The Linhof Technikardan 69 and Schneider Super-Angulon 65mm f/5.6 By Dirk Dom

The Linhof Technikardan 69 and Schneider Super-Angulon 65mm f/5.6

By Dirk Dom

Hi, everyone!

About half a year ago I decided to go into serious black and white landscape. First I wanted to buy a Sony A7R, with a Canon 17mm tilt-shift lens. That would have cost me some 6,000 Euro’s. But my love for black and white film (You can’t emulate grain) and mechanical camera’s made me change my mind and I bought a Linhof Technikardan 6×9, which shoots 6×9 on rollfilm.

I had a 150mm lens (equivalent to a 60mm on 35mm) and I proceeded to shoot this camera.

It was a disappointing experience. I put the camera on my big tripod and with that combination on my shoulder I walked around. After an hour I was in pain and I was exhausted. Setting up tripod with the camera on it was very difficult.

Then, last month, I got the idea of putting camera and everything in a Lowepro backpack and walk around with backpack, and tripod in hand, and setting up, getting everything out of the backpack, shooting, and putting everything back into the backpack. This worked, now I didn’t get tired anymore and could really shoot with this camera.

I’m working on a project: shooting San Francisco. Two years ago I spent six weeks there with my Olympus PEN and FD lenses, I’m going back for two weeks with Easter to shoot Spring there, and next summer I’m going back for another six weeks. Now that I had the logistics of the Linhof figured out, I want to spend the summer six weeks in San Francisco shooting black and white with it.

I want to shoot with four lenses (on a walk I always carry one lens), a 47mm (eq. to 19mm), a 65 (eq. to 26mm), my 150mm, and a 300, eq. to 120mm.

Today my 65mm arrived.

This is it

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On the camera it is like this

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I went to the forest to shoot it. There was a lot of traffic and I only got there at 3PM, so there wasn’t much light anymore. I had left my spotmeter on, and the battery was dead, I had to guess the light. The negs came out good.

Here’s my first shots with the 65mm: At last a wide angle on this camera!

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Here I used tilt to get more DOF, but I overdid it. With the wide lens the edges of the image on the ground glass are very dark, and there was only little light. The top of the trees is unsharp. Focusing with this lens must be real accurate, much more than with the 150mm.

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And here I did some serious burning in Photoshop.

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I scan the negs on an Epson 750 flatbed at 2,400PPI, this gives me enough for an enlargement of 2 ft 4 inches at 300DPI.

Everything you read on the Net about these camera’s slowing you down is true. Shooting with the Linhof is a unique experience, not in the least to work with a piece of fine mechanics. I know that image quality wise, the Leica M240 or the Sony A7R are better than this camera, but I’m glad I decided for the Linhof.

Bye,
Dirk.

 

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23 thoughts on “The Linhof Technikardan 69 and Schneider Super-Angulon 65mm f/5.6 By Dirk Dom

  1. This is another one of those strange discussions that are, as usual, quite interesting. I’m a strong advocate of experimentation. So, don’t just read or listen to what others say, buy the Linhof and try it for yourself. Then tell us what you’re going to do next as a result. I used to love film(s) and scanned them so that I could do the processing and printing myself, especially after all the pro photo printers went out of business where I live. As digital sensors and cameras improved, it became more and more obvious that my dedicated scanner was just another type of digital camera, designed to take pictures of negative and positive film. So, my use of film could only be as good as the quality of my digital scanner/camera. No idea what kind of limitation the Epson 750 flatbed scanner places on your Linhof negatives. Epson scanners have improved too. But digital cameras have as well. Assuming weight and travel distance is an issue, then there’s no question that you would be able to take more B&W landscapes with on the of high quality digital cameras that with the film camera. You have used both, so after you have more experience with your current setup, you should get back to us with your conclusions again. Assuming money is not an issue, and you’re not completely happy with this film solution, then it would be nice to see what you would be able to do with the Leica M Monochrom, which was engineered for B&W photography, and which has outstanding lenses for that purpose, old and new. As for the missing “harmonics” of digital versus analogue (sound or image), I’d like to see more evidence of how that difference would make a difference in the final printed image. I think that the difference very well be there for both music and image, but what if that real difference then gets diluted when the image is printed with a modern jet ink printer? It’s certainly true today that a whole bunch of people think that an MP3 music recording sounds good enough or the same as their (okay, Dad’s) expensive stereo system with or without vacuum tubes being used.

