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View Full Version : Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?



John Schneider
27-Nov-2007, 10:32
I hate asking such an open-ended question, but I havenít been able to find any definitive information elsewhere. Iím planning to get one of these for 4x5 (and sometimes 5x7) field work. I would handhold it, rather than mount it on the camera.

Iíve seen several different versions (old black, old tan, new black, 4x5, 5x7, and doubtless other permutations), but I canít find the information Iíd like to have to make an informed choice as to the best one for my needs. Thanks in advance for any advice or links to information.

David A. Goldfarb
27-Nov-2007, 10:52
The older style (black or tan) crops the image as you increase the focal length setting or subject distance on the finder. The newer style keeps the image size more or less constant and zooms as you increase the focal length setting or subject distance. Both types allow for parallax adjustment.

The both types came in 6.5x9, 4x5" and 5x7" versions.

In addition there are three types of masks for rollfilm formats. The old style finders all use masks with a smooth silver finish. The earlier new style finders use masks with a knurled metal rim. The later new style finders use masks with a rubber rim. The masks are not interchangeable between types.

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
27-Nov-2007, 10:56
Just call us and we would be happy to go over the differences. 800 735 4373. BTW, the current type has been on the market for several decades, so some people may think that an old tan current one is an "old style". It isn't.

Bill_1856
27-Nov-2007, 16:52
I canít find the information Iíd like to have to make an informed choice as to the best one for my needs.

What, exactly, are your needs. The "new" zooming models are incredibly expensive, even used, while the older telescoping models are a lot cheaper, but not really very satisfactory about exactly where the image edges lie.

John Schneider
27-Nov-2007, 17:02
I'm looking for a quick and reasonably accurate way to frame the image, choose the focal length, and position the camera before I set things up and then do the final positioning and movements based upon the image on the gg. The newest model would be super but very pricey at around $600 even used.

I talked to the ever-helpful Jim at Midwest and, based upon these suggestions and his input, I'm now looking for one of the older telescoping models with dual focal length scales (for both 4x5 and 5x7). Anyone have one they don't use anymore?

Frank Petronio
27-Nov-2007, 17:44
I just sold my 25 year old zoom one for less than $400 two days ago.. it is the same optical design as the current model, only the rubber rings have changed.

However, as nice as they are, I think they are very conservative in matching framelines. At least the way I used it. To the point that I was willing to let it go. YMMV.

Bill_1856
27-Nov-2007, 18:04
Consider buying a Leica Imarect finder (under $100). The format is 2:3 (close to 5x7, but you'll make the final exact composition on your GG anyhow. It's small enough to drop in your pocket, which the Linhofs definitely aren't. Just multiply the VF focal length by three (3) and you'll be close enough for government work (as we used to say at NASA).
Other than that, Jim at Midwest's idea sounds good.

Struan Gray
28-Nov-2007, 00:12
Bottom feeder's solution: a Pentax 110 SLR with it's zoom lens (or any of the three primes if they match your LF lenses). It will even take record shots, if you can find somewhere to get them developed and printed.

Ole Tjugen
28-Nov-2007, 00:44
That's not the "bottom feeder's solution" - that's a Soviet turret finder for Leica copies. Works almost just as well as the Linhof finder - and I have both!

Wilbur Wong
28-Nov-2007, 09:02
I have what is probably the latest model version.

The earlier versions varied the angle of view by moving the objective lens on a track, pictures of these for sale should illustrate that concept.

To my knowledge, the later version(s) made in the last maybe 15 years plus? have a helical focusing mechanism, with the eye piece moving rather than the objective lens. The objective lens is much larger in diameter than the tracked version. Typically they had either 4 x 5 masks, as well as a variety of smaller format masks which could be used interchangeably. These masks simply slipped on to the front of the viewfinder. They also rotate to horizontal or vertical format.

The overall concept of these finders I presume were to replace the wire frame type sports finder used by hand held photography, and were adjustable to different focal length - film format combinations.

To my knowledge the helical focusing of the later models were made with an aluminum "knobby". finished rings at first which was later replaced with a finer black rubber "knurled" finish on the control rings. Functionally I don't think there was any optical differences between these two.

