View Full Version : Roll film back - quick question

Guy Tal
15-Sep-2003, 06:14
Just about ready to buy a roll film back. So far I'm pretty convinced Horseman is the way to go price/quality wise (but will be happy to hear other opinions).
One quick question - I noticed the backs come either standalone or mounted to a film-holder-like plate. My camera (Wista VX) has a universal Graflok back. Do I need the plate or not?
Removing the GG on my camera is a snap (literally) so I'm not concerned about doing so (in fact I'd rather do it this way than risk scratching the glass).

Scenic Wild (http://scenicwild.com)

James Driscoll
15-Sep-2003, 07:03
Don't know if you are dead set on buying new, but I find the Linhof Super Rollex backs a bargain and half used. I have seen them go for as little as $123 on E of Bay. And dealers like Photo Gizzmo charge around $350 for them in clean working condition.

Also, the Sinar Zoom back goes for a fraction of its cost new on E of Bay. Just think, every format from 645 to 6x12 and an awesome pressure plate to boot!!! I have seen them go for under $1000.


Bob Salomon
15-Sep-2003, 07:15
No, you don't need the plate. The standard spring back on Wista cameras opens wide enough to accept Wista backs directly. However the back side of the back might/could/will contact the GG and scratch it. For that reason Wista makes backs with the flat plate which prevents the GG from coming in contact with the back.

If you have the Graflok back version of a Wista then you do not need the backs with the plates. But you can use them if yours has the plate.

Jeffrey Goggin
15-Sep-2003, 07:24
If you haven't already considered the Toyo rollfilm backs, you should. I used Horseman backs prior to making the switch and there was a small but noticeable improvement in film flatness, especially when using a wide-angle (50mm) lens.

Unfortunately, they're not inexpensive when purchased new (check the prices at Robert White before buying elsewhere) but with a bit of luck, used ones can be bought very inexpensively (i.e., I paid all of $119 for my 6x9/4x5 back). The only other downside is that their straight-through film path makes them larger and slightly heavier than the Horseman backs.

Guy Tal
15-Sep-2003, 07:27
Thanks Bob! I looked into the Wista backs and while very nicely finished - they seem heavier and more expensive than the Horseman. I'm afraid I'm on a tight budget.
James - I will scan eBay and see what I can dig up. The Sinar back would be great, but unfortunately even at $1,000 is way out of my budget.

Scenic Wild (http://scenicwild.com)

Jean-Marie Solichon
15-Sep-2003, 08:17
Guy, I have been using Horseman roll backs on my Toyos for several years and am very satisfied with both(6x9 and 6x12)of them. I am not quite sure about "the backs come either standalone or mounted to a film-holder-like plate" but I believe you may be confusing roll backs for MF cameras with their equivalent for 4x5 cameras. The ones for MF should not look "like mounted on a plate" whereas the ones for 4x5 camera look like fitted with graflock attachment. If you buy new your retailer should be able to indicate which exact model suits your camera. Jean-Marie

thomas gage
15-Sep-2003, 08:59
hi guy...i've used the horseman backs exclusively just because they seemed to be the best bang for the buck...my experience is that with heavy use, a breakdown can be expected, mostly involving the film advance lever...also,i would suggest buying new if possible on this item...as far as 6x9 back mounting is concerned, i contacted jim galvin to make me a horseman adapter back to fit my arca swiss 4x5...it is a beautifully designed and completely cool piece and cost i believe $150.00...good luck, tg.

Jean-Louis Llech
15-Sep-2003, 09:18
IMO, nothing can be more rock-solid, accurate and reliable than a Linhof Rollex back. I've been using my 2 6x9 cm Super Rollex backs for several years.
The highest quality and utmost film flatness.
Horseman backs are less solid, as it was said for hard working conditions, and film flatness is less than Linhof's.

Price is of course another part of the problem. I don't know the quality of film backs on ebay.
It's better to buy once a very good back rather than to often buy used film backs which one must replace because they break down.
Think also to films wasted by a bad flatness of the back...

Mark Windom
15-Sep-2003, 10:00

I've been using Horseman roll film backs (6X9 and 6X7) for years initially on a Wista SP and more recently on an Arca 69 and have never had any type of problem with them. Film flatness had never been an issue even with film left in the back for several weeks.

Matt Long
15-Sep-2003, 11:38
Guy-- I use a Horseman back with my Wista 45SP that uses the Graflock style attachment. While I have seen both of the Wista versions (slip in vs. graflock attachment), I was unaware that Horseman offered a version other that the international standard.

That being said, if given the choice, I would much prefer the Graflock attachment over a slip in version due to the ease of removing the Wista's gg frame as you had noted. The only annoyance (very minor gripe) with the Wista is having to compress the interlock lever of the press shutter mechanism when sliding the rollfilm back into place. Otherwise, if the Horseman back fits your needs and your budget, go for it!

15-Sep-2003, 23:47
Hi Guy,

I've been using Linhof Super Rollex 6x7 backs on my Sinar X for quite some time and must say that there is nothing in the market that remotely comes close to the smoothness of these backs. Both of my backs are the lever versions as opposed to the knob type. When you advance the film...it's soooooooo smooooth!

I also have a Horseman 6x12 and I can only wish that Linhof had the equivalent format available.

James is right... you'll find them for a steal on Ebay. People just don't know what they're getting rid of.

