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Building swing/tilt/shift adapter for Mamiya RZ

Kevin Palmer , Apr 19, 2005; 01:01 a.m.

Does anyone know if someone has done this using off the shelf parts? Seems like it wouldn't be that hard. It would have to cost far less than the ones you can buy. Like the Horseman View Camera Converter which is around $2k.


Ian Gillett , Apr 19, 2005; 03:32 a.m.

Dear Kevin,

What about the one Mamiya make themselves? Mamiya.co.uk has a special offer on them new for 664 UK pounds - around half normal price. You need to use short-barrel lens (75 mm and 180 mm) to be able to focus at infinity. I have no experience of using them so do not know what they are like.

Best Wishes


Kevin Palmer , Apr 19, 2005; 09:36 a.m.

Thank you for the info on the pricing. But the product offered by Mamiya doesn't offer much adjustment. Also, it doesn't offer Swing. Just Tilt/Shift. I'm lookin for something closer to a view cameras capability.

Pete Gregar , Apr 19, 2005; 09:40 a.m.

It would probably be cheaper just to buy a view camera...

Kevin Palmer , Apr 19, 2005; 10:45 a.m.

But a view camera would be more cumbersome in the field and also add more time processing, etc.

Dave Moeller , Apr 20, 2005; 12:02 a.m.

A field camera with a roll film back is the ultimate in MF with movements. They are more cumbersome in that you generally have to use the ground glass for composition, but they add nothing to your film processing process. If you're going to shoot a lot of stuff with movements, then rigging up something on the RZ is probably the way to go (assuming your lenses have excess coverage). If this is an "occasional" thing you might want to reconsider a field camera. Perhaps even a Century Graphic with a roll film back. It'll be slower, but if you're only doing it occasionally then the time penalty won't be that bad.

Ian White , Apr 20, 2005; 08:52 a.m.

I have not heard of anyone being successful with this. I gave it some thought several years ago and gave up because of the technical problems and cost.

One of the first issues is what lenses are you thinking of using? If you are talking about modifying an RZ you should be aware that RZ lenses have the shutter in the lens but the timing mechanism is in the body. There is an electronic link between the two.

So if you are going to use an RZ lens you must somehow add some ribbon cable to maintain the electrical link. Of course RB lenses would mount and have the complete shutter with timer in the lens.

The other problem with RZ lenses is that the image circle is quite small. I estimated that I would get about 8mm of movement before vignetting started and that is too small to be bothered with. That is probably why the official Mamiya adaptor has such limited movement.

After you have solved that (or substituted a view camera lens at considerable cost) you are faced with the mechanical side of holding the lens and giving it shift/tilt capabilities. I briefly contemplated using a hacksaw on the front standard to disconnect the bellows rails, but then sanity prevailed and I chickened out.

It can be done but not cheaply. Let us know how it turns out.

Kevin Palmer , Apr 20, 2005; 11:47 p.m.

Thanks for all the feedback. I was thinking of getting a generic bellows with a lens board and large format lens. Then mounting the Mamiya to the back of this second bellows. I could use a dual shutter release cable to sync the lens and camera. But I like the idea someone had about using a smaller view camera with a 120 back. In addition to the Century Graphic, what camera would be inexpensive yet still offer a lot of movement (swing/tilt/shift) and a 120 back? Also, what size lens should I be looking for since there will obviously be a crop happening. I plan to use this mostly to do some close up portraits. Thanks. Kev

dave t , Apr 21, 2005; 10:22 p.m.

But I like the idea someone had about using a smaller view camera with a 120 back. In addition to the Century Graphic, what camera would be inexpensive yet still offer a lot of movement (swing/tilt/shift) and a 120 back?

Not all that many. There are the Galvin 2x3 and the Gowland 2x3, both monorails, both light, pretty cheap. On the spendy side are Linhofs (TK23, M679), Sinars (P3), Arca (6x9, but modular), and Ebony (various 23s). Or you could get a 4x5 and a roll film back ... lots of options there, though wideangle could be tricky.

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