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medium format film camera systems

Medium format film cameras

  • Medium format cameras use 120 or 220 roll film, which is about 6 centimeters wide (2 and 1/4 inches). This size of roll film was introduced in 1898 by Kodak for its Folding Pocket KODAK Camera. It thus seems safe to say that the world has reached agreement on the proper height for a medium-format negative. On the other hand, nobody has ever agreed on the proper width. There are many standard widths for 120 camera frames: 645, 6×6, 6×7, 6×8, 6×9, 6×12, and 6×17. These numbers are ostensibly in centimeters although in practice a 6×6 camera such as a Hasselblad will expose a 56 x 56 mm frame.
  • thus for a rectangle (6×4.5), a 6×6 or 6×4.5 camera will produce 56mm x 41.5mm = 2324 sq mm, while a 6×7 camera 56mm x 69.5mm = 3892 sq mm and thus is nearly 1.7x the area (by comparison 6×4.5 is 2.7x the area of 35mm film which is 36x24mm =  864
  • medium format film can be scanned (emulsion films scan better than traditional B&W films) to achieve various resolutions depending on the scanner:
    • thus when scanning 6×6 film (actually 56x56mm):
      • at 1200dpi = 7 megapixels (ie. (56*1200/25.4)2 )
      • at 2400×1200 dpi = 14 megapixels
      • at 2400dpi = 28 megapixels 
      • at 4800dpi = 112 megapixels
  • many film photographers feel that a 6×6 camera can be printed well to 16“x16”, but larger prints start to lose the creamy tonality. Likewise a 6×7 or 6×9 can print to 16“x20” for the same quality as a 6×6 printed to 16“x16”.
  • note that the future of medium format is likely to be 6×4.5 digital backs (even if using a 6×7 medium format)
  • perhaps the best cameras for the future are those that will be able to take digital backs and are designed to maximise the advantages of medium format such as:
  • if you can't afford the above, and you really want to do MF film work, consider 2nd hand:
    • Hasselblad V 503cx/cxi/cw or 501cm for general purpose (older models such as 500cm may be OK but more likely to need expensive servicing)
    • Mamiya RZ for studio based work or architectural work

6 x 4.5cm cameras:

  • The 645 format is the smallest, lightest, and cheapest roll-film design. Negatives are a little squatter than the standard 35mm frame (24x36mm) and therefore full-frame printing on standard paper sizes such as 8×10 need not require a cropping decision. What you get is a sharper deeper negative that enlarges beyond 11×14 with more grace and is easier to handle if you do your own darkroom work. It is also more expensive and difficult to scan than a 35mm neg, so keep that in mind.
  • Mamiya pioneered the 645SLR system camera in 1975.
  • Fuji has done great things to promote this format. They make 645 lenses that are just as good as Hasselblad's 6×6 lenses. They charge less than half the price. Then they throw in a perfectly good body behind the lens for free! Sometimes Fuji puts a meter in the body, something that apparently costs 'Blad about $5,000 extra. Sometimes Fuji puts in an autofocus mechanism (they were the first to do so in the medium-format world). Sometimes Fuji adds a wide-to-normal zoom lens! Whatever they do, the integrated camera, body, meter, and lens costs about as much as a Hasselblad or Rollei film back.
  • The Bronica RF645 was the latest design 645 film camera and is more ergonomic, lighter and has AE and Program mode auto-exposure with 45mm, 65mm and 100mm lens options

Zenza Bronica:

  • discontinued in 2004; Bronica has been taken over by Tamron and the future of these cameras seems limited as repairs and support by Tamron ceased in 2016;
  • ETR (1976):
    • electronic lens leaf shutter 1/8th-1/500th sec & Time; mechanical 1/500th sec;
    • film holders for 120 x 15exp, 220 x 30exp, & 70mm x 90exp, polaroid x8 exposures backs
    • interchangeable viewfinders - waist; AE finder; rotary prism; plain prism; sportfinder;
    • interchangeable focusing screens
    • flash sync - X at all speeds;
    • 3.67lbs;
    • 75mm f/2.8 MC lens, 58mm filter; - avoid
    • 50mm f/2.8 lens & 150mm f/4 lens take 62mm filter;
    • Zenzanon PE lenses are the ones designed for the ETR system
    • opt. motor drive or speed handle
    • spare parts no longer available
  • ETRS (1978):
    • support for AEII & AEIII (spot and centre weighted) finders which are much better than the AE finder
  • ETRSi (1988):
  • RF645 rangefinder:


