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Thread: 6 X 9 Photographers

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Lancaster County, PA

    6 X 9 Photographers

    Can I please hear from the 6X9 format photographers? Is this format more difficult to work with than 4X5?
    Thanks for the anticipated valuable input. This Forum is the best!!


  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area, California

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    I use a monorail view camera, a 6x9 Arca Swiss F-Metric, for mainly landscape and some flower photography. The handling of this camera is just like any other LF view camera. Off the top of my head, here are some pros and cons of 6x9 compared to 4x5 (of course, as I see them):

    Advantages of 6x9:
    1. The film handling is much easier and much less expensive than 4x5. One could easily carry multiple 120 or 220 rolls in the field without worrying about volume and weight compared to 4x5 film. A side effect of this is the ability to freely bracket photos without worrying about running out of film.
    2. The camera, the lenses and the film pack more compact and weigh less due to smaller lens boards and usage of roll film.
    3. Better DOF for a given aperture.
    4. I like the more rectangular aspect ratio of 6x9 compared to 4x5. This is just a personal preference.

    Advantages of 4x5:
    1. Bigger area for focusing. So one does not have to be as much critical about the focus as 6x9.
    2. The larger real estate of 4x5 film allows larger enlargements compared to 6x9. One could scan and enlarge a good 4x5 transparency to a 40”x50” print, but I would not go beyond 20”x30”with a good 6x9.
    3. Ability to expose each frame differently so that it can be developed accordingly. This is important if you are doing B&W photography and/or using zone system.

    I might have missed some in the above list.

    Specifically, the 6x9 Arca Swiss is a delight to operate, very precise, rigid with all kinds of yaw-free geared movements with Micrometric Orbix. The binocular viewer obviates the usage of a dark cloth and a loupe for most applications.

    Overall, I'm quite pleased with the 6x9 Arca Swiss camera and in general 6x9 photography.

    // Atul

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Houston, TX

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    6x9 is alive and well, as far as I'm concerned. For several years I've been using a Horseman VH and VHR, with an assortment of lenses ranging from 47mm to 270mm... primarily landscape work. I also have an older Horseman CH-31 with a fixed 62mm lens that I play with on occasion. I shoot larger roll film, larger sheet film and digital as well. All have their merits.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Nov 2001
    Chester, UK

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    Here's another enthusiastic 6x9 shooter! I use an Ebony 45S with a wide range of lenses from 55 to 300 mm. I have marked the 6x9 outline on the gg screen and I enjoy being able to see more than the RF margins. I also have the WA fresnel which helps greatly, but makes it slightly more difficult to focus with the longest lenses. I haven't time to develop individual cut film sheets, and being able to fit 8 frames on a roll is excellent. I also prefer this aspect ratio. In answer to your question it is no more difficult to work with for me, but the smaller field of view, and more precise focussing needed for the widest lenses, mean that you have to be a bit more careful than with larger formats.

  5. #5

    Join Date
    May 2006
    Westminster, MD

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    And 6x9 makes more sense if a digital back is thrown into the mix. Not that I can afford a digital back, but if I could, I'd go with 6x9 LF.

  6. #6
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    I shoot a little 6x9, but with a 6.5x9cm plate camera (a Voigtländer Bergheil). So far I have only used it hand held, taking pleasure in the ease of use of such a tiny little LF camera. Yes, I do occasionally use rise and shift with it, too!

    I've shot a few rolls of 6x7 with my 4x5" camera. None the last year, but I did use it quite a bit on the Linhof Color I had before. I may well do it more often now that I have a camera which can handle shorter lenses.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Jun 2005

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    Using 6x9 is much more than just a question of a film format. It's a question of the speed of your photography, its ease, the weight of your paraphernalia, the possibilities given by all these specific issues. Taking the 6x9 as a simple geometrical reduction of the 4x5 won't tell you anything about it.

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    St. Simons Island, Georgia

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    I shoot a lot of 6x9 (approximately) - and I shoot almost all of it on sheet film. I use my 2 1/4 x 3 1/4 Speed Graphic both hand held and on a tripod like a view camera. I shoot it in my RB67 (image a little shorter than 6x9 but a little bigger than 6x7) on a tripod much like Brett Weston used his SL66. With sheet film, I have all the advantages of ZS or BTZS. Both cameras are lighter than 4x5, and I can see the screen on the RB67 better than I can see the ground glass on 4x5. I now shoot almost exclusively 6x9 and 8x10 - the 4x5 is in the closet.

  9. #9
    westernlens al olson's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Southwest Mountains of Colorado

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    Good morning Greg,

    In addition to three 4x5s and an 8x10, I have two 2 1/4 x 3 1/4s, (6x9s if you will). One is a Linhof Super Technika with three matched, cammed Schneider lenses at 65mm, 105mm, and 180mm. The other is a Speed Graphic with a Kodak Ektar 107mm.

    The 6x9 field (press) is a lot more convenient to carry around (although the small Linhof still weighs a ton). You have the option of using the view finder or the ground glass, and both cameras are equipped with rangefinders.

    Until recently the availability of sheet film was problematic. Shortly after I bought the Linhof, color films were discontinued and the only b&w I could find available was Ilford's HP5 (ISO 400). When Ilford was getting restructured, this size disappeared.

    In recent months films have become available again at least at Freestyle and J&C (these might be special orders???). In addition now Freestyle is stocking Efke (in ISOs 25, 50 and 100) and their (ISO 100) house brand as well. I have recently collected a small hoard for testing.

    As far as color films go, you will have to use a roll film which means that you will need a roll film back. I find this very inconvenient when using ground glass focusing because the ground glass must be removed to put the roll film holder on. Thus I seldom use color and, if I do, I use the viewfinder instead.

    [I have two of the Calumet Roll Holder Model C2 holders that will slip in under the ground glass on my 4x5s but I know of nothing like this available for the 23s. In this case, the wide angle 90mm becomes my "normal" lens.]

    I have numerous two-sided holders that I have found cheap on ebay. In addition I have two Grafmatics that are very handy. They hold 6 sheets in separate septums and are highly regarded as to their alignment in the film plane. These are available for around $30 on ebay.

    Processing is very simple. You can process several sheets at a time in 8x10 trays and keep them separated to avoid scratches.

    If you have a Jobo, you can put six sheets into the adjustable 2509 reel that goes into the 2521 drum (270 ml of chemicals). I also acquired on ebay a 3012 drum that holds 12 sheets and uses 330ml. I have never seen this drum shown in Jobo's literature, however.

    If you have not already selected a camera, let me recommend the Linhof. The Super Technika 23 is a great camera, especially if it has the full suite of three matched, cammed lenses. The rear standard has the same movements as the 4x5s. The front standard has a 15 degree drop bed, 15 degree rear tilt as well as vertical rise.

    Linhof did not put in swing and shift movements because this was intended as a press camera and if these were needed they felt the camera was so light (hah!) that they could be accomplished by tilting the tripod head 90 degrees and using the tilt for swing and the rise for shift.

    This is a great format to work with especially with the b&w films now that we have a selection again. Hope you join us and help keep the format alive.


  10. #10

    Join Date
    May 2006
    London & Dorset UK

    Re: 6 X 9 Photographers

    Hi Greg. My favouite roll film format is 6X9. I use this format regularly in my Super Wide 65mm Fuji cameras, on my Sinar 5X4 and 8X10 with roll film holders. Having these options I feel I am getting the best out of film types available, in both colour and black and white. Long may it be so! Good luck.

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