View Full Version : 16" Zone VI -- Minimum focal length?

MIke Sherck
26-Feb-2010, 19:01
I have an older Zone VI triple extension 4x5 camera, mahogany I believe, with a maximum bellows extension of about 16" (maybe 18" if you cantilever the front standard outwards.) I've found that my 125mm Fuji is about the shortest lens I can focus with some movements but I'd like to see whether I can go shorter with the standard bellows, so I'm inquiring about recessed lensboards. Since I haven't seen one for sale recently, I'll probably have to make my own (I've made most of my lensboards. Not as pretty as real ones but they seem to work ok.)

How deep is a "standard" recessed lensboard, if such a question has any meaning? I figure from the pictures I've seen on the web, maybe an inch deep? Will this give me room to focus a 90mm at closer than infinity (say, a couple of meters,) with a little movement, maybe a bit of front rise or a touch of front swing? Should I make the recess deeper, and is there a practical limit beyond the necessity of fitting into the bellows?

Same idea but another tack, does anyone know the minimum focal length lens which can be used on this camera with a bag bellows? Again, I haven't seen any such bellows for sale in a while so I'll have to make my own: hints would be appreciated. I'll use window curtain blackout cloth from my local fabric store; that worked all right for a replacement bellows for my 5x7 B&J.

Thanks for your help.


26-Feb-2010, 19:05
The bag bellows are out there. KEH had one a couple weeks ago, but it sold before I could call.

I did buy one from a member here this week, it's on the way to me.

I've also seen them on Ebay and Craigslist, just have to keep your eyes open and look around a bit.

Good luck


Mark Sampson
28-Feb-2010, 08:08
I use the bag bellows on my similar Zone VI for any lens shorter than 150mm, especially in cold weather where both bellows are very inflexible. I can focus my 75mm lens at infinity with the bag bellows, but it's not easy or convenient with the standards so close. IIRC the Z-VI literature suggested that a 65mm lens could be used; so I supose it would be possible. You could adapt a 4" square Calumet recessed lensboard to fit your camera; the kludge method would just be to loosen the screws that hold the reatining sliders, so they will close over the thicker Calumet board. I've done that- but recessed lensboards are difficult things at best. I sometimes wonder if a Wisner leather bag bellows would fit my camera, but even if it did, those are gone now too. Have you contacted Calumet to see if they have any old stock? Or contact Richard Ritter, he knows more about this than anyone.

MIke Sherck
28-Feb-2010, 08:47
My Zone VI dates from the Picker / Wisner years so I doubt that Calumet has anything to help with. I hadn't thought of Mr. Ritter, though. I'm used to making stuff myself, I suppose: one's thoughts tend toward "how" rather than "who". :) Thanks for the suggestion, and for the short lens information. I'm now tending toward making a bag bellows, unless I find one for sale at a reasonable price.


28-Feb-2010, 09:03
Mike, I regularly use my 58mm XL on my Zone VI with the bag bellows for architectural shoots. You have to tilt the back rearward somewhat and move it forward on the focus track as far as it will go after tilting your tripod forward so the back is leveled upright. Then tilt the front to match the upright angle of the rear and raise the lens to center position.

That does two things. First, you drop the front bed out of frame (which will show up on the 65mm and 75mm range too, if left at normal levels). Second, it gets the front and rear standards back to zero with each other so you can begin making whatever movements you want.

With the bag bellows, the movements are pretty wide ranging even with the 58mm. Focused farther out with your 75mm, they should be extreme.

Don't count Calumet out on a bag bellows until you call Jose in repairs. He still has some parts for the 1960's Calumet CC series cameras and just a year or so ago, I broke the back frame on my bag bellows for the Zone, and he had that in stock. 1-800-calumet. Good luck.