View Full Version : Beginner Linhof Questions

9-Mar-2010, 18:56
Sorry for these most likely obvious questions... but, I'm having trouble reserching up the answers myself.

I am looking at purchasing a used Linhof Kardan GT as my first 4x5. It appears to be a pretty good deal, and I like to shoot architecture, and this seems like an ideal camera for that.

My questions are as follows:

1: Are the Kardan GT lensboards the same as the boards for the technika series of cameras?

2: How much should I expect to pay (ballpark) for lensboards to fit this camera?

3:How much would a bag bellows cost, and will I need one to use a 90mm lens successfully on this camera?

Thanks, and I apologize again for the amateur questions, I just get the feeling that people here would be able to answer these much more easily and reliably than my internet searching...

-Alex DeVoe

9-Mar-2010, 19:04
Also, are lensboards easy enough to make? I have a well equipped woodshop available and a decent amount of woodworking experience...


Brian Ellis
9-Mar-2010, 19:23
They aren't the same size. I believe the Kardan GT takes 162mm boards which is much larger than the 96x99mm or thereabouts boards that 4x5 Technika IV and later Technika cameras take. I've never owned a Kardan GT so someone here can correct me if I'm wrong.

If you buy new Linhof-brand lens boards you'll pay plenty, like $165 or so for one board. There are many other brand boards that fit 4x5 Technikas and that cost a lot less. I would assume the same is true for Kardan GT boards but I don't know for sure. It should be easy enough to do a Google search.

If you have a well-equipped workshop and woodworking experience I would think you could make your own pretty easily. My students used to make enlarger lens boards out of cardboard. If they can do that you surely can make some out of wood. In fact you probably could make a Kardan-to-Technika adapter without too much trouble.

9-Mar-2010, 19:28
the kardan lensboards are larger than for the technika.

i have not seen many of these sell on ebay, but they go for roughly $600-800. the bag bellows goes for $100-200.

9-Mar-2010, 19:50
Thank you guys.

Alright, round 2. haha.

Is a Kardan GT roughly comparable to a Horseman 450 LS? Big quality differences?

Also, what are the differences between a Horseman 450 LS and 450 EM. I could find specs for the LS, but not much on the EM... any ideas? I am finding Horseman accessories to be much cheaper and more readily available, and am thinking it would be the EASIER route over the Linhof, but don't want to miss out if a Kardan GT is a significantly nicer system...


Brian Ellis
9-Mar-2010, 19:54
the kardan lensboards are larger than for the technika.

i have not seen many of these sell on ebay, but they go for roughly $600-800. the bag bellows goes for $100-200.

I don't know what the bag bellows costs but I know a Kardan 4x5 lens board doesn't cost anything like $600 - $800. Maybe you got the prices reversed?

Brian Ellis
9-Mar-2010, 19:56
Sorry, I cant participate in round 2, I don't know anything about the Horsemans.

9-Mar-2010, 20:12
If you're considering Linhof and Horseman, consider Sinar also. Plenty of accessories available cheap on ebay. There's also a Sinar-to-Technika lensboard adapter available. And the Horseman cameras will also take Sinar boards and bellows ( and vice-versa).


Frank Petronio
9-Mar-2010, 21:42
The Linhof GT has a higher build quality than the Horseman (which is a fine camera as well) but the downside is that components are somewhat rare on US eBay. You'll have better luck trolling eBay.de (German). The larger lensboards are in the $40-$100 range depending on greed. Be careful to get the right one for the GT, as I think some older Linhofs may take a different style yet similar size. The right way to do it is to find a camera or a separate GT board that will have slide-locks to adapt a Technika sized board, since 4x5 Technika boards are plentiful.

The Linhof bag bellows are high quality leather but older ones will probably be dry and flaking. The right thing to do here is to take the bad older bellows and send it off to a bellows maker like http://www.custombellows.co.uk/ where they will take the frames and build a custom replacement for $2-300.

The Linhof is a great system if you find a good one and are willing to do some leg work. It's not easy to resell, it's the sort of camera you buy once and keep.

However... the most value and capability for your money is to invest into a Sinar system. They are high quality, plentiful, popular, and thanks to everyone closing their studios and buying wooden toy cameras, inexpensive. But search and do your homework, you can buy a Sinar F for $300 or get something really sweet for 2-3x that.

9-Mar-2010, 23:25

So I'm not the only one to notice the prices on these!!

