's the photographer!

    Another great advantage of starting out with a "cheaper" LF camera is that if you end up buying the Ebony, you'll really appreciate it! I hope your venture into LF is a very positive experience.
     
  3. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Margaret,

    It depends which back you are getting. If the back has a standard Graflock back, like the Horseman backs, then it will work fine. In fact, I'm getting ready to order on myself - next week.

    FWIW, I would go with the Linhof myself.
     
  4. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The Linhof is heavier, more precise, and can be shot hand held. The Ebony is lighter, not quite as precise (but still very good), and needs a tripod. All Technikas from IV up have standard Graflock backs, and can take 612 roll film holders.

    I have "fondled" an Ebony, but bought a Gandolfi Traditional 5x7" and sold my Technika 5x7". I don't regret that decision.
     
  5. Brook

    Brook Member

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    Another idea is to just get a 5x7 now as opposed to a 4x5, cause you will be lusting after it sooner than you think, and if you choose the right camera you can get a 617 panaramic back, something you wont be able to do w/ a 4x5 AFAIK, although I could be wrong about this.

    In all seriousness, a 5x7 is almost the same size and bulk as a 4x5, most will have 4x5 backs avaliable, lenses tend to be interchangable between formats, and a 5x7 sheet can be cropped or divided into a 2 1/2 X 7, very close to 617 without an expensive 617 rollback, and you have all the camera movements not found on a rangefinder 617.
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I should have mentioned that. My 4x5" is largely unused, I use 90% 5x7" now with a little 9x12cm and 18x24cm in old plate cameras.
     
  7. Tom Kershaw

    Tom Kershaw Subscriber

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    Are you enlarging your 5x7 negatives or contact printing?

    Tom
     
  8. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    Wow! Thanks for all the helpful suggestions.

    Brent - your points are well taken. I am not going to sell my hassey though (I enjoy working with MF a lot too, especially for some of my portrait work). I guess my thought was if I stick with either the Ebony or a Linhof, I could always sell it if I find that I really don't like using it. Though frankly, I have seen enough of these large negs that I can't imagine why I wouldn't like LF! The biggest challenge a lot have mentioned is the contemplative nature, how much longer set up is, etc., but that is how I work anyway. Glad you like your Hassey too!

    Roteague and Ole - thanks! I have to admit that at this point, I am leaning towards the Linhof.

    I actually also meant to ask whether anyone has had any experience with the Ebony SV45U. The million dollar question - whether to go with folding or non-folding.

    Brook and Ole - I am a little more hesitant to go with 5x7 b/c it seems easier to source 4x5 stuff (ie, film, etc.) - at least here in Canada (correct me if I'm wrong though). Also, I like the relative portability of 4x5, though I must say I don't know how much bigger 5x7 is.

    Does the Ebony also have a standard Graflock back?

    It seems that from what you guys are saying, it would not make sense to consider the Linhof panorama cameras?

    Thanks again!!

    Margaret
     
  9. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd be surprised if the Ebony doesn't have a Graflok/International type back. Most modern 4x5" cameras have them, except for maybe a few budget priced cameras or ultralight cameras that sacrifice convenience for light weight.

    The Linhof panorama cameras are fine cameras, but also very specialized. Are you going to be doing that many panoramas? Billboards and bus cards?

    5x7" cameras are not that much bigger than 4x5" cameras, and you can get one with a 4x5" back. The Deardorff 4x5" Special is essentially a 5x7" camera with a 4x5" back by design, for instance.

    If you want the option of 6x17cm, K. B. Canham makes an excellent 6x17cm back that fits their 5x7" cameras and other 5x7" cameras with Graflok-type backs (but Graflok-type backs are not so common on 5x7" cameras--Wista makes one).

    For 4x5" there are a few Chinese companies making 6x17cm expansion backs. I have one made by Da Yi. These are less versatile than the 6x17 back for 5x7", because you can only get the full 6x17 frame with lenses between 75mm and 150mm, but it's not a bad compromise. Longer lenses will vignette, but you can still use them, if you don't mind a frame size like 6x16.5 or 6x15. Shorter lenses won't focus with the 4x5/617 back, because of the inherent rigid extension built into the back. They usually come with masks for 6x12 and 6x9 as well.

    6x12 backs for 4x5" are made by Horseman, Linhof, Sinar, and in addition to the Chinese made 617 backs that can be masked to 612, these companies are manufacturing 612 backs that can be masked to 6x9, 6x6, and possibly 6x4.5. The Chinese 6x17 backs come with a separate groundglass focusing viewer with the same amount of offset as the 6x17 back. The 6x12 backs can be used with the camera's normal groundglass, which is usuall removed for installation of the back.

