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View Full Version : Metal Field Cameras - Technika and Wista ??'s



Scott Rosenberg
6-Aug-2005, 16:45
good day...

I am looking for a metal field camera to take backpacking. once upon a time I owned a technika, and found it great for packing, though the rear movements caused me to ultimately sell it. Iíve owned an ebony, and am not interested in a wooden camera. as such, I am trying to find a camera like the technika, but with rear movements more like a traditional field camera, at least rear tilt.

the Wista SP seems to be about the closest thing I can find. it folds up into a protective little box like the technika, but, from what I can find on the net, has better rear movements.
1. Can some Wista SP users confirm that for me?
2. Furthermore, what is the longest lens that can be used with the Wista? I own lenses from 75 - 450, but shoot 85% in the 75 - 150 range.
3. I use rear tilts to ensure that the film plane is plum... is this easily and accurately determined with the Wista SP? this was the one thing that really caused me to sell my technika... the film plane tilted independently of the body, and the only level on the camera was on the body, so it was therefore difficult to see when the rear was straight up-and-down.

if the Wista is not any better than the technika with respect to rear tilt, than I will simply buy a Master Technika 2000.
1. could someone please confirm the usable range of lenses with the MT 2000?
2. furthermore, what methods have you devised to determine when the film plane is plum? is it possible to mount a small vial level on the rear of the MT 2000?

the obvious alternative to both of these cameras is the Canham dlc, which Iíve used, and is a fine camera with a long range of lenses. however, it does not fold into a little box, which I like very much.

thanks for any inputs,
scott

David A. Goldfarb
6-Aug-2005, 17:49
An easy way to check if the back is plumb when extended is to use an angle finder--a level with a flat surface on one side and a rotating protractor dial, so you set it at the angle you want (90 deg. for plumb), and when the level is level, the back is plumb to the earth. If the camera is also level, then it will be perpendicular to the back.

A neat gadget that I've been using lately is a Suunto Tandem sighting clinometer-compass. You can use the clinometer to level or set the angle of the front or rear tilt and use the compass to adjust the swing, and you can also determine the angle of inclination of the desired focal plane for use with the Rodenstock or other tilt/swing calculator. Very handy tool for cameras without scales, if you like scales.

Wilbur Wong
7-Aug-2005, 00:16
I am currently using a MT 2000 and love it. I use the little rod extensions to tilt the rear. It is much more work to do the rear tilt or swing than when I used a monorail, but the camera is definitely compact when folded up and virtually indestructable. I saw another photographers MT 2000 bounce across an asphalt parking lot with nothing more serious than the Linhof emblem falling off.

I don't believe that you can use a 450 lens with this camera. The longest lens that I use is a Nikon 300M. The telephoto Nikon 360/500 is usable, and I may purchase one at some time in the future.

A friend of mine has the DLC which has a serious amount of bellows!

I have a bubble balance which I use on top of the camera on the shoe, and on occasion a little tenuously perhaps, I have stuck the bubble balance clip just under the dark slide clip to check the verticalness of the film plane.

Will Strain
7-Aug-2005, 02:34
My Horseman VHR has minor rear movements using extension rods... but I don't think it's a step up from a Technika in other respects. More of a step sideways.

Juergen Sattler
7-Aug-2005, 05:26
I use a Canham DLC45 - you are right it doesn't fold up like a Technika, but I love the movements on this camera - they are very intuitive. I find that even when I have to take the camera out of the Canham back, "unfold" it, put the lens on, etc. I am quicker taking a shot with it than with a Technika (I have owned and used two of them). Adjusting the movements, focusing, etc, is way easier with the Canham - but as we all know, it's a very personal choice. Good Luck with your decision.

David Karp
7-Aug-2005, 09:05
You can purchase extension lensboards that will let you use the 450mm (at least the Fujinon C).