Pentax 645:

    • AF is slow and noisy.
    • You can run the camera off six standard AA batteries that fit in the grip.
    • There is no mirror lock-up
  • Hasselblad H series autofocus cameras (2001)

645 fixed lens cameras

Fujifilm GA645 autofocus point and shoot cameras

  • lightweight, compact (for medium format), plastic, easy to use with sharp lenses but few manual controls and requires batteries
  • bright, polarised portrait aspect 4:3 ratio viewfinder has parallax-corrected projected framelines
  • shutter is an electronic (stepper-motor-driven) #00 that has manual settings up to 1/500 sec
  • i versions add 2nd shutter release and Fujifilm film barcode reader to auto set film speed
  • metering through the viewfinder is said to be quite accurate
  • relatively noisy but quite fast 900-step autofocusing system with AF lock which also locks exposure
  • no manual focus focusing aids! Must use zone focusing - ie set it to a given distance and allow DOF to address focus
  • no exposure lock switch
  • built-in flash plus hot-shoe
  • lens retracts into the body
  • AF mechanism may require costly calibration if at all still possible - check sharpness on a roll of film before you buy one!
  • close focus restrictions can be an issue for some

Fujifilm GA645W/GA645Wi

  • 45mm f/4 wide angle lens = 24mm fov on a 35mm system
  • i version adds 2nd shutter release and Fujifilm film barcode reader to auto set film speed

Fujifilm GA645/GA645i

  • 60mm /f4 lens = 35mm fov on a 35mm system
  • version 1
  • version 2 increases the number of shots on 120 film to 16 (from 15) and the number on 220 to 32 (from 30), adds a little protective ridge around the AF button to prevent accidental pressing, and quiets down the focusing
  • i version

Fujifilm GA645Zi

  • 55-90mm f/4.5-6.9 zoom lens = 30-50mm fov on a 35mm system
  • has a range of improvements and changes in control layouts

6 x 6cm cameras:

  • 12exp. per 120 roll
  • Lenses project circular image disks. If you park a rectangular section of film behind the lens, you're wasting much of this “circle of good definition”. If you expose circular frames of film, you're wasting much of the film. If you expose square frames of film that fit exactly inside the image circle, you're not wasting any film and you're wasting as little image circle as possible. Thus the lenses for a Hasselblad (6×6) are much lighter than the lenses for any 6×7 camera. If you're going to suffer with the weight of medium-format lenses, then you should at least put film underneath as much of their image circle as possible, something that only a square format does. However, digital backs will only be 6×4.5cm and if you print to 8“x10” from 6×6 negatives the you are forced to crop.
  • If you're rich and strong, try the Rollei 6008 single-lens reflex system. If you are travelling and want something light, the Mamiya 6 rangefinder system is wonderful. If you're poor, you might consider a twin-lens reflex such as the Yashica 124 or Mamiya.


    • Almost all Zeiss lenses available in Hasselblad mounts are also available with Rollei mounts and shutters but at considerably higher prices!
    • Film magazines are available for 120, 220, 70mm, and Polaroid film. Square 6×6 and horizontal 6×4.5 formats are offered. The film magazines are one of the best features of the Rollei system. Moving a single handle rolls the dark slide within the magazine, simultaneously protecting the film and mechanically enabling the magazine to be removed. Each film magazine contains an ISO dial that couples to the 6008's meter. If one is using autoexposure, grabbing a shot with a different emulsion takes seconds and there is no possibility of exposure error, dropping a dark slide or other contretemps. The Polaroid magazine lacks the sophisticated laminar dark slide but is otherwise functional. In general, Rollei makes mid-roll film changing easier than any other camera.
    • Rollei 6003:
      • cheaper version than the 6008.
    • Rollei 6008 (Integral version 1995 has extended metering down to EV 0 instead of 3):
      • Metering with the 6008 is straightforward. A large knob on the left side of the camera selects three modes: center-weighted; 1% spot; automatic average of five spot readings. (Don't need to buy an optional expensive cw metering prism as with H'blad 500).
      • built-in motor drive.
      • powered by a 9.6V NiCd battery. The camera becomes a doorstop when this runs down, which is after about 300 exposures. A low battery warning appears about 20 exposures before death and swapping in a spare battery takes about 10 seconds. Spares are compact and cost about $165. An amateur might be able to get by without one since a 15 minute charge is good for 50 shots.
      • Flash photography with the Rollei/Metz C70 adaptor/Metz 45CT-5 combination is disappointing after one has experienced the joys of the Nikon flash system (even before the D metering of the N90). The film speed set on the film magazine does not affect the exposure; only the film speed set on the C70 adaptor.


