View Full Version : How about digital backs for a Horseman 980 Technical camera?

Leonard Evens
10-Jan-2013, 14:56
I'm afraid I already know the answer to this question, but let me ask it anyway.

I have a Horseman 980 Technical camera. I haven't used it very much since I got my Toho FC-45X, which is a 4 x 5 camera. But I wondered whether there were a "reasonably priced" digital back which would work with it. ( I gather the answer may be yes for the 985, but not for the 980.)

I also gather from the answers to my previous question about 6 X9 cameras with digital backs that, for the money, I am probably better off getting a Nikon D600 or D800 as far as quality of image is concerned. But I don't want to give up on camera movements. Of course, because of the increased depth of field, camera movements are not as necessary for the smaller format. Also, although tilt shift lenses can't do as much, when the other factors are taken into consideration, perhaps they can do enough.

Peter York
10-Jan-2013, 15:11
I have considered doing this with a baby technika, but the digital sensor area is so much smaller than 6x9. Any wideangle work will be very fiddly if not impossible. Additionally, movements will be a PITA to view on the groundglass.

If you are adament about using a digital back, IMHO the best option is to get a quad-stitch adapter back for a 4x5, like this one:


10-Jan-2013, 20:34
I tried the Kapture Group sliding back on a wooden 4x5, and contrary to all, it did work. Focus on the GG (if you don't go too too wide) was possible, and sharp images as well. Unfortunately, the GG was moved back, so a 58 wouldn't focus to infinity, so the 90 was only usable lens. Ultimately ended up with a more secure 6x9 based camera for the rigidity and usability.

To the original post, the movements are great, viewing through the GG is good... KG is very good and attentive to follow up questions or issues. The only issue is the setup time with this digital gear is as much as with LF film, its harder to inspect the glass, but.... the cost of the shot (once you have the back) is free, and processing is very fast.

11-Jan-2013, 04:19
What problem are you trying solve? saving on film costs, weight, adaptability?
Shooting with a DSLR is a different experience than a LF.
A D800 will give you speed, weight and film cost gains over sheet film.
The Canon tilt shift lenses I can vouch for as excellent, on a FF body they are a treat. But it's not the same as a LF experience.
I have the 1DX, probably in reality the best camera I've ever had in many ways. Speed,adaptability, quality of image is fantastic, I can tackle most assignments with it and it will turn in a great job. I have quality ultra wide lenses, long lenses, zoom lenses and tilt shift lenses. It and the the 1Ds's I have, have earned me hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years, but it ain't LF.
The journey of the image from start to finish is different even if the results end up similar. It's like the difference between driving to the top of the mountain or walking up. The view at the top is the same, it's what you find the most pleasurable way to travel that counts.


John O'Connell
11-Jan-2013, 09:15
I wasn't aware that the backs on the 980 and the 985 were different; I would think that a sliding back made to fit the 985 would work on the 980.

I'll say that I agree with Kevin that there's no rational reason to stay with a view camera on the budget Leonard has, but I'm fine with anyone who wants to don Mambrino's helmet, hire a friend on a donkey, and tilt at a photographic windmill. It could be fun, and maybe he'll get what he wants.

Leonard Evens
11-Jan-2013, 09:45
Let me add that although I enjoy solving the technical problems posed in view camera photography, to which I've devoted lots of thought, my main interest is being able to do certain types of photography, e.g., architectural photography, which really required a view camera for high resolution, properly framed results. But because of physical limitations due to age, I can no longer take full advantage of what a view camera can provide. (I could have my negatives commercially scanned, but as an advanced amateur, part of the pleasure lies in doing as much myself as i can.) I don't plan to give up on my view camera entirely, but I gather from what others here have said that I can do as well in the kind of pictures I want to make by using a Nikon D800 with appropriate lenses. I just want first to eliminate the possibility of using my Horseman 980 with a digital back.

The Horseman 985 has a rotating back, which apparently makes a big difference in which digital backs can be used.

11-Jan-2013, 14:43
The Horseman VH and VHR cameras have a rotating back, the 980 and 985 do not. The 985 has different bed struts and more front shift - other that they are the same camera.

Peter York
11-Jan-2013, 15:16
These cameras are quite cheap these days, say approx. $1,000 for one with lenses and cams. You could buy a 985 (or even a technika) and sell the 980.

However, for architectural work you probably would want more wideangle capability. With the sensor size of the digital backs, I would not entertain any of these 2x3 folders for architecture. A 2x3 monorail would be much better, but the precision of the monorail becomes important and that means $$$ becomes a big factor.

I think the D800 or other DSLR with tilt/shift lenses might be the best option for you.

11-Jan-2013, 15:20
Leonard, any triggerable by sync cord back will work (some dont do it). Many people will start talking about tolerances and stuff..
But in all seriousness - i have used Leaf back on both Linhof Technika and on Chamonix, using simple sliding graflock back and 150mm Xenar (and few other lenses) it images are tack sharp.

Sliding back gives you ability to have roughly 6x9 image without having to buy huge digital back (and there is none available freely that covers 6x9 anyway).

But that is also has its own disatvantages as you have to focus either using wee focus screen on slider or using live output on back/tethered computer.

That said, if you head to getdpi forum you will find wealth of intel on how technical MFdb cameras work and how to organize workflow, which lenses to pick up for this & etc.

As of price - if you dont go after super latest and shop around and wait - you can get decent MFdb for 3-5k. For latest with retina displays and other fancy stuff - price goes in range of 10k+.