View Full Version : Importance of lensboard size on tilts and swings with W.A. lenses

Jean-Louis Llech
4-Nov-2003, 04:24
Many people do not recommend a Linhof Master Technika for wide angle photography, considering it allows poor movements with wide angle lenses, mainly because of the lack of flexibility of the compressed bellows.

I have been using my Master Technika for several years with wide angle lenses, for architecture and landscape. I always enjoy using it, "even" with Super-Angulon lenses.

Even if I recognize that the Technika is probably not the best camera for W.A. use, I consider that another important factor is the size of the lensboard.
Several view cameras, Sinar, Arca, Toyo, Linhof... use very large lensboards (110 to 171 mm).

If we do not only take into account the thickness and flexibility of the bellows in wide angle position, it is a basic geometry question :

Wide angle lenses have a short flange focal distance : 69.3mm for a SA-XL 5.6/58, 82.2mm for a SA-XL 5.6/72, 102.8mm for a SA-XL 5.6/90.
When applying tilts or swings to the lensboard, with so short focal distances, a large lensboard will hit more rapidly the rear standard than a smaller one, and will allow a narrower tilt or swing angle.
If a 30 swing can be applied with a small lensboard (96x99mm), the swing or tilt will be limited to 15-20 with a 171x171mm lensboard, not by bellows limitation, but by large standards and lensboards preventing the movement.

So am I wrong when I consider that cameras with small lensbords and tapered bellows (4x5" on rear standard and 6x9 on front standard like Arca-Swiss) are more convenient for wide angle use ?

I would appreciate your opinion.

4-Nov-2003, 06:13

at such short focal length one often has to use recessed lensboards anyway and than the large lensboard is less of a problem.


Ernest Purdum
4-Nov-2003, 07:15
You are right, but like recessed llensboards and every other approach, the small lensboard is only a partial solution. Over the years, there have been a number of interesting ideas on how to alleviate the difficulty. One that I think has merit is to mount the lens to the lensboard in a ball and socket or a gimbal mount, so that the lens has some tilt or shift without the lensboard being moved at all. Kodak used to have a little bellows going to an auxiliary lensboard to provide swing on a camera lacking it. It was square, so it could be turned for either swing or extra tilt. It wasn't intended for wide angle, since it extended the lens, but a widse angle variation could be worked out for cameras with large lensboards.

Many English cameras used to have small lensboards which were mounted in slides so that they could provide some rise or fall with the bellows compressed. Some of these had wide angle tracks within the body, and most had the little door on top adopted by Linhof very many years later. Though they lacked swing and shift, their other movements were quite good for wide angle use by today's standards.

I think the ideal probably would be a camera designed for wide angle use only. Such a camera would surely incorporate your small lensboard.

Bob Salomon
4-Nov-2003, 07:40
Well then let's throw a wrench into this.

The Linhof Technikardan, Master Technika and Technika 2000 all use the same lensboard.

Now take the 75mm lens.

On the Technikardan the 75mm is used on a flat board. On the Master Technika and the 2000 it is mounted on a recessed board.

Now take the 35mm lens. On the Technikardan it is mounted on a double recessed board. On the Technika 2000 it is mounted on a flat board with a cone on it. It does not work on the Master Technika at all.

The camera in use has as much to do with the lens selection as the board does.

Ellis Vener
4-Nov-2003, 08:59
Am I wrong when I consider that cameras with small lensbords and tapered bellows (4x5" on rear standard and 6x9 on front standard like Arca-Swiss) are more convenient for wide angle use ?

yes you are wrong. I use the Arca-Swiss F-line with the standard large lensboard. I have had no problems using a 65mm grandagon and a 47mm XL super angulon with the standard Arca lens board with no problems. And of course I used the wide angle bellows.

Bob Salomon is correct --camera design is a major factor and lensboard size is irrelevant.

Spencer Cliss
5-Nov-2003, 10:26
It seems that for cameras with base tilt, the size of the lens board is irrelevant to this issue. For an un-shifted exposure, the center of the lens has to be at the same height from the monorail as the center of the film, regardless of the size of the lens board.

On the tapered 4x5 - 6x9 Arca for example, you compensate for the smaller lens board by shifting the front standard up.

Spencer Cliss
6-Nov-2003, 04:30
Sorry, I should have worded my answer more carefully.

For a base tilt camera with a small lens board to have an advantage for tilts, the tilt pivot line must be higher compared with a camera with a large lens board.

For a camera with a small lens board to have an advantage for swings, the front standard frame must be narrower compared with a camera with a large lens board.

With a base tilt camera like the Arca, there is no advantage with the smaller lens board for tilts because the tilt pivot line is at the same height no matter what lens board is used. With the Arca, there is something to be gained for swings though because the 6x9 front frame is smaller than the 4x5 front frame.

I know it's not rocket science, just trying to be clear.

g. wiley
7-Nov-2003, 01:27
I've never had a problem with my huge Arca lensboards, because with my 65mm I use the Arca Deep Recessed boards, which at 60mm are deeper than anything you'll find on a small lensboard camera. I can use my standard bellow with this setup, but I must admits it's more pleasant to use wide angle bellows.

I've never really understood people's consternation about using recessed boards. It's alot cheaper than buying wide angle bellows, and if you've got big boards like I do, getting at the camera controls isn't a hassle.

Ellis Vener
8-Nov-2003, 07:02
I'm still trying to remember any time in a landscape or architectual situation that I needed to apply 30 degrees of tilt or swing when using a 90mm or shorter lens with the 4x5 format. Maybe in some table top or macro situations but never , to the best of my recolection, in the field.