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Thread: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

  1. #1

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    Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    Getting back into large-format photography after a forty-year hiatus has its unexpected twists and bumps in the road. One of these sneaked up on me whilst getting geared up. Having succumbed to the desire to give 8 x 10 a serious try this time, but not wanting to put all my eggs in that challenging basket, I've wound up with a dogs-breakfast of miscellaneous equipment, most of it with a lot of photographic potential. I like the 8x10 I was able to find and afford (thanks to eBay) -- a Toyo/Calumet. It isn't a monorail and isn't really a flat-bed either, call it a double-rail for lack of a better term. A sturdy workhorse of a camera. It mounts a lensboard that measures 5 31/32" square with radiused corners and 3/16" stepped edges. I have only the one lensboard for it, which is actually a recessed adapter board; recessed as for a WA lens, it has a square non-radiused opening that takes a 3 31/32" square lensboard with 1/16" stepped edges, secured by a Graphic-style slide lock. Looks like a good arrangement. Potentially, at least, one could use one's 4x5 lenses on the 8x10 that way, and vice-versa.

    Well, speaking of 4x5 (which I'm sure I'll use a great deal more than 8x10, especially in the re-learning phase when I'll have to burn a fair bit of film): 4x5, yes, thereby hangs a tale! It has a lot to do with the dynamics of eBay, to tell the truth. I spend over a week watching a Linhof Kardan Color 45S outfit with three excellent lenses (Super-Angulon 90/8, Sironar 180/5.6, Symmar-S 210/5.6); it attracted less bidding interest than I feared it might, and I got it for not much more than the reserve: $732, which would have been a good deal just for those three lenses alone (one could easily pay more than that for them). That was the FIRST view camera I picked up; the 8x10 came afterward.

    Well, silly me. Linhof brand, and one thinks "Technika lensboard." In this case, wrong! The Color 45S sports its own peculiar lensboard (well, it may be common to other models or, for aught I know, other brands as well) that measures 6 3/8" square with radiused corners. The three lenses I'd bought in the package deal were all on such boards.

    Then along came (on eBay of course) a Linhof Kardan Super Color ST, camera only, going for a silly low price, probably because the bellows was suspect. I succumbed to temptation and bought it. When it arrived, I was glad I had done so, because the bellows, though it had apparent cracking, was perfectly light-tight, it was only the exterior finish that was crazed. The camera itself is a dreamboat, nicer still than the Color 45S with calibrated adjustments and a square monorail. But -- would you believe that THIS one DOES take Technika lensboards?

    Finally, to prove to myself what an utter sucker I seem to be for orphan cameras, along came a sweet little Kodak Master View 4x5 that nobody wanted at all. For $71 I rescued it. It's a classic. The bellows in this case need a little bit of patching, a pinhole here and there, but otherwise just fine. Interestingly enough, the Toyo/Calumet's 3 31/32" square lensboard is a PERFECT fit on the Kodak Master View.

    Of course, I've managed to acquire a few other lenses along the way, some in shutters, some in barrel mount -- without lensboards. Decision time! WHAT KIND OF LENSBOARD to use? If I use a full-size Toyo/Calumet board, then that's good only for the 8x10. If I use the smaller Kodak Master View type board, it will serve both for that camera and the 8x10, but not for either Linhof. If I choose a Technika lensboard, that'll do for the Super Color ST only. Presumably I should be able to find a Kardan 6 3/8" lensboard carrying a Technika-board adapter, though I can't recall seeing one yet.

    I'm now becoming very heavily aware that MOST of the different view camera brands seem to bear unique lensboards. Oh, yes, the Wista and Technika are compatible, apparently. Others may be, too, but who KNOWS who hasn't had years of experience with a wide variety of view cameras? What other brands accept a Sinar lensboard, for example? I certainly don't know that handy fact! How many other view camera models mount the venerable Kodak Master View lensboard, other than my Toyo/Calumet recessed/reducer board? A pity, but there never seems to have been any kind of standard for view camera lensboards. Has anyone seen a chart of lensboard compatibilities anywhere? I'm starting to comprehend how expensive lenses sometimes wind up jammed into a rough-cut hole in a piece of cheap hardboard...

  2. #2
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    The Wista/Technika style seems to be pretty common for at least the 4x5 sizes. Might be worthwhile getting adaptor board (found or built) for the other cameras so you can hang the Technika boards on all your cameras. The only problem I've seen with them may be some size limitations for the bigger lenses.
    Now really the best solutions is going to be picking your poison and selling off the rest, maybe with a little polishing to increase the resale value. Unless you are a collector you are going to want to direct your efforts to shooting and not monkeying with a half dozen changeovers every time you want to play.

  3. #3

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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    Yes, the Technika boards seem to come closer to being a "standard" of some kind than anything else does, and they are easily available on eBay and elsewhere. As you say, the main drawback is their smallish size for larger lenses.

    Thinking hard about it, it looks like the 8x10 and the Master View 4x5 go together naturally inasmuch as their 4x4 lensboards fit each other perfectly. So anytime I want to use an 8x10 lens on 4x5, within limits of the Kodak's bellows draw it's the natural choice. If I MUST use a really long-focus lens on 4x5 I'll just have to get a reducer back for the Toyo, but I think that's a long way in the future really.

