I have an interest in 6+9 field cameras. I know the tilts and swings in the camera movements give better perspective control so my question is. Is it worth the investment and trouble using these camera vs just medium format cameras? There are many like the Horseman VH and VHR, Acra-Swiss,Ebony and on and on. For instance does the large format lens produce as nice of image as the medium format lens? Advantages I see are the camera movements, different size rollbacks, and the ability to do critical focusing. Many would say why not just 4+5. Cost. Better yet the world of digital is at hand, why I would consider this move. Well I can only say am I thinking I would enjoy the experience. Figuring the total cost with everything can come out to be more than I thought. For instance my tripod would not do for this type of photography. I would like to hear from those who are there or have been there. Monte Johnson.
Moving into larger format photography such as the Horsemen
models you mention involves a major investment in $. Even though film camera prices are down, they still are rather costly. The Horseman cameras stock lenses are made by Topcon--yes the same company who got out of 35mm a while back. In general, they are outstanding and are at least equal to most 35 mm glass. Their 120 type camera backs are excellent and they even have a nice rotating back to go with them.
These pupies are no light weights. They are more or less
copies of Linhoff's, and like Linhoff's they weigh a ton,
especially with assorted lenses and roll backs.
Another thing to consider is that most of them have been out of production for a while, and most of the parts are unique to Horseman. Things like cable releases--you have to actually make yourself. Been there, done that. If you can find a cable release on the used market, you will pay dearly for it.
Also, composing images on a 6 x 9 screen is no fun compared to a 4 x 5.
My very last commercial job was shot on a 6 x 9 VHR with a
rotating 120 back on EK 100 + TMX.
That's when I decided tht digital was the way to go.
I had a complete VHR system for many years. Although the lenses have the Topcor brand they are manufactured by Tokyo Optical which was the parent company of Topcon. The Horseman is still manufactured by Komamura in Tokyo and most of the accessories are available new. The company has a representative in New York and a current web site.
I worked as western regional manager for the importer of Horseman for a couple of years awhile back, and continue to keep contact with the president of the company Tosh Komaura.
I would disagree about the weight of the VHR and the system components. I had mine in a custom case which was not that big and it weighed considerably less than my 35mm Canon system. The Linhof Technika 69 is made of much heavier machined aluminum castings.
One accessory that was not purchased by many, and I don't know why except it was pricey, was an enclosed reflex viewer for the VHR with an adjustable ocular. It made critical focus quite easy and was much more convenient and effective than the fold out hood for the focusing screen.
Since I posted this I have been doing some thinking. Not being a professional I struggle with my wants and needs. Even though I would love this kind of camera I am starting to except the future of photography. Just getting the last issue of Shutterbug and looking at B&H add tells me things are changing fast. Not as many medium format cameras as there once was. Seems every medium format is gearing towards digital backs. I know it will be some time before digital backs get to my buget but I have to wonder if these type of cameras like the Mamiya 645 AFD11 or the Haselblad 503CW might be a beter investment in the long run I am begining to get the real feel of how quick things will change. Well Just spending time looking at the price of digital backs I must say this idea is not a good one.I will not live long enough for them to find my price range. Monte Johnson.
Yes it actually is lighter than the Linhoff's, but still too much for my bum back. I had the straight through mag finder finder which worked fine. BTY, the rotary back also worked on my Toyo 23G! I was able to use my Horseman
backs this way with the Toyo--th one view camera I kick myself for getting rid of.
BTW, I am really surprised that that Toyo has not brought it back to use with digital backs. They must still have all the dies. After all, they are actually a Machine Tool company which manufactures really heavy duty milling machines, lathes, etc. I found that out when I got the
23 G--it was a company demo complete with 3 Nikon Lenses
and custom case. The case contained a complete brochure
of all their wares--quite impressive.
My VHR system also came with 3 lenses. The shutters on mine took that "different" type of cable release that had a round end that slipped into a circular slot, and was locked in place by a set screw. I made a replacement by adapting
a "normal" cable release by gluing a sort piece of copper
tubing on the end.
If you were repping Horseman in the mid to late 80's you probably came into K & S while was still there in Large format and darkroom sales. Unfortunately Terry dropped
Horseman for some reason for which I was not privvy to.
Yes, I am aware of the connection between Horseman, Topcon,
and Tokyo Optical. My lenses actually had Tokyo Optical
on them. Although, at one time I had 210 F5.6, 4 x 5 lens
which actually was labled Topcon. It had come as a "kit" lens with my Horseman 4 x 5.
