View Full Version : I want a rollback view camera with adequate tilt for Landscapes? Horseman VHR?

Hugh Sakols
9-May-2004, 10:53
I am interested in a view camera that has tilts and shifts and uses roll film. I specify roll film becuase I own a Minolta Multi Pro Scanner that will scan up to 6x9. I am particularly intested in 67 and 69 formats. Again my main critera is getting enough movements and the ability to use a wide angle lens say a 28mm equivalent in 35. Any comments on a horseman VHR?? How much is this camera used and what do the lenses go for? What about a Speed Graphic with Roll back? Will I get enought movements and will I be able to use a wide lens? What else should I consider. Any feedback would be appreciated. This will be my last piece of photo gear I promise!!

I am interested in Landscapes. I want to photograph subjects such a flowers in the forground and mountains in the back.

bob moulton
9-May-2004, 12:04
Hugh--The price range limits your selection somewhat. Many 4x5 cameras can be outfitted with roll film backs made by companies as diverse as Calumet, Sinar, Horseman, etc. So you might look for one of those. Since you want to use WA lenses, you will probably need a camera with interchangable bellows to allow you image manipulation and focus ability.That then excludes Graphics, Linhof Technikas, etc. The small Linhof Technika and Technikardan are idea for your purposes but new or used cost a lot more than $1000.

Zone VI, Wisners, maybe a Wista SP would work. Also you might shop for used rail cameras. While not as quick, some say, to work in the field they do work. Incidentally i use an Arca Swiss F Line Field and a Wisner. I cannot say the Arca Swiss is less slow in the field than the Wisner.

Another possibility is to use a MF camera with a WA lens and do much of the image manipulation in Photoshop. That is clearly a less desirable option, bt with a good scanner and Photoshop you could work.

Mark Erickson
9-May-2004, 12:52
Best bang for your buck? Galvin View. They come up every so often on eBay and typically sell for a few hundred dollars (well under the $1000, anyway).

Mark Windom
9-May-2004, 15:16
Arca Swiss 69 FC. Great for wide angle to medium telephoto, impeccable build quality, kinda pricey but you get what you pay for.

Kirk Gittings
9-May-2004, 15:23

Surprisingly, this is exactly how I do my commercial architectural photography and have for about 15 years using an old but remodeled Calumet wide-field (175.00 bucks) and Calumet C2N 6x9 roll film holders. I got tired of long days shooting on the road and the having to reload film holders at night in my hotel room. I am especially fond of the new Velvia 100F in roll film. I think it is the best combination of speed saturation and sharpness in a roll film to come along ever.

The "look" you talking about is similar to David Muench who I know well. His primary lens is a 75mm on 4x5. To get the same with roll film (say 6x9) you need about a 47mm. Very wide. Most field cameras are designed for longish lenses. Especially the Wisners. they do not work well with very wide lenses. Ron will tell you different but I have tried them. Also, I own a Zone VI and would not use it for wide lenses on roll film. The bed rails get in the way. They simply stick out to far when you rack the standards back far enough for any lens shorter than a 90mm and the bag bellows suck. You can do the drop bed thing but Zone VI's suffer some alignment chalenges when you try that and it is slow and a huge compromise. The advantage to the old Wide field is that it will take a 47 with full movements on a flat board. But it is bigger than necessary as it is a 4x5. Being able to use a flat board is a huge advantage over recessed boards in setting the aperture quickly or in low light.

So I disagree strongly with some of the above comments. The best roll film view cameras are the Arca Swiss by far. In field cameras I would look at the Walkers. Unlike most field cameras some models are specifically designed for wide lenses.

Now the 6x9 Galvin is another storey. I met Galvin about a year or two before he died and he was a great guy who made many contributions to LF. That was my first view camera and I still have a fond place in my heart for them and some great photographers including Gordon Hutchins (yes Mr. 8x10 pyro himself) has and uses one when he wants to travel light (and yes he does his roll film in pyro too). Trust me I have seen him do it! My problem was finding the old Graphic backs that didn't leak light like a sive. There must be a better answer to that now.