Brian Ellis
7-Aug-2005, 09:55
I don't understand your problem with the Technika back. You say "the film plane tilted independently of the body, and the only level on the camera was on the body, so it was therefore difficult to see when the rear was straight up-and-down." Of course if you're tilting then by definition the rear isn't straight up and down. I assume you mean that if you're tilting it was difficult to see that the left and right sides of the back remained the same distance from the camera body. However, that shouldn't be a problem most of the time. When tilting the top backwards you just leave the base of the back flush with the camera (i.e. you don't even loosen the two bottom knobs) and vice versa for forward tilt. As long as the non-tilted (or swung) sides remain attached to the camera body they obviously must be parallel with it and with each other.

The only time I can see having the problem you describe (if I'm interpreting the problem correctly, which perhaps I'm not) is if you're both tilting and also pulling the back out from the body to gain a little extra bellows extension. But that normally is unnecessary except with a lens longer than 300mm and you say you use lenses 150mm and shorter 85% of the time.

My apologies if I'm misunderstanding your problem with the Technika. I certainly agree that the back movement system on Technikas is inconvenient to use. But once you accept the inconvenience and loosen the two knobs required to tilt (or swing) I don't see how there's a problem keeping everything in line with the camera body except in the limited situation described above.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 10:06
hi brian...

the precise situation i am referring to is thus...

i've got the camera set and pointed upwards slightly on the tripod. to ensure verticals remain parallel, i need to tilt the rear forward somewhat. the circular level on the camera body therefore is not useful in determining when the film plane is straight up and down, unlike the level on my arca swiss, which moves with the film plane. if there was a way to attach a vial level to the part of the technika that actually tilts, this adjustment could be made far more accurately.

when you said "Of course if you're tilting then by definition the rear isn't straight up and down." i think i must not have been clear in that when my camera is pointed up or down, i use tilt to ensure my standards are plum.

Brian Ellis
7-Aug-2005, 11:54
Scott - Thanks for the clarification, I do see now what you're talking about and yes in the situation you describe it would be a problem to make sure the back remains straight up and down (i.e. parallel with the subject). FWIW I "solve" the problem with the Technika (and other cameras that use a more conventional system since the same problem exists there as well) just by carefully aligning the grid lines on the ground glass with vertical lines in the subject (assuming there are any). A level would be better but I'm not sure you can use a level with the Technika back in the situation you describe. As you may remember, the rear half of the Technika back is itself not level, it's canted at about a 20 degree angle so there's nothing to put the level on that is itself level from front to back (unless the design of the back has changed with the 2000, I have a Classic Master not the 2000).

Paul Butzi
7-Aug-2005, 12:26
i've got the camera set and pointed upwards slightly on the tripod. to ensure verticals remain parallel, i need to tilt the rear forward somewhat. ... i think i must not have been clear in that when my camera is pointed up or down, i use tilt to ensure my standards are plum.


So the desired setup is that the lens plane and the film plane are vertical (plumb), but the lens axis is higher than the center of the film plane?

Why not just use front rise?

Ed Richards
7-Aug-2005, 12:26
I have a Technika and I am not sure understand the problem:

> i've got the camera set and pointed upwards slightly on the tripod.

Why do you have pointed slightly upwards? Are you trying to expand the front rise? Are you tilting the lens so that it is level as well?

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 12:44
hi paul... in situations when i can't employ enough front rise, i find myself tilting the camera. for instance, recently i was shooting a church. i only wanted to photograph the steeple, which was rather tall. to take the shot, i had to point the camera upwards, and then tilt my rear standard forward to keep the steeple from looking like it was falling down on me.

ed... most of the time i tilt the lens to control DOF, so it is not always parallel to my subject.

are you guys implying that you always shoot with the camera perfectly level?

i guess i need to sit down and carefully consider how i'm setting up my camera... possibly that is causing me some issues.

can anyone confirm the longest usable lenses on a Wista SP and Linhof MT2000? also, is there anyway to expand the range... aside from using top-hat boards?

Paul Butzi
7-Aug-2005, 13:14
i only wanted to photograph the steeple, which was rather tall. to take the shot, i had to point the camera upwards, and then tilt my rear standard forward to keep the steeple from looking like it was falling down on me.