Mamiya 6x6 rangefinders:

  • Mamiya 6 (1989):
    • 6×6 rangefinder with 75mm f/3.5 lens.
    • World's first 6×6 format compact rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses (50, 75 and 150mm) and retractable lens mount.
    • Large and bright view finder frames with parallax compensation and fully electronic shutter with manual or auto exposure control.
  • Mamiya 6MF (1993):
    • Version of Mamiya 6 6x6cm compact rangefinder camera with built-in frame lines and optional masks for multi-format capability in 6x6cm, 6×4.5cm and 24x54mm 35mm panoramic formats.

Bronica 6x6:

  • see Bronica SQ system for more details
  • discontinued in 2004;
  • use Zenzanon PS lenses which are sharper than the PE lenses of the ETR system and most have 67mm filters:
    • 35/3.5 fisheye
    • 40/4 - widest rectilinear wide angle but 95mm filters!!
    • 50/3.5 - with a filter size of 77mm, is the widest that can be used with Cokin P filters
    • 80mm f/2.8 standard - good for full length people photos & group shots
    • 150/4 and the 200/4.5:
      • Neither the 150, which focuses to 1.5m, nor the 200, which focuses to 2.5m, can get close enough for a tight headshot without a tube, and furthermore, both of those lenses have a maximum extension of 17mm, meaning that there's a range of distances corresponding to extensions between 17mm and 18mm that are too short for the lens by itself but too long for the lens plus the S-18 tube.
    • 180/4.5 - focuses down to 1m
  • Bronica SQ:
    • introduced 1980;
  • Bronica SQ-A:
    • introduced 1982; contact pins for viewfinder increased from 6 to 10 to allow auto-metering; mirror lock up; darkslides changed to locking style; 
  • Bronica SQ-Ai:
    • introduced 1990; optional motor drive; 4×1.5V batteries instead of 1x6V battery; multi-exposure warning; 16sec shutter speed + Bulb;
    • TTL flash; sync all speeds; 
    • older winder cranks don't fit; SQ-Ai AE prism has auto, manual, spot or average metering; built-in eyepiece blind for long exposures;
    • 2005: new price reductions to clear stock: body only - was $A2130 now $A1650; instant back was $A748 now $A440;
    • kit with 80mm lens, back was $A3545 (2005);
    • see:
  • Bronica SQ-B:
    • introduced 1996 as an entry-level version;  no metering; choice of backs: 6×6 120/220; 6×4.5 120/220; 35mm normal; 35mm panoramic; Polaroid;

6 x 7cm cameras:

  • 10 images per 120 roll; traditionally the standard size for stock image photography;
  • Photographers on portrait assignment for magazines often use the 6×7 format. The weight isn't a problem since they have assistants, rolling carts, and advance planning.
  • If you want a lighter kit, your only real options are the Fuji rangefinders (very cheap but no meter) and Mamiya 7 rangefinder (meter in the body and interchangeable lenses including a delicious super-wide lens). 
  • If you want to pretend to be a magazine portrait photographer, invest in the unbelievably heavy and clunky Mamiya 6x7 medium format SLR camera system
  • If you want to pretend to be a starving artistic nature photographer, throw a Pentax 6×7 II system into your beat-up full-size van. This is a huge 4-pound SLR body that includes a prism the result is what looks like an old Nikon on steroids. Lenses are sensibly priced.
  • All in all, your choice really depends on what you want and what you need. If you shoot with superwides, the Pentax 45m or Mamiya 7 43mm are the widest (by 5 and 7 mm's). If you shoot fill flash, the 7, Plaubel, Rz and GS1 (the GS1 has TTL flash as well) all have meter coupled leaf lenses. If you shoot studio, the Rz and GS1 have 'normal' interchangeable polabacks (the RZ has a far wider lens range). If you shoot sports, the Pentax 67 has a 1/1000th shutter setting and hyperfast ED teles.
  • with the exception of the RZ, there isn't a camera here that couldn't stand a heavy improvement. Even the newly introduced Mamiya 7 *needs* closer focus ability and faster lens options (a Mam.7 100-110 mm option will be nice as well); in the face of that, any choice here is going to be a compromise.
  • “standard lens” is 90mm.
  • currently, the biggest digital back sensor for the 6×7 is only just under 645…makes the 50mm wide angle on the RZ not so wide