I just did this exact thing last week! Bought a Linhof Kardan GT 4x5, an extra bag bellows for around $120, and a Technika-to-Kardan adapter board for another $120 (all parts are Linhof brand and in pretty good shape -- bag bellows is a bit beat up, but no leaks -- it's not leather though -- it's ballistic nylon with felt inside, but KEH was selling it as Linhof brand. Either way, it fits and was cheaper than the brand new bag bellows for $700-something).

I already have a Technika V, so I just use my same lenses. Any additional new-to-me lenses I get will go on Technika boards.

I can't afford a Sinar P (or P2 or X or whatever, they are about $1200 for Ex quality from KEH right now, and I like to be able to send it back if it's wrong, hence I use evilbay for the little things like lensboards, etc, but not the camera), but I figure this has got to be at least the same quality and around the same capability as the P series (someone can correct me on this; it's my first 4x5 monorail).

I know it doesn't have the asymmetrical tilts that stay in focus like the Sinars, but it does have both base and axis tilts. I read on this forum somewhere that the asymmetrical thing is nice to have but not necessary. I don't think a Sinar F is as capable (=varied and probably confusing movements for us newbies) as a Kardan GT, but then again I've never even seen one in person. After the Tech V, I kind of like how pretty much everything Linhof make is so precise and solid and exact. It's like pretending I can afford a Leica :)

So, I did think about Sinar, and I was going to just pick up a standard here, a rail there, etc etc until I had a full P/P2, but I don't know enough about it to know if things are broken or worn out, and as I would be spending a long time to build it (to keep the same price range), I wouldn't know until later if something didn't fit or wasn't right. However, if you ever want to rent lenses or whatever, then this might not be the right solution for you as nobody rents Linhof in the U.S. (at least not in NYC that I know of). The scarcity of Kardan stuff also keeps me from going overboard on the auction site. That said, only time will tell if I have made the right decision.

I bought a Pelican 1610 case yesterday because i can't figure out how to fit the thing in anything else without complete disassembly (and then the oil on the shift rails dries out and/or gets on things when I accidentally touch it). It doesn't look big because it's all elegant and precise, but make no mistake, this camera is HUGE. 15" high by 15" long by about 9" wide. You can smush both standards together and make a big 15" x 15" L, but few soft bags/packs would fit even that. If you swing the standards sideways, it gets about 17-18" long, 15" high and 3" to 4" wide, but then you have to store the bellows separately in the case, and it's a big flat rectangle, and I would imagine you'd have to be inventive about how you stack things on top of it. Luckily I already have a field camera solution in the Tech V, though I'm sure I can figure out a way to get the Kardan into a backpack somehow if I want to.

So.... even though it was cheap as an entry-level DSLR kit, I'm already more $$ into it than I originally thought. (forgot I'd need a case)... hey just like the Technika, though that was worse as it was my first 4x5:

Though you probably already know it, buying the camera, bellows, and a lensboard is just the beginning. Since it's your first 4x5, you'll need a lens (having it mounted in a board can cost $100+ even when you supply the board), focusing cloth, cable release, filmholders, changing tent, light meter if you don't have one, maybe a polaroid back for the Fuji instant film, a backpack/bag/case that is big enough for all this stuff at once, etc, etc, etc.

Whichever way you go, good luck! If you want me to measure anything or whatever, just let me know.


9-Mar-2010, 23:34
I don't know what the bag bellows costs but I know a Kardan 4x5 lens board doesn't cost anything like $600 - $800. Maybe you got the prices reversed?

oh, i was talking about the kardan gt, not the lensboards. those go for $40-80.

Bob Salomon
10-Mar-2010, 03:55
the kardan lensboards are larger than for the technika.

i have not seen many of these sell on ebay, but they go for roughly $600-800. the bag bellows goes for $100-200.

New Linhof Kardan boards retail for less then $200.00 in the USA for 0, 1 and 3 flat boards and 0 recessed boards.

10-Mar-2010, 17:31
ebay.de, huh? Time to put that German I learned in Highschool to work! Who would have thought I'd make use of it...

Thanks for the info guys. I think I am going to bite the bullet and make my first large format purchase. The Unless there is a reason I should avoid KEH's bargain condition items (specifically a 4x5 camera)? Should I be wary of this? They have a reasonable return policy, no?

10-Mar-2010, 17:58
KEH have a very generous return policy (I think you just pay postage). So, you could get the Bargain one and send it back if you don't like it. That's where I got mine. BGN will have scratches and so forth, but be functionally fine. Make sure you take it into a dark room (like the bathroom), rack the bellows all the way out, and shine a flashlight in one end. If your bathroom turns into a planetarium, then the bellows has holes.