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Thread: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

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    Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

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    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    Quote Originally Posted by John Schneider View Post
    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.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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?
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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.

  9. #9
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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!

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    Re: Linhof Universal Finders - Synopsis of versions and capabilities?

    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

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