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Thread: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

  1. #1

    New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    Hello everyone

    I am looking to get a 4x5 camera that I can shoot Fuji instant film with. I want a camera that is easy to use and can give me great bokeh... ala Paolo Roversi.

    I have been browsing and have found 2 cameras that seem to be the kind that I am looking for:

    Linhof Technika IV

    110B Byron with the 150mm/2.8 Xenotar lens

    I am looking to spend less than $2000. I have seen all of these cameras on Ebay for about that.

    The Technika IV looks like the most versatile, but it seems much heavier and difficult to use. The Byron looks like a great camera but there isn't much detail on the Xenotar conversion.

    I have never used large format before but I have extensive experience with medium format and 35mm manual cameras.

    Any advice?

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Jul 2004

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    It's the lens that creates the bokeh, not the camera. There's a lot of good info on this site, it is worth taking a look. In the mean time, you might consider picking up a good crown graphic with working rangefinder tuned to the lens - mine was $300 (though not with a xenotar). It might be worth a try before dropping 2 grand on a camera.

    I can't say I've used either of these, but in general, with the polaroid conversions, you are more or less stuck with the one lens. You pay a fair amount of money for a compact box to put the film in (plus the "cool" factor). You'll want to think about exactly what kind of shooting you want to do before investing.


  3. #3

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    I guess I should have been more specific about what I am shooting.

    I am a fashion photographer. I want the dreamy look that you get from the tilt/shift properties of the large format camera.

    image by Paolo Roversi

    I recently did a photoshoot where I tried to get that look in photoshop. It took a long time to do the post work... and I wasn't entirely satisfied with the look.

    I decided that I should try shooting in 4x5 next time... and save myself a lot of time in front of the computer.

  4. #4

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    If you're tilting and swinging then you'll need to tripod mount it. Even Roversi does that with his 8x10 Deardorff and vintage Dagor lenses.

    And once it is on a tripod, the camera doesn't matter so much -- a classic studio monorail will be faster and easier to use, well, in a studio.

    As far as bokeh, there is an entire world of lenses and techniques to explore. Roversi only brushes the surface but he is popular and commercially successful. But you might search out the work of Jim Galli for more sophisticated examples to inspire you.

    I definitely wouldn't start with a 150/2.8 Xenotar on a 110b Polaroid conversion camera. A Technika V is an excellent all-around camera, but there are so many options and possibilities you really should so more homework before buying something as nice as a Technika to learn on.

    I can safely say that you wouldn't go wrong buying a simple, basic pedestrian 4x5 outfit with a normal lens and learn the basics with that. You don't need a $1500 f/2.8 lens to have nice bokeh.

    If you have a lot of money, hire me and I'll school you ;-)

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Nov 2006

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    If you need front tilt/swing to achieve selective focus, then you do not want a Byron since it can do neither. The Byron is a converted Polaroid 110b that's considerably lighter than a Linhof and primarily intended for street shooting. Sounds like you may not need a 4x5, there are smaller formats that also offer tilt/swing capability.


  6. #6

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    Yep, the converted Polaroid is not going to do what you want to do. In fact, since:
    • you want 4x5
    • you want movement, and
    • you need experience

    you should consider an older rail camera - Calumet, Graflex, and B&J's are pretty cheap. Seems like an easy way to try it out - and save your money for a good lens, then you can keep it if/when you decide to move to another camera.
    Just my 2 cents.

  7. #7

    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    Not sure if this conversion is still available:

  8. #8

    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    NSW Australia.

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    It depends entirely on whether you want to shoot hand held or use the tripod and GG screen. Tripod method with tilts, swings and shift will definitely give you the results you are after, but it is painfully slow and usually misses the moment entirely. Xenotar 150mm f2.8 exhibits an extremely shallow DOF wide open and critical focus may be missed.
    Nothing wrong with a converted Polaroid, providing its rangefinder is accurate. Shooting at f5.6 still gives a very pleasant outlook as LF lenses don't settle until at least f16.


  9. #9

    Join Date
    Jun 2002

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    I can't imagine the Polaroid RF would accurately focus a 2.8 lens, it has a hard enough time with a 5.6 one ;-p

  10. #10

    Re: New to LF.. 110B conversion or Linhof?

    You know, for "under $2000" you can have both the Byron Polaroid conversion and a studio 4x5 camera if you're careful.

    Maybe you should start out with a hand-held camera like the Byron, have some fun getting used to 4x5, and find out what it can and cannot do. Then, if you find you do need more capabilities, you'll have a better idea of what you're looking for in a studio camera.

    ... and definitely post examples of your work along the way!

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