The current version is adjustable in focal length from 75mm to 360 mm. My lens kit ranges from 65 to 500, so I can just estimate the view beyond these two ends.

I never used mine mounted to the camera, I removed the finder from the factory foot which mounts hot shoe fashion, and in place attached it to a neck strap. I even placed a lens case over it which has the bottom cut out so it stays on the strap and it falls over it like a bell when I let it down from my eye. I usually keep it with me on the car seat, or carry it on my neck to quickly scout out a scene before taking out the camera.

I don't rely on using this as final framing, only for scouting out and determining approximate camera position and lens selection. For whatever it's worth, these later versions have focal distance settings in addition to lens focal length settings, which more finely tunes the field of view. Also by my removing it from the factory base, it has been relieved of the ability to tilt up and down for parallax correction. This later model also have a larger range of focal length adjustment, I'm not sure but I think the earlier ones didn't go any wider than maybe 90mm? FYI, the optics exhibits a fair amount of barrel distortion at the wide end, but the new ones are also multi-coated, which I find gives me a pretty good view even if the sun is shining onto the objective lens.

Yes these later versions are pretty pricey, new ones at B & H I think push the $1600 mark. I think I paid a tad over $500 for mine a couple of years ago used at you know where that we don't speak it's name.

In defense of it's use, I have become very selective about what I shoot so I'm not compulsive of carrying my camera (no rapid fire gadzillion frame per second digi capability or motorized film backs). This finder weighs a tad over 9 ounces versus the 30 plus pounds of a 6 lens kit and camera plus tripod I would be toting around. I can quickly cover a lot of ground, and go back to the car to take out the heavy guns if I find something I like to work. Of course this tactic doesn't make sense if I am hiking several miles into an area.

YMMV, I hope this helps.

Wilbur

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
28-Nov-2007, 09:18
" the later version(s) made in the last maybe 15 years plus?"

Over 30 years. We have brochures and price lists from 1975 that show the old version of the current Multifocus Finder.

Brian Ellis
28-Nov-2007, 13:40
I used the type pictured in Wilbur's photograph for the same purpose you're talking about, i.e. to hand-hold it as an aid to selecting and composing photographs and choosing the correct focal length lens. I didn't like it very much for that purpose. I found it awkward and uncomfortable to hold it at my eye with one hand and rotate the circular gizmo with the other, with one elbow sticking out like a chicken's wing and your hand upside down. FWIW I thought that a $10 viewing card from B&H, the kind with a 4x5 hole and a piece of tape with 4x5 focal lengths on it, was better to use for scouting out photographs and roughly composing and choosing a focal length. OTOH, I found that I kind of liked using the Linhof Finder on the camera to refine the composition - but not enough to keep it just for that purpose so I sold mine.

David A. Goldfarb
28-Nov-2007, 13:48
I use it both ways, as an aid to composition and lens selection and on the Technika as a viewfinder for rangefinder shooting.

dwhistance
28-Nov-2007, 14:26
I've got the latest type. I only really use it when looking for locations with a view to returning later when the light is right. I find it helpful in deciding what lenses to bring with me but not accurate enough to allow me to make my final choice using it - I find that I often end up using a lens either slightly longer or shorter than the one I identify using the finder. I suspect if I spent more time out and about with my camera and less on the computer it would become unecessary.

David Whistance

Wilbur Wong
2-Dec-2007, 07:58
John,

One additional thing that I thought I might add is that I find that with the later helical focusing model, the view is VERY bright. Perhaps more than 2 stops brighter than naked eye. No particular value during the day but of considerable value to me in lower light levels.

jonconkey
19-Feb-2008, 13:14
I am also having difficulty finding information on these viewfinders, and the answers here haven't helped me - sorry!

I have acquired an old black finder with 90-360 scale on the right and 120-500 scale on the left and what may be a 4x5 mask on the front (30mm x 23mm for the outer silver and 14mm x 20 mm for the inner line)

My question is, which is supposed to be the area framed in the picture and what is the significance of the outer/inner division?

Also, Is there such a thing as a 6x17cm mask? And does the 5x7" mask show 4x5" in the middle to avoid having to swap masks when using a reducing back?