    1. Larry…
      You’re last sentence gets to the point, for the majority it doesn’t matter, MP3 is good enough. Then there are the “audiophiles”. The “audiophiles” are separated by those who simply have the bucks to spend on expensive equipment and those that can really appreciate the difference. I have been to enough photography shows where it is difficult to find one well printed image out of 100. I think that both for audio and photography the bar for excellence is set much lower than the real reproduction potential. I shoot a lot of digital with the Merrill cameras, Nikon, Pentax and Olympus, but am more likely to blown away from a black&white from my Olympus Stylus scanned on an Epson V700. I’ve gone to monthly critique sessions and cringe at the photos I see with awful color casts, etc… But, everyone else loves what they see, personally, I find nothing wrong with that. I know people that sell their prints, printed on nothing more than copy paper for $25, the buyers are delighted. I’ve printed with over 50 different papers and for the most part the differences from camera to camera, or lens to lens isn’t always appreciated. Some papers add enough of their own personality where the print may actually look better. Printing in black and white, in my opinion, the way to go is with the Paul Roark engineered inks. I don’t have the very best of printers, but I think dye based printers with Polar Pearl Metallic do very good with color prints, enough where I can appreciate the equipment the camera and lens that produced the image. But, I have Cibachromes, some of which I did over 20 years ago and they become my reality check. For those that it matters to it really is a reality check to seek out exhibitions with original dark room prints from some of the great photographers, Edward Weston, etc..
      I think it’s about doing it for yourself, because differences between a print from the Leica Monochrome or an Olympus E-PL1 with the black and white Art filter will not be appreciated by most. Not saying one is better than the other, but a great picture from the Olympus is going to trump a poor picture from the Monochrom. For myself, my equipment has always been better than my ability as a photographer.

  2. For MF and 35mm I’ve had great results scanning with the plustek 120. Seems they have worked out most the glitches. Or I just got lucky

  3. I disagree on your last statement (“digital sony/leica can do better”), shooting film is an art, like painting; it’s all about the presentation; I’d much rather present a framed picture on real photographic paper which will still look good in 10 years from now than a digital photoshopped print which filckr has plenty of.

    Have you compared a 3ft x 3ft print shot in 6×6 to one shot on digital? Unless you have a phaseOne back and $100k invested in lenses; I’d go film; even if it implies coming back home with only 2 pictures.

    1. Good thoughts.
      If I could come up with 2 pictures a week that are worth printing, then over the course of a year I would be more than satisfied. But, even that is unrealistic.

      1. Not to be taken the wrong way, but I was implying that “coming back home with only two pictures” is good production, no matter shooting digital or film. If we could even shoot one print worthy image a week we would each have a very nice portfolio after just a year.

  4. Firstly, Dirk, nice one – which Film were you using for this and did you develop yourself?
    And why 6×9? Why not 4×5 with this sort of set up? (If you want high IQ combined with slow operation)
    Or rather why a larger format at all? Why not 35mm? it would give you excellent results with the grain.

    “I know that image quality wise, the Leica M240 or the Sony A7R are better than this camera,”..

    Eh?

    This is simply not true, 6×9 blows anything 35mm Digi can give you out of the water – it is leagues ahead.

    This IQ malaky is a red herring, and also a fallacy – since when did zooming into an image on a Computer Screen constitute high IQ?

    Is that what it is all about?