I'd be happy to answer more questions for you, though I am leaving shortly for Las Vegas NV on a commercial shoot that will last a week. So it may be awhile before I can respond.



Leonard Evens
9-May-2004, 18:29
I have a Horseman 980, an earlier version of the VHR. I have 65, 90, and 150 mm lenses, two 6 x 7 roll film backs, and 6 x 9 sheet film holders. I used it for some 30 years before moving to 4 x 5. The 6 x 9 equivalent of 28 mm is about 70 mm, so the 65 mm lens would work for your purposes. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find a lens shorter than 65 mm to use with these cameras.

The 980 has a reasonable range of front movements:---shifts, tilts, and swings---but very imited rear movements. With my 65 mm lens, the camera body limits the shifts, so movements are limited compared to what is possible with the longer lenses. That is one of the reasons I moved up to 4 x 5. You can see some examples of some pictures I took with my 980 and scanned with an Epson 2450 at www.math.northwestern.edu/~len/photos/pages/e2450.html. You would probably get somewhat better results with your Minolta.

Even with 4 x 5, one seldom uses large tilts. With 6 x 9, the tilt angles would normally be even smaller, so being able to make small precise movements would be an advantage. Compared to the Arca Swiss, the Horseman is somewhat crude in this respect, but it is still usable. Also, the Horseman is certainly much easier to carry around in the field.

Others have suggested getting a 4 x 5 camera and using a roll film back. Many such cameras, particularly the less expensive ones, will not accomodate a 65 mm lens very easily. You would probably need a recessed lens board and/or a bag bellows. You would be better off with a system designed for 6 x 9 in the first place.

E. U. Eichhorn
10-May-2004, 07:42
The Meridian 45B is very wide-angle friendly for a 4x5. The review on this site is quite good. The widest lense I have is a 90. Adjustments like tilt and swing are OK, but rise is limited because the lense is inside the camera body. And everything is hard to adjust (other than focus) because the lense is so far inside of the camera. The bed drops out of the way nicely though.

The Fuji G690 takes a 65mm wide angle.

Joffre Swait
10-May-2004, 09:44
Hugh, I have owned a Horseman VHR for about a year now, along with 65, 105, 180 and 300 mm lenses. I use it strictly for landscape photography, and it has been more than adequate for my purposes. I use it with both 6x7 and 6x9 formats. The 65mm lens is quite wide enough for my purposes, but movements with it are quite limited. In the horizontal format the camera bed is reasonably safe, but in the vertical format you need to go through some extra gymnastics to make sure the bed is not visible. Not difficult, just takes a bit more time. If you want something wider than 65mm, you can consult Jim at Midwest Exchange ... they seem quite knowledgeable about these Horseman cameras, and have the special boards that you are going to need for wider angles. Unless you want the rangefinder feature for hand-held photography, I would not bother with the VHR and would instead opt for the VH; the latter is more compact. One feature I have found quite attractive in both these cameras is the capability to go from horizontal to vertical formats just by twisting the back around. If you can find one of the older cameras (980, 985), they are basically the same as the more modern cameras.


Joffre Swait
10-May-2004, 10:11
Hugh Another comment: if you go the Horseman VHR route (or any of the other Horseman cameras), you should seriously consider buying the monocular viewer. It has a built-in 2x magnifier that makes evaluation of focal plane movements a LOT easier than using the 6x9 groundglass.


Mark Erickson
10-May-2004, 10:21
Now the 6x9 Galvin is another storey. I met Galvin about a year or two before he died and he was a great guy who made many contributions to LF. That was my first view camera and I still have a fond place in my heart for them and some great photographers including Gordon Hutchins (yes Mr. 8x10 pyro himself) has and uses one when he wants to travel light (and yes he does his roll film in pyro too). Trust me I have seen him do it! My problem was finding the old Graphic backs that didn't leak light like a sive. There must be a better answer to that now.