Mamiya RB/RZ system:

Mamiya 6x7 rangefinders

  • Mamiya 7 (1995):
    • 6x7cm compact rangefinder camera with interchangeable lenses.
    • Based upon the Mamiya 6MF, featuring four interchangeable lenses including a super-wide 90° 43mm lens with optical finder.
    • Optional 24x65mm 35mm panoramic capability.
    • is a great choice if street photography is what you want to do, as it is an easier to handle rangefinder, but it is expensive.
  • Mamiya 7 II (1999):
    • Updated design of Mamiya 7. New features include more contrast in rangefinder, multi-exposure capability, one-touch exposure compensation, quicker lens change design, three strap lugs to hang horizontally or vertically on neckstrap and the option of black or champagne-gold finish. Six lenses now available.
    • It uses all Mamiya 7 lenses including the latest 50mm f/4.5 superwide lens with optical finder and 210mm f/8 with optical finder.
    • approx. 2005 new prices: black body with 80mm f/4 = $A3000; black body with 43mm f/4.5 + optical viewfinder = $A4000.

Bronica GS-1:

  • discontinued in 2004; uses Zenzanon PG series of lenses.
  • On the test front, its lenses are consistently great (especially the 100 3.5 which handily *killed* the competition in Foto magizin's tests)  and the comments that I've heard from users bear that out. In the size dept., it's design is very definitely H'bladesque; it's small enough, but it's a little strange to use vertically as is (to me 'as is' means w/ a prism but without the grip).
  • If you add the speed grip, the convenience factor goes up enormously but the camera gets to be quite a handful. If you're going to be street shooting with this camera, you're going to need the grip;  with the grip, the camera is just too noticeable (Very sore thumb time). Then again, if you're using fill flash on an SLR, the GS1 is a lot easier to handle handheld (in full AE prismed regailia), than the RZ is and its the only 67 to offer TTL auto flash.
  • The GS1 lenses could focus closer and are the slowest of the contenders (bar the Mam7), still,  it's the best available execution of a 'do everything' ideal in 67 SLR'dom. The GS1's greatest strengths are that it's reasonably small and light, it's completely modular (w/interchangeable backs), it's well built and reliable, has ISO databus connection between each back and the prism and is well automated with the AE rotary prism (spot option) or the easier to use and far smaller AE prism.

Pentax 67:

  • This camera is designed as a field camera, for handheld SLR convenience (convenience is only relative with this camera). The camera remains basically unchanged from its original form and, having been intro'd about thirty years ago (and based on the design of the Pentax Spotmatic 35mm camera), almost every feature is archaic by modern standards. It's very large and heavy (by 35mm standards; small and light by 67 standards), fires off like a canon (Mucho vibration and noise) and is quirky like the Ptx 645 (If you take off the TTL prism, then replace it, you've got to remove and replace the lens before you get a reading back. The meter just goes dead). Some lenses focus very closely (55, 90, 135 and new 200), others don't focus closely at all (300/4 and the old 200).
  • Working with the camera is an exercise in indecisive relativity; it charms you with its fast lenses, its tanklike craftsmanship and its versatility, but bothers you with its noisy, vibratory release and its 'retro' feature set.
  • Viewing through the normal focus screen is dark and fairly coarse but is extremely contrasty. Beattie and britescreens are thought of by many as required upgrades because of this, though I find the standard screen easier to focus.  The Pentax offers the only 67 slr instant return mirror.
  • great to shoot, very fagile and pretty unreliable.
  • to shoot it commercially you need two bodies, one for film and one with an NPC Pol back
  • digital back is not possible.
  • I've read that Astrophotographers prefer the Ptx.67 because of its straight line film path and resulting superior flatness but the side gate rollers push the film edges away from the film plane. An easy fix is to cut match cardboard into small pieces and insert them in front of (under) the spring tabs.