    That said, unless you have a particular reason to be shooting rollfilm or are dedicated to the 6x17 format, you can always just shoot 4x5" and crop to keep things simple. I have a few rollfilm backs, but unless I am shooting a lot of rollfilm, I leave them at home and crop for the occasional pano.
     
  10. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I do both. One of the really nice things about 5x7" is that it is large enough hang a contact print on the wall, yet it's small enough that an enlarger will fit in a normal home darkroom. My Durst 138S is about 7' tall. It was also the cheapest LF enlarger I could find at that time, the smaller 4x5" models seem to be more popular thus more expensive.
     
  11. Steve Hamley

    Steve Hamley Member

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    Margaret,

    I have a SV45U. Ebony have a great comparison between folding and non-folding cameras on their website.

    http://www.ebonycamera.com/articles/fold.exp.html

    The SV45U will handle a wider range of lenses, although very short ones are difficult to use. I use from 55mm to 450mm on mine. The 45SU is more friendly to wide lenses, but is limited to about 240mm on the long end (365mm bellows draw). Allegedly, you can have one made with 385mm of draw which would make a 360mm lens usable for sunsets etc, and then there's always extender boards if you need them.

    If I were doing it over, I'd be very tempted by a 385mm 45SU. The only lens I'd "lose" is the Fuji 450C, which is by the way, a truly awesome lens. If you're a "wide" person, I'd do a 385mm 45SU, if you're a "long" person or want the versatility, I'd do the SV45U.

    Steve
     
  12. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    David, thank you. You have been most helpful. Lots of great info there. My main thing is that I would like a negative larger than my current one (ie, 6x6), and I have always loved the look of panoramic photos. The 617 size is quite big, and can also be cropped (from what I've seen). But I know that 4x5 is more versatile, etc. However, I have to admit that during my research, I also was a bit intimidated by LF in general...all the different lenses, the use of a dark cloth, etc. etc. These things are probably 2nd nature to most of you, but for the uninitiated like myself, it's pretty darn intimidating! :surprised: Thus I decided to research the 617 format as well. (ie, large negs, easier to use than LF?)

    Steve, thanks for the info!! I'll have to give it some thought.
     
  13. jnanian

    jnanian Advertiser Advertiser

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    hi there

    i can understand how buying a large format camera can be intimidating ...
    once you get the hang of things, its not that bad :smile:

    if you are interested in a roll film camera that s dedicated to shooting the panoramic format, you might look into the fotoman cameras.

    i have only seen them discussed on the largeformat.info board, sold on ebay, and advertised by badger graphics in wisconson, and not upclose + personal.

    if i didn't want to get a field/view camera, and wanted to shoot roll film in something that can have really sweet optics but not the cumbersome nature of a big camera ( and if i had the $$$ of course! ) i might think about one of these: http://www.fotomancamera.com/

    good luck!

    -john
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 5, 2005
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  15. photomc

    photomc Member

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    As someone that has recently eased (maybe not a good word, in my case) into LF, went from 4x5, to 5x7 to 8x10 most recently. Consider my own observations if you will....the 4x5 is great for enlarging, and was a great way to get my feet wet in LF (both cost wise and process wise)...then started doing some contact prints (Ziatypes) and found the format a bit small, but it was still OK, until I recieved a very nice 5x7 contact from someone here in one of the print exchanges. Well that did it, had to have a 5x7, then I came across a 5x7, that had a 4x5 back and thought it was the best of both worlds...the first 4x5 was a nice little Crown Graphic.

    Well about a month ago, entered the 8x10 world and things have changed..cost are a bit more, but that big old negative is really nice. Now the primary plan is to cut a darkslide to use for 4x10 to make a nice pano contact print - figure that is still less expensive than a 7x17.

    So what have I learned? If I were to approach this with some reasoning, rather than impulse (hard to admit but that is what some of it was) I would go with a nice 5x7 that had a 4x5 back, a couple of lens - 135 to 150 and maybe a 210 to 250...that covers at least 5x7. Just don't have room for a 5x7 enlarger, so the 4x5 is as large as I will do, but that is OK...they are just fine. For contact printing the 5x7 is nice...have not tried a 21/2x7 that might look nice as well.

    Just my experience...Good luck and have fun...the only mistake I can see is not trying.
     
  16. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    Mike,

    Thanks for your advice. I really would not want to go as large as 8x10, as I really do feel that would be way too big for my purposes. I have thought about going 5x7, but there seems to be a lot more film availability for the 4x5 format, at least here in Canada.
     