Although I have not done photography commercially for a few years now, I do stay in close touch with what is going on, friends and colleagues who are still active. From what I have seen there are relatively few who who used medium format film in the past who actually BUY digital backs. Those who have a volume commercial photography business, like doing catalogue photography, find leasing a digital back is good business. And some who do very high dollar advertising illustration, may also justify leasing on a business basis. Then there are some, considering about 85% of photographs used are reproduced no larger than a 1/4 of an 8.5x11 page, can service their clients effectively with a dSLR digital camera - much less costly and a better business model.
In other words I think it is unlikely the size of the population using medium format digital will grow very much, which of necessity will keep digital back prices relatively high.
And as cameras like the new Canon EOS 5D provide exceptional image performance at a small fraction of the cost of medium format digital, more and more professionals and a growing number of affluent enthusiasts will keep sales volume growing. Very few really need to make images larger than about 16x20 inches, and a 13MPX digital file will do that quite well.
In not too much time I expect a camera like the Canon EOS 5D (at around $3,000) will be upgraded to 16MPX, and the top-line dSLR like the EOS 1d Mark II could hit 20MPX. At that level of resolution and quality the rationale for medium format digital would be much weaker even than it is today.
But, just for pleasure, considering how low prices for used medium and large format film cameras have gone, if making fairly large prints is the goal, that is a cost effective and high quality solution that is hard to beat. I'm just too old and tired to schlepp that heavy stuff around now, which really takes the fun out of the experience, and this new Canon EOS 5D is quite compact and about the same weight as my favorite film body, the Canon A2 with a battery pack. So, I am going to have a hard time resisting buying this new Canon EOS 5D even though it will keep me from buying a sporty new car for a couple of years at least.
There were some "interesting" relationships in the business. For a time some models of Toyo 4x5's had parts that were actually manufactured by Komamuru. And I think Sinar even bought some parts from Komamuru. But in the US there was some bad blood between Sinar and Horseman, and no love lost between BronColor and Profoto, a brand a close friend imported from Sweden.
To be frank, those years (I was working out of Seattle then just after my wife died) were really hectic and I don't really remember which years I was doing what. But I do recall a fairly young couple opened a pro store not too far from K&S, and I gave them the Horseman franchise.
Of all of the 4x5 "field" cameras, the one I used most was the standard Toyo field. Easy to live with.
Hi back David,
Yes, I believe that Pro store is still in business. At least
last I heard. I usually drop in K & S when down in San Jose to visit my daughter. Also, a couple of the employees have their hair done by daughter on Fridays, so if down on fridays I get all the current scoop.
Their medium format department has moved back into the main store and now resides all in one showcase between Leica and
Pro(brand) lenses. It's sad. The Pro Store, across the street, is now almost 100% digital and lighting (with the emphasis on lighting for digital). They are the LaCie dealer who I called first when my CRT died, and received the bad news about CRT's. They are also selling both Mac's
and PC's now with nary a CRT in stock. When I was down in June, they must have had at least a half dozen LaCie CRTs
in Demo status--two months later and they are wiped out.
I can understand what you are saying. Even going on 55 I question if I want to haul around a lot of stuff. One reason I picked the 645ZI was it is light and easy to carry. I have considered getting the Mamiya 7 at times. I lkie the larger prints, 16+20- 30+40. Sometimes I think I should just give in and go with the digital, but lower prices for medium format makes it so attractive. I am looking forward to seeing 16-20 meg cameras come into the budget of people like me. They will in time. Monte Johnson.
It was well over 20 years ago Fuji came out with a very light, compact 120 6x4.5cm rangefinder camera. I got my hands on one shortly after, and kept if for about as long as any camera. When I went out on a road trip I'd take my 35mm SLR system to shoot chrome, and the Fuji would be loaded with B&W. I soon learned the negatives I obtained with that little leaf shutter, simple lens Fuji were as sharp as any MF SLR I had used like a Rollei 6008.
The moral of that experience is that just because it is inexpensive and fits in a pocket does not make a camera any less capable. Of course you are limited to a normal focal-length lens, but is that really such a limitiation? I used just a Rollei TLR with a 75mm lens for many, many years when there was really little else available and didn't really suffer. Sometimes these days what we think we need is not dictated by becessity but irrational desire.
