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View Camera Converter for 35mm cameras?

Barry Passaris , Dec 19, 2005; 08:11 a.m.

Hi All,

I have Canon 35mm digital equipment (1Ds Mk1 body) but I am interested in 'serious' landscape photography and want to experiment with large format techniques. Has anyone used the Horseman Converters which can be used on 35mm cameras? http://www.horsemanusa.com/vcc.html

Is it worth purchasing such equipment for the convenience of digital with camera movements? I will be printing up to 16x20. Secondly, any comments on the quality of lenses which are compatible with this converter? Can I assume better than Canon lenses (which I consider poor for landscape)?

Thanks in advance for all comments and help.


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Barry Passaris , Dec 19, 2005; 08:20 a.m.

forgot to ask..how do you focus with this converter? Is Canon's Autofocus system still possible?

Leonard Evens , Dec 19, 2005; 09:29 a.m.

Look carefully at the specifications. You wouldn't be able to use this camera with anything but relatively long lenses for the format. For the 35 mm version, the smallest rear flange focal length is 90 mm, for example. With an inverted telephoto design, you might gain a bit on that, but not by much. If all your photography can be limited to long lenses, then this might be a reasonable choice, but otherwise not.

Gregory Lockrey , Dec 19, 2005; 09:46 a.m.

No, the auto focus will not work. A less expensive alternative is to purchase a "fotodiox" adapter and hook it up to your 4x5 camera. Horseman also makes a LD version of the L series camera that is made for 35mm digital. But it's not available in the U.S. I am putting together my own version Using a Sinar P and Fotodiox with a Canon 5D.

Horseman LD as described on Horseman USA website.

Gregory Lockrey , Dec 19, 2005; 09:50 a.m.

Here's the "front end of my version. I need the 5D and Fotodiox. As for lens comparison to Canon...come on you can't compare German optics to Japanese especially digital Japanese.

My DLSR_LF front end

Troy Ammons , Dec 19, 2005; 09:58 a.m.

You might already know all this, but here goes.

IMO, tilt is overrated for 35mm cameras, and even overrated for 6x9 and 4x5 sometimes for normal WA landscape photography. The need for more movements (tilt) gets greater as the format moves up due to the use of longer lenses.

Tilt is what is mostly used, but its not the magic bullet. The area of sharp focus that follows the tilted plane of focus is not of even depth. It will be only inches at your feet perpendicular to the plane and very deep at the horizon so anything outside of that will be OOF.

Shift and rise is probably a better tool for 35mm to control converging lines and for things like taking a photo of glass framed art without being in front of it (no reflection).

For example in a normal LS photo a 35mm camera with a 24mm lens at F16 has an almost infinite DOF. from around 2-3 feet to infinity so tilt does not really help you there. Where it will make some difference is if you are doing macros.

B+H list the usable lenses for that horseman adapter from 90mm to 300mm.

Also unless you are using heavily recessed boards with a custom setup you will be stuck with lenses too long for LS work. Probably about the shortest you could hope to use and still have some sort of movement is maybe a 65 mm Schneider lens, maybe with a custom setup.

The horseman is a really nice setup, although 2G is a little high. Basically all it is is a box between the lens and body with some slides and hinges. I would probably go for one of these personally and save $1300.


As far as lenses I would go for a Hassy or a modern Schneider LF lens, but most LF lens resolutions will probably be below the resolving power of a 1DS.

Better yet just get a Canon tilt/shift lens. I doubt you could match its sharpness with any LF lens.

Also I would say bite the bullet and just switch over to a 6x9 or 4x5 film view camera. Good 4x5 film scanners that are reasonable are non-existent though so is a good case for a 6x9 view camera. I like the big negatives myself.

A zork is another option too and is probably tighter to allow for wider lenses but I have never used one.

Ellis Vener , Dec 19, 2005; 10:13 a.m.

I have tested and reviewed the Studiotools STM* system (Canon 1Ds mk.2 + Studiotools adapter + Sinar P2 + both vew camera and Mamiya RZ lenses) and also the Cambo Ultima 35 system ( Canon 1Ds + Cambo Ultima 35 chassis + Schneider Digitar lenses). What I found is that these systems are best for people who are doing studio and critical architectural work.

With the Cambo system I used a Schneider 28mm f/2.8 WA Digitar. I'm not sure if the design of the Horseman system will let you get the front and rear standards close enough to use a lens with that short of focal length.

For single frame images of the landscape these systems have very little utility and add a lot of complexity: You'll need a large tripod and head and a laptop or Powerbook and the necessary cables to connect the camera to the computer. And it takes some time to set it all up. But once you do that you have the great utility of viewing the large monitor on the screen to judge composition, details and fine focus. Once you start shifting, tilting or swinging the camera orthe lens on one of these systems an SLR viewfinder quickly becomes useless for judging anything but basic composition.

These systems may be of more use to a photographer of landscape i if you want to shoot multiple frames to make a panoramic or a very large , very high rez single image. Being able to keep the lens in the same place and only use shift and rise/fall on the back makes for much more precise stitching.

As to the quality of Canon lenses: Are you using zooms or sngle focal length lenses/ The Fixed focal length Canons can be quite good, especially the EF 24mm Tilt/Shift and the EF 28mm f/1.4. I know many photographers who are also unsatisfied withthe performance of their wide angle Canon lenses and use Leica R-type wide angle lenses with adapters which are reportedly better corrected and have better resolution.

Ellis Vener , Dec 19, 2005; 10:24 a.m.

To follow up to Barry's second post and Troy's post:

Barry: No AF and you can't use Canon lenses in these systems (notthat it sounds like you want to!)

Troy: I tried the best modern large format view camera lenses I could get my hands on for the review ofthe STM system. The resolution with even the best LF glass on the 24x36mm sensor (or film for that matter) is way below what any of us would find acceptable for anything other than very small enlargements. this is why Schneider and Rodenstock now make special digital lenses.

Frank Schifano , Dec 19, 2005; 10:27 a.m.

You know, you could buy a used 4x5 camera with lens for less, and sometimes a lot less, money than you would spend for this thing and get a much better image out at the other end. I agree, this unit could be very handy for someone doing tabletop product shots and macro work for publication where speed and consumable materials costs are paramount considerations.

The Canon lenses are not poor for landscape use, it's the format you're using that's unsuitable for the application. "Grand vista" landscapes usually contain a lot of fine little detail. A digital camera or even a 35mm film chip is just too small to capture all that fine detail. You need a bigger piece of film or one of those super expensive medium or large format digital backs.

Ellis Vener , Dec 19, 2005; 01:09 p.m.

here is the link for the Studiotools tool: http://www.studiotoolsystem.com

STS/ Sinar/1Ds

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