View Full Version : Lenses for Linhof Technikardan

Ron Bose
2-Feb-2004, 09:41
I'm contemplating trading my Sinar F2 and Wisner 4x5 for a Linhof Technikardan 45S. I want a field camera with precision movements for archtecture and scenics.

If I go this route, would I have to change all my lenses to TK lenses ? What functionality would I lose if I mounted regular lenses to this camera ?

Thanks !

Rob Tucher
2-Feb-2004, 10:14
I use my Technikardan for architecture all of the time and don't own, have never rented, and don't know anything about TK lenses. I just use off-the-shelf Schneider (mostly, also some Nikkor, some Rodenstock, some older Goerz) lenses mounted in TK boards. I have many lenses from 65mm to 16.5" and all work beautifully with the camera. For more involved situations I pull out my Sinar C, like shooting ultra long, etc. But for most straight-forward architecture jobs I find the TK to be a fabulous, effortless, accurate, light-weight, and well-engineered little camera with huge movements and abilities.

Al Seyle
2-Feb-2004, 10:53
I own a TK45s which I use primarily in the studio with non-Linhof lenses as well. No problem using Wista board as well. Just be advised this camera is much heavier than a field camera.

Christopher Condit
2-Feb-2004, 11:19
Isn't the Sinar F2 adequate for architecture? What about it is unsatisfactory, what about the TK do you expect to be better? Sounds like the two cameras you already have would be great for your two interests, arch and scenic.

Bob Salomon
2-Feb-2004, 11:33
The TK lenses were in a modified Prontor Professional shutter unique to Linhof. As Prontor Werke has stopped making shutters for large format lenses this shutter is no longer available.

Like all view cameras the TK uses standard shutters so any lens in Copal will fit and work properly.

We do have one 210mm in Prontor TK shutter left in stock should anyone decide that they would like to have one.

For those who don't know the Prontor Professional shutter was a self-cocking system. The TK shutter added a wheel to the side of the shutter on which you could dial the aperture desired from the front, back or side of the camera. The TK version also had a lever that set at 3 positions. The top most position opened the shutter for focusing at the wides aperture. The middle position closed the shutter to taking aperture for checking dof. The lowest position closed the shutter and set the aperture to taking aperture.

Michael Heinrich
2-Feb-2004, 13:06
I also changed from a Sinar f2 to a TK45S. A very good change, really. I am still using the sinar lenses on my TK and there are no problems at all. The TK is smaller, easier to carry and more exactly as the Sinar.

Ron Bose
2-Feb-2004, 15:22

The Sinar F2 is a very nice camera when you don't have to carry it anywhere, but (to be honest) is a bit of a pain in the butt to use outdoors any reasonable distamce away from the car. So basically it isn't getting used.

My Wisner is a great camera, especially for scenics, but sometimes I miss the precision that only a monorail can provide when I'm pointing the thing at a building. So this is the camera that gets most use and I'm only half-happy using with buildings.

So my reasoning with the TK45S is to get the best of both worlds and get a packable monorail with precision movements.

I've found a dealer nearby who has one in stock so I'll go play with it. I need to gauge its weight and its 'ease' of folding. If I like it I'll see whether the financials add up.

I have a bunch of decent lenses which I don't want to sell, so I was double checking that I didn't need 'special' lens features to make the TK worthwhile.

Thanks for everyone who's responded. Anymore comments on the useability of this camera in the field for scenics or architecture are welcome ...

Michael Kadillak
2-Feb-2004, 17:47
Don't let the "ease of folding it" concept get you hung up on this camera. The bellows are so damn easy to take off that I do not even mess with them as the simple risk/reward analysis when the weather is turning for the worse and I need to get to the truck does not make sense to me as I might unintentionally mess up the bellows int he take down procedure. Not wirth the risk IMHO. As a result, I had camera bellows make me a straight tapered bellows out of their synthetic material that is fabulous. Takes me about 10 seconds to take it on and off of the camera. Fabulous solid camera that is a pleasure to shoot with. Cheers!

Christopher Condit
2-Feb-2004, 19:47
Ron, it sounds like you've thought this through thoroughly.

I looked very seriously at the TK, but in the end decided to go cheaper, super light, and super compact, ending up with a Gowland monorail. I don't really need the extra length that is one of the strengths of the TK. It's a great camera, I'm sure it will suit you just fine.

Brian Ellis
3-Feb-2004, 07:11
Have you read the two reviews of the TK (one by me, one by Paul Butzi) and numerous follow-up comments under the camera review section of this web site? That should give you a good idea of what people have liked and disliked about the camera.