Thanks for the help.

Doug Dolde
19-Feb-2008, 13:21
I used to own one but have found that I can see compositions pretty well without it. It's also pretty obsolete since it doesn't have a 110mm setting.

Peter K
19-Feb-2008, 14:16
The old black finder was for both formats 4x5" and 5x7". For 4x5" one has to use the right scale, 90mm - 360mm, and for 5x7" the left scale 120mm - 500mm. The fine black line marks the area framed in the picture. There where no masks aviable. BTW the 6x17cm format is a new format compared to this view finder.

Peter K
19-Feb-2008, 15:30
I used to own one but have found that I can see compositions pretty well without it. It's also pretty obsolete since it doesn't have a 110mm setting.
The old view finder has a 105mm setting for 4x5" and 120mm for 5x7" :cool:

Ben Calwell
19-Feb-2008, 18:25
Are these the finders that are listed in a B&H ad in View Camera Magazine for $1,500 new?

David A. Goldfarb
19-Feb-2008, 18:54
The new ones, yes, but there are lots of older ones out there for less money.

It's possible to set them for intermediate focal lengths. Just compare what you see in the finder to what's on the groundglass and mark it on the ring or on the side with a pencil. That's what I do with my intermediate-style version (the one with the knurled metal finish).

Emmanuel BIGLER
20-Feb-2008, 06:08
while the older telescoping models are a lot cheaper, but not really very satisfactory about exactly where the image edges lie.

I had an old "tan" model for a while ; I loved the high manufacturing quality and "sixties-style" perfect finish but I had to eventually sell it, I could not use it properly.
Since I am wearing ophtamic glasses (I'm suffering from astigmatism in addition to being short sighted) I cannot see the whole frame with my glasses on. I do not think that the old 'tan" model has a dioptre adjustment that would allow pure-short-sighted people with no astigatims to see sharp through the finder with no glasses. So...

The new model solves the problem. At a nominal cost ;)
So if you wear ophtalmic glasses, you should make a try of any finder before purchase, be it made in Munich or made in Wetzlar or made in Russia .

The situation is exactly the same for binoculars or microscope eyepieces, old binoculmars and old microscope eyepieces are not suitable for observation with your glasses on : you'd loose a huge part of the visible field like in the old Linhof finder.

Just my 0,02 euro to the discussion (0,02 euro is about the price of a home-made cardboard frame finder ;-)

Greg Liscio
1-Mar-2008, 09:48
Does anyone have input on the Fotoman viewfinders at Badger Graphic for $200. They have 4X5 masks and inserts for different lenses. Seems if you wanted to check several lens perspectives, this might be a pita, making the manual form with measuring string more effective.

Grego

Wilbur Wong
2-Mar-2008, 11:45
In response to an offline question to me about the mechanics of removing the factory "hot shoe" foot and attaching it to a neck strap, I would like to add the following personal experience.



I removed the pin which secures the optical barrel to the "hot shoe" base. Be careful about the torsion spring during the removal. The pin has one slightly larger "knurled" end with a force fit, just be sure to push it out in that direction. I think I might have tapped it out with a tiny pin punch. If you have to adapt, you could probably make a pin punch substitute by using a small numbered drill with the flutes ground off.

I don't remember why now, but at the time I didn't trust putting the pin back in but instead replaced it with a small "wire nail" of the right diameter (home depot). I just trimmed off the sharp pointed end, and lightly superglued the blunt end (not the head end) in place after passing the nail through the loop of my neck strap.

For the neck strap I purchased and then adapted a generic strap from REI, I don't remeber the intended usage. I did cut off a buckle, and resewed the strap to form a simple end like a watch strap. (I don't know where you live, REI is a outdoor camping supply store.)

My last act was to cut out the bottom off of one of my unused soft lens cases. That now "floats" over the view finder and just drops bell like to protect it while it is hanging from my neck when I let it go. (Or maybe it protects other things from the view finder)

I hope you enjoy the alteration. The view finder is a bit too bulky as far as I'm concerned to just slip into a pocket, so the neck strap worked well as a solution for me.

bglick
23-Mar-2008, 22:59
I have the new model also, and overall, for scouting, its an OK tool, but quite expensive for the task it performs. I often use my cardboard cutout with tape measure attached.