I haven't tried it, but I believe that the Galvin View will take not only Graflex roll film holders (which are pretty flimsy), but also Mamiya RB67 holders. Early-model RB67 holders can be had for well under $100 these days, and they are very well constructed.

Don Wallace
10-May-2004, 13:21

I don't know anything about the Horseman but the Graphic is a possibility, as long as you don't need ANY back movements. I used a Crown Graphic with roll film backs for exactly the purpose you describe. You can get a Crown, a roll film back, and a decent lens for under $1000. You don't need a Speed Graphic, which is the same as a Crown, but with a focal plane shutter. Although neither the Speed nor the Crown has forward tilt, you can make a very simple mod that will allow this.

Another possibility is the Super Graphic or Super Speed Graphic (the same camera for your purposes). This is NOT the same as the Speed Graphic. It was the model for the Toyo Field camera. It has an all metal body and extensive front movements. Like the others, it has no back movements but it does have a 360 degree rotatable back. It will take the same roll film backs as the other Graphics. It is likely more expensive but if you shop a little, you could still get a Super with a lens and roll film back for under $1000.

Ernest Purdum
10-May-2004, 19:45
I don't know if portability is a high priority for you. If not, Kirk's suggestion about the wide angle early Calumet (their model CC-402 if I remember correctly) could be an excellent recommendation.

More recently, Calumet has produced a wide angle version of their "Cadet" model. This might be an even better possibility. It is rated to take lenses down to 47mm. If you should order one, I think you would probably want the Graflok kit which oddly is a $37.00 accessory. The camera looks quite light, but may be bulky when packed up.

If still more portability is important to you, there are some way out in left field possibilities. In England, quarter-plate (3 1/4" X 4 1/4") cameras were produced for many years in both field and "hand or stand" models. Very similar field typoes were made in Japan. Both types had removable backs which could be replaced by a 2 1/4" X 3 1/4" Graflok type back attached to an adapter. The field types were very light indeed, and the hand or stand not all that much heavier. Most had huge front rise and tilt, but no back movements, so to get the equivalent you have to tilt the whole camera and use front tilt. Similarly, most had no swing, so to get the equivalent you have to lay the camera on its side and use tilt. The field models are quite good for wide angle use. Some of the hand or stand types have a short focusing slide built into the box. To see what both types were like, try searching eBay UK for "Sanderson", though at any given time you might not find much.

11-May-2004, 15:41
Hugh, I use a Horseman 45FA and started with 6x7 and 6x9 Calumet roll film backs. (My enlarger at that time could only handle up to 6x9.) I shoot landscape and old buildings. Lenses are 75mm 90mm, 105mm, and 180mm. (different brands). Now I have a 4x5 enlarger and shoot mostly 4x5. I read that a 65mm lens would work on this camera, but I've never used one. The 45FA has plenty of movements and is well made. I wish it had a longer bellows. It does have extension to the back which can be used for tilt and swing on the back. Hope this helps.


Mike Lyons
12-May-2004, 08:44
Hugh, I have a Panfield 4x5 which takes Graflok backs and hence rollfilm holders. In its basic form it will go to a 47mm without a recessed board and with the extension rail for the "long" version I go out to a 450mm. Lots of tilt, swing, rise and fall on the front, but shift only on the rear of the basic version. The longer extension allows for rear tilt. This is my first LF camera and I am pretty happy with it for land/sea scapes. You would have to check the Panfield web site ( made in South Africa by Andrew Meintjes ) for other details. Mike

Alan Rockwood
8-Aug-2004, 08:18

Have you thought about getting a new scanner and shooting 4x5 inch? It should be easier to find equipment, less expensive, and give you potential for higher quality as well. The Epson Perfection 4870 can often be found on ebay listed in the $400 price range ($550 for the 4870 PRO, which has some extra software), and it is getting good reviews. It will do negative and transparency sizes up to 6x9 (inches that is, not cm), and some say it does a pretty good job on 35mm as well as a result of its optical resolution of 4800 dpi.