Ron Bose
3-Feb-2004, 10:44

I did read your detailed review (before posting this) with interest, and I'll use your thoughts as the basis for my hands-on play with the TK at the Teamwork store in London.

Basically if I can't handle folding and unfolding the camera I won't even bother looking at the other features.

The most attractive thing to me about the TK is that I can put it in my back pack easily.

Chris: you'd be surprised at how well I can talk myself into spending large quantities of money on things that I want and 'not' things that I need !

Rob Tucher
3-Feb-2004, 11:26
I'd add that folding is an absolute breeze. Don't be intimidated by the reports. It takes a slight bit of practice and a bit more manual dexterity than putting a Sinar back in its big box but certainly no more and probably much less than adding rail length to a Sinar. The key for me is to FOLD AND UNFOLD IT ON THE TRIPOD. It is much harder to manipulate it into a folded or unfolded configuration when it is loose in your hands. Put it on the tripod, lock down the head, and then crank back the rear standard while spinning both standards into position. It becomes such a natural movement that I don't think twice about it anymore. But I remember the first time I ever tried, not on a tripod by the way, and I got a bit twisted and almost lost out on this gem. I've always considered the camera a fantastic bridge between studio monorail and field, and it does the bridging like the Golden Gate or the Brooklyn Bridges.

Frank Petronio
3-Feb-2004, 14:32
I couldn't afford a Technikardan but for the short time I had one, it was the nicest 4x5 I ever used. I have used Arcas, Sinars, Toyos, other Linhofs, etc. The only shortcoming is if you try to mount a heavy digital back on it, it might be a bit weak for that. And you may want to invest in the long Really Right Stuff plate if you use long lenses. Don't buy one used without checking the regular bellows - many are screwed up from careless folding.

3-Feb-2004, 17:01
And also for those who don't know the Prontor Professional shutter was expensive as hell--what a certain salesman conveniently fails to mention.

Anyway, I love my TK45 and never could figure out why some couldn't fold/unfold it.

Frank's piece of advice is a good one: the RRS plate is excellent. I also really like their QR clamp.

See here:


Julio Fernandez
3-Feb-2004, 20:02
One thing I never understood about the TK45 is why people complain about the difficulty in closing. I do not own a TK45 but I did own the very large Kardan GL, whose bellows were easy as pie to remove. If the TK bellows are no more difficult why do not people just remove them and get done with? The one holdback I've had against the TK is the need to carry two sets of bellows -one for WA use. What on balance do TK users say that is not already in this posting? I have seen the write ups in the archives but I am still not sure I'd want to give up my Master Technika for the TK. Appreciate comments. Thanks

Jorge Gasteazoro
3-Feb-2004, 21:36
Julio, with anything from 90 mm and up, you dont need the WA bellows, of course if you are twisting the camera like a pretzel then the 90mm might be a stretch. I used the camera with the regular bellows for many years until I got the 65 mm lens. With a 65 mm lens you do need it. OTOH the WA bellows is so small and easy to fold that it does not take any space in your bag.

Michael S. Briggs
4-Feb-2004, 00:25
Over the years I have used several 4x5 field cameras and while none of them were bad cameras, all had some deficiency that lead me to keep looking. Now with the Technikardan 45S that I have, I have stopped looking. It isn't the best camera for all uses and all people, but it is a superb camera. The main drawback is that it is heavier than most field cameras.

I find it easy to setup and to fold, and easier than any other field camera that I have used to change the bellows. I use with lenses from the 72 mm Super-Angulon-XL to a 450 mm non-telephoto lens. It handles this range of focal lengths well, and without the need for a recessed lensboard. It will take shorter lens and longer lenses if they are telephotos. I normally use the bag bellows for 110 mm and shorter. The regular bellows could be used, but the movements would be restricted. I sometimes photo architecture and make heavy use of front rise, so photographers with different practices than mine might find the bag bellows less necessary.

As to the original question, no special lenses are needed. The only limitation is that some very large lenses with large rear cells won't fit because the camera has an approx. 82 mm diameter hole on the front standard. Lenses that won't fit are generally so large and heavy that few would want to use them in the field on a 4x5 camera.

John Hennessy
4-Feb-2004, 11:36
This thread is about lenses but: but I am going to try to describe my method for folding the TK though a demonstration would be worth a thousand words. I thought of this method after using the camera for several years. It is probably more detail than anyone would need; the main steps are 4 and 6.

1. Neutralize swings, tilts and rise; collapse rail and tighten.

2. Loosen all controls including tripod pan head.

3. Squeeze standards together with both hands making them square and apart only be a finger width or so. Any where near the center of the rail is OK.

