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Author Topic: Ditching my 4x5 view camera - to what?  (Read 4659 times)


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Re: Ditching my 4x5 view camera - to what?
« Reply #20 on: November 10, 2022, 09:01:23 am »

There are a few things to consider in moving to a digital setup from 4x5 view camera. Typically one thinks of movements - but its worth stepping back and seeing what is needed. The 4x5 view camera offers a lot of flexibility, but not all tech cameras or digital solutions do the same.

things to think about:
- is both rise/fall and shifting desired? Tilt and swing too?
- is it the ease of changing lenses, perhaps experimenting with odd or cheap ones?
- use of film along with digital?

Depending on the answers, different solutions can be found.  Over a couple of decades, have worked with a variety of systems - some with dealers or borrowing friend's gear, allowing for some  comparison below. The goal was (largely) to get 4x5 movements in something smaller and digital. As usual, there is no single, best, answer. Here are some options:

- Hassy Arc-view - small, compact. Good rise/fall, tilt, but not shift (IIRC). Someone outlined the steps to take a photo, and its about 20 or so... so you need to concentrate. Uses different focusing screens for various amounts of shift. Limited to three excellent lenses.

- "pancake" cameras - such as Cambo or Alpa. Have used both, they are quite capable. Cambo better value, but prefer Alpa for higher level of finish and tactile quality. There is an odd usability aspect to the Alpa not often mentioned - but its very easy to use - and its modular, uses square mounting plates (easy to rotate) allowing for creative variations. Note that lens mountings are custom to each manufacturer, something to be considered if using lots of lenses... OTOH, older Alpa lenses (which are often good enough) are not so pricey... if you can stay away from the hunt for the best and newest.

- Linhof Techno - closest thing to a view camera that takes digital. In an odd way, the most flexible, allowing all movements at lens plane, but only rise/fall at rear (which is also quite stable). There are some shift plates now available. Uses Technika lens plates, so you can fit anything to it. Has tremendous extensions, can work with 55mm, and even the 35XL. Anders Torger did a whole review on how to focus with this - but with live view, its now quite easy. A very  capable camera, just a bit awkward for travel - although Joe Cornish used one for years. Other manufacturers offer similar, small, more precise view-type cameras for digital, such as Cambo, or Arca, with different  flexibility and restrictions. No experience with them, but they look promising, if a bit more studio oriented.

- Linhof Technikardan 23S - haven't used this, but did work in the past with the 45. Interesting camera, folds up small, and has lots of capability. A bit fiddly to set up, but lots of movements. More filmic than digital, but could be an option. Keep in mind what backs you would put on it. Its been out for years.

- Hassy 907 back - comes with the small "camera", but basically is a digital back you can put on most anything. Allows for some interesting combinations - such as almost any kind of lens that can adapt to Hassy X mounting (a wide group these days, including Leica M lenses!), if using electronic shutter for non-moving objects. Its not really used for shifting, although some folks are putting either Canon T/S lenses on it, or others (Leica 28PC), or even a Hassy H lens and a shift connector, but that seems like a hassle. Rather put (say) a Leica SEM 21, or a Voigtlander 15mm on it, and crop. Effective solution.

- older 6x9 view camera - while not having the precision of the pancakes, its a way to have some good fun for less money. Get or make an adapter to fit a digital back (Hassy, or even an Alpa mount) and you can put on any back with an electronic shutter (Hassy 907 or Phase IQ), and most any lens will fit. With f11 on tripod, shifting with a Caltar 75mm lens (cheap!) is just fine for single shots. Its not precise enough for stitching - the alignments don't work.

- not included in this list is the Fuji 50 or 100, with a T/S lens. Others have used that combination, happily. No personal experience with that, but it should work.

Hope this overview helps you find what could work for you.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2022, 09:56:32 am by Gigi »
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