    This obsession with pixel peeping is so tiresome, it comes in the way of everything.
    How many people who shoot with these scattergun gadgets actually go out and print the amount of shots they continuously fire away ? And how large are their prints?
    This is foolishness.

    And for a high quality 2’4″ print you don’t need this – it’s like blasting a rat with a tank.

    1. Ibraar…
      Well said, it is all tiresome. I have very good digital cameras and lenses, in the same league as the Leica and Sony. I shoot a lot of digital, but anything from my Rolleiflex or Rolleicord is still “leagues ahead”. Digital images may often look sharper, but only because there is always something missing. Borrowing from music, the harmonics are missing; that which gives the image depth and texture. Sharpness seems to be the criteria most often used when comparing, but we need to learn to look beyond that. For too many, the only thing they know is digital and they have no basis for comparison, and yet they do. I favor digital for recording events. A class reunion, for example; recording the event. No need for an expensive lens and camera. But, if I’m outside to photograph something in particular, waiting for the right light; I’m going to be shooting with film. Recently I shot a roll of film with my Olympus Stylus, and even that produced amazingly good images when compared to shooting digital. So, yes, 6×9 will blow away anything digital. I had the good fortune of spending some time with Kim Lorang at Visual Winds. She prints for some well known large format photographers. I have seen posters she has printed from their negatives and even those look like works of art.

      1. Digital vs film is an old debate by now. The fact is that medium format and large format film has beautiful tonal transitions that can not be exactly replicated digitally. It has as much to do with the optics of the enlarger as the paper and chemicals. But I get close to the same type of tones from my 4x5s with my BetterLight scanback and, to a certain extent, from my S2.
        The true beauty of MF and 4×5 film comes when it is printed using an enlarger on silver papers or contact printed (think platinum). Scanning is a digital process (well there are some old analog scanners out there but try keeping an old Crosfield running let alone find the gravure film to feed it) and scanned negatives printed on an inkjet printer are digital prints and will never look the same as an enlarged silver print. You need glass, chemicals and a lot of patience to get that look.

  5. Dirk,

    In the image of the trees where you used front tilt, the unsharpness is not so much a function of the lens used (although it can be if the lens lacks covering power) but using front tilt to control DoF swings the plane of focus through 90 degrees, from depth i.e. from a point A to point B (the way we normally think in terms of DoF) to a vertical plane i.e the DoF now extends in a corridor from the ground upwards. This DoF can be quite shallow but can virtually stretch to infinity.

    A useful “trick” with lenses is to get a lens of the focal length you want, but one designed for the next larger format. This will provide a greater imaging circle very useful for when using swing, tilt, and shift. So, if you want the FoV of a 150mm lens on your 5×4, get a 150mm designed for 7×5.

    1. I forgot to mention that using a lens designed for a larger format than you are using, also produces less vignetting when using camera movements to their extreme. Although as you are using 6x9cm this is not so much of an issue as the frame is already so much smaller than 5×4″ and any lens designed for 5×4 may already have enough covering power for your smaller negs.

  6. Dirk

    I have that camera in 4×5 and there is no comparison in the 35mm digital world. Particularly if you are using a fine grain film. If you are not stunned by your negatives, there may be something amiss in your set up or technique.

    You did not mention the film you are using. Some of my favorites are Ilford HP5+ and FP4+, for their combination of tonal range, grain, and resolution; Tri-X is a standard in roll film as well. If you want the modern high resolution Ilford Delta 100/400 and TMAX 100/400 will give it to you. In all cases you need to be careful about your developing and the developer. Using a high contrast (very active) developer like Kodak HC-110 can really cook your images unless you have the right touch with agitation. My preference is for lower contrast development, and better yet a good lab. I also like the Agfa Pan (Rollei) films.

    For exposures, try avoiding the shutter speeds between 1/15 second to 1 second, at least as a starting point. Some leaf shutters can have a lot of torque to them, so it can give the lens board a good thump when the shutter hits full open then starts to close down.

