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Thread: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

  1. #1

    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Houston, Texas

    4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    I am trying to decide on my first LF camera. I shoot mostly landscape and some architecture.

    I really like the convenience of roll film and the 6x9 format. On the other hand there are occasions when I would like the larger 4x5 film size. I know that some 4x5s are adaptable to 6x9. It would be nice to have both film formats in one LF camera but I am concerned about 2 things:

    1 - I will comprimise some of the functions of the 6x9 format. Perhaps it be better to get a separate camera for each format?

    2 - It will complicate my LF learning process.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Gulfport, MS, USA

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    Start with a 4x5 with a "universal" or "Graflock" back...most of the currently manufactured cameras have these and a good many of the older ones did, too. The old Graphic roll holders are readily available in 6x9, 6x7, and even 6x6 formats (some makers also have them available in 6x12). You simply compose and focus on the ground glass (marked in some manner for the roll film format) and remove the ground glass pannel, replacing it with the roll film back before making the exposure. Easier to do than to say.

    I don't think it complicated my learning curve any...the photos are made the same way regardless of the format.

  3. #3
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2000
    Honolulu, Hawai'i

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    Virtually all 4x5" cameras can accept a 6x9cm back without difficulty. Most more recent cameras, as well as many cameras going back to the 1940s have a Graflok or International style back with a removable groundglass panel and slide locks for holding a rollfilm back, but even cameras that have a plain spring back can accept some rollfilm holders that slide under the groundglass panel like a regular sheet film holder.

    Many 4x5" cameras make better 6x9 cameras than dedicated 6x9 cameras, so there is not necessarily any compromise, and I don't see how this will complicate your LF learning process.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    May 2007
    New York City & Pontremoli, Italy

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    When I shoot roll film on the 4x5 I sue the the "roll film holders that slide under the groundglass panel like a regular sheet film holder", as David mentions above. They work well, they are fast and will most likely work on all 4x5's. I have a 6x9 and a 6x12; they are made by Cambo and I ordered them from Calumet.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Jan 2001

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    The idea of being able to use 120 roll film with a 4x5 camera actually sounds better than it works out in practice.
    While I shot thousands of rolls of "prom couples" with a roll film holder on my Graphic View II when I was at university, but for things you'd normally use a view camera for, (landscapes, architecture) you won't find it very useful. For portraits it might, or might not, work.
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  6. #6

    Join Date
    Dec 2004

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    some combinations of a 4 X 5 camera and roll film will give you restrictions in the wide angle department. If you like wide angles this is something to reckon with.

  7. #7

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    Hi Scott,

    I frequently use my Horseman FA 4x5 camera with a Horseman 6x9
    and 6x12 back. Great combination that gives you some other options
    in the field. You can keep a few backs loaded with different films
    ready for action..

    Warren Clark

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Austin TX

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    You'll find compromises in going either way you are considering. A very high quality dedicated 6X7 has the handling and precision film plane edge over a 4X5; but no movement capability (usually). The 4X5 has the movements and larger format advantage.
    In my experience unless you are a pro with varied client demands it will turn out to be a bit of a PITA to carry both cameras around. You will ultimately gravitate toward one type.

    So I would consider the 4X5 first using Quickloads for simplicity. Then I'd buy a used roll film back at some modest cost. Finally if you find you are using the roll film back more exclusively you would get a dedicated 6X7 camera. If necessary you could always sell the 4X5 at the end of the process.

    Realize that most of us photographers, in choosing an equipment set, evolve over time. Since you are already shooting landscapes and architecture in some format I can presume that you are the evolving type also. Moving through various equipment types is some of the fum in photography. Now just wait until you view an 8X10 image on a ground glass screen for the first time!

    Nate Potter, Austin TX.

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    Using a 6x9 roll film holder on a 4x5 camera (with international back) is very easy and allows you to have 2 cameras (= formats) in one.
    A dedicated 6x9 field camera is very nice, but since you're only going to carry one camera, you might end up missing the possibility to use 4x5 film.
    Of course, a 4x5 camera with a 6x9 RFH is a bit bulkier and heavier to carry, but much more versatile.
    I have been using 6x9 Horsemans and Ebonys, but have decided to go with just one 4x5 camera in the future. I won't have to ask myself anymore which camera to take since I don't have a choice. The Horseman 6x9 RFH works perfectly well on my 4x5 Ebony.
    BTW, 6x9 cameras are not noticebly cheaper than their 4x5 counterparts. And they don't show up so often on the used market, so the offer is less wide if you want to buy used (which I'd strongly recommend).

  10. #10

    Re: 4x5's easily adaptable to 6x9 ?

    The supposed compromise with roll film backs that slide under the ground glass instead of replacing it is that they bend the film too sharply and that a roll left in the holder can take a set and cause focus problems. It wouldn't seem to be a problem as the film is already wound fairly tightly around the roll. Does anyone know if the film is bent emulsion out on the return leg? Has anyone really had a problem with this?? Or is it just a "old photographer's wives tale"?

    My personal experience shooting 6x9 with 4x5 is that once you go to all the trouble to set up a 4x5, focus with the ground glass and carry all that weight around, it seems silly not to use sheet film. My very expensive 6x9 Linhof holder would be a "garage bunny" if it were a car.


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