Fuji 6x7

  • Fuji GW670 III:
    • released in 1992
    • 6×7 rangefinder that can be hand held with shutter speeds as slow as 1/125th sec, perhaps 1/60th with much care;
    • excellent 90mm f/3.5 lens with nice bokeh and 42mm fov in 35mm terms
    • close focus 1m; 67mm filter;
    • no light meter;
    • shutter speeds from 1/500th to 1 sec plus bulb, with x-sync at any speed
    • apertures can be adjusted in partial stops by selecting the space between the full stop aperture marking
    • integrated lens shade closes over the aperture and shutter speed adjustments
    • “portrait” shutter release on the front of the camera but location is not optimal
    • main use was in photographing tour groups, now often used in street photography, for environmental portraits, or event photography although it is a BIG camera and weighs about 1.5kg!
    • new price used to be $A2150
  • Fuji GF670:
    • fold out bellows 80mm f/3.5 lens (eq. 40mm in 35mm systems) with coupled rangefinder
    • lens must be set to infinity before folding it closed, to avoid damage
    • can shoot 6×6 or 6×7
    • center-weighted metering and an electronic leaf shutter with speeds ranging from 1/500th to 4 seconds. It also has a Bulb setting and will synch with your flash at any shutter speed
    • AE or manual exposure modes
    • still made by Cosina in Japan and cheaper than their Voigtlander Bessa III 667 version
    • weighs 1kg but otherwise is not bad as a street camera and has a near silent shutter

Linhof 6x7

  • Linhof 679 view camera:


  • Kapture Group have a digital back adapter for the Fuji GX680 - see 
    • some digital backs require a One Shot solution $US495 for adapter ie. only 6×4.5 format image crop
    • some digital backs allow a stitching solution $US1995 for adapter to allow 2 shots to cover the 6×8 format
  • Imacon have a digital back adapter for the GX680 see FlexframeSolutions.pdf 

Fuji 6x8

  • Fuji GX680III:
    • a bit too big for carrying for location work but possible & it is the biggest non-View camera that you can use gradient filters and see what you are getting.
    • $A6380 body only (2005)
    • you can hire a kit with one lens for ~$200 per day from (50% more for all weekend)
    • the largest of all SLRs, takes 76x56mm image on 120/220 film but can also take 67, 66, & 645 via insertion of the proper mask, the camera knows which mask is inserted and automatically adjusts film spacing and numbering; one must choose the desired format prior to loading film, however, as format cannot be switched mid-roll.
    • an ideal compromise between the speed and convenience of medium format and the flexibility of large format & makes a great landscape, commercial & architectural camera & clearly outperforms the best MF including Hasselblad and Rolleiflex.
    • a cable release and heavy duty tripod is a necessity for sharp images, preferably with mirror lockup for each and every frame.
    • a the prism is brighter and easier to see focus, tilt, and composition than just using the waist-level finder, although the AE prism metering is limited and you would probably still use a hand meter.
    • all lenses include a leaf shutter, with maximum speed of 1/400 second. Maximum apertures tend to be conservative, mostly f/5.6 -8, minimum aperture is generally f/45 for shorter lenses, f/64 for longer.
    • lenses are super sharp - the 180mm 3.2 lens is a beautiful lens for people, the fall off is great
    • While all lenses give truly superb results, special mention is needed for the 50 and 500mm:
      • the 50mm, despite its great size, is the only lens in the lineup that cannot be used in conjunction with full available movements due to its smaller image circle. It will vignette if shifted more than 9mm, or if tilted excessively; making this worse, the full image is never visible due to the camera's mirror/body construction, meaning that vignetting is impossible to determine without shooting a Polaroid!
      • The 500mm is supplied with a large mounting rail, which Fuji insists must be mounted under the camera body (necessitating removal of any quick release plate), along with a ring-and-roller gadget attached to the lens front. The purpose is to allow the now-supported lens to roll along the rail during focusing, eliminating sagging of the lens caused by its long length. Naturally, this eliminates the possibility of tilt or other movements with this lens.
    • Among the many nice features of the 680 are its film backs. Besides the multi-format capabilities mentioned above, the backs revolve at the touch of a button…no tipping the camera for verticals. They're also electronic marvels with built-in motor drive & auto film advance, each with its own LCD screen that displays frame number, format in use, film type, and more. They will indicate (via flashing icon) such problems as an incorrectly mounted lens or an unremoved darkslide. They are programmable to imprint each film frame edge with a variety of data, including time and date, aperture and exposure time, sequential number and user data. For some reason they don't imprint the lens focal length, which would have been useful.
    • will accept many digi backs
    • With the lightest normal lens (135mm f/5.6) attached, it weighs just under 10 pounds.
    • bellows focusing is accomplished via a large rubber-coated knob on either side of the camera, and ground glass viewing is bright and easy to focus.
    • all normal view camera style movements including tilt, rise/fall, swing and shift are available, while movements are not as extensive as those of a true view camera, they are sufficient for at least 98% of the shots that you may want to take.
    • The camera has built-in close focus capability with every lens, thanks to bellows focusing and the availability of extension rails. Fuji makes these in 80mm and 40mm lengths - buy the 80mm & the 100mm f/4 makes the best “macro” lens, capable of 1.3:1 image size when used with the 80mm rails.
    • a convenient bubble level is built into the camera's upper surface, but use of grid screens are a great help in levelling horizons.
  • Fuji GX 680 II:
    • similar to the 680 III
    • Kit on Ebay sell for about $A2000 2nd hand incl. 125mm lens and film back.
    • new approx. $A4800 body + $A1000 film back + $A1700-$A3000 per lens (see