    Also, try to avoid stopping down too much, since refraction starts showing up at f8 regardless of format. If you are using lenses made for 4×5 film (your 150 and 300 are) there is no need to stop way down (f22-f32ish) as these lens will have more than enough coverage for the 6×9 format between f11 or f16. Your 47mm and 65mm may need to be stopped down if the are native 6×9 lenses.

    Have fun! Because big film is!
    Str8_Shot

    1. > Your 47mm and 65mm may need to be stopped down if the are native 6×9 lenses.

      By my experience, these lenses benefit from stopping down, the SA 65 needs it for 6×12, the 47 (unless it is the SA-XL) already benefits from it when doing 6×9…

      Best regards,

      Michael
      =->

  7. With those big negatives you will get great results scanning with an Epson V700 and Vuescan. With this combination I can do better than any of my digital cameras scanning with 35mm. It’s about working up to the potential of the scanner. Adding after-market film holders is also a big help.

  8. I totally understand,your thoughts on the weight of your equipment and the time to set it up.I wonder if a Leica MM would perform as well and be easier to carry and use?

    1. That’s where I went. After 30 plus years of dragging a Linhof Technika kit around the world I went with digital Leicas. Now my 4x5s reside in the studio and the Leica goes in the backpack. But if you’re young and strong, there is nothing like composing on a ground glass. You do realize that you can pick up a digital back for your Linhof. Here is a link that might be useful:
      http://www.luminous-landscape.com/reviews/cameras/digital-view.shtml

      As for scanning negatives, I use an Epson 10,000. It is great for 2 1/4, 4×5 and 8×10 – should you completely fall into the lure of a view camera.

  9. Really nice work Dom, and I appreciate that you are not using run of the mill equipment.
    Naftade mentions using a real film scanner. I’m in the market for a film scanner, but what is a good one? The series made by Nikon no longer exist (and I’m not going to buy a used one with no support), the Hasselblads are $20,000+ (!), while the Epson and Plustek get really mixed reviews.

    I need it for 6*6 and 6*9 120 images using an iMac. Not that concerned about 35mm for the moment.

    Thanks!

    1. Huss,

      As Walter rightly points out in his post, it is really a matter of working up to the potential of the scanner. Unless one is prepared to work with a drum scanner, which is capable of producing the highest quality film scans, the rest of us have to make to with consumer flat bed scanners which can do film.

      With medium format and large format negatives nothing beats the original print on silver halide paper. Even high quality scans can’t emulate this, IMHO. Unfortunately, many never see a comparison of such a print with its digital derived version via a scan, or even in direct comparison with a digital image. So, one is left with the next best, a scan from a consumer level unit. And with a quality negative, especially in b/w, scans from some of these units can be quite impressive.

      In days of yore I did my own d&p using medium format and 5×4 kit. Subsequently when I gave up on doing my own d&p I needed a scanner that could do 5×4 for reprints, and as you may imagine there weren’t many consumer level units around. I ended up with a Canon 9900F in 2003. This is an excellent unit for a flat bed. Unfortunately, Canon stopped updating drivers for this unit, and one isn’t available for W7 OS.

      However, for medium format, I recently bought a Canon 9000F and I’ve been impressed with the quality of its scans. I don’t rate 35mm negs for home scanning, but with medium format this is an excellent, and relatively inexpensive unit. Scans at 2400dpi produce very large TIFF files, by the way.

      I’d be happy to send you some sample jpegs, but I’m not on any social network or sharing site.

      Steve, when you read this, is there any way you could get the email address I use with you to Huss? I’d be happy for your to release it.

    2. When you scan with a flatbed scanner, one or two images will stand out as the ones you want to work with, At that point send the film to a service bureau that does drum scanning. That way you can screen which images are worth spending extra money.

  10. I seriously doubt a Leica or a sony 7r could ever hope to match your Linhoff. If you use a small grain film and (much more important) a real film scanner, you could give any 35mm digital camera arun for its money.

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