Need some advice!
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!
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.
Originally Posted by photoluver
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.
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.
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
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.
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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.
Originally Posted by Brook
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist
Are you enlarging your 5x7 negatives or contact printing?
Originally Posted by Ole
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?
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.
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.
Originally Posted by Tom Kershaw
-- Ole Tjugen, Luddite Elitist