View Full Version : New here and Stoked!

Lee Christopher
5-May-2009, 09:16
Hi everyone!

I just 'inherited' my first 4x5 system after years of dreamong about owning one. It's a Horseman LX with a Rodenstock APO 150mm 5.6, 4x5 Lisco MkII holders as well as a Horseman 6x7 rollfilm back.

I have used a very capable Toyo 4x5 a long time ago, and had no idea of the technicalities and laws involved. I have just begun my 'formal' educational journey about the magical world of LF.

One of the things that struck me immediately is the overwhelming amount of information regarding lenses and combinations available.

Since I like to shoot wide (16-20mm in 35mm terms), I naturally looked at lenses like the 45mm Rodenstocks, only to find that I would not be able to achieve infinity focus, and have virtually no movement with them. Thus, it looks like I'm limited to 75mm lenses if I wanted to retain some movement.

My first questions, if I may, are;

1) Assuming I shoot 4x5
- Do I need a bag bellows or a recessed lens board with the Rodenstock 75mm lens, or both?

2) Assuming I shoot rollfilm (likely will get a 6x9 or 6x12 back in addition to the 6x7 I already have)
-Do I need that bag or recessed board with the Rodenstock 75mm lens, or both?

3) Is 75mm my minimum option if I want to shoot both 4x5 and rollfilm while maintaining some degree of movement? Again, bag and recessed board or both are needed?

Howevere, funds are very limited, so I'll have to weigh my purchase decisions very carefully.

Right now I am shooting nature and landscapes with the camera, and hope to do interiors and architecture, but will explore just about any subject! It's like this camera has opened new doors in a dusty attic and that's just the beginning!

Again, thanks for having me here, and I look forward to the day that I can start helping other mebers out.


Bjorn Nilsson
5-May-2009, 09:49
First, welcome to the LF world.
I'm not that familiar with your Horseman LX, but some general tips to start with.
As you already seem to know, LF photography needs much more time and/or gives you much more time for each shot. So the style of shooting is very different to 35mm. I.e. maybe you will get different preferences with LF as compared to 35mm. Many others report the same thing, like shooting short lenses on 35mm and (relatively) longer lenses with LF. The fact that you can shift the front/back changes a lot.
But for a first tip. Get to know the camera and the movements (shifts, tilts and swings) with your 150mm lens. E.g. with the 150 lens you may have to use say 10 deg tilt in order to get everything sharp. That is quite visible, as compared to maybe 2-3 deg with a 75 or 90. What I'm trying to say is that the wide-angles reacts much "faster" and are more difficult to learn LF with.
The first accessory should be a fresnel lens for the ground glass. That makes it much easier to see the whole picture without a hotspot in the center. Then a bag bellows should be nice.
About the second lens, a 90mm f/8 (or a Rodie... f/6.8 or the rebranded Caltar which is the same but somewhat cheaper) is much easier to find than a 75mm. On a LF camera a 90mm is plenty wide. Again, the ability to shift the film plane around in the image circle while not tilting the film plane (which causes buildings etc to look like they're falling down) often does make the lens appear a lot wider than the comparable 28mm on a 35mm camera.
About lens brands, just about any lens from the big four is "good enough". For most there is absolutely no way to tell the difference between a Schneider, a Rodenstock, a Nikkor or a Fujinon in the same category. The "specialty" lenses like the Sironar-S lenses or the Super Symmar XL lenses comes with a premium price tag anyhow and the "normal" lenses in the same category are still very good.


Ron Marshall
5-May-2009, 09:57
Welcome to LF!

6x12 backs are expensive, even used; perhaps a cheaper option is to shoot 4x5 and then crop.

With the 6x7 back, the 75mm is equivalent to about a 35mm on a 35mm camera. If you want really wide that won't do it for you.

I have never used the Horseman, but I find to get full movements with my 75mm I need a bag bellows. For slight front rise you probably do not need one though.

5-May-2009, 10:10
My calculations regarding a 6x12 back (I'm thinking of buying one too).

A basic 6x12 back can be found on the auction site for <$200.
I can get 120 roll film developed for little more than it would cost to get 1 sheet of 4x5 developed.
I would recoup the cost of the 6x12 back in about 15 rolls of film.

Edited to add:
Failed to take the cost of film in to account. Payoff would be in about 11 rolls.

Lee Christopher
5-May-2009, 10:23
Thanks for the detailed replied Bjorn and Ron, and for the welcome.

