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Thread: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

  1. #1

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    Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Hi,

    I am trying to put together a 4x5 field camera system specifically for portraits (whole body and head shot).

    My main concern would be speed. Subjects tend to lose genuineness with long posing times.

    So I am thinking of having a rangefinder. That would avoid having to focus and then mess with a film back. Ideally I would be handholding the camera, so if I focused and then inserted a film back, I would lose sharpness at the very least, the composition and so forth.

    The only cameras accepting a rangefinder I could find are Linhof Technikas (6 grand!) and Crown Graphics.

    I would go with a Crown Graphic, but what if I use another lens than the one that comes with the camera? I would like the flexibility to use different brands and focal lengths.

    As I understand, a rangefinder must be somehow coupled (calibrated?) with a lens. Would I be able to couple a Crown Graphic's rangefinder with a, say, Rodenstock lens?

    Maybe I haven't looked hard enough and there are more cameras which accept rangefinders, or there is another way of focusing without looking at the fresnel, so that the back is already in place when I shoot right after focusing.

    Thanks for any help.

    piero
    Last edited by pierods; 7-Mar-2008 at 10:15. Reason: grammar

  2. #2
    Whatever David A. Goldfarb's Avatar
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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Some Graflex rangefinders use cams (top mounted rangefinders) like a Technika, though they aren't as precise, and some (like the Kalart) can be calibrated to the lens within a certain range, so you could easily recalibrate the rangefinder to your new lens.

    Used Technikas aren't so expensive as new ones, and Linhof can cam lenses for you for the Tech IV and later. There are also private shops that will cam lenses for the Tech III.

  3. #3

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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Many view camera lenses can be mounted on an helical where you can read the proper distance setting when the lens as been properly aligned for infinity.
    You could use a separate hand-held rangefinder, in the good old days, many manufacturers had separate rangefinders on catalog, I have one from a German manufacturer but I do not know if the procedure based on a separate rangefinder and a lens on an helical would be precise enough for tight portraits.

  4. #4
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Quote Originally Posted by Emmanuel BIGLER View Post
    Many view camera lenses can be mounted on an helical where you can read the proper distance setting when the lens as been properly aligned for infinity.
    You could use a separate hand-held rangefinder, in the good old days, many manufacturers had separate rangefinders on catalog, I have one from a German manufacturer but I do not know if the procedure based on a separate rangefinder and a lens on an helical would be precise enough for tight portraits.
    The 4x5 Horseman FA could also be used like this. It has an adjustable focusing scale on bed, for various focal lengths.

    If you drop down to 6x9 then things open up a lot, in terms of different choices of cameras with rangefinders.

  5. #5

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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Why not a Gowlandflex tlr?
    They are ill discoverers that think there is no land, when they can see nothing but sea.
    -Francis Bacon

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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Wista RF is a rangefinder 4x5 camera, albeit more rare than a Technika and not much less cost... w/135, 150, and 180mm lens cams

  7. #7

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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Why not an SLR? Various SLR Graflex models were made in 4x5 and 5x7 format. They can handle different lenses and gives you a through-the-lens view. There is a site devoted to Graflexes, both rangefinder and SLR types, at www.graflex.org, though it is not very comprehensive on the latter.

  8. #8

    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Crown Graphics can be inexpensive, get one for each focal length you want to shoot and set up the rangefinder on each camera appropriately. There are also Bush Pressman 4x5s that are very similar to the Crown Graphics.

    Scott

  9. #9

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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Not a rangefinder, but how about the inexpensive Gaoersi 45 hand held camera?

  10. #10
    ic-racer's Avatar
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    Re: Rangefinder options (beginner question)

    Quote Originally Posted by Darryl Baird View Post
    Wista RF is a rangefinder 4x5 camera, albeit more rare than a Technika and not much less cost... w/135, 150, and 180mm lens cams
    I forgot about that one. I remember looking into this a while back. I think there are 4 options:

    COUPLED RANGEFINDER 4x5:
    Speed or Crown Graphic and clones
    Linhof, new and old
    Wista
    Polaroid conversions

    Others?

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