View Full Version : Linhof IV Technika, opinions please

Bill, 70's military B&W
26-Aug-2012, 10:34
I just bought and am returning a Linhof IV Technika. It was in almost new condition. After I bought it on e-bay I learned that every time I would need to add a lens I'd have to send it off to the factory with all the other lenses and cams to have a new lens/cam fitted. A very expensive procedure.

I just last night discovered a rip/separation in the bellows where it attaches to the front standard. I read where someone paid $400 to have a bellows replaced on a Lihhof. This is one expensive camera to own.

I know there are Linhof owners who swear by them, I just do not understand the justification of the additional expense, compared to other cameras.
I will say that it is the heaviest, most robust camera I've ever had in my hands. The engineering is top notch, but that comes with also being very complicated. There are features I could not figure out. It came without the cam for the included 210mm lens so that IMO made operation of the camera more difficult. It was hard to set up, and pull the front standard onto the track. I assume that the cam being missing is the reason for that. They were going to put the cam in the mail tomorrow.

I may in the future look for a Linhof, possibly newer than the IV, that comes with lenses/cams all included in a kit. But is all the expense justified? i bought it after reading a little about it being the Mercedes of the 4x5 field cameras.

How do other 4x5's stack up? I paid $1175 for this one with the 210 lens. Any suggestions?

I know I could have gotten a slightly cheaper one but this one is in "almost new" condition. The pictures showed it, and except for the bellows separation it was. I did not notice it until I extended the bellows to their max position. It passed the first flashlight test where the bellows were only partially extended.

Is it really worth it?

Any suggestions would be appreciated.

By the way, Bob Salomon has been fantastic, answering my questions. He is one great resource for the forum.


Bob Salomon
26-Aug-2012, 10:49
Thanks, but:

" I learned that every time I would need to add a lens I'd have to send it off to the factory "

Is incorrect. It does not have to go back to the factory. Just to a service center. The closest one to you is in NC so it is not very far.

Ivan J. Eberle
26-Aug-2012, 10:58
I don't know about the quality of Linhofs leading to more or better images, unless one's affection for a particular camera means it gets used more often. Which is not a trifling matter.
The nearest analogous cameras to early Linhofs are probably Meridian, MPP, and Deardorff Triamapro. I'm keen on a prototype Meridian 45C. With so many cameras going for peanuts these days, I don't get warm fuzzies for broken or leaky bellows cameras.

Frank Petronio
26-Aug-2012, 11:02
They are very rugged cameras but it's still a ~50-year old camera and most likely it does need a good cleaning and new bellows. The bellows are very thin so you can use longer lenses with the more complex triple extension, something other field cameras can't do - but they do wear out quicker than a heavy vinyl Graphic bellows. $400 is a lot of money but it's a lifetime camera, if you lke it then it's worth it. Price Arca and Ebony bellows for comparison, the top brands of cameras are high quality and more expensive.

You can certainly use any lens uncammed without the rangefinder. What works for most people is to have a compact normal lens crammed because it will fold up into the camera, making a solid, safe, and compact package for travel. But you don't "have to" cam lenses you don't use as often. Still... Try to name another 4x5 camera with as versatile or as good a rangefinder? it blows any Graflex or Polaroid conversion away.

Once it's clean and lubed, set up is very fast and easier than any other folding camera.... (maybe a Crown Graphic is equally as fast).

Darrin had a lovely Master with new bellows, crammed lens, recent CLA.... He sold it for much less than he should have, around $2K, people don't appreciate how great these cameras are! If you figure a new bellows, CLA, and camming a nice 135-150 lens (plus buying the lens) -- laying out $2000 for Darrin's Master was a fantastic deal.

So you overpaid for what you got. Maybe if you got it for $600-$700 and you put $600-$700 into it then you'd have a fair deal.

I wouldn't trust "mint" as much as a Marflex CLA receipt. Look for any Technika IV, V, or Master with a new bellows and CLA and you'll get a much better camera for less money than starting with one that needs work.

On the other hand, if you want a beater, I once bought a cheap, abused Tech IV for cheap, dismantled it and tore off the rangefinder, cleaned it and added a $100 Chinese bellows and an old focusing hood from a Crown Graphic.... and had a decent workable camera for not much money. It took some elbow grease and creative destruction but it worked fine - just nowhere near as nice as a proper Technika set-up. I wouldn't hack up a nice camera - the one I had was a true beater.

The downside of Technikas? Heavier than wood, awkward back movements, not a lot of front movements. However once you get them set up they are bullet proof and fold with the lens inside making a super tough package. And you can shoot a real 300 and it's rock solid, no woody can compare.

26-Aug-2012, 12:41
I've had Technikas for years - first, a IV and later, Master. I bought the Master only to have the "roof hatch" that would allow better / easier WA adjustment. I still prefer to use a recessed board on a 90mm SA.