Please forgive the fact that I may have overlooked some details.

The LF I now have comes all fitted - the GG has a fresnel and comes marked with 6x7, 6x9 and 6x12 grids. I also have a loupe, so in effect, it appears ready to shoot. All I'm missing it seems is a focusing cloth, but I just used a black shirt in the meantime.

As regards whether the will be a need for bag bellow for full movements with the Horseman LX, perhaps a link to the camera would help: http://www.komamura.co.jp/e/pd_vc.html

Please do not misconstrue that I am asking other to read specs or manuals for me. I just need to get to grips with all the technicalities first in order to understand the impact of the specs. :)

Thanks Bjorn, for the heads up about the amount of movement and how they affect lenses of different focal lengths, and Ron, for clueing me in on a 75 not being much wide on a 6x7 back. A friend will be lending me his Rodie (is that what it's referred to here?) 45mm just for the heck of it and there are both bag bellows and the Rodie 75mm f/4.5 on ebay right now.

One option of 6x12 backs seem to be this one which is a lot cheaper than the Horseman: http://cgi.ebay.com/6x12-Roll-Film-Back-for-Linhof-Sinar-Horseman-Wista-4x5_W0QQitemZ400044188710QQcmdZViewItemQQptZAU_Cameras_Photographic_Accessories?hash=item5d247de426&_trksid=p3286.m20.l1116

Has anyone tried this rollfilm back before, and is it a good filmback?

Thanks once again for your kind and insightful replies.

I forgot to add: 4x5 film supplies as well as processing services here are severely limited.

Bruce Watson
5-May-2009, 10:49
Congratulations on your new toy. Take the time to learn to use it and you will be fine. To that end this thread on starting out with a short lens (http://www.largeformatphotography.info/forum/showthread.php?p=438768#poststop) may be of interest.

Lee Christopher
5-May-2009, 11:07
Thanks for your wisdom Bruce.

I was about to say that "What Bruce Watson said in Post #5 in the link made a LOT of sense" then came back here and realise who posted that link! :D

Sigh. I do so love screaming wide vistas but I guess wisdom and practicality does it for me, and especially since I have a friend's Rodie 45 to play with ... at least for awhile. I would need a bag bellows for that right? What about a recessed board? I read some terrifying things about ebay recessed boards on that thread ...

It also doesn't help that another friend is whispering '58XL' in my ears.

5-May-2009, 11:13
Welcome aboard!

Regarding wide angle FOV and 6x7 negatives: 45mm on my Pentax 6x7 is very wide. Approximating 22mm on 35mm film. I also own a 17-35 zoom for 35mm and like what both lenses can do.

Shooting 4x5 and framing for 2x5 is a good way to get the feeling of long narrow images without breaking the bank for a 4x10 or 7x17 camera.

In 30 days you can shop the treasure trove here at this forum. A far better place to shop than online auctions. In the meantime, learn to use what you have. Many folks here would say that you might be 10 years away from buying your second lens. Even then, you might still use your 150mm lens 90% of the time.

I forgot to add: 4x5 film supplies as well as processing services here are severely limited. In general terms, where are you? Everything you need to process B&W film can be ordered and shipped in.

Good luck!

Lee Christopher
5-May-2009, 11:28
Thanks for sharing that venchka!

I'll have to look into 2x5!

I'm in South East Asia, where 99.999% shoot digital. Oh well, the fogure's not exact, but the perspective is there.

Gotta go. Will be back again to read and study more tomorrow.


Jiri Vasina
5-May-2009, 12:54

to that 6x12cm rollback in the link:

it seems to be similar to DaYi 6x12cm rollfilm back I have had a while ago (I'd say it's the same one missing only the label, but the image might be misleading) - it worked well, I did not have any lightleak issues with it. I was very content with it. But I sold it in the end because of other investments :) .

As Bjorn has noted, in LF you should not just matematicaly convert the numbers from 35mm. For me, in small and medium format I used wide angles a lot (19-28mm), but in LF my most used lens on 4x5 is a 135mm one (though if I had a 120mm I think that would be ideal), the 90mm was nowhere so close. In 5x7 my most used lens is 210mm and 305mm, and the 150/160mm lenses are used only occasionally (a 210mm would approx. be a 140mm on 4x5, 160mm would be something like 105mm).

Yes you surely can use wider lenses, especially for architecture, but for landscapes, you can make do with movements in a lot of cases. And don't forget that Wide lenses are more difficult to focus, more difficult to compose - because of the way light hits the groundglass. ANd the wider the lens the harder (it works in reverse too, my 480mm is f/9 and is so bright that it's very easy to focus even in relatively poor light).