The biggest problem I have with the Linhof is, its very awkward to handhold for this purpose, its awkward to zoom, hard to pocket, rough edges, etc. Of course, in the past, Bob Solomon has disputed this, but then again, he can not rid his bias since he represents Linhof.

Awhile back on this forum, someone showed some links to a Cine version of the same...these were scouting tools also, which directors wear to designate lens selection. They were more, neck-strap friendly, as they were designed for that purpose. It's been so long, I can't recall the makers name. I would strongly consider one of those after owning the Linhof, but I am sure they are pricy also, possibly big, I can't recall.

With the exchange rate going in the WRONG direction, we can expect some major price increases soon from these Euro exporters.

anchored
23-Mar-2008, 23:28
My brother uses the cardboard matboard cutout with string... and I use the new version Linhof Multifocal Finder... he's now in the process of looking for one too... definitely more accurate and convenient than his method. However, the finder does show a bit less than the actual lens shows, but it's accurate enough to figure best camera position and which lens to use.

I've seen quite a few of them on eBay... the new style usually sells for $400-something... the older ones for a bit less. As I nearly always use a shooting vest with big pockets, carrying it has never been an issue. If your budget allows, it's a very handy tool for sure.

gregstidham
24-Mar-2008, 04:27
I'm perfectly happy with all my Linhof Technika stuff - viewfinders included.

But, for those that want a cinema type directors viewfinder, here is one I own that I used to use when I shot with motion picture cameras. I own the previous model that is no longer available, but it is the same. I paid around a $100 for mine.

http://www.cavision.com/viewfinders/VFM11X.htm

It is affordable, lightweight, easy to use, and makes a nice fashion accessory, which I think some of you guys would think is most important. You will need to convert the cine lens markings to work with your large format lenses. The aspect ratio would adjust easily to large format.

John Schneider
24-Mar-2008, 09:01
Models by Tewe (for both cine and 35mm RF's) are available on ebay and relatively cheap ($50-100). You need to convert the focal lengths to the format you're using. They're small and light, and seem to work on the zooming principle of the newer Linhof models, rather than cropping the angle of view of the older Linhof models and the annoying Leica Imarect model, which is also small and light but archaic and dark IMO. I have the Tewe and Imarect, I just (last week) bought the Linhof zooming finder that used to belong to Frank Petronio, and have access to the older Linhof model. Since I'm the guilty party who started this entire thread (and learned a lot along the way), I plan to do a test of all four models this summer and report the results here. But, bq, if you want a decent finder much smaller than the Linhof, I'd look for a Tewe.

ed_lumen
19-May-2008, 09:01
dear greg, i would be really glad if you could give a statement about the handling and viewing differences between the newer linhof and the mentioned cavision finder! PLEEEASE ;-)


I'm perfectly happy with all my Linhof Technika stuff - viewfinders included.

But, for those that want a cinema type directors viewfinder, here is one I own that I used to use when I shot with motion picture cameras. I own the previous model that is no longer available, but it is the same. I paid around a $100 for mine.

http://www.cavision.com/viewfinders/VFM11X.htm

It is affordable, lightweight, easy to use, and makes a nice fashion accessory, which I think some of you guys would think is most important. You will need to convert the cine lens markings to work with your large format lenses. The aspect ratio would adjust easily to large format.

gregstidham
20-May-2008, 21:46
Forgive me if I have confused anyone, but I only own the old style Linhof finder and the Cavision Director finder. These two work the same. They crop rather than using additional optics to zoom like the newer Linhof finder does. I have never used the newer Linhof finder. Good luck with your search for a finder.

timparkin
21-May-2008, 01:12
This may be anathema to a lot of you but I've just recently started using a Ricoh GX100 as a finder. It's naturally 4x5 (just about) format and 24-72 zoom range makes it ideal for most normal large format lens ranges. The screen on the back is bright and it's simple to test out low angle shots without bending over (good when you have a bad back like me). It also gives you a very good test shot that you can then flip through and compare. I walk around a location and take a quick snap of the compositions I'm thinking about and then scroll through them to assess.