4. Shift both standards together all the way to the left (assuming you’re in the back) till the standards and rail look like —| (the horizontal line is both standards together and the vertical line is the rail).

5. Unclick the front and rear swing catches and swing slightly to the rear.

6. Jam left index finger between L standards and tightly grab both standards with the left hand, grab the rear of the rail with the right hand and rotate them together. If the standards don’t end up directly over the rail, shove the standards forward till they’re square. Lock the six red levers if you want to.

The red suitcase symbols on the rail and the rear standard will line up; you can ignore the red suit case on the focus gear. The secret is the jammed-in left index finger which keeps the bellows from pinching on the standards, and the —| formation which gives you a bit of leverage (aided by the loose tripod pan control) to pop the camera closed.

Ron Bose
4-Feb-2004, 16:36
Thanks to all for the continued interesting posts. Please don't worry about the 'original' question, that was answered early on. I'm very interested to read about member's experience with this camera.

I went down to Teamwork in London (I'm visiting family this week) and had Dan give me a demo of the TK. When folding the camera, he just took off the bellows, rotated the two standards (to give an effective 90 degree swing on both standards), then pulled the extension rails together making the front standard sit next to the rear. Fold complete. I think I'd give John's method a try, but I don't mind removing the bellows, excessive maybe but I don't mind if it ensures the longevity of the expensive Linhof bellows.

The movements were nice, smooth and positive. Build quality was excellent and its weight was not an issue.

Next step is to off-load the Sinar, Wisner and RB67 to raise the cash to buy it when I get back to North America !!

Big lens limits - am I going to have trouble with the 90mm f4.5 Grandagon-N ? I may need to dump it then, as it already has to compete with the 110 XL to make the starting line up ...

Thanks again ...

Frank Filippone
4-Feb-2004, 16:45
I have a TK45 and a 110 SS XL lens. The lens works great with nothing special. BUT if you want to apply any movements, and especially if those movements are dramatic, get the bag bellows. There are no rational limitations with that item.

There is a diffeence in the TK45 and the TK45s. The s model has built in slick zero stops for the movements. It drove me nuts. I like the model without the click stops. How can you tell 1 from the other? The s model has a 3 piece front L standard. The non- s has a 1 piece front L standard.

John Hennessy
4-Feb-2004, 18:26
I meant to suggest you check prices at Robert White. But now I see you are in the UK I don't know how his prices compare after adding the VAT.

By the way, except for bag bellows, I have been disappointed in all other Linhof things like the lens shade and reflex viewing hood. They are poorly made and greatly overpriced. Ditto (except for quality) for Technica lens boards. Try generic or Nikon.

David A. Goldfarb
4-Feb-2004, 19:15
I'm all for saving some money when I can, but I really like the precise, positive fit of the original Technika lensboards compared to others I've tried (Toyo, Wista). Fortunately, they are so well made that used ones usually have that same great fit, so I'd rather buy a used Linhof board at about half the price of a new one than a new board of another make for my Technika.

Michael S. Briggs
4-Feb-2004, 22:30
Ron, your 90 mm f4.5 Grandagon-N should fit. Rodenstock's brochure gives the max diameter of the rear cell as 70 mm, plus the rear cell tapers towards the shutter. My analysis of the dimensions isn't as conclusive as actually using the lens (I don't have this one), so don't take this as the final word.

I like the click stops of the TK45S. Each click stop has a lever which disengages the click stop so that click stop won't interfere with small movements. Several others on this forum have strongly expressed a contrary view.

Ron Bose
5-Feb-2004, 06:00

I actually live in Canada, but the parents live in London, England. I'm here visiting this week.

I've asked my local dealer to get a price for the TK45S, but I've also an eye on Badger, B&H and Robert White ...

Thanks all for the insightful responses.


Ron Bose
5-Feb-2004, 06:09
I see that many of you guys own the 110 XL, I bought this lens after the 90 Grandagon-N so I'm wondering, how many of you also own a 90mm and is it too close in focal length ?

My current focal length line up goes 75, 90, 110, 150, 210 and 450.

I'm thinking that the moderate wide end is a bit crowded, does it make sense to keep a 90mm when I already own the 110 XL ?

My shooting style is mostly architecture and some scenics.

Cheers !

David A. Goldfarb
5-Feb-2004, 07:33
I can see having both, since the 110XL will give you lots of room for movements and the 90 is noticably wider, yet quite different from a 75. If you find yourself always using one and never the other, then that's when to decide to sell one.