(And btw. welcome among us ;) )


Ron Marshall
5-May-2009, 14:27
Where are you in South East Asia, if you don't mind me asking?

Thanks for sharing that venchka!

I'll have to look into 2x5!

I'm in South East Asia, where 99.999% shoot digital. Oh well, the fogure's not exact, but the perspective is there.

Gotta go. Will be back again to read and study more tomorrow.


5-May-2009, 16:48
As regards whether the will be a need for bag bellow for full movements with the Horseman LX, perhaps a link to the camera would help: http://www.komamura.co.jp/e/pd_vc.html

That lists a minimum flange distance of 60mm. If you look here: http://www.ebonycamera.com/articles/lenses.html you'll see the "flange back" of many of the lenses you might be thinking about. That's the flange distance at infinity, so, with 60mm minimum, the 58mm SAXL, which needs 70mm, would be fine, but the 47 SAXL, which needs 59.1, would likely be problematic without a recessed lensboard, and even that might not work so well.

As to whether or not you'd need bag bellows for some short lenses, such as a 75 or 80, you'll probably have to find someone who uses an LX to see their experiences. Most likely for anything shorter than a 90, you'll be happier with bag bellows.

Like many have said, learn with the 150 and have fun, then figure out what focal lengths you may want.

Lee Christopher
6-May-2009, 04:39
Thanks for the PM chat Ron.

And thanks Drew for cluieng me in on flange distances. I have to be honest in that I never really knew the significance of which until now.

I don't know of anyone else in my country using an LX, and the LF community is exceedingly small. Most of the commercial photographers I know have ditched their LFs and stick with medium format digital since so much correction is done post production.

Nonetheless, I shall have fun with my friend's 45 Rodie first and if need by, a bag bellows. I figure I would probably need one eventually.

Meanwhile, I'll stick with my 150 Rodie and learn what I can. I am also looking at a friend's old Epson 4990 scanner as a cheap option to what I need to do digitally. Oh, and shopping around for B&W 120 devp equipment.


Jim Michael
6-May-2009, 05:20
I own a Horseman 450 which should be similar to your LX. I was able to configure my 450 to use a 65 by orienting the standards so the shortest sides face each other. You will definitely need the bag. Also, disassembly is easy and the whole thing can be taken apart and placed in a small backpack. I find it easier & faster to mount the rail on the tripod followed by the standards etc. than mounting the rail with the standards attached.

Lee Christopher
6-May-2009, 17:19
Thanks for the heads-up and welcome, Jiri! :)

When you mentioned that you used mostly wides in 35, and found yourself using less wides in 45, were you shooting mainly the same subjects or with a similar angle/approach to the subject? I understand that once a LF comes into play, everything takes a turn, and often, even the way we see and approach a subject may be somewhat different than when we were shooting in 35.

From two days of shooting, I found that my 150 Rodie (on a 6x7 back) was somewhat narrow for what I was shooting (land and cityscapes). I also realised that when I looked at the entire GG, yes, the 150 didn't then appear so narrow and as such, suggestions of a 90 or 120 makes sense (except for architecture which seems to require wider lenses, no?).


I'm not sure how things will pan out later on, as I see myself shooting a lot with the rollfilm back(s) (67 and 69 or 67 an 612) in the near future, and using 45 film only for the really special shots. This is due to costs more than anything else.

Jim, that's a great idea! So far I've been carrying the fully assembled LX on a strap on my right, and a close to 6kg (IIRC) tripod on my left. I'm still experimenting with ways to lug that beast around.

My very first day out with the LX was for 9 hours (a friend carried my tripod), and I ached for 1 day after. Definitely a sign that I should be taking her out more often! :D But seriously, my next step would be to try fully assembled in a cloth-lined tennis bag/right, tripod left, and a slung large camera bag for all the necessary, or a large backpack with LX broken down, ON a trolley, tripod on left, slung large camera bag for the necessary.

I'll have to see what works better under different conditions. Remember, I'm carrying a total of 12+kg just for the camera and tripod alone. I do not drive. Options such as a large CF tripod or a field cam is not viable at the moment, I'm afraid. Upside is I'll be getting more workouts everytime I go out with the LX! :o

Thanks for all the replies thus far guys! Appreciate it! ;)

Jiri Vasina
6-May-2009, 22:13

I tend to shoot the same subjects - landscapes. (I also added portraits recently, but I was not speaking about lenses for them). But on LF I seem not to use lenses as wide (by angle of view) as with 35mm.