Gotcha. Um, what do I do... I guess the levels on the TK45s are on the rear in a way where they are fixed relative to the film plane. Can't help you there.

are you guys implying that you always shoot with the camera perfectly level?

Oh, no way. But it's rare for me to need more front rise than the TK45s provides. Most of the time when the camera isn't level (that is, the rail is not level) the camera is pointed at the ground or something else where convergence is not an issue.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 13:21
thanks for the clarification, paul. if there was a way to get a level on the rear (the part that actually tilts) of the technika, i'd have a much easier time shooting with it and would find it to be a great camera to take backpacking. i think the wista sp might be closer to what i'm looking for, but having no chance to see or touch one, i'm hesitant to buy one, especially when i can find precious little information on them.

Oren Grad
7-Aug-2005, 13:42
Scott, here's a page from the English section of the Wista website:

www.wista.co.jp/e_wista/e_show/e_camera/e_camera.htm (http://www.wista.co.jp/e_wista/e_show/e_camera/e_camera.htm)

If you scroll down, you'll see a picture showing what the metal Wista cameras look like with the bed down. (The picture shows the SP, but it looks as though the RF and VX are the same.) Unlike the way the Technika works, on the Wista the back tilts as a unit. So any level on the rear standard would stay fixed relative to the film plane.

Also, the metal Wistas are specified as having a maximum 300mm extension. There are extension bed and extension bellows accessories available, although I suspect they would be a pain to lug around and use.

HP Marketing distributes both Linhof and Wista in the US now, so Bob Salomon may also be able to help with comparison questions.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 14:23
oren... thanks for the link. there's a lot of great info on that site!

David A. Goldfarb
7-Aug-2005, 14:31
Scott--

I know exactly the situation you're describing, and the solution I proposed above works--you run out of front rise, so you need some indirect rise. You tilt the camera up and relevel the front and rear standards to plumb. An angle finder lets you set a level perpendicular to the groundglass or at any angle to the groundglass. You set the angle finder to 90-degrees, put the flat surface on the groundglass, and look at the bubble level, and when it's level, the groundglass is plumb. You can do the same for the front standard by putting the flat surface of the angle finder across the filter threads of the lens if the lens is small, or anywhere on the lensboard or shutter that you've got a flat surface parallel to the lens plane.

http://www.echonyc.com/~goldfarb/temp/anglefinder.jpg



The Suunto Tandem can be used in the same way, against the groundglass or across the lens threads.

Ed Richards
7-Aug-2005, 17:16
> are you guys implying that you always shoot with the camera perfectly level?

Unless it is impossible, if you care about convergence, level the camera. Manfrotto and Gitzo both make a great leveling device you put between the tripod column and the head. It has a level and a flat bowl that gives you about 30 degress of freedom. Takes 10 seconds to level and you do not need to mess with the tripod legs. At that point, zero the head and you are level. Even if you then tilt the camera, you should start level, just to make sure you are only tilting the direction you intend. Then the angle finder is a great tool to sort things out.

You could probably get a camera machinist to mount a hotshoe on the back so that you could slide in a 2-way hotshoe level when you needed it, but since you should not need to do this much with the Master, I would go with the level finder.

Wayne
7-Aug-2005, 17:21
I dont know what the longest lens you can use on a Wista SP is, but the longest I use on mine is a 305 mm. I love my Wista, but have never tried a Technica. The Wista folds up with my 135 mm in place, so when it opens its ready to go. I can be pretty rough on equipment, and though my Wista is a little dinged up it functions like brand new.

Brian Ellis
7-Aug-2005, 18:32
"Why not use front rise?"

"If you care about convergence level the camera."

Sometimes the building is too tall, and/or the space within which to set up the camera is too constricted, to be able to keep the camera level (i.e. to rely solely on front rise).

A plain angle finder or the more elaborate gadget David describes is very intriguing. Where did you buy your gadget David or where can you buy a plain angle finder, Home Depot maybe?

