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Thread: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

  1. #1

    How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Dear All

    I've recently purchased a used, but in pristine condition Linhof Master Technika. I'm familiar with large format cameras and am fairly sure I'm following the instructions correctly but it appears that when I focus using the rangefinder, the image is out of focus on the GG (and vice versa). I've extended the bed until it clicks in, pulled the lens board out to the infinity stop and ensured that all movements are zeroed. It's out across the entire focussing range - from near by to infinity but only by a small amount - around less than a 1/8th of a turn of the focussing ring. I estimate that at around 10ft the difference between the two focussing points is around 1ft. Some of this variance will of course be made up by depth of field when I stop the lens down, but I would have thought that the range finder would focus on the same point as the GG screen. My sense is that its enought to make a difference when undertaking portraiture and one of the reasons I purchased that type of camera was the rangefinder and its ability to focus quickly and accurately without resort tot he GG screen and a dark cloth.

    I guess my question is: am I doing something wrong, how accurate should the RF be and should I get it recalibrated?

    Many thanks in advance

    Andrew

  2. #2

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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Properly set up, technika rangefinders are superb.
    First, check that your cam is fully slid home against the post that determines infinity location. If that is right, then check that the cam number corresponds with the serial number of your lens.
    If both of those things are okay, then the problem is the infinity stops on the camera rails, and you will have to move them so that the lens is in focus at some point which agrees with the rangefinder.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  3. #3
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Have the camera looked at. Both the groundglass and the rangefinder need to be calibrated so that they agree and match the film plane, and the stops need to be set accurately. Also, be sure there are no obvious problems like one of the lens cells being partially unscrewed.

    Meanwhile, you might also make some focus tests on film. Shoot wide open with the camera on a tripod, using a known target positioned with a ruler along the lens axis and see which is more accurate. It could be that the rangefinder is correct, and the groundglass is not.

  4. #4
    8x10, 5x7, 4x5, et al Leigh's Avatar
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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Quote Originally Posted by David A. Goldfarb View Post
    It could be that the rangefinder is correct, and the groundglass is not.
    The groundglass is correct by definition unless the camera has been damaged.

    If the infinity stops are set for a different lens, it will affect the rangefinder calibration, but the groundglass focus should still be correct.

    The infinity stop must be at the correct location for the lens in use.
    Some cameras of this type allow installation of multiple infinity stops for different lenses, with unused ones flipped up out of the way.

    - Leigh
    If you believe you can, or you believe you can't... you're right.

  5. #5
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    The groundglass is correct by definition unless the camera has been damaged.

    If the infinity stops are set for a different lens, it will affect the rangefinder calibration, but the groundglass focus should still be correct.

    - Leigh
    Not on a Tech V or a Master Tech. There are are screws that allow for the fine adjustment and squaring of the groundglass. The reason that cams are interchangeable on a Tech V or a Master Tech is the groundglass is "zeroed," which is not true on a Tech IV or III. On the earlier cameras, the cam is calibrated both to a single camera body and a single lens, and cams are not interchangeable between camera bodies.

    If you want to be able to purchase, say, a used lens with a Tech V/Master Tech cam, you'll want to be sure the groundglass really is calibrated properly as well as the rangefinder, and you're not just fudging it by adjusting the infinity stops, or you won't be able to count on all the cams to focus accurately.

  6. #6

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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Be sure the lens is focused at infinity when on the stops and with the track all the way back. If it is not focused correctly, either not reaching, or going beyond infinity focus, the stops are not set correctly. Before doing anything, try this. Fold down the stops and position the lens on the track for correct infinity focus. Now try range finder focusing and see if it agree with the ground glass. If it does, simply reset the stops. Of course, any number of things could be wrong, especially if "experts" have been "adjusting" the RF.

  7. #7
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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Neal Chaves View Post
    If it does, simply reset the stops.
    As implied by David's comments, if the GG is not properly adjusted, agreement between the GG and the infinity stops simply means that both are mis-adjusted, and on-film results will be off.

  8. #8

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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    The Technika rangefinder should be scary accurate, spot on. What gets most people is the parallax error introduced when you rangefinder focus on something close by pointing the camera down, but are actually shooting straight and level. That can be a few inches right there and it is very easy to do without thinking or assuming it's a Leica that would not create as much of a difference.

    What happens a lot of the time with otherwise mint cameras are home groundglass replacements and changing or loosing the shims/set screws, removing or adding fresnels, etc.

  9. #9

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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Are you using a cam that was cut to your specific lens? If so the cam is stamped with the serial number of the lens.

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    Re: How accurate should a Linhof Rangefinder be?

    Quote Originally Posted by Leigh View Post
    The groundglass is correct by definition unless the camera has been damaged.
    Or if the GG has been put in back to front, frosted side away from the lens for instance. That would give a uniform error across the range.

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