View Full Version : Linhof Techno review

3-Sep-2012, 14:43
This has been posted elsewhere on LL. Its a very thorough and comprehensive review from Anders Torger, a Swede with a Techno. He really takes it through the paces:


Steven Tribe
3-Sep-2012, 15:18
This has really nothing to do with large format! Calling a camera a replacement for a 4x5 camera doesn't make it so!
It is certainly very unattractive looking (read as cheap).

Frank Petronio
3-Sep-2012, 17:37
It's interesting to read up on, looks like a cool camera if you have the money.

Steven Tribe
4-Sep-2012, 00:36
I must admit, I enjoyed the read as well, although the general style/cautious remarks made me think of "planted concealed advertising" in technical journals!

4-Sep-2012, 02:02
Planted concealed advertising? What made you think that? I'm certainly not affiliated with Linhof in any way, and I don't think my review is lacking in criticism of the bad things or presenting alternatives to the camera. Maybe one would think it is "concealed advertising" for the untested systems presented as alternatives, like Alpa and Arca-Swiss Rm3di since those are in certain aspects better than a view camera (and worse in others which I also talk about), but really I have written the review for potential users of these systems and try to give as wide view as possible so one knows what to look into for oneself.

Not really talking about 4x5" film as a real alternative may be a bit "offensive" to 4x5" users though, but the review is really about digital field systems. I've also got comments from people using studio view cameras which don't think that camera type is properly praised with full rear-standard movements and all, but I guess I can't please 'em all :-).

Concerning being a replacement of 4x5" field cameras it indeed is for some users, for example Joe Cornish. It's not feasible for everyone to continue to shoot film these days. I have changed the text to "digital incarnation" which I hope is less offensive. It is much closer to a 4x5" camera in terms of capabilities than a DSLR or a pancake camera. If you want 4x5" field camera capabilities but want to shoot digital, the Techno is about as close as you can get. But of course, digital is different and the 4x5" has its merits, but it ain't digital.

4-Sep-2012, 02:19
I must admit, I enjoyed the read as well, although the general style/cautious remarks made me think of "planted concealed advertising" in technical journals!

His first comments on the camera were titled "Precision errors....", critiquing Linhof for one of the scales being off... so its not likely that planted advertising is going to stick.

The Techno is a "tweener" camera - the pancake tech camera guys don't like it 'cause it isn't quite as precise as their cameras, but uses standard lens boards like LF cameras. Its not quite a LF because its oriented to the digital back. But it will take film, and its designed to work and operate just like a LF camera. Its a smaller version, like a 679 or other 2x3 field view cameras. As those were welcome here, it seemed reasonable this would be too. Sorry if anyone is offended.

Steven Tribe
4-Sep-2012, 02:57
Not offended - just consider it noise in a website that is LF orientented. There is a thread for non-LF here.
LF has implicitly nothing to do with "movements" available. Many LF cameras have quite restricted movements.
I said that the general style/cautious remarks made me think of "planted concealed advertising" in technical journals! Well it did. Doesn't mean to say that I have any views about reasons behind the article.
I suspect that the "precision error" is just a single gear tooth mounting error - a QC problem.

Kirk Gittings
4-Sep-2012, 07:26
Though this may irritate some people's LF sensibilities, it is entirely appropriate here. From the guidelines:

For the purposes of this forum, we define "large format" as being essentially 4x5, or larger, sheet film. We do, however, allow what would otherwise be considered "medium format" sizes, IF exposed in a view camera (e.g. with a roll-film adapter), technical, or old-style press camera (e.g. the various Graphic cameras).

C. D. Keth
4-Sep-2012, 20:25
It's kind of neat. One might be fun to mess with for an afternoon but it wouldn't hold my interest. Also, $7,000 for the body alone is ludicrous.

Though this may irritate some people's LF sensibilities...

The only irritating thing about it will be having to listen to techno owners prattle on about how their camera is sooooo precise and superior to archaic, obsolete cameras like mine. ;)

4-Sep-2012, 22:31
I quickly glanced the article referred to above. The writer did an amazing and thorough job of reviewing the camera.