Bill_1856
7-Aug-2005, 19:25
Scott, I'll bet that you had (like me) a Technika IV, which takes an act of God to loosen the back for movements. Later ones seem to have replaced those nasty serriated chrome buttons with a little sliding toggle, which ought to make the back a lot more usable. If that's the case, it's really hard to suggest anything else than a Terhnika.

David A. Goldfarb
7-Aug-2005, 19:35
You can find an angle finder at a hardware store. Home Depot would be a good bet. Sometimes they are called things like "protractor level."

The Suunto Tandem clinometer-compass or a similar product from Brunton can be found at a good camping supply or various online sources. They are often used by satellite dish installers. I bought mine second hand from a Direct TV installer for about $100. New they're about $150. There are also less expensive versions, but the Suunto is very nicely made, precise and easy to read.

Paul Butzi
7-Aug-2005, 19:59
The Suunto and Brunton clinometers and combo compass/clinometers are also very popular amongst forestry folks, and are available from forestry equipment suppliers.

Where can you get them for $150? The lowest price I could find searching the web for just a few minutes was $170 from [urlhttp://www.forestry-suppliers.com/product_pages/view_catalog_page.asp?id=1305[/url]

That's for the model with adjustable declination, which I'd want. It's only $6 more.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 20:05
david... thanks for the info on the suunto device. they seem to run slightly over $200 from what i could find.

bill, you're correct, i had a technika IV and those 4 little metal knobs really made it a chore to manipulate the film plane.

David A. Goldfarb
7-Aug-2005, 20:06
Maybe I'm just not remembering correctly, Paul, or it might have been just one site that had a discount at the time I checked.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 20:06
paul, you did better than me... my lowest was $225.

David A. Goldfarb
7-Aug-2005, 20:14
Here you go--$135--

http://roxsat.biz/product_info.php?products_id=76

$169--

http://www.sadoun.com/Sat/Products/SUUNTO/SUUNTO-TANDEM-Compass-Clinometer.htm

$172--

http://www.sjgreatdeals.com/suutandem.html

Didn't see that there was a version with adjustable declination when I bought it, but that would be a good feature.

Scott Rosenberg
7-Aug-2005, 20:52
thanks for the links, david.

would there be any way to mount levels to the camera... one less thing to carry that way. these folks seem to have a very good selection:

http://www.geier-bluhm.com/products.html

Scott Rosenberg
8-Aug-2005, 15:42
so, it seems like 300mm is the outer limit for the Wista... does anyone know the max bellows draw for a Master Technika 2000?

Bob Salomon
8-Aug-2005, 16:03
"so, it seems like 300mm is the outer limit for the Wista... does anyone know the max bellows draw for a Master Technika 2000?"

Not with the extension beds. One of them is 600mm long. Then on both the Technika and the Wista extension boards are available.

Lonhof is 360mm without an extension board.

Scott Rosenberg
8-Aug-2005, 16:08
thanks, bob.

w/o any special equipment, the Wista is then 300mm and the MT2000 is 360. if i read you correctly, that's precisly what i was after.

Ed Richards
9-Aug-2005, 06:46
Make sure that is not 360 telephoto. On the older Technikas, the 360 lens is a telephoto design. Given the extension of my bellows on my IV with a 250, I think a 360 would be a stretch.:-)

Oren Grad
9-Aug-2005, 07:10
B&H says the maximum front extension of the Technika is 400mm, rear extension (by pulling out the back on all four posts?) is another 35mm. 360 tele is just the longest lens that can be cammed for the RF and the longest focal length for the Multifocus Finder.

Bob Salomon
9-Aug-2005, 07:29
Oren,

B&H takes their specs from our literature and prints it mistakes and all.

Yes the longest cammable lens is a 360 tele or process lens type. A Sironar or Symmar type won't fit the camera. Some shorter Symmar and Sironar types make require a modified lens board.

The longest useable lens on the Technika is the 400mm Apo Tele Xenar.

Some longer lenses can be used by using the Wista Extension Tube lensboard set. All would have to be tele or process designs in order to fit.

Oren Grad
9-Aug-2005, 08:00
Bob - thanks for the clarification!