Thoughts on my new camera

Discussion in 'Large Format Cameras and Accessories' started by KenM, Mar 16, 2004.

  1. KenM

    KenM Member

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    I recently purchased a (silghtly) used Linhof Master Technika on eBay; I received it last Thursday, and was out photographing with it twice over the weekend. Herewith are some of my thoughts on this camera, and ones I've owned in the past...

    My previous camera was a Gandolfi Variant Level 3 4x5. For those of you who are not familiar with this camera, you can read about it at www.gandolficameras.com. I consider this camera to be a flat bed camera on steroids - it has all the movements, a massive amount of bellows draw, and can even be modified into a 5x7. Unfortunately, with all this flexibility, it takes a bit of time to setup.

    I am, by nature, an impatient person. Regardless of what I'm doing, I tend to jump into the deep end, and worrying about learning how to swim later. So far in life, this has served me well. Learn by doing, I always say.

    Back to the Gandolfi. I have pretty varied tastes when it comes to photography - I photograph architecture, abstracts, and landscapes. I had a Toyo 45A-II, but hated how the front standard locking mechanism worked - if you have one, you know what I mean - combining front swing/shift are a nightmare; based on my interest in photographing architecture, I thought I needed a camera with more (better) movements than the A-II. After much research, I decided on a Gandolfi. I purchased a used Variant Level 3, and initially loved working with it - the flexibility was great! However, over time I became annoyed with how long it took to setup the camera, especially when the light was changing. Opportunities missed, don't ya know.

    It got to the point where I was spending more time looking at a scene trying to figure out if it was worthwhile to photograph, rather than getting the camera out and exploring the scene with the camera. I used to use my viewing frame almost to the exclusion of the Gandolfi, since it took so long to setup.

    The last straw was last October when I was out photographing with a few friends, and the one fellow got off two negatives before I even had my camera setup. I missed out entirely, as the light died before I even got under the dark cloth. His camera? A Tech V. The writing was on the wall.

    So I decided then to purchase a MT. It took about 6 months to find the right one, but I finally got one.

    This thing is an absolute joy to use. It takes no time at all to setup, and is so well made, just using it is a joy. Exploring a scene is no longer tedious; quick setup, quick teardown. Movements silky smooth, and the entire camera is rock solid. I am very, very happy with my purchase.

    I think what it came down to, for me anyways, is that it felt like I was spending more time setting up the camera than I was taking photographs. Now, this is obviously not the case, but it's certainly what it felt like. Yes, I know, to many people LF photography is about more than the final product; it's about the *process*. But, as I mentioned above, I'm an impatient person - I'm really only interested in the final image. As long as I have a big enough negative to make the print I want, how I get there, or what I use to get there is immaterial. What's important is that the tool in hand is as unobtrusive as possible (it's like any tool - if it's a pain to use, you won't use it). For me, all my other cameras have gotten in the way of my photography - the MT is the first camera that helps the process along, and because of that, I'm a very happy camper right now. Well, until the Visa bill gets here :-D

    My past experiences have taught me that I am *not* suited for formats larger than 4x5; I don't think I have the patience (nor the stamina) to lug around anything larger. I certainly have respect for those of you who shoot ULF - I know I couldn't do it.

    BTW, in case you're wondering, I've owned these LF cameras, in chronological order:

    1. Calumet 4x5 monorail
    2. Toyo 45A-II
    3. Gandolfi Variant Level 3
    4. Cambo 4x5 monorail (bought on eBay, and immediately resold).
    5. Master Technika.

    See you in the landscape.....
     
  2. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Welcome to the world of Technika! As you may know, I use a Technika III 5x7" and know what you mean by ease of use. However my 4x5" camera is a monorail - a Linhof Color - which is certainly no more difficult to set up! On the ohter hand, that camera is basically the front and rear of a Technika mounted on a tubular rail, so it shouldn't be a surprise that it's quick and easy to use.

    Have fun!
     
  3. Poco

    Poco Member

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    I shot with a Tech III for a couple years and, while the movements were smooth, they were too limited for me. Then one day the wind tipped over the tripod and the camera fell flat face down to the ground and part of the cast aluminum front standard broke. Two unsuccessful attempts to patch her together later, I realized I needed another camera.