    The real problem is the two Linhofs, and there the simplest solution is either to stumble upon an adapter board for the Color 45S so it can mount a Technika board, or else to take one of the three boards I have for it to a machinist to make an adapter board out of it. Otherwise, just sell the 45S body, keep those nice lenses and put 'em on Technika boards. I don't have to decide all that quickly. I want to work with both the 45S and the Super Color ST awhile before making that kind of decision. Either one is a darn nice 4x5 view camera. (Heaven knows why these cameras don't attract the kind of absurd price premiums that almost ANY Super Technika does, as they have that same Linhof feel and precision, but I'm darn glad their value is so unrecognised!)

    I'm not bothered by switching from one outfit to another, as ANY of the above will be a long chalk beyond the Burke & James 4x5 wooden flatbed that was my first step up from a Crown Graphic when I was a kid still in high school (I'm 62 now). What I DON'T need is having to change a favoured lens from one lensboard to another and back again, but I think the above "division of labour" represents a workable solution. And the Kodak Master View is the cutest li'l waif I've seen in a long while, there's just something appealing about it.

  4. #4

    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    There is no standard, there is a long learning curve on equipment spec's, and yours will be making lensboards, and/or, buying them after you figure out what you are buying. Remember to simplify and go a little slow and cautiously with eBay as things can get bent out of shape with spec's there.

    What have you been doing for 40 years, living a normal life, that's not fair you know? Actually a lot of people have done exactly what you are doing. It's seems to be somewhere between 25 and 35 years, more or less. I think it's the Internet and post career changes. It seems that getting a multi thousand camera for a few hundred bucks doesn't hurt either.

  5. #5
    Ted Harris's Avatar
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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    The Color 45S was Linhof's entry level rail camera circa 1970. Like most rail cameras it takes a large squarish lensboard. Bob Salomon will have to chime in as to whether or not it takes the same lensboards as modern Linhof rail cameras, I can't answer that. I do know that virtually all parts for it have long been unavailable. You should, however, be able to find some boards from Midwest Photo Exchange.

    The simple answer to your problem is to set a standard and use adaptors on all your cameras. I Have several different cameras in 4x5, 5x7 and 8x10. Most take Tchnika style boards; those that don't have a "Brand X to Technika" adaptor board left permanently in place. All of my lenses are mounted on Technika style boards. That includes some rather large lenses in #3 shutters, no problems.

  6. #6

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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    Basically all my lenses are on Linhof 96x98mm boards.

    The Shen Hao 5x7 normally takes Sinar 140x140 flat boards but came with an adapter for smaller boards.

    My Ansco 8x10 some time in the past had a Linhof 5x7 to Linhof 96x98mm adaptor mounted on it's front. [This is about 6"x6" but I forget the exact size]

    I think many of the older US made smaller cameras used 4x4 boards of some sort. Calumet,Graflex and B&J.

    I also think the Sinar/Horsemen 140x140 board is popular with many larger cameras. An adapter like the one Shen Hao ships with it's cameras seems to be for sale on Ebay all the time.

  7. #7

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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    "Well, silly me. Linhof brand, and one thinks "Technika lensboard." In this case, wrong! The Color 45S sports its own peculiar lensboard (well, it may be common to other models or, for aught I know, other brands as well) that measures 6 3/8" square with radiused corners. The three lenses I'd bought in the package deal were all on such boards. "

    The 45S takes current Linhof Kardan lensboards. These are the same boards as the Kardan Bi, Super Color, SC JBL, GT, TL, TE, GTL, L and most other Linhof Kardan cameras have used since the mid 60s.

    If you like you can also buy Linhof adapter boards that accept Technika 45 boards. These adapter boards are available for both flat and recessed Technika boards.

    In other words your 45S uses current boards available new from any camera store. 001080 for 0 shutters, 001081 for #1 and 001083 for #3. 001089 for wide angle lenses.

    Your camera also accepts all current Linhof accessories that mount directly to the front and back standards of your camera. The accessories and parts that mount directly to the rail of your 45S have been out of production for at least 25 years and are no longer available new.

  8. #8

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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    Why in the world do you keep pouring money into all this equipment? Are you out of your mind?
    Wilhelm (Sarasota)

  9. #9

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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    Bill 1856: Its called a sickness ,I need to get it or I love the look of it , Maybe I can use it: I am well aquainted of the problem ,since I have it my self . First I got a Dslr then for some reason I need to have a 6x6 I got , then came the need to have older 35mm cameras, then came the I must have 6x6 folder and last but no least a 4x5 ,Now am try-ing to get a three some of lens : Its an addiction, to some of us , I am by my self and only have to worry about Me and the two Cats, and thats it! [VBG]
    But it can be a money drainer! As I have found out, Need to stay away from that cursed place called E-Bay.COM;
    But thats life:\\Lauren
    Lauren MacIntosh

    Whats in back of you is the past and whats in front of you is the future now in the middle you have choices to make for yourself:

  10. #10
    All metric sizes to 24x30 Ole Tjugen's Avatar
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    Re: Lensboard blues - view camera compatibility issues

    I use six very different LF cameras, all take different boards. Adapter boards are not a simple solution either, since the smallest boards (on the 5x7" Gandolfi) are too small for the largest lenses.

    The 4x5" Carbon Infinity takes its own very special boards, but fortunately I'm well stocked with these in all sizes.

    The 8x10" Gandolfi takes Sinar-size boards, which are available.

    The Speed Graphic also takes its own boards, but again these are easily available.

    And the old plate cameras need individual boards, but I've avoided that problem by putting universal iris mounts on two of them. And another on one board for the 8x10" Gandolfi, and a small one on a Speed Graphic board. I'm looking for one small enough to fit on a lens board for the 5x7" Gandolfi too...

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