View Full Version : Master Technika: best darkcloth? Blackjacket?

Arne Norris
5-Mar-2008, 16:44
Ok, I know this is an age-old, over-asked question. But I'm wondering if MT users have found any currently made darkcloth that works best for them.

The only relatively new dark cloth I've seen online is the Blackjacket. The materials look very nice, the design seems well thought out. I'm not sure if the armholes are a good idea or not.

Anyone out there have any experience with the Blackjacket? Which fabric version?

Anyone have and other suggestions for a compact, well-made dark cloth that secures around the back of the camera without velcro or other hardware? I like how the Blackjacket uses a cord to cinch down around the camera.

And please, I know all about the black t-shirt. I've already been there...

Peter K
5-Mar-2008, 17:05
There is a Focusing / metering bellows aviable for the Master Technika, much better as a black t-shirt.

5-Mar-2008, 17:17
I use a hybrid blackjacket with my Tech 4. Originally I had the slightly oversize, but eventually settled on the 5x7 size. This is to my mind better as you have ample room for the tripod head(which seemd to get in there somehow) and pulling the darkslide. A very good product that I would buy again.

Bob Salomon
5-Mar-2008, 17:18
The Linhof dark cloth works well. So does the Wista one. The Linhof Focus/Meter bellows with its two 2x loupes works even better.

5-Mar-2008, 17:19
i just bought a btzs focusing hood from here


and you can find reviews here


good luck


5-Mar-2008, 17:40
I'm a black jacket fan... the armholes are useful and you get used to finding them by feel :-)

5-Mar-2008, 17:58
Use the Hybid Blackjacket 4x5 size for my MT, prefer it over the BTZS which originally came with the camera, I don't always use the armholes, sometimes its just as easy to bring my arms in from the back. I remove the cloth to load and shoot, as the stretchy cinch makes it very easy to do so without jiggling the setup. I usually position the cloth in front of the locknuts for the rear movements which I find makes it easier and quicker to adjust the camera back, less groping than if the nuts are outside of the cloth.

Brian Ellis
5-Mar-2008, 19:43
I used the BTZS "hood" with my Technika V and Master Technika. I liked it very much though I wouldn't say it's the "best" dark cloth around for everyone, just for me.

One thing I never cared for was the folding focusing hood/ground glass protector that comes with all Technikas. The problem with it is that because it's made of fabric rather than metal it won't stay open on its own. In order to use it you have to hold it open with one hand while you press your forehead against it and that leaves you with one hand too few to do everything else. I never used mine, the BTZS hood worked much better.

5-Mar-2008, 21:25
I think you should try the focus/metering bellows. I believe the 2x magnification can be increased to 4x with an included screw-in element.

I've been using an Arca-Swiss viewing bellows with the 2x Binocular magnifier for about 6 months and love it. it's smaller and more effective than a darkcloth while still letting you move your eye around to deal with parallel movements. I only wish it had greater magnification for fine focussing, the linhof's 4x looks a better bet.

The linhof bellows look even better made with their self-supporting design (but very expensive!).

6-Mar-2008, 09:44
I got the regular (non-hybrid) Blackjacket and I love it. I got the 4x5 size. The increased weight over the hybrid model wasn't an issue with me - I haul around an old metal Omega rail 4x5, half a dozen fairly fast lenses and a big Bogen tripod, so a few more ounces isn't really any problem.

I used to use a Harrison darkcloth that I think must've been made for an 8x10 - it almost reaches the ground. Before that I had a thin Calumet cloth that didn't block enough light, and before that a darkcloth I had a local tailor make me from black velvet and satin. Now _there_ was a beast! Dark, but very hot.

Something that took a bit of getting used to was the lack of weights at the bottom of the 'jacket'. I'd gotten used to them with the Harrison. But the Blackjacket seems to not need them. My guess is that the reduced surface area catches less wind.

Bob Salomon
6-Mar-2008, 10:03
I believe the 2x magnification can be increased to 4x with an included screw-in element.

The latest version has two 2x loupes that screw together. The older version did not have this feature and a second loupe could not be added to it.

For it to function properly you would also need the fresnel screen.

Peter K
6-Mar-2008, 11:15
The latest version has two 2x loupes that screw together. The older version did not have this feature and a second loupe could not be added to it.

For it to function properly you would also need the fresnel screen.
And both loupes can also used with spectacles.

6-Mar-2008, 13:03
I have used a Blackjacket only recently, and for only a couple shots, with my 8x10. I do not know which version it might be. It worked very well, but because I never used the sleeves/armholes, I need to use it more before I make the decision of replacing my simple, large black/white focusing cloth (Calumet) with it.


Arne Norris
6-Mar-2008, 18:09
The later model Linhof focus/metering bellows that allows 4x loupe magnification does sound great, but it's way beyond my budget. I'm pushing my financial envelope just owning a 30-year-old Master Technika. As a nod to Bob and Linhof, I must say the camera is a real joy to use: fast and easy to operate, rugged, very rigid. I wish I could afford the focus bellows; I'm sure it's just the ticket.

I toyed with the idea of getting a used Linhof reflex viewfinder, as they seem to come on the used market frequently. But it's not high on my list of priorities.

One thing do I like about using a dark cloth is it's simplicity and ability to be used to shade the camera bellows or film holder, or as a reflector. The shiny fabric used on the Blackjacket and other dark cloths seems like it would be useful for a quick reflector too.

Thanks for all of the responses so far. Sounds like the Blackjacket is worth a try. I wonder if the fellow who makes the Blackjacket was desparate one day and started using his coat for a dark cloth, then figured out he could use his arms in the sleeves? The product looks well thought out.

Keith S. Walklet
10-Mar-2008, 13:09

Thanks for the kind words. The idea for the BLACKJACKET actually came to me when I was using my Pentax 67 to photograph a waterfall in Yosemite. Both the camera and I were getting soaked and I had a spare rain jacket in my pack. To keep the camera dry, I put the lens of the Pentax through one of the sleeves and then got under the jacket to do my composing. It worked beautifully but as I stood there waiting for dry intervals to make exposures I got to thinking about my 4x5. Suddenly the idea came to me. I removed the lens from the sleeve, repositioned the camera so that the lens stuck out the neck of jacket, put my head in the trunk and my arms in the sleeves backward. Eureka!

I spent a long time looking for the ideal fabric, drew up a pattern and had my sister construct it for me. The design of the Classic pattern is essentially the same, but additional features were added based on user feedback.

It is interesting to me to see the various preferences in this thread regarding neck size. Typically for the Technika, I recommend a 32" neck, but the larger 40" and 46" obviously work for some folks.