  • 6×9 format is same aspect ratio (3:2) but 5x size of 35mm film format. 8 images per 120 roll;
  • Fujica G690
    • initial 1968 model replaced by the G690BL
    • proprietary breech-lock mount bayonet
  • Fujica G690BL
    • 1969 model which added a lens lock to prevent changing lens while shutter curtain open
    • lenses now black instead of silver
    • replaced by the GL690
  • Fuji GL690:
    • 1974-1978 model with rangefinder style metal body with bayonet lens mount
    • 2nd shutter button on the front for portrait shooting
    • circular eyepiece to allow diopter correction, etc
    • automatic parallax correction
    • PC sync connector on lens
    • 1.75kg with 100mm f/3.5 lens (40mm fov in 35mm terms) with 72mm filter, and B, 1-1/500 sec Seiko #0 shutter, 1m close focus.
    • 120 Roll Film 4exp. 8exp. 220 Roll Film 16exp
    • manual exposure only unless you have the AE version of the 100mm f/3.5 lens
    • need accessory finder for lenses other than 100mm and 150mm
    • this series was ceased in 1978 due to poor sales of lenses and possibly rumours of reliability issues
    • Fuji never created an interchangeable lens medium format rangefinder camera again.
  • Fuji GW690 III:
    • 1992 model; rangefinder style; No. 0 leaf shutter, fixed 90mm f/3.5 lens (equiv. to 39mm f/1.2 lens on a 35mm) with 5 straight blades; 67mm filter; close focus 1m; built-in lens hood. 1s – 1/500s plus T-mode; hot shoe with X-sync;
    • the “Texas Leica” as it is H 119 x W 201 x D 132 mm and weighs in at 1510g
    • film pressure plate has 2 settings: one side for 120, flip it over for 220 film
    • no batteries; no metering; film advance lever requires 2 strokes and if done carelessly can cause a losse spool with risk of light leaks on opening the back; 2 shutter releases, front one can lock both;
    • red button in film chamber releases film spool; bottom plate has a shot counter, multiply by 10!
    • the finder has 75% magnification with 95% field of view at 1 meter and 92% at infinity
    • parallax issues and closest focus of 1m with a 40mm eq lens make it more difficult for portrait work
    • unfortunately being only rangefinders, it is difficult to use polarisers and gradient filters for those panorama shots.
    • sharpest at f/11
    • loud annoying shutter; if lens hood is retracted it covers the shutter speed/aperture controls, but if out prevents use of square filters
    • rangefinder is small and difficult to focus in bright light, not useful for street photography - use zone focusing instead
  • Fuji GSW690 III:
    • 6×6 to 6×9 backs plus digital backs via adapters for Hasselblad V, Mamiya RZ, Horseman 6×9, Linhof Rapid Rollex 6×9
    • no rangefinder, only groundglass.
    • combines the compactness of the classic Linhof Technika dropbed design and the optical bench versatility of the 4“x5” Kardan series
    • no rangefinder
  • Linhof Super Technica 6×9:
    • rangefinder style + ground glass focus screen but while the ground glass focusing is very accurate, however it does not work well with 6×9 roll film backs due to a difference in sizes between the 6×9 sheet-film it is made for which is 58x82mm  and roll-film sizes which is larger at 60×86 mm.