You are right that for architecture you may really need wide-wide lenses (wider than 90mm on 4x5), but for landscape... But a 150mm on 6x7cm, that is a bit narrow to my vision at the moment. The angle of view would be roughly a 300mm on 4x5. Some would like that, though...

As you have noted yourself, LF photography is also physically demanding. If you do not plan to use the camera in a studio (or other fixed location), really do invest in a good bag. It will pay for itself in many ways (your back not aching the second day, you not being so weary after a short hike - if you were, chances are your photos would suffer too,...). I personally have (and love) this f.64 bag (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/91694-REG/f_64_BPXB_BPX_Extra_Large_Backpack.html) for 5x8, but for your 4x5 it might be unnecessarily large. Choose wisely and don't mourn the money.


Lee Christopher
7-May-2009, 00:56
Thanks Jiri.

I think you're the first person to mention what my 150 looks like on a 67 back ... 300mm on 45 ... :( Perhaps that explains why my sudden rush to look at lenses below 90mm! LOL! As mentioned, for now, I will be using the rollfilm back(s) more often than not.

Fortunately, a friend will be lending me his 45mm Rodie, so I'll be able to get a feel of what using a really wide lens is like (on a rollfilm back). He says it covers a 6x12 nicely, but alas, eventually, I would need to decide on a wide lens either way if I want to continue really wide landscapes and architecture (and possibly interiors), which was something I was never happy doing on smaller formats or on cameras with no movement.

But do bear in mind that I'm new to all this, so what appears to work out in my head may actually not make sense to the experts here, and I truly appreciate all your advise and tips.

Also thanks for the link for the backpack. Does it contain your camera and ALL the necessary like film holders, extra lenses, light meter and so on? Right now the largest I have is this: http://products.lowepro.com/product/Rover-Plus-AW,2025,14.htm, and even then I have to put the rail on the outside where the tripod would go, and there's no space for film holders and so on inside, but it's a really comfortable bag for heavy loads.

One more question if I could ask, I've searched and read the various threads about difficulties using a Minolta Booster II on a light meter. I have an old Minolta Flash Meter IV that takes incident and flash readings. Do you think I would be better off:

1) Getting the Minolta Booster II?
2) Look out for a 5 deg spot meter attachment (the smallest available I believe, for this meter)?
3) Selling this meter and adding a little bit more for a used Sekonic 778 dual spot meter?

Again, thank you.

Jiri Vasina
7-May-2009, 02:13

the f.64 bag I have takes almost everything - 5x8 camera, several lenses, filters, light meter, darkcloth. 4x5 holders go in the attachment pouches on the sides. I could fit the 5x8/13x18 holders in the front of the bag (even up to 3-4 8x10holders), but instead I use padded (computer) notebook case for them. Tripod goes separate over the shoulder.

The LowePro bag you link is almost an exact copy (more likely vice versa :) ) of a Chinese bag I have. I use it for my "travel kit" - either Fuji GW 6x9, or MPP 4x5 camera, or Graflex 3x4" SLR. I can fit one complete system (MPP 4x5 with one lens, holders, filters, meter) inside, most usually in the bottom half of the bag. But I don't know your camera, how well it can be folded... (There was even a time when I used this bag for a Korona Gundlach 5x7" camera, again my complete system was in it. It was not comfortable, but it could be used that way).

I don't know your Minolta Flash Meter, I have a Minolta Spotmeter F, so can not comment on that one and the accessories...

(investment in a LF camera is usually only the tip of the iceberg. And as with the iceberg, 90% is hidden bellow the surface - and that is investment all the details to make your Large Format life possible/easier).

Hope this helps


Lee Christopher
7-May-2009, 02:20
Thanks for taking the time to reply Jiri. :)

The bag I have (modern Lowepro IS made in China! :rolleyes: ) can only just get the camera squeezed in, and the rail has to go outside. This is with all the internal padding removed.

Yeah ... tip of the provobial iceberg! :D :eek:

7-May-2009, 06:01
When I shot 4x5 in the past, 90 was my widest lens, but I used it a lot, along with the 121. I used the 210 more than the 150.