    I went for the Shen-Hao. It was cheap, has plenty of movements, and from the day I bought the thing I've kept it set up and pretty much permanently mounted to its tripod. I'm not even sure I could collapse the thing down again if I wanted -- there's some trick to it that I've forgotten. I keep a small, Kodak 90mm mounted to it, which is light weight enough not to stress the front standard too much while I'm walking around. Anyway, it's three years old and probably has another three years in it. While I've missed plenty of shots, none were due to setup time.
     
  4. BobF

    BobF Member

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    Ken, Its nice to hear a new found love story especially when it is a Linhof. It is not often that Linhof people speak up, even though there a thousands of them being used. Many photographers get weak in the knees about Deardorfs and Ebonys but I think Linhof users just use them. My Linhof IV is decades old and I have to drape the darkcloth over the bellows to cover a few pinholes but it is still just as smooth to use as yours.

    I settled on a IV after 5 previous cameras. All 4x5 cameras come down to a bunch of compromises and I found that the Linhof had the fewest drawbacks of any that I tried. BTW we share the Cambo and the Toyo experience and opinion.

    Poco I also used a III and it is limited in comparison to the IV-V but any of them will give you a lot more years than the half decade you are expecting from your Shen-hao. Never seen one in person, are they really that fragil?
     
  5. Poco

    Poco Member

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    Bob,

    I'm just going on the assumption I'm particularly rough on my cameras -- it's got to be a distinction of sorts to have broken a Tech III. The Shen-Hao shows no (functional) signs of wear so far. It may last much longer.
     
  6. Tom Duffy

    Tom Duffy Member

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    Glad you like your Linhof; I used a Tech IV for years. I also had a multi-focus viewfinder and hand grip used it quite a bit handheld. Later replaced it with a fuji rangefinder 6x9, easier to use handheld and with fill flash.

    Set up and takedown times are a major factor in getting the shot, and now, getting the shot before the police arrive and start harrassing you.

    people laugh that I use a heavy Sinar P2 monorail as a field camera, but I can set up and get the shot while anyone with a wooden camera is still setting up.

    It's great that you've found your camera; it often takes a long time.
     
  7. victor

    victor Member

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    ya.. lihof people should make photos..lol
    another graet linhof is the technikardan. great great great. very fast in loading the camera, very intuitive in use. the 69 is really small, but i belive that the 45 is not big too.
    the plus point of technikardan is that it has more rewarding opiration (im not saying that technika is not good in it), more creative possiblities, and more intuition in use. but then, as tom says, u can use the technika almost like leica with it rf. but i think taht for handheld, a real wide angle camera has more power, if the fact that u are limited to wide lenses and scale focusing is not an issue.
    the technica is great in having a little bit (but usually enough) from everything (view camera, and wide angle camera and rf camera).

    good luck with your technika, and have a joyfull creativity.
     
  8. KenM

    KenM Member

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    I'm expecting this camera to be the last 4x5 camera I'll ever buy, barring any accidents; one of my reasons for buying this particular camera was how well made it is, and the fact that these things last forever without really degrading in quality, ie wear and tear. My friend who's speed in the field caused me to buy a Technika uses a Tech V that's easily 30 years old....

    Funny how that works out, isn't it? I really liked the Toyo, but man, that front standard drove me nuts....
     
  9. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    Wouldn't that be a Tech IV? After all, my III is only about 40 years old - I have it on good authority that it's younger than I am :wink:

    I have to confess that I someimes think of buying a lighter camera. A Shen-Hao 8x10", or something like that. A 5x7" Technika is heavy, especially with my favorite 300mm/f:4.5 Xenar on...
     
  10. noseoil

    noseoil Member

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    Ole,

    For a nice heavyweight 8x10 try an old Burke & James. Mine weighs 17 pounds (7.7 kg) with the lens. I keep thinking of building a light weight 8x10, but for now I'm using the beast.
     
  11. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Well, I could swear I've seen a reference to a Master Tech as far back is the early 70's, but if Linhof was constructing V's and MT at the same time....

    Suffice to say, the camera 'looked' over 30 years old :-D

    The MT is nice and light to me - I never weighed the Gandolfi, but it must have weighed in at 9-10 pounds....
     
  12. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    The Technika III 13x18 (European for 5x7") weighs in at about 14 pounds. The 300mm is another 2 pounds.
    Add to that a 121mm/f:8 Super-Angulon, a 210mm/f:4.5 Xenar and a few film holders, and my "field" pack is at 20 pounds going on 30.