    • version IV models were made 1956-64;
    • III's and IV's have backs which have up to 20 mm movement available for swings or tilts as well as front rise and front tilt, but not front swings. The V has the increased front movements.
    • with wide angle lenses movements are severely curtailed, as they are 'imprisoned' inside the camera box.
    • III's & IV's have a single built-in rangefinder and viewfinder whereas V  has a rangefinder mounted on the side of the camera, and a optical view finder mounts on top.
    • III's & IV's employ an interchangeable 3 position cam, for three different lenses. They had to be ground to fit individual lenses, and are no longer available from Linhof.   In other words, unless you can find the craftsman out there who is still grinding Linhof III and IV cams, you can not use modern lenses with RF coupling on these. 
  • Horseman VR:
    • marginally better front movements than the Linhof
    • ability to use tilts, swings, revolving back, optical viewfinder w/ frame markings, coupled rangfinder
    • The current VH is the same camera as the VH-R, except it does not have the rangefinder or focus cam linkage. The lack of the rangefinder on the VH actually makes it the most compact of the Horseman models, making it a very good field camera for anyone who intends to use it on a tripod focusing and composing on the ground glass.
    • The VHR has more front shift than the 980 (30mm left or right, vs. 14mm for the 980). This increased shift was added on the 985 model.
  • Horseman 980/985:
    • The Horseman 980 came before the VH-R design. The 980 did not have a rotating back which allows for instant change-over from vertical to horizontal and vice-versa. The back on the 980 is fixed in the horizontal position. To shoot verticals, the camera must be turned on its side. A second tripod socket is furnished for this purpose.
    • The rangefinder focuses down to 1 meter (3.3 feet) for both models. Closer focusing requires using the ground glass.
    • The 980 has frame lines for 90mm, 105mm, 150mm and 180mm and the entire viewfinder image is a rough approximation for the 75mm.
  • Arca-Swiss F-Classic Compact 6×9:
    • identical to the F-Classic but the Compact version has a 30cm collapsible monorail instead of the telescopic monorail.
    • 2.2kg kit includes front & rear standards, monorail, ground glass with fresnel lens, universal 20cm leather bellows
    • then you need to buy a few things to use it:
      • large format lenses and lens panels
        • these usually cost about 900 UK pounds new plus you need a centre filter for each to minimise vignetting 
      • roll film holder adapter 
      • 6×9 roll film holders about 300 UK pounds each ( ~$US870ea) 
      • polaroid film holder to check the result in the field
      • Arca-Swiss compendium lens hood or Lee filter holder and hood
    • thus a kit with 47mm, 58mm, 90mm, 210mm lenses, 2 roll film backs would set you back about 6500 UK pounds which is probably about $A15,000
    • of course you also need a pro tripod and tripod head.
    • optional binocular viewer ~$US800
    • optional Rotaslide Sliding Camera Back (~$US2300) allows focusing of photo then quick shooting with roll film