What you say is very true. Today I went out and shot a roll of BW through my Fuji. It does have some limits,but for the most part they are just minor irration at times. The lens is one of the best I have ever used. I have though many times about the 6008 as a replacement, but no other camera is as easy to carry and produces such wonderful images. Sometimes I feel I am missing out on something, but I am not. When I look at the thirteen 16+20 prints I have hanging up I do not really think another camera would do that much better for me. I paid 800 for it in EX+ condition and for that price it has been a pretty cheap investment. The only other camera I have had a real desire for is the Rollie TLR and at this point have not been willing to pay the price. It could be I just suffer from some sort of mental disorder. Monte Johnson.
The Rollei TLR was the best in its day by far, very fine quality, efficient and fast to use, and it had the best focus/viewing of any reflex camera of its day. However it was extremely limited, and the tele and wide angle versions were not really an effective solution for the TLR limitations. However both the Rollei FocalPlane SLR and the later 6000 SLR series cameras were way ahead of the competition in performance, but unfortunately in price as well - a modest 6008 system with lenses and accessories when first available cost as much as buying a good car. And, it was not a camera I ever dared take in the field, I only used mine in the studio!!!
Although Fuji was on the scene with the first RF 645 there are now other brands that have even more appeal and functionality with somewhat similar features and advantages.
I never thought much of the Mamiya RB67. Big, bulky and more show than go. Good for pricey wedding photographers to impress stupid clents. Actually a pair of Rollei TLR's are better suited to shooting weddings, but they are small and not impressive the way an RB 67 is<S>.
a photographer selling out has an old RB67 with several lens and prisim he wants to sell. I too feel it is pretty big to haul around. He used his for a studio camera, I was only interested in it if he sold it cheap. So far he never called back. The Rollei is the one I desire. I know it is limited, but if ever I am left with one film camera someday when I do go to digital it would be a Rollei TLR with the Zeiss lens. A friend of mine really wants me to do 4+5. He thinks I would do very well with it. He has an Linhof but so far never see him use it. I do not think he has for years. I think the one thing that attracts me to wanting to do 6+9 with a field camera is the simpicity and the pure feeling of doing basic photography. I think this is what draws me to the TLRs. My guess it is the same reason for others you desire one. I do see film cameras fading. They are falling into a different place now and in time will be only used by those with the passion to do so. Sonetimes I feel like the dieing man desperate to do it all before it is gone. Silly I know, but fits me. I too see the reality of age. I am tired a lot so hauling around a lot of heavy equiptment might not be fun for me. Monte Johnson.
Monte -- maybe you could persuade the friend to let you shoot some images with the Linhof, then if you decided that LF wasn't for you, you would be out no more than the cost of the film. If you liked it, and he doesn't use the camera anyway, maybe he would let you have it for a reasonable price, then you could get a roll film back and have fun
He said I can use it, but he won't sell it to me. I have been going to take him up on it some time I just need to corner him at home. I have no doubt I would like it. It is the reason I have not used it. Monte Johnson.
Finding just the right balance between ultimate image quality capable with a camera andwhat works personally is not easy. Large format demands a lot of attention to the detail of controlling and managing the equipment, which can detract fromthe subject and creating the picture inspired originally. Often what you imagine working with something and the real experince leads to a disappointing revelation. In other words what you imagine driving a BMW might be like may not be what you would actually experience if you drove one every day.
As I mentioned I relied on Rollei TLR's for quite a few years as the mainstay of my photography. Then the pressure of competition required me to use more versatile cameras like a Mamiya 645 with several lenses. After that experience going back to using a Rollei TLR was not the same, so I have not owned one for many years even though I still have an appreciation and fondness for what they did for me for many years. The idea of something and the reality of experience sometimes just don't match.
I understand what you are saying. This is the main reason that I almost always carry both my EOS 10D and one of the medium format cameras (mostly the GA645Zi, sometimes the C330) with me when I go out shooting. Invariably, despite what I plan on doing beforehand, something will come up that is better handled with the other camera.
One thing I am grateful for is sites like this one. Because I listen to what others say about what they have learned from their own experince. Now I have a mind of my own, but
When I was a photo school student one of my teachers was an older European gentleman named Boris Dobro. Between the first and second World Wars in Europe camera club competitions (called Salons) were very big. Dobro told of one quite egalitarian Salon, where membership required each to compete in the monthly shows using only a Zeiss Ikon box camera. It was a good box camera with a real shutter and a glass lens but simple and limited at that. The prints made were about 16x20 inches. So the entire contest was based on skill in visualization and in execution, particularly in the darkroom.
The toys are fun, but they are just tools which unless used with creativity and skill can't do much by themselves. What you can accomplish by knowing the process and then controlling what it does is really what makes a good photograph.