Also, the zoom range has a 'discrete interval' mode. This means you press the zoom in and it jumps to the next focal length. The interval sees to offer a 110 - 135 - 150 - 210 - 300 range of lens equivalents ... they also do a wide angle converter which would give you 80mm at the wide end.

There are a couple of large format landscape photographers I know who have indicated that they wouldn't buy a replacement for their linhof finder as the Ricoh would do as good or better.

Tim

ed_lumen
21-May-2008, 02:32
These two work the same. They crop rather than using additional optics to zoom like the newer Linhof finder does.

... exactly the information i was hoping for, thank you ;-) that was nowhere else to be found.

rknewcomb
21-May-2008, 06:56
Does anyone have input on the Fotoman viewfinders at Badger Graphic for $200. They have 4X5 masks and inserts for different lenses. Seems if you wanted to check several lens perspectives, this might be a pita, making the manual form with measuring string more effective.

Grego

I have one of the zoom Fotoman type finders that I use for scouting. It could be from one of those made in China rollfilm cameras, I don't remember for sure. I found it brighter to look through then the Old tan Linhof finder and the glass seems to have a bigger eyepiece so I liked it better enough to sell my old Linhof finder. I paid about $75 on the auction site.
RKNewcomb

renes
15-Apr-2010, 01:14
Is this Linhof an older style universal finder or "new" zooming model?
I wonder if to buy it.

http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/8895/zoom1p.jpg

http://img405.imageshack.us/img405/755/zoom2w.jpg

ed_lumen
15-Apr-2010, 03:51
that is just the same as the actual one exept for the rubber around it. and inside it is the same whatever film-formats are written - you have to make yourself a comparison-chart for your lenses, i.e. 115 (your 5/7-lens) = (more or less) 53 (on this finder labeled for rf)(just a freehand-example...). the frames (front-hoods) according to your format you can buy extra (be patient and wait for an ebay-chance or be rich and order them new ;-) - but you do not need them really, as you obviously do not seem to want to use it on the linhof-cam and are just looking for something to give you help for selecting a viewpoint and fitting lens, i guess. if it disturbs you, there are a little bit tricky ways to detach the foot of the piece, but for using it on the linhof-cam again it would have to be adjusted by the technicians.

cheers!

renes
15-Apr-2010, 05:30
Thanks. I did not mention it but I will use it with 6x9 camera.

Bob Salomon - HP Marketing
15-Apr-2010, 07:09
Thanks. I did not mention it but I will use it with 6x9 camera.

I should hope so. The version pictured is for a 69 camera. The 45 and 57 versions are different.

linhofbiker
29-May-2012, 08:38
I have the 6X9 version with 4 attachments (6X9 6X7 6X6 and 6X4.5). When shooting LF I just make the mental conversion to the appropriate focal length. It is close enough for government work!

Phil Hudson
15-Jun-2012, 10:11
Just curious: I have what I assume is a late type finder but it has 72mm, 80mm and 110mm positions as well as a 400mm setting in a different colour (presumably for the then-new Schneider XL lenses). Has this superseded the previous design with 65mm, 75mm, etc, or is it the same finder with a new decal on it?

John Schneider
15-Jun-2012, 10:22
I imagine it's a new decal with perhaps new detents. I had the 2x3 version of the Universal finder, and it appeared to be the same as the 4x5 version save for the decals and the mask.

Jim Noel
15-Jun-2012, 10:38
I had two different models, each for several years. I found them heavy and bulky to carry, and not overly accurate.
For the past 20+ years I have used a gray card with a hole cut to 1/2 the dimension of the film I am using. (4x5 become 2 x 2 1/2, 5x7 becomes 2 1/2 x 3 1/2)
The 4x5 card can also be used for the 8x10. The 7x17 has its own card.
To the corner of the card is attached a string. measuring from the card, there is a knot at 1/2 the focal length of each lens. By placing the appropriate knot against my nose and viewing the subject I can quickly and easily choose the correct lens, and composition.
Such a viewing card was good enough for Ansel, so it is surely good enough for me.
When one wears out after several years, or becomes lost, I just make another. I have bought a lot of film with the money I got for the Linhof finders.