But 90 isn't that wide for me. I'm quite used to using lenses in the 12-14 range on 35mm, and the 45 on my Pentax 6x7 sometimes feels constricting. When I do, I have two purposes: 1.) to exaggerate the scale of the foreground objects with respect to the background, and 2.) for dramatic perspectives of architectural subjects. Lenses that wide absolutely demand devotion, however, because the perspective exaggeration is so extreme that it's quite easy to lose control.

For the first purpose, the point is that if your main subject is at infinity, the longer lens will help isolate it, and exaggerate its proportions compared to the foreground. But for landscapes where the subject is up close, I want to emphasize it without losing the context of the setting, and that's where going wide has an advantage.

In that other thread, the architectural shots made with the 58 and the 72 elevated my heart rate.

I'm following a similar path to you. I just purchased a Shen-Hao 6x12 back and while I've not tested it, it looks to be completely adequate to the task. I also have 6x9 and 6x7 backs. I find that the long dimension of the format seems to control my sense of it, with some variation. A lens of x field of view on 4x5 feels about the same on 6x12 as I look at the image on the ground glass. 45mm on the 6x6 format feels about the same as a 24 on 35mm, though the arithmetic doesn't exactly work out that way (50 on 6x6 feels to me more like 28 on 35mm). I don't know for sure how I'll feel about the 6x12 format. It takes a little practice to develop that feel, I think.

But if I already know that 45 is sometimes constricting on my Pentax 6x7, then I'm pretty sure that using a 6x7 back on my view camera isn't going to be that much different, even with the movements. Since I plan to use roll-film formats on my view camera, I didn't want to give up being able to use that 47mm Super Angulon in my bag.

And I have discovered, really just this week as I've tried to put this together with my old view camera, that 4x5 cameras don't always make good medium-format view cameras. My Cambo 4x5 camera will accommodate a 65 using a recessed board and bag bellows, and that's wide enough for just about any purpose on 4x5. But for the roll-film formats, it's constricting. Getting a 47 to focus at infinity on that camera requires some serious compromises, though it is possible, and the movements are a bit too fiddly for comfortable work at that focal length. (A 47 requires half the tilt of a 90 to achieve the same focus plane in the same scene.) For that reason, I'm going to a base-tilt view camera that doesn't have the offset u-frames to get in the way (a Sinar F). Even that is a compromise--a medium-format view camera with geared movements would be easier, but I can neither afford such nor do I want to give up 6x12 and 4x5 completely.

I found that the 90 was difficult to manage on my Cambo with standard bellows, even using a recessed lens board, but I used it that way for a long time. It's hard on the bellows, too, if you force things. Tilts and swings are fine, but shifts are tough. The bag bellows are so much easier to manage at 90 and shorter.

Even though I consider myself a wide-angle freak, I would not be without longer lenses in my kit. My longest lens when I shot 4x5 was a 210 (actually, 8-1/2"), which wasn't really long enough for lots of purposes. And the lens is old and fiddly and probably not the best choice for color film. But I have just bought a 180 Symmar Convertible (which just arrived) from a member of this forum and actually expect to occasionally risk disaster by using the 315mm rear cell only.

When I needed a "normal" lens, I found myself most often reaching for the 121 rather than the 150. Your plan of starting with a 125 worked well for me--the 121 wasn't my first lens for 4x5, but it's the lens I've had the longest (the previous lenses are now in someone else's bag).

Rick "hi, I'm Rick and I'm a wideaholic" Denney

Lee Christopher
7-May-2009, 08:55
Rick Denny,

Thank you so much for sharing that.

Considering that I'm fairly (OK, totally) new to all the technicalities, every little bit of information helps, and you've shared way more than that!

I'm not quite sure which thread you refer to though. My eyes and brains are shot from staring at the screen editing and skiving on the forums for nearly 16 hours. :o Did I mention a 125 somewhere? Hmm ...

7-May-2009, 09:20
I'm not quite sure which thread you refer to though. My eyes and brains are shot from staring at the screen editing and skiving on the forums for nearly 16 hours. :o Did I mention a 125 somewhere? Hmm ...

Sorry, I had you confused with the OP in the thread on wide-angle lenses who ended up choosing a 125, and sort-of responded to both without being clear--my apologies.

You: Horseman, 150, and considering a 75 for 6x9 and 6x12....right. Got it now! I was mostly responding to the issue of large format lending itself to less width than smaller formats.

Rick "familiar at this moment with archive fatigue" Denney

9-May-2009, 15:04
id look into the cambo wide if i were you. a superb setup. I had the 65mm lens/camera and it was sweet. i have a 90mm too.