  • 6×12 is a panoramic format is the largest format of roll film that will fit into a standard 4×5 enlarger. If you use larger formats, you'll be limited to contact prints, digital imaging, or professional photo labs.
  • With a rotating lens on a 612 camera body, you can get some very interesting photos. 
  • The Noblex is the most common example of the breed, producing a 146-degree photo free of distortion and light falloff.
    • 58mm and 135mm lenses each with up to 8mm rise
  • Horseman Superwide SW612 (1999):
  • you can get 6×12 roll film backs for 4×5 large format cameras.


  • 4 images per 120 roll; big, heavy and bulky; requires a 5“x7” enlarger to print;
  • Scale focus is the only means of focusing a 617 camera; there is no built-in rangefinder and no way of viewing through the lens to focus
  • a 210mm focal length covers about same angle of view as a 50mm on a 35mm camera.
  • light fall off to edge of film:
    • you may need to use a 2 stop ND centre filter for lenses 90mm and wider.
    • light fall off = cos4 theta where theta is tha angle between the nodal point of the lens and the image point on the film
    • The best aperture re light fall-off is any aperture more than about 2 stops (maybe 3) down from wide open.
  • generally shoot at f/22 or f/45
    • system includes 72mm, 90mm, and 180mm lenses; Each lens requires a matching viewfinder for proper framing;
    • camera with a lens and filter will set you back over 10,000 Euro in 2015, then need to factor in an appropriate tripod, metal case/backpack, extra lens, and shift adapter
    • “The 72mm and 90mm lenses require a large (95mm) center filter to correct light falloff common to all wide-angle view camera lenses; this unfortunately eats 1.5 stops of light, but is a must when using transparency film.”
    • Since there is no provision for a darkslide, mid-roll lens changes must be done in a changing bag or darkroom.
  • Fuji GX617:
  • Fuji G617:
    • <>“The things that it really could use are perspective control and the ability to focus closer. What the market has delivered instead are 617 cameras with interchangeable lenses and breathtaking price tags. For the same price, you could get a G617 and a 4×5 or 5×7 view camera system for the times when you needed a different focal length, a closer focus ability, or perspective control.”
    • The Fuji 617 is a big box with a 5×7“ view camera lens in front and a pressure plate for 120/220 film in back. The angle of view from the 105mm f/8 lens is about the same as a 24mm lens on a Nikon but it is spread across a glorious 6×17 cm (2.25 x 6.5”) of film. Load up some Ektar 25 and you can do a wall-size enlargement that will bear close-up scrutiny of any portion.
    • “My number one complaint with this camera is that the focusing helical will only rack the lens far out enough for sharp focus at 3 meters. Thus, one can't do the kind of near-far shots that wide-angle lenses are best suited for. Even stopping the lens down to f/45 only brings objects at 1.9 meters into adequately sharp focus.”
  • Art Panorama 170:
    • Ebay $A3000 2nd hand (2006)
  • Canham MQC 5×7 camera with dedicated 617 rollfilm back:
    • larger lens selection than the Linhof and Fuji bodies offer, including 450mm and 720mm long lenses, but also allows a full range of movements such as tilt, swing, and rise.
  • GILDE 66-17 MST 3D:
    • unique 6×17 camera custom built by Dr Gilde to overcome the issues with other 6×17 cameras
    • film back can be removed and image viewed on ground glass as with view cameras and caters for 6x6cm, 6x9cm, 6x12cm, 6x14cm and 6x17cm formats which can be selected mid-roll without changing magazine.
    • incorporates lens shift mechanism for up to 35mm shift as well as lens tilt
    • can use most large format lenses
    • Euro 4400 for body and Euro 2142 for 120 magazine
  • Widepan 617:
    • Chinese made; fixed 90mm lens;
  • Fotoman 6×17 Mark II:
  • Gaoersi GF 6×17 and GF 6x17S:


Using roll film backs on 4x5 view cameras:

  • <>If you already own a 4×5 view camera, a cheap way to get into 6×12 is with a roll-film back. You're saved the hassle of loading film holders but the other operational annoyances of the view camera will still slow you down. On the plus side, even with the very cheapest view camera and 6×12 back you get perspective control.
  • Roll film backs are available for all roll-film sizes to 6×12 the most common being 6×7 and 6×9. There are two types of roll-film holders.
    • Graflock-type holders: 
      • Some 4×5 cameras have a back (Graflock, this standard was introduced on the Graflex cameras) where you remove the ground-glass assembly and replace it with a roll-film back. 
      • There are plenty of brands to chose from: Graflex, Singer, Linhof (super-rollex), Mamiya RB, Horseman, some of which can be found for quite cheap.
      • cheaper Chinese-made Shen Hao backs:
        • Art Panorama 6×17 back: see review
        • SH612 multi-format - has masks for 6×12, 6×9, 6×6 and 6×4.5 - see review
    • Slide-in type holders: 
      • These holders are flat because the film spools are at one end. They can be inserted under the ground glass like a sheet film holder. 
      • faster to use and it is said that the film flatness is better
      • Almost all the cameras accept them, but be sure to check for compatibility. 
      • The Calumet holders are quite cheap and are produced in 6×7, 6×9, 6×12 (the latter is quite expensive actually). 
      • Sinar has a vario holder which allow you to switch format (from 6×4.5 to 6×12) at any time, for $US2500 new.
photo/mediumformatfilm.txt · Last modified: 2021/07/18 13:04 by gary1

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