  17. sattler123

    sattler123 Member

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    If you shoot color than the 4x5 format is the way to go - there is hardly anything available in 5x7. I would also suggest (like others have done before) that you start out with either a used or a budget camera - I can guarantee that your first LF camera will not be your last one (unless you really don't get the hang of it). I have been doing LF for 2 years and am on my 6th camera. Every time I think that I have found the perfect camera for me, but there is no such thing. Nobody can tell you what the "perfect" camera will be for you because it all depends on your shooting style. New Ebony or a new Linhof MT are huge investments and while you can certainly resell them you will take a good beating. Whereas with used gear or one of the mentioned budget cameras you hardly risk any loss at all. The Shen Hao had a Graflock back and can accomodate the panoramic holders, so can any other camera with a Graflok back. Good Luck with your decision and enjoy the new experience.
     
  18. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    So, I just had a chat with Jeff from Badger Graphics, and he highly recommended that I go with the Ebony (either the SV45U2 or 45SU) as opposed to the Linhof MT 2000. He said that he sells 10 Ebonies to 1 Linhof. I guess I shouldn't be surprised! My mind had almost been made up on the Linhof too!
     
  19. df cardwell

    df cardwell Subscriber

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    I can't resist.

    First: Large format does not make you a landscape shooter, and landscape pictures don't have to be made on large format. You can be a great landscape shooter with 35mm.

    Second: Large format is 6 x 8 or bigger. 4x5 needs to be enlarged, and in that respect is like shooting your Hassie. The same pristine technique you need for the Hassie is needed for 4x5. The advantage of 4x5 over 6x6 is the size of the negative, granted, but it is irrelevant. Looking at Ansel's 6x6 work, and Brett's, and Cunningham's... there is no shortcoming to the image quality of 6x6. The only difference between now and Ansel's day... our films are much better, and so are enlargers. The advantage of 6x6 ? You HAVE one.

    You want a change, shoot 8x10. The big deal about 8x10 is that you envision the image as it will hang on the wall on the ground glass. There is a huge, and generally freeing, difference between 8x10 and 4x5 or 6x6.
     
  20. roteague

    roteague Member

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    One thing you might consider, go to your local bookstore and get a copy of Lee Frost's "Panoramic Photography". He has a very good section about all the various types of panoramic cameras and their drawbacks.

    http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0715319698/002-3824864-2311265?v=glance
     
  21. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    Robert, thanks for the link to the book. I will certainly try to pick that up this weekend.

    DF - those 8x10 cameras are heavy! Most of them are almost 10% of my body weight! Plus, they're quite a bit more expensive. I am surprised that you find 4x5 similar to 6x6 though. I have a friend who shoots 4x5 and I really do find that the detail in her negs are incredible! Maybe I'm just biased. At any rate, 8x10 really is out of my range. But thanks for your suggestion.
     
  22. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    So those people enlarging 11x14 aren't shooting LF? Those people contact printing 6x6[and I mean cm] are shooting LF?

    I'd argue that the size of the negative is hardly irrelevant.

    Dodge/burn change contrast. Whatever you can do it most everything with a contact print. Likewise you can enlarge a 4x5 full frame. Or even a 6x6.
     
  23. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Let's see - I now have LF cameras from 6.5x9cm to 30x40cm. I use 5x7" most of the time. Some negatives are intended for contact printing, some for enlargement. I have contact printed 6.5x9cm (and 4.5x6cm) when that has matched my vision.

    I'm not willing to concede that "LF is 6 x 8 or bigger", unless you mean centimeters.
     
  24. photoluver

    photoluver Member

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    Sattler123,

    I just want to point out that I responded to your post in the LF forum. There was no need to get nasty...I truly have appreciated everyone's help here on APUG. My question on the LF forum was different - I was asking whether I would miss the extra movements that the Ebony SV45U2 would give me if I bought the Linhof MT 2000. I never asked that here, so no, I did not post in the LF forum b/c I was "not happy" with the responses here. Everyone here has been terrific.
     
  25. roteague

    roteague Member

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    I would have to disagree with you; I haven't seen too many 6x6 cameras capable of swings and tilts, which is something I do easily with my 4x5.
     
  26. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Do you plan to get cammed lenses, if you go with the Linhof? If not, then I would consider either going with the Ebony for more flexibility or the Linhof 2000, which doesn't have a rangefinder, but has built-in wideangle focusing. If you do want rangefinder focusing, then the Linhof is one of the few available options among new cameras.

    The movements on the Linhof are pretty good for most things, and if you really need more for something like tabletop still life work, you probably would want a monorail camera anyway.

    Asymmetric swing and tilt are nice, though, so that could be a reason to go with the Ebony. You might look at the article on asymmetric movements in _View Camera_ magazine two issues back, I think, which uses an Ebony as an example.

    Another issue--If you think you might want one of the heavier rollfilm backs, like the Linhof Super Rollex backs or one of the 6x17 backs, you might lean toward Linhof over a wooden camera for rigidity.