View Full Version : Wista Rangefinder Versus Linhof Master Technika

David Finch
19-Apr-2005, 18:37
I'm looking for a very solid, reliable metal 4x5 technical camera with enough movements, bellows options, and other features to double as a studio camera when necessary. I like to use a rangefinder in the field, when time and lighting permit. The Linhof Master Technika and the Wista 45RF both come in at around 6 lbs. The Linhof has a longer bellows extension and can be cammed for any lense; the Wista is pre-coupled for 135, 150, and 180 mm lenses. So, other than price -- a Linhof outfit probably costs more than twice that of a Wista -- which one should I be thinking about? Is the Wista design and build-quality in the same ballpark as Linhof? If not, is it close enough for real-world work? Would I say of the Wista, "Heck, I should've spent the money and gotten the Linhof?" Would I say of the Linhof, "Geez, what a waste of money"?

I'm concerned that the Wista is too much of a rarity in the American market, and might have some quirks and pitfalls few people know about. I'm hoping that this 4x5 purchase will be my last.

Any advice would be much appreciated.

David A. Goldfarb
19-Apr-2005, 18:48
If you can't afford a Master Tech, consider looking for a Tech V second hand (which is what I have). The only significant difference is the flap on top for wide lenses, and that is only needed or useful for a few fairly expensive lenses in the 75-90mm range that have enough coverage to take advantage of the additional front rise you can get with the flap.

Robert Musgjerd
19-Apr-2005, 21:02
I owned aWista and could never get the RF to work.I even called H P Marketing and they were of no help and they import it.
I ended up with a Speed Graphic which worked great It's always nice to own a camera you can get tec support on. AS a matter
of fact I was treated so poorly by H P when I called for help I now avoid all products they sell. Good luck

Will Strain
20-Apr-2005, 00:18
I would vote the Linhof. I use a horseman VH-R, but as an RF, it is limited in lenses (cams are very very hard to find) and limited to rollfilm for RF work as well (since it focuses to the 2x3 stage). The 4x5 back is nice, but makes wide angle work nearly impossible (tho for studio portraiture it is more than adequate).

tor kviljo
20-Apr-2005, 01:50
I briefly had the wista metal-field w/o RF, finding it to be a very well made camera, but I belive even a bit bigger/heavier than a Tech V that I have (to use when carrying my Sinar is definitively out - but I still miss the Sinar). The wista seems to be more common in great-britain, where several with RF have gone for nice prices. As for build quality, I don't think you will be dissapointed: not all the way up to best linhof, but very good, smoot movements & ample movements that is. However, the Wista lack the technical back of the Linhof & Horseman models, instead one version have selectable micro-focus on either side on camera body to move back away/out 1/4 inch or so by means of two large wheels. Also, the bed-drop is different but good design, being possible to lock in in-between positions (the tech V have a 3 position drop-front only). Not to forget: the wista metal field is the only of its breed to have a quick removable bellows - accessible when main back is removed (a very quick procedure).

I have a RF on the tech V & cam for the 150mm Technika Symmar, but I havn't used it so far...If this is the feature which may bring you to the twice expensive tech instead of a just as capable wista, maybe You should have a look at the cheap solution: just dig up one of the at once very common & quite precise german rangefinders from 50 & 60 (very common in shop selling old camera gear/near-antiques/just-as-near-trash...) to put in the flash-shoe, & make yourself (gg-focussing & RF working together) a focussing scale to mount on the camera bed. Focussing will be very fast: quick glimpse in RF, turn wheel to zero in on distance - transfer distance to focus-bed - frame & go.. It wil maybe be a second or three more time spent than using the rangefinder + viewfinder on the tech, but not much more. Remember that range/viewfinder on a tech 4"x5" is separate, so you have to use the RF first (mounted on the side of the camera-body - awkward!), then swicht to the separate viewfinder on top of the camera for framing. The WF have manual paralax & manual H/V adjustment: it is no speedy system (the fast R/F systems by Linhof were features of the super technika 2"x3" & the 70/press etc) , so you loose little putting up a simpler way of doing it.

By the way: the 75mm Viewfinder (w/paralax-adjustment) as well as the other separate viewfinders from Polaroid 600 SE & Mamiya Super/Universal Press-family fit the technica well, even having about the same distance lens/viewfinder-distance. The 75mm for polaroid pack-film format covers about the same as a 90mm on 4"x5"

If You absolutely need that tech V with RF, you can probably have mine (with 150 cam & technika symmar 150), even with the very capable tech V, I miss the precision & ease of adjustments of my Sinar!

Good luck in the jungle of 4"x5"!

Emil Ems
20-Apr-2005, 04:10
I would like to support Tor's view that you really do not need a factory installed rangefinder for hand held view camera work.

In that context I recall that some weeks ago, either on this forum or on the photo-net forum, there was a guy describing a method of exact distance measuring without a rangefinder. If a recall it right he used his eyes, together with some marks he had put on the camera back, to do the necessary job. It sounded very good to me and I intended to follow his example with my Toyo View. Unfortunately, I lost the thread. Maybe someone else here can help us find it. It may also be useful for you David to learn about this, instead of investing in expensive extra equipment.

I hope this helps