I wanted to briefly relate my thoughts about such cameras. These thoughts are entirely personal, and certainly do not apply to everyone. Last year I had an opportunity to look at, or work with, several of the various digital "view" cameras including the Linhof Techno, the Sinar Ar-Tec and other "pancake" types. I came away with very clear feelings about the experience. All of these cameras are beautifully precision built and each has its own special features (not all offer swing, tilt, shift, etc). Many of us would consider these cameras to be masterpieces in terms of design and workmanship alone.

In the final analysis, however, these beauties are basically medium format cameras built for the digital age and made to accomodate the ever advancing digital back technology. They provide the professional or advanced user the ability to make typical view camera adjustments, albeit in many cases, with far less ease and flexibility than a traditional view camera. The unpacking and setup of this equipment can be far more time consuming than setting up a typical view camera, because of the special handling and care of the digital back, setting up various camera components, accessories and cables.

Getting to the image – the ground glass is tiny and so is the image ! Focusing, not to mention making adjustments, is a major feat in and of itself. Because of the smaller ground glass screen size, there's barely enough room to move your focusing loupe! And you’ll need a loupe more than ever before ! Due to the relatively small ground glass image area, making all adjustments seemed to be a far more intense and precise exercise (and much less comfortable) compared to performing similar adjustments on a traditional (4x5, 5x7 or 8x10) view camera. Perhaps some of this was due to my inexperience with such cameras.

There's also the question (and probable requirement) of working tethered (at least to a laptop, if not to a large monitor), to overcome the focus and adjustment issues. Though a tethered setup may help, a mule might be required to carry all necessary related equipment into the field. Having to deal with so much technology seemed somewhat contrary to my idea of enjoying outdoor landscape photography in a natural setting. In short, it seemed to take away from, rather than add to the experience. People such as Stephen Johnson carried a view camera and Betterlight Scanning back and a lot of other “stuff” into the wild – no picnic for sure. Even these cameras, while smaller than a view camera, still require many add-ons and are not so "user friendly" out of doors vs. within a studio.

I concluded that, for my own purposes, were I to go in the direction of a high end digital setup, a more compact and integrated medium format camera system such as Hasselblad or Phase 1 would be a better, though not perfect, solution. Interestingly enough, the H system offers an accessory called the HTS 1.5 which provides limited, but adequate, tilt and shift adjustments for certain lenses. Apparently, there was a patent issue regarding this device and it is no longer sold (new) in the US.

Above all, I still prefer view camera photography. Working with a large image on the ground glass is, by far, the best !

Frank Petronio
4-Sep-2012, 22:40
It doesn't seem any harder than shooting Wet Plate ;-p

C. D. Keth
4-Sep-2012, 22:59
Aside from carrying all of it to whatever you're shooting, it would be pretty cool to work with a view camera tethered to a nice big monitor.

5-Sep-2012, 01:13
The future is probably being tethered with live view via a thin lightweight tablet computer similar to the iPad, which you can attach to the camera at the traditional ground glass position to have your hands free to operate the camera. It will be kind of an electronic ground glass with zoom function At that point I think we have really good ergonomics again. However, it is not really clear when or even if medium format digital will get a really good live view. I think we'll have to live with the ground glass for a few more years.

Concerning setup time it is really about how you pack the camera. To gain speed you have the digital back always mounted on the sliding back, the synch cable in the digital back, and on each lens you have a short cable release permanently attached, only changing to a longer more comfortable one for complicated shots when you need to stand and wait a lot.

So setup becomes 1) up with the tripod (tripod head always attached of course), 2) put on the camera (snap on quick release plate), 3) snap on the sliding back (which has digital back always there), 4) if lens needs changing do that, 5) attach the loose end of the flash sync cable (other end already attached to digital back) to the lens. 6) Ready to focus (since you always pack lenses in open position).

I think it is reasonably quick, 30 seconds or so from having backpack on the back to having the camera up. Obviously slower than a DSLR though, but comparing to a traditional view camera I don't think much time is lost. Being quick up with the camera has become a sort of a fun sport for me. My current backpack is a bit too compact though which does not allow for the speediest arrangement.