Yes, any Technika is a relatively expensive camera, but, overall, worth the money. It lasts forever, is always a pleasure to use and can withstand heavy use. ANY camera can be expensive to repair, but most well made field cameras whether Linhof, or otherwise, will not require service if cared for and handled properly.

I use my Master Technika as I would a view camera, always composing on the groundglass. I don't think I've ever used relied upon the rangefinder. It's true that the cams can be costly and must be calibrated for each lens. You will find that factory supplied Linnhof lenses and their respective cams have the lens serial number engraved on the cam. For me, the enjoyment is composing on the glass. If the camera is only being used with the rangefinder focusing, you're missing out on much of the value in this camera. Also, Technikas are heavy and not much fun to use handheld ! However, as you can see, I'm prejudiced.

Providing you like the camera, that it's really in great "like new" condition and you do not need to have lenses "cammed" or use WA lenses, I would repair the bellows under the condition you can get some adjustment in price. Speak to Marflex, first to get an accurate cost. Last I heard, the bellows alone was approx $300.00 and installation is extra. The total cost might exceed the $400.00 you heard elsewhere.

If rangefinder use is imperative, get a kit with the lenses already cammed, but be prepared to pay for same.

Bob Salomon
26-Aug-2012, 13:17
" You will find that factory supplied Linnhof lenses and their respective cams have the lens serial number engraved on the cam"

No, all Linhof service centers, and many non-authorized service centers, engrave the serial number or numbers (if it is a IV) on the cam. The factory stamps the focal length on all blank cams.

26-Aug-2012, 16:00
" You will find that factory supplied Linnhof lenses and their respective cams have the lens serial number engraved on the cam"

No, all Linhof service centers, and many non-authorized service centers, engrave the serial number or numbers (if it is a IV) on the cam. The factory stamps the focal length on all blank cams.

Sorry for the mis-information...

Bob, perhaps you could explain:
When I bought my IV many years ago, it came with a Technika branded Symmar 150 /265 and cam. (i still have the lens.) The dealer here in NY told me I could be assured that the lens and cam were factory matched as evidenced by the cam bearing an engraved letter "L" in script followed by the serial number of my lens. The focal length and all the number engravings are in red. Based on what you said above, it seems the dealer was not being truthful.

Thanks, Dennis

Bob Salomon
26-Aug-2012, 16:31

The IV was discontinued in May of 1963. I have been the Product Manager since Jan. of 1980. While I have been involved with Linhof the service centers, first ZIV Service on Long Island and then Marflex in NJ and now NC have always put the serial number on the cam and when they marked a cam with the serial number it was done the same way as cams that the factory cut for lenses that we bought from Linhof directly.

It is very possible that Linhof may have put an L on a cam and it is easy to make a number a color or just black. The technique is exactly the same. Only the crayon is different. but there is no reason why the service centers couldn't also do that. Putting an L on a cam is no more difficult then stamping a number on a cam.

A letter doesn't prove the cam and lens is matched, the serial number of the lens, on top of the cam, and the camera, on the bottom of the cam, are what prove that they are matched.

Marflex can grind and match a cam just as accurately as the factory can, and for considerably less cost!

Your dealer may have had accurate info for cameras made from Oct of 56 to May of 63 but that info would not be correct now. And was many years ago almost 50 years, or more ago?

26-Aug-2012, 20:57
Q: Why is a divorce so expensive?
A: Because it's worth it!

A good Technika is like a divorce..

E. von Hoegh
27-Aug-2012, 07:18
The Linhof STIV is not a field camera. It is not a view camera. It is a technical camera. It can be used handheld with the rangefinder which is dead accurate and either an optical or a wire frame viewfinder. It is rigid and precise, having most of the movements of a view camera. It will last as long as it is taken care of. It is beautifully made.

I've been using a factory cammed 3 lens (90,150,270) + STIV outfit since about 1987, and have never wanted any other 4x5 camera - it still looks and functions as a nearly new camera.

28-Aug-2012, 13:33
Some five years ago I had new bellows mounted by Linhof IV, Munich for some euro 500 after I bought the camera on ebay. I wouldn't know why I should cam the lenses as I allways use a tripod and darkcloth. I know that pro's send their cameras each and every year to Linhof for servicing but then they use the camera for a living - as an amateur I use the camera just for the fun. I use a Linhof Technika 70 more often as this camera sports a big view finder and is not as heavy as the Technika IV outfit. This year I had my Nikon F100 serviced for euro 340 and received an almost new Nikon. After some 40 years I had my Hasselblad 500 serviced for euro 300 and never regretted it. Servicing cameras is an expensive part of photography but well worth while considering today's selling prices of Linhof, Nikon, Hasselblad and others. What you get is camera 'almost as new' and none of my cameras have ever failed to function.