    So when I wish to shoot lots of film, I'll use the Color 4x5". When I want to travel light, I'll use my ancient (1934) Voigtländer Bergheil 9x12cm for which I have only 4 film holders. But the whole thing (camera, lens and film holders) is about 3 pounds!
     
  13. Jorge

    Jorge Inactive

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    Ken, I know what you mean, I have a Variant Level II in 8x10, and all those knobs and levers really get on my nerves sometimes. If I was using a 4x5 I would have done the same thing and traded it, I can set up my Linhof TK in a jiffy.
     
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  15. KenM

    KenM Member

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    Well, the Gandolfi is going on the block real soon now. Along with a few other things that I've 'optomized' out of my pack. My pack is therefore getting lighter every day :smile:
     
  16. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    ken, remember to give your buddies first crack!
     
  17. KenM

    KenM Member

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    You'll be the first one I call buddy :tongue:
     
  18. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    But does you camera have that little red dome light??
     
  19. Emile de Leon

    Emile de Leon Member

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    I'm surprised how fast my 5x7 Anba Ikeda is to set up. I store a tiny 130mm Rodenstock F12 Perigon inside and at under 4lbs and a big 5x7 screen it just cant be beat. I dont do portraits with this camera generally but yesterday I wound up seeing an old friend of the family and quickly did a portrait in the late afternoon sun in front of her well aged 200 year old home here in CT. She is almost 70 now and and a CT yankee in the truest sense of the word as her family lived in that house for over 100 years. While I was setting up she complained about the changes around her 40 acre farm with all the intrusion of new people building more and more homes. I hope I got her expression. Just 2 clicks and it was over. I cant wait to process the film. I'm really glad I got it on 5x7! A never to be repeated moment with perfect light to boot.
     
  20. KenM

    KenM Member

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    No, but I'm trying to find one. Perhaps an auto wrecker? :cool:

    (everyone should be rather confused now)
     
  21. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    It's Ken's sex light LOL.
     
  22. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Coool
     
  23. Phong

    Phong Member

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    It's funny how these old threads get resurrected after several years.

    So Ken, how do you still like your Master Technika ? I have had mine for 8 or 9 years now. The major change in those 9 years is that I gradually moved from a 150mm/210mm pair of lenses to a 135mm/240mm pair. I just had a complete CLA recently by Marflex, with new bellows, rangefinder calibration, etc., and splurged and had my 135mm lens cammed.

    By now I know all too well the limitations of the MT, and there are quite a few, but can certainly live with them for another long while.

    The only camera better than a Master Technika/V for me is an 8x10. :smile:

    Cheers,

    - Phong
     
  24. naturephoto1

    naturephoto1 Subscriber

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    Somewhere around 1993 Marflex had customized my Linhof Super Technika IV so that it had the same front tilt capabilities as the Master. We had found that my front standard did not agree with the 1958? diagrams but was basically the same as the V and the Master. Prior to that Marflex had serviced my Super Technika IV. When my Super Technika was stolen in 1994, I replaced it with my current Linhof Technikardan 45S at the suggestion of Bob Salomon from HP Marketing. I just recently (within about a month) replaced the Linhof Ground Glass with a new Satin Snow Ground Glass. This has certainly made it easier to focus my slower f6.8 Rodenstock Grandagons, F9.0 Apo Ronars, and my f11/16 Nikon ED Tele lenses.

    Rich
     
  25. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member

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    It is funny - in the intervening years I've gone the opposite way: From technika 5x7" to Gandolfi Traditional 7x5", and from Linhof Color to Carbon Infinity in 4x5".

    I still haven't settled on a "standard set of lenses", although I'd feel a little helpless without my 90mm SA, 150mm Apo-Lanthar, 165mm Angulon and 240mm Symmar. At least two of those go with me on any photo trip; which two depends on the format.
     
  26. Campbell

    Campbell Member

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    Congratulations. I owned a Technika V, then decided that I wanted something a little more wide-angle friendly and sold it and bought first an Ebony 45SVTi and then a 45SVTe. Both were fine cameras but they weren't close to the Technika in terms of precision, "solid" feel, and smooth operation. So I went back to Technikas, this time with a Classic Master and have been very happy with it after about three years of ownership. Technikas aren't perfect cameras but for someone looking for a longer bellows than some of the wood field cameras such as Shen Hao, Tachihara, Wista et al, and with the precision and smooth operation of a metal camera, they're an excellent choice.