Difficulty in using the tiny ground glass image is very personal though, and I do understand that some think it is just too tough. I certainly suggest trying for yourself before buying if possible (although I just bought the thing :-) ). Unfortunately I have too little experience of traditional large format view cameras to say how much worse it is, to me it seems like traditional ground glass is not too fantastic either, the same type of dimness problems. For me the ground glass is okay, and most of the time I enjoy it, or rather I enjoy the shooting process -- visualizing the image without the help of the ground glass is a larger aspect of it than I thought it would be, but that is not too bad either. The ground glass should be seen more of a focusing and corner placement tool than a failsafe image visualizing device. In some perverted way it is kind of nice being able to effectively use a camera many would consider difficult :-). I'm the first to confess though that I'll start using live view and ditch the sliding back as soon as digital backs have a live view as good as my Canon camera.

One important aspect to mention about the ground glass is that the camera is a 6x9 so the ground glass area is quite a bit larger than the sensor area, which makes it easier to get to the corners even with the light-hood mounted. You certainly do need a loupe though.

Concerning using Hasselblad or other MF DSLRs for landscape photography my personal view on that is that I would today rather go with a Nikon D800E. From my point of view the MF DSLRs gear does not today provide enough value over the best 135 DSLRs, they are worse in almost every aspect except for resolution (and possibly color), assuming you can afford a recent back.

One reason I've chosen a technical camera is because I think tilt and shift are important tools for high quality landscape photography (and also fun tools to use, not the least important!), and MF technical cameras (and large format film) has the best flexibility there (very few tilt-shift DSLR lenses are as flexible in movements as I'd like) in combination with high lens resolving power all the way to the corners. The tech cameras do provide something the DSLRs don't have and are radically different to use, thus to me as an amateur landscape photographer a much more interesting choice than an MF DSLR.

5-Sep-2012, 04:03
The Techno, while far from the more direct pleasure of a larger GG and the more traditional view camera is, for better or worse, the most traditional camera set up for a digital back. It has one foot in view camera, and one foot in digital era, leaving it with only a few friends and many who don't quite care for it. It is neither traditional enough for the LF crowd, and not techy precise enough for the tech cameras, which have been correctly ID'd as MFDB cameras with movements. Anders review tries to fill in the gap, where there has been a lack of information.

One of the aspects of LF that remains vital is composing on the GG. This process is critical, as its the moment where one steps back and considers. And even if not shooting the 4x5, for me the waist level finder of medium format cameras gives some of that experience.

For a moment, lets look at the Techno as one of a series of steps away from traditional LF use. We could see the first step away being the use of the small ground glass (GG). Those composing on the GG of a 679, 2x3, would wish for GG the size of 4x5 or 8x10 for viewing. But they have opted for the portability of a smaller rig and ease of film use. So that's the first step away: smaller size, portable, harder GG viewing, but still keeping all the movements.

The second step away from traditional LF would be using a digital back. If one just puts it on and off, replacing the GG with it for the shot, it isn't that different than a film back....but that isn't good for the digital back. Rather, sliding back holders are better, and some even come with MF viewers that can be fixed to them (a la Hassy), making it even easier to see. They resemble miniature reflex viewers although its not clear if they are precise enough. The Kapture Group makes some pretty cool stitching backs, and I'm going to try one of those, combining a MF digital back onto the back of a 4x5 and see what happens. Their three-step stitching back can make a single image, or can stitch two sideways giving either 48x72 or 88 x 36 mm images easily. Add to that the optional use of camera rise and some flexibility begins to creep back in. But overall, the digital back experience (especially as its so small) holds little when compared to LF film, except its darn convenient. Very much so. And the Kapture Group sliders are smaller than the Linhof slider that Anders used.

Lastly then, imagine a system that puts these pieces together. Thus the Techno. For it, and even for the other tech cameras (Alpa, Cambo and Arca) which are wonderful pieces, the viewing experience is... attenuated, to say the least. Unsatisfying would be a stronger way to put it for some. Each their own. Under the current technology, there seem to be no perfect answers. Anders points out with a change to the viewer (such as Ipad meets ground glass by means of some portable,local, and lightweight tethering), things could get interesting again.

All in all, no perfect system, and yes, the days of Readiloads, 4x5 and a darkroom sure do sound nice.

Rod Klukas
6-Sep-2012, 08:30
And then there is the Arca-Swiss RL3d 4x5 or digital camera. Has most movements and is quite compact and extremly precise.