Good hunting!

Kerry L. Thalmann
16-Sep-2003, 00:05
I also have a Horseman 6x12 and I can only wish that Linhof had the equivalent format available.


Linhof does have a 6x12 back - the Techno Rollex. It has an image area that's slightly wider than the Horseman (120mm vs. 112mm) - if Bob Salomon was here, he'd be sure to point this out. It's not cheap, but then nothing that wears the Linhof crest is. The best new price I've seen is $1495 from Badger Graphic. I've seen used ones go on eBay for for $1000 - $1200.


Bob Salomon
16-Sep-2003, 02:59
However, Kerry, Badger is selling a gray market back with no US service or the 5 year warranty as he is not an authorized dealer. Additionally as he buys the backs from a dealer in Germany he is considered the first retail owner by the factory so they will not honor the warranty.

Bob Salomon
16-Sep-2003, 03:00
:Both of my backs are the lever versions as opposed to the knob type:

All lever wound are Super Rollex backs. The older knob wound ones were simply Rollex backs.

Kerry L. Thalmann
16-Sep-2003, 10:11

You bring up an interesting point. Exactly how reliable are the Linhof Techno Rollex backs? As the offical US distributor for Linhof products, you likely know how many Techno Rollexes (Rollexi?) are returned within the warranty period. Do a large percentage of them experience failures and need to be serviced, repaired or replaced within the five year warranty period? Anyone who buys any product without a warranty is taking a calculated risk. My personal experience with Linhof products is that they are some of the best made, best designed and most reliable products I have used. Given the number of 40 - 50 year old Linhof products that are still providing reliable service to their happy owners, I would be very surprised to learn that the Techno Rollex has a high failure rate within the first five years of life. But, I could be wrong. Given that a Techno Rollex with a US warranty costs almost 100% more than the price I quoted above, it would be nice to know exactly how often these backs fail within the five year warranty period. Thanks in advance for any insight you can provide.


Bob Salomon
16-Sep-2003, 11:32
A large number. No. Have we had warranty service issues with them? Yes. They are mechanical and like anything mechanical there can be problems. In some cases we replacels.

But there is also the qustion of technical support. There isn't any for products purchased gray.

Kerry L. Thalmann
16-Sep-2003, 11:53

You make a valid point. I also buy a lot of used gear, that comes with no technical support and often no warranty - but much lower prices. That's a personal choice, and I'm not making recommendations for anyone else. It's nice that buyers have the option to select the level of service and warranty they want and can afford. Whether that's new, used or "gray" is a personal decision. In this case, the cost of that warranty and tech support nearly doubles the price of an already very expensive (by my standards) product.

I have enough experience that I'm confident I could figure out how it works without any assistance. Others may not feel the same way and would be willing to pay for that assistance. Seriously though, it's just a roll film back, not the Space Shuttle. Even if I couldn't figure out how to use it on my own, I'm sure a quick call to Badger Graphic, or even a post on this forum, would get me all the help I would need to figure out how to lod a roll of film properly in this back (it can't be THAT hard). I bought my Technikardan TK45S used (but like new) and was able to figure out how it works without any assistance, and it's much more complex than a roll film back.


Jeffrey Goggin
16-Sep-2003, 11:56
Out of curiosity, exactly how much "technical support" does a rollfilm back require? I mean, after you've figured out how to load the film and mount the back to the camera -- both of which I assume are addressed in the instructions that accompany the back -- what else is left?

Bob Salomon
16-Sep-2003, 11:59
Jeff it all depends on your level of experience, what you are trying to do and what you are trying to use. What is obvious to one person isn't obvious to all. And English instruction books from non English speaking countries are not always perfectly clear.

John Downie
16-Sep-2003, 21:58
Assuming the US and German dealers both make the same margin of 10%, comparing BH and the Badger retails means that, assuming HP pays the same price as a German dealer, HP is making an alarming $1,280.30 per 6x12 Techno Rollex back. If HP buys at 20% lower than a German dealer, not an unrealistic value, then they are reeling in $1,549.40 per, more than the total that Badger is charging.

In any case, it is remarkable when US retails vary by this much. There are many cases where European gear sells for less in the US because of high volumes and increased competition.

Of course the key to this sort of price discrimination is controlling the resale between markets. Thankfully this is no longer possible, despite the threats of warranty abandonment, etc. If Linhof felt really strongly about this, they could do something, but given the differential profit-maximizing price points between Linhof and HP, they are quite happy to have people circumvent HP.

Pass the tanning butter...

D. Kevin Gibson
16-Sep-2003, 22:20
Exactly what kind of service and technical support for a camera back does $1,000.00+ buy you. If you aren't sure how to load the film, does someone from Linhof come and show you? Does it include the little man who holds the dark slide for you while you take the photographs? It's the kind of service I expect for my Bentley. I didn't realise I could get it for my camera as well...

19-Sep-2003, 19:18
Hi Kerry,

Thanks for reminding me about the Linhof version...yes, of course I knew they had one. I bid on one on ebay back a while ago but didn't win it.

Anyway, I was offered a brand new, boxed Horseman 6x12 by a dealer in Arkansas at a remarkable savings and I purchased it. I haven't looked back since. But I still "think" about the silkiness of the winding mechanism in the Super Rollex.... hmmmm! :>)

